Giro d’Italia

May 15th, 2011

Today I finally got to mark a ‘tick’ against that little list we all have of the ’100 things to do before I die’. Being a amateur road cyclist, my love for the professional side of this sport is undying. Now that we live here in Italy, and more importantly in Europe, the opportunity to see the Giro d’Italia as well as the upcoming Tour de France in person is fullfilling a dream.

Stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia finished in one of the most beautiful towns that Calabria has to offer, Tropea. After Angela finished work, we hopped in the car a drove the 40kms needed to reach this little hamlet. The stage started some 217kms north in Sapri, in the region of Campania and snaked it’s way down through the undulating roads of Calabria. To see some of the current greats of world cycling pushing themselves beyond their personal limits in persuit of line honours, is a memory I will forever cherish.

Before this stage met its end, we decided we would pay homage to the Mediterranean sun and enjoy our first taste of the local seafront. Now that we are starting to experience warmer days after enduring a very long and cold winter, the liberty we have to access some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean needs not to be ignored.

Winter has arrived

December 18th, 2010

We are now two weeks into winter, and the weather has really started to change. For the first couple of weeks it seemed as though spring was still determined to stay. Calabria, being at the bottom of Italy, get’s a lot of southern winds making their way across from the deserts of Africa (carrying with them desert sand). So for a couple of days there the temperature went from 12°C up to 25°C.

Now though, the unyielding cold from the north of Europe has made it’s home here. For the past week we have been averaging temperatures of ~6°C during the day and 0°C at night. With the cold now present, I spent a whole day last week with some of the cousins hauling 3 tonne of firewood upstairs for the fireplace. There has been intermittent snow fall around the place, evaporating as it hits the earth. The real heavy snow has started dumping on the mountains. The ski lifts have started operating so it’s now just a matter of hopping in the car and driving up their for some fun in the white powder.

We are currently living in quite a beautiful location. Having the alpine mountains of the Aspromonte National Park only a 20 minute drive south west of us, and in the opposite direction in summer, we only need to drive 5 minutes to access the wonderful beaches of the Mediterranean.

Here is a view from the front of our place, looking over the scenic, picturesque olive groves towards Gambarie and Mt.Scirocco (1655 mt.).

p.s I think Aidan might be getting a sleigh for Christmas, so ssshhhhhh!.

shhh … I’m hunting mushrooms

October 13th, 2010

It has been raining constantly here for the past two days, with a lot of heavy rain falling over the Aspromonte National Park , in the Apennines mountains, Calabria.

So, what perfect wether for those little (sometimes big) and absolutely delicious mushrooms to show their heads.

As the porcini mushroom is a highly sought after delicacy, most of the locations accessible by normal bitumen roads are usually well and truly exhausted. Taking a less frequented route to locations not easily accessible by car, you have a better chance of being rewarded. With this in mind, Angela’s cousin Vincenzo and myself took the 4×4 track up to the top of Zomaro. About half way towards the top of this mountainous region, a local storm decided it didn’t want to have a water retention problem anymore, and it turned the steep inclining road into a nice flowing river.

At the first location we decided to stop at and start ‘hunting’, we came up empty handed after about 40 minutes of scouting the steep slopes. Onto the next area we went and boy did it pay a good dividend. Have a look at todays ‘catch’ …

What we collected today. The porcini are on the right of the photo

What we collected today. The porcini are on the right of the photo

Here is a nice big porcini about 20cm high

and these are just about the perfect size, where their flavour is the strongest