Archive for the Reggio di Calabria Province Category

Calabria – searching in Cittanova

Posted in Calabria, Cittanova, Italy, Reggio di Calabria Province with tags , , on March 14, 2019 by gannet39

I can’t say I’m much of a fan of Cittanova unfortunately (map here). It’s a bit of a grim place due mainly to the fact that it has been levelled a few times by earthquakes, hence the name.

The last one was in 1783 and I’d guess that that’s when many of the buildings date from. Many of them are derelict which gives the place quite an eerie feel at night.

However, all was not lost as I discovered that Cittanova was famous for Stoccofisso (stockfish), Norwegian air dried cod which, as a demi Noggy myself, I find quite gobsmacking. I even met locals in Lamezia who said they would happily travel long distances just to eat ‘stocco’ in Cittanova.

Both the following restaurants would be good places to try it…

La Mamma (Intermediate B+/C-), 33 Via San Giuseppe

I came here twice and loved it the first time but hated it the second time, hence the B+/C- grade. The atmosphere is very rustic and traditional and the lady proprietor (la mamma?) was very friendly and welcoming both times.

The first time I had the Fantasia Mediterranea, a fairly typical selection of antipasti including Caponata, Parmagiana, Crochette, Fritelline di Fiore di Zucca and some fresh Ricotta d’Aspromonte (B\B+).

This came with some yellow coloured bruschetta which I’d never encountered before. It seems to be a thing as they sell it in their bar. When I researched it, the closest thing I found was Pane Giallo from Lazio which is made with polenta (semolina).

After this I had the Tris de Stocco, or stockfish prepared in three different ways; fried (A), roasted (B) and stewed (B). I really liked the black olives it came with (B+).

I got a decent bottle of Calabrian white called I Gelsi by Statti for 9€ (B). Not sure why but they don’t seem to put the names of the grapes on bottles of local wine.

I finished with two Cannolini scattered with flakes of chocolate which was great (A).

The final bill with a strange tasting Bergamotto Amaro (B-) and cover was a reasonable 37€.

On my second visit I started with the Stocco Antipasti but unfortunately found the stockfish virtually inedible (C/C-).

And I wasn’t keen on the Greco Bianco/Malvasia white wine blend called Dragone from Lento (C).

But the Tagliatelle Fresche con Fungi Porcini, fresh tagliatelle with ceps saved things a little (B+).

However the final Lemon Cake wasn’t very good (C) and I was given the worst, funky tasting Limoncello I’ve ever had (C-).

Not a great ending then. Unfortunately I drew the conclusion that you can only scrape together one good meal out of what’s available on the menu here. Go with whatever mamma suggests because it’s most likely the best stuff.

This is another ‘good’ restaurant but it’s not really my cup of tea…

Baconchi (High Intermediate B), 1 Via Piave, www.baconchi.com

This is the place where Cittanovans come to celebrate special occasions. The décor is brilliant white with chairs covered in material that’s tied in a ribbon at the back, so you feel like you’re at a wedding reception.

There are several pages of Stockfish dishes but as I’d had it the night before I was in the mood for something different. I began with the Mozzarella di Bufala which was okay (B).

After this I enjoyed some Zeppoline, deep-fried dough balls (B+).

I asked about what meat was good locally and was directed to the Braciola di Maiale con il Manico, a hefty pork chop, which the waitress described as ‘colosso’, and she wasn’t kidding (B+).

I had it with chips and a bottle of their own label red wine (both B).

With water the bill came to 30€ which is very reasonable for what I had.

Although this place isn’t really my style it is good value and the food is okay so I’d probably go again if I was staying longer.

Il Vecchio Molino (Intermediate B+), 44-46 Via Circonvallazione Est

The Tripadvisor #1 at the time of writing in May 2017 and also recommended as the best pizzeria in town by the local school owner. Of all the restaurants, it’s the furthest away from the Hotel Casalnuovo, about twenty five minutes’ walk.

I only went once and had a Piazza Diavolo (with nduja the spreadable spicy Calabrian sausage, and salami picante) which was quite hot but enjoyable (B) if a bit thirst inducing. Their draught beer was a bit flat but still just about drinkable (C).

I meant to go back to try the restaurant menu but the extra distance and bland interior wasn’t enticing enough.

There’s a Guinness pub called the Garden Irish Pub just around the corner at 5 Via Ugo Arcuri , but I didn’t get time to try it out. It seems popular with the locals though.

One day after work the teachers took me for an ice cream to a bar over the road from the park entrance. I can’t find the name but it’s on the corner of Via Regina Margherita and Largo Calvio, opposite Gelateria l’Oasi which it shouldn’t be mistaken for.

I had my first experience of the Ice Cream Brioche here. It’s a Sicilian thing apparently so you can’t argue with it as they basically invented modern gelato. It got a bit messy with three balls of strawberry, pistachio and stracciatella but it was very enjoyable (B+).

I stayed at the Hotel Casalnuovo which unfortunately is the only hotel in town. I say unfortunately because it’s a bit of a dump. Brown rusty water came out of the bathroom taps, the Wi-Fi wasn’t great and the breakfast choices are cardboard cornflakes or cakes in plastic packets. If you ask him the grumpy old male owner will begrudgingly make you a substandard Cappuchino.

The worst thing for me was the cockerels who lived next door who started crowing at 4am with their mates the geese joining in a couple of hours later! I’m really not sure how this place awarded itself four stars! I was ecstatic when I managed to leave one night earlier than I was supposed to, by escaping to Tropea for the weekend (see next post).

It’s a tough call for my employer. The only other place, the Uliveto Principessa Park Hotel (no website, but it has a pool in the summer) is right out in the sticks but then again there’s not much to see in Cittanova anyway. The food is the decider for me though (it’s apparently not very good in the Uliveto Principessa) so if I had to come back I’d stay at the Hotel Casalnuovo again just so I can walk to get some decent food. The Agriturismo Da Peppone might be another option though.

There’s not a lot to see and do here although I did stumble upon a free concert in front of the main church, Chiesa Madre, in Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi.

They are quite proud of their park as well, the Villa Comunale on Via Carlo Ruggiero, as it has some unusual plants including a Californian Redwood tree.

On the plus side, I happily coincided with the local cherry season. I’d get a bag from a roadside stall to snack on when I was walking back to the hotel after work. Such a simple pleasure but one of my favourite ones.

Off to Tropea next which is much nicer!

Calabria – A short break in Scilla

Posted in Calabria, Italy, Reggio di Calabria Province, Scilla with tags , , , on March 13, 2019 by gannet39

Scilla was my first stop on this trip to Calabria. It is considered one of the prettiest towns along the southwest coast although for me Tropea wears the crown (more of which later). I just stopped by because it was on the way to the town I was working in, so I arrived in the country a day earlier than I was supposed to and stayed for 36 hours of R&R.

My map is here.

It’s divided into two parts; first there is the beach area…

… which has a wide lungomare.

Then you come to the pretty Castillo Ruffo sitting high on a rocky headland. Legend has it the rock was the home of the Syclla sea monster in Homer’s Odyssey.

Passing under the castle you arrive first at the small harbour…

…before you come to Chianalea, the lovely old fisherman’s district.

There is only one very narrow street leading through Chianalea.

It seems like every nook and cranny is in use here.

On my first evening I had a magical experience eating at this restaurant…

Glauco (Intermediate A+), 95 Via Annunziata, www.glaucoscilla.com

This excellent restaurant was the Trip Advisor #1 at the time of writing.

I arrived as soon as they opened at 8pm to snag a good table and as it was a midweek night in May (this place will be heaving in July/August) I got a table looking out over the sea where I could watch the sunset over the castle.

The cruise ships coming from Reggio had a similar idea but once they had sailed past the castle they turned in front of my view and headed out to sea, probably towards the Aeolian Islands of Lipari and Stromoboli, which were just about visible on the horizon.

My happiness was made even more complete by the arrival of some excellent seafood alongside a chilled bottle of white in an ice bucket.

I really enjoyed the Chardonnay/Greco blend called Costa Viola by Crisera (B+).

I started with the Antipasto Misto di Mare; marinated octopus, tuna and swordfish, all delicious (A).

Alongside this, some stuffed squid, a fish ball and some mashed fish and potato creation which looked lovely but in terms of flavour were just okay (B).

And continued with the Trofie con Frutti di Mare, which turned out to be just pasta with some mussels and tomato, but it was superb (A+).

With a Limoncello, the total came to 55€, worth every penny for a perfect moment in terms of food and location.

Il Casito (Intermediate B), 25 Via Annunziata, www.ilcasatoscilla.it

This was the Tripadvisor #2 in 2017.

It’s okay food wise (B) but I would have had a better experience if I’d reserved a table on their outdoor terrace which is built over the sea.

Unfortunately it was Sunday and the whole place had been booked out for lunch by the locals. Get in quick is the lesson.

I had the Compose di Mare, which is a posh way of describing an Antipasto di Misto similar to what I had above. It was all fine (B).

I wasn’t that keen on the ‘5 Generazioni’ Greco Bianco white wine from Tramontana (C) but at least it was cheap.

Fileja con Vongole, Zucchine e Pesto al Pistacchio, an unusual local pasta with clams, courgettes and a pistachio pesto, was interesting but sadly had little flavour (C).

To finish the Semi-Freddo alla Zabaglione con Amaretti e Cioccolato went down very well (B+).

A good place but I think Glauco is better.

Casa Vela (Elementary B+), Via Annunziata, www.casavelascilla.it

I only came to this place for a drink while I was waiting for Glauco to open and ended up really liking it. The location seems very popular as all the tables on the street had been reserved.

The friendly owner serving gave me a glass of an excellent white called Critone by Librandi, which was made of a blend of non-indigenous grapes (B+).

His olives were fantastic too (B+).

Casa Vela was one of the B&Bs I considered staying in (many didn’t reply as it was the off season) but eventually I chose a room at the Hotel U’Bais www.ubais.it near the beach. It was fine for 50€ a night but nothing special (C+).

Final tip: don’t trust the changing rooms at the beach bars.

And that was my brief break in Scilla. It’s a very pleasant spot but a couple of days were enough for me. It was certainly much cheaper than Lyon where I’d just come from so a good place for a few days cheap holiday. Off to work in Cittanova next…

Calabria – Reggio di Calabria

Posted in Calabria, Reggio di Calabria, Reggio di Calabria Province, Villa San Giovanni with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2010 by gannet39

Lungomare and EtnaAlthough Reggio is the second oldest city in Italy, it’s a fairly unpretty town with few old buildings. However, it’s still popular with tourists who come to see the famous bronzes (see below) on their way to Sicily or elsewhere. Consequently it’s quite expensive. For me, the nicest thing about it is the long pedestrian boulevard along the seafront where you have fantastic views of Sicily looming large across the straits of Messina with Etna dominating the skyline. I love running along here in the dusk with the sun going down behind the volcano. It can be a bit edgy down here at night though with gangs of pushers peddling around the RC Lido station.

Generally I found it pretty tough to find a good value-for-money restaurant in Reggio. This first place is the only one I would really recommend.

I Tre Farfalli (Intermediate B+), 47 Via del Torrione, reservations recommended, Tel 0965817667 or 3389897788.

This is the best all-round place I found here, very atmospheric with lots of dark wood and low lighting. Popular with the locals, I had a family of twenty-six for company on the next table. The menu is fixed so you just decide which courses you want and eat what you are given. Although I had to wait till the kitchen was open at 8.30, whilst munching on some very tasty miniscule olives, the waiter was very helpful, giving me a running commentary on everything that came to the table. The antipasti included capocollo, two types of croquettes, carciofi, pan fried greens, a bowl of bean stew, deep fried bread, a pecorino dipping sauce, ricotta and half a grilled potato. The primi was two kinds of pasta on one plate, ‘macaroni’ (long, thin twists) in tomato sauce and gnocchi with aubergine and peppers, and the secondo was three types of pork (thick pancetta, sausage and a chop). Except for the capocollo and secondo everything was veggie. Along with a bottle of the house red and a bergamot liquer the whole bill came to a very reasonable 25 euro. To be honest, the food was ok but not amazing, hence the B+.

Revisited the next year with five others and had an even better experience because we could share everything. The experience was as good as last time, nice atmos, friendly staff, generally good food and lots of it. My only criticism was that they was a bit too much fried antipasti, which included three kinds of vegetable polpetti (aubergine, broccoli, ricotta ‘balls’), potato and cheese cakes, plain deep-fried lumps of dough (all B/C) with a declicious cheese sauce, caponata (aubergine stew), capocollo (cured ham) and a fagioli soup (all A/B). We couldn’t manage a pasta course and went straight to the mixed grill of beef, pork and sausage (C/B/A). Their delicious house red (B), bearing the restaurant name, was ‘Terramia’ from the Agrila(?) IGT in the nearby hills. To finish fresh fruit and the local bergamot digestive which was clear on this occasion. Total cost, a stunning €20 each. I also bought a bottle of homemade bergamot liquer a from here too for €10. There were fennel, liquorish and plain flavours too, as well as peperoncino (a local speciality) flavoured grappa.

There are a couple of friendly bars just a few doors down, and a shop that sells all things bergamottian. Bergamot, by the way, is a citrus fruit found only in this province. It’s kind of a cross between a lime and a lemon and is mainly produced for the perfume industry, and also for Earl Grey tea. The liqeuer is very tasty too, drunk chilled and similar to limoncello. Ask for a bergamino in restaurants (grammar note, one bergamino, two bergamotti).

Da Giovanni (Intermediate B), 77 Via del Torrione

An old school restaurant complete with bow-tied waiter and pictures of clowns and kittens on the walls, no TV or music, but reccommended for its seafood. This is a good place to taste spada (swordfish) which is supposed to be ‘the best in the world’ in the sea around here. I had a nice Critone white wine from the Val de Neto IGT to wash down the seafood antipasti (delectable octopus, prawns and smoked spada), grilled spada steak, an overdressed salad, fresh strawberries and a berganino. The handwritten menu was unreadable so I got shock when the bill came in at 48 euro. Don’t think I would go again as it was expensive and stuffy.

Osteria Symposuim (Intermediate B), 6 Vico le Roma, left out of the Hotel Royal and second left.

A modern place with light jazz and a sullen waitress (probably sick of being ordered around by the affected owner). I had an excellent steak, salad and chips with a couple of glasses of red Ciro and a grappa. Again it was expensive, 32 euro, so another one to maybe give a miss. First courses were 8 to 12 euro and mains 8 to 15.

La Rosa dei Venti (Intermediate B), Piazza Monsolini – Lido Communale, (go to the other side of the RC Lido station entrance on the lungomare, take the stairs down towards the sea, the restaurant is on the far side of the car park).

Three of us had the €18 Menu Fisso (fixed menu) here. We shared Insalata di Polipo, Pepata di Cozze and Alice Marinate to start (all B), followed by Risotto ai Frutti di Mare (B), Tagliatelle all Ancona (olives, toms, uninteresting lumps of swordfish) (C) and a delicious Pesce Spada Arrosto (swordfish steak)(A), with a green salad and a 1/4 of white wine each. Strange that the swordfish was so variable, especially as the straits of Messina are supposed to be the best place to fish for them. Uninteresting decor, rather dark except for all the tellys (at least five) but ok reasonably priced food.

Gelataria Cesare sells ‘the best icecream in Calabria’ according to one of the teachers I worked with, and it is very nice. It’s the green hut just over from the RC Lido station.

Untried:

Baylik, 1 vico Leone, (the best place in town but a long way?) not Thurs (from Gambero Rosso and internet)

Le Rose al Bicchiere, 118 via D.Tripepi (from Gambero Rosso)

Bronzi di RiaceThe ok but nothing special Hotel Royal is literally next door to the archaeological museum which houses the famous Bronzi da Riace, two wonderful greek bronze statues found by a scuba diver in the sea nearby during the 70s. They are a big tourist pull which is probably why everything is so expensive in the area. The museum closes at 8, entrance is 4 euro.

The sister hotel of the Royal, the Excelsior just over the road, has internet for €5p/h.

Buffet Stazione F.S. Villa San Giovanni (Elementary D-)

Villa San Giovanni is the ferry port next to RC where you catch the ferry to Sicily. This hole surely has to be a contender for the grimmest station bar in the country. We had to spend an hour here having missed the ferry to Messina which left 5 minutes early, by their own clock. Bastardi! The mistake we made was trying to buying our tickets from the bookstore on platform one from the pretentious proprietor who wanted to demonstrate his (bad) English. We decamped to this grimy dark hole to wait for an hour till the next ferry. To pass the time we invested €8 in possibly the rankest Nero D’Avola ever bottled, something like a fizzy rose laced with Benolin. No wonder the girl on the till looked at me as if I was insane when I asked for it. All the same, we flopped onto the Coca Cola high chairs and did our best to drown our sorrows under the searching stares of various misfits and scornful bar staff, one of whom suggested a spag bol might help the wine down. One look at the food on display was enough to dispel that idea. Glistening processed cheeses nestling against sweating mortadella, flapping between slices of wonderloaf with the crusts cut off. Buxom cakes with beige cream fillings, topped with glinting glace cherries, cosying up to huge canolos with ricotta oozing from within. Singed grey croissants sat in a glass case like a museum display. Once on board though we were cheered up by the recorded Inglish safety instructions which were hilariously incomprehensible. For future reference you can buy your tickets on board, the crossing takes 25 mins.

Updated Nov 2009.

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