Published: March 4th 2010January 16th 2010
Reggio Calabria is not much to the eye. It can be as entertaining as any city in the world, but you’ll have to find your own adventure. The children’s playground near the wharf has a carousel that plays an accordionized version of the Beverly Hills Cop theme. The ocean views are nice and they have a parks and cathedrals, but this is nobody’s destination.
If you are a person who enjoys the obscure and making a good time on your own, it’s a good place to get away and have some fun.
My adventure has led me here to see calico (Italian word for soccer) of all things. Throughout my trip, I have made minor attempts to observe a football match somewhere along the way. I have consistently failed at this for lack of interest among my hosts. When I reached my destination in Calabria without having seen one yet, I made it a goal to go out of my way to see the next hometown match.
This meant seeing Reggina Calcio play in the nearby metropolis (240,000 people) of Reggio Calabria (100 km away).
But there was something I didn’t know. I didn’t know that due to the
frequency of appalling acts of extreme violence occurring at calico games, the stadium box office had been physically removed four years ago. This resulted in the situation of me arriving on foot at the stadium, passing barricade after SWAT team, after poliziota municipale to purchase a ticket (as you might for any sport at any stadium in America), only to find that the nearest ticket seller was more than 2km away.
One thing I love about my crazy life of travel is that I have no idea, 10 feet before walking into a situation, WHICH
resources I will need to use to move forward in this life puzzle.
The way I am getting through this is by playing the journalist card. I am working for Salem Monthly (sorry Nancy), that newspaper in Oregon’s capital, from which I still occasionally receive paychecks. Now they are asking for my media credentials. I explained that my tickets hadn’t been confirmed because the match is not essential to the cultural story I am writing, just to add some color to it.
I explained that I was in full expectation of paying for a ticket, and the only reason I hadn’t bought it in advance
was because it would have been impossible for any American to predict this scenario.
They took my business SM card and checked online to see if we did sports coverage (oh crap!). When they gave it back, I explained again that the story was more cultural
(like seriously there are going to SPORTS fans in Salem reading my non-existent article, and interested in knowing some statistical data, two months ATF about their Class-B soccer team?? Get real).
After I waited outside for an hour and a half, they gave me a ticket - but he said this was the “last time” they would do this for me without a confirmed reservation. I think I laughed in his face.
I left at half time. Class B soccer is unwatchably bad; it’s worse than watching the final season of Rosanne translated into Italian.
But before I left, I enjoyed myself a bit.
They gave me a great seat, and people were freaking out all around me. There was a very small, well-guarded section for the extremely vocal visiting fans right next to me.
There are about as many police and medical workers as there are spectators. The SWAT team is here. One
It's good that they explained how to open this chocolate bar, or else I'd still be scratching my head.
player from Cesena (the other team) has a ridiculous black facemask that makes him look like a cross between Don Juan, and that sissy from the Detroit Pistons.
Now the cheering section for Cesena is doing a variation of their chant using Joplin’s “The Entertainer.” It fills me with American pride because usually we use old world originated tunes for new world chants.
Now they are doing a variation of the melody from Pat Boone's "Speedy Gonzalez" - you know the “Plaintiff cry of a young Mexican girl.” “La la laaaaaaaaaaa… la LA la la la la la Laaaaa.”
I left the game at half time because I can’t care about the outcome, I am hungry and have no cash. I went looking for an ATM. There are none at the stadio. Imagine that; no ATM/Bancomat at a sports complex!
I had to walk a couple of kilometers to find one. Literally. I have never seen so few banks in my entire life. Maybe it’s that “Mack the knife thing” in a mob town like this. It’s actually so quiet on these streets that it reminds me of the film “I am Legend.”
The most musical gas station in Reggio
I like this painting that was in my hostel.
Have you ever had something random and wonderful happen to you, totally unexpected, significant, and over in about 15 minutes total? No, there was no physical element, you dirty birds.
I pulled into a service station to fill up before crossing the channel to Messina. As soon as I was identified as an American by the attendant, he started excitedly asking me questions about America. Aurelio identified himself as a country-style singer with a Nashville sound, and immediately handed me a copy of his new album. His brother, Sergio, insisted that I immediately come and follow him (on his bicycle) to his house just a few minutes away. Having already been blessed 1,000 times by randomness on this trip, I decided to roll the dice and I followed after him. Sergio invited me in and showed me his shrine to the Harley Davidson Motorcycle brand. He had visited America and traveled by Harley through Florida and the East Coast. Aurelia arrived a few minutes later and busted out his guitar. Soon I was the audience for a living room concert of original compositions and Gipsy Kings covers. It was incredible.
About 15 minutes later, I had to be moving on,
Calabria has an active Commie party.
and they had to return to work. Aurielo gave me a copy of his first album, and we exchanged information.
Continuing on the subject of great music, during my time in Calabria, I made a special trip to Reggio to visit the F. Cilea Music Conservatory, and had a wonderful experience. I met with the director, who gave me a copy of their book on Calabrian folk music and introduced me to the jazz teacher. The jazz teacher, Paolo, I must say, is my model of what an attractive man should be. A well-dressed Sicilian with a great wardrobe, Paolo speaks English fairly well, plays at least three jazz instruments and has his own band.
I was allowed to sit in for an afternoon to meet the bright and talented students, and used it as a chance to network to find some local jazz with native Calabrian influences - as well as a chance to simply enjoy the music.
Walker and reflections
I can’t believe I am in Reggio Calabria watching WALKER translated into Italian. I saw the beginning and recognized the BADNESS. It made me smile when indeed, it WAS translated WALKER. This show is too bad
for AMERICAN TV, why, why, why?
Reggio seems like a sad place. If the city had money, this COULD be one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. It has the best climate. Instead it is a broken down pile of pathetic.
If you look over at the lights of Messina, the conclusion is unmistakable that things MUST be better over there. It is 60 degrees and sunny in January in Southern Italy.
Yet it was this very observation that led me to make a solid decision about where I would travel next. I had previously been making plans to travel by sea to Greece; quick and easy. I decided here that rather than avoid the poverty of the Balkans Peninsula, it was exactly what I wanted to see. I re-routed my trip, and planned to travel through Croatia, Bosnia and Albania.
A comforting thought for Anglophile travelers
No matter where you may find yourself in the world. In a random country, or in a city well off the tourist track (good for you!). It is almost always possible to communicate in your language.
You see, next to China, the second-most populous country in the world has done an
"A cross between don juan and that sissy from the Detroit Pistons."
equally good job of sending ambassadors abroad.
So if you are ever completely without direction and have nowhere to turn - look for a cellular phone shop or a tobacco store and you will likely find someone able to give you an English orientation. Thank you British East India Company!
There are more photos below