For most of December, Calabria was in the yellow zone which gave us more freedom inside the region of Calabria. Even though we didn’t venture out of Scalea, we had a feeling of being more free and not having the worry of being stopped by police when driving or walking around. Also, this meant we could visit restaurants again but they could only open until 6pm and there was a national curfew of 10pm. So, instead of going to Il Corsaro on Sunday night we went Sunday lunchtime, then as we were so merry, we decided to have a pizza later on as they could do takeaway pizzas until 10pm.
The Italian government decided for Christmas and New Year to make the whole of Italy a red zone, which basically is lockdown. This means we must have a reason to leave our house, for shopping or health etc. But there was also a loophole to the red zone this time. Up to two people could travel to another household for celebrating Christmas and New Year. This meant that it was possible for Tony E, who lives by himself to come and stay with us over Christmas so he was not alone. Therefore, he did one of his famous curries for us on Christmas Eve.
We all had a lovely Christmas day, although the weather was very wet. We bought a locally made cedro panettone by Mary Lou Pasticceria and used one of the local butchers (macellaria) on Piazza Caloprese for pork shoulder for our Christmas meal. This shoulder lasted us days, it was rather big but very yummy. Also we ate far too much on Christmas Day that we didn’t touch the panettone until the 27th. We still have some now.
In between Christmas and New Year, it was an orange zone. We did not need a reason to go out and about within the municipality. Well, this was great, but as the weather was really wet from Christmas Eve, we didn’t venture very far anyway.
Christmas tree hunt
During the early part of December, I was hoping to buy a real Christmas tree, just like last year but for some reason I could not find one. Both me and Denisa really wanted one. Last year we bought ours from the supermarket Conad but they didn’t have any this year. So we tried the garden centre, but there were none there either. Also the small garden shop in town, but theirs didn’t look like they would last until New Year. So, this year we both had to give up and buy a plastic one. They did look nice once decorated. To be honest Freddie is loving this one, I suppose he thinks that it is a big toy. All I shall say is we are happy we decided to not put any breakable decorations on the tree this year.
This time of year, there are many trees around with lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits. Miro and Denisa had lots of lemons of various kinds because a man they know has quite a few trees. So, we all decided to make limoncello. It is a very easy process but here are a few different methods online. We thought we try a quick version and a long version.
The quick version is soaking lemon peel without the white part for 3 days in 250ml of 95% alcohol. This can be bought in any supermarket here if you get there quick enough as it is liqueur making season. After the 3 days you then dissolve 250g of sugar in 750ml of water, adding the muslin strained alcohol and then it is ready to drink.
The other version is the same amount of everything but instead of waiting just 3 days you first wait 30 days. Then mix the water and sugar solution with the strained alcohol and wait a further 40 days for it to mature.
The original one was extremely nice and disappeared quite quickly, we are still waiting for the long version of course which should be ready about St. Valentine’s Day. We shall see if it is worth the wait.
With the left over juice I made lemon curd.
Well, we still do not have our driving licences. This month a very er… interesting thing happened. The manager of the Autoscuola who is sorting out our licences has been arrested along with a number of others for fraud, faking documents and other reasons. He is currently under house arrest. Great! So hopefully as we are in the system and there was no fakery as far as we know, we will get our Italian driving licenses but who knows. I will keep you informed. This is going on forever!
Reflecting on the last two years
December is the anniversary of us leaving the UK and moving to Scalea as well as our wedding. We have now been living here for two years. The time has gone so quickly, it’s ridiculous. We are very lucky to have made great friends. Our friends here are like a family, we have all been here for a similar amount of time and we help each other out with knowledge, advice and anything else and have great days or nights when we can. The people of Scalea are very friendly and open as I have said in a previous post, and they still don’t mind if our Italian is awful.
When John and I see the sea (which is every day) no matter the weather, we still can’t believe that it is so close. After living in the centre of the UK where we had to travel to see it, I don’t think we will ever take it for granted. The warmer climate is just lovely. Our mental health has improved, the daily stress has gone. Yes, there have been ups and downs and we still miss family and friends like mad. It is not perfect and the knowledge of where to go and what to do even now is still in its infancy. This can be very frustrating but we have learned to move on and not dwell on anything. John being retired and me with a lot less working wage has taught us what matters. We don’t need to buy expensive things and have lavish holidays as there is nothing to have a break from or reward ourselves for. We are very grateful with what we have, where we are and are very happy we are now out of the rat race and in a warmer climate (although it was hailing today).
Obviously the COVID situation has stopped us from travelling locally and seeing more of Calabria which we still want to do. I want to see Reggio Calabria further south, Cosenza the capital of our province and travel on a train all the way to Sicily, just to name a few. Hopefully, we will get the chance. For now, we are just in Scalea, which is definitely not a bad place to be.
Living here during the Covid situation has made us even more grateful for where we live. Scalea is a small city, yes officially it is a city. There have been very few cases. There were none until later in the year. Now there are 20. Out of a population of around 11,000 that is not bad. So, it seems we have timed it well and have chosen a great place to live. Long may it continue.
There are a few people who planned to visit or even come to live here over the Christmas and new year but weren’t able to. I really hope to see you all soon and send our love.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog over the past year and sending your comments whether on each post or direct from my contact page. I wish you a healthy 2021 as that is what it is all about now, but also a happy and fulfilling one.
Buon Anno a tutti