The climate of Calabria is influenced by the mountainous and hilly make-up of the region. The coastline alternates between rugged cliffs and sandy beaches and is sparsely interrupted by development when compared to other European seaside destinations. The sea around Calabria is clear and often filled with tourists. The poet Gabriele D’ Annunzio called the coast facing Sicily near Reggio Calabria “the most beautiful kilometer in Italy.”
The cuisine is typical southern Italian Mediterranean with a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant), and fish. Pasta (as in Central Italy and the rest of Southern Italy) is also very important in Calabria. In contrast to most other Italian regions, Calabrians have traditionally placed an emphasis on the preservation of their food, in part because of the climate and potential crop failures. As a result, there is a tradition of packing vegetables and meats in olive oil, making sausages and cold cuts (Sopressata, ‘Nduja) and, along the coast, curing fish—especially swordfish, sardines (sardelle rosamarina) and cod (Baccalà). Local desserts are typically fried, honey-sweetened pastries (Cudduraci, scalille or scalidde) or baked biscotti-type treats (such as ‘nzudda).
Although Calabrian wines are not well known outside Italy, in ancient times Calabria was referred to as Enotria or the “land of wine.” Important grape varieties are the red Gaglioppo, and white Greco. Many producers are resurrecting local, ancient grape varieties which have been around for as long as 3000 years.