Monday, August 20, 2012

Carless in Calabria

We wanted to put our car into a local body shop to repair some damage that I did against a rock wall. We thought August would be good because we like to hibernate at home away from the crowds at seaside. The body man at the carrozzeria said he could work last week except for August 15th, Ferragosto – the biggest holiday of the summer.

As we have reported before, Italians are known for their late nights to 2:00 AM, then they arrive at the beach around 10:00. We take advantage of that and arrive at opening of a Scalea store to find 40 people already in queue!

Lots of people never leave our village or rely on the bus if they do. We know a young British couple here that have no car and have done fine with local shopping and/or bus/bicycle to Scalea. This is a journal of the experience of Americans attached to their car. 

Monday – Dropped the car off and was told it would be done the following Monday or Tuesday.  We decided to try the bus into Scalea to get a few items and see how the system worked.  We waited 20 minutes for the bus in the piazza, and then the mayor told us that this bus was cancelled until 15 September.  

Tuesday – I went to Scalea on the 7:00 bus with friend Colman so we could book a beach lido sometime in the week. We found one for Thursday, then he went to a beach and I did some shopping before waiting for the 9:25 bus returning to Santa Domenica. It never arrived. I walked about a km. to the edge of Scalea where I might hitch a ride. Our postal carrier spotted me and took me along on his route ending at home. Duhhhh--had we known that critical bus was cancelled, we would have waited for a more opportune time to fix the car!

Wednesday – Quiet day at home on Ferragosto. A fire 10 km north near Praia a Mare sent ashes our way most of the day. Lots of fireworks late into the night.

Thursday - Di, Colman and I took that dreadfully early 7:00 AM bus to Scalea and walked to the beach. Nice water, a few too many people for us.  After a light lunch, Di and I grabbed the 1:15 bus home without incident other than nearly getting heat stroke without air con in the bus (did I mention it has been quite hot lately?)  Ok, we now know those two buses work and the 5:30 bus that Colman used also is reliable.

Friday - More ashes on the terrace, this time from a fire on the edge of town that had obviously been burning all night.  We later got a video news clip about the Carabinieri arresting the arsonist that started this so they are trying to crack down. A Bell 206 helicopter worked our fire with a bucket all day long without incident. The Canadair tankers assisted later. The planes no longer bother our dog Vince as they fly 300 feet over the house. 

Just before lunch I noticed an ambulance pull up to the carrozzeria (body shop) where the car is being worked on– the shop is about 450 meters below us. They hauled someone away. This can't be a good thing.

OMG. Friday night I went to see who was entertaining in the piazza (nightly shows all week) and discovered the band Infinity which is made up of our electrician, plumber, aluminio shutter man, a drummer from a local bar and female singer from Scalea.  I had no idea they all played together in a band.  Pretty good tunes.

Saturday – The air tankers are back at 7:00 working our fire, which ended up burning around 1500-2000 acres.

Di and I walked to the carrozzeria to see if the car was being worked on thinking that if the man was taken ill, we’d get the car back.  He was there and the ambulance had been for his papa who was back home digging in the garden. The car won't be done until Tuesday or Wednesday due to the medical emergency. 

Prices in the little mom and pop stores will always be higher because they don’t get volume discount like the large stores. Yet, I was surprised when a kilo of ground veal cost €10 here vs. the €5 I normally pay in Scalea.  The irony that struck me about living completely within the village is that the senior citizens who are on meager pensions and often cannot leave town, are stuck with these higher prices. I suppose meat is still just an occasional luxury for some.

Sunday - Quiet day at home watering plants, reading and relaxing.  The weather is forecast to reach 36C by Thursday, so more watering will be needed for sure.  We did feel the second earth tremor of the summer that  evening.  I need to start recording these on the weather data sheet. We both felt it and it shook the plants on the terrace where I was reading.

Monday  - Took the early bus to town to hit the farmer’s market as Di is out of dried figs.  We spent time at a couple bars, but both were having WiFi trouble so we had to use our wireless modem which often won’t work in August with all the additional wireless traffic.  

Lessons Learned - Sure, we can live here without a car, but it is an inconvenience to spoiled Americans. When the bus is running normal routes, it would be much better. However, it is not fun to schlep around all the shopping bags in Scalea and then here where the bus drops you off 100  vertical meters below the house. On the other hand, physical challenges lead to better fitness and strength. We'll always have the stairs! Cordiali, Guido. 


  1. It makes us think of our motto for Italy - "nothing is ever quite as you think it will be".

    Hope you get your car back soon and that wall keeps well away from it in future.

    Best wishes

    John & Toni

  2. Hi J&T, the car turned out fabulous. Just like new. What a wonderful man and such a low price. Now we await September when everyone goes home and the temps go down, 'tho it is cooler today already. Hope you're well.



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