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The Pinnacle of Summer, August in Scalea

Welcome to August!

August’s weather was hot sunny as expected, but for the first time since we moved here there was a thunderstorm at some point during each afternoon or evening. Our friend Giovanni said that’s what he remembers about summers as a child, the afternoon rain. It also keeps the summer fires away which is a very good thing as there were quite a few fires last couple of summers.

Scalea itself was very busy. Every apartment near us was occupied and therefore noisy. It is always a shock to the system. It was the first summer when there were no real Covid restrictions. The only rules were that we must wear a mask on public transport and in medical facilities. Also if you were positive with COVID you isolated for one week and then only return to the outside world when you were negative. This meant that there was a full entertainment schedule throughout August and into September. So summer was back to normal.

Visit from Nicola and Family

We have good friends that are from Bologna, Nicola, his wife Katia and their teenage daughter Sofia. John and Nicola have known each other for 30 years. We all worked for the same Italian company, Nicola in Bologna and John and me in England. Since we moved to Scalea, we have always told them that they are more than welcome to stay with us. Then one day Nicola said that they are coming to visit us. How exciting!

They had never visited Calabria before, well Nicola visited Tropea as a small child but doesn’t really remember. They have a holiday home just north of Rimini which is an area where a lot of Bolognese people have summer homes. Scalea has the Napolitani and Rimini has the Bolognese. I suppose there are seaside towns all over Italy that is the same being packed in summer with nearby city residents. Anyway, Nicola and family stay there during each summer. This year they took three days out of their August holiday to drive a 9-hour drive down to Scalea and stayed with us. After their long journey, John and I decided that we would cook, so they can relax. John decided to make Pasta al Ragù (pasta with a meat sauce). This was a little scary, making a ragù for people from Bologna. But thankfully they liked it, obviously Nicola said that it is different to his but he liked it. Phew! I decided to make trifle for afters which went down well too and there was enough for another day.

One evening during their stay Nicola said that we will have typical Bolognese food and him and John will make it. So we had Crescentine. Crescentine are a bread dough that is rolled out thinly and the then cut into irregular shapes, then fried so they puff up like little pillows. They were served with cured meats and creamy cheese. Very tasty indeed. They made enough to feed us all for two nights. One evening we had pizza at our local restaurant pizzeria Il Corsaro, because they have pizza every week no matter where they are, so that was a must, luckily, they enjoyed thei pizzas. Also Nicola had a long conversation with the owner Gianluca. Nicola is very inquisitive.

During their days with us we went to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Maratea as they wanted to see that, we went to a lido in Praia a Mare on the way back and also went on a boat trip around Dino Island one morning which was amazing. We also showed them the view at San Nicola Arcella. We also had a drink at Ottocento in the old town, so they could see that beautiful Piazza de Palma Maggiore. So basically the must-see places in a short space of time. Other times they went to the lido da Pietro to relax, Sofia is a water baby so she needs to be in the water. Also Katia was desperate to swim in the blue sea of Calabria as the beach where they have their holiday home is brown so the sea is not as blue as here on the Calabrian coast.

A surprise during a meal at ViGri

As I mentioned earlier, afternoons or evenings in August had a rainstorm. One day we got caught out. We were having a lovely meal at the restaurant ViGri with our Friends, Tony, Rachel, Cam and Sue. ViGri has a lovely outside eating space with very large umbrellas to give shade from the hot sun. The night we were there, halfway during our meal, there was lightning and then suddenly the heavens opened. There was torrential rain for what seemed like ages. I wasn’t getting wet but Rachel who was sat next to me got soaked. Eventually people were going towards the restaurant and the staff moved us all inside to finish off our meals. It was hilarious. But we all got our meals.

Trip to Papasidero for San Rocco Festival

Giovanni invited us to Papasidero for the procession and festival of San Rocco, the village’s patron saint. We said yes and he said invite your friends. So in the end 11 of us went. There was the procession from the bottom church to the very top. Not for people with mobility issues. And then there was a mass in the top church followed by the procession down. Afterwards there was a celebration at the local bar where we had either porchetta, or sausage panini with wine or beer. We had a great time and everyone loved Papasidero.

Then there was an amazing firework display. On the way back to the car there also was a live band so we watched them for a while and had a bit of a dance before we left.

It was such a great event and it was surprisingly large festival for such a small village, but people who are originally from Papasidero returned from all over the world for this special day to reconnect with their village and meet up with family and friends. It is wonderful that this happens every year to keep the village alive.

Praia A Mare International Food Festival

During the year, across Italy there are international street food festivals organised by a company called International Street Food Italia, yes in English. I am always surprised when there are English words used in Italy when they have one of the most beautiful languages in the world. Anyway, one of these festivals was in Praia A Mare. I had seen this advertised before but we never managed to get there, no real excuse apart from apathy. So I was talking to Justin and he said that he and Michael was going there for their You Tube Channel so we thought we’d go.

We arrived as they were just setting up, the start time did say 18.00 but when do you see Italians eating anything at 6pm. So it was interesting to see them start cooking, at least we know it’s freshly cooked. There were a few vans which had Sicilian street food like arancini along with sweeter items like cannoli and marzipan fruit and praline almonds. There were burger bars of course and kebab type stall. After about an hour or so we all went to different stalls to order. I had the Argentinian beef burger, which was very tasty with barbeque sauce, cheese and bacon. John had an octopus sandwich which he said was originally succulent then ended up tough. Justin had lamb skewers which were sort of like thin shish kebabs and skewered grilled Caciocavallo which is an Italian cheese. Michael also had a burger but from a different stall to me, which he liked. Funny thing was we all ordered at the various stands, there was a sudden rain shower (see above) so we had to run to find shelter under a tree. Luckily, we found one and didn’t get too wet. You can see more on Justin and Michael’s video here. https://youtu.be/uN2pTbfZgyE

Birthday time

August was the month of birthdays, well mine and our friend Trevor from London.

For his, we started with drinks at the bar La Dolce Isola on Piazza Caloprese, then to Il Corsaro. Afterwards, some of us went to catch the end of the music concert that was playing in the courtyard of Palazzo dei Prinicipi Spinelli. It was very good music. At the same time, there was the Festa del Pesce Azzurro (Blue fish festival), which is a celebration of the local specialty fried alici (anchovies). Most of our group left as taxi was booked and John, Moira and I were ready to go home but thought we’d stay and enjoy the music for a little while first. So it was a great evening.

Then it was my birthday a few days later. I decided to go to the Trattoria Il Gallo Bianco for lunch, it is so friendly there and food is local and very tasty. So John booked the table. When we arrived, we realised that it was only for us which meant we had the restaurant to ourselves, which was amazing.

Justin and Michael were there and somehow Michael got to do palm reading, he used to do it professionally in the US. When one person had it done, we all wanted it done (well the women did) including the chef of the restaurant.

I had lovely presents so thank you everyone and we all had a great time. Justin and Michael invited us round to theirs after to carry on with festivities where Michael read my Tarot cards. That was interesting but I don’t remember a lot, possibly due to alcohol – ha-ha.

The next day, John and I did feel worse for wear, but not because of alcohol but because we had contracted COVID, it finally found us. This is the reason that this post is a little later than usual. As I am writing this, it is 8th September, we are still positive but are feeling much better than the end of August and first few days of September, but we will stay at home until we are negative so at least it ends with us.

I just want to say thanks so much to Moira for getting us some food and giving us her covid tests and to Justin for getting us more tests. At least at the moment those guys haven’t caught it and hope it stays that way.

So that is it for August and a little of September. Hope you all stay well and see you next time.

ciao!

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