Hello I’m Michelle and welcome to March 2023! This month we take a trip to Paola to collect our residency cards, Rivello for an afternoon out, look around the food market in Scalea and more. So thanks for coming along. If you want to know more about how my husband and I came to live in this relatively unknown region of Calabria and small city of Scalea in December 2018 check out the archive.
Following our trip to the immigration office in Cosenza to apply for our Permesso di Soggiorno (permission to stay) cards in January, we went to Paola to collect them. The Questura (police headquarters) at Paola is located directly opposite to the train station entrance. So it is a lot easier than going all the way to Cosenza.
As we moved from the UK to Italy before the Brexit deadline, we could apply for the card to cement the rights as the same as an EU citizen and keep them for as long as we are residents. There was no real need as such because we could use our residency certificates, but we felt that it is better to carry an electronic card rather than a folded A4 paper Residency Certificate which would eventually break at the folds.
The immigration office is on the left of the main entrance of the Questura in Paola. Luckily there was only one couple in front of us so we didn’t have to wait long. When we did get in, it was very straightforward. We gave the officer our codes that we received in Cosenza, he then took our fingerprints electronically to make sure they matched the ones that we gave in Cosenza and then he gave us the cards. Simple! When we left the office, the queue was a lot longer, so we timed it very well. I do love the rare occasions when we get it right. That gave us plenty of time to have a look around Paola until we had to catch the train home.
Paola is a coastal town about 60km south of where we are in Scalea. It has a population of 14,800, so around 4,000 more than Scalea. The Centro Storico looks like it is quite a way from the coast so we didn’t look at that this time as we were walking. We said we will bring the car next time as it does look interesting or allow a day for us to walk there around and back to the station. After collecting our cards, we had a drink and a cornetto at one of the bars and then had a wander around. Luckily it was a beautiful sunny day. We were drawn towards the sea, so we strolled along the Lungomare. The Lungomare is a long walkway and cycle path between the coast and the road with restaurants and bars scattered along.
After some time walking, we felt the need for lunch. Earlier, we walked by a restaurant that was playing 80s music which made us smile. It had the bar on the ground floor and the restaurant on the upper floor, so we decided to return there, some other places weren’t open. It is called Atmosfera Versatile. They mainly do fish, of course as we are right by the sea, but there were also other dishes too. We ordered pasta dishes and some white wine. I had red prawns and John had frutti di mare. We shared a bottle of the local white wine. All were delicious. So if you are around Paola’s sea front it’s a good place to stop and have a meal with a sea view. After lunch we strolled to the train station to take the train home.
Praia A Mare beach
I have mentioned previously that we like to walk along the lungomare in Praia A Mare. We do love any lungomare as you may have noticed. This time we went on the other side of Dino Island which is an island just off the coast of Praia A Mare beach. We hadn’t been to that part for a while so we thought we would return as there are fewer cars driving by. This part has a rockier coastline and also has grand old buildings. It is quite pleasant to walk around and is very peaceful at this time of year. No doubt that in the summer it is very busy.
Paintings from Michael
Last Christmas we gifted our friend Michael a travel watercolour set with some art paper. He had never painted before but he liked to draw with coloured pencils. So we thought he may like to try painting. Thankfully, he loved them and now he has bought a larger set and paints every day. Recently he gave us two pieces of his art which we framed and now they adorn our walls. So thank you Michael. It is great seeing your skills improve quickly since December and how happy you are when you paint.
Scalea Monday Food Market
I cannot remember if I have mentioned this but every Monday there is a market in Scalea. One part of the town is the food market which is located between the roads of Via Carmelo Giordanelli and Via Fiume Lao and the other part is the general market which is located in the Area di Fiera near the Comune of Scalea behind the cemetery on Via Fiume Lao.
The food market sells locally grown fruit, vegetables, plants and homemade items like honey and weaved baskets. The general market sells a mix of things like clothes, household items, electronics and things like that.
I love to look around the food market especially for seasonal produce so I thought I would share photos with you.
Trip to the town of Rivello
Whenever we travel north by car on the SS18, we pass an amazing looking hilltop town called Rivello, but we had never visited, until now. One day we decided to go to this very picturesque town and our friend Moira came with us.
Rivello is in the region of Basilicata, just over 30 minutes north of Scalea. It has a population of just 2,893 according to Wikipedia. It is located on a hill in the Valle di Noce (the valley of walnuts). Noce is also the name of the river which borders the town.
It took us a little while to get to the town as Google Maps sent us to a road that was nowhere near the town with no landmarks at all. We could see Rivello on the hill but we were on the other side of the valley. So I decided to set the navigation to the Comune building as on the map it was on the edge of the town. (Mental Note: always use a landmark for navigation rather than just the name of town.) We eventually got there after about 10 minutes. When we arrived it was close to lunch time. The town was quiet and we were also getting hungry. We saw a sign for a trattoria called Pellegrino and hoped it was open. When we got there, there was no one around so we said “salve” (hello) quite loudly. A man came out and we asked if they were open for food. Thankfully he said they were. We were the only ones there but the owner was very friendly. It was obvious that he was not expecting anyone but he still managed to make something for us. The meal was simple but very tasty. Primo was homemade pasta with mushrooms and secondo was grilled sausage or Caciocavallo cheese with a mixed salad. While we were waiting for the food, John actually saw him buy the salad from the man outside who had a vegetable stall. So it was really fresh.
After being fuelled, we wandered around the town. The views are stunning overlooking the valley to the mountains. The town had typical old buildings of an Italian old town with large doors and archways, lots of steps and a large church on a hill. It is a beautiful town. We enjoyed looking around it.
It is Spring and the plants are coming back to life as they do
March means the arrival of spring. I love when the plants start growing after their winter sleep. As usual, although a little later than before, the fig, pear, lemon and olive trees come to bud for their flowers and leaves. As yet there’s only leaf regrowth from our mandarin tree, hope it flowers as the mandarins are very tasty later in the year. The weather in March as before was very changeable, but mainly rainy. I am sure that March is the wettest month of the year. This meant that the mountains have had snow on top until we had a warm sunny day, then it would disappear, but only to return when it rained again. Although in the main it is getting warmer. I think the coldest night temperature was 2°C (35.6°F) and daytime around 8°C (46.4°F). Warmest temperatures reached nearly 20°C (68°F).
John has made something amazing out of old pallet wood
This time he made a bar to go one top of the wall of our balcony. It is a movable structure and when the weather is nice, we can put it on and sit on our bar stools next to it. It is far better that when we just sit by the wall and use the narrow wall to rest our drinks. It did feel uneasy but now we have a wider place to put our drinks and maybe even snacks.
We had to get the car repaired.
When we have been driving around the bumpy streets of Scalea (not all are bumpy but around by our place they are) we noticed a noise that happened on each bump or pothole. Then the noise happened pretty much all the time. John went to the mechanic and he showed john the extent of the problem. Basically all the suspension need replacing. So not a very cheap option. We ordered the parts from a company in Battipaglia and took them and the car to a mechanic in Scalea for him to fit. This way we saved some money. So after a day with the mechanic the car is a lot better. We did wonder if it was worth to change the car as it is of the age that lots of things will probably go wrong, but after thinking if we get another one, we may inherit what ever problems that has and there is a cost of change of ownership unlike the UK (unless that has changed). At least we know what has changed one our one. So we decided not to yet. I guess we will keep this car until we can’t, but who know what the future holds.
What I do have to tell you about is that the mechanic gave John homemade wine on his first ever visit there. it was very tasty. I do expect that to be normal, I think he had a spare bottle. But it was a very kind gesture to someone he had never met before. We love the Calabria hospitality. If you are kind and respecful to them they are the same to you.
Thanks so much for taking an interest in our life in Scalea, hope you come back to see what happens in April.