Friday, January 22, 2010

Suoceri down South

A Guest post from Cherrye Moore in Calabria:

People move to Italy for all kinds of reasons … some come for work, others for adventure, and still others, like me, come for love.

No, I’m not talking about love of the bel paese, which in the last three and half years has imbedded itself in my soul and taken a hold on my heart. I’m talking about love of man. Or in my case, the love of one.

As is the case with married women around the world, you don’t just marry the man-you marry the family. This is perhaps amplified when you are an expat and you live in close proximity to your in-laws, or if you are like me, to your father-in-law.

Those of you who are familiar with My Bella Vita may remember stories of my Calabrian suocerowhose goal it is to fatten me up, spoil me with Nutella-covered treats  and teach me new-and often amusing-Calabrese expressions.

In fact, as I was writing this guest post that Scintilla has so graciously offered to publish on her site, he walked into our bed and breakfast, told me something about eating more “because it is Friday” and asked if we needed more milk.

I know …

Life could be worse …

One of the most difficult things about my father-in-law, though, is that he absolutely refuses to be caught on camera and won’t-for the life of him-consent to being featured on my blog.

So … I cheated.

For those of you, like Scintilla, who love hearing about my grumpy old suocero and are anxious to catch a glimpse of him, just check out the video below. I promise you won’t find a better rendition of him anywhere on the net.


Cherrye Moore is a southern Italy travel consultant and freelance writer living in Calabria, Italy. She is currently hosting Blogging from the Boots: The Best of 2009  - the first annual expats in Italy blogging awards.

Submit or nominate your favorite expat-written blog posts today!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

San Domenico on The Path of the Gods

The gorge in the mountain dropped steeply before us. Stepping carefully to it’s edge, I peered over to see if a path was discernable.

Nope. My friend was going to get us all killed.

The church on the other side was her target and following goat tracks down steep slippery embankments, children in hand, her only means.


It was a few days after Easter Monday, the traditional ‘must picnic or die day’ for Italians. I could hear the distant squeals of laughter from children on the terraced gardens far below.


‘If they got there, we can too’ my friend insisted.

But little did we know that they’d taken steps up from the road rather than grasp at tufts of grass to get down stony cliff faces. P1000756

Looking around to ask for directions, I glimpsed a mule far up on the mountain being led by his owner but he was too far up to call to. I hoped that along with the donkey and goats, he had a herd of sniffer dogs or Saint Bernard's to rescue us with, if it actually came to that.



Heart in hand, we very carefully (or rather foolishly) grappled with the descent, dancing with meager foot holds in firm rocks and tree stumps alongside dizzying drops, trying not to let go of our children at the same time.

With relief we hit the first of the cultivated gardens and my friend found the steps leading from the lowest garden to the church square.


Children were scattered among the terraced grape vines playing hide and seek, seemingly unaware of the beauty of the surrounding scenery. Their shrieks rang in the silence of the mountains broken only by the distant clanging of the goat bells above.  A waft from the juicy Italian sausage sizzling on the picnicker's fire set our mouths watering but I’d foreseen lunch and brought ciabatta rolls for our kids.


Wandering up to the unimposing Church facade, I crossed the dark entrance out of the bright sunshine and into the cool  interior.


This Church, San Domenico, built in the 16th Century, was a revelation. Expecting the ornate decorations of the Baroque Churches in the area, the simplistic frescoes framed with cool whitewashed walls left my jaw hanging. The red, blue and ochre hues set into niches contrasted perfectly with the white columns.


Most of the beautiful art work had fallen into disrepair and paint was chipped badly.  Restoration would be God sent here.



The monastery has long been in disuse. The place none the less remains a magical one with the tall mountain backdrop and the shimmering sea far below. Concerts are held here on balmy summer nights and a festival of lights celebrating San Domenico is held at it’s sister church in Praiano at the Convent of Santa Maria a Castro in the first week of August.. P1000772

Of course religious festivals would be celebrated here too, and as we walked past the stations of the cross which lined the endless mountain stairs alongside the burgeoning grape vines under planted with potatoes, I couldn’t help thinking what a penance that would be on Good Friday.




On our way down the steps to Vettica di Praiano, we came across a man with a hefty sack of manure over his shoulders going up to the gardens. He cheerfully said hello and made a joking remark as we went past.

I so admired him as had I even been able to climb up  that far carrying anything, no more than a huff or a puff would have escaped my lips, let alone a cheerful greeting. And I would never have dreamt of creating a garden in such a spot!


San Domenico is a must see on the Path of the Gods… click on the link to read my first post on the stair way to heaven (May 2009).