Have you thought about vacationing in Calabria, but are unsure about the mafia and crime? Is it safe to travel to southern Italy with your family?
When I announced that I was going to work in Calabria for a summer, the first question I got was: “Aren’t you afraid of the mafia?” or “Oh, you’ll have to be careful because of the mafia!
First of all, the Calabrian “`Ndrangheta” is not a myth and is currently the most powerful and richest criminal organization in Italy and is now active on all 5 continents. The mafia makes life difficult for the locals. Corruption, bribes, drug trafficking, construction sites that go on for several years, garbage that is not taken away for weeks, etc.
Admittedly, during my season in Calabria there were one or two incidents behind which I suspected mafia involvement. For tourists, however, the mafia is completely invisible.
In 6 months not a single theft, assault or other criminal incident. My apartment and car were often unlocked, I had the windows open all night, I was partying at night in local clubs and many times invited to the homes of Calabrese people I knew more or less well. Not once did I feel unsafe. Calabria is also absolutely safe for families with children! The Italians love children and would never do anything that would put the little ones in danger.
Fears regarding the mafia are completely unfounded. The uncomfortable truth is; the mafia profits from tourism and it would not be smart to jeopardize this source of income in any way.
3 things to watch out for anyway:
- Please do not ask the locals about the mafia. Most Calabrians react annoyed or simply do not answer the questions at all. The mafia is a delicate matter that people do not like to talk about.
- Do not be surprised about garbage that is not removed for a long time and do not complain to the locals about construction sites that are not finished for a long time.
- Of course, as in any other country, it is advisable to take care of your valuables, especially in the cities and tourist centers.
Conclusion: Calabria is beautiful! The picturesque landscape, the azure sea, the many great destinations and the delicious food. Calabria is authentic, wild and unique, with enchanting ancient towns and national parks in the mountains. In addition, there are 320 sunny days a year and delicious, authentic cuisine. If you don’t travel to Calabria because of the mafia, you will miss incredible sandy beaches, fascinating views and dreamy little towns.