This is undoubtedly the grubbiest campsite we have stayed on so far, but unlike the grubby campsite in Imperia, this campsite has rustic charm.
We haven’t met the manager yet, but day to day running is handled by a very enthusiastic Bangladeshi man called Islam. He enjoys showing the boys his rabbit called Jenny. Islam spent some time living in England, but it seems he was slung out for not having the right papers, and has settled here in Caulonia where there is a very strong Bangladeshi presence.
It seems that wherever we are in Southern Italy, the various migrant communities stick together in various places trying to eek out a living of some sort. In the supermarket car parks of Avola young North African men would be eager to help with our trolley to unload it an return it to its place in return for the 50c deposit. In larger cities like Naples and Catania they try to sell packets of tissues at traffic lights, or just beg. Oddly, they were seemingly absent entirely in Palermo.
Back to our campsite, as well as Jenny the rabbit, we are camping with three donkeys, two goats and half a dozen cats. In the mornings Ben and Jack will walk quite confidently about among the donkeys.
We are right by the beach, and next to a dried up river bed. Behind a sea wall separating the sandy shingle from the road is a wide promenade, perfect for the boys to cycle along, overlooked by two statues of bearded and naked philosophical looking men. I’ve no idea who they represent.
Of the four days we have been here, two have been rainy. The first rainy day we took a trip northwards along the sole of Italy’s boot. We found a hilltop castle to have lunch outside, sheltered from the rain inside Amarillo, and then during a break in the clouds found a remote beach to exercise the boys and Meg. A curious police car followed us onto the beach to see what we were doing but soon went away when the occupants saw the boys making angels in the sand.
On the second rainy day we headed for the hills and Aspromonte National Park. Even in the torrential rain we could see that it was a stunningly beautiful area. We didn’t take lunch with us, hoping to share a pizza somewhere, but in such rain there would be no hope of even leaving the van: roads had become rivers. Fortunately, in the small town of Cittanova the rain eased sufficiently to dash into a restaurant for pasta bake. It was lukewarm but delicious.
After lunch we drove right up into the mountains, watching wisps of cloud rise from the densely wooded valleys below and walked along a trail marked by red and white paint on trees on a thick carpet of dark ocre beech leaves.
It was after dark when we arrived back to the goats, rabbit and donkeys.
We have three or four more days here, of forecast sunshine, and then we move on. We plan to go back to the national park in better weather before we leave.