Wednesday, 28 August 2013

lambretta in Calabria. July, Sunday 21st

i've said we could not bring our lambretta in Calabria. true. but this didn't stop us to take a lambretta ride on the calabrian streets.
we found out that near the Raganello Valley there is a quite large and lively lambretta club, it would have been a shame not to meet them!

the Lambretta Club Calabriais based in Castovillari, a town near Civita. they were so nice to come and pick us up. after a quick ride, they showed us the club HQ, so while they talked about lambretta and motors stuff, i was free to browse through the incredible amount of memorabilia they collected: posters, scarfs and above all, photos. dozen of vintage photos of couples, families, friends with their lambretta. black and white daily life scenes, documenting the italian rural life from the fifties to the seventies. all the pictures has been taken in the Cosenza province. Simone, the guy who invited us in the first place, owner of a shiny purple and white lambrettas, was so kind to send me some of them, so here they are:

{nikon f-801 + fujicolor 200}

Saturday, 24 August 2013

candles, lanterns and moon light in Possagno

imagine a road in the hills. the air is chilly because is sunset and you're running across the woods. at some point, nestled between the hills like a white stone, without any connection with the surrounding landscape, a neoclassical temple.
it's the Possagno church, designed for his hometown by the artist Antonio Canova, one of the most brilliant italian sculptors, epitome of neoclassical style.

from the temple, at the end of the street you can see the entrance to the Canova Plaster Cast Gallery and Museum {Museo e Gipsoteca Canoviana}, in my opinion the most beautiful museum in Treviso province.
Marco and i had been there before, but this time it was a special occasion.

Montelvini winery choose the Gipsoteca Canoviana as the location for a dinner and wine tasting, to launch their elegant passito wine, which has the evocative name of Luna Storta, twisted moon.

the Canova Museum is located in the artist's former family house. entering the front door, you walk in a beautiful garden, where maybe Canova used to welcome and entertain his guests, too. it was all set to recreate the atmosphere. in his birthplace, he often found himself the right environment to rest from the work he was doing in Rome. when he came back from his travels in Vienna, Paris and Rome, the Possagno inhabitants used to welcome him with parties and fairy lights. nowadays, hundreds of plaster casts are kept in the museum: witness of the artist's hard work. Canova didn't sculpted marble directly. artworks came from a methodical work of drawing, modeling clay, then plaster and finally marble. so, the plaster casts here are the original models of his most famous artworks that you can see in the best museums, like Musée du Louvre, the Ermitage of S. Petersburg, the Victoria and Albert Museum of London etc. 
i said i had seen the plaster cast gallery before, and i already thought it was an incredible place, but this time it was, well, another kind of experience. usually, the first impression you have, walking into the museum, is to be dazzled by a bright white. this time, we were embraced by a velvet darkness.

do you know how Canova used to show the plaster cast collection to his friends? he used the lanterns dim light. i don't know if it was just a practical issue {no electricity in the nineteenth century}, but i think he was well aware of the magical, soft effect that candle light has on the sculptures.

seen like that, the Gispoteca visit is a moving experience. the Museum organizes this kind of evening from time to time, or for groups, so if you are planning to visit check their website or contact them, it is totally worth it.
photo © Canova Museum
after the visit, we tasted the Luna Storta under the moonlight, with some moon-shaped butter cookies, chattering and enjoying that perfect summer night. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

we went canyoning, i got proof. July, Friday 19th

i don't feel comfortable in the water. when we go to the seaside (and it does not happen so often), i'm the one who keeps an eye to the clothes and bags while everyone goes swimming.
so, i wasn't excited at the idea that the major activity around the Raganello stream is canyoning {or canyoneering}. well, i was wrong.
this is the brightest memory from our days in Calabria, and i'm really glad we did it.
canyoning means to explore a canyon from the inside, to follow the waterstream walking, swimming, climbing, sliding down the smooth rocks, diving.. not to mention falling. all enriched by an amazing view. 

i did not dare bring my camera, but thanks to the bravest Flavio {thinking nomads} i can now show you some pictures. 

Civita's lower gorges are perfect for canyoning. the waters are not that cold ant you can choose your route from different levels of difficulty.
squeezed into a tiny wetsuit and wearing an helmet, we followed our guides down in the gorges for about 3 kilometers {the entire route is 7 km}, surrounded by high walls and roaring waters, to reach the devil's bridge {first picture}. bruises, scratches and goose bumps are part of the game, but also are breathtaking dive, rush of adrenaline and laughs. 

having a guide is important not just for being safe, that is clearly the priority, but also allows you to take the water path that best suits your ability. in our case, it was simple and sometimes tricky, with small waterfalls that i would have avoided if i had been alone, but turned out to be fun when approached with the proper equipment.

info & tips
to stay in Civita, take a look at the lovely b&b Il Comignolo di Sofia. Stefania, the volcanic landlady, is more that happy to give all the infos on the Pollino national park, Civita, where to hike and of course where to go cayoning.
i highly recommend Roberto De Marco as a guide, you can contact him at +39 3471776569.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

the Raganello Valley

our days in Calabria were intense. a endless stream of new words, flavours, skylines, gestures.
we explored a valley located in the biggest italian national park {Parco Nazionale del Pollino}, the Raganello Valley. Raganello is a stubborn stream that carved its way out of high limestone rocks, so the valley's landscape is a mosaic composed by vertiginous rock walls,  great reddish promontories, five small villages {Civita, San Lorenzo Bellizzi, Cerchiara, Francavilla Marittima and Alessandria del Carretto} and the fierce and cold watercourse.

Civita and the timpe. "timpa" is the local word for the hilly rock formations

as my senses were wide open and almost overwhelmed, i want to try to tell you what i experienced through sensations, hoping that from many small details you could catch a glimpse of the whole life and traditions of this little piece of Calabria, still untouched by the mass tourism.

a list of nice sounds
Albanian flag in Civita
- arbëresh language and songs. arbëreshë people are a linguistic minority that settled in some southern Italy villages in 15th century, after the ottoman turk conquest of Albania. i think it's amazing that they still are able to speak their native language, cook the dishes of their own gastronomy, know how to dance and sing their traditional songs and keep their ethnic spirit alive. preserving customs for so long in a different country with such a strong identity and long history it's hard. in Civita there is an ethnic museum, bilingual signs and Albanian flags are everywhere. arbëreshë families still speak arbëresh language at home. 
popular Calabria melodies, played with the accordion, are frequently mixed up with arbëreshë songs. 

a shot from our popular music night 

 - the roaring water stream. it seems that the name Raganello comes from the latin word ragare, which means to drag. when it rains it is said that you can hear noises  in the river gorge, similar to those that make barrels when they roll along a cobbled street downhill.
Raganello's lower gorge, in San Lorenzo Bellizzi

- the silence at the Porta del Pollino. after we hiked in the national park's woods for a couple of hours, we reached a plateau with a wonderful panorama on the surrounding timpe. the silence was made solemn by the presence of  bosnian pines {pinus heldreichii}. the majestic trees watched over the horizon. some of them were dead, and just lied there like great sculptures, or oversized fossils.
bosnian pines in Pollino national park

a list of nice tastes and smells 
short premise: we ate way too much. be prepared if you go there.
- goat milk and goat ricotta. okay, i was an easy target, i love goat cheese. and cheese in general. and milk. but these were insanely good. the goats that graze on the timpe eat lots of aromatic herbs which makes their milk and cheese so rich in flavors.
drinking a glass of warm milk at breakfast made me feel like i was lying on a meadow, with herbs, flowers and a stunning landscape.
ricotta making at Azienda Agrituristica La Grotta, San Lorenzo Bellizzi

- real homemade traditional meals. from tagliatelle to the amazing salami, i loved that everything was local, made at home or in small farms. prosciutto, capocollo, soppressata... and you're still wondering why i said that i ate too much?
making pasta at Azienda Agrituristica Grampollina, San Lorenzo Bellizzi

- spice up your life. small, hot, red peppers are kings. as an ingredient, like inside the nduja {a spicy sausage}, or served by itself as a side dish, you'll meet it at any meal.
hot peppers in a small shop

- smell of oregano. walking on the timpe, we could smell it everywhere. fresh, fragrant oregano. we harvested two big bunches, and used it to make an infusion in the evening. it was relaxing and really helped our overstressed stomach. {thanks to Anna from green holiday italy for having this brilliant idea!}

a list of nice sights
- frank and proud faces. usually, it's the people we meet that make our travels special. even if we barely know them and just exchange a few words.
an old lady, an agriturismo owner, a view of a small square in San Lorenzo Bellizzi. the old lady talked to me in a very incomprehensible Calabria dialect, but i understood that she told me it was going to rain soon (i was very proud of myself). guess if she was right.

- small details of a simple faith. i like when faith is showed in a humble way. i could catch some details that can testimony the spirituality of the places we visited. a bell and a madonna icon in Santa Maria dell'Armi sanctuary; a crucifix in a bakery {did i mention that the bread was delicious, too? try the Cerchiara bread!}; a stone church surrounded by mountains.

- moving landscapes. here my favorite landscape shot of this trip. it was about to rain, just like the old lady  had said.

the view from Sant'Anna

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