Nov 16, 2023

What makes Italy worth travelling to? Discovering Catanzaro

The peculiarities of Southern Italy

Italy is one of the countries where each region is recognizable and unique because of its own traditions, customs, and typical food.  

Beyond that, Southern Italy cities are well known to be very different compared to other cities in the country.  

For instance, don’t expect everyone to speak English. Unlike many parts of Europe where everyone speaks English, in Southern Italy, English is not very common. Southern Italians speak in a dialect that is very difficult to understand even for most Italian speakers. That’s why at Istituto Italiano Scuola we believe it’s important to seize the opportunity to learn some practical Italian phrases to help you start a conversation with the locals. 

But don’t worry about messing up when speaking, because the locals in the South will make sure you feel welcomed and taken care of through copious generosity and friendliness.  

Furthermore, what makes Southern Italy so beautiful is that it’s surrounded by medieval mountain top towns with tiny streets that may or may not accommodate a car. Plus, you may also stumble upon a castle or an ancient church everywhere you go.  

Thanks to this cultural, linguistic, and landscaping diversity, we interviewed our teacher Valerio Mirarchi who is native from Catanzaro, a city located in the Calabria region of Southern Italy.  


What makes your city unique? 

Catanzaro is unique for several reasons. Firstly, it is perched on 3 hills overlooking the Ionian Sea, offering stunning panoramic views of the coastline. This picturesque setting gives the city a distinctive charm. Additionally, Catanzaro is often referred to as the “City of the Two Seas” because it is located between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, making it a strategic and historically significant location. 


What are the hidden gems of your city? 

Catanzaro offers a wide variety of attractions and sites. For those who are interested in historical structures, you may want to walk and admire the Viadotto Bisantis (or Fiumarella bridge), the greatest concrete arch bridge ever built in Italy. It’s an important connecting route between the center of Catanzaro to the Strada dei Due Mari, and either side of the bridge reveals a fantastic scenic view for visitors. 

For those who are interested in nature, you may want to visit Cascata Campanaro Zagarise, a great waterfall with only a short walk to arrive. It is a truly stunning and wonderful spot in the middle of mountain forests. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the area.

What are the cultural traditions of your city? 

Catanzaro, like much of Calabria, has a rich cultural heritage. Some of its traditions include “Tarantella Dance,” the traditional Southern Italian dance often performed at celebrations and festivals in Catanzaro. The city also celebrates various religious festivals with processions and events dedicated to patron saints. The most famous one is, “A Naca.” It involves the procession of a life-sized, wooden representation of the body of Christ in a glass casket, accompanied by somber processions and hymns, typically held during Holy Week leading up to Easter. It is a solemn and deeply symbolic event that draws locals and visitors alike to witness this elaborate and emotional display of devotion. 


What is a traditional dish of your city? 

One of the most famous traditional dishes of Catanzaro and the Calabria region is Morzeddu. Morzeddu is a hearty dish made from lamb or pork meat and innards, often prepared by slowly cooking the meat with a rich tomato sauce, onions, and a variety of herbs and spices. The result is a tender, flavorful, and aromatic dish that is a true taste of Calabria’s culinary heritage. It is a favorite during special occasions and family gatherings, reflecting the region’s love for hearty, slow-cooked dishes. Morzeddu showcases the Calabrian tradition of using simple yet delicious ingredients to create a memorable dining experience. 


Catanzaro’s unique location, hidden gems, cultural traditions, and delicious cuisine make it a fascinating destination for those interested in exploring the culture and history of Calabria. 

" Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life".

Anna Akhmatova