A couple of weeks ago I started really thinking about the things I love in Calabria. I wrote about my favorite meal-time experience … the long, leisurely lunch and today, I’d like to talk about what we do after that. And no, I don’t mean sleeping (although that is a pretty handy southern Italian tradition, too, come to think of it.) I’m talking about the passeggiata.
The passeggiata is a popular Italian ritual, so regardless of where you are in the bel paese, travelers should be able to find-and join-the local stroll. It starts around dusk and happens most often in the historical center of the town or along the beachfront lungomare. However, even individual neighborhoods have their own passeggiata rituals and as I type this I know familiar faces are starting to emerge along the Fiumarella … the walled river path along my road.
In Catanzaro, the city moves south for the summer and the Catanzaro Lido lungomare buzzes with toddlers on tricycles, giddy teenagers in their glittery shoes, young couples, holding hands and stealing kisses and moms, dads and grandparents meeting other moms, dads and grandparents and talking about their day.
Most Italians dress for the occasion, so you’ll see me, with my prissiest high heel sandals, strolling along beside them … until I start getting blisters and I have to sit down while my husband fetches the car.
The thing I love most about this ritual, isn’t the people-watching-and meeting!-or even that it usually follows dinner, allowing you time to digest before running off to bed, or even that most Calabrians would prefer to stop for gelato or coffee, rather than a whiskey and soda.
No, I do love all of those things, but above all, I love the energy. I love the excitement. I love the air, so alive with the laughter and language that it floats through you and makes you part of the group, part of the community, part of this lifestyle … if only for a night.
My favorite place for a passeggiata is along the Catanzaro Lido lungomare … with a double scoop of Marrons Glacès gelato, of course. Where is your favorite promenade?
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