Day 21: Ingressing the Botanical Gardens

FAIR WARNING: Game Nerdity Abounding!

P and I left the babbies in the care of E and M, and trekked back to Catanzaro’s Botanical Gardens to do a little Ingressing (Green Team Best Team).  One of the cooler aspects of the game for travelers are the banner missions you can do in cities you visit that give you a virtual souvenir of your visit.  The Botanical Gardens had just such a beast, and we had the urge to possess it.

Parco Agraria, Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy

But before we could do that, we had to destroy some blue fields that an enemy player had put up after our last visit.  And we did.  And we got the banner.  And we took lots of pictures.  And we walked many miles.  And we had caprese sammiches. And lemon granita. And it was awesome.

Then we trekked back home and napped all the naps.

I bopped on down to the local produce store and picked up some supplies so we could make shrimp scampi for dinner, and then we settled in for the awaiting storm.  And boy was it a doozy!  High winds, crazy rain, lightning, thunder… it was a GREAT night for sleeping.  I closed the doors from my bedroom to the porch for the first night since we arrived, when it started raining IN the doors.  I was also awoken from a dead sleep when one of my friendly porch lizards ventured in and scampered across my hand.  Unfortunately, I scared him away before I could get the lights on to take a picture.

The storm rolled in just before sunset…

Categories: Calabria

Day 20: Steak and Coffee

Mother, father and I took a mid-morning run back to the mall outside of Lamezia Terme. I wanted to stop by the Bialetti store, and we wanted to check out the HUGE fish section of the Carrefour market that anchored the entire mall complex.

It’s about a 40 minute drive from the house to the shopping center.  It was filled with good conversation, and much oohing and ahhing over the scenery on the way there.

As we walked in, we passed a mid-asile kiosk that sold ALL sorts of spices and honey. But the thing about it that really stood out for me was the series of “Battle Marionettes” along the top of the spice table.  I only caught photos of a few, but they were totally badass!!

They WILL destroy you.

We made our way to the Bialetti store, and I picked up my new friend, who still doesn’t have a name yet.  Soon… soon…

Some call him… Tim. (Cups not included.)

Well… I guess his name is Tim, then.  Huh.  Go figure.

That evening, we ate like warrior kings.  Roasted potatoes, butter braised cabbage, and steaks cooked out back on the grill.

Oh, the grill… not so much a grill as a 3/4″ slab of metal under which we started a fire.  But it was hard getting the fire hot enough, and fanning it wasn’t enough… so we literally fanned it.


Holy crap was that dinner good.  SOoOoOOoooo good.

And now, since there is no photoset for today, I leave you with this action shot of Tim.

Mmmmmm, coffee…

Categories: Calabria

Day 19: The Second Coming of Pizzo

We started the day with only one goal: Gelato

Once everyone was up and moving, we loaded them into the vehicles and made our way to Pizzo, parking right near Castello Murat.  A fine lunch was had at SPQR.

Certainly not the “slices” we thought they would be.

Those who didn’t get to tour the Castello the first time around, were able to do so while the rest of us tended the babbies in the Castle Foyer and little Italian women cooed and awwwwd over them.

Inside the castle,
We waited with the babes.
Their cries echoed quite heartily,
And danced across the waves.

By the time Castello tours were complete, it was warmer than warm, and so we settled in for some tasty, tasty gelato treats.

Affogato di Café

Team Calabria split up at that point, with the Babbiemobile headed to the Post Office and home, and the Parentmobile set to depart after a bit more Pizzo wandering.  We settled in for a nice salad for dinner, and called it an early night.  The sunset was lovely, and the sky turned a deep, dark shade of blood red shortly after the photo below was taken.  Check the flickr gallery for that.

Good night, Sun…

Categories: Calabria

Day 18: Statues in the Park

On Tuesday, we trekked up to Catanzaro, about 20 minutes past Marcellinara, to visit the Parco della Biodiversità Mediterranea, a botanical garden and statue park and raptor sanctuary. The statuary was super cool (there was even a Darth Vader head), and they had a little cafe that served Fanta and gelato (among other things).

P and I did a bit of Ingressing while we were there, but weren’t able to complete everything we wanted to, so a trip back will be necessary some morning when the babbies are sleeping soundly (AHAHAHAHAHA!!!).

There isn’t much else to say about the park other than “Enjoy the photos.”

We trekked home and had yet another amazing P prepared dinner after a trip to one of the local more than a fruit stand less than a grocery store places.  The owner was super nice, had samples in our mouths as we walked in the door, and talked to us for 20 minutes about his honeymoon in San Francisco, Washington, Utah, Nevada and Hawaii.

Categories: Calabria

Day 17: Two Tales in One!

Marcellinara 2: The Eclectic… you get the picture

Mom, Dad and I took a drive back up to Marcellinara in the morning while the rest of the folks got L to the airport for her trip home to Schmetterlinglund.

We started off at the town cemetery, which was cool and old(ish) and made up almost entirely of vaults. There didn’t seem to be anyone there born prior to the 1890s, though. And we couldn’t tell if that was because they moved them to other vaults somewhere, or if there’s an older cemetery we just haven’t found yet.

Grandma’s maiden name is the third most common in the city, so there were lots of people who are likely related to us in one way or another buried there, but no sign of the uncle we were hoping had returned to Marcellinara after he vanished from the Census household list in NYC.

We made our way up to town hall, and spoke with a woman who checked birth records for us, and couldn’t find record of the other uncle who we believed was actually born there. After thinking about it some, though, we wonder if he was listed under great-grandmother’s last name, and not her husband’s… may need to investigate that avenue.

Quick walk through of the remnants of the Monday market, and a quick soda, the we headed back towards the homestead with a quick stop at… THE MALL!!

There is a giant shopping complex anchored by an even gianter grocery store just down the mountain from Marcellinara, so we decided to do a walkthrough to grab some supplies from the grocery store.  We got there just before not-siesta started, so we had just enough time to get what we needed, but not quite enough to get back to the Bialetti store so I could grab the cool little espresso pot that caught my eye.  But that’s okay.  We can go back.

Thelma and Louise: Italian Edition

Sitting quietly at the table on the back patio, chatting with P, when I get a message from E  and M on my phone:

Thanks to google, and my bad driving, we got caught in ditch. Calling for a tow truck.

Of course Fight or Flight immediately kicked in and went to battle with Don’t Cause A Panic. My simple reply was:

Let me know if you need additional rescue.
Of course, I had to ask P how to spell Parkour, which he then asked “Why?”
We spent the next hour or so guiltily laughing while in communication with the ladies, following their adventures in trying to get ahold of the rental company, and the neighbors helping them out.  Helpful Italians eventually got them unstuck, so the tow truck was canceled. Helpful Italians also mentioned that it would be nice if they got a little cash for their efforts, so E threw them all she had — €20. As they prepared to drive away, one of the other gentlemen came over and explained that he had “hurt” his finger. M pulled another €20 out of HER wallet and gave it to him, to which he replied in Italian “You could have gotten away with less than that.”
And so once they were on their way home, I made them a present.

Because if you can’t laugh, what can you really do?

Bonus Story: The Neverending Risotto (la la la la la la la la la)

So we had a phenomenal risotto for dinner. It was, however, a disaster saved only by P’s patience.  between the three of us NOT P, we mis-measured the rice, and ended up with like twice what we needed, which took three times as long to cook.  Thank goodness for P.

“You are all dead to me…”

More risotto than you can shake a horse at…

Categories: Calabria

Day 16 addendum: Walkin’ on Broken Glass

Managed to break a mysterious champagne flute that was on the drinking glass rack while trying to get a drinking glass during dinner. Then, while unloading the dishes, managed to fling a glass container onto ANOTHER glass, shattering both. Spent the evening hunting glass shards and being afraid to touch anything that could break.

Categories: Calabria

Day 16: Shortest Entry EVER

Rest day. Swam in Sea. Swam in Sea again with babbies. Orecchiette for dinner. Sunset.



Categories: Calabria

Day 15: Tropea 2 – The Eclectic… wait, I used that one already…

We woke early on this fateful morning. Dishes, sweeping, laundry… prepping the house for the arrival of E and M, the final additions to our party.  We managed to bring some order to the chaos of the previous two weeks.  Enough, at least, to not shock and awe the newcomers.

They arrived in a flurry of suitcases, hugs, and babbies, and the immediate question became “Lunch?”  The answer to which was “Tropea!”  So we all hopped in the vehicles and caravanned to Tropea, where we were denied our original lunch location.  We did, however, finally settle in at Le Volpe e l’Uva (The Foxes and the Grapes) for a nice, long lunch.

mmmm… foxes and grapes….

Slow saunter back to the car past shops, and then home where I found a friend hanging out on my patio.

Even tinier than Tiny Monster…

I’ve actually spotted him (or his siblings) a few times since, as well.  They seem to like the wicker furniture.

Post dinner, we made a gelato run to The Sun down in Vibo Marina.

It was a lovely day.

Categories: Calabria

Day 14: Archaeology Museum 2, The Eclectic Boogaloo

After a casual morning filled with coffee and bread with jam, we hit the road circa noon and headed for Reggio Calabria, to Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia.  Reggio Calabria is 61 miles from the house… it’s about an hour and a half drive (excluding time spent backing down yet ANOTHER murder road, thanks Waze).  The first 20 minutes are getting to the Autostrade.  The rest are smooth, high speed sailing on an INCREDIBLE highway system.

It’s like they just drew a “most convenient route” line down the country and tunneled through every mountain and bridged every valley along the way.  There are points where you enter a tunnel that is a kilometer or three long, emerge onto a bridge over a ravine a couple hundred meters deep, then go right back into another mountain tunnel.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Most of the Autostrade is toll road, so they’re in great shape, and have conveniently spaced service stations every 20 to 45 kilometers.

As we came out of the last of the tunnels into the Reggio Calabria area, we came around a bend and discovered that what I thought were more mountains in the distance was actually Sicily. Go Sicily!  I didn’t realize it was so close.

Those mountains in the background there are actually Sicily. Photo Credit: Dad because I was driving.

We found parking relatively close to the museum and then made our way inside.  It was an archeological history of the region and focused mostly on the Greek and pre-Greek cities in the area.  Turns out that “Italians” started down in what is now Southern Italy, and are named for Italus (from Ancient Greek: Ἰταλός) who was a legendary king of the Oenotrians, some of the earliest inhabitants of Italy.

We spent a good long amount of time thoroughly enjoying the museum, and not just because of its air conditioning.  Then we adjourned to a Gelateria across the street for an afternoon snack before heading home.  Turns out every Italian is genetically pre-disposed to love babbies.  They got so many smiles and kisses and waves and peek-a-boos… it was adorable.

To pass the time in our car, we decided to count the tunnels on the way back.

  • 61 miles: 26 tunnels
  • 21 of those tunnels were in the first 20 miles of the trip
  • The other direction had two more tunnels than we did

There were probably nearly as many bridges/viaducts.  Want to see the list?

We stoped in Vibo Marina for dinner, visiting PEDRO’S Pizzaria. By this point we (and especially the babbies) were all very tired, but we ate, got home, and got to be without major incident other than one of the babbies vomiting all over herself and her car seat.  [insert jazz hands here]


Categories: Calabria

Day 13: Tyrrhenian Triumph in Tropea

Today’s travels took our team of travelers to the town of Tropea. Technically, the total team’s tally ticked towards triumph though three tarried tiredly ‘tween the territories of our tenancy.

Okay, enough of THAT.

P stayed home with the babbies while Mom, Dad,  L and I hit Tropea.  P & L had already made a trip there, so everyone got to check Tropea off their lists.  It’s a good sided resort town that is the epitome of “beautiful Mediterranean sea-side village” complete with wide beaches, resorts, shops, and views that make you go “Wow, I’m way too poor to be standing here.”

Thankfully, L knew where a good parking lot was, because the town is a series of skinny, winding roads with nowhere to park.  We ditched the vehicle, and made our way down to the first Paninoteca we could find.  The panini took a while, but they were tasty, and we got to sit in the shade and watch all the beautiful Italian people walk by as we sipped on Coke and/or Fanta and tasted our first arancino of the trip.

Paninoteca in shadow…

When we finished eating, we wandered down the main road to the end, where there was a cliff overlooking the beaches and Santa Maria dell’Isola Monastery. On the way down we passed a ton of shops and storefronts with touristy items for purchase, some of which were quite lovely.  Grocers with local onion an peppers… it was lovely, but most definitely an up-scale touristy town.

The PLAN was to hike back up to the car, then drive down to the Monastery, but when I realized the hike UP to the Monastery would be a doozie, we opted to just go to the grocery store and head home, saving that for another day.

We gambled for the CONAD close to Tropea, and boy did we win with that one. It was HUGE compared to every other store we had been in.  They even had a fancy cake/pastry counter.

So shopping happened, then we headed home and I went to work for the evening, taking a quick break to watch the sunset in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

“What dat?” you say?

The section of the Mediterranean we are on is called the Tyrrhenian Sea. It has some awesome, awesome sunsets…

Categories: Calabria

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