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 BEST LAID PLANS

By the way, that wine deserves an encore praise, so let me say after two glasses there was no headache, no buzz and no red marks (hives or welts?) on my cheeks.  Oh yeah, give me that bicchiere di vino rosso locale any day and so ended our first day in Italy.  Dario contacted us and wanted to meet for coffee the next morning.  However, Pasquale said he wanted us to come for breakfast and the go and see the town.  So I postponed our coffee date till Thursday morning.

Although we had been exhausted, we woke up at 7:15 am – where did those 6 hours time difference go?  We got ourselves dressed and went down the road to the B & B for some coffee and a brioche.  

La Tana dell"Orso

When you ask for a large cup of coffee, you get a large cup but a small amount of coffee

I quickly learned that trying to make a plan with Pasquale would be difficult-either he has changed the plan or we didn’t understand.   Last night the plan was for us to have breakfast and then go on a tour of the medieval city and maybe see some property.  NOT happening – Instead we should come back at 4:30 and he will show us some property. ( Now here’s a bit of back story;  Several times already, Pasquale has spoken to me about other people, maybe Americans who will come up to us and ask us if we want to see property. He wants to show us property, he says he has many, many contacts and he goes directly to the “people”.  Last night I assured him I understood and had no intention of doing such a thing.  After all, I am in real estate, I understand. We also told Pasquale about Dario and showed him his card.  Pasquale said he didn’t know him, are we sure he lives in Guardia Sanframondi?  Yes we are sure and are going to have coffee with him tomorrow morning.  Immediately Pasquale tells us to have Dario meet us at his cafe.  I didn’t feel comfortable with that and said no we would meet him at Dolci Delizie as planned.)

With no particular plans we walked up the main road stopping along the way to admire the lush foliage of roses, cherry trees and fig trees.  

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Feeling very artistic this morning – the Fig Tree and the Rusty Sink

As we walked, we saw small stairwells, vacant courtyards, lots of shuttered stores and a treat – Il Gatto!  

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Oh look! Il gatto

You soon know you are in another world from New York City.  I loved taking photos of some of the old buildings, trying for an artsy shot.  Guardia Sanframondi                                                      Sun-Dappled Ancient Art

Where were all the townspeople?  I don’t think we passed anyone as we wended our way up the hill.  I thought this would be a good time to do some shopping but alas, every store was shuttered with those same accordion-type aluminum grates we see in Manhattan.  The only place open was a small stationery store which was perfect because I decided to begin writing my blog in long hand, remember I left my iPad home   I bought a notebook and pen and some postcards -just in time as they were about to close.  The woman behind the counter inquired where we from and I got to say my standard line;    “Sono Americano di New York.”  And then she gave me a booklet about the ancient history of the area, in Italian of course!

We spent the rest of the early afternoon in Orso’s Garden, a lovely terrace set down from the road, filled with tables, chairs, pots of flowers and shaded by cherry and fig trees.   I had found a peaceful, sunny writer’s haven.

Pasquale arranged for a relative of his, Raphael to take us on a tour of the medieval city.  We were in for a treat;  Raphael had lived within the walls of the medieval city as a child in the 50’s and he was a professor and spoke perfect English.  We took off towards the castle and the walled inner city.

Guardia Sanframondi

There Are 4 Gates/Entrances Into The Medieval City

                                                                                                                         to be continued… 

 

STAY ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW

It took a few more twists and turns but eventually the road widened and was paved.      We saw the sign informing us we were entering Guardia and I quickly entered the address of La Tana dell ‘Orso into the GPS where we would meet up with Pasquale.  I was fairly sure that the main street in Guardia was also known as Corso Umberto and that the Bed & Breakfast was located on that main road.  

We slowly climbed the slight hill of the main road and I didn’t see a sign for the inn nor the the name of the wine bar above which we would find our apartment.   The road narrowed and I mean really narrowed to the point where we came upon a red light.  It was an alternating stop light.  We stopped, they came down, they stopped, we continued up.  And once past the stop light the buildings looked really old and gray.  We kept on driving along the road while the house numbers grew higher.  We need to turn around but this is not East 86th Street where Peter can easily make a U-Turn or a K-Turn, we have to practically go to the end of the village before we can turn around easily.  So now we’re heading down the street, stopping at the light to let the other vehicles go by.  I noticed all the other cars were really small compared to our Ford Focus (which I thought was at least a compact car).  We did this ridiculous redundant routine at least 3 more times.  By the way, our Italian GPS kept telling us we had arrived but where?  I said,” stop the car and let me out to ask someone”,  someone who only spoke Italian where the B & B was.  I made myself understood and she pointed down the street to a large yellow building. We drove down past it and turned around again this time as we passed it a small group of people were all waving to us.  I waved back and once again we had to get to the other end of town to turn around and head back to them.  We discovered parking was only on the other side of the street and made no difference what direction your car was facing!

Corso Umberto

Stay On The Straight (NOT) And Narrow

The whole famiglia plus some patrons of the bar greeted us with hugs and kisses.  Finally we are here!  I had a present for Pasquale’s mother, Anna and I tried really hard to explain what it was to her.  I enlisted Pasquale’s translation but I truly believe she didn’t get it.  I had purchased a clever Joseph Joseph hand soap dispenser.  It was encased in some metal and the purpose of this gadget was that when you have been peeling and chopping garlic or onion, the metal would work some molecular magic and remove the odor from your hands.

Joseph Joseph
A Very Clever Device

We had no idea what New York item to bring to Pasquale, so in the end we opted for several take-out menus from Italian restaurants in our neighborhood.  We thought he might find interesting to compare to what he served in his small cafe.

Pasquale took us to our apartment so we could rest a bit; we have been up for a very long time.  The apartment is wonderful!  It is bright and light with skylights, the kitchen is open to the great room with a large TV screen and also a dining room table that easily sat 6.  The bedroom was certainly fine with a queen size bed and huge closet and another TV.  The bathroom was clearly new and very European, meaning the shower stall was the size of a phone booth with door that closed magnetically at a right angle and there was a bidet.   I couldn’t keep my OCD need to unpack in check so while Peter laid on the bed, I unpacked EVERYTHING and set up my toiletries.

Thinking ahead to what I hoped would be a late morning, I knew we needed to go to the grocery store and get at least milk, cereal,orange juice and bananas and some cheese and crackers. Pasquale told us to come to the cafe any morning we wanted to for breakfast, all included.  We found the DECO Supermarket and with carriage in tote I walked in and went to the left because that’s the way I have always shopped in  Wegman’s.  The few aisles ( I think 2 1/2) were narrow, and of course I had to go back and forth looking for a few things and mulling over every decision.  When I checked out the manager said something to me and pointed to a clearly visible arrow sign that said Entrada.  Not even in town for 2 hours and already I’m an ugly American.  Next time I say, la prossimo volta.

It’s time to go to B&B to get a glass of homemade wine, (it seems everyone grows grapes) and some dinner.  Peter wants to go to a restaurant across the street from our apartment but I think I might fall asleep at the table.  We hadn’t eaten all day and on the small front porch of the B&B was a tall metal roaster with chickens slow cooking for hours.  God, does that chicken look good!  Pasquale served us a salad, the chicken and the most delicious chewy Italian bread.  The wine was spectacular with a clear flavor, slightly redolent fruit taste and so smooth it was like drinking ice cream.  I know that seems like a weird analogy but if you know me, you know my favorite food is ice cream and how I feel about it is aptly described in the post linked here:  https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/its-not-sex/ . I loved the wine so much I had to photograph it and send to my friend, Alice with whom I share a love of Pinot Noir.  BUT THIS, this is exquisite!  

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                                                        Un Bicchiere di vino rosso locale

 

to be continued….

DO WE GO LEFT OR RIGHT? Gauche or Droit?

Finally I’m at the counter and luckily my agents speaks English.  Oh! Some other agent assigned our car to someone else.  No problem, she promises us a better car, an upgrade!  And to our pleasant surprise it has automatic transmission, not the standard shift we paid for,  it’s a Ford Focus.  Now we have to travel to another part of the airport that is a giant parking garage.  Following signs for Hertz, we go down and down to the lowest level in the garage.  There is a short line to enter into the Hertz office and it’s now 11:30am.  Whatever happened to my plan of arriving in Rome early in the morning, having a leisurely breakfast and then toodling off to a picturesque drive to the mountains?

We signed lots of papers and received the keys and now we just have to find the car in space 501.  You know, I have no idea what a Ford Focus looks like or any other car for that matter unless it’s a Jeep, a VW Bug or a Corvette because after those they pretty much all look alike.  Well what do you know, we found the car without too much tsuris.  I unlock the car, we load it up and get in, it’s really quite comfortable.  That’s going to be a bonus for the long ride.  Any millennial readers out there?  You’re going to love this part!

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How Do You Turn This Damn Car On?

We couldn’t start the car!!!! Yes it was a keyless starter, we figured that part out.  Peter pressed the button several times and nothing happened.  By now the car is hot, I’m hot and tired so I open the doors.  I looked all through the glove box and all the papers they gave me and I can’t find any manual.  This is JUST GREAT!  After many attempts, I suggest we find someone because this getting ridiculous.   I spied a young girl who had a name tag so I went to her and asked for her assistance and she spoke English.   She got in the car, pressed the button and the car started! Geez- us!  She then proceeded to explain about the automatic transmission settings and where the lights were WHEN I stopped her, we know how to drive, we just couldn’t start the car so what did you do?  Well, I’m sure everyone else knows, she put her foot on the brake when she pressed the button.

Let’s just get the hell out of here…. The car rental agent gave me a map to get onto the autostrada and it was  not as bad as I thought it would be, perhaps the Guardian Angel on the roof helped, although Peter denies their existence.  We are on our way!  Half the day is long gone, and we have a 3 hour trip ahead of us.  Meantime, Pasquale has been messaging me to find out if we landed and are we on our way.  We are, but when he asks me where we are, I haven’t a clue.  The journey was not as picturesque as I had hoped. I had mapped out two routes, one went south along the coast till we would have turn inland and east to reach Guardia.  That route would take a least 4 hours, so now that we are so late in leaving Rome I have to abandon the thought of stopping along the way in little seaside towns.  We are on the autostrada which is Italy’s equivalent to driving on I-95 😦 .  At least it’s sunny and clear and Peter can drive faster than if we were on I-95.  

I keep checking Dario’s hand-drawn map directing us to follow signs for Naples and to turn off when we see the signs for Caianello.  Getting closer because we’re now heading north and east.  The map isn’t so clear at this point and we have come to the end of a road.  DO WE GO LEFT OR RIGHT?   To the right, there is one sign indicating Telese, a town I knew to be close to Guardia Sanframondi from my research.  To the left, there are multiple signs for restaurants, stores etc.  I say we should to right, Peter says we should go left.  We went LEFT.  At this point, there’s nothing on Dario’s map that is either clear or that we can understand.  I turn on the GPS, a feature we have finally come to appreciate after a few trips to Florida.  OMG!!! She is SPEAKING IN ITALIAN!   Peter reminds me that there must be a way to change languages, so I locate that feature and THE ONLY OTHER LANGUAGE AVAILABLE IS FRENCH!  We’re f____d for sure.  

 fullsizeoutput_f46    NO PASSING – NO KIDDING!    fullsizeoutput_f45 WHO GOES FIRST?

The road which looked so paved and normal soon turned into gravel roads and then dirt roads.  I am frantically searching the online map to see where we are twisting and turning  and she is now spewing out directions in French (Peter’s choice).  We go à gauche, we turn maintenant (now) when she commands.  We are on roads, if you can call them that, that have the universal road sign noting that the road is only passable by one car at a time.  We are really nervous, driving in never-ending twists and turns, olive groves and cherry orchards all around us.  I think we are on someone’s land!  Although we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, way off in the distance to the right I saw the remains of a castle and I knew it was Guardia from all the photos I looked at but the way to get there was not at all apparent.  

                                                                                                          to be continued….

DID THE STARS ALIGN OR WAS IT JUST COINCIDENCE?

 

coincidence and stars

The Stars Aligned                              Photo credit Wikipedia

I left the plane before Peter because I had my carry-on luggage nearby.  I was waiting for him beyond the gate when so easy on the eyes Dario came by. As he was passing by, he said, “Enjoy your stay in Rome”.  To which I replied, “We’re not staying in Rome”.  He slowed down and asked me where were we going.  I told him we were going into south central Italy, in the mountains to a small village.  HE STOPPED.  He asked me what village were we going to. “Guardia Sanframondi”.  His hand hit his forehead and he shouted, “NO! That’s my village, this is not possible, this is too much”.  We hug and kiss cheeks as if we were old time paisans. He was literally in shock as we both sort of reviewed the sequence of events;  He was sitting behind me next to an empty seat on a plane that was 3 rows wide holding more than 225 passengers.  I spoke to him, he smiled and agreed to a seat switch.  He boarded in NYC because he had been looking into an opportunity with the United Nations, he flew to Rome rather than Naples so he could look in on his mother (so Italian), who lived just outside of Rome. He casually stopped and wished me well for my stay in Rome and then THE STARS ALIGNED.  We both considered what the odds could possibly be-if he sat on the other side of the plane I would have never met him,  So many ifs and ands….

Dario asks me how I happened to pick Guardia Sanframondi, so I relate how I saw an episode or clip from an International House Hunters show about the village where Americans were buying homes and that I planned to go to my grandfather’s birth village which I believed was nearby.  He wants to talk more, but he must go because he also has to be back in Guardia to pick his daughter up from school,  (I saw the ring earlier, I knew he was married) so we should have coffee.  YES, we should have coffee. Dario gives me his card and we exchange WHATS APP information – you have to love technology! Apparently he is Agronomist, he studies plant pathology and works for a company that has developed a viable pesticide without side effects that are dangerous to both humans and animals.  Dario kindly draws us a map of how to get out of the airport and to Guardia (remember my map is still in NYC ).

After retrieving luggage we decide to eat a panini (so Italian) and have a coffee before our 3 hour drive.  It literally took us 20 minutes to find where the car rentals were located – Signs were confusing.  Finally we found the area and see 10 couples lined up with huge amounts of luggage and all of them have golf clubs in tow.  I didn’t think Rome had a golf course, lol.  And there were lots of other people all gathered in the Hertz/Thrifty/Dollar area.  I stand and stand and wait and wait some more – 25 minutes to be exact and as I try to position myself closer to a counter, a woman behind me says, “You have to get a number”.  OMG!!! It’s now 10:30 in the morning and we landed at 7:45am.  We are not making much progress BUT we for sure know we are no longer in NYC – where things can take place in a New York minute.

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to be continued…..

 

7 HOURS and 4 MOVIES

I always prefer an aisle seat, in fact I really want an aisle seat because I have this totally ridiculous abhorrence of asking the person next to me to get up so I can go to the restroom.  I know it’s a bit neurotic but I only feel comfortable if I know a bathroom is nearby and accessible.  Added to that craziness is my Germanic insistence of following the rules, so when anyone gets up to use the restroom when the seatbelt sign is still on, I look at them in both wonder and distaste.  Well I guess at this point we are way beyond TMI.

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Can’t They Read? You’re Not Supposed To Get Up.

Back to aisle seat choice;  my need to feel comfortable about the restroom comes with the discomfort of the inevitable ex-college football player sitting in front of me. Invariably a LARGE man sits in front of me and the moment the plane lifts off the runway, he pushes his seat back.  Sure enough, there is a giant parked in front of me, he has already pushed his seat back, I’m kissing my kneecaps. We are packed into this particular airplane so tightly that I can’t even bend down to access my handbag.  In fact midway through the flight I tried to take my sneakers off and I couldn’t really reach the shoelaces!

The plane took off about 5:45pm, however, our cheery-voiced captain assured us he would get us to Italy on time.  Soon we were cruising along at high altitude and we settled in to see what was available on the TV screen in front of us.  Wow, things have changed-no longer are the airlines selling you earphones, they give them to you.  There are no longer just one or two choices of a movie, now you can pick from several categories.  I’m happy and Peter is in heaven.  He always says how wonderful it would be if everyone just left him alone so he could watch TCM (Turner Classic Movies) all day.  This came pretty close to that nirvana.  

Being able to sit quietly, if not uncomfortably, to watch a film of your choice is a wonderful way to while away the monotonous hours.  Then again, for some reason, the whole experience begins to take on a zombie-like experience.  The fact is I watched 4 movies and am not sure I can remember them all.  I know I watched Hacksaw Ridge because twice during the movie I sort of jumped in my seat and made a sound as a particularly scary scene evolved.  Peter grabbed my arm and asked me what was wrong! I’m sure I also watched All We Had, a movie about a mother-daughter relationship and their sad journey through poverty and bad boy friends – I looked it up today on IMDB – it got 2 1/2 stars!

After they served dinner, a “interesting” chicken meal with the requisite cold roll, pathetic salad and crackers with a blob of cheese.  LOL I sound derisive but I ate the whole thing including the blueberry muffin. 

Soon most of the plane is sleeping but not us.  Given we usually keep vampire-like hours at home, I can’t imagine trying to sleep at 9:30 at night.  I have to admit at some point I thought it might be wise to try to sleep.  I blew up my neck cushion, took off the earphones and tried to settle down. Not happening!  Better to just give up and play Crossword on the screen.   Every now and then I would glance over at Peter who was deep into some 1940’s movie and revealing in it.  I’m at the point of checking my watch and trying to figure out just how much longer 7 hours really are.

Peter decides he needs something from his carry-on, so in the wee hours of the night, he attempts to open the overhead bin (the one that is above his former seat) and in the course of removing his bag, he knocks a pillow down which lands on the head of the sleeping Dario.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that the very good-looking Italian man who switched seats with Peter was named Dario?  Oh well, more about him later.

                                                                                                             to be continued…

THE TAXI TO TICKETS – OH NO!!!

Didn’t have to wait very long for a taxi to come by, so we piled our bags in the trunk and hopped in.  “JFK sir, American Airlines terminal”.  There was a lot of traffic on 1st Avenue as we made our way to the FDR drive but our driver knew we were in a hurry (probably when he heard me in a high-pitched voice) say over and over again “OMG we are not going to get there on time”.  We were cruising along the Van Wyck Expressway when I received a text from my friend, Rosemarie asking me if I had my tickets and passport.  LOL – I wrote back to her in Italian that I had “i begligetti, il passporto e mid marito” – which translates to “the tickets, the passport and my husband.

We were about 15 minutes away from JFK and Peter and I were talking about taking photos and I told him I planned on using my iPad.  “MY iPAD! OMG I forgot to take my iPad :(.  OH NO! I forgot all the folders too”  Peter says, “What do you mean you forgot the folders”?  ” I mean the folders with all of the information I need AND the airline tickets! 😦 .  From that point on I was a total madwoman, I must have gone through my handbag 5 times and of course they were not in there.  I already knew that. I’m frantically grasping at solutions. 1) let’s call an Uber car and have them bring me the iPad and folders and meet us at the airport. N/G we would have to check in before the car could make it through the rush hour traffic. 2) What if I ask Jade to take the stuff to FEDEX and have it sent to the B&B. N/G I called FEDEX and found out it would cost around $600 to send an iPad. 3) I call Jade and ask her if she  can to Manhattan Mailroom and have them fax the paperwork to the B&B, she says yes she can now that she has located the folders in the kitchen!!?? N/G In order to fax, I need a fax number.  I hastily attempt to reach Pasquale through WhatsApp under the title URGENT.  He writes back saying why don’t I scan them and send to him through WhatsApp. WHY? Because I don’t have a scanner and Jade who is at my apartment doesn’t have WhatsApp!!  Pasquale sends me a phone number but never says whether it is a fax or not. I call Jade and give her the number, the store tries but it won’t go through. I write to Pasquale again and he reminds me that is very late there and the office is closed! 4) I have an email from my cousin Kathi with some of the documents. N/G That’s not going to work since I don’t have a printer. 5) I ask the taxi driver if he thought a taxi would take the stuff to the airport N/G Being worked up to frenzy is probably the reason why I a) forgot we had to check in and b) the taxi would never make it now that is was full blown rush hour traffic. A few more calls back and forth with Jade and I finally say Thank You and resign myself to NO iPad, NO documents and NO Airline tickets.  Peter remains calm as I have gone from upset to crazy-mad – Naturally.

American Airlines Terminal JFK Airport

We’re Here

The driver drops us off at the American Airlines terminal and out of guilt and embarrassment I give him a good tip!  We go into the airport and the American Airlines counter are NOWHERE to be seen. I am sweating because I’m still the aforementioned frenzied, wearing a jacket and long sleeve shirt because I’m sure the plane will be cold.  I find someone with a dangling badge and she points to the far other end of the terminal and says that’s where the American Airlines check-ins are located.  When we finally reach the area, it is a madhouse of people, suitcases and check-in kiosks that have a line of impatient passengers waiting.  

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Where’s My Boarding Pass?

We’re planning on checking in two bags and carrying on two.  After a while I get to a kiosk that’s working and begin to fumble around in my bag for a credit card to try to login and get the required check-in stickers.  Seriously I must have answered about 10 questions and after each answer the screen told me to wait while they processed my transaction.   Got ’em!  We get in line behind a woman who is literally standing 15′ back from the counter and there is one guy up there and he is futzing with his bags and shaking his head no and the American Airline clerk is also shaking her head – you just know this isn’t going to go well.  The clerk leaves her counter and is assisting the young man with the kiosk!!  The woman in front of us stands patiently.  THEN, the American Airlines person walks away and does not return to the counter.  I tell Peter to wait in line and I’ll go after her, but she disappears into the crowd.  When I return, Peter is already in another line and he is up at the counter.  He’s waving me to hurry and when I get there he says, “She needs the Boarding Passes”.  WHAT Boarding Passes?  OMG I never got them from the kiosk.  I race back to the kiosks and you know what they say, “they all look alike”.  I can’t remember where we were so I start reaching in front of people and looking into the trays.  I don’t find them but I found someone else’s.  Back to the counter and the woman tells me I can go through the process again on the kiosk get 2 more Boarding Passes – REALLY? Why didn’t she say so in the first place?  

After all that we’ve been through, it was a pleasure to board the plane even though our seats were way in the back which meant negotiating business class, then the first economy section, then to the back, literally.  When I booked the tickets I knew we each had an aisle seat but I thought they would be across from one another – NOT!  My seat was a double and Peter was 2 rows in front of me in a triple on the aisle. I planned on asking my seat mate if he or she wanted Peter’s aisle seat so he could sit with me.  Well, as it turned out, my seat mate turned out to be a young woman with her husband and she wasn’t too happy that he would be sitting behind her next to a very good-looking Italian man.  I decided to take charge and see if I could negotiate a settlement.  I politely ask this man (in Italian) if he spoke English and as he did, would he mind switching the seats with my husband who will switch seats with the young woman and then everybody will be happy.  He smiles a most charming smile and says he will.  

                                                                                                           to be continued…

 

The Tales, Trials, and Tribulations of Travels with Peterlori

For the those readers of mine who have in the past enjoyed the tales of my trials and tribulations in travel, I think you’re in for a treat.  This trip was long in the  planning stage;  As the New Year rang in, the stark reality of turning 70 this year hit me,  and well,  that and a fairly significant real estate deal gone south, caused me to re-assess a LOT of things. What followed were a series of days and weeks when the phrases Carpe diem, You only live once and Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today and lastly, My God, this is a BIG one!  That’s the prologue to my finally deciding to go for it!  I’m going to celebrate my 70th birthday in Italy!!

And so in the wee hours of the morning (a.k.a. I can’t sleep because my mind is racing), I searched and searched and then researched and read and read some more and  then I did the following:  I booked a flight to Rome (because Naples was more expensive) so reasonably I was jumping up and down at my desk.  Then through Facebook, I communicated with the owner of a B&B in Guardia Sanframondi, in Campania Italy.  I checked out whether we should train it to the village from Rome but realized it would be best to rent a car so we could drive around once there.  So I went online and rented one, you have to love the internet.

But why Guardia Sanframondi you ask?  Well, last year I saw a segment of Sunday Morning that featured this town as a place many Americans were buying homes in this medieval town – I was intrigued.  Then I found out that Guardia was within an hour’s driving distance to Mirrabello di Santico which is the village my paternal grandfather was born and raised till at age of 16, he took off for America.  Mirrabello di Santico is in the province of Molise.  Several years ago, my cousin Kathi did extensive genealogical research and during the Christmas holiday, she showed me many of the documents she had uncovered.  Since no one is still alive who would know the history, things seemed a bit confusing. My cousin said the family came from Mirrabello, my grandfather used to refer to Naples, my grandmother said her family was from the province of Abruzzo but we believe it was Salerno, my father often told me I must be Calabrese (a slur referring to my being stubborn), and to that add the fact that over the years, some of the borders of those provinces blurred.  This landmark birthday was the perfect time to find my roots.

The Provinces of Italy

We’re Basically In The RED

Over the next couple of months I corresponded with my soon-to-be host, Pasquale Orso.  Pasquale owns a B&B, La Tana dell’ Orso, http://www.bborso.com/ but more about him later.  I began my compulsive organizing, much list-making, reading blogs and printing out reams of information: directions, maps, reservation confirmations, airline confirmations,  house rules for the Airbnb (where we would stay in Rome), airport information as well as several pages of family genealogical information and a letter from my grandfather to his mother which I hoped to have translated.  I also made arrangements for a friend to stay in our apartment and take care of our cats for a few days and hired Edith, a cat sitter and friend, to feed and care for Nick and Nora once our friend left.  Additionally keys were designated for both parties, the doorman notified, and the Super agreed to move our car to accommodate New York City’s alternate side parking rules.  Whew!  

Monday evening May 15th was D-Day (Departure date) and in the days prior, clothes were ironed and laid out all over the apartment.  The night before I folded everything with tissue paper and packed my shirts and pants in these great plastic  packing bags my sister-in-law, Juanita gave me.  The next morning I insisted on washing my hair and then packed last minute make-up etc.. Of course being true to myself, I also dusted the bedroom, put clean sheets on the bed, laid out fresh towels for my house guest and put a new bar of soap in the shower.  

We are almost ready to leave – Peter said we should leave about 2:30pm.  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:20pm.  I took the airline confirmations out of the folder they were in and tried to reach the airline to see if we could change our seats.  That exercise went nowhere after about 15 minutes of wait time.   I had hard-boiled eggs to eat on the plane, packed some carrots and tarelli (Italian biscuits) and packed them into my handbag.  I made it a point to take a handbag that would be large enough to hold my Kindle, my iPad and the folders of information I collected.

Tarelli

Tarelli – photo “borrowed” from Wildeastblog.com

As the clock creeped towards 3:00pm I flew into my crazy-we-got-to-go mode, barking orders to Peter and lamenting over the fact that we would not be able to greet Jade, our friend who would stay in the apartment.  Kiss the cats, grab the suitcases  and lock the door.  As it happened we met Jade coming out of the elevator as we were going down.  Quick hug and kiss, we GOT TO GO!  In the lobby the doorman stops me before I can go out and hail a taxi.  It seems I forgot to complete a form notifying the building that I have a house guest who has my permission and key to come and go.  Peter has found the mailman who was still in the building and asks him to give our mail to the front desk.

We are off!!!  And if you are wondering why I went into such great detail about my preparations, just wait till you read on.

                                                                                                  to be continued…