Manchester Airport announces direct flights to ‘Italy’s best kept secret’

The beach in Scilla, Calabria region
The beach in Scilla, Calabria region -Credit:Getty Images

Manchester Airport has announced a new route to one of Italy’s most stunning destinations, dubbed the country’s ‘best kept secret’. On April 28 Ryanair will launch direct flights to Reggio Calabria in southwest Italy.

It makes Manchester the first UK airport with a direct link to the city. The flights will run on Wednesdays and Sundays with Ryanair from as little as £14.99 per person one-way.

The city provides visitors with an ideal base to explore the wider Calabria region – often referred to as the country’s ‘best kept secret’ by travel writers. Calabria is the ‘toe’ of Italy’s ‘boot’, and the city of Reggio Calabria faces the island of Sicily across the Strait of Messina.

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Although the region has long been popular with Italian tourists, it’s only just being discovered by international visitors. It’s one of the most affordable parts of the country to visit, but it still has the culture, architecture and fantastic food that Italy is famous for.

The Arena dello Stretto in Reggio Calabria facing the Strait of Messina
The Arena dello Stretto in Reggio Calabria facing the Strait of Messina -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

As you'd expect with Italy, Reggio Calabria is a beautiful destination with white sand beaches and spectacular scenery. Here are some of the things the region has to offer holidaymakers:

Lap up the sun on a Calabrian beach

If it’s sun, sea and sand you’re after, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Calabria, which has more outstanding beaches than you could ever hope to visit in one trip. Some of the very best are found in and around the village of Tropea, which is less than two hours from Reggio Calabria by train and makes for a great day trip.

Explore the region’s quaint towns and villages

The small town of Scilla, just 14 miles from Reggio Calabria, is a must on any visitor’s itinerary – with rustic Italian architecture and a well-preserved medieval fortress perched atop a hill overlooking, you guessed it, a picturesque beach. Another favourite near Reggio Calabria is Bova, a maze-like village with heaps of Italian charm.

Take in three millennia of history

Reggio Calabria is one of the oldest cities in Italy, thought to have first been settled over 3,000 years ago – older even than Rome. Nods to its history are everywhere and visitors can decode it all at the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, where tickets are a very reasonable 8 Euros (£6.84) for adults and free for Under-18s.*

Another popular spot with history buffs is the town of Vibo Valentia, which has been inhabited since the 7th Century B.C., when it was founded as an Ancient Greek colony. It boasts an eclectic mix of architecture from throughout the ages, including, incredibly, a surviving 350m section of the city wall from its very earliest years.

Step into the great outdoors

Calabria is a mountainous region and is home to three national parks. The nearest to Reggio Calabria is Aspromonte National Park, a rugged landscape with forests and waterfalls, perfect for a hike. Slightly further afield in the Pollino National Park, the village of Orsomarso is known for the striking rock formations which tower over it, and the caves dotted around its perimeter.

Sample world-class Italian food and wine – with a regional twist

Wherever you go in the region, you’ll find an abundance of local family-run restaurants serving up all of your Italian favourites, but with plenty of Calabrian flair thrown into the mix. The region was settled by the Greeks, Arabs and Spanish at various points in its history and all have left their mark on its cuisine, which has more of a kick to it than you might find elsewhere in Italy. Perhaps the most famous Calabrian innovation is Nduja, a spicy salami, but it has a reputation for great cheese, wine and seafood as well.

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