In 1997 me, my son and L. (my MIL) took the sleeper from Mestre to Pizzo. Don't think of it in terms of "Orient Express" cause we are really miles and miles away from that. In Italy, modern and updated things stop in Rome, than, everything becomes Far West or Bronx as you said...
But, we arrived safe and N. (MIL's friend) was waiting for us at the station. That was the first time I met her and suddenly for me it was like paying a visit to a nice aunt. She gave us a delicious tomato sauce for our first pasta at home.
I have not been back in Calabria since '92 and was prepared to find things unchanged. But, little by little things in the house were improving due to many small renovations L. did during our stay. Lack of water was sometimes a problem but I sensed it in a bohemian way. Thanks to L. again I was figuring out better my approach to Southern way of living which is totally different for a person coming from the ultra operative North. From that year on I met and knew lots of friendly people always available to help and share with you what they have. Every year I can't miss the 'pantagruelian' (enormous) dinners of N. - each summer she cooks for around 10-15 persons in the typical southern way - I mean frying, baking, stuffing.... It's very difficult to stay in shape until the end of the vacations.
Through the years I've had the time to realize how wonderful the sea was, crystal waters and nice beaches that have nothing to envy to the Caribbeans.
Besides, I like how the natives are so bound to popular traditions, how they decorate and adorn the streets, the churches and the pure simple fun they have during the days dedicated to celebrate the Saint of the village.
It seems as they're still living in the 50ies. In the North we've almost totally lost this kind of genuine attitude.
You see now how positive I've become and I would go on telling you how many beautiful aspects I find in every situation.
I really like her narration. I experience the same every summer. And after I realised that I especially enjoy our stays in Calabria due to that feeling of travelling back in time, I know better than before how to decorate our palazzo. I definitely do not want to see too much (or any at all) modern furniture in our house. I really enjoy the simple decoration of my family's vacation apartment. It is still decorated like back in the 60ies, 70ies when my husband was born. This orange lamp in the kitchen, the chairs, the tiles ... It is like coming home after travelling the world. And I want to have a similar feeling in the palazzo.
Check the writing and pictures of sognatrice at bleeding espresso... She moved from the US to the little village of her ancestors in Calabria. A real travel back in time.
Photos 1 - 7:
Fiat 500 in Pizzo; one of N.'s famous pasta dishes, near Capo Vaticano via flickr; Pizzo Marina; fiesta della Madonna del Carmine; fishermen at La Seggiola; il trenino a Vibo Marina - the little train that my husband took as a little boy more than 30 years ago - and it still travels from 7pm until midnight all summer long.