Calabria Tour - The First 24 Hours of our Adventure
The view from our hotel rooms in Soverato, Villa Ersilia, sunrise
I had the great pleasure in completing my inaugural 10-day tour of Calabria on Wednesday 15 May 2019. I am indebted to the four courageous travelers who believed in my passion for the southern region of Calabria.
Flying Alitalia is a great introduction to the La Dolce Vita lifestyle that we have come to expect of Italy. Alitalia flights will leave when they are ready. Scheduled timetables and flying guests are an inconvenience but we still love them. All the guests arrived much later than scheduled and we were blessed that all luggage was accounted for. Despite the delay, nothing of this was going to spoil our adventure.
Landing at Lamezia Terme
Our driver Gustavo waited patiently to escort us to our first Hotel Villa Ersilia in Soverato. Patience is handed out in spades in this part of Italy.
If you look at the map you will see that Soverato lies on the narrowest part of the peninsula. This means that you can watch the sunrise on the Ionia Sea in the east and with a short drive of 50km you can watch the sunset on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west.
The adventure starts on day one with a visit to the family-operated Caseificio Mancuso in Catanzaro. Two cousins Luigi and Mariano demonstrated their secrets for making Provolone, Pecorino and Ricotta. Included in the demonstration was the tasting of fine cheeses infused with chilli and walnuts. They have a special cheese in Calabria called Burrino, which is Provolone rolled around a pat of very cold butter. Located underground and away from the public eye, we toured the cheese cave to find Provolone and Pecorino maturing for up to 2 years!
Luigi and Mariano testing the temperature of the milk while making ricotta cheese
At the end of our visit, and as is typical for any food experience in Calabria, we were given several kilos of fresh cheese made during the demonstration for ‘domani’ - later, “just in case you get hungry” as our hosts told us. What were we going to do with all this cheese? I had an idea. I handed each guest a bag and asked them to carefully place them on the bus. One with Provolone, one with Mozzarella one with Ricotta and etc.
On return to the hotel, I asked chef, Gianluca, at Villa Ersilia to serve up the cheese with fresh tomatoes, rocket, capers, and strawberries for dinner.
Gianluca approached the hotel manager ‘direttore’ (Italians love their titles) with our request. The ‘direttore” decked out in his Gucci suit and Burberry glasses (Italians love their fashion) looked down at the lowly chef and reminded him of the regulations. “I am very sorry, without an invoice or documents we cannot serve these cheeses in the restaurant. We have regulations”.
Fortunately, I had met the retired grandfather of Caseificio Macuso during the morning and explained my predicament. He replied “Ci penso io” - I’ll handle that. That evening we were served a spectacular cheese banquet.
And this was day one of our Calabrian Tour.
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