For a small village, Santa Domenica Talao does better than most keeping things lively during August. Almost every night there is something to see or and/or do. We now know more about how things are organized and how things get done. Lots of community involvement and donation.
It's a good thing and of course nobody is better than Southern Italians at staying up and enjoying it! We have heard that there haven't been as many tourists this year coming through town stopping at the bars but there are enough friends and family coming for Ferragosto to keep things interesting.
We’ve seen, and heard, an increase in the local quad tours coming thru the village. We see them approach from the valley below. One day while using the WiFi at the bar up the stairs, a group came into town. I approached the tour leader and asked the cost of a tour and if he had room Saturday….. just on a whim. I thought I would try-out this local tourism business and see where they went on the tours.In the USA we called these machines Off-Highway Vehicles. Here, they are allowed on secondary highways and elsewhere. At this point I have to tell you that Di says there are some key things in the world she never wants to experience: rock climbing, a cockfight and/or dogfight, and a ride in the woods on a quad!! Suffice to say, she did not ride with me.
I arrived for a 1500 ride and went with six couples – six 20-somethings from Sicilia and six 30-somethings from (I think) Roma. Two guides plus me made for 9 machines. I was the only single rider. The fee of €65 for 2 hours is for 1 or 2 people on a machine. Once again, I am the oldest guy. Oh, the Sicilian kids were speaking a dialect different from Calabrese, but I could not follow it too much better than Calabrese.
Heading back down, we stopped at a local water spring for refreshment. It was here that the guide behind me complimented me. (The lead guide was always worried about the old guy!) I told him I used quads, motorcycles and horses on my job as a forest ranger, so it was not too difficult for me. This fellow also spoke nice slow Italian and surprised me with a little English. There is a woman in the office who speaks English too for those that need it. Their hand signals and your common sense can guide you to ride safely. It’s a professional business.
We rode downhill on a variety of farmer roads and tracks only for quads. We dropped down to the Lao River (Fiume Lao) that comes out of the mountains and empties in the sea nearby.
I would never condone riding like we did in a side channel of the river back in the States, and in fact I issued violation notices to people there for this type of behavior! Here though, the channel is cris-crossed by farmer roads and other roads indicating a lot more in-water traffic than just the quads.
The river and channel is hit by huge amounts of sediment each winter from poor erosion control measures by farmers and others. And for my biologist friends, the river has dozens of concrete flood control dams and developments. No anadromous fish can swim upstream to spawn. I don’t even know if there are such species in the Med. I saw more seagulls on the river than I ever have in the nearby sea, so there are fish for
The downside of my trip was the dust. I recommend anyone wanting to try it to do it in the spring or fall after some rain. I also think with smaller groups in the shoulder seasons, there would be more time for photos! They do introduce you to a great variety of scenery in our area that would otherwise take you much more time driving around and/or hiking. I don’t know where the full day trips go, but further in to the mountains possibly. I saw motorcycles in snow on the website. This is a local business that does tours all around the area including van tours, horseback rides, motorcycles and the quads.
I don’t recommend either of the two horseback services around here unless you are pure city slicker. They ride on dirt roads and asphalt just like the quads. Nothing in the high mountains.
Back to the sea at Il Mirto sometime this week...