A Mushroom Fest in the Mountains? Sign Me Up!
As I settle into my new life in Calabria, I'm looking for opportunities to get to know the area better. A few weeks ago, I had just such an opportunity at the sagra di fungo in the adorable mountain town of Camigliatello.
My friend Courtney, her bambino Luca, and I piled into the car and drove up to the Sila mountains for the mushroom festival event. It was still sunny and warm in our beach town, but as we rose in altitude, the temperature dropped. I was glad I brought a sweater!
The leaves on the drive were in full splendor. I realized I hadn't seen fall leaves in maybe 15 years because I'd lived in San Diego where they don't change.
Where Are the Mushrooms?
There's one main street in Camigliatello, lined with buildings that were a bit reminiscent of the Alpine-style buildings I saw when I hiked the Dolomiti. These housed restaurants and gift shops (sadly filled with generic tourist junk from China).
In the middle of the street was the festival. There were vendors selling toys, chestnuts, potatoes (apparently Sila potatoes are the best), cheese, salumi...but few mushrooms.
Oh, there were vendors selling dried mushrooms, but I saw only one selling fresh mushrooms. I was shocked and a bit disappointed. I'd envisioned coming home with a basket laden full of different exotic types of mushrooms!
We compensated by ordering arancini filled with mushrooms as well as some heavenly pasta with mushrooms. We people-watched and did a little shopping. I'd like to come back when there isn't an event. Maybe rent a cabin with a fireplace!
A Map Mishap
After a few hours, we were ready to head the two hours home. I barely noticed when Google Maps took me back a different route...until it instructed me to turn down a bumpy road that got progressively bumpier.
We meandered through the countryside, hoping this was an Italian shortcut.
After 15 minutes of driving, we encountered a gate across the road. Well, I say "road" but it was more of an overgrown pig trail. We got out of the car and started cracking up.
Whenever things go contrary to logic here in Italy, Courtney and I sigh, "Oh, Italy." We said it then.
We decided the best course of action was for her to take over and drive in reverse until we could turn around. I nervously watched the sun heading behind the mountain and hoped we got out alive before dark.
Once we turned around, we headed down another path. Another dead end!!!
After about an hour of this stress, we made it out and sighed in relief.
Never trust Google Maps in Italy!