Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Our Christmas in Calabria

Italian Christmas Eve Cenone
Twas the night before Christmas and Doug and Di had no plans except for taking a passegiatta around the village. While on that walk, our neighbors invited us to Christmas Eve Cenone at their house. With a fire crackling, Angela prepared a gorgeous meal while the children entertained us as only they can. Gifts were exchanged and all was just as Christmas Eve should be...including the very good grappa Giovianni served after dinner. We can drink, apparently, very good grappa (which also may have helped us keep up non-stop Italian for the evening).  Low-grade grappa is similar to acetone!

English Christmas
On Christmas day, we awoke to a lovely clear sky. We got dressed up for our Christmas dinner at 3 PM. We had plenty of time to take a nice Christmas photo. Note that in deference to our English friends, we will not use the word “Holiday” here because that word means a vacation, or a trip.  Also note that Doug is not the greatest indoor photographer and found it hard to take photos while stuffing his face.

We had a "brilliant" Christmas dinner with 3 English couples in nearby Scalea.   We were hosted by Clive and Kathryn who have a lovely home in the historic district. They also operate Casa Cielo, a B&B 

Clive is a great cook and prepares special meals for B&B guests and others at different times of the year. Kathryn is a classmate in our Italian language class where she must tolerate Italian conversations with the Americans each Friday! Note their home has numerous wall and ceiling paintings done by Clive, and he also built the Presepe (crèche) in the front hall.  Lots of talent there.

We learned about a typical English Christmas. We learned about “crackers” which are little noise-makers with gifts inside that you pull apart with your adjacent diners. In the past, the English would hide a few silver sixpence coins in the Christmas pudding and everyone had to be careful how they chewed and swallowed! What a great afternoon.  

Their terrace is magnificent with great views of Old Scalea and beyond to the sea:

Italian-English Family Dinner
We were fortunate to be invited to the vacation home of an Italian-English family with many of their Italian relatives.  The host couple is an Italian husband and English wife.  They met when they were around 19.  Enzo and his family grew up on the island of Capri, the famous tourist destination near Naples.

Years ago, Enzo and Gill married and went to England where they, over time, built a number of restaurants and pubs with an Italian food theme.  Recently, they bought and remodeled a large villa on a hillside overlooking the sea near us.  The house is lovely and large on purpose – when all the family takes a holiday there, they can pack up to 17 people into the place including lots of grandchildren!

The buffet dinner was really enjoyable despite some confusion on our part as to whether it was supposed to be a pot-luck. Everyone spoke very clear Italian and/or English. This family really knows how to have fun and we felt right at-home. It's also the largest and most modern kitchen we have seen in Calabria. We’re sure that Chef Enzo picked most of the appliances. They even had a garbage disposal! 

We learned that Capri is similar to Aspen, Colorado; i.e., very lovely, and ultra expensive.  Their story is that they sold a 60 sq m apartment in Capri and the proceeds bought this 6 bedroom villa in Calabria including the remodel cost.  Amazing.  Again, we feel lucky to have found one of the most lovely (and affordable) places in Italy. One of the daughters and her husband run a little clothing shop on Capri, so we’ll have people to visit when we get a chance to go ourselves.


  1. Sounds like a lot of fun with nice people to boot.
    And Di, you look fabulous!

  2. Sounds a lovely Christmas holiday. (why shouldn't you say holiday to us Brits?)

    See you in the summer.

  3. Grazie sue e Michelle--troppo gentile!



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