In and out of the Red Zone

Red zone

At the beginning of November, Calabria was placed in a red zone for COVID-19. Not because of a huge number cases, but because the health service in Calabria would not cope if there was a huge number of the very sick at the same time. Therefore, we were in lockdown again. Although, slightly different to the first one.

We could only go out if there was a valid reason to go out, such as work, shopping for food, medicines etc. All bars and restaurants were shut but could open for takeaway or delivery. Also, along with the whole of Italy there was a 10pm curfew until 5am. We were confused whether we needed self-certification, we decided to not because if we are stopped by the police, they will have the forms. Also, we weren’t sure if we could go to the supermarket together. So, we went individually at first but noticed other couples were together. Then, we went out together. It was all fine and the police or carabinieri didn’t say or do anything. We just had to wear masks at all times outside unless you can guarantee that there is no one nearby. We were happy that we had the car so we can travel without having to think about anything until we get into a shop. This time was more confusing and the uncertainty was annoying.

When Calabria was put into the red zone, it did not go down well with Calabrians because compared to the most of Italy, COVID-19 numbers are low. But the health service has been pretty much neglected and mafia involvement in the past has obviously not helped. It is great in normal circumstances, it is just the infrastructure for large numbers of sick people that could be the issue. A lot of “if and ands”. Unfortunately, lockdowns make a huge impact on the local economy. If bars, restaurants, non-essential shops, gelaterie, pasticcerie etc. do not open there is a lot of people who do not have money. Therefore, there were protests all over Calabria, Scalea included, which surprised me. Over about 4 days people in Scalea (while keeping distant and wearing masks) took to the main car park and blocked the main road for a little while and shouted out announcements from a vehicle.

Roadblock on the Main road

A sad thing was that our good friends Tony and Angela decided to return to Sweden. I really hope we see them sooner rather than later. But it seems like there is more freedom in Sweden so I don’t blame them. But it is a lot colder so we hope you are keeping warm, you two.

Schools for the younger kids are open so Miro and Denisa’s daughter Laura went to nursery s normal. Unfortunately, 2 teachers from the school but in a different building were tested positive for COVID. Miro, Denisa and Laura were told to quarantine as a precaution. We helped them out by getting them some shopping, weirdly it was mainly for beer and wine ha-ha.

From 29th November, Calabria is in the orange zone. This means we can move around within our municipality without a real reason and more shops that are classed as non essential are open. But there are recommendations from the government to avoid unnecessary travel within the municipality, but pretty much everything else is the same as red.

Anyway, enough of the C word.

November Spring

The weather has been in the main great with temperatures in the mid-20s°C. At the beginning of the month the blossoms returned to our pear tree and daisies blooming. So, it was like spring instead of autumn or winter. But as we have come to know when the weather changes, it can really change. We had a few days of crazy wind. It was very similar to what we had in February 2019. This time we had a little more impact as we own more things that are outside, but nothing structural thank goodness. Our lemon tree in a pot was blown over and the pot smashed. The leaves of all our plants and trees lost a lot of their leaves. The bamboo screen on the gate we do not use, was blown off, top half one day then the bottom half another.

Our terrace after the first part of wind storm. Tree with new plastic pot

Then the lovely sunny weather returned like nothing happened.


I am now learning Italian via video call through the internet. Which is er… interesting and pretty difficult. I started using my phone, but couldn’t see the documents, so now use my laptop and have bought a cheap webcam. It is a very strange experience but I suppose it is better than using masks in school, which my skin hates and my glasses steam up no matter what I do. The problem is that everyone is taught at the same speed and it seems we are all at different levels of Italian. Also, the teacher speaks to us at full speed like we understand. If we did understand, we wouldn’t need to learn. I had to take a week out so spent another week trying to catch up with homework. It has been a while for me to do homework. Not sure if anything is going into my head, but I do not want to give up, so will keep trying. It does give me the chance to converse in Italian for two days a week and homework for the other days.

A Visit to the Vets

As it looks like our cat Freddie is here to stay, we took him to the local vets to get him checked out. The vet we went to is lovely, she can speak English which is a bonus. She told us he is 4 and a half months old which makes him about 5 months now. Freddie is basically OK considering he has been on the streets for the first 3 and half months of his life. He had a fungal infection in his ears, probably worms, and er… his digestive system wasn’t great. So over 100 euros later he had ear drops, worming tablets, antibiotics and powder for his digestive system, and Frontline for keeping bugs at bay. We were told to get kitten food as he is still growing but he will not touch it, so adult it remains. He still needs a vaccination and has to be spayed as Scalea does not need any more feral cats wandering about.

Playing in the garden while I try to sweep up the mess he has made

Pets are not cheap, especially unexpected ones.

But he is doing well and seems happy. He does wake up John in the morning for feeding by basically pouncing on him and biting him, sometimes it is at 5am. Obviously John is not happy about that.

Freddie is also terrified of visitors. He hides under the stairs by the cantina on the bottom terrace and if they make a noise there is no chance of seeing him. Hopefully, he will grow out of that. It does make me wonder what happened to him as a tiny kitten, but there’s no way to find out.

People of Scalea

I do have to tell you about how friendly the people of Scalea are. Here are a couople of example.

John went to a garage to get our car’s headlight bulb changed and the people there were so friendly and helpful. As usual, they wanted to know where he is from. Then when he says that we are residents, they are so happy and very grateful that we’ve chosen to live here. The next question is another usual one, ‘Why?’. We have an answer of sun, mountains and sea in one town. Also, it only cost 5 euros to have the light changed by them.

Another time he was in the supermarket checkout queue and he was talking to the checkout assistant who was friendly and wanted to speak English after initially being shy. Then the person behind John shouted his name. John said yes and it was a woman who worked in a trattoria in the old town ‘A’ Taverna. She said she was incredibly grateful for the good review we put on Facebook and looks forward to see us when all this is over. There are just two examples this month of how lovely the people of Scalea are without having an agenda.

We have now been here for very nearly 2 years and if anyone recognises us even if we have never spoken, there are waves from people in vehicles and saying hello when walking by.

Italian Driving licence?

Well, we went to the driving school and said our paper permission has expired. So he took our UK licences and permissions and told us to return the next afternoon.

We went back the next day and he gave us…

…wait for it…

…the original paper permissions but this time with an expiry date of 31 December 2020 stamped in bright red. Even John laughed about it as there is nothing anybody can do.

There you go. No plastic ones yet and no one knows when we will receive them. Obviously, Brexit and COVID is not a great mix. We just keep thinking that we are in the system so hopefully it will be OK.

Next time I write it will be after Christmas. We are hoping to make limoncello as it is lemon and other citrus fruit season. Hope I can tell you good things about that.

In the meantime, I will wish you a safe, peaceful, healthy and lovely Christmas.

Buon Natale!

10 thoughts on “In and out of the Red Zone

  1. Just discovered this, Michelle.
    We have an Apartment in Pizzo and have been going to Calabria for 10 years.
    Really great to read about a beautiful Calabria that we recognise, in your Blog.

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