Love in the south of Calabria

We’ve been driving for ten minutes and have just seen our hundredth (approximately) Expo Sposi poster. They’re so ubiquitous that I barely need to look at it to know exactly what it says. There’s a five-foot high smiling bride, modestly averting her eyes towards her perfectly arranged bouquet. Her dress is white, big-skirted and lacy, and cut tastefully just off the shoulder without showing too much bare flesh. Below this picture of perfection the text, in a romantic, curlicued font, advertises the dates for this extravaganza; a whole weekend of bridal festivities. A one-stop wedding shop, if you will.


I’m meeting a new class for the first time. We’re learning all about each other. I can see they’re dying to ask, so open up the floor for more personal questions. How old are you? I’m 34. Do you have children? No. No, I don’t.Are you married? No, I’m not. Do you have a boyfriend? No, I don’t. There are a number of sideways looks, before a recollection of good manners and a sympathetic head-tilt. Oh, what a shame …


I’m drinking beer with friends and listening to them making plans for setting two other friends up. She’s such a nice girl and they’ve both been single for ages. Amusingly, there is no mention of whether they’re actually compatible.


I open the car door and hand the keys to the garage attendant so that he can unlock the petrol cap. Twenty, please. He gives me a grin. All alone today? I sigh mentally, preparing myself for unwelcome advances, and nod my head with a smile. He surprises me by looking worried rather than predatory. No girlfriend? I’m momentarily wrongfooted, and then remember the Italians’ incapacity for doing anything alone. I laugh and tell him my flatmate’s at home. He smiles with relief, then decides to chance his arm. He winks and asks about my boyfriend. Well, I suppose it had to come sooner or later. As he hands the keys back I grin and tell him I’m single, before closing the door quick-smart and starting the engine. He roars with laughter and shouts that I should go out with him sometime as he waves me off the forecourt.


Megan and I are sitting in the square in town. We’re drinking coffee and watching a street-cleaning lorry go round and round in circles, cleaning up after the removal of the Christmas tree and Nativity scene. The staring, which is a part of life in southern Italy, and particularly in this small town, seems to be even more prevalent than usual. What’s going on? It hits us both at the same moment – we’re the only women here. There are men everywhere, including one of my pre-teen students up to mischief with his friends, but women? Absolutely none. I realise why when I look at my watch: it’s 11:45 am on Sunday and there’s lunch to prepare.


I’ve been seeing a man for a week or so.  He’s been conducting a serious charm offensive, including cooking for me and trying to introduce me to his grandmother. We’re in the local bar on a Saturday night and it’s packed with people. I lean over and kiss him on the lips. He pulls back in horror.Why did you do that? I know people in here. A few days later he tells me he loves me and proposes marriage.

I send him home to mamma.

Image by Tiemen Rapati on Flickr

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About Kate Bailward

Kate Bailward is a cat-loving, trifle-hating, maniac driver. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
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11 Responses to Love in the south of Calabria

  1. IanB says:

    Hussy. ;-)
    IanB´s last post ..Sing

  2. Katja says:

    Ha! Speak for yourself, Mr B. ;)

  3. Elora Daphne says:

    Love this! Little pills of Italian mentality – beautiful Katja :) I am so gonna share this!
    Elora Daphne´s last post ..The Aqueduct

  4. LindyLouMac says:

    Ciao all the best for 2011. Thanks for another light hearted look at Italian life as you live it.
    LindyLouMac´s last post ..Italy to UK Road Trip

  5. Margo says:

    ah… I think this is brilliant. No I don’t say that often :)
    Margo´s last post ..Trendy Retro Beach Essentials

  6. Katja says:

    Ladies: fabulous, as always, to see you here, and thank you so much for your lovely comments.

  7. Angela says:

    eheh I too get “that look” in China when I say I’m neither married nor I have children at the age of 32… Great post :)

  8. Katja says:

    Thanks Angela. Before I moved abroad, I thought that love was the universal language, but it seems that I may have been wrong … ;)

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