Friday, October 31, 2014

Europe Recap: Pizzo Calabro

Continuing tradition, while we are on vacation this year, I'm sharing some photos and details from last year's trip. Last year, you got to see China while we were in Europe. This year, you get to see Europe while we are in India! 

As we do with every trip to Lamezia Terme, we made a point of heading about 20 minutes south to go to Pizzo, which is the town where we got engaged and later got married.  Obviously it holds a pretty special place in our hearts.  I got married the year before I started blogging, so I don't think I ever posted much about that city. 

As you can see, Pizzo is on the way to Reggio, which is the provincial capital of Calabria. 

I mostly took this picture because, hey, Philly (or Filadelfia, as they call it)!  I work in Philly all the time when I'm on a travel stint for work:

So typical of Italy.  You get off your exit and there are a tons of signs and arrows pointing different directions.  You need to either know where you're going or read very quickly as you drive by (or have a separate navigator, or just stop and look, which may be what the guy below was doing). 

Over on the right is the hotel where we and all our guests stayed, and where we had our wedding reception:

Here is the main piazza in town.  After our wedding, while we were doing pictures and guests were waiting for shuttles back to the reception, my brother and a couple other guys played soccer for a while in the piazza with some kids (yes, my brother was in a tux at the time).  I have no idea what the rules are, but sometimes the piazza is closed to traffic.  We were parked in the piazza with a bunch of other cars on our first visit to the city and while we were wandering, all the other cars moved and we got a ticket.  Anyway, this pretty church at one end of the piazza:

At the other end of the piazza is the castle where we got married!  Murat Castle, most famous for Giuseppe Murat being held as a prisoner there, tried there, and executed there! 

Here is the view down to the sea/beach section of Pizzo (and the courtyard of the castle where our ceremony was held is the upper right part of the photo):

Ominous rain clouds to the south:

This was a bummer.  The Trattori Toscano has a sign on it that says "venedesi," which means it is for sale.  The night we got engaged, we went there for dinner shortly afterward:

We had lunch (pizza, that will have to be in a separate post about food) in the piazza and wow, it started pouring, but it only lasted about 15 minutes:

This is a shot of the sea taken from the bench outside the castle.  We were sitting on this bench when my husband proposed:

A current price list for admission to the castle (well, October 2013 current):

We saw this sign for Pizzo city tours at night in a little three wheeled vehicle.  I mostly took this photo as a job idea for the day we dream of -- when we move there.  Man, that would be awesome:

This plaque was new, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.  At the bottom of the sign, it says March 2011, but we were there in April 2011 and I swear, I did not see this plaque, so I think it had yet to be hung:

The Garibaldi Fountain.  I love that fountains like this in Italy, even in the South, have awesome water where you can fill your bottle:

A plaque commemorating the birthplace of General Giuseppe Malta:

Another lovely view of Pizzo:

And unfortunately, as soon as we got back to Lamezia, typically Southern Italian traffic -- including this situation, where at this particular moment for no reason at all, traffic patterns are reversed and we're all driving like the Brits.  Presumably someone was blocking a lane of traffic, so traffic went into the oncoming lane to get around, the obstruction cleared and traffic then found an opening (albeit on the wrong side of the road) and moved immediately to fill it, because god forbid you wait 10 seconds:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Europe Recap: Lamezia Terme eats

Continuing tradition, while we are on vacation this year, I'm sharing some photos and details from last year's trip. Last year, you got to see China while we were in Europe. This year, you get to see Europe while we are in India! 

This is probably my favorite recap post to write, and also the hardest.  Looking at all this food makes me want to get back there as quickly as possible and never leave.

When we're in Italy visiting my husband's family, we pretty much never eat out.  We try to do it occasionally, but we usually get in trouble.  They yell at us and say we should have eaten at home.  We usually have most of our meals with my husband's aunt, uncle and adult cousin, who live in the house where we stay.  But we also usually have at least one dinner with each of two other cousins, plus their families, and one dinner with our best friends there. 

This was lunch on the day we arrived, simple, delicious: 

This was the secondo, some kind of baked eggplant dish that they made especially for me, but somehow they missed the fact that including pork meant that it actually isn't vegetarian and not something I'd ordinarily eat.  I tried to kind of pick around the meat, the eggplant part was delicious!

A very basic dinner (lunch is the main meal), greens with potatoes as a primo, and various meat cutlets as a secondo (which I skipped), plus bread, cheese, olives, and then fruit for dessert:

Another pasta dish one day:

Hubby's aunt and one of his cousin's daughters with roasted meat and potatoes for secondo/contorno one day:

Hubby would probably say this was one of his favorites -- tuna and tomatoes, which he eats all the time at home, but I don't think it's quite the same as it is in Italy.  As an aside, I HATE raw tomatoes.  If they are really chopped up like in a salsa, I will eat them occasionally, but I don't like pico de gallo, or anything else with tomato chunks.  On our first trip to Italy, he convinced me to try a tomato there.  It was so horrible!  It tasted EVEN MORE like a tomato than what I'd had in the US -- at least in the US, sometimes they're somewhat flavorless.  In Italy, very tomatoey. 

I loved this preserved eggplant, peppers and artichokes:

Which I ate with bread and cheese:

So much cheese!

We went out for breakfast on our own one day, on the main street in town: 

A pasta carbonara type lunch one day:

For me and my husband's aunt, a totally vegetarian primo! 

Followed by all kinds of stuff:

More bread, peppers, eggplant for me:

Husband's cousin cutting a melon up for dessert:

Our typical breakfast at home, bread, jam (Nutella for my husband), coffee, and sometimes cereal. 

One day we headed up toward Platania with my husband's cousin to go pick mushrooms.  Despite him showing us what kind we wanted, I basically had no luck.  I found tons of others.  I think we were looking for chantarelles?  It's funny because I cook with them sometimes at home and my husband complains because he spends about $20 on them for a single recipe.  Ever since this mushroom hunting experience, I remind him how many hours of work go into finding just one! 

Hours of work with this yield:

Stopping for bread (his family usually bakes their own, but there was something in particular that we were getting here):

A restaurant meal!  We were actually in Pizzo for the day, so we went for pizza (and fries and beer and salad and gelato...): 

The salad was a little bland:

Among the people we visited were another uncle and aunt (who actually gave us a beautiful painting of the castle where we got married that hangs in our entryway).  With them, we drank this crazy strawberry moonshine stuff:

Oh my it was potent!  But very good:

Dinner at another cousin's house, who completely and 100% understood what I meant in saying that I didn't eat meat.  Perhaps the only non-cheese protein I had in Lamezia?

Some kind of breaded meat that husband ate:

Dessert was a cookie assortment: