Well maybe or maybe not.
August is a month that is different to the rest of the year so far, Scalea becomes a true holiday destination. There was the August rush of tourists, mainly Italians, mainly from Naples. It’s been an interesting month.
San Giorgio Albanese
At the beginning of August, we ventured back to San Giorgio Albanese to see Roy and Lissa, and to take more photos and videos of properties for sale with Tony. Again, we saw a complete mix of properties, from just one room to large townhouses and luxury flats.
One evening before going to a restaurant, we were invited for drinks by a friend of Roy’s. Those drinks turned into an amazing array of antipasti with homemade wine, followed by a luscious bramble berry cake. We sat under a very large tree at a large table and just ate wonderful homemade food. It just kept coming. We had to stop and leave with many thanks. We felt sorry for the wife who had to keep going into the kitchen to make us everything and we had a table booked at the restaurant we wanted to visit. It was lovely though. They were very generous and welcoming. We liked the restaurant too, they specialise in game, but we didn’t have a huge amount whilst we were there, for obvious reasons.
During our visit, the town held a food festival. There are a lot of festivals in August apparently. This one was organised by students on an exchange programme called Erasmus. They showcased an example of each of their home country’s street food. There were examples from Italy, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Spain, France, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Brazil. It was amazing to see this little town embracing international culture of the students in such a welcoming way.
On our way home, we had to view a couple of properties owned by two brothers. We followed them as we didn’t know where the properties were. The brothers eventually led us to a place nearer to the sea. We turned into a track which seemed like was going nowhere good. These people were strangers to us, so doubts started to kick in. They were quite serious looking guys and we sort of joked they could do anything, and no one would know. None of us have family here so it would be a little while before anyone missed us. They stopped the car near a big bin and threw a large bag of rubbish in it. We just looked at each other and wondered why they didn’t throw that away in San Giorgio. Anyway, we finally stopped near properties about 1km from the main road and guess what….? They got out of the car and showed us around two apartments. No drama, no anything, but it made us giggle.
The problem with living in the south of Italy is that thoughts can run away with you.
Bond in Italy
Early this month, I got a bit excited, because Cary Fukunaga the director of Bond25 (now we know is called No Time to Die), put a photo of a beach on Instagram.
He didn’t say where it was, but to me it had a familiar look to it. It was a dark coloured beach with a rocky outcrop. I thought it must be somewhere near here as the further south you go, the paler the beaches become and the Ionion side of Italy is the same. Obviously, there are other dark beaches in the world, but it had a lido and that is a very Italian thing. So, I looked at Google Maps and with not a lot of searching (about 2 minutes) I found out that it is in fact, a beach nearby in San Nicola Arcella, about 15-minute drive north. No idea if it is a location used in the movie, but it is great that the Bond film crew were very close. I know they filmed in Matera and in Gravina in Puglia, but that’s is all I know. Fingers crossed it will be in the film and then I can say I live near a Bond film location. Ha-ha.
It is August, so the 15th is the holiday of Ferragosto. It is a big holiday that basically the whole of Italy has off. We were expecting big things. But at lunch time the whole town suddenly went eerily quiet. The rest of the time in August, the traffic is crazy, people are everywhere, beaches, restaurants and bars are packed with holidaymakers. It does normally go quieter between the hours of 2-4pm daily, but we thought Ferragosto may be different. In fact, it was quieter still, not a soul on the road and it was for a longer period of time compared to usual. I suppose it is like Christmas Day, people go to their family member’s house to spend the day together or go to a restaurant. The people staying around us had their family round for a meal. Restaurants were advertising special lunches, some with music. In the evening there were small number of firework displays at the lidos and restaurants along the beach. But there was no big organised fiesta. I thought it was lovely that it is basically a family day.
Later in the month, there was a fish festival called Festa del Pesce Azzurro and it was the 20th Anniversary. There was music, dancing and a large stall selling fried fish, mainly alici (anchovies) with crostini and other things and a jug of wine. A good number of people attended, enjoyed themselves and ate the food. That was good to see.
We met a family from Canada that we connected through Instagram, which can be a scary thing, not done that before. Heather and Johnny and their kids. They bought and refurbished a cute little place in the old town whist remaining in Canada without ever visiting Scalea or the property. Which for me, is a very scary thing. Luckily, they love it and have decorated it very nicely. We ate with them a few times and helped them out with advice of where to buy stuff they needed. They are a great family and looking forward to their next visit.
Unfortunately, there have been some grass, scrub or forest fires around us, the air firefighters have been busy. Not surprising, as it is very hot and dry this month. It’s remained above 30°C with no rain so, it wouldn’t take much to get a fire started. I don’t know how they have been started, most likely accident or arson, which is such a shame. Watching the planes and helicopters flying to the sea to collect water and then to the fire to drop the water was mind-blowing and mesmerising. They were flying quite low over our home to collect the water and back. Scalea is not a flat area, there are hills and mountains. Seeing the planes manoeuvring around hills, mountains and valleys and electricity cables to where they had to get to, was amazing.
It did make me think of the fires in South America and what a huge battle that is. It took a day for one fire just in front of us to be doused to only start again later that evening. Luckily it didn’t go too far before it stopped burning altogether. So, no idea how to battle the huge amount of fires in South America.
August is also the month that contains my birthday, yay. We decided to go on a day trip and visit a town called Cirella which is not far down the coast and has the island of Cirella just off the coast. We can see this island from our terrace, so thought it would be good to see it close up. We took a bus there, which took around 25 minutes and it is a lovely beach town. On top of a nearby hill further inland, is the ancient town of Cirella, but that is now just ruins, but can be visited. We stayed at the coast and had lunch at a lovely restaurant called Lucio, overlooking the sea and the island. We then found out that the next return bus was not until after 5pm and we were going out that night too. So instead of hanging around Cirella for 3 hours, we decided to walk to the nearest town, Diamante and catch the train back. It was about a 50-minute walk to the station and a 15-minute train ride back to Scalea, giving us enough time to chill and get ready. We did like the look of Diamante so will return for a proper visit.
Later, we had a meal at a restaurant called Tari in Scalea’s old town with two friends, Tony H the property guy and Tony E who lives here in Scalea too. Tony H recommended it saying their onion rings are amazing. He was right, the onion rings are so good I could have munched them all night. We liked the rest of the food too and it is in such a great location in a lovely piazza. It is one of those places you do have to reserve a table beforehand, you can’t just walk in, that is their policy. If you want to eat there, just book ahead so you don’t get disappointed.
Well, it has been very hot, very busy with people and traffic and I am suddenly a year older. But it wasn’t as crazy as we were expecting, maybe because we don’t have a car. Apart from walking up the hill to our apartment on very hot days, we are glad we don’t own a car, especially in August. The traffic is crazy, basically standstill and people driving in very erratic ways. But we survived, it wasn’t difficult really. We are quite looking forward to getting our town back without the crowds in September. Apparently, it goes quiet quite quickly. This is a bit of a shame as the weather here is lovely from about May to November. Visitors looking for sun, have ample opportunities to enjoy the sun here without the huge crowds.
So that’s it for August! A lot happened has this month, so this post is longer than usual. Phew!
I wonder if next month will be quieter. We shall see…