Posts Tagged ‘Dogs in Calabria’

Dog Days, Wild Dogs, Safe Dog Travel

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

In the Northern Hemisphere, the period between early July and early September is the hottest time of the year.  The Romans said that it was hot because the big star, Sirius, glowing smack in the middle of the chest of the Big Dog (aka Canus Major) constellation, was beaming heat toward the earth.  They said that during the Dog Days the sea boiled and dogs got rabies.  Shortly after that, the Roman Empire fell.

None of that happens any more.  In modern times, the sea has stopped that nonsense. And the veterinary industry has pretty much stopped rabies cold in developed areas and relatively thriving economies where most of the extremely few rabies cases are caused by bats and wild carnivores.

So, in the US, Canada and Europe, we do not have to worry much about rabies any more- unless we encounter a salivating, snarling, fox with that “I ain’t scared of you” look in his rheumy eyes. 

Noel Coward’s line from his famous song of 1931 is, “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”.  To be fair, this flighty song makes much more sense than anything that Roman astrologers could patch together.  Rabid animals do illogical things, like run around in the heat, when they should be sleeping in the shade.  (Englishmen were also going to strange lengths to stand up to the tide in their colonial period, but that’s another topic.)

At any rate, what Raja and I are getting toward is that it’s summer and summer does not encourage rabies.  But during your summer travels, opportunities for adventure might entice you off the beaten path where you should be ready for adventures of all kinds. 

Raja and I are not worried about your dog.  If you’re still reading this, you really love your dog.  We’re worried about you.  When traveling in India, Puerto Rico, the South of Italy, Africa, and Central and South America, you might encounter homeless dogs that are very friendly.  Usually these dogs are pretty tame because they only survive by being gentle and appealing to charitable humans.

Raja and I meet them often; Raja is like a wild dog magnet.  And while we almost always advocate mingling with the locals, these locals are not to be mingled with.  They have not had their rabies shots (although some Puerto Rican charities do vaccinate stray dogs).  So, although they may be gentle, they may not be well.  So scoop your dog up and move on yourself quickly, rather than allow this cultural opportunity. 

Safer is better- always.  (If you want to help, keep your hands to yourself and donate to a local animal charity.  All developing countries have kind souls who care about the homeless beasts.)

Raja visits Tropea, Calabria in Italy’s Deep South

Monday, April 19th, 2010
Walking below the cliff-side own on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Walking below the cliff-side town on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Go to any travel guide of Italy and look up Calabria.  Bet you $100 the book hardly mentions Italy’s southernmost region.  What you will read is that the South is less developed economically and the Mafia got its start in the South.  How dismissive!  Proves that whoever wrote that never, ever went there, right? You gotta go there, like Raja, to see for yourself! 

Raja took two trains south from Rome: first to Lamezia and then he changed to a small local rail system to arrive in Tropea, a medieval town on a limestone cliff over the absolutely turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea.  On Italian trains, dogs do not need to be in carriers; Raja had his own seat most of the way and he loved looking out the window at glimpses of the sea through a screen of olive and orange trees. 

The antique town itself is set on a cliff far, far above a deep beach with the quietest waves in the world.   The southern beach is separated from the northern beach and its modern marina by a little warren of grottos under a convent perched on an enormous rock.  What an opportunity for Raja to explore and have some doggy fun, and, as you guessed, nobody minds a dog playing on Italy’s beaches!  Two steep, long stairs in the north and south wind up the cliffs linking to the citadel. 

Tropea would be a great place to film Romeo and Juliet.  Its stony, meandering streets are lined with great houses, now apartments, with magnificent doorways and tile roofs.  Piazzas with fountains create community and residents stroll every evening socializing and flirting.  In the summer season, the town comes to life with swimmers and sunbathers, but Raja visited just at the magical monument before the season began.  What a great moment!  A local festival brought vendors, entertainers and shoppers from all over Italy’s southern towns.  Restaurants that had been closed all winter were just opening and the famous local swordfish was in season. 

Andree and her family at the Al Centro Storico

Andree and her family at the Al Centro Storico

Speaking of restaurants, you just cannot get a bad meal in Calabria, even if you get down on your knees beg for it!  Raja had a favorite restaurant:  Al Centro Storico on Via P. Vianeo.  He loved the service, the hospitality and the wonderful pasta.  The owners have a beautiful baby and two dogs, so they welcomed Raja enthusiastically.  Dogs can sit in any café in Tropea without anybody getting over excited. 

Please go to this link and read the first hotel review to find out more about a very rustic and cozy place to stay in Tropea: The Porta Del Mare

Don’t expect chains, don’t expect fast food, don’t expect machine-made products.  In Tropea, everything is artisenal, local and unselfconsciously good.  You and your dog should go!