Friday, June 19, 2015

Home from Cosenza Again

We applied for a permanent permit to stay in Italy last winter. It was denied because we applied 6 weeks before we had actually been here 5 years. I was able to talk to higher-level immigration people this time in Cosenza and they are issuing us a regular permesso di soggiorno around 1 July, but we can almost immediately re-apply for the Carta di Soggiorno. Yeah, we’ll have to have our criminal background check re-done, but that is only about €75 each. It has taken 6 months.

We have learned the hard way to never try to update any official document, permit, or license until it has expired. They will turn you away. The road tax for the car was due on a Friday and they would not take my money Thursday.

I tried to renew our health cards, the Tessera Sanitaria, while in Cosenza, our provincial capital and center for our health organization. They would not do it because we are not residents there. 

I was not as comfortable in Cosenza this time. Maybe it was the dog that kept me civil last time?  The city itself is noisy, stressful, and smelly with car exhaust. It’s only a half step behind Napoli, secondo me, for chaos.

It still amazes me that properties are so expensive in this unattractive city of 70.000 inhabitants. The high-rise apartments on the hill above the hotel are in the €2-500,000 range because they have a view of the Sila mountains to the east. The west coast, where we live, draws thousands of tourists and holiday home people each July and August but the properties are much, much less as a rule.

So, we’re happy to be home in our little village. Di has included her annual beautiful flower pics on the terrace and around the house, can you tell why we like it here better? We were rural Americans and love living in rural Italy! Places like Milan, Paris, London, New York will never be on our list of must-see places. Ok, maybe Paris because they have such a nice language and lovely art!

Guido, the country bumpkin

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May Day!

We had a lovely May Day walk to a nice restaurant near Diamante, Il Vecchio Frantoio
When you live in Italy (or Europe for that matter) May Day means Labor Day. In America, this is not so. May Day (May 1st) in the past was a celebration of the coming of spring.  In Europe the maypole and may baskets gave way to parades for workers everywhere, and in America, it just faded away.  That's too bad because I remember the quaint custom of leaving a surprise basket of flowers on your neighbors' doorstep. I remember creating baskets as a child, wilted dandelions and lilacs I think. The neighbors (I'm sure) appreciated at least the thought.

In Italy, the old day is known mostly in the north I gather and is called Calendimaggio. 

One of my favorite things about May Day is that some of our best plants show off and raise our hopes for a great summer.

Here is the path through a park by the river running through Diamante. It's about a mile to the restaurant.

We celebrated with a nice walk to a restaurant called the "Old Oil Mill" 
(Il Vecchio Frantoio).

There's a big old mill here in Santa Domenica Talao. It is still a ruin. Everyone brings their olives to a new mill nearby. It would make a great restaurant too if the town could figure out how to attract more tourists to it, etc.

Our good friends. Some walked with us, others drove...

What's left of the mill works

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


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