Welcome to my blog for December 2022. This month, we see the Christmas lights of Salerno, visit La Rondinella Agriturismo for the first time and take a look around L’Arco Magno among others.
December in Scalea was really warm. The sun was shining for the most part and temperatures were mainly in the 20°Cs (+68°F). It was so nice that we could walk around in t-shirts during the day. It did chill in the night but to around 14°C (57°F).
We went to the garden centre called Agrigarden which is located on the outskirts of Scalea towards Santa Domenica Talao and Orsomarso. In December, the inside shop has lots of Christmas trees, decorations and poinsettias. Poinsettias are extremely popular in Italy at Christmastime and they are called Stella di Natale (Christmas Star). Pretty much every shop and supermarket that sells plants will have them for sale in December.
Visit to L’Arco Magno
One day Moira asked if I would like to go with her to the beautiful beach of Arco Magno. If you don’t know about this place, it is a small beach which is facing west and the entrance from the sea is a natural arch. It is just stunning. Recently the Comune (council) of Praia A Mare, where it is located, has stopped anyone or any vessel entering the beach through the arch as there is a danger that the arch can collapse at any moment. The only way there is to walk on the very uneven pathway. The Comune controls the number of people in the summer for the same reason and to keep the natural beauty for a long as possible. In summer, you must pay a small fee (3 euros per person) and only go there with a guide and stay limited to 20 minutes.
As it is winter, we could go with a guide, it was beautiful to see it with no one else. I would say that if you have mobility issues it would be very difficult as getting on to the path alone is a climb.
Scalea Christmas lights
Scalea is not known for it’s Christmas lights, in fact during the time we have lived here, it is probably better known for the lack of them. Let’s call them understated. This year they were very nice. There was a tree with lights, a red heart and a red drop shape. Later I found out from a post of the Comune of Scalea that is signifies the need of giving blood which is a great cause as any one of us could need donated blood at some point. Piazza Caloprese also has lovely lights over the piazza and some shops, bars and restaurants do their own thing too. All in all it does feel very Christmassy.
Salerno Christmas lights
A place that is famed for its Christmas lights is the city of Salerno. Justin has a specialist doctor that is based in the University Hospital of Salerno. And one day he had an appointment and asked if we would like to go with him and Michael, so we can see the lights of Salerno after his visit to the doctor. Apparently, the lights are very good. So we decided we would go.
Salerno is approximately a two-hour drive north from Scalea in the region of Campania. After waiting at the hospital for Justin’s appointment to finish, off we went to find these lights.
There were lights pretty much all over the city which we saw from the car. Which were lovely but we were sure there were more. So Justin kept driving around. In the end after going around the same area at least three times seeing the same undressed mannequins in a children’s clothing shop window, we asked someone and searched further on Google maps. We eventually found the lights in the end. They were amazing!
If you are looking to visit Salerno at Christmas the main lights are in Piazza Flavio Gioia off Via Velia. Then walk around that area on Via Mercanti and then make your way to the Villa Communale.
We had something to eat at a restaurant called Osso, on Piazza Sedile di Portanova the food there was really lovely. Villa Comunale is about a 10-minute walk from that restaurant along the main road Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Michael’s surprise party
Michael’s birthday is in December. He thought John and I were just going round to theirs in the evening for pizza and wine. But what he didn’t know was his friend, Kristy arranged a surprise party at lunch time at one of his favourite restaurants Tari in the old town of Scalea. So he went to Tari with Justin and mother-in-law Karen for what he thought was a quiet birthday meal, but Kristy arranged for quite a few people to go. So Michael looked very happy when he saw us all and he had lovely presents and the food and birthday cake was great.
La Rondinella Agriturismo
La Rondinella is a name you see in a few places around Scalea and Praia A Mare. They have a nice restaurant called La Rondinella Osteria Pop which is located in the old town of Scalea. They also have a prosciutteria in Scalea and Praia A Mare. There is also a restaurant called Agriturismo La Rondinella which is more in the countryside not far from our place. Here they produce meals from their own farm on site. Moira invited us and Justin, Michael and Karen to go one evening, Unfortunately, Justin was ill over the Christmas period so they were unable to come. They had been before and said it was good. Actually pretty much everyone we know who went there say it is very good. So the three of us went and everyone was right. The food was amazing. First the antipasti. It was a mix of all sorts, cured meats, vegetable dishes there was even a fried egg with grated black truffle.
The next course was pasta. We had a gnocchi dish in a pumpkin sauce and a foamy cream cheese on top that was done with a syphon in front of us. That was so rich we were filled instantly. The thing was that they also supplied us with another pasta dish that was a ragu. We all had a tiny bit of that then I asked if we could take the rest away as it was so good, no way was that going to waste. We then somehow managed to each a small number of pastries for dessert.
I would definitely recommend going but make sure you bring a big appetite. I now wonder what the meat course would be like.
Changing our outside cooking area
One day John decided to check out our barbeque that we keep on the lower terrace. When he did, he saw that it was very rusty and pretty much dangerous and all the metal near the gas burners were rotten with rust. I guess that is what happens when you live near the sea. So it was too dangerous to use as it could collapse at any moment.
John decided to break it all up and discard. So then we didn’t have anything to cook on outside. We had some wood and Justin had an old pallet in his garage which he kindly gave to us. Therefore John created a unit and we bought a portable two-burner gas cooker to place on top. So when we are finished cooking it can be stored inside the cantina away from the elements.
Dinner at Trattoria Il Gallo Bianco
Just before Christmas we went to the trattoria Il Gallo Bianco. We hadn’t been since my birthday in August. We went with Moira, Tony E and his daughter Helen, who now lives in Scalea. It is always nice to return there, we feel so welcome and there is no question to why we haven’t been for a while. There was no reason, just time flying. As usual the food was lovely the antipasti contained cured meats and cheeses from Verbicaro so local mountain produce. The amazing bean dish that I could eat a bucket load of. The pasta was lovely too, we had veal ragu. Very much looking forward to going back to Lorenzo and Angela’s trattoria in 2023.
We spent Christmas day with Moira at our place. It was a change of plan, originally, we were all invited to Justin and Michael’s. As I stated before, Justin was sick. He caught a bad cold off his dentist which turned into bronchitis. So we invited Moira to ours and quickly decided to buy what we are used to. A sort of typical English Christmas, but not turkey, we roasted a 2kg piece of pancetta (pork belly) with sides of red cabbage, roast potatoes and carrots, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Followed by trifle made from mascarpone and lots of berries and limoncello.
Quick trip to see Giovanni in Papsidero
Our friend Giovanni informed us that he was back from Naples to Papasidero for Christmas and asked if we were free to meet up. Of course we were. So we met up one day and had a coffee at a bar there. He kindly gave us some produce from his family’s land. Wine and Rangpur limes, which we had never heard of before. But later found out that Tanqueray make a gin from them. They are not like limes they look like mandarins but are more sour apparently. Can’t wait to give them a go in something.
Giovanni showed us inside the church in Papasidero which we had been to before, but as it is Christmas, they had a very impressive nativity scene inside.
Also there was a nativity scene outside too.
New Year’s Eve
We ended the year at Moira’s. It was a great night we chatted, listened to music, she made a great pasta dish with cream and lemons and at midnight we watched Scalea’s amazing fireworks. There is not only one big display from Moira’s balcony. Similar to ours there’s a great view of the whole of Scalea and therefore all the fireworks that people set off. It went on for ages. The comune organised a music event too so we got to hear that. It was great as we felt like we were in a royal box watching it all. So thanks for the invite, Moira.
So that’s the end of 2022. Thank you for reading about our lives living in Scalea. I am very grateful for your interest and the comments I receive.
So Happy New Year, I hope it goes well for you, but if you do get difficult times, I wish you the strength to get through it.