Calabria Chronicles: Serra San Bruno

posto degli carbonai
posto degli carbonai

We made it to Calabria about a month ago. Robin was wonderful on the airplane; she sat on my lap for the whole flight without much wriggling at all, ate chips, drank juice, and looked at the Easy Jet magazine. It happened that there were lots of other kids on the plane and the older ones ran up and down the aisle paying her occasional visits complete with kisses and games of peek-a-boo.

We arrived right on time and Matthew was there about 2 minutes after we walked through the exit door. Robin was very excited and we were all very happy to see each other. We went immediately for a slice of pizza because it was 1:30 by then and we were beyond starving! Then we got chips and hot water to go and packed ourselves into the van.

As we started down the road Robin talked to her dad while I ate a huge orange (one of several that were in the car). This part of Italy is orange country and this is the season for them. People give them away by the sack full and this one was really delicious. I had forgotten what spring looked like. Up north we still had snow in spots and frost on the fields every morning where standing water was dull with ice. Things had just begun to turn that hopeful shade of gray that presages green the week before we left. Here, in the far south, there were lush swaths of green grass poking up around olive trees as big as live oaks. It was a pleasure to see these trees again, two and three hundred years old they dwarf the smaller olive trees of Tuscany and as torqued as the trunks and branches are it is easy to imagine them as more than trees. church in serra san bruno

Bobbie eats cookies
Bobbie eats cookies

In Serra San Bruno Bobbie and I took a walk every day. First we would stop at the piazza which is closest to the hotel. There is a church façade covered in scaffolding, some benches and it is here that we stop for cookies. Then Robin goes up and down the steps of the church, occasionally stepping inside the door where she’s been heard to say (unprompted): “No more church for MY daughter.

The Lion Fountain, Serra San Bruno

Our next stop is the “Lion Fountain” where Bobbie can put her hand in the running water and beep the noses of the lions that are not spitting water. On the way we pass this lyrical baroque church façade carved surprisingly in unlyrical granite. The contrast of the form and the material is pleasantly diverting to the eye.

Baroque Granite, Serra San Bruno

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.


  1. Wow! You are taking the same trip I took almost a year ago exactly. My two destinations in Calabria were Simbario (next to Serra San Bruno) and Caulonia. My grandmother’s family was from Simbario, my grandfather’s from Caulonia.

    I felt like I got my fill when I was there, but no9w a year out, there’s so many things I’d like to return to do and see.

    I don’t have a lot to add but that it was an odd and pleasant coincidence to read your last few blog entries!

    Enjoy your perch in lovely Caulonia!


    1. Ciao Greg,

      It really is lovely in the spring in both towns and the drive over the Serra from one side to the other is just…Wow. Previously I’ve been to Caulonia in the Summer, mid July or August when everything is brown and sere so it was a joy to see it in the full flux of Spring. The local shop keepers kept asking if I had family from there who had immigrated but we’ve only chanced to visit because we’ve a friend who is a film director who’s family is from there and my sweetheart was working on the sets for the film (filmed both in Serra and Caulonia). It is a magical place and the people are incredibly friendly generous. I hope you find occasion to visit again.

      Thanks for reading!

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