Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Everybody knows that Robert De Niro is a great Oscar-winning actor and he doesn’t like DT, BUT did you know that his great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from the town of Ferrazzano in the region of Molise?  Yes, Molise, same region that my grandfather was from, and where I visited twice this past May.

img_0299

As you approach Mirrabello in Molise, you can’t help but notice an imposing village in the distance high up on a mountain.  That would be Ferrazzano.

1F6421AE-8BF7-4FC1-8417-276FB1F3EFDB

So when Joel and I went to Molise, we also went to see this pretty town.  We didn’t realize it would be so windy up there, boy did it howl! Tina Di Giglio, a friend we made in Molise last year, led us up there.  We were to follow her, lol, who knew it was going to be a motocross race!  Tina, like every other Italian driver races to wherever they are going at breakneck speed.  We stopped in some parking area with a great view, but not before she led us through a street (I use that term loosely because it was an alley), so narrow,I pulled the side mirror in!

The almost 360 degree panorama was breathtaking. My photos don’t do justice. Joel walked down to another level, but the cobble stones and the stairs were too much for me and my boot.

20180516_173105

From our perch, we could look out and see Campobasso which I believe is like the county seat of that province of Molise.

20180516_1728321

i saw this gate and doorway, thought it was interesting, so…

20180516_173925

If you ever thought recycling in the United States was a pain, you just haven’t experienced Guardia Sanframondi’s system.  It is so complex and confusing that every month you can pick up a calendar at the Municipal and every night you take the garbage out and hang it on a hook that is attached somewhere on your building or a wall in your driveway.  IMG-20180503-WA0000.jpg

And the garbage bags have faces 🤓😳🤢!!

Jumping back to Florence for a moment, while on the hunt for the perfect birthday gift for myself on the Ponte Vecchio (naturally), we came across a very Italian street entertainment;  A Punch and Judy puppet show!

20180428_183006_001

It was such a treat to see the little kids sitting down and watching in awe as the hustle and bustle of the Ponte Vecchio area surrounded them.

As much as I loved being in Guardia and Italy in general, there were two disturbing national and cultural issues;  Way too many people in Italy smoke! Really, I was shocked by the prevalence of smokers everywhere.

20180513_150315.jpg

AND the diesel automobiles 🚗  🚙 hold your nose! Sometimes in traffic we would be caught in the midst of a bunch of diesel powered vehicles.

,VINO and OIL, well that’s what the sign said… I’ve already told you about this place The Forresta Cooperative where both the olive oil and the wine are local  and in great supply!  Remember I said the wine was in huge silver tanks, there for your own pumping so to speak.  Seeing is believing…

20180502_155640

And the olive oils

20180502_155622

😋

Ciao for now!

To be continued…

 

 

 

.

Advertisements

I didn’t take enough photos when I was there, I didn’t take enough notes thinking  I would remember a lot more! But not everything becomes a story and not everything was of enough interest to translate into a blog post.

BUT, there are snippets here and there that deserve a mention or at least a look see;

Something that you see all over Italy are beautiful fountains, not all of them like the magnificent Trevi Fountain.  I saw a woman washing her hands in fountain such as the one below in Florence one evening.  This lovely antiquity is on the main road in Guardia Sanframondi, set just off the sidewalk and available for all, so egalitarian!  A cool sip of water on a hot summer day, a splash of water on warm face, a quick wash y of your hands, sticky from dripping gelato!

IMG_0282

You’ve heard me speak of the new old town built around the medieval town.  Here’s a glimpse of Peter leaning up against the stairwell to the apartment that we stayed in last year and this year.  He loves the location, so central to everything – well that and it had two wide screen TVs!

IMG_0171

So sweet, so luscious, delicious and bountiful!  Spring in Guardia means being surrounded by beautiful fruits and vegetables growing and are there for the picking!

IMG_0273

”Mom, how come none of these places serve like a breakfast sandwich”?  It does seem like there are two universal Italian breakfasts;  many years ago when I was in Italy but much farther north, ( Tuscany, Emilio Romagna, Lombardy, Veneto), I had a delicious breakfast every day of frutta, formaggio, Parma, pane, sort of a deconstructed breakfast sandwich.  However here in Guardia, a cream or chocolate brioche and coffee was the daily offering.  Mom to the rescue ( I need my driver to be happy).

20180522_103239

We never did find out what it was with Amalfi and lemons!  They were  everywhere so we stopped on the side of the road ad bought two. Unfortunately we never got to taste them before it was time to head back to the U.S.A. I hope Cindy and Steve enjoyed them.

20180519_2028121

Then there was the day, I asked Raffaele to take me to the town of San Lorenzillo where there is a master ceramist, he introduced me to last year. Most people think of Cerreto Sannita as the ceramic city, and in fact it’s town center is home to many shops featuring elaborately ornate and intricately detailed ceramics.

407A2524-7336-4883-9F59-6CC85A4AFDD2

Not So Ornate – However Almost Every Piece Is In This Palette

20180520_113802

I Wish I Had Taken The Time To Focus And Enlarge This Picture Because These Statues Are Exquisite

I found another postcard from Guardia…..

20180502_1619481

Name That Saint!

 

Raffaele arranged for a couple of us to go to the top of the castle, I think I wrote about that little adventure earlier, ( https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/the-sights-and-sounds-of-guardia). When we were walking around the roof top  and looking over the parapet, I spied this.   Do you think a bird or the wind carried the seed to the top of this wall where it took root and blossomed?

20180504_1556481

Rising From A Rock

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OH MY GOD SLOW DOWN!!!

Will we ever get to the town of Amalfi? We’ve been up the road and round and round ….

20180519_200939.jpg

The Never-Ending Road

The road in and out of Amalfi is just one one roller coaster thrill ride and so is this blog post because my photos  and anecdotes are from both the trip up the mountain to go down the mountain to the town and shore and then back up the mountain to go down the mountain to get back on the autostrada to get home.  Now wasn’t that clear?  So here we are going up or maybe down, either way we are going way too fast for me but not for my son, (leave the driving to me), Joel.  You see those arrows along side the road ?

20180519_200947.jpg

Pointing The Way To Certain Disaster

I thought a normal person would have taken those as a warning sign! Wouldn’t you? You have no idea;  It was Saturday afternoon and every daredevil, high level testosterone, macho man on a motorcycle was out on his loud screeching bike or very Italian Vespa with requisite chick on the back and they were passing cars on the left and the right and on a curve. Holy cow !  Even my seasoned California canyon Uber driver was in awe! These people are crazy!

OK well Joel has a motorcycle himself, so he knew the bike riders were a nutty bunch but he had never seen a car pass another car in bumper to bumper traffic on a curve!!  How did the driver know someone would let him?  And he didn’t anticipate the three motorcycles coming around the same curve in the opposite lane!  My God this is so nerve-wracking.

20180519_164641.jpg

Plenty Of Room To Pass

Believe it or not we actually made it into town, had a lovely dinner overlooking the shore.  Funny thing, there was no sand, nada, niente , none!

20180519_173415.jpg

Black Stone Beach

And from way down there, this is what it looked like way up there,

20180519_191844.jpg

Just Try To Check In There

We we’re losing light quickly and were a looonnnggg way from home.  I dreaded the trip back up the mountain and down and with good reason.  Joel was always saying, “Mom take a picture of that down there”.  Oh sure, I was holding onto the arm rest for dear life and working the brake on the passenger side, you know the one  that isn’t there!

BUT I did decide to take some video as we were making our way off the mountain….       BUCKLE UP YOUR SEAT BELTS PLEASE!!

 

 

AND that was just the beginning….my foot was already aching.  How long was it going to take to get the hell off this road?

Seeing is believing…. This last video shows just how crazy Italian drivers are!  My sage advice: “ Do not let your daughter date an Italian with a motorcycle”

We lived to tell the story another day but it took us hours to get home.  It seems Abigail had a penchant for Avellino- East Avellino, West Avellino.  Then somehow, someway we found ourselves in a town that was celebrating (oh yeah it was Saturday night), and on a one way street heading down, down, down. It was narrow and it looked like we might be near water.  It was dark and I felt like we were driving down into some riverfront late at night – not a good feeling.  Finally at the bottom, it looked like if you kept going and bore left, we might just get out of there – so we did. Turns out we had detoured ourselves into Salerno?! I’m sure Abigail,was behind this mistake.

IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL DAY!

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

20180519_182915.jpgA QUICK TRIP TO THE AMALFI COAST

 

It was one of those bright,sunny Southern Italian days and it was already noon.  Joel was a bit restless, it was one of those days he was itching to go somewhere.  So I said, “Let’s go to the Amalfi Coast”.  And we were off.

On a suggestion from Raffaele, I proposed we drive to Sorrento via the autostrada and drive north up the coast.  Well it sounded like a good idea.  Tuning our trusty GPS ( I mean unworthy, who we named Abigail because she is a British bitch who sends us into olive orchards, vineyards and even in circles), for Sorrento and we hit the road heading south.

Everything seemed to be going along ok until we got on the autostrada.  Something happens to men driving on that road; Their heartbeat picks up, the adrenaline kicks in and their testerone skyrockets!  Normally placid easy-going men turn into crazy wannabe race car drivers,

The autostrada holds special appeal to American male drivers, who once freed from the confines of the USA 65 mph speed limit, they just let it rip.  I tried not to look at the speedometer.  A few days earlier we had had the kilometer versus miles per hour conversation and even though I knew 100 kpm equaled about 62 mph, Joel was pushing that needle up over 100 into the teens, then the 120’s.  So it was about this time that I tried to assert some matriarchal control.  At 135 kph, I was yelling!

I was told to relax and look at the scenery, oh sure, and leave the driving to him. It was probably already about 2:00pm and I said “This is not fun, there’s nothing enjoyable about driving at breakneck speed for hours”,  We need a new plan, “Let’s go to the town of Amalfi, it’s nearby and it’s on the coast and it’s getting late”.

We followed the signs and Abigail’s suggestions and soon we were off the speedway and making our way towards Amalfi. The inherent beauty of Italy is that it is different in every region.  No longer in the mountains of Campania, we were now traveling through what clearly looked like the fabled monied coast.

20180519_202806.jpg

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

It was hard to tell where we actually were but every now and then I would ask Joel to slow down so I could quickly snap a photo of a passing town or scape.  I noticed the spire of the church to have that same Middle Eastern influence in the tile pattern.

20180519_202803.jpg

Somewhere in Southern Italy

We were traveling through a postcard; Yes the Amalfi Coast looks exactly like all the photos, movies, postcards you’ve seen.  All throughout Italy,  I’ve been entranced by the sight of a village nestled into the side of a mountain or tucked into a valley

20180519_202523.jpg

There Is Something Peaceful About These Villages

20180519_170334.jpg

Mediteranean Blue Sky

When we came upon this sight, I thought we might actually have arrived.  Oh but I was wrong!!

20180519_161544.jpg

We were being routed through yet another gorgeous (are we in Paradise?) town whose name I can’t remember.20180519_164211.jpg

If it weren’t for the signs I would certainly think old Abigail had sent us inland to parts unknown, but we drove on…. And then realized in the near distance there lie the jewel of the Amalfi Coast.

20180519_170800.jpg

The Jewel

And we were high above it, the only way is down!

To be continued…

 

IN AND AROUND  GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI 

I’ve spent a lot of time  kvelling, (Yiddish for being delighted, gushing over) the never ending panoramic views from the mountainous town of Guardia Sanframondi.  But what about the town itself?  Well now that I’ve written that, inferring I will be posting lots of information and photos.  I want to…just not sure I have enough to do it justice.  I’ll try to fill in with some little snippets and whatever else comes to mind.

Marble is everywhere here as I imagine in most of Italy and I’m not talking about statues!  So many of the houses that I saw had marble floors, marble counters, and MARBLE STAIRS!  Do you have any idea how slippery and cold marble stairs are in a house? I really liked one of the houses that was for sale but not only were the stairs marble and the house had 3 floors, the stairs curved!  I could only imagine myself rushing down the stairs in the middle of the night to get to the bathroom which was naturally on the first floor.  One misstep and I would be sliding or rather bumping down right into the bathroom.  Somehow that whole marble story got to be a long lead in for a photo I took one day as we passed by this house.

20180502_161940

I was told the owner of this house was a stone mason, possibly a marble cutter.

20180502_162003

This lot was across the street from his house

There are 5 churches in Guardia, however, Mass is only celebrated in one of them.  There is a severe lack of priests and nuns in Italy or at least in the countryside and in   the town there is only one priest!  We went on a mini tour of the medieval village one afternoon with our friend, Raffaele, a professor who taught English, and a very knowledgeable historian of the area and Italy in general.  In fact, he grew up in the walled city, and as we walked along he pointed out places where the donkeys were housed, where there was a common fountain because the houses did not have running water.  Ah I digress a bit, Raffaele took us into the Basilica of  Our Lady of the Assumption.

20180504_164636

The church is undergoing some renovations and repairs.

20180504_164608

I never found out how the priest got up into that pulpit,

20180504_16495320180504_164553

There is this huge clock which is being restored, it’s ancient but I forgot  how old  Raffaele said it was; It will be put into the spot you see in the next photo which has a temporary clock there now.

From the church, we went up to the top of the castle.  Needless to say the views are fantastic from there.

 

At the top of the castle there is a large room with tables and chairs which opens to the open roof top terrace;  events are held there, the space can be rented for a wedding. The Roof Top

20180504_153635

A Rare Abandoned Property Fallen Into Disrepair

All through the medieval village homes are being renovated, rebuilt, repainted by American and Canadian owners.  The interest in renewing life within the walled city with the influx of about 100 residents has garnered the town a large grant from the state to repair the streets and lights.

20180504_1701141

There’s So Much Beauty and Character in This View

20180504_163653

Can You Imagine Living Here? Maybe a Couple Of Month’s A Year?

There’s much more to explore, more to see, more to taste, so come back.

To be continued…

Last year on my birthday, Peter and I took a ride down the mountain and up another.  It was suggested that we take a ride to Cusano Mutri, so we did, and there we came upon a little restaurant, a cafe really.  The trip was filled with one postcard after another.

img_01811

Oh Look A Mucca!

img_0179

img_0178

img_0191

The town itself is lovely and also medieval.  I haven’t gone up the road to their castle but from a distance it seems much more intact.  I was told it was not as old as the fortress in Guardia.  img_0186

 

img_0190

La Piccola Perla Del Maltese is right out of Central Casting as is the owner Franco and his wife.img_0188

And the food!  I ordered an appetizer for Peter and I when we were there and didn’t tell him what it was because if I did he probably wouldn’t eat it.  The restaurant is known for its pork dishes.

20180513_152321

Porchetta, mozzarella and porcini mushrooms – delicious (but a little too much fat for me)

20180521_124522

“OMG These Tomatoes Are From Heaven”

Clearly Joel had a lot to say about the unbleivably out of this world bruschetta!  20180521_124436

The really funny part of the day was the demeanor of the owner.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to express how bizarre this was; It’s noon, we arrive.  The restaurant door, albeit hanging beads is open so I walk in.  Its dark and no one is in the cafe.  I walk up to the bar and yell out “HELLOOOO”. Out he comes from the back room, no greeting smile on his face.  I smile and say ciao and say “Mangia pranzo? ” Incredulous, he looks at me.  You would think I just asked him to cater a party of 25 within the hour.  I smile again and  point to Joel and say, “Mio figlio” to which he nods and extends his hand.  Perhaps he has now recognized me as the nut job who showed up a week ago in the mid afternoon AND AGAIN no one was in the restaurant but Peter and I.  He must wonder how do I manage to arrive at the most inconvenient times?  Well what is the convenient time?  Anyway, to further put him out, Joel wanted to eat outside, so we sat at a picnic table and Franco  put a tablecloth on it, put out the outside napkins not the cloth ones.   A few moments later he returned wearing a white apron and inquired in Italian of course if we wanted a drink. Then he sat down (yes he sat down) and wanted to know what we wanted.  Long story short, we ordered two beers, two pastas, two salads, a bruschetta and some water and it came to 20 Euros.  Joel loved it all, and is sure this is the way to live.

So for the second year in a row I’ve been blessed to celebrate my birthday in Italy in this quaint little restaurant which serves the best pasta I’ve ever tasted!

77239FFE-F53A-403E-81E6-C41FE3463065

 

 

 

GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI

The official name is Guardia Sanframondi, in the Province of Benevento in the region known as Campania.  Probably Campania is best known for the city of Naples and the glorious Amalfie Coast.  However Campania is a large region spanning from the western coast of Italy up into the mountains in its northeast corner.  And it is up into the mountains where the medieval town of Guardia Sanframondi is located.

C3F660A6-3DB2-490C-B75E-EBF8CB9FEBE1

View of the original medieval village as you approach the town.

A5C150FB-51FF-452F-89F9-330598342D65

A Slightly Different View

20180521_165741

One Of Many Beautiful Passageways In The Medieval Village

996B242D-069C-411E-A906-EEA55D49FE9E

Close Up of the Castle

AND THE VIEW…..

20180504_1701441

Feast Your Eyes

20180504_155012

See The “New Old” Town Built Around The Walls Of The Medieval Village -see left of photo

I am basically featuring the medieval village because this is where many Americans and Canadians have bought and are buying up these stone houses within the walls of the village. They have renovated, restored, repainted and refreshed many, many properties.  I believe there are about 100 “foreigners” owning property in Guardia at this time.  Life is beautiful here.  Most purchasers do not relocate permanently, they come 2-3 times a year and spend several weeks or a couple of months.  I also met several expats who are now full time residents. Interesting!!?? Stay tuned.

Ciao for now!

To be continued…