For the love of San Lucido

Woken early morning by Zio throwing stones on the roof, and a few seconds later Andre outside our window checking in to see that we are ok or perhaps a subtle hint to rise and shine.

We get dressed and met them at the café next door for breakfast; we ate freshly baked cornetti (Italian croissant) with nutella and embraced the sea views of Mataverna.

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We embarked on an obligatory walk of the paese, stopping off to explore the council, old jail cell that was utilised in WWII and is now used as a manager at Christmas.

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We are introduced to the local Mayor and shown around his offices. Such an old town so rich in character, we spend time visiting the town churches – Castello Ruffo, Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, Chiesa del Rosario and Chiesa dell’Annunziata and the smallest but the oldest (place in the historical centre) is Chiesa della Pieta.

There is also a convent built in the VIII century above the mountain where Fra Lucido lived, this city San Lucido was named after Fra. We even stop by the practice of a world famous Physio, reportedly he treats many of the famous soccer players and Kaka from Brazil is his regular client.

The sun is heating up so we deserve a bit of beach time, even just to dip in our feet. The water is warm and the sand here is quite hard and black in colour.

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There are a handful of other swimmers taking advantage of the 30 degree temperature. Andre twists our arm to get a gelato from the little ice cream hut by the beach and he wasn’t wrong when he said we wouldn’t be disappointed – the fig and lemon gelato is right on point.

We are able to learn more about the disease, apparently it is very rare and Anton’s family is the research case study for the world. There is a dedicated research team of doctors, from Italy, America and Australian- including Anton’s cousin.

Sadly, the disease has taken the lives of Anton’s paternal grandmother (she died under 40), her three daughters (Anton’s Aunties, his dad’s sisters, all died between the ages of 35-39) and the most recent was Anton’s cousin aged 39, who was the first male to be affected by the disease.

It is a strong gene within the family and there is yet to be any medication or cure for this disease. Once the gene activates, the body deteriorates rapidly, generally within three years the affected person dies. The disease appears to be very debilitating and has a similar affect, but much shorter life span, than those with MND.

Although we were aware of this disease in the bloodline, we were not privy to the full extend that the disease has had on the family. It was overwhelming and devastating for us to visit the burial sites of the deceased family members.

After a fairly heavy morning, we went to Zio’s house for lunch and had delicious homemade salami and local Italian foods from the garden. Over lunch we watched video footage of Anton’s Nonna Giuseppina, she seems to be a very strong, and as the family suggests, stubborn woman.

In the afternoon we visited a neighboring town call Fiumefreddo Bruzio, there is very little in this small community but there is an unbelievable view of the coast. The town consists of castle ruins, a church and a convent that is closed. There is also a handful of residence that live here. It is blows my mind how content people are living in these tiny villages, how peaceful their everyday life would be.

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As we headed back to San Lucido we had been told there is an Australian woman who had recently moved here to live, she was elderly and reportedly had a career in Australian Politics.

We are taken to her house (it’s a small country town thing that everyone knows each other so it isn’t as odd as it might sound going there) and able to have a chat. She is quite unwell and trying to seek medical attention but with the language barrier it’s quite difficult. She loves it here that much that she has now made it her permanent residence.

The evening saw us head to a Spanish restaurant called Mucho Mas. This was a groovy new restaurant/ bar owned by a friend of Andre. We enjoyed paella, Calabrian wine and of course Amaro.. X

Anna Owens is the founder of ownsit! A mama working in Community Development and Partnerships Education. Anna is a colour crazy, creativity enthusiast who loves to design, collect shoes, eat & travel.. x

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