Monday, January 15, 2018

Gioiosa Ionica, Calabria, Italy


Benvenuti in Calabria--Welcome to Calabria!

My husband and I flew to Italy last August, on a dream come true trip for us! We would be spending three weeks in both the south and north of Italy, revisiting relatives we last saw in 2001. In that year we spent an entire month in Italy with our two young adult children, traveling again from the south of Calabria to the north, and sightseeing the major cities of Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, Genoa, and Turin. This trip we were excited to be able to see a very special, week long, saint's feast day celebration in my husband's hometown and visiting with relatives who still lived in the town and also those who were traveling to see the celebration.  We flew from New York to Rome, and then connected to Calabria at Lamezia Airport, where we rented a car and drove to Reggio Calabria.
(All photos and photo collages will increase in size if clicked on)


We stopped in the town of Siderno, where my husband's oldest sister and brother-in-law live, and met in La Vecchia Hostaria--a wonderful local restaurant. My husband's nephew, wife, and daughter were also visiting from Brooklyn, New York, and we dined together, happy to see everyone again. Afterward, we went to my sister-in-law's house for dessert.  She prepared a chocolate dessert called sanguinacchio dolce that is my husband's favorite--photo bottom middle. It is made with pig's blood and sweetened with sugar, chocolate, and spices We also had pastries for those of us who are less adventurous eaters.


We then drove to my husband's hometown of Gioiosa Ionicawhere we had reservations to stay in a bed and breakfast called "La Vecchio Stazione." Our room was very comfortable, had its own bathroom and was air-conditioned, which is a treat in Italy. Every morning we would cross the street to the "Bar Pasticceria Gatto de Pasquale Gatto," where we would choose cookies or pastry and a cappuccino or cafe latte for breakfast. 


Gioiosa Ionica also called Gioiosa Ionica Superiore, as there is also an area of the town called Gioiosa Ionica Marina, which is closer to the Ionian Sea. This view is looking up from one of the town's piazzas.....


...and this view is looking west from the top of the town, from a terrace of my husband's aunts home. You can see a medieval castle on the upper right. which dates back to the 12th or 13th century, during either the Swabian or Angevin domination. The Chiesa Matrice, or Mother Church, the oldest and largest church on Gioiosa Ionica, is seen in the upper left of the photo. It was built during the 17th century and has had many additions and renovations.


A closer look at the castle. It was also the home of a feudal lord in the 17th century. This part of Italy was inhabited since ancient times as Greek and Roman ruins have been found nearby,  and it has also invaded by many over the centuries.


A view over the town's rooftops towards the Ionian sea, which is about five kilometers (3.1 miles) away


Of course one of the first things we did was walk to the home where my husband was born and left as a young boy to immigrate to America with his parents and siblings. The house is located near the town's market, towards the middle of the town, and is now owned by another family.  We were able to go inside in 2001, and our children and I were very surprised how small and humble it was. My husband remembers they did not have plumbing or electricity when he lived there, but it has been modernized since.  Southern Italy was very poor in the 20th century, and although its economic status has greatly improved it still does not have the economic advantages, or tourism, as the of the rest of Italy.


We enjoyed walking along the narrow streets of the town, marveling how many of these buildings have been here for many hundreds of years.


I was fascinated to see the dichotomy between ancient and abandoned buildings ...


 ...and modernized and contemporary buildings in Gioiosa Ionica.


Another interesting part of the town was the medieval aqueduct of the Galizzi River, characterized by pointed arches and support the conduit, clearly attributable to its medieval age. It rises at the foot of the cliff, and water is still running down it. High above we could see ancient buildings clinging on the top of the cliffs, and hills full of cacti, that were full of prickly pear fruit, which my husband told me they call "Fichi di India." He remembers eating them as a child and still buys them when he finds them for sale in our area.


Of course, the best part of being in Gioiosa Ionica was visiting with cousins and their families and being with our sister-in-law and brother-in-law and family for a week. We had wonderful times and many delicious meals together!


We visited the early 17th century Church of Saint Rocco, who is the patron saint of Gioiosa Ionica. Inside we saw the statue of the saint that would be paraded through the town and from church to church on his feast day in great celebration and fanfare. The wooden statue was carved in Naples in 1749, and transported to the town by ship.Thousands of people return to Gioiosa Ionica for the event, and we were excited to be here to see it. The Feast of Saint Rocco in Gioiosa Ionica dates back to at least 1583. He became the patron saint of the city in 1743 when a bubonic plague outbreak miraculously ceased when prayers to St. Rocco intervened. 


The streets of the town were all decorated with fanciful lights and the main piazza was bustling every evening for a week leading up to the feast. Many vendors set up booths to sell food and other items and multiple stages held musical and opera entertainment. 

 It was all very exciting and our anticipation grew, as we awaited the Saint Rocco feast day event, which I'll show in my next post.


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44 comments:

Mersad said...

Wow what a trip. You had perfect weather, of course this is August, it must have been hot outside as well. Lovely images. So glad you made the journey. Thank you for sharing with "Through My Lens"!

Mersad
Mersad Donko Photography

Maggie said...

Loved everything about your post today, Pat, the travelling, the architecture the history and above all the food. It was such a treat to see it all from the comfort of my armchair, looking forward to the next part of the trip already.
Happy Mosaic Monday.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh Pat this is absolutely wonderful. I am so glad you are now able to tell us about this great trip. Your photos are beautiful... a visual feast for an armchair traveler. And of course the family connection makes the story even more wonderful.. Thank you for sharing that..it’s very special.

podso said...

The photos are wonderful--and your trip was all the better for seeing family there and visiting memories!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, what an awesome trip to Italy. Not only to visit family but to see the sights. Beautiful photos. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Wonderful pictures! How awesome you took this trip.

Snap said...

What a great trip! Fun and family all rolled into one. Sounds perfect!

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

How wonderful for you and especially your husband to return to his roots, Pat! I really enjoyed seeing the photos and the good times that you shared with family. Italy is a beautiful part of our world. I look forward to your sharing the other sites you both enjoyed. Cinque Terre is a place I really want to visit one day. ♥

Jeanie said...

I am going to love ever step of this journey with you. What a gift for your husband to revisit his homeland and share it with you. And it looks so beautiful. This is a country I really want to add to my itinerary one day. As I mentioned in another comment, my neighbors are first generation from Calabria and our guitarist friend Giorgio is a professional musician in Turin. We are hoping to visit him one day and I look forward to what you say about that area, too. Oh, I look forward to it all!

Ruth Hiebert said...

WOW! That must have been a wonderful trip.Now you have the pictures to relive it whenever you want to.

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

How fun that you got to visit all your family. Love love love! Also, what is not to love about Italy. My favorite place on the earth. Have a great week.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It really was a dream trip and it's great that you got so many wonderful photos to enjoy for years to come. Beautiful...I would love to visit Italy some day. Sweet hugs, Diane and thanks for sharing your lives with all of us!

jeannettestgermain said...

What a trip, Pat! No wonder you want to go back! I sas in your row of cities also Cingue Terre - it's almost impossible to take pics there without people in them! Believe it or not, I like the narrow winding streets in the hearts of the towns and cities (but I was not the one who was driving, lol!) Awesome your husband could connect with his relatives. And good I don't live there, I would gain weight considerable eating those scrumptuous looking desserts! Thank you for sharing this rich time with All Seasons!

bettyl-NZ said...

My goodness what a beautiful place! I know that seeing family again made it even more special. Your photos are wonderful mementos of your visit.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Thanks for sharing your photos and story about your trip. It looked amazing. No doubt there must've been lots of joy and laughter as you and your husband reunited with family. Awesome!

Tom said...

...beautiful old building, but I've gotten use to plumbing! Thanks for sharing.

Barb said...

What great photos of your wonderful trip! I hope you made a book of them.

NC Sue said...

Interesting photos - so glad you shared them at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/01/a-few-feathery-visitors.html

Lowcarb team member said...

Such beautiful photographs of your trip to Italy. How nice to be able to spend time with family and enjoy seeing the sights too.
I so enjoyed this post, thank you for sharing.

All the best Jan

Tamar SB said...

How fun!! Gorgeous scenery!

Sylvia said...

Pat, Thanks for that visit to Italy! I love the old buildings. Thanks for sharing. Sylvia D.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I love all the pics of the villages. So much different here.

Lorrie said...

What a fabulous trip, Pat. Your photos of the beautiful architecture and wonderful food of Italy have me wishing I could go there soon. What a great trip back in time for your husband. So special to see where he grew up.

The Furry Gnome said...

Wow! Amazing! Great pictures. My wife is from Calabria.

ellen b. said...

So wonderful. I think the best way to enjoy an area is with friends and family showing the way.

Joyful said...

I enjoyed this trip to Italy with you. It would be a fantastic dream trip for me too. Not just the sights and scenes but the chance to reconnect with long lost relatives.

Linda W. said...

What a fabulous trip! Thanks for sharing your photographs.

Lady Fi said...

Italy is fabulous! Wonderful shots.

D.Nambiar said...

Thank you so much, Pat, for showing us these parts of Italy. It was such a pleasure to trip with you and see everyday-life and the not so touristy parts of the country too. Btw, beautiful pictures of those narrow lanes between the buildings. And the buildings are such beauties too.

Have a lovely weekend.

Cathy Keller said...

We have had such wonderful times the tow time we have gone to Italy. I have to tell you that I do love Florence. We just didn't get to stay there long enough. Wishing well!

Cathy

Al said...

It looks beautiful - a dream trip indeed. We're hoping to get there next year.

Angie said...

Pat - aahhh, the 'romance' of Italy. History, delicious meals, piazzas, lattes 'across the street', family - how fortunate you are that your hubby has these roots. And how wonderful for him to be able to return to the home country for this event!

Mandy 'n' Justin said...

What a wonderful trip! How lucky you are to have gotten to spend a month in Italy with family! I have to admit I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to try pastries with pig's blood, though. Eek! I love all of the beautiful lights you found in anticipation of the holiday. :)

Molly said...

What a beautiful place. I have never been to Italy, hopefully one day

Mollyx

~ Dixie said...

O, my. What a beautiful place! Looks like such a wonderful visit.
Good for you!

jeannettestgermain said...

Thanks for your comment Pat, you are so right, a bigger home doesn't make one happier!

handmade by amalia said...

What a gorgeous place, Pat, all the romance and beauty you'd expect in Italy.
Amalia
xo

annie said...

What a wonderful trip and such a beautiful place too.

Rambling Woods said...

Oh thank you for sharing some of your dream trip...Lovely..Michelle

Suzy said...

Your photos are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
dropping by from WW.

Sheila said...

What a wonderful time you must have had being in your husband's home town! It's wonderful to see him surrounded by relatives. Italians do seem to have such wonderful family connections and happy family get together. Hte buildings themselves remind me that Italians value history and the previous generations of their family. Looking forward to your next post Pat! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

How wonderful that your husband is still so connected to his family in Italy! Makes a vacation really special when you can also see family that you haven't seen in a long time! Pig's blood in a dessert? Wow! I don't know that I'd be adventurous enough to try that either! If I didn't know that's what was in it, I probably would, ha! As it sure looked good! Always enjoy your collage pictures, and the sharing of history as well. It is like taking the vacation with you. Looking forward to more of your series! :)

Lady Fi said...

Fabulous shots! I love Italy.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Oh Pat, how wonderful that you and Vinny got to travel again to his home town and reconnect in person with all his relatives. His humble roots remind me so mich of my mom's beginnings in Emilia Romagna. Everyone is always so generous and loving! But you can keep the pig blood torta. I'll pass on that one.