July – October, 2016
Some thirty-six hours and four buses later, arrived from Montluçon in central France, to Italy’s beautiful southern Calabrian region: Cosenza. Plan to live here for a while.
The reason for southern Italy? To start the process for Italian Citizenship again. Tried in Naples earlier this year but to no avail, so stay tuned…
Bussing it from France to Italy
If you ever find yourself wanting or having to travel on several buses for thousands of kilometres between France and Italy, then the following information may help you, a little. Or, at least give you some insight on what to expect along the way.
Montluçon to Lyon – Left Montluçon about five and a half hours ago and now sitting in a traffic jam on the highway just before Lyon. Did manage to catch the onward connecting bus with some time to spare.
Lyon to Turin – This second bus lacks room so quite cramped but as it is only a four and a half-hour trip to Turin, it’s not too painful; and you will arrive around 21:00 hrs.
Turin to Rome – Waited around an hour and a half on Turin’s streets for the next connecting uncomfortable overnight Simet bus (€25 and partner to Flixbus) to Rome, which arrived at 22:25 hrs. Uncomfortable is being kind. You would think for an overnight bus, the seats would be slightly larger and move back slightly…not so.
After a cramped night, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, brushed my dishevelled hair, and arrived at Rome’s Terminal Centrali bus station at 08:50hrs for the next connecting bus in 5 hours time.
Well-dressed locals hurried by on their way to work, espresso in hand as the bus pulled in.
We carry around 30 kilos each so nowhere at the station to drop packs this size, to explore in comfort. Instead, decided to drink copious amounts of wonderful coffee (€1+) and eat delicious Panini (€3+), pizzas, and any other snacky things for breakfast in one of the very busy coffee shops: Chef Express – BuffetRoma (Tibus via G Mazzoni); the only haunt. Staff are very lovely and the café is across from the bus platforms. Sit here for any length of time and you can tell when a new bus is in by the next wave of passengers, hurrying into the cafe to buy coffee or food.
Rome to Cosenza – The comfortable, La Valle bus (€22) from Roma Piazzale Tiburtina bound for the Cosenza Autostazione, arrived on time for the 6.5-hour trip.
Also surprising on this long piece of road is the lack of tolls after Salerno, although the road is still in very good condition. I learnt later from many locals all with the same view that the reason is that if the government imposes tolls, then “no one will visit the Calabrian region”. Quite sad as it is a very beautiful region of Italy and relatively unspoilt by tourism.
Although local tourists are savvy to this well-kept secret of beautiful beaches, mountains, and cheaper prices than in northern Italy.
The cost to use the toilet (squats) at Rome’s bus station is €0.60. Toilet paper and cleanliness are provided with a smile.
Arriving later in the evening on Saturday night, our airbnb hosts kindly picked us up from the bus station, which is over 2 kilometres from the apartment.
A gorgeous renovated 2-bedroom and 2-bathroom apartment in La Città Vechia (Old Town) awaited.
Wonderful location and a 15-minute walk to the flashy pedestrianised Corso Mazzini shopping precinct.
Extended the 10-night booking to about 5 weeks as during this time, we trampsed many bureaucratic offices on an almost daily basis, for my Citizenship application.
The apartment proved a handy location to everything and we became good friends with our very kind and accommodating hosts. Many home cooked meals and bottles of wine were shared in the evenings, which made our stay an excellent experience. This is one great reason and the difference between staying at an impersonal hotel or staying at a very personal airbnb.
Returning to Cosenza
The Citizenship/Residency saga continues and I have written another long post on the process so far.
The outcome was that I had to return to Australia in September to apply for a 12-month Residency Visa to live in Italy. I could not apply whilst in Italy. Ludicrous isn’t it?
So, after almost six weeks in Australia, it is great to be back in Italy. And back with our wonderful friends for 10 days before moving into a 2-bedroom apartment tomorrow, which should give everyone some space.
It’s also pretty cool catching up with people we met before leaving Italy…all very friendly and I think a bit surprised that we returned. No one can believe that we swapped Australia to live in Cosenza. The look is one of incredulous disbelief! My visa grants me 12 months here so see how it goes…ask me in 12 months perhaps?
Settled very nicely into our fully furnished and great 2-bedroom apartment. As an ex-airbnb apartment, we were left everything, even down to bedding – very kind owner/landlord.
Enjoying the pace of Cosenza once more.
Winter is upon us, which is not only reflected in the warmer clothing sold by all shops in the city, but also the colder weather that seems as if someone has just switched over an overnight switch. Locals say it can snow in Cosenza…let’s hope not this year.
I am writing several posts on Cosenza as there is just so much to share. I will post these in the next weeks and will update this post with the links for you guys.
In the meantime, I’m adding a few things here of what you can to do around Cosenza, if you find yourself in this part of Italy.
Before we left Italy, decided that a spontaneous little train trip to Paola (€4.80 return) to break the visits to the numerous offices in Cosenza would be fun.
A comfy 25-minute trip and you’re at Calabria’s beautiful coast!
Paola’s train station was busy and dodging all the locals armed with beach brollies, blow-up beach balls, beds, and plastic toys, was also fun. So, took a stroll down to the beach to get away from the maddening crowd, or so we thought.
The Mediterranean waterfront is picturesque with its crystal azure as a backdrop for promenading. The beach however, is a different story. And it seems that the whole of Calabria is here today on this scorching hot Sunday!
Slowly crisping brown-baked bodies lay beneath hundreds of coloured brollies, draping the volcanic sands, and you have a good picture of an Italian beach at the height of summer.
The beach in August?
Locals warned us of the month of August: It is not the month to go to the beach in Italy, they said.
We should have listened.
Although, baking for hours in the 35-degree scorching sun or going for a swim under the Mediterranean sun is not why the effort was made. I’ve had enough scorching sun episodes growing up in Australia.
Today’s mission is primarily to look around Paola and somewhere different from Cosenza.
Easier said than done as we became a tad side-tracked walking by the many inviting restaurants along the waterfront. Wonderful aromas of freshly cooked deliciousness wafting out and tantalising one’s nostrils, beckoning to enter and stay for a while…and enter we did, just for a ‘snack’.
Fatal, as this turned into a fully fledged seafood lunch with goblets of wine and freshly-baked bread – very civilised!
The seafood was excellent. It’s not often I comment on this as someone that used to catch super fresh fish for meals straight off a boat; an impressive review! The coffee and snack stop turned into a couple of hours of relaxing and enjoying fantastic food, whilst looking out onto the sparkling calm horizon. What more can one ask for in life? This is Italy after all…
Make sure you walk along a good portion of the waterfront to see the wonderfully and politically-charged wall of street art.
Krystal (via Lungomare) – Excellent seafood, great service, wonderful ambience, and not stingy on wine portions! Antipasto €3+, Primi Piatti €7+, Secondi €9+ but beware with Secondi Piatti, as seafood is weighed and charged by the 100 grams, which can work out a little pricey.
A doctor’s visit in Italy – if you need one
Visiting the doctor in Italy was a whole new experience, to say the least…
The Lotus Health Centre gym I joined required a medical certificate. Although I was allowed to sign up, pay for my year’s membership, and go for 2 weeks before I was ask for a certificate. The gym at the centre gave me the doctor’s details – alarm bells?
After walking around aimlessly and asking a few people, I finally found the ‘Medical Centre’. A nondescript unnumbered building, with a couple of elderly gents hanging around outside smoking and spluttering.
Everyone smokes in Italy.
I wasn’t sure that it was the right building so I took my chance and went in to the very crowded front room, which was not too dissimilar to God’s Waiting Room – if I can be so brash.
Took a number and waited in the queue, although I did have a pre-booked appointment.
The Receptionist was getting annoyed with people in front of me so after waiting for 20 minutes and missing my appointment time, I asked another staff member if I was in the right building.
Confirmation was a relief. I continued to wait until my number came up, only to discover that I should have been waiting in another area for a different doctor.
So I moved to the correct area and waited some more, until the nurse(?) appeared – I think she was a nurse…
Dressed in tight denim jeans, knee-high boots, low cut tight top, an open white coat, a Stethoscope hanging loosely around her neck, loads of chunky silver jewellery, and makeup. A stylish nurse?
A scene straight out of a comedy skit. Closely following her the whole time was a young guy possibly the trainee or assistant?
Very friendly but efficient, almost barking orders and speaking only in Italian, I followed her to a small room where the lady I spoke to earlier at reception was sitting and waiting.
The nurse took my blood pressure, whilst the whole time explaining everything to the young trainee.
I then had to strip to my waist and lay down on the bed. Small suction caps with gel were placed on my chest and around my heart. Some basic test was completed with a machine, which spat out a receipt-like piece of paper, and the poor young assistant got an eyeful of my naked breasts.
I was given the all clear to dress and wait in another room.
Called to the doctor’s office, he was very charming and even tried a few English words on me, which I did appreciate. My Italian vocabulary isn’t too bad but I struggle with medical (and legal) terminology.
Advised everything is fine, the doctor handed over a typed medical certificate on half an A4 piece of paper, roughly signed (as only doctor’s can do), and for the bargain basement price of €30, I was out of there 30 minutes later.
Everyone is so hospitable and kind. We are making many friends here.
Again, maybe it is because there are not many foreigners here and locals still cannot believe that we chose to live here in the “deep south”.
We get invites to dinner, pubs, art shows, busking, a football game, and so, there is always something going on in this city. So much so that site-seeing hasn’t been on the radar yet.
Still need to visit my relatives in Parenti again…all in good time.