Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hot Town, Summer in Calabria

Early Monday morning I was on the terrace and noticed that the swifts have left. It is to-the-day that they disappeared last year. They come in the spring, they breed and raise their youngsters to fly, then they get out of here when it gets hot. Amazing.

It’s been around 45% relative humidity here for a month.
I am too old to get hot and sweaty just for wildlife photos, so I’ll take what I can at home. Well then I stepped into the computer room and spotted this owl about 5 meters away outside.  They are not seen in the light often and the camera was there. We learned from a book of birds of Europe that they are called “little owls”. How imaginative!  Italian for owl is “gufo”. Genus and species: athene noctua. They are just about 6-8 inches tall (15-20cm) and they call to each other all night. Very cute. This one saw an old man pointing a Canon at him and flew away after just one click of the shutter. 

Di caught this lizard on the terrace.  

We learned that the lucertole (lizards) like grapes as well as insects, so I occasionally put some grapes in the plant outside the kitchen window. They are very spooky around people, so it’s tough to get snapshots of them just ½ meter away. 

I waited for days to get a photo of one eating grapes. Finally this juvenile showed and allowed a few images. You can see it licking his chops on the second one! 

I think this is the famous Italian honey bee known to be docile with beekeepers. 

An American friend spoke of our old home which reminded me of what we used to do a lot of there on the Deschutes River to cool off in the summer!  The things you give up when you move to a new neighborhood.

Auguri, Guido

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


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