Welcome to the September edition of The Calabrian Dream. I am Michelle and my husband John and I moved to Scalea from the UK in 2018. Scalea is a town that is located in northern Calabria in the south of Italy. If you would like to know more about our journey, please check out the archive.
This month we visit the Catanzaro Biodiversity Park, a village called Le Castella which are both farther south and a hill town nearer to us called Buonvicino. So welcome along to see these beautiful areas.
Autumn on its way but the weather is still gloriously hot
September is the month when most of the Italian tourists leave, children go back to school and traffic eases somewhat. Lidos are open but less busy, some start winding down because there are far fewer people. It is also the time when international visitors tend to arrive to avoid the August crowds and the intense heat. The temperatures are still hot though, around 30ºC plus.
So it is basically still summer, just not as crowded, but still quite busy. This is the time when we start to catch up with friends that come over to stay in their Scalea homes.
Visit to Catanzaro Biodiversity park
Our friend Justin invited us to accompany him to Catanzaro as he had a hospital appointment there. Unfortunately, his husband Michael had to stay at home to wait for a delivery that day so he couldn’t come with us. While Justin was in his appointment, John and I went into the city of Catanzaro. We have visited Catanzaro before with Michael which you can read about in previous posts. This time we wanted to see something different as we already had a look around the town itself. So on to Google maps I went to see if there was anything that looked interesting. There was something that caught my eye, the Mediterranean Biodiversity Park of Catanzaro (in Italian Parco della Biodiversità Mediterranea). We thought we would see what that is all about.
The park is about 13 hectares (130,000 m²) with many art installations including one from Antony Gormley who is famous for creating the Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead in England among many other installations throughout the UK and the world. There were art structures made from old washing machine drums and other used items. There is also an amphitheatre, a tunnel covered in plants called The Tunnel of Love, play areas for children, a mirrored structure which looks sort of invisible at certain angles. A bar and restaurant so you can have a drink or food. There’s also a military museum. There was so much that we didn’t get the chance to see it all. Definitely one to return to. If you are in the area and interested in visiting, the website is https://www.provincia.catanzaro.it/parco/
Visit to Le Castella
After Justin’s appointment we decided to visit the village of Le Castella in the province of Crotone on the Ionian coast. John and I visited there in 2016 before we moved to Italy and thought Justin would like to see it as we were relatively close.
The main reason for the visit was see the magnificent fortress off the coast which is called Castello Aragonese. The foundation of the fortress is said to be over 2000 years old and the structure which is what we see today is thought to be built by the Aragonese and Angevins, so at least 700 years ago. As many people know, if you like to see and touch history, Italy is a great place to visit. As well as the famous sites, many towns and villages have their own little piece of history too.
It was amazing to look around the fortress and see a building that has a long story. The bonus is that it is free to enter.
We had a nice stroll around the village seeing the harbour and local surroundings. There are quite a few restaurants, especially near the fortress. We had a very nice lunch at a restaurant called Ristorante Pizzeria Barbecue which is near the harbour, where we parked the car. About a 10 minute walk from the Fortress. We all had pasta. Justin had Linguine all’Astice, John had Spaghetti Cozze e Vongole and I had Spaghetti allo Scoglio. We all enjoyed our meals very much and met some friendly locals. We did giggle at the fact that none of us had pizza or barbecue. If you are in the area, we do recommend the food there. You can see their menu here https://www.leggimenu.it/menu/barbecue
Then we returned back to Scalea and later had a meal with Michael at the restaurant Il Corsaro. We found out that the delivery that Michael waited for turned up half an hour after we left. Typical!
Visit to a nearby hill town
On another day, John and I decided to visit a hill town called Buonvicino which is 30km from Scalea. We tried to find it before following road signs but that time we took a wrong turn or something and we didn’t get there. Our friend Giovanni told us about the town and we thought we would try again. Luckily this time we found it. It was not hard to find really, no idea what happened before.
Buonvicino is way up high in the hills above the town of Diamante. It is part of an association called I Borghi più belli d’Italia (The most beautiful villages in Italy). Calabria has 15 towns and villages in that association. If you would like to know more here is the website: https://borghipiubelliditalia.it/calabria/
The location of Buonvicino is stunning. It is nestled into the Pollino National Park. We had a walk around the town and had a drink at a bar, walked around the parish church of San Ciriaco (their patron saint). There were decorations up so there was a festival or there was one in the near future. Unfortunately, no restaurant was open so we did not have the opportunity of a bite to eat. I guess they’re only open in the evenings.
Far above the town we could see a statue overlooking. It is Madonna della Neve (Madonna of the Snow) which is 800m (2624.6ft) above sea level. The town itself is 400m (1312ft). We didn’t go up there on this visit as we had to return home, but we will revisit, maybe avoiding the winter time because if they have a Madonna of the snow, it must be cold there in the winter.
So that is that for us in September. Thank you so much for your interest in our life in Calabria. I hope you enjoyed our September trips in Calabria as much as we did.
Until next time.