08.03.2015 - 10.03.2015
We are now in this small seaside town south of Tropea, and are staying in a B&B in the old fishing village of Chinelea. Finding our place while driving in the tiny streets of Scilla was not easy, and it took several phone calls to the owner before we could locate it.
There are three parts to Scilla: Chinelea, and its ancient stone houses practically sitting in the tempestuous sea, with its partially submerged and sharp rocks.
Marina Grande, a separate beach area with a couple of streets of houses set 20M or so from the sea,
and finally, there is Scilla Alta, which is the largest.
To get there, you ascend several steep sets of stairs and narrow cobblestone streets that reach partially up the mountain that descends all the way to Chinelea.
This part of town consists of a number of streets and narrow alleys, and though most of the houses are old, there are a few newer ones scattered about. Jutting out over one of the lower levels of the upper town, on a high rocky promontory, is the old stone fort, which has commanding view over the ocean and to the port of Reggio Calabria, some 20K distant. Freighters ply the waters in between.
Actually, there is a 4th part of town between here and Marina Grande, the port of Scilla, where larger boats are moored behind a protected area framed by a long rock jetty.
Here in Chinelea, fisherman cast their rods and work on their small wooden boats, most of whom now have motors. In the past, they would go hunting, as they call it, for spada, or swordfish, in boats without motors. They used a kind of harpoon to try and stab the fish, much like the old whaling boats. Sword fishing is still a way of life here, as is fishing in general, though I suspect that it is greatly supplanted by tourism, during the summer and fall.
Scilla, as described in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, is a type of sea monster that would lure sailors to the rocks just offshore, where they would drown. So this place has a long history dating back to the Greeks, and, as I have learned from our proprietor, Francesco, so does much of Calabria, where old people still speak a kind of Greek dialect.
It has been enjoyable wandering the alleys of various parts of town, though unfortunately the weather has remained cloudy and chilly, with intermittent rain. During a morning walk today, we found a small, out of the way place in the upper town to purchase fresh pasta, ravioli, and eggplant parm, but we spent much of the day, reading in our room. Later we went down to the tiny bar attached to our guesthouse, and chatted with the bartender, also named Francesco, and his girlfriend, in a mix of Italian and Spanish. We taught him a few words of Spanish, and he gave us the Italian equivalent, while we sipped on a glass of the local vino. It was a nice way to while away an otherwise dreary afternoon. At one point, a woman came in with her daughter. She was born in Poland and started chatting away with Francesco about the importance of learning English, because when she was recently hospitalized for a month in Reggio, the staff only spoke in English. Of course, she knew almost no English, though her daughter knew a little.
Coast road just south of town
We have been in touch with our neighbor, Guy Gamello, via email. He is keeping an eye on our house while we travel. It turns out that his relatives are from Messina, in Sicily, where we will go by ferry. Francesco's girlfriend lives in Messina, and she told us that Gamello is a very common name. It seems that Guy probably has a number of his relations still living there. Perhaps we will run into one.