January Brought Sun, Rain and Solidarity in Scalea.

Hello and welcome to The Calabrian Dream. If you are a follower, thank you for reading about our life. If this is your first visit, welcome. I am Michelle and I have been writing about our life in Scalea, Calabria since May 2018 before John and I moved here from England. You can check out the past posts on how we came to live here in Archive.

January 2023 was pretty much an admin month and quite costly too. January is the month when we paid the car tax called auto bollo. Auto bollo should be paid in January, you get penalties the longer you leave it. Although I don’t think they chase you for it so it can build up nicely. There are different ways that you can pay, either by going to an ACI (Automobile Club D’Italia) office, online on their site or like us now, pay though our Italian bank account via the app or website. The amount of tax is dependent on what car you have, ours was €185.

January is also the time to re-register with the health service where we go to the office in the hospital of Praia A Mare which also has an emergency facility by the way. I have to pay a contribution of at least €387.34 each year for January to the end of December. If you pay in December, you pay the same amount but it only lasts until the end of December. So if you are in the same position, make sure you pay early in the year to get your money’s worth. The contribution has to be paid before you register or re-register at the hospital. You have either complete the white bollettino and pay at the post office, or again you can pay through an Italian bank app if that facility is available. It makes life so much easier using the banking app, no more queueing at the post office. All I had to do is print of the proof of payment and hand it to the person in the hospital with all of my other paperwork. When we re-register I receive a new health card (tessera sanitaria). This lets me use the Italian health service and register with a family doctor. At the same time we changed our doctor to one that can speak English, far easier for us. As John is a pensioner, the UK pay for a lot of healthcare that John may need, so he does not pay anything and his health card last longer.

We get asked quite a bit about what the rules are now for UK nationals wanting to stay longer than visa free three months and healthcare after Brexit. Healthcare is the same as me I guess, but we do not know any details. Long stays, we have no idea and for anyone in the UK wanting to stay longer it is best to check out the website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-italy as we do not want to give incorrect information as you could get into some sort of trouble for overstaying. There have been some UK nationals being sent back to the UK from certain EU countries. Italy was not mentioned yet. All I can say is make sure you get the correct advice.

A Day in Cosenza

Talking of Brexit. As I said previously, as we were residents in Italy before the Brexit deadline of 31 January 2020, we have all the rights as EU citizens as long as we do not move from Italy. When entering the EU we need to show proof of residence, otherwise our passports will be stamped. So to make life easier or proof of residency easier, In December 2021, the Italian government introduced a permesso di soggiorno card for UK nationals who moved to Italy before the deadline. So we decided to apply for one. There is no need as it is not compulsory but we thought it is good to have because who knows what the future holds. These cards cost €30.46 each.

I made an appointment with the immigration office in Cosenza and they gave us a date of 10th January. We thought that we would make a day of it as we had not been to Cosenza properly before. So we took the train from Scalea to Cosenza. It only takes one hour and you can just relax. When we arrived at Cosenza station, we had no idea where to go. So we looked at Google Maps and it said it was a 40-minute walk. So we thought that would be OK as we have plenty of time. Unfortunately we went through an area that wasn’t that pleasant. But we got there. We found where the immigration office was and then looked around for somewhere to eat lunch as we had a couple of hours spare. Nearby there was a small restaurant called Ristorante Pelata Matta. It is a small restaurant and the food was very tasty, I definitely recommend it. To start, I had disc of potato with porcini and cheese, John had polpette in a tomato sauce and smoked ricotta. Then we both had a ragù made with pork with a glass of wine, followed by a lovely cheese cake.

So with our stomachs full, off we went to the Immigration Office a few minutes before our appointment time. There was a queue already, but that day they were only taking people with appointments so we were ushered in instantly. Phew! The man who was dealing with us was very pleasant. It may have helped that we had all the paperwork needed. The most important was our certificates of residency which is proof that we were residents before the deadline and proof of payment for the cards which we had to pay at the post office with the bollettino. We also took original and copies of our codice fiscale, ID cards and photos. We each had to complete a form at the immigration office saying which city we first entered and our marital status etc. Finally he took our finger prints and told us to wait in the room by the entrance. After a while he came to us and said that there was a problem with the computer, but they are sure that everything is OK. If not, they will give us a call. Then he gave us each a slip with a number and a website for us to check when our cards will be ready and then we will collect them from the police station at Poala, which is a lot closer to home. We never received a call saying there was a problem so all must be well.

Afterwards, we had a little time to look around Cosenza. Scalea is in the province of Cosenza, so the city of Cosenza is the capital of the province. It is far larger than Scalea. Scalea has 11,000 residents while Cosenza has 700,000. It is a land locked at a higher altitude, so you can’t see the sea. It has everything you would need a main city to have. Shops, bars, restaurants, businesses, hospitals there’s even a McDonalds, if that is what you want.

There is the river Crati which goes though the east side of city.

Corso Manzini is the main street through Cosenza which is where you see the shops, bars and restaurants. It also has art throughout the street as it is an open-air art gallery.

As in most places in Italy there is a Centro Storico (Historic Centre)

It was good to have a wander around the city as we hadn’t before. After a while we had to work out how to get back to the station. It wouldn’t take long if we could find a taxi or a bus. We couldn’t see a taxi but we did see buses and also a small train station. When we were wandering around, we saw small trains going around the city on a narrow gauge. So we went into the station and asked the woman behind the desk if we could get to the main train station from there and she said yes. So we paid the €1.20 each and waited. A one carriage train turned up covered in graffiti and we got on. About three minutes later we were in the main station. Wish we knew about that before.

Justin’s Birthday

It was the birthday of our friend, Justin in January. He wanted an intimate lunch, so we went to Vularie Siciliane in Piazza Caloprese. There was just six of us which was lovely. They cooked us typical Sicilian dishes which were extremely tasty. It was a fish-based menu, which Michael was nervous about as he doesn’t like fish, but he enjoyed the meal, so he does like fish. For dessert, they made a traditional Sicilian cake called Cassata which contains ricotta, candied fruit and liqueur. That was a very wonderful end to the meal.

After that we went to Bar Da Pietro to have a drink and watch the beautiful sunset.

The sunset from Bar Da Pietro
The sunset from Bar Da Pietro

What we didn’t know, it was going to be one of our last visits to Da Pietro for a while.

Bar Da Pietro

One evening we were going to bed around 10.30pm and heard sirens going off. This is no unusual as such but there were a lot of them. We wondered what it was for and went to bed. The next day it was all over the local news and social media that Bar Dar Pietro was burned down, it looked to be arson. Luckily there was no one injured as the bar shuts at 8.30pm in the winter but even so their livelihood had completely gone. It was made of wood and it had all gone except for very charred remains.

This shocked us and everyone in Scalea and beyond. The mayor of Scalea put out a statement about being against all sorts of crime especially organised. And even if people are not part of a crime organisation, having the same mentality as the people who are. I do not know if it was organised crime or a person who had something against the owners who are the some of the nicest people around, but it was definitely arson.

A couple of days later there was a march of the students from the local school to Da Pietro and after that in the evening there was a solidarity demonstration which we attended. It was initially organised by the local churche but it became a demonstration of Scalea and many people came to show solidarity. It included the Mayor of Scalea and also mayors from nearby towns.

The demonstration in Solidarity for the owners of Da Pietro

Also a GoFundMe fundraiser was created and at time of writing €14.5k has been raised. I thought I would share the link if you would like to donate https://gofund.me/d6197b6f

After something so horrible it is also lovely to see how the community gets together for support.

How was the weather in January?

January was a cold month and this year there was snow on the mountains, it is lovely to see the mountain we call ours with snow on top from our terrace or when taking a walk along the coast in the warm winternsunshine seeing the snow-covered mountains in the distance.

Snow on “our” mountain

It hasn’t been sunny all month, there was torrential rain for a week or so. Unfortunately that was when our Swedish friends came so they mainly saw the rain with a couple of days not. But they will be back in the warmer weather, that’s the beauty of owning a holiday home here.

I will leave you with photos of a walk that we did in Praia A Mare. The good thing about Praia is that it has a long promenade next to the beach, which we do not have in Scalea. John has a bad back and it is too painful for him to walk on the beach because of the uneven and unsecure pebbles. So we tend to drive a few minutes north to Praia and walk along the promenade there. We buy panini from the local salumeria which is freshly made and a couple of soft drinks. We sit on one of the benches facing the sea to eat and then go for a walk along the sea. On the way back home we stopped off at the viewpoint at San Nicola Arcella. With views like that, you just have to.

Thanks for reading, until next time, ciao.

8 thoughts on “January Brought Sun, Rain and Solidarity in Scalea.

  1. Thank you for bringing Calabria to me once again through your lovely blog! I miss you all, and am so sad to hear about Da Pietro’s. Thanks for including the GoFundMe information. Love Rosa

  2. Hi Michelle,
    I know you and John from Michael and Justin’s vlogs. We have a home in Santa Domenica Talao purchased in January. Yes it was an extremely wet week! We were there 10 days and only saw dry weather the first two! Soon winter will be over. We hope to see you around Scalea later this year. Meanwhile, I am enjoying your blog!

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