Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas alla Primavera

We have had a remarkable dry and warm December. On Christmas Day, it was 18C/62F. Di was busy roasting peperone (chiles) and making tortillas. She discovered that it is easy to roast them right on the stove top. We had very good quiet village Natale that seemed to be taking place in the spring!

A Kitchen Aid machine kneaded the dough in less than two minutes and a tortilla press also made it a lot easier.  

The recipe calls for kneading the dough for 7 minutes but because the machine is from the USA, it doesn't work quite right even with a transformer and skips the slow speeds. 
It's a little scary to watch! Boom boom, there you go...dough!


I stepped on the terrace to look at something and heard a woman singing “White Christmas” in English. So I followed the sounds up to the piazza where a lot of kids and parents were waiting for Babbo Natale (santa) to arrive. The funny thing was the recorded music playing was all American Christmas tunes in English. Not a single Italian tune.

Babbo arrived leading a donkey carrying gifts. As he and the donkey made it to the piazza in front of the church, the recorded music got louder and the church bells were peeling. The amazing donkey didn’t flinch at all the noise.

It was a nice event that the children loved. Babbo and his “elf” handed simple gifts to the kids.

Auguri e buone feste. Best wishes and happy holidays.

Guido and Diana

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rembrandt Lighting

So, we were coming home from Scalea as the sun was setting and Diana tells me we must “go collect the Rembrandt Light"--I am thinking about Jimmy Rembrandt that I played racquetball with in college.  No, it is about the lighting that the Dutch artist Rembrandt used in his paintings.  I tried to joke about smoking a Dutchmasters cigar when I was young, but that didn’t work.

Of course, when I took my good camera out to “collect the light" the clouds came in and screwed it up for that day and we had to wait for another sunny day. See if you like it too. Di helped me read up about how most landscape photographers wait for this light in the early morning or afternoon to light up the landscape the way Rembrandt lit up people's faces using golden light and shadow. 

Our village is beautiful any day, but I think Di’s lighting is bello.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cosenza in the Hills

This is a late comment from Guido on things in Cosenza, our provincial capital where we spent so much time this summer with immigration issues, medical appointments, and even trying to renew our health system cards to pay for medical appointments. These pursuits can put you in a bad mood.

I was negative about this city of 70,000 people in past posts. I was telling the truth about the noise and diesel emissions that I experienced, but I should share some positive things. I walked many miles around the downtown area this year tracking down government offices, specialty shops, etc. I know this city! Remember we live in a town of 1,200. 

Classic building across from the Questura
I like the architecture of the centro area. Very nicely kept places with a lot of character. If you lived in one of these buildings, you would have grocery and other shopping within walking distance, so no fighting the heavy traffic. There are very modern high rises scattered throughout where I can imagine homes on the top floors have great views of the Sila mountain area to the east. The prices of homes here are much more than along the western coast where we live. The flyer shown has a fairly large home (Italian-wise) for €380,000. In Scalea a 60 holiday home might cost about €50,000 where the listings I saw in Cosenza for similar were about €115,00. If you need to stay in town, the small 4-room Sempione Bed & Breakfast is close to the central downtown area. It is spartan, but very clean. The B&B is €30-40 plus €5 for a locked parking area. It's on Facebook or the Airbnb website. Parking is extremely lacking in this city, so Francesco’s B&B is a “keeper”!

There are a lot of shops here, especially the pedestrian area along Corso Manzzini. The funny thing is, there are (again, my opinion) very few restaurants for a city this size. The Questura, the police station where the provincial immigration office is located, is probably 15 blocks north of the B&B and there is a Chinese restaurant nearby. It is a funny place that serves pasta.

Pedestrian shopping on Corso Mazzini
Like most Italian apartment buildings, the ground floor is usually some business or retail space. 

I like this funky building near the hospital with the large spider on the wall. I envision a sign by the door: “Black Widow Apartments – Always Rooms for Single Men”

The historic district of Cosenza (centro storico), in my opinion, is not as interesting as our own hill town or Scalea. In the Cosenza district, there are more roads open to vehicles, so not as quaint.  There is a stream that divides the centro area from the storico area and on the north side on Fridays, there is a large market with vendors selling the typical “market clothing”, meats and cheeses in a nice neighbourhood. There is also fruit and vegetable shop below the B&B does an incredible daily business. There you have it, Cosenza from a more mellow point of view! Be well, Guido

Friday market

Fresh olives for the table


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