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On our 4th stop in Italy, we stayed in Catanzaro, home of my friends Cherrye and Peppe, for a few days. (Unsolicited plug here: Cherrye and Peppe have a fantastic B&B, Il Cedro, so if you ever find yourself in Italy, do yourself a favor and go visit them. Cherrye also has started doing ancestry tours, vacation planning, and so much more through her company My Bella Vita, so she’s been brushing up on her Southern Italy history. Much of this trip was only possible due to her expertise, so I’ll include some links to her posts about them if you’re interested in learning more.)

One of our day trips took us to Le Castella. From afar, this looks like a giant sand castle. It dates back to the Homer/Odyssey/Mythology/BC times. It’s pretty cool to possibly be standing some place so old.

The same day trip also took us to the ruins at Roccelletta. These ruins have both Greek and Roman history. Although some may say have been ruined (heh!) by the installation of some modern art pieces throughout the ruins.

And before I continue my recapping, a gratuitous shot of a lemon tree. No wonder, limoncello is such a popular thing in Italy!

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Ok, so you probably forgot that I went to Italy last year, but I did. And I’m just now finally wrapping up all my posts about it, almost a year later. That’s what I get for being lazy and just not getting around to writing about my trip having so much fun in Italy and taking so many pictures that I have a hard time choosing which ones to show you.

Here are all my posts on Italy if you’d like to catch up from the beginning. I’ll update this post when I finish everything (I think I have two or three more left) so anyone interested in a trip to Italy can find everything in one place. If you have any questions about anything, let me know.

Staying in touch on your overseas vacation

Italy: Almost there, our Amsterdam layover

Italy: First stop, Rome Part 1

Italy: First stop, Rome Part 2

Italy First stop: Rome Part 3

Italy Second stop: Florence

Italy Third Stop: Scalea

Italy Third Stop: Scalea – Adventures

Italy Third Stop: Scalea – Adventures Part 2

Italy: A Public Service Announcement

Italian Cooking Lesson

Italy 4th Stop: Catanzaro – Pizzo

Italy 4th Stop: Catanzaro – Le Castella and Roccelletta

Italy 4th Stop: Catanzaro – In Italy You’re Always With Friends

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Before the next stop on our Italian adventure, we made a little pit stop just a few towns over from Scalea. Cherrye had arranged a cooking lesson for us. We toured the kitchen and got down to the real work. Making fresh pasta. Fusilli is a regional type of pasta, and we were able to learn from the best teacher in all of Italy.

We’ll skip all the details of mixing the dough and get down to the kneading,  which you have to do a precise way. And a precise number of times. See how confused we look?

After you let the dough sit for a few minutes, you cut it into strips, and then pinch off enough to roll into a long worm. Then you wrap the dough worm around a thin little stick (as thin as spaghetti almost) in a spiral, and then you roll that on the counter to flatten it into the shape (which is like a flat spiral I guess). Our teacher made it look SO easy.

Here’s the finished product, pre-cooking. We made at least 5 pans of these, which is no easy feat.

Here’s a video of the process. I’m really happy one of the guys at the place picked up the camera and filmed us doing this. You can also hear Cherrye translating for us in the background. And by the end, despite our limited Italian skills, we knew if we were in trouble by the teacher.

Another of our lovely cooking lesson teachers helped us make eggplant parmesan and stuffed zucchini.

Baby Max even got in on the fun.

After a little appetizer of cedro soda and chicory on toasted bread, it was time to eat.

And we ate lunch for about 3 hours. The pasta was delicious (even though I wasn’t adventurous enough to eat more than a few bites of the sauce cooked with goat meat.)

Fresh made fusilli.

Peppers.

Stuffed zucchini.

Eggplant Parmesan.

There was plenty of wine and after dinner, homemade limoncello. And after everything, we even tried homemade bay leaf liquor. And yes, bay leaf liquor tastes as strange as it sounds.

After we were thoroughly stuffed, we got back on the train for a few hours headed toward Cherrye and Peppe’s house!

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I didn’t think I was going to write one of these, but then I finally looked back to see what I wrote last year, and thought I’d do it again. I kind of like having a little summary all in one place. Here’s 2010 if you’re interested.

This year Taylor and I :

Moved into a new apartment, and survived.
Celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary.

Visited

  • New Orleans (March)
  • New York (May)

And I:

Completed a 2nd Warrior Dash, without barfing

Celebrated

  • New Year’s Day in New York City
  • My 30th birthday

Cooked – Not as much as I would have liked. Learned how to cook risotto.

Visited

  • Italy (July)
  • Austin (October)

Read

  • Room

Harry Potter Series

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow

Started but couldn’t finish

  • The Pioneer Woman, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels
  • Chelsea Handler, Chelsea, Chelsea Bang Bang

Watched

  • True Blood (Seasons 3)
  • Lots of How I Met Your Mother &  Big Bang Theory
  • Tosh.0
  • The New Girl
  • Lots of Intervention, Addicted and Obsessed

Listened to/Discovered MusicAgain, not all new stuff, but I love all the same.

  • Matt & Kim – Cameras
  • Eric Hutchinson – Sounds Like This
  • Freelance Whales – Weathervanes
  • Discovery – Discovery LP
  • Ke$ha – Animal
  • Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song
  • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
  • O.A.R. – King

And talking about 2011 wouldn’t be complete with a special new category.

Developed Friendships

  • I became closer to friends I already had while planning our trip and traveling to Italy together.
  • I also met new friends at the Blathering. Some of them I think will be friends for a very long time.

Can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store!

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When last we left off, we’d just spent our day in a wonderful state of relaxation. Followed by an equally relaxing and delicious dinner. So we thought we’d continue with that theme. Here’s a little visual “taste” of our delicious dinner.

Due to some pre-dinner wine, then being required to try both the red and white house wine at dinner (so we could decide which bottle to buy and bring home with us…of course!) we were already having a great evening. I’m not exactly sure how the timeline went after dinner, but I’ll try my very best.

We wandered back into the town square after dinner, with no particular destination in mind. As we wandered, we stumbled upon a bar/restaurant with outdoor karaoke. So we stopped to watch.

We had so much fun singing trying to sing along to some Italian songs we didn’t know and some English songs we did, we decided to have a seat.

We got hooked with this song Sara Perche Ti Amo by Ricchi E Poveri. Sorry I couldn’t find a better video for you.

Some of us decided it was time for limoncello and some of us decided on gelato. Really there’s no bad time for either in Italy.

But having a seat turned out to be a bad idea. The karaoke MC spotted us right away and decided we needed to sing a song. So after a little prodding, the four of us got on stage. We needed to sing a song we all kind of knew, and that the Italians would probably know too. We suggested all kinds of things. Spice Girls. Michael Jackson. They didn’t have any of it. But then they found a song for us.

Spoiler Alert. This does not turn out well.

What did they pick you ask? A Whitney Houston song. We were thankful it wasn’t I Will Always Love You. But what they picked was almost worse.

I Believe The Children Are Our Future.

Did you know that song is 800 minutes long? Well it’s not, but that’s about how long it feels when you are on stage howling it out at the top of your lungs, slightly drunk from dinner. And none of us can really sing so it was reminiscent of the song that never ends.

We settled our bill as soon as we hopped off stage, and high tailed it out of there. Embarrassing as it was, I’d say it was one of the most fun memories I have from our trip.

We wanted to try the famous Calabrian granita place Cherrye told us about, Bar la Torre.  (Seriously, it is so awesome to have a local friend/travel advice giver.) What we didn’t realize is that we’d actually stopped there the night before for Linsi to get some gelato. But this night was all about the granita (sort of like shaved ice and made completely with fresh fruit.) I got some berry flavored granita.

We even met the owners of the place and the inventor of the granita!

After getting our granitas, we decided that we should play on the playground. This shot of me was taken only moments right before I realized the spring on that thing was super loose and I fell on the ground. I didn’t spill a drop though!

Jane stayed on though.

Then right after that, a guy recognized us from karaoke and offered to give us a free ride at the carnival that was just on the other side of the park. So we couldn’t say no. I can’t quickly find the picture of myself in the carnival ride, but I here’s a picture of Daniella and a short video I took. It was so awesome!

After that, we were pretty much done for the night, and we had to get up a little early in the morning to catch the train to meet up with Cherrye and Peppe. And to go to our cooking demonstration! But that didn’t stop us from finishing the rest of the wine when we got back to the hotel. So we didn’t have to carry it with us, of course.

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I interrupt these intermittent Italy recaps with a warning. (I promise, so much more is on the way!)

In the words of Baz Lhurmann, Wear Sunscreen.

If you don’t, you will end up like our Italian friend, who we affectionately nicknamed, Skeletore. (Pronounced with an Italian accent like Ske-le-tor-ray). From far away she is a specimen to behold.  But up close, you see what many years of excessive tanning will do to you.

Friends don’t let friends not wear sunscreen. Trust me on this.

(PS These photos are courtesy of the fabulous, sly photography work of my friend, Linsi!)

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This particular day started out with sleeping in, followed by hours of lounging at the beach, pizza and beer for lunch

and a couple hours of souvenir shopping before we cleaned up and headed out to dinner. (Or maybe it was: sleeping in, lunch, souvenir shopping-we had to buy beach towels, lounging at the beach, more souvenir shopping, dinner…I can’t remember now?!)

Since it was a little bit early for Italian dinner, we decided to explore some of the famous mosaics Cherrye had told us about, so we headed in the general direction after briefly looking up the directions online.

We found the restaurant, and it was right near where we were supposed to turn to go to the murals. So we started up the road.

We figured it couldn’t be too much further when the dog at a house down in the valley barked at us. (The house was almost entirely hidden from view, but we could see tons of tomato bushes.)

So we kept going, until we finally saw something. (We think it was a tunnel that had something to do with the trains that pass through the mountain.)

It was super creepy, and the wind was blowing very hard through the tunnel. I did my best not to be scared. Haha!

 

So after that, we decided we weren’t going to find the mosaics on that path, so we descended back down the hill, past the barking dog, and back to the main road. Where we saw a sign pointing into the old part of town that said “mosaics”. Ha!

We still had plenty of time to kill before dinner, so we headed into the old village, excitedly waiting to see the mosaics. We climbed up and up and up lots of small, musty stair wells, just like this one… 

…only to never actually find the mosaics. Yeah, that’s right. We still never found them. Once we got to the plaza of the old village, we stopped to take a few pictures of the beautiful view, then decided we were starving, and again made our descent.

It was just breathtaking up there. Not only the view, but to walk where it was nearly impossible for cars to travel. Where people built their homes way up in the mountainside, hundreds of years ago.

Stay tuned for the adventures to follow after dinner! 🙂

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