Firstly, Happy New Year, hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year celebrations. Another year has gone, along with a decade. The 2020s have started.
December was a great month, it contains Christmas, so it has to be good doesn’t it? It was nice to just enjoy it this year. Last year we were up our eyeballs in construction dust as our bathroom was being done and a wall was being demolished. So this is what we’ve been up to.
It’s December, it’s Christmas, so we bought a Christmas tree, we decided on a real one. It is the first real one I have ever owned. Having carpets in the UK, we didn’t like the idea of the needles getting stuck and treading on them. But now we have tiles, so it’s easy peasy, I can just sweep them up. It’s a step up from last year’s tiny tree. Also, we had our Christmas decorations from the UK thanks to our besties Sally and Steve.
We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary and first year in Scalea. We went to a local restaurant called Vigri with a few friends. It was lovely, it is right on the sea, a lovely location to have a lovely meal. We very much enjoyed it. I particularly like the dessert which was a semifreddo al torroncino e ficotto (nougat flavoured). Yummy! John loved his tiramisu. The one thing that makes me wish I like coffee.
Scalea’s Christmas lights
Scalea has their Christmas lights up which is lovely. I would personally like to see more, but I am greedy when it comes to lights. It is still festive though. There are some in the town in Piazza Caloprese and others on the main road SS18 near the tower, Torre Talao. Also, there is a Father Christmas’s house in the old town in a lovely little square in Palazzo Spinelli. Children can visit Father Christmas and there is a little market to buy festive gifts.
Yes, U Pann. No idea what it means, but it was a name of an event that took place in Scalea. We decided to take a look as it was a sunny quite warm day.
It was fun to watch. It turned out to be a local event which takes places in a square called Piazza Padre Pio that has steps. People sit on the steps and it basically turns into an amphitheatre. It took us a while to understand what was going on, but we worked it out. There were a number of men taking part in challenges, competing against each other for prizes or mainly glory as the prizes were small. The first task was bobbing for oranges in a strange looking red liquid that had to be constantly stirred. They didn’t enjoy it! One man disappeared straight after to er.. throw up I think. Really not sure what it was, but the constant stirring sort of worried me.
Anyway, another task was eating a piping hot, just cooked plate of spaghetti as fast as possible without using hands. We heard the host say piccante, so I guess it was very spicy too (they do like their hot chillies in Calabria).
Another task was hilarious. They were each blindfolded and there were ceramic jugs containing envelopes hung on a high line. The men were spun around and they had to break a jug with a long stick. Most of the time they missed but eventually they each hit one in the end. It was performed to the Benny Hill Theme tune which added to the funniness.
A very tall post was installed in the square which was painted with grease. They had to climb up to get one of the prizes that were hanging from the top. There was a panettone, a cheese, a baccala (salt cod) and envelopes containing small prizes, such as 5 or 10 euros. This was the most difficult challenge. They had to work in teams and climb on top of each other to reach the top but as the pole was greased, the guy at the top kept sliding down and they collapsed. Eventually, between them, once they got the technique right, they grabbed them all.
There was also a sack race and a tug of war competition where Father Christmas (Babbo Natale) and an elf lead a team to compete against each other.
After all the challenges, they announced the champion and gave out local wine and Crespelle (sort of fried doughnut without the sugar) and played music and karaoke. It was a very entertaining afternoon.
Italian Language School
We have finally enrolled in Italian Language School at the local middle school. We turned up to the school to ask what we do and were asked to go back the following Tuesday to complete a form, which we did. We were also tested on what our Italian was like. I was OK at reading, John was better at talking. I guess that sums us up. Our teacher Carmelina doesn’t speak English, so this is going to be interesting.
Our first lesson was actually the last day of term before Christmas. The first lesson was to read, speak and write from a lesson book to understand the alphabet and the verbs essere (to be) and chiamare (to call). It was difficult but I suppose it will be, otherwise we would be speaking Italian by now. There were a couple of people there doing their thing from the book, obviously they are ahead of us as the course started back in October – oops.
Then suddenly a few more people came into the classroom with cakes and spumante and sat in the classroom. We thought they were presents for the teacher, but it was strange as they didn’t take part in any lessons. When we finished what we were doing, the desks and chairs were arranged to sort of be a big table and all the cakes and spumante placed in the middle and they were shared around. The people were either current or past language students from all over the world who are residents in Scalea, and they all came to celebrate the end of term and Christmas. So, our first lesson ended up with us eating cakes and drinking fizzy wine with people from all over where the common language is Italian. Not a bad start. I suppose it will not happen at the end of every lesson when we return on the 8th, but fingers crossed, you never know, ha-ha.
The weather just before Christmas Day went a bit crazy. The sea was high, the winds were high, our shutters had to be completely shut and we didn’t really venture out. We were meant to spend a Sunday with friends for lunch before Christmas day but cancelled, the weather was that bad. But we survived. The weather can be bad but luckily it doesn’t last for long.
It was a beautiful Christmas Day in all ways. The weather was lovely, so we walked on the beach, just like last year. It is tradition now ha-ha.
Our friends came to us, which was different to last year as we didn’t know anyone. One was Tony, who is a friend we met here back in March/April (there are a lot of Tonys). He stayed with us from Christmas eve until Boxing Day. The others were Miro, Denisa, their young daughter Laura and their little dog Molly who came to live in September. They came for Christmas Day.
We all cooked a dish to eat. Tony made a curry for us three to eat on the Christmas Eve night. Miro and Denisa cooked a Slovak soup and meats which are traditionally eaten at Christmas, which we ate as a starter. All dishes were so lovely. We cooked sort of a traditional British dinner with a stuffed boned chicken and veggies. And of course, English Christmas pudding and custard for afters which we bought when we were last in the UK.
It was such a lovely day.
New Year’s Eve
In the afternoon, following a walk on the beach (yes again), we went to Bar da Pietro to have an Aperol Spritz sat outside on the beach. It seems like that is the thing to do on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, as there were quite a few people there drinking the same thing.
We spent New Year’s Eve night with visiting friends Tony (yes another) and Rachel. They have a place in the nearby town Santa Maria del Cedro and Tony’s cousin Carmine and his wife Sue.
We went to our regular restaurant Il Corsaro. We had the banquet meal. It was very nice, lots to eat and drink and brought in the New Year with sparkles. It was a great night and was happy we were in a warm restaurant, as it was quite a cold night. It was so good I failed to take photos as planned. But here is the front of the restaurant just to prove I started with good intentions.
So that is it for 2019!
Again, Happy New Year and hope it is all you wish for. Let’s see what 2020 brings. Thanks very much for reading.
Buon Anno tutti!