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EXPLORING THE MEDIEVAL CITY

Finally we were going to explore the medieval city and we are so lucky that a relative of Pasquale, Raphael will guide us.  He is a very learned gentleman who is a professor and someone who has an extensive knowledge of history and a keen interest in philosophy.

Raphael actually lived in the walled city when he was growing up.  His memories are vivid as he pointed out where he lived and where his grandmother lived.  He shared an immense amount of historic facts with us as we wended our way through alleys (which at one time were streets) and up and down steps.  The doorways were particularly interesting to me (as you will see from the photos).  

The history of the medieval city and its evolvement begins with the fact that much of South Central Italy was heavily invaded.  Throughout the early centuries, Etruscans, Romans, Greeks, Samnites, as well as a Gallic invasion.  Thus a walled city, often with a castle, became the prevalent manner of establishing and protecting a village.  Raphael told us that EVERYBODY  lived within the walls of the city.  They were a people married to the land, agriculture was the main industry.  He pointed out where interior houses were, those that did not have a lot of light and no view of the mountains.  Their homes were not houses in the sense we know – they were more like apartments contained in the stone structures which make up the medieval city.   He showed us where the farmers would come back from the fields with their donkeys and that the donkeys spent the night within the walls also.  Many of the ground floor doors were actually gates for the stables that housed everyone’s donkey.

As we traverse the stairs and steps, I feel late afternoon jet lag beginning to take hold.  But we’re not done yet.  We visited the beautiful Church of the Ascension and  then….   To be continued…..

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View of Guardia Sanframondi. You can clearly see the old town and parts of the new town built around it.

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Most Of The Medieval City Has Been Abandoned.

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These Doors Do Have Character

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Steps, Stairs and Arches of the Medieval City.

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Beautiful restoration. Doors to one of the newly-renovated and inhabited property in the Medieval city

 

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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… 

 

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DID THE STARS ALIGN OR WAS IT JUST COINCIDENCE?

 

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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…..

 

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Who knew that Donald Trump was smarter than….well everybody???  It’s almost as if he must be the recipient of divine inspiration – from which divinity I can’t imagine!  

Yesterday, he pulled off (in his usual overly-dramatic manner, jazz band and all) what I believe will follow him in disgrace in history.   I’m pretty sure he will be listed as the worst president EVER to occupy the oval office, time will tell, and he is off to a break neck running start.  Every time I think of him, the movie Despicable Me comes to mind.

Well, he did it!  He made good on a campaign promise to his supporters that he would pull the USA out of the Paris Accord.  That clearly puts us in a highly estimable group, we’re now in bed with Syria and Nicaragua – THE ONLY OTHER TWO COUNTRIES NOT  in the Accord.  Dear God in heaven, what is wrong with this man?  No, don’t answer me I already have a list of descriptive adjectives and nouns that I freely and continuously apply to him.

NOW that was a smart move, a truly progressive, thoughtful, effective, intelligent move, wasn’t it?  That would make Donald Trump smarter than ALL these other people who thought otherwise:  

DOW CHEMICAL                                                          

APPLE 

BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF MASSACHUSETTS                                          

EXON-MOBILE

SECRETARY OF STATE TILLERSON

LEVI STRAUSS

MORGAN STANLEY

CONOCO PHILLIPS

FACEBOOK

GAP

INGERSOLL RAND

MARS INC.

TIFFANY & CO.

GOOGLE

HEWLET PACKARD

THE HARTFORD

ROYAL DSM

SALESFORCE

UNILEVER

VF CORPORATION

INTEL CORPORATION

ADOBE

DIGNITY FORCE

DANFOSS

NATIONAL GRID

PRESIDENT OBAMA (8 yrs experience, president of Harvard Law Review)

PRESIDENT CLINTON ( 8 yrs. experience, Rhodes Scholar)

IVANKA TRUMP

JARED KUSHNER

REINCE PREIBUS

I DON’T THINK SO!!!!!  ( Well, maybe not the last 3)

 

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I may be devoting most of my blog to the mystery and vagaries of why and how Donald Trump was elected AND why he should be removed – BUT Ice Cream supersedes most everything and when I saw this post, I knew I had to share it. And you can probably expect more soon!

Jonah Mendez

Sweet Potato Ice Cream

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Well they’re not really here, in fact they were Ukrainians.  Yesterday afternoon, we went to The Lehman Arts Center and watched the most amazing performance of Russian classical music expertly performed by The National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine.

The land of the Czars and Tzars has given us some of the greatest composers in the 19th and 20th Centuries.  To name a few and some of their more well known concertos and symphonies: Pyotr Iliyich Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, 1812 Overture.  Igor Stravinsky – Rite of Spring, The Firebird, Petrushka.  Dmitri Shostokovich – Suite on Finnish Themes,  Sergei Rachmaninoff -Rhapsody on a Theme of Pagagnini, Monna Vanna, Piano Concerto I and II, Sergei Prokofiev – Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, The Love of Three Oranges, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsokov-Capriccio Espagnol, and my favorite Scherherazade.  So much talent!

The first piece was Rachmoninoff’s Symphony No.3 and it was an elaborate production with full orchestra and three movements.  From where we were seated, I had a full-on view of the whole orchestra. Besides the usual violins, violas, cellos, oboes, French horns, clarinets and bass fiddle, Rachmoninoff included a harp, a triangle, symbals, a tambourine, and percussion.  Most of Sergei Rachmoninoff’s work is complex, especially his piano concertos, and in this Symphony it was quite evident.

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Dima Tkachenko – Violin Virtuouso

The real highlight of the concert was Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Dima Tkachenko.  He was a child prodigy playing the piano and the violin before he was six!!  He has won numerous competitions and was awarded the Guildhall School Concert Recital Diploma (Premier Prix).  I was overwhelmed and swept away by his mastery of his instrument.  Like most virtuosos, in his hands the violin becomes an extension of himself.  Pure genius.  Under his expert manipulation, the violin sang, I mean really sang.  In his intensity, he broke at least 8 strings on the bow.  The violin is a wondrous instrument capable of producing an unbelievable number of sounds and notes in rapid succession.  The standing ovation lasted long enough to convince Dima to give us an encore.  And OMG, he played for at least another 10 minutes.  I don’t know what he was performing but it seemed to incorporate every nuance of sound and technique known to man and violin.

The Firebird Suite is one of Stravinsky’s better known compositions.  I have heard it many times however, the technical proficiency and emotional commitment of this orchestra is quite extraordinary.

Lastly, we were treated to a brief and informative talk by the conductor, Theodore Kuchar, who gave us some history of the conflicts his country has undergone for 100 years.  He explained that pure Ukranian music existed outside of better known Russian composers and proceeded to introduce a famous Ukranian piece.  We also were treated to a beautiful excerpt from a movie soundtrack created by Ukranian born Myroslav Skoryk.

All in all, I can’t think of a better way to have spent this gray, rainy and chilly Sunday afternoon.  It was a peaceful and joyful break from the daily stress of the political shenanigans going on.

 

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Me and my posse of committed, determined “sisters”

Also more widely known as Inauguration Day, this IS a day of mourning for the almost 3 million Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump.   This IS a dark day – the rain clouds have bestowed their blessing on this travesty.

How did we ever get to this point?  We now have a full-fledged narcissist, misogynist,  pathological liar, bankrupt businessman, egotist, thrice-wed husband and thin-skinned night tweeter.  I am so disturbed, angry, upset, sorrowful, distrustful that I actually spent some time thinking of all the horrible adjectives and characteristics that spell out his name.

D is for Despicable and Dictatorial                                 T is for Tyrannical and Toxic

O is for Odious and Obnoxious                                        R is for Rude and Racist

N is for Narcissist and Negative                                      U is for Unqualified and Unethical

A  is for Arrogant and Absurd                                          M is for Malevolent and Mediocre

L is Liar and Loutish                                                           P is for Pompous  and Peevish     

D is for Dangerous and Degenerate

I’ve been watching movies all day in an effort to escape the reality of this day.  I couldn’t watch my beloved President and his family leave us.  What will the world be like without Obama?

Admittedly I’ve never voted Republican for president and other than Nixon I’ve  never verbalized my dislike (and in his case, downright disgust).  George W was not my choice and I didn’t think he was very bright but he wasn’t evil.  But for me, Trump represents everything that is evil and wrong with our society. He is NOT my president and I’m sad to say that but that’s how I feel.

Tomorrow I will join my “sisters” around the country as we walk in peaceful protest to the election of Donald Demagogue Trump and to the imminent disgrace of the highest office in the land.

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