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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

La Folla

We are getting this kind of rain in August!
Last year we reported on the ferie of August, certo that every year, we comment on the (to Americans) peculiar habit of Europeans, particularly Italians to leave the cities in droves as if chased by a hurricane and head for the closest shore. In Italy, Ferragosto, which we reported on last year falls in the middle of August and is as important as Christmas and Thanksgiving to Americans. It’s the time to return home, see the folks.  These two powerful forces join forces in Calabria to cause many people (oh just about 20,000) to pour into our little area----fortunately, down the hill from us, Scalea, takes the brunt of it. There people rush to their little apartments either rented or owned and whoop it up for a week to a month, depending. The good news is it brings in revenue to the area and is over in one month. The bad news is that it can be hard on us locals. This year was particularly hard on me, Guido, who hates the heat more than Di…but it was a bit much for both of us since it is the hottest we have ever seen it here. 


We are into August and we are also into the hottest summer ever for us in Italy. This article states that the heat wave breaks Italian records back 200 years, but I sorta question that many had instruments in those days.I guess we are lucky here not to have the 40 degree (104F) temps that Firenze, Roma, Milano and other cities have experienced.

We love watching the Canadair tankers and their talented pilots. This year, we have hardly seen them. That is probably good news for the taxpayers…we have had rain this summer which is also weird for us. Climate change or just Mother Nature? Our problem for 10 weeks has been humidity added to more constant heat than we are used to. It has been around 45-55% relative humidity all that time which, for wimps like me, is not comfortable. Di said she remembers her days in Illinois too well to be scared of 55%!

Sunday the humidity dropped under 30% and there was a nice breeze even with temps has high as 34C. It brought in afternoon thunderstorms with a little rain which was welcome as the temps dropped to 22 rapidly. I also love storms! Today another storm dropped temps to 19. The coolest day or night temp since May. The second storm in the afternoon dropped 23mm of rain in 15 minutes! Just like a winter squall.  The other strange thing this summer is the number of times we’ve had east winds. It does appear we are headed back to normal weather after that storm to finish the summer off well. 

Cassa 9 has an air con duct overhead that I love, but some Italians fear.
This time of year, I try to visit the supermarket in Scalea after siesta when it reopens at 16,00.  The store is usually quiet. It worked Monday. Wednesday, when storms were threatening and keeping people away from the beach, it was total chaos at 9,15. I found the last parking space and went inside to capture some cheese and a few images. Rest of the year, they only have 3-4 registers. Now it is 12 registers and 10-15 people in queue at each.  

Alas, it is August and no way to totally avoid the 20,000 people that arrive in the towns around us. The good news is that Scalea and the other towns have gotten their waste management under control much better to deal with the summer crowds..actual progress!

Ah, driving in August. Imagine your worst rush hour traffic, but with Italians at the wheel. On this street, I normally smack my outside mirror against someone else’s 2-3 times a summer. 
I have been saying bad things all summer about the city of Cosenza, but Monday, when there, we found it like a Sunday afternoon – no traffic, no noise. Things come to a near halt in August and all those people have headed to a beach somewhere.

We did visit the sea on Friday- – north toward Maratea, away from the crowds.  Il Mirto is a very peaceful place. We are a bit behind in our tans, summer from hell and all...

Talk to you in September, Guido

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


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