It has been over 50 years...
It had been over fifty years since I swam in salt water. Brought back memories, and sand in my shorts. Nothing ever changes...
The water was wonderful, warm, inviting, cooling under the hot sun. However, don't allow these idylic conditions to lead you into a false sense of security. I am treading water in this picture, and as you can see, I'm not very far out. The sea floor quickly descends, leaving young children at risk, as well as non or poor swimmers. The waves can also turn you about, and moments later, I was knocked off my feet as I climbed ashore. Twice.
This is not a danger as such, but should be viewed as a consideration when deciding who can babysit little Sandy at the seashore.
They had a vision...
These three ladies had a dream, and that was to own a nice hotel in Amantea. They fulfilled their dream, and now own, besides a hotel, a bar, a fantastic restaurant within the hotel itself, and a wonderful pizza/seafood/pasta restaurant just seconds from the beach.
Maria is the kind soul who went out of her way to get fresh figs for my mother-in-law, and presented me with a bottle of their house wine upon our departure. Very kind, very generous.
They did it the southern Italian way, they pooled resources, and worked long, long hours to keep costs down, as well as add their personal touch in dealing with their customers.
The names of these budding entrepreneurs
are: Maria Amoroscoe, Savana Vettri, and Teresa Sesti. If you pay them a visit, say hello from the Italian Canadians who were visiting Carolei in July 2004.
Salt Water Swimming...
Amantea has wonderful, sandy beaches, with beautiful tanned girls lying topless in complete harmony with the family occupying the umbrella next to them.
The young ladies shift and wiggle to optimize their exposure to the sun, and I often wondered if Pa Kettle should offer to time them, somewhat like boiling an egg. I did give a mention to Ma Kettle about my idea, but...did I mention she has a 'Teachers Voice'.
The teenaged boys were forever kicking a soccer ball about, and at times a trio were able to keep a ball aloft for five minutes, or until one of the bathing beauties 'shifted positions' again.
Men walked about in their Speedos (there oughta be a law), talking on cell phones (why is it necessary) over weight women gathered in clusters in knee deep water, and the proverbial peddlars went umbrella to umbrella, trying to sell necklaces, rings, swim fins (?), and one poor guy walked up and down the beach selling garish,over-sized towels, flung over his shoulder in 35 plus heat. Funny thing is, he sold lots of them. Baggy trunks, no Speedos please, and bikinis for the ladies, unless of course...
Amantea, the southern jewel of Italy
"Where is Amantea...?"
Amantea is located south of Naples, about three hours by train if you choose the direct route offered by EuroStar.
The route allows you to enjoy all the sights of the sea on the right , or the mountains on your left. I felt like my head was about to become unscrewed because of the constant twisting from side to side, trying in vain to see everything that this beautiful part of Italy had to offer. Such contrasts, great white sand beaches, sparkling water, and steep dark green mountains and deep shadowed valleys.
The train does allow you to view snippets of ancient villages as we pass by, but to do justice to the small towns, a vehicle would be advantageous. Trains traditionally do not offer the most scenic portions of communities for travellers to enjoy. (great tagging efforts on vacant box cars though)
Ma Kettle and I did have the occasion to drive through a few while on a local bus, and sat in awe of the bus drivers who had the skill and patience to navigate the twisting narrow streets, squeezing past packs of double parked 'Smart Cars' or Grand Cherokees whose owners took a moment to enjoy a cup of cafe'. Each village had it's own characteristic beauty and charm, more reasons for us to return another day.
Arrival in Amantea by train is a very relaxed event. No crowds to push through, no beggars to escape, no taxi drivers calling for your attention, as a matter of fact, no taxi drivers at all. Taxi service in Amantea had been discontinued a few years ago, due to lack of interest.
However, the local entrepreneurs have met the challenge, and make the pitch to dazed looking travellers who have been exposed to the southern Italian sun for the first time.
Offers of rides greeted Ma Kettle and I numerous times as we flexed our leg muscles, and adjusted our balooning back packs onto our shoulders. We didn't need a ride, as 'Harold's Luxury Condo' lay just a few meters from the beach, and the train station was occupying that same general stretch of sea side.
I'm sorry, we never did find out the rates for these gypsy taxis (and to think I call myself a VTer, a newbie though), however, being the only game in town...you should expect the worst.
The walk from the station to the centre of town is easy, just follow the natural slope of the paved drive, and turn right at the first set of lights.
Beyond lay the main strip of Amantea, filled with numerous shops and restaurants, the first offering the best toys or casual wear for beach enjoyment, the latter tempting you with the finest southern Italian cooking that the region has to offer, sea food in abundance...cheap...cheap...cheap.
However, Ma Kettle and I were heading into 'Harold's luxury Condo' country, so we continued straight. We do have our exploits with Harold amply described elsewhere on our Amantea pages, so no need to talk about 'hell-hole' any more.
Very important to explain however, that no part of Amantea is unsafe for the casual visitor. We walked for hours in the late evening, and never felt a twinge of danger or fear. To the contrary, Amantea seems to be inhabited with friendly, however curious, fun loving people.
The appearance of this Italian in comparision to the northern Italian, is vastly different. The northern Italian, to generalize of course, is tallish, slim, lighter skinned, and often fair in complexition, with blond hair plentifully mixed with the expected brunette or black. The southern Italian is the sterotype, often depicted in cartoons or associated with the fond characters in the Mario Bros. Nintendo game.
Short, dark complexitioned, stocky (both male and female), but with an open, geniune attitude towards life. The men all sport thick, dark five o'clock shadows (at noon). The younger versions remain slim and casual, and strut as teenagers of all countries do when faced with others of the opposite sex. However, no brooding males were evident, and never did we hear a raised voice of anger. Increased volume...oh yeah, every meal we attended was several decibal levels above norm, each diner speaking their piece, regardless if others are talking or not. As a matter of fact, Italians carry on numerous conversations at once, and are blessed with the uncanny ability to comprehend everything that is being said, and furthermore, have instant recall many months later (if it suits them of course). In other parts of the world, interruptions would be considered rude, here, it is just called survival.
A suggestion to all readers...to be appreciated and accepted, praise every drop of wine you are offered. Italians take great pride in their wine making abilities, however, as in everything we do, mistakes happen, and you could be drinking a sub-standard mixture.
What do you do in a situation like that...? Ha, don't ask me, I usually just swallow and ask what other wines they make (and hope they offer me a different one).
Of course, if you are buying wine in a restaurant, you have full control of the situation. Expect to pay anywhere from 1.60 euro to 3.00 euro for a half litre of house wine in Amantea. Wine really is as cheap as water, but twice as good.
The food is exceptionally flavourful, as it is a combination of the efforts of various other cultures over the years. Italy, in particular the southern portion, has been invaded so often throughout history, that each conquering country has left it's culinary mark. Pasta here is unlike any we have experienced in northern Italy, not to mention the cured meats (they pack a lot of fire power)...my mouth waters thinking about it. The trip south is worth it just for the cruisine.
Usually pasta fresca (fresh pasta) is prepared in this region, as opposed to pastasciutta (dry pasta). When cooked, pasta should be 'slightly' hard in the middle, retaining some bite. Cooking in this way is called 'cuocere al dente', and anything al dente has a 'feeling on the tooth' when you bite into it. Often, a plate of pasta would be rejected by diners if not al dente.
Expect to wait at least 10 minutes if ordering pasta, as no self-respecting restaurant will pre-cook pasta. Remember too, use your bread to wipe your pasta dish (good to the last drop), never allow any sauce to remain in the bowl. In a person's home, not to do so might be considered bad manners, in fact you are showing your pleasure in the meal.
Did you know that a pasta in the shape of a *** is available in many pasta specialty shops. I haven't learned the name as yet, each time I ask I get lots of giggles mixed with an unpronounable word...can anybody help me out?
Ha...just found out that VT does not allow the word 'p-e-n-i-s' to be used. Another plus for this site.
You'll find a dish called 'alici, wonderfully fresh anchovies, often filled with herbs and finely ground breadcrumbs, artichokes stuffed with percorino and more herbs and breadcrumbs. Expect liberal use of Pereronico, chili to play a dominant role in food preparation. Just remember to keep a glass of 'fizzy' water, and of course a bottle of their local wine called Ciro', reputed to be the oldest wine in the world (bianco,rossa, or rosato) beside your plate.
NARRATIVE UNDER CONSTRUCTION, PLEASE STAY TUNED...