I’ve been in southern Italy almost two weeks now and no, I’m still not in the swing of things. You see, this time when I returned from my summer trip to Texas, I wasn’t empty-handed. In fact, I now have not one, but two adolescent boys-my nine year-old nephew, Cole and a friend’s 14 year old son, Jake to show around Calabria.
My friend Lisa over at Wanderlust Women’s Travel Dreams urged me to share some of my Auntie Adventures with you on the blog, so with Lisa’s urging and my sister’s insistence for details of our day-to-day activities, I’ve decided to chronicle some of our adventures here.
Our first adventure takes place on a Sunday evening on the Catanzaro Lido lungomare. We have plans-the two boys, my husband and I-to meet up with friends for pizza, gelato and a night of people-watching on the lungmare.
Like many other seaside towns in Italy, Catanzaro Lido’s lungomare is bursting with people of all ages, walking their dogs, meeting their friends, gathering to play in the arcade or just checking out who on the lungomare is checking them out.
As we parked our car into one of too-tight spaces we’d managed to wrangle, our friends call and tell us they’ll be an hour late.
“No problem,” we thought. “We’ll just hang out here with the boys.”
As we were approaching the beach, a middle-aged man with a beagle passes us.
“Look!” Cole said. “A doggie! How do you say, ‘Can I pet your dog in Italian?'”
Knowing “accarezzare” would be too difficult for him to remember in Italian, we told him to just point to the dog and say “Posso?”
And so he did. (Except he said “Cosso?” and the guy had a hard time figuring out what this nine year old American kid was trying to tell him about his pooch.)
My husband came to the rescue, corrected Cole’s pronunciation and on we went.
However, anyone with kids will know that if you do something once, you’re going to get asked again. And again. And yet again.
Not content sitting on the lungomare waiting for dog-walkers to approach us, Cole began stalking them -searching for them, chasing them down the boardwalk, dashing to get ahead of them so he could accidentally bump into them in passing.
They were all charmed and every one of those Calabrians freely offered up their pooch for his petting.
A few minutes before our friends scheduled arrival, we grabbed a seat on one of the orange-slice benches that faces the Ionian.
“Cole,” I told him, trying to give the dogs and their owners a piccolo break. “Most people don’t come to the lungomare to look at pets. They come to look at girls like the one your Uncle Peppe is pretending not to look at now.”
“Oh yea,” his face lit up. “Like her.”
I followed his gaze and it was, indeed, the same leggy blond Uncle Peppe was pretending he hadn’t seen.
“Yes,” I told him. “Like her.”
He glanced around the lungomare and as our friends arrived we began our stroll towards the pizzeria. The previous conversation forgotten by everyone but Cole, he blurted out, “That one! That’s the one I like.”
We looked over to a 30something blond, with a turquoise blue tank and tight blue jeans (“And black boots,” says Cole, as he reads this over my shoulder, “Don’t forget her black boots!”)
girl woman, indeed.
Everyone laughed at his choice and we continued on our way.
Ten minutes later, we enter the pizzeria and who do we see sitting at the bar? Blue Tank Top, herself.
A quick restroom break, hand-wash and scan around the pizzeria later (since he now knows that is what expected of men in Calabria), Cole and Uncle Peppe pass the bar.
To everyone’s surprise-and to Uncle Peppe’s astonishment, embarrassment, discomfort-Cole walks past Blue Tank Top, turns to look at her and her brunette friend and says, “Ciao bella!”
The table bursts into laughter and shy Uncle Peppe crawls into the hole he mentally blazed into the floor.
It is soon over, though.
Blue Tank Top leaves the pizzeria with her stack of to-go boxes and bag of arancini and walks my nephew’s nine-year-old heart out the door.
But all is well. In just a few days he’ll go to Pizzo and there will be another-albeit just as unattainable surprise waiting for him there.
Traveling south? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.