Sunday, October 28, 2018

Did anyone notice yesterday that one of the days I was talking about was October 13, the day EYF 2019 went live? Alexander and Ketki stepped up to the plate for me, and secured Felicity Ford “Colours of Edinburgh” for Friday morning. It would have been fully as embarrassing for me as for the EYF organisers if the demand for class places had been less this year, after Alexander and Ketki had given up their Saturday afternoon to sit there with fingers on the buzzer at 4 p.m.

But all was as usual. Both Felicity and my second choice, Tom of Holland, were sold out in the first five minutes.

On with Italy.

October 14:

Here we are in Reggio Calabria. What a day!

The train wasn’t too bad, quiet and smooth, but not the luxury I expected from 1st class. No wi-fi and we couldn’t fit our electricals into the sockets provided. No trolley service, free or otherwise, and the buffet was indifferent at best. The landscape got more and more southern-european-impoverished-and-depressing. Indeed we passed the port where 80% of Europe’s cocaine is landed. And it started raining, quite hard.

Our hotel is near the station, and seems distinctly good. But they gave us a lot of info when we arrived including a sheet that said that the Archaeological Museum is shut on Mondays. Consternation! We did what I think was the only thing possible, ordered a taxi and went there at once. So we’ve seen the bronzes, and they’re good, all right. It turns out the museum IS open on Mondays through the end of October.[I checked this very point when I was booking trains and hotels – but you never know.}

It was still too early for good eating, which was rather necessary by then. We wound up at Macdonalds. Fillet-o-fish is fairly restorative, and fortunately the mini-bar here in the room has wine.

So now the only problem is, what to do in Reggio Calabria when you’ve seen the Riace bronzes?  We leave for Catania on Tuesday.

When we got here, we walked to the hotel in the rain, for the sake of some fresh air, since it was very nearby. Reggio is a fairly depressing town. Archie has been filing bank statements for me recently. “You’ve got plenty of money, Grandmother,” he said. “Why don’t you treat yourself?”

“Look around you,” I could only reply. “This IS a treat.”

October 15:

A quiet day. There’s not much to do in Reggio Calabria once you’ve seen the bronzes, and it’s been raining a lot. We walked in the Historic Centre but it is not very storico in fact because of earthquakes and wars. The earthquake of 1908 was the worst ever experienced in Europe. It is filed as the Messina Earthquake but Reggio suffered almost as much. Messina is just over there in Sicily. You can see it easily. [The epicentre was in the strait, where Scylla and Charybdis are.}

We went to an interesting delicatessen — that isn’t the right word— and I bought some nduja. Would anybody like some? We’ll have more strolling time tomorrow morning. (It’s a soft, spicy salami. You can spread it on crackers, or melt it into a pasta sauce. You can get it at Valvona & Crolla and also in Waitrose, in a jar. But it’s a speciality of Calabria. It’s distinctly spicy.)

Then we had a very good lunch, to make up for yesterday’s suffering.

Tomorrow we take the train to Catania. In the original plan, we were going to get a train from here at 10:10 and then wait four hours in a place called Villa S. Giovanni. Contemplating the idea as I sat in my kitchen in Drummond Place I thought we could stroll about a bit and have a modest lunch in some cafe. Seeing Villa S. Giovanni from our train yesterday, and similar local towns, I thought not. So we have thrown away the first part of our ticket and booked a car and driver to take us.


  1. Oh, Jean! This is the dream and the reality of foreign travel writ large. Who knew that it rained so much in southern Italy?

  2. That soft spicy salami sounds tasty and hooray for both a good meal, and for seizing the opportunity to adjust your travel plans on the fly.

  3. Anonymous10:39 AM

    I was surprised by the rainfall too so I checked the computer and one weather site gives October and January as the most rainfall in Reggio. Rome fares only slightly better for October, so I must have been very lucky the year I was there when ithe whole month was balmy, sunny and beautiful. So sorry you had to experience that, Jean. We certainly don't travel to be depressed. Chloe

  4. I thought of you last evening, Jean. We watched a Rossellini film from 1954, with George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman called Journey to Italy. Lots of footage of places in Naples and the area. I mostly wanted to see it because I couldn't imagine George Sanders in a Rossellini movie!

  5. =Tamar7:42 PM

    I suppose it wasn't possible to get a partial refund on the unused tickets. Good for you, making the decision to avoid a four-hour dismal wait.