Meeting new people, having good times and trying new things

As I am writing this, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. It is very windy and the rain is coming down hard. I can see the laundry of the person opposite us across the valley in the old town and it is being blown upside down. I am amazed that the clothes have not been blown off. Luckily, we are not getting it too bad as we face east and the wind is coming from the southwest, although we have made sure there is no laundry hanging outside and our lemon and mandarin trees are moved to the house so they do not get blown over.

The weather in March was quite mixed as it usually is this time of year. When the sun comes out it is very warm indeed, when it rains it cools and you need further layers. Today it is best to be inside.

This is what happened in March, I hope you enjoy.

Peace March

The Comune of Scalea announced that there would be a peace march through the city on the evening of 1st March, so we thought we would take part and see also see what it was about. John had to wait for a delivery of gas, so I ventured down myself and let him know where I was when he was ready.

It started in Piazza Aldo Moro which is the main carpark in Scalea. When I arrived, there was already a crowd of people, which was good as I would hate being the first person there. A nun gave me a candle with a little cup which stops the wax from burning your hand. They are obviously experienced in candle holding with all the processions that happen throughout the year.

The march (well I would say a gentle walk) went through the pedestrianised Piazza Caloprese, Via Lauro and Via Fiume Lao (where John joined me) then towards the Comune building. There were people from Scalea, Ukraine, Russia, Poland and other countries, and us from England of course. When we arrived at the Comune building the Mayor made a some sort of speech, unfortunately, we could not hear a word as we were farther back and there were no speaker system. At this point the cynical side comes out, it is just a publicity stunt. It obviously doesn’t change anything in the world, but it was still nice to see and take part in community life.

A Great Guided Tour of Papasidero

I was contacted by one of my readers, called Giovanni who is Italian. It is just amazing that I have readers from Italy too. He lives and works in Naples and his family home is in a small town called Papasidero about 30 minutes on a winding road inland from Scalea. He said he would like to show us around Papasidero. So of course I said yes. There is nothing better than a local showing you around their town.

We arranged a date when he was in town. He said he likes to get away from the hectic city of Naples. He said that Papasidero is the perfect place to relax and unwind away from crowds and stress.

Giovanni with the beautiful town Papsidero behind him

We had an amazing time and we can certainly see why he often returns to de-stress. He told us about the town. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The name Papasidero come from a Greek abbot who was head of the monastery who was called Papas Isidoros (Father Isidoros). He also told us that his ancestors built some parts of the town, like the new bridge over the river and a school.

He showed us many places in Papasidero. The river Lao which originates in the mountains in Basilicata and comes out to the Tyrrhenian Sea just south of us in Scalea. It is so beautiful and looks extremely clean. He said it is very refreshing in the summer months. People come for rafting and other things to do. There is another river that is used to supply water to Scalea and other towns.

We saw the remains of the Norman castle at the top of the town, which is not too different to the one we see every day in Scalea. Those Normans have been everywhere in Europe, I think.

Norman Castle Ruins

We went inside a church called San Francesco da Paola (St Francis of Paola). San Francesco is the patron saint of Paola which is not far away from Scalea and probably because of this, there are a lot of men called Francesco in the local area.

We also saw the Santuario della Madonna di Costantinopoli (The Sanctuary of the Madonna of Constantinople). This building looks like it clings to the rocks behind it and Giovanni’s ancestors built the new bridge over the medieval one to make sure it can be seen and not get destroyed.

Giovanni also showed us where he lives when he is in town. It is a lovely old house and he has kept it as it was. He has his own hand painted artwork; he is very talented. And up some very steep stairs there was a bread/pizza oven and objects from the past like a box for radioactive aperitivo, which is a worry. It was like a small museum. We really enjoyed seeing it.

If spending his time showing us around was not generous enough, Giovanni also gave us some of his home-grown Seville oranges, normal eating oranges and some lemons. He said the Seville orange tree is only grown for decoration and he knows that us English people like marmalade so he thought we would like the oranges to make Seville orange marmalade.

Making Marmalade

So a few days later we made some marmalade. I had never made it before, so I used a recipe from good old Delia Smith (If you don’t know who Delia Smith is, she is a cook that pretty much taught the British how to cook from the 1970s). It worked a treat.

So thank you so much Giovanni for the fantastic afternoon in Papasidero and the oranges and lemons, we have a jar of marmalade especially for you.

Seville orange Gin

As well as marmalade, we have infused some sliced oranges in a bottle of gin with cardamom pods, so in two months we should have Seville orange gin. I will let you know what that is like of course.

Jenny’s birthday

March was also the birthday of our friend Jenny. A few of our other Swedish friends came with her to celebrate, which was nice. We celebrated at her favourite restaurant La Rondinella in centro storico and the traditional Italian food was lovely as it normally is.

Afterwards, a few of us stayed out to celebrate more, but the birthday girl went to bed. So Jenny’s husband Ola (we call him Paddy), Joachim, John and I, carried on in the late-night bar Valhalla until around 3am.

A few days later, we went to Tarì for lunch with Jenny and Ola and new friends (again from Sweden) Helena and Jan. Tarì has been closed for a while as it is under new management and was having a refurbishment. Now it is open. The place has been decorated very nicely, I like it a lot. And the important thing is that they still do the fried onions before you eat our meal so we were pleased about that. We were there for quite a while. We arrived at around 1.30pm and did not leave until 10.30pm. So ten hours of eating and drinking. I have to say we were in no fit state the following day…oops. There have been a several days of detoxing since – haha

Another picnic in Praia a Mare

Last month we enjoyed our little lunch on the vast beach in Praia A Mare so much, we decided to do it again. But things had changed. The lidos are starting to get ready for the summer, so the place we sat last time looked like was cordoned off by a lido’s fence. How disappointing! Other lidos are starting to be rebuilt so I guess life is coming back to Praia. We went to the other side to the rocky part of the beach and sat on some rocks to eat. So we had a different view which was lovely. We then had a walk around and sat looking at Dino Island, we loved the curve of the bay. Apparently, the island has returned to the ownership of the town. I am not sure what this means but people seem happy about it. Maybe we will be able to visit the island at some point in the future, but we will have to wait and see. These things normally take a lot of time.

We had a walk around then we noticed the log we sat on before was moved. So we could have used it, but we were happy with where we were.

Tried Another Restaurant

We visited a pizzeria in San Nicola Arcella called Fa Tu with Justin and Michael. They heard great things about the place and wanted to go, so we thought we would go with them. It is a small place with a large terrace which has seating in the summer. It looks like the view from there is amazing, but it was dark so we couldn’t really see anything. It was too cold for eating outside and there were no chairs and tables, so we ate inside. Unfortunately for us, there was an event at 8.30pm so we only had an hour. This is normally unheard of in Italy but we decided to have pizza there and then go on to somewhere else.

I had a pizza called Bronte, with Bronte pistachios, pesto, and ham. I enjoyed mine but I thought there was far too much ham. John had a fried pizza topped with cheese and tomato. The bread is fried then topping added and then put in the oven to cook the topping. Michael had the same as John. They both really enjoyed their fried pizza bread saying that it was very light and not greasy at all. Justin had a Diavolo which has spicy salami. I think we all enjoyed our pizzas. They are pricier than we have had in other places. But with mine, I think anything with Bronte pistachios will be pricey as they are the pride of Sicily, growing in the fertile volcanic fields in the town of Bronte at the foot of Mount Etna.

Afterwards we decided to go to the bar Qcècè in the main piazza in the old town of San Nicola Arcella. We wanted Justin and Michael to see the place as we love it. We had wine and cocktails, and the owner made us nibbles to eat with them, it was a really great night.

Mandarin and Lemon

As I have said, we have a lemon tree and a mandarin tree in pots on our terrace. Last year, the lemon tree flowered abundantly but strong winds blew them off the tree. We ended up with only two lemons which was sad. Our mandarin tree did not flower at all so we had no mandarins.

This month we can see that both trees are starting to blossom so hopefully if we shelter them from the wind, we will have fruit later in the year. Let’s hope! I must check the wind speed regularly.

So that’s what happened to us in March. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed. Let’s see what happens in April (apart from the horrendous winds).

A presto!

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