5 Questions With…Anna of La Dolce Vita di Pizzo – Visitor Guide in Calabria
Anyone who reads my blog will be able to tell almost instantly how much I love Calabria. It is a beautiful place with so much culture and history that is often overlooked by tourists visiting Italy. So, as you can imagine I was so excited when Anna of La Dolce Vita di Pizzo agreed to participate in my “5 Questions With…” series. Without any further hestitation, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you all to Anna of La Dolce Vita di Pizzo as she tells us about one of Calabria’s travel gems.
Tell us a little about why you chose to create La Dolce Vita di Pizzo – Complete Visitor Guide.
I created the website because when I tried to visit Pizzo in 2008 I found it very difficult to get any information. In fact, it was so difficult that I gave up and went to Spain that year instead! But the following year I returned to the task, and finally got to Pizzo in April 2010. I had done two years of internet research gathering every scrap of information I could find about Pizzo, but I still went on a wing and a prayer with many questions unanswered. My feeling was that if I – who spoke Italian and had lived in Pizzo – found it so difficult to get there, what must it be like for the first time English speaking visitor? I started bringing all the information I had together in one place. I didn’t plan to create a guide, but like Pollyanna, it just grew and grew, until I realised that I was in fact writing a guide to Pizzo.
I put everything I had wanted to know about Pizzo into the Guide to create a one stop information service. It is very important to me that it is an independent, impartial guide, and for that reason I don’t have advertising, charge for inclusion or get any commission from the services in the guide. My aim is to provide information and services that I would recommend to a friend visiting Pizzo. For that reason, I call it ‘your friend in Pizzo’, and if you are planning a visit you can do so with confidence knowing that you have all the information you need. My aim is to make it easy for English speaking people to visit Pizzo, and enjoy their stay.
Why should someone visiting Calabria include Pizzo in their travel plans?
I am totally biased, but for me Pizzo is a very special place. I’ve lived in Reggio and spent a 2 week holiday in Tropea, and Pizzo is a place that just makes my heart sing in a way that I don’t experience anywhere else. Locals say that I’m in love with Pizzo, and it’s true, but it’s not just me, I find that other people who live here feel the same way. You should come to Pizzo for the warmth of the people; to experience the real Calabria unspoilt by overcommercialised tourism; to come on one of my unique Guided Walks; and to eat the best ice cream in Calabria. But most of all, to see if it captures your heart.
Describe some of the services you offer and what potential clients can expect from those services.
Apart from the free online guide, the services I personally provide are a Welcome to Pizzo package – where I spend the morning with you on your first day to help you settle in and get to know the area – and the Secret Pizzo Guided Walks. These are very exciting walks (which leave from the Piazza in the evening and San Francesco in the morning) to explore the Old Town of Pizzo. I would meet lost tourists wandering around the warren of streets and alleys in the Old Town, not understanding what they saw and not getting the most from their stay. So I decided to share my knowledge and understanding with English speaking visitors, and take them on guided walks to see the parts of Pizzo tourists don’t usually see.
How did you first discover Pizzo?
I first came to Pizzo by accident in 1976, and ended up living there for four years until 1980. In the 1970s very few foreigners made it down as far as Calabria, but my sister had been on an inter-rail trip with her friends and she’d met a boy in Reggio, so she decided to stay there and work as an au pair. I came out to join her, and we both worked in Reggio for nine months. We were on our way back to England, travelling up the coast staying in Youth Hostels, when we wandered into Pizzo one idle October afternoon. It seems incredible to believe now, but at that time the ancient historic Spanish castle of Pizzo (built in the 1400s) was a Youth Hostel. We used to sleep in the old prisoner’s cells and run up and down the narrow stone stairways, and eat ice cream on the battlements where Joachim Murat, brother-in-law of Napoleon and defeated King of Naples, was executed by firing squad!
There was some Pizzo magic at work, and within hours of arriving we had both been offered jobs and an apartment to live in, so we decided to stay. I ended up staying for four years, and we were the first foreign girls to work in the Piazza as waitresses. Eventually I left, not knowing it would be thirty years before I returned! When I finally came back after thirty years, I found that everyone remembered me, and it felt like I’d never been away. Now I feel like I’ve come home.
What is your favourite thing about Pizzo?
That’s easy… it’s the ice cream! Pizzo is famous for it’s ice cream. Closely followed by the cakes from the Toscano Pasticceria made by 70 year old Sicilian trained pastry chef Salvatore, who came to Pizzo as a young man. Then it’s the views, the blue sea and sky in every direction, the sunshine and the beaches, the lights around the bay at night and the amazing sunsets every evening. I buy an ice cream or a cake, and sit by the sea and watch the sunset every evening. It’s only seven minutes from closing my front door until I’m swimming in the sea. Market day, with all the stalls and excitement. Cheese, especially country made fresh warm ricotta and homemade pecorino sold door to door and bought at my own front door. The people, who never cease to amaze and delight me… the list is endless.
Thank You, Anna!! I think you have done a wonderful thing by providing such detailed information to tourists (and future tourists) of Pizzo.
You can find out all there is to know about Pizzo at Anna’s guide ~ LA DOLCE VITA di Pizzo The Complete Visitor Guide
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