Bad weather in Southern Italy
I think I will start with the weather as it was major news here this month.
Southern Italy has suffered major rains and winds in October. Torrential rain and very strong winds hit parts of Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria causing damage by winds and floods, sadly a few people have died. We were very fortunate that we didn’t see the worst of it here in Scalea. Yes, we had strong winds and rain but no worse than we have had before but it was more swirly. There was no major damage or flooding. If anything was loose and not against a wall, it would fly but we moved quickly. Once we heard the strong winds, which was quite sudden, we moved all moveable outside items to the wall of the apartment and turned the patio table upside down. This time the wind was coming from various angles so it was hard to judge where to put things. Normally our downstairs terrace is sheltered and have never had anything blow around there before, but this time items were blown off the shelves. Fortunately we only had one item broken, a glass framed vintage style poster. During the night, our potted mandarin tree was blown over despite moving it close to the wall, unfortunately the terracotta pot was broken. But thankfully that was it.
Our cat Freddie was not happy at all. He is pretty much a wild cat and spends most of his time outdoors and he came in for shelter and then wanted to go out. So we opened the window for him to see what it was like. Obviously, there was no way he liked that windy stormy weather, so he came back in. The problem was, being a cat he wanted to check pretty much every 2 minutes. We had the weather for at least 2 days. It was easier to deal with the winds, ha-ha.
Even with the bad winds and rain, October wasn’t cold, definitely not cold enough to switch on the pellet stove. There have been very lovely warm days. October gave us stunning sunsets and a fabulous sunrise, see John’s photo below.
Trying a New Bar
We tried a new bar in Scalea called ViaVai. They used to be in the town on Via Lauro but they closed that during one of the many lockdowns and re-emerged recently on the seafront where the lidos, bars and restaurants are. So one day before we had a meal at Cimalonga Ristorante, John, Tony E and I thought we’d give it a try. It was very busy and there was a saxophone player playing music, there was a good vibe. We decided to have gin and tonics, they served premium gins and tonics. They were very nice. But there were no nibbles which we normally expect in and Italian bar and service was very slow, as there were not enough staff to cope with all the people.
We went again a couple of weeks later with Moira, our American friend. She has just bought a property after waiting pretty much 2 years and quite a bit of stress for her. Anyway, we sometimes meet at Bar da Pietro for a sundowner but they close on a Thursday during the off season. We thought we’d meet at ViaVai to watch the sunset. We ordered Aperol Spritz, again no nibbles and the spritzes were a bit weak. After one we walked up the beach to a bar called Ragno Doc. Their Spritzes were a lot stronger. Hopefully ViaVai will sort themselves out in time as it is a great place and fantastic location.
Watching the new Bond film
I am sure you are aware that the new Bond film was released in October. Well we are Bond fans so we wanted to see it. At first, we thought we would go to a cinema that showed the film with the original voice i.e. English. We looked at Naples, Rome and various other places. Unfortunately the trains to cities further afield were more expensive than we wanted to pay on the dates we were looking. So that ruled that out as we couldn’t justify spending around €500 to see a film when we consider trains, accommodation and meals. The nearest was Naples but not near a train station. Our car needs a service as there are minor things that need looking at so John doesn’t not want to go too far in it, until it is done. I suppose it should be done soon, but in Calabria we have noticed there is always a tomorrow (domani). So we decided to go local and watch it in Italian, we are in Italy after all. The nearest cinema to us is Praia a Mare just a few minutes north of us. It is a small cinema and has 2 screens. It is tucked away in the middle of a housing area near the train station, with apartments above it. We booked seats online and had to show our Covid Green Passes at the kiosk to enter. I have to say that this is the only time since having our vaccines that we have had to show our Green Pass.
We enjoyed it. We bought some nachos, dips and a drink and we had a whole row to ourselves. It was strange hearing Bond and everyone dubbed in Italian and the first half (more on that later) contained more action than dialogue, so was self-explanatory. There was more dialogue in the second half so a little more difficult to follow but we got the gist. We will watch it again in English when we can.
I mentioned halves so I’ll explain. Halfway through the film, it suddenly stopped. John and I looked at each other and thought there must be a technical problem. Then the screen displayed the word “Intervale”. Yes, there was an interval. This is the first time I have watched a film in the cinema and had an interval. I didn’t think that happened anymore. Obviously, here in Calabria it still does.
October gave us a lot of chillies. I planted seeds earlier in the year and October I decided to cut them. I put some in the freezer and others I dried and made chilli oil. I tried to dry them outside but it was a bit windy (see above). So I dried them in the oven at a low temperature. When I pick them, I thought they were so pretty and placed them in a candle holder for a day as a table decoration.
Meeting More Readers of my Blog
I was contacted earlier in the year by someone who reads my blog. His name is Ted from the United States. He said he and his wife Gail was coming to Scalea and asked if we could meet up one evening for a meal. Of course I said yes. They bought an apartment sight unseen via the internet. Luckily, they like it and they are hoping to move here soon. We met them at a restaurant called La Piazzetta just off Piazza Caloprese. They are a lovely couple. We had a chat and they said that my blog kept their hopes up during Covid times and of coming to visit Italy. It makes me happy that my words and sharing our story can keep people up when times are down. We had a great meal. It was our first visit there and we enjoyed it. Ted and Gail gave me lovely presents from their hometown Gold Beach in Oregon. I was very touched. Thank you both.
Help From a Stranger
One day our friend Moira was spending a lovely day in Belvedere Marittimo. During lunchtime she ate a lovely meal at a mainly seafood restaurant and went to pay the bill, and then horror of horrors realised she lost her wallet. So she lost cash, cards, driving licence and had no way to pay. She told the owners and said she would retrace her steps in the hope to find it. She offered to leave her passport (luckily not in the wallet) to show that she was genuine. The woman at the restaurant must have saw that Moira was genuine and told her not to worry. Moira did search everywhere she went but unfortunately the wallet was nowhere to be seen. So she had to return to the restaurant to explain and apologise profusely. The woman at the restaurant was so upset for her and was so worried that she had no money and no way to get money quickly from the US that she did the amazing thing and gave Moira €50. I hope I am wrong but I do not think many restaurants outside of Calabria would do such a thing. When Moira returned to Scalea and told us my eyes was filling up as it was such a lovely thing to do.
We took Moira to the Carabinieri in Belvedere to get a police report. Moira had to somehow get money, we obviously helped until her daughter wired money to our account for her which took a few days. Her friend Rosa in the US waited in Moira’s house for her bankcard so she could send it on to Scalea, which took just over a week. So it was quite a stressful time for Moira but it is all over now, she has her money and also her new home in Scalea.
We agreed once everything was settled, we would go to that restaurant to say thank you and also for Moira to pay them back. So we did. Moira, Tony E, John and I went there for lunch one day and had a really good meal. The woman recognised her and asked if she was OK and was so pleased that she was.
This is just one example of how lovely people from Calabria are. Like anywhere there are rogue people, but in the main they are just warm, open and friendly.
First Trip to Cosenza – but not for the reason that we would like
If you are not aware Cosenza is the capital of the province than Scalea is part of, which is also called Cosenza.
Our friend Tony E has a problem with his leg where he has an aneurysm. He has had it for a little while but the doctors were not too worried about it. He had a scan earlier in the month and was told that it needed to be treated or removed. So after a visit to the local doctor he needed to go to Cosenza Emergency hospital. As Tony is in his eighties, lives alone as his son and daughter live elsewhere, and was quite stressed about it, it was better that someone went with him. He had his nearby friend Francis who went with him for his scan and the doctor initially but for the hospital visit, John and I went with him. We went by taxi as it was least stressful way. We used a local man called Nino as we have used him lots of times before we had our car.
We were picked up at just after 6am then we picked up Tony. It is a very picturesque journey from Scalea to Cosenza especially as the sun was rising although it was quite a misty morning.
We had never been to Cosenza, so the original plan was that we would drop Tony off after making sure he was OK and getting the procedure (as he can’t be in a safer place than a hospital). Nino would go back to Scalea and we would look around Cosenza then take the train home. That did not happen.
John assisted Tony to walk from the taxi into the hospital. I had Tony’s overnight bag and Nino went to move the taxi from the emergency ambulance bay. John was then told that he could not leave and I was told to get out of the building and take the bag as that would be needed later. I had no idea when later was.
So I was outside the hospital not knowing where to go or what to do. There was a ramp out but it said you are not allowed to walk down it. What should I do? After a few minutes I thought well that is the only way out and was just about to walk. Then a woman who looked like she was just treated, as she had patches above both eyes (I wonder what happened) walked down the ramp. So did I. At the bottom of the ramp on to the street I saw Nino’s taxi. He asked what happened and I said they just said “vai vai” which is go go.
Then Nino asked if I want a coffee, I said yes. So we walked to the nearest bar and I had hot chocolate and a cornetto as I had no breakfast. I know I said yes to a coffee but I wasn’t going to argue then was I. Also, I hate coffee. Nino had a coffee (espresso). Amazingly, after we finished, Nino paid, I said no but he did anyway.
So I was in contact with John by phone for updates and Tony apologised. So we waited around, Nino called his friend who lives in the area to meet up, had a bit of a walk around the area. It wasn’t the best place but there were nice buildings. What I did notice was there are a lot of trees and the buildings are a lot larger than in Scalea. Obviously, it has been a while since I saw a city.
Then John called and said they were coming out of hospital and that. Tony is not having the procedure that day. He will be contacted and it should be the following Wednesday, which is 3rd November. This was during a walk around the block and Nino had just met with his friend. He said sorry and she walked with us until we got back to the taxi. So we got into the taxi and Nino drove up to the hospital. John and Tony were nowhere to be seen and John said they are waiting for paperwork. Nino went in to see where they were after a few minutes he came out and looked angry.
He then drove us to the centre of Cosenza and we walked up the main street which I later found out it was Corso G Mazzini. It is the commercial centre by the looks of it and stalls were being set up selling chocolate. There was a chocolate festival. Shame I didn’t have time to have a proper look round. After about 20 minutes John called back saying they were finally out, actually out of the hospital. We walked back to the taxi and found it was blocked in by a couple of cars. I just got in the taxi and Nino went to find who it was to sort it out.
We then arrived at the hospital and picked up John and Tony. Nino started to drive back to Scalea but stopped off at a service station for a coffee and a cake to eat. Finally we got back at around 12pm I think. What a crazy 6 hours and Nino was a star. We slept well that night.
So after that eventful day it is the end of October and also the end of this post. Hope you are back to see what happens in November’s edition.