Saturday, April 23, 2011


A small part of the older section of Verbicaro
If you read our post from a couple of weeks ago, you remember that Verbicaro is one of the hilltowns listed as part of the Riviera in the Park. Verbicaro is locally famous for its wine and getting known for that to wine experts around the world. There are wine festivals here in September and October. But right now, wine takes a back seat to festas and processions relating to Pasqua (Easter).
You may also remember that these towns are beginning the long road of self-promotion based on each of their unique histories, traditions, and architecture.*All we knew about this connection at the time (between our invitation and the promotion of the town) was that we were invited on a tour in Verbicaro by a friend of a friend. This is the story of that tour. 

On the old town tour (Photo by Mike Jones)
First let's talk about expectations. Wine and eating was mentioned along with some traditional Easter processions. We were told that we didn't have to stay late unless we wanted to.  A "bus" would be leaving early if need be. Since we left Vince at home, there was no way we could exceed 6 or 8 hours gone max.
We were to meet our friend at a bar in Scalea at 4 PM, from there transfer to the "buses" which turned out to be ancient vans (seat-belts removed). There was a group of about 15 of us, mostly from the UK as our friend is Irish. We thought we were going to a famous vineyard/winery and eating there. To be fair, there was no real reason to expect this other than the fact that others in the group also expected this.

Long story short (as they say), we were given a nice little tour of the Verbicaro old town followed by a meal.  The Verbicaro old town is interesting because it is more abandoned than others around here. It seems everyone who was still in town fled to the new part in the 1960's. We did see the beginnings of restoration, so I am hopeful that someday all will be restored.
We ate a traditional meal in a garage (Calabrians often use party houses for big groups--they are not necessarily posh). It was a really fine meal. Zucchini or fish fritters followed by traditional hand-made Calabrian pasta followed by some very delectable goat meat followed by dolce (sweets) and fruit. The wine was not unusual (local unfamous, not local famous) but not what we expected. It would be a very good experience for tourists who have never experienced these type of local get-togethers. I was cold but that's my fault as I often underestimate the temp change from afternoon to evening in the spring.

Salvatore on the left, our tour guide (photo by Mike Jones)

Next came the surprise that the processions would start at 11 PM (which means midnight in Italy) and keep on to well into the wee hours. There was no "bus" leaving early. Doug and I and some others had to beg for ride back after dinner.
Thankfully, due to the remarkable patience of Calabrians, the leader made a special trip with a van full of us light-weights.

Much, much later that evening (photo by Mike Jones)


  1. Sounds and looks like a good time. I just love how all of these ancient traditions are kept alive.

  2. I agree, Gil. Thanks for the comment!

  3. One of the things I love about Italy is the ancient traditions that are still considered important. Fortunately the Good Friday procession in our town started a little earlier around 10pm.

    It looks as though you all had a good time.

  4. LLM,
    You bet. We had a nice time, especially when we found out we could catch a ride home before 4 AM!



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