Monday, April 20, 2015

Santa Domenica Talao is a Palestra!

Before we moved to Italy, we both worked 40 hours a week and came home to a commercial-hobby organic farm that we worked on constantly. We stayed in-shape with work. Becoming pensioners has been a change in many ways – including our bodies. Because we are in a hill town, we walk 58 steps up to the piazza (30 meter elevation gain), then another 3-400 horizontal meters depending on where the car is parked. This is done sometimes 3 times a day to include shopping in Scalea, shopping in the village, or driving to our language lessons, or to the palestra (gym). Carrying a couple shopping bags or soil and water as shown below does take a little muscle, so it’s good for Guido☺. Some of the funniest comments we hear are from folks who run to keep in shape but are aghast at all our stairs. For us, it's easier to be forced into it by life as we were on the farm. 

When the weather is good, we walk uphill to the cemetery which is about a 350 meter elevation gain. If we have time we can walk a 3 km loop around the village, but the cemetery walk is our favorite because of what we see and encounter – buildings, people - sheep and goats. Of course, we had no sheep with bells in the fields when we took these images.

Cemetery uphill from the main piazza
Many towns like ours placed their cemeteries up high – apparently so the dead have a final room with a view! It is very serene up there with the vistas everywhere; roosters crowing, animals grazing in the background with their bells clanging. And of course, if you venture through the cemetery you can look for old friends you knew, or just meet more families because most crypts have a photograph of the deceased. You don’t have to be particularly spiritual or religious to feel at-peace up there. So keep out of the cemetery by going there!

Pastoral scene from the cemetery. Imagine sheep out there normally!

Oh – walking up there at a steady place is a good aerobic experience too. And without much stress to Doug’s arthritic knees, etc.

The living quarters above the palestra - nice digs!

Okay. Then there is the rest of the body. For that we have our own local gym (palestra) which is fully equipped to work on any body part you wish. It’s open Sept-May and we go twice a week to keep our backs, arms and other things “toned”. We don’t dream of building bodies, just maintaining what there is!

We and our friends Walter and Rosanna are sort of the grandparents of the other 20 somethings working-out in the gym!  Everyone is kind. The couple is also one of our more frequent partners for pizza or dancing. Next comes summer when our exercise is leisurely snorkeling or flipping over on the sun beds at the beach!

As we finish this post, we find that a project that the comune is doing, has started. Now our primary route to the piazza is blocked by construction that could last as long as a year. The detour route is much steeper (55%), so we shall be even more fit a year from now ☺

Saluti, Guido e Diana

Sunday, April 5, 2015

La Via Crucis Vivente on Good Friday

Il vigile (town constable) "taken" by Roman soldiers
An apostle

This passion play--Easter pageant--takes place in towns throughout Italy. Apparently it is the first time ever, or for awhile, that it was presented in our village of 1200 people. It is a dramatic reenactment of the final days and hours of the life of Jesus.  It is called La Via Crucis Vivente in Latin or the Way of the Living Cross.
Since we are non-Catholics and pretty secular by nature, we know the story from early training or films like Ben Hur. We enjoyed the pre-event time as much as the performance itself. This was sponsored by Pro Loco (equal to Chamber of Commerce), and volunteers from Protezione Civile – the folks that do local first aid, fight small fires, etc. 

I enjoyed seeing so many people I know or at least recognized from our village. It was fun to watch all the players in their period clothes slipping into the nearest bar for caffe’ before things began, or catching the last puff of a filtered cigarette (they only had Lucky Strikes or Gitane back then right?) 

Ponzio Pilato releases Baraba and retains Cristo for punishment
I think there were about 350-450 people following the procession thru town and that also made it difficult to see (photograph) all that happened. The actors all did a great job and Francesco, playing Ponzio Pilato (Pontius Pilate), was bravissimo. I saw him studying his lines! I had to ask his father-in-law, our next door neighbor, what that name is in italiano.

Behind Ponzio is a soldier with a whip - our plumber Jonas

When Ponzio called down to the crowd and asked if he should spare Cristo or Baraba, the crowd shouted out Baraba – just like in the film!

I decided to stop taking photos after 2 hours with a sore back. I remember the end of the story from the movie...Di being the more serious thinker between us said she felt that the beauty of the story and principles embodied in it make it moot whether it actually happened this way or not...

It was impressive that so many people followed along to be part of the re-enactment to the end. We read that there was to be a similar Good Friday Via Crucis in Roma attended by Papa Franceso.

It seems to us that Pasqua is the most important holiday to Italians based on how many of them return to Santa Domenica to be with their families. Or is it that la casa di nonna รจ troppo freddo in dicembre? (Grandma's house is too cold in December)...

Buona Pasqua , Diana e Guido

Gesu' after being found guilty

Jesus may have come from outside the village... didn't recognize him.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Design with Nature--Beaches

We embark here on a complicated subject. We know it's complicated because we dedicated our working lives to natural resource management. We learned that you don't really manage the actual resources in the conservation business, you manage people's enthusiasms, thoughtlessness and/or greed.  We still have an  interest in nature and the socio-economic mix of people and nature. Here, we observe some of the hundreds of commercial beaches on the east and west coasts of Italy – each called a lido. They work with local governments that control the beaches and they pay a fee to develop their businesses including rules that require public beach (spiaggio libero) every 500 meters or so. There is also an environmental community involved. All the pieces of the puzzle are familiar to us, but the details here still elude us. We know the lido operators are concerned about protection from a wild winter sea and the environmental community is concerned about losing the beach--not the sand part, the water (insabbiamento). Apparently Florida's eroding beaches are ending up in Calabria...(joke) or as the Calabrians put it, the sea is leaving Scalea. Perhaps global climate change can help out here---see, we told you this was complicated!

From Lido da Pietro, Scalea, showing "insabbiamento", the wide sloping beach and winter storm debris

Present Scalea lungomare a notte

It seems beach development started appearing in the 1960’s when the economy was finally recovering from the war and people had money to spend on holiday spots. You can see in this photo how the waterfront of Scalea back then was vacant and now is a very different thing. Scalea now is a town of about 9,000 and in August when the holiday home-owners come, the population rises to about 30,000.

Back to nature. It took storm damage to bring our thoughts to old Ian McHarg and Design with Nature

Note Doug in this photo of 18 January 2011 at the Sabbia d’Oro lido and restaurant. Palmino, the owner, and his family added a motorized roof and drop-down plastic windows for cool weather in 2013 and also an attractive swimming pool. This past January, a two-week period of storms brought tremendous waves and wind that wiped-out most of their terrace improvements, under-mined the pool, and seriously damaged the whole beach front. It must have been near 30 Jan when we recorded a wind gust of 90mph/144km/h.  

Sabbia d'Oro terzo senza roof and walls. See rock armor that the sea leaped over

Swimming pool at Sabbia d'Oro nearly eliminated by waves - note the short beach

The beaches south of Cirello are mostly golden sand and shorter and flatter. North to Scalea and, on to Praia a Mare, the beaches are black sand and tend to have a slope to them. Geology classes circa 40 years ago are not enough to tell us why all these beaches and sands are different!

Looking a bit closer at all the beaches, our new observations are: 1) the Sabbia d’Oro beach located between Belvedere and Diamante is about 25 meters to water and flat; 2) the Scalea beaches are about 60 meters and sloped. That slope and distance seems to slow the waves. You can see the concrete “riprap” blocks that Sabbia needs to protect itself (and were not enough this year).  Then notice the berm of sand built in front of the restaurant/lido La Perla del Terreno in Scalea to protect their development. Then finally near Lido da Pietro, you notice where the sea deposited debris, but didn’t affect the buildings. These lidi are all within a 25km stretch of the coastline. 

So how should human beings manage their relationship with beaches? Nature will give with one hand and take away with the other...should we leave her alone to do all of this or continue to try to design with nature in mind? You tell us! 

 La Perla del Terreno with rock riprap, but also behind a berm of sand in winter
Protective Sand berm at La Perla del Terreno

Scalea 1950's or 1960's


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