Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Author: Karen Haid
Publisher: Mill City Publishing
“Wherever I went in Calabria or whatever I read about it, I never ceased to be amazed by its wealth of history. Today, this erstwhile Mediterranean hub is off the beaten path of the average tourist…” Karen Haid writes in her book, Calabria: The Other Italy.
This two hundred and eighty page paperback targets those who want to learn more about the region of Calabria, located geographically on the boot toe of Italy. After maps of the country and Calabria along with an introduction, eighteen chapters follow with no index, references, or resources. One black and white photograph is at the beginning of each chapter.
In this travelogue, Haid does not tell the reader where to go but writes her observations, opinions, and viewpoint of the people, culture, and language of Calabria. Not written as a day-by-day dialogue, she jumps from first impressions in the area to explorations, cultural differences, holidays, criminality, history, education, cities, provinces, local highlights, neighboring areas, and reflections when leaving.
Arriving in Locri, people, food, and venues are described as if at a café enjoying a gelato with a friend. Learning that southern exposure is an important architectural feature, the area is frequently windy, food dishes are typically made of fish, and an ongoing fight is against the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, one is told of historical earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic ash, Greek colonization, Catholic holiday traditions, and perpetual building renovations.
Living some of the time in the largest city of Reggio Calabria, the writer mentions its providence as well as Vibo Valentia and Cosenza and the capital of Catanzaro. Producing ninety percent of bergamot oil worldwide, this region of mountains, museums, cathedrals, castles, and towers is not outdone by loyalty to family, abundance of flavorful foods, and the hardiness of its determined citizens.
Although there are no color pictures or resourceful index, the author takes the reader on a trip encountering beloved Bronzes, paraded festival paintings of the Madonna, and medical health spas via adventurous bus and train rides. For some, the book may convince travelers to venture to this ignored, historic location while others may fear its never-ending fight against one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.
With this reviewer having her husband’s grandparent from Reggio, it was fascinating to learn about the enduring love of land and life in an less-known part of Italy.
Thanks to the author for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinions.