Monday, February 5, 2018

Badolato, Calabria, Italy




Badolato. It is not often that one can visit a town that has your last name. A town that has existed with that name since before medieval times, and perhaps the place where my husband's ancient ancestors once lived. When my husband and I visited Calabria, Italy, last summer we knew we would have to drive north along the Ionian Sea coast to visit Badolatofor although my husband had no relatives there, or knew of any that had come from there, how could we resist seeing this beautiful town perched high on a hilltop, 790 feet (240metres) above the sea? A town which was founded in the early 10th century by Robert Guiscard, Duke of Calabria, a Norman leader who decided to build a "peaceful town" where before only a few shepherds existed, and where he built a fortified castle?  A place of many periods and peoples, both past and present. A place where possibly boulders were thrown at Ulysses by giants, as he sailed by on his legendary voyage of the Odessey?  Please remember, all photos and collages in this post will enlarge, for easier viewing of details, if clicked on



To give you a better idea of where Badolato is located you can refer to this map. Calabria is in the bottom of the "boot" of Italy -- seen in the green image on the right on the map. Badolato is located in the province of Catanzaro in Calabria, close to the Ionia Sea, near the heel of the boot, as seen in the red circle.

When we visited my husband's hometown of Gioiosa Ionica--click here--we were in the province of Reggio Calabria, located further south down the sole of the boot.  If you enlarge the photo you can see the distance between the towns.



The drive from Gioiosa Ionica to Badolato was pleasant.  The roads are in good condition and offer beautiful glimpses of the sea.


We were excited at our first glimpse of Badolato Superiore as we approached it from the newer marina section. Badolato suffered many devastating earthquakes, the last in 1783, and also a disastrous flood in 1951, and so the massive castle that once stood at  Badolato's very top had to be demolished in the 1970's as its condition was too dangerous.


Badolato is surrounded by winding medieval era stone walls and a  road which leads up and around to the top.  The buildings and churches clung to the hillside at precarious angles and made me wonder as to how they were built!


The panoramic views as we drove up revealed the coast and the Ionian Sea, deep valleys, high mountains and rolling hills full of olive trees. Badolato is known as an area of olive oil and wine production, as well as companies that breed cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats. In olden days, as in many areas of Calabria, women hand-loomed woolen blankets and fabric.  In fact, my husband remembers playing under the loom his mother used in their home as a child.


When we entered the town at the top we parked in the Piazza Castello, the large space where the castle once stood.  It was already 2:00 PM, and we knew if we did not stop for lunch everything would soon close for the afternoon siesta.  Southern Italy still keeps the tradition of a large meal midday lunch around at 1:00 PM, followed by shops closing during the heat of the day, until around 4:00 PM, and then reopening afterward. Many people nap or relax at home during those hours. We stopped at the bar/pizzeria on the left in the photo above, but the woman who worked there told us they were no longer serving but suggested a place across the piazza which served a traditional stuffed eggplant dish which we enjoyed.


After lunch, we walked the quiet winding and narrow streets of the town. I was puzzled by the decoratively twisted tablecloths hanging across the streets from opposing balconies but thought they looked lovely.  It was almost as if the town was welcoming us! I found out later from an ex-pat American blogger who lives in Badolato, Michelle, of Bleeding Espresso, that the tablecloths were hung as an art and architecture festival was going to be held in Badolato that week.  I had hoped to meet Michelle, as I discovered her blog many years before and also follow her on Instagram and Facebook, but unfortunately, that did not happen. I did not have a way to contact her immediately and since it was the siesta hour she was at home resting.  Michelle is a talented writer and has published a wonderful e-book available on Amazon, called 52 Things to Do and See in Calabria, that I highly recommend if you are thinking of visiting this part of Italy one day.


We walked past one of the remaining partially standing watchtowers that once guarded the city.


I admired many of the magnificent doors we passed along the way...


..and all the different eras of the town revealed in both its ancient and newly refurbished and modernized architecture. The population of Badolato has dwindled over its thousands of years, especially after World War II when Southern Italy was very impoverished. Its people immigrated to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia. Now there is a very small year-round population in the hundreds. It may be the reason that Badolato is a welcoming place now for new immigrants seeking a new life. You can read a story at this link about how in 1997 a boat full of Kurds fleeing oppression landed near Badolato and were welcomed into the city. Tourism has also been a boom, and some native Italians from the north and Europeans and Americans have bought properties as vacation homes.


After walking the inner streets of Badolato we found a path that encircled the outer walls of Badolato and had more stunning views of the valley, sea and southern part of the town.


Hanging down from the walls we saw prickly pear fruit hanging from long cacti. In Italy the fruit is called "fichi d'India," but the genus of the cacti is Opuntia ficus-indica. My husband has fond memories of eating ripe fichi d'India as a child in his hometown, and could not resist picking one to sample. I think this will also be a memory he will always treasure!


We did not want to leave Badolato, but we knew we had to return to Gioiosa Ionica to meet family and see more of the preparations for the Feast of Saint Rocco. Although we did not get to visit any of the many churches of Badolato, as they were closed during siesta, and we did not see many people or open shops, it was such a wonderful experience for us to visit this town and it won our hearts in a way that can only be because there is an ancient connection there that can't be explained.  I felt that same connection when we visited Ireland a few times years ago.  There is a definite sense of the familiar, a sense of "deja vu" that is priceless.


A last peek at the town as we drove back down the hill...


...with a hope that we will return one day...


...to see Badolato again.

There were other wonderful towns we had the opportunity to visit while we were staying in Gioiosa Ionica in Calabria, including two that had 10th-century castles that still were standing and another town which is known for its excellent water that enables the preparation of a culinary delight it is famous for. They will be featured in future posts. Of course, I'll also be blogging about life here in Colorado.  Please visit me again!

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39 comments:

Joyful said...

It looks so beautiful there. I once worked for a restaurateur who hailed from Calabria. He made the very best lasagna and meat sauce. He was also a very friendly and funny man. Great memories and great photos to show me where he comes from.

Cathy Keller said...

What a wonderful tour. I am always in awe of the ancient towns built into the sides of mountains. The craftsmanship and labor intensive construction is incredible. I have enjoyed walking the narrow streets of towns in Italy and this is just another I'd like to visit. Thank you so very much!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

What a wonderful trip you had! Italy is so beautiful.

Maggie said...

Badolato place to visit looks like a wonderful and of course you had to go there and see your namesake town for yourselves. I love to take photographs of doors too and enjoyed seeing those in your mosaic very much.
Recently on the BBC I have seen two travel documentaries that showcased Calabria mad it is a place we would like to see for ourselves, especially now that I know Norman invaders were there in the 10th century!

Christie Hawkes said...

Your photos are stunning and provide a real sense of this charming place. I hope to visit Badolato someday and have added this to my travel bucket list. Thanks for sharing on #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.

Ela said...

Such a beautiful place to visit !!
Thanks for sharing your great photos !!
Greetings

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

What a beautiful place. Would love to visit.

Tom said...

...what a sunny place with fabulous views. Thanks for taking me along on the tour.

Vee said...

An amazing place and surely there are ancestral connections! Say, I hope you found some of that licorice that Michelle wrote about recently.

Teresa Kindred said...

What a gorgeous town! I would love to see it in person one day. http://nanahood.com/doggie-love-at-our-house Teresa

Snap said...

Gorgeous and must have been very special to visit a town with your last name! I'm enjoying my armchair travel -- thank you!

Tamar SB said...

Take me away!!

photodoug said...

Pat, wonderful travel log. Thanks for sharing.

Linda W. said...

I really enjoyed your latest Italy post. Felt like I was there with you and your husband!

Lydia C. Lee said...

Looks wonderful. My husband's family was from Calabria - and when he went to visit, people recognised him because he looked just like his dad. So weird!!

Candysfarmhousepantry said...

We are going to Italy next year so Love to read anything about the country, so beautiful. Found you on Grandma's Briefs Link Party.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Astonishing blue skies! Thanks for linking to Blue Monday!

NC Sue said...

You've captured some wonderful images!
Thanks for linking up at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/02/some-african-ceremonial-masks.html

podso said...

Fascinating! I love the narrow winding streets. And the tablecloths hung across the streets--how beautiful! What a neat art expression! Enjoyed all your photos and stories.

jeannettestgermain said...

Bodelato is definitely bigger than Lucca - it also looks like the houses are built at a much steeper angle. But a similar atmosphere is hanging there! Am so happy for both of you that you could visit and experience your hubby's home town!
If you didn't have kids and grand kids here, it might have been a temptation to stay longer:):) Many thanks for sharing these precious experiences with All Seasons, Pat - unforgettable! Have a great week!

Ruth Hiebert said...

Thanks for sharing a part of the world I have never seen. It certainly looks very different than my prairie town.

The Furry Gnome said...

What an amazing trip you must have had!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I loved seeing photos of Badolato. What a thrill for you and Vinny to be in his namesake town.

Angie said...

Pat - another spectacular place, well documented by you! The architecture is so stunning - especially when the sun is shining - what is it about those steep, sun-splashed walls that makes it so romantic? I am dreaming of a carb-heavy eggplant dish, accompanied by red wine and followed by a siesta!

Lady Fi said...

How cool is that to have your own town! And it is a beautiful one too.

Jeanie said...

Well, of COURSE you had to visit Badolato! And aren't you glad you did? What a gorgeous town -- and you couldn't have picked a better day, with that brilliant blue sky. Oh, I wish I could bottle that up and spread a bit of it around here today! (Today is white-gray with snow in the forecast. Sigh...) The buildings are beautiful -- I especially loved some of those doors. And I have to say, your photos are just magnificent, crystal clear and with great detail and a wonderful eye.

I'm so enjoying this series!

Lorrie said...

How wonderful to visit a town with your own last name. The connections to history in Italy, and all of Europe, are amazing to me. The tablecloth decorations are unique and very attractive.

Sylvia said...

Pat, Thanks for the visit to a warm clime. The packed house on the hillside look wonderful. I do not know if it as much fun to live in such a crowded space. We are spoiled in North America with the space we have. Thanks for sharing. Sylvia D.

Linda said...

Amazing tour! Thank you! This is the only way I’ll ever get to see Italy! Loved every photo and will be coming back to look at them all again....

Kalantikan said...

The area and landscapes are awesome. Somehow those structures on top of the hills has similarities with some sights in Greece. I just saw them in pictures, hehe. I can also relate to your feeling of connection with the area, i felt that too on my visit at the Basilica Aracoeli on top of the hill in Rome. And i had an amazing unusual pastlife recall with my experience there!

diane b said...

An interesting story and a lovely town. It is like a picture book town.

Mother of 3 said...

Such wonderful photos. It sounds like you had a wonderful visit even if was siesta time!

betty-NZ said...

What a special place and a wonderful series of photos! Thanks for all the information, too.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Wonderful experience Pat! Beautiful town (even without the name connection). I can imagine your husband's joy .. it is no wonder you didn't want to leave!! I loved reading this( and gazing at the pictures).... you are always a great travel guide. There is a village in France called Rainville' and we sort of imagine that some of Bill's ancestors came from there long ago (his grandfather was born in California, so it has been a few generations ago at least.) I'm sure it would be amazing to visit it though.

ellen b. said...

Such wonderful architecture and history to enjoy. I can understand your joy in visiting.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Pat! What a great tour and a lovely town. I enjoyed the story and your awesome photos. The views of the water are beautiful. It is great to visit your husband's hometown. Thanks for sharing your trip! Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and weekend ahead!

Rambling Woods said...

WOW! how wonderful to be able to take in all that culture and beauty....Michelle

Barb said...

What great photos of this medieval gem - that also carries your name! The ancient dwellings perched one atop the other and the cobblestone streets are so picaresque. I bet you had to just keep snapping. I've never eaten the fruit of a prickly pear, but I have seen prickly pear martinis on the menu in AZ!

Badolato said...

Thank you for your comments on my second home. I am a Brit and love Badolato, my husband relaxes with 24 hours of our reaching it. We have made friends from all over the world since we bought there many years ago and it has been a pleasure to see the village come alive again. The locals have worked very hard to give the younger generations a future which has been successful. Easter is a special time, the day long processions are by the people for the people. Drum beats reverberate along the roads and it seems as if an army is approaching! I think the best times to visit are Easter, June to October. Not too hot in June and September/October are lovely. Hope to see you all there one day, we are the house with the Welsh flag flying. PS The beach is fantastic, either beach clubs or lonely expanses, you chose.