Santa Domenica Talao is a paese (not village) in Southern Italy about 300m above sea level, 9 km from the coast with miles of volcanic stone and grey sandy beaches. It has beautiful properties and a steady population of 1,200 inhabitants. There are a good variety of shops, two restaurants, a beautiful church, properties for sale, a grotto below the town where locals make the sign of the cross when passing. The grotto is poignantly dedicated to the many people who had to sell their properties during the past centuries to make a living abroad in places as far flung as South America and of course the USA.
A visit to the picturesque graveyard on the hills above the town will afford many hours of nostalgic viewing of photographs of the deceased on the tombs which have electricity, brooms and many accoutrements to keep the resting place of local families clean and cared for.
The bells toll the quarter hours and the cicadas set up a racket during the hot afternoons. The terrace on our property is dive bombed by swifts during the summer and the sky is beautifully clear at night as we chart the starry firmament from our mobile phone app.
Supper is taken outside and we sit for hours with friends as we eat, drink, converse and perhaps lazily at 10 pm stroll up to one or other of the popular bars in the Piazza and have a glass or wine (€1 to €1.50 depending on provenance) or a cold spina (draught lager) or a delicious ice-cream. The people are so warm and welcoming and no friendly overtures are ignored or snubbed.
Although my language skills render me a better listener than speaker we frequently go to dinner with a neighbouring couple and after the pizza comes the dancing. Italians take dancing seriously, learning line dancing during winter months and then gliding in tandem through the dance floor to the music during the summer nights.
There are many festa (mostly of religious significance) during the Summer months and you might find yourself tailing a priest led procession from one of the churches to an open air mass at the grotto or dancing in the square at night time to a DJ playing or local singer whilst the locals look on. Italians are a temperate people and rarely have I seen them inebriated; can’t say the same for us stranieri, who can get a bit overzealous on the local wine.
However, though Santa Domenica Talao may be a 2 hour drive north from Lamezia, Ryanair deposits us here several days a week during the long holiday season (I have been swimming here in November) or Naples, with a relatively longer drive of 3-4 hours south. Train services are good but we hire a car at the airport on arrival and have freedom to visit the many beautiful scenic villages in the mountains, caves, ravines, museums and of course hit the beach around 4pm for a swim and a sundown cocktail at our favourite Café, Lido da Pietro, in Lungomare, Scalea. Its owner, Carmelo, was the first to make Wi-Fi available for his customers and we return each visit to his warm welcome and well cared for restaurant.