I = Italy

I’m doing it again – selecting a country rather than a city as a destination since I have to go where my photo library takes me.

For this post, I decided to veer away from the typical Italian tourist spots and head into the countryside.

I = Italy3
You’re right. This photo is spotty. It was taken from the car on a rainy day.

In 2013, we took our third trip to Italy – this time to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Although we had spent the bulk of our time in Rome, we devoted a handful of days to wandering south into the province of Calabria where my father was born.

As a North American travelling in Europe, I never tire of all the old architecture everywhere I turn.  It often feels like I’ve stepped back in time.

I = Italy2
Paola, Calabria

That feeling was certainly very acute when travelling through Calabria.

Away from the tourist crowds,  the Italy we discovered had a grittier edge, almost bordering on neglect. It was apparent we weren’t locals and we were openly stared at.

I = Italy
Paola, Calabria

In the city of Cosenza, after eating the best Italian meal I’ve ever had, we explored a very old residential section of the city with roots going back to the early 1700s.  It looked every bit of it.

I = Italy4

I was feeling a little shell-shocked while walking these streets.  Earlier that day, I had very unexpectedly found family on my paternal Grandmother’s side and I was still trying to process what had just happened.

The term “Old World” suddenly weighed very heavily.

 

I

71 comments

  1. We’re not going as far south but I’m really looking forward to our trip to Italy this summer. It will the first time I’ve ever been there and I hope it won’t be the last because there are so many places that we won’t get to.

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  2. I had a good few days in Calabria in a town named Tropea. Also quite run down, but very beautiful too and hardly anyone spoke English so it was very interesting. Sicily is even more like that I think (except for tourist places like Taormina). I like the gritty edge and the wonderful rustic food. You might like to read this story: https://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/an-italian-adventure-when-spur-of-the-moment-decisions-lead-you-into-the-unknown/

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  3. What a great way to celebrate 30 years together……finding new family and getting a bit off the beaten track to discover new haunts. Belated congrats to both of you on the anniversary and thanks for another lovely post with bits of a new place for my brain!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d like to visit Italy. I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like it. I think that the food alone would keep my happy, but walking around all those old streets would make my heart happy, too.

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  5. Calabria definitely is gritty and old. I have not been to Europe, but, as you, I would probably enjoy the old architecture. Modern buildings simply don’t have the same character or interest.

    That’s cool unintentionally finding relatives. Are you still keeping in touch with them?

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  6. Joanne, love this travel post! I lived in northern Italy for five years back in the early 70s. Loved the traveling, people, language and culture. Good memories are forever! 💛 Elizabeth

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    • What a wonderful opportunity! I always dreamed of living abroad for a while, but instead I took the ‘safe’ career route.
      Now my travel indulgences are only snippets of time each year.

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  7. Nice shots, even with spots. Must have been a real mind-blower finding family in Europe. Kind of reminds me of that Chevy Chase movie where he thinks he’s found his Old World family, but he got the wrong house.

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  8. Italy is addictive pure and simple. The countryside, the cities, the food, the people and let’s not forget about the wine! So great that you found long lost relatives although it sounds like a rather shocking discovery? I think I remember you writing about it. Does my memory serve me correctly?

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    • There were some very complicated thoughts going on here and I guess I shouldn’t have glossed over it like that.
      I used “weighing heavily” because there were so many overwhelming emotions happening and that feeling that I couldn’t catch my breath.

      As a kid growing up with 2 immigrant parents, “Old World” to me meant simply the place they used to live, but don’t anymore.

      I know the term means so much more in terms of depth of history, culture, and civilization – my parents didn’t talk about “home”. As a result, the “Old World” didn’t mean much to me.

      This trip through Calabria, and especially Cosenza, became very PERSONAL.
      Suddenly my father’s roots weren’t an intangible anymore. These were real people – and we were family.
      Because we had not anticipated finding family, we had not allowed any time in stay for a while. We literally had to go back to Rome to catch our flight home.
      So on top of everything else, was a heavy sense of sadness and regret that I couldn’t stay.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The first time to Italy, we went to Florence and Venice, but I didn’t particularly care for it. I wanted to be in France and this wasn’t France.

      The 2nd time was better. We were still in the north in Riccione near Venice, but I got sick and that flavoured my view of the world.

      The 3rd time we went to Rome and Calabria. It was there I fell in love with the country.

      My Italian roots are from the south, so I guess it stands to reason that I wouldn’t ‘bond’ with the country until I went back to my roots 🙂

      Hope you get there someday Joe. I think I’ve asked you before – what part of the country is your family from?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. These photos are wonderful!! I’m applying to speak at a conference in Italy this fall (mainly because I want to go 😉 ) so I’ll have to pick your brain about traveling through the countryside and tracking down family roots!

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  10. So nice to see … those pictures sure don’t look like the regular, touristy ones. My husband lived and studied in Italy [Cortona] for about four years in his youth.

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  11. I remember reading your previous post on Italy. I also liked reading about your father. As you know, we are off to Italy in late August. You’ll have to let me know where this restaurant is.

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    • What part of Italy will you be visiting? I really hope I can do another trip someday and spend a sizable chunk of time in Calabria and Sicily. There is so much I still want to discover.

      This restaurant was a tiny hole in the wall in a highly questionable part of Cosenza. We had gotten lost (in spite of having a GPS) and were really hungry. It was a mom-and-pop place and was like being invited into someone’s home for a meal – except they didn’t speak a word of english. They just kept bringing more and more and more food … all of it amazing … until we had to ask them to stop!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love all things Italian. I used to say I was going to marry an Italian. Didn’t do that. Didn’t get my trip to Italy.

    I love your pictures Ann’s Ann happy to see pictures of the off the beaten path places.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, I was sure you were going to take us to Iceland. But Italy’s nice too. Actually, I really like that you’ve taken us to a place that isn’t so much of the pretty postcard side of Italy. As an Australian, I totally get your wow factor over any building more than 250 years old. 🙂

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    • Those of us from the colonies are just youngsters on the civilization scale 😉

      I’ve been trying to keep my ‘tours’ a little on the different side throughout this challenge. I’m glad that occasionally I’m hitting the right note 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I hope it was a happy reunion with family. We are going to Italy soon, so I’m interested in that part of the world. It looks ancient next to young Australia!

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    • It was a very happy – and surreal – moment meeting these people I suspected existed but didn’t know for sure. I definitely cursed my lack of language skills!!

      We have the same thing in Canada … our version of old is very young in comparison. I guess it’s all our oooo’ing and ahhh’ing that makes us look so conspicuous when we travel to Europe!

      Liked by 1 person

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