Calabria Stories and Tips

More Time in the "Toe" of the Boot

Moonrise in Bianco Photo, Calabria, Italy

Having finally made it out of the Aspromote National park, we entered Bova Marina on a road that looked like a back alley in an industrial area. We could see the highway, suspended high, high above on a massive bridge that bypassed the town. We wandered through the town to the left and couldn’t find the way up to the highway. Of course there were no signs!

We went back to where we started and tried going straight. That landed us underneath the highway in a place that appeared to be the unofficial town dump. Back to where we started and off to the right… That turned back up into the hills on tiny drives. We turned around again and went back to where we started in the back alley. Left again, into town, left on main street, turn onto the lungomare – the main street along the ocean. We followed that all the way to the end where it turned, went under a bridge, and came out back at the unofficial dump. We continued back to where we started. This was getting ridiculous. We had been driving around this tiny town for half an hour and could not find the slightest hint of a sign to the highway! Try, try again. Back into town to the main street, turn right. Cross over the bridge that the lungomare road had gone under. And, suddenly, there was the entrance ramp to the highway. No warning – just a very sharp right to the ramp.

Sigh of relief! We zoomed along the highway. (Well, we were going about 50 km/h because of all of the towns, but after crawling along in first and second gear through the mountains on bad roads and then wandering lost through a tiny town for the better part of the day, 50 km/h seemed fast.)

Through beach town after beach town, we hurried to Bianco, hungry and in need of a bathroom! We drove into town – not a single sign for a winery or "cantina" in a town heralded as the place to get Greco di Bianco passito.
Resigned, we parked and wandered around town in search of a place to get food. We went into a grocery store (hoping for a bathroom) but they didn’t have one available to the public. On top of that, their breads and cheeses looked mass-produced. We left and wandered back towards the beach. We found a gelateria/pasticcheria -- F. Lli Canturi -- on the corner of a small plaza on Via Vittoria. They had a bathroom and food. Just what we needed!

We each got a waffle cone bowl with 6 little scoops of gelato. Richard had chocolate and hazelnut. After seeing that I could choose more than 2 flavors, I ordered chocolate, hazelnut, and gianduia (chocolate hazelnut). The gelato was very good, especially the chocolate - so dark it was almost black! We walked down to the waterfront and ate our gelato, enjoying the sound of the waves on the beach after a stressful day.

We walked back to the car, stopping at a different grocery store on the way. We picked up some bread and cheese. We had some meat and cheese left over from Pizzo at the car and figured we could make a snack to hold us over until dinner. When we got back to the car, we found the area smelled like garbage and decided not to eat there. We drove all the way through town and into the countryside on the north side, still hoping to find a cantina. No luck, and we turned around…

...and we got stopped by the carribinierri at a random check-point. I smiled and said "American" in my best Texas accent. He smiled back, nodded, and said something along the lines of "documenti," which I took to mean he wanted to see my driver’s license. Unfortunately, I had closed the door on the strap of my backpack, so I couldn’t get the bag to budge. I got out of the car, and got my driver’s license out and gave it to him. Meanwhile, Richard got out and dug the passports out of his backpack in the trunk of the car. Richard gave him those, and the officer asked for the papers on the car. The officer glanced at my driver’s license and our passports (and into the now open trunk which held Richard’s backpack and a case of Fontanavecchia wine) while Richard pulled out the rental car paperwork. The officer glanced at the rental car papers and said we were ok to leave.
As we pulled away, Richard commented that the officer seemed much more laid-back about our getting out of the car than officers in the U.S. tend to be. I smiled and said, "yeah, well, in the U.S., you don’t usually have another officer standing there watching with a machine-gun."

There had been a total of 4 officers: the one checking us, two taking everything out of someone else’s car in a very thorough search, and a fourth one standing a bit to the side watching over everything. The fourth one happened to be standing at the ready with a machine gun. I supposed that would provide a level of confidence to all of the officers.

We turned into the lungomare as we drove back into Bianco. We pulled out our snacks and sat on a bench by the beach and watched the sunset, then the moonrise, while we ate our bread, cheese and sliced meat. The wind was getting quite cool, so we hopped back in the car and made the long drive back around the "tip of the toe" to Scilla.

We had hoped to get dinner at another restaurant the B&B had recommended, but it was closed. We wandered through town and found a pizzeria ristorante high up on the hill. They were going to seat us inside, but the air was hot and smoky inside. We requested to sit outside, and they were amazed that anyone would want to sit outside when it was so cold! It was probably in the low 70’s! The meal was good, but nowhere near some of the other meals we had had thus far.

It had been a long day, but we needed to find an ATM to get cash to pay the B&B. We walked through town, through increasingly narrow streets. We stopped periodically to watch the ocean crashing up through the gaps between buildings. We saw a rowboat pulled up in a little overhang between two buildings and marveled that anyone could get the boat out without being dashed upon the rocks.

We came out of the narrow streets onto a wide area by a marina. We walked along the marina and still found no ATM. Richard ran up the road ahead to see if he could find one. The road curved away from the marina but still ran along the coast. I went and stood next to the ocean, watching the waves crashing against the rocks and occasionally watching the spray splash onto the road when a particularly large swell hit. Richard came back, having not found an ATM. We wandered back down the narrow roads to the B&B and went to bed. What a LONG day!

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