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Posts Tagged ‘Guardia Sanframondi’

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.

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

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A Slightly Different View

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One Of Many Beautiful Passageways In The Medieval Village

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Close Up of the Castle

AND THE VIEW…..

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Feast Your Eyes

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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…

 

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My sojourn in Italy has been full of lazy mornings of sipping coffee and afternoons of grocery shopping and along the way there have been some adventures and misadventures.

The GPS in this car has been a nightmare from the beginning and so it continues.  Last week when I went to Molise I swear we were routed through a vineyard.  This time Joel and I found ourselves in two really bad jams with the directions.  One mistake was as we were cruising along he pointed a particularly pretty village set high up,on a mountain to the right and just beyond that I noticed an old red Volkswagon bug. Said, “you don’t see many of them any more”.  Thirty minutes later Joel says I think we’re going in a ⭕️ that village looks familiar. Naturally I said, “oh so many of them look alike”.  And then 10 feet down the road I spied the red VW. Oh for God’s sake, we hate this British bitch.  F409E9BE-8DF7-4D1D-960B-F5570AB6B714.jpeg

As if that incident were not bad enough, we also found ourselves being routed or re-routed over some tractor trail. It was full of ruts, holes, mud, puddles, rocks and often severely lopsided. Of course that was ridiculous.  What kind of directionS take you through someone’s farmland? I’ll tell you what kind, the stupid kind.

The trip from Guardia to Molise is approximately 58 minutes, it took us about 2 hours.  Here’s one of the reasons why:

To be continued…

 

 

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After spending all that money in the supermarket, I was ready to live out yet another fantasy of my trip;  And that was to invite some new friends over for drinks and to got to dinner with them.  We made plans with Steve and Cindy to join us for apps and qfor drin and the we would go to Alchime, a very hip restaurant in town that Peter refers to as the night club.  He knows he can get a decent martini there!

We thought we were going to hear some jazz but unfortunately someone in the group was ill.  The word either got out that there was no music or even though we’re New Yorkers and often eat after 9:00, apparently we were still early for the Italian crowd, because it was just us four and another couple we were introduced to, Raoul and Anna. And we all ordered the same thing WHICH Imwas informed is JUST not the thing Italians order out because it’s what they eat at home.  Well really?! It was delicious, I believe I was a tagliatelle con sugo e polpetti. Tutto squisto!

Cindy had had Gin Gibson at our place and I don’t know if she switched to vodka, but she and Peter were loving them those onions! There was discussion up at the  bar with the young female bartender and Peter because he returned with his Gibson in a martini glass AND that’s the way he likes to drink his martinis and Gibsons period!

795F3DE3-C6B1-4C7D-992B-95FAB3FA589F.jpegGuardia is a small town and everyone is so friendly.  The influx of foreigners (many Americans) has not negatively impacted the town;  Some new businesses have opened which cater to the new arrivals and their tastes, I believe Alchime is one and certainly a welcome addition.  3BED1D58-535A-4FFF-ADC2-207EE6FCA763

Speaking of Guardia….

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

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It ’s Sunday evening after a harrowing day and we have reached our final destination.  We are welcomed with open arms by Pasquale, our landlord and local entrepreneur and his lovely mama, Anna.  It’s good to be back again.

After a few more pleasant exchanges, we made our way home to the apartment where we would be staying for a week or so.  I sent Peter out to a restaurant across the street for some pizza and to see if he could find a martini ( yeah good luck).   A little unpacking to settle in and find one’s toothbrush while Peter locates an English speaking channel.

The apartment is not why I came to Italy it’s why Peter came. It is modernly finished and furnished; two flat screen TVs( essential one in BR) centrally located, microwave oven, lovely bathroom, you get the picture!

WEEK One:

MONDAY: Well I told Peter the tourist-eating- out-every-meal was basically over and now we were “living” here so we better go to the grocery store.  We are near the Deco Supermarket, our next destination.  “Just a few things”, I say, “ the essentials,” which came to $94 € later and now the store manager loves me.  Probably no one else has spent that much money at one time in his store in who knows when, PLUS the cane and boot,

I’m excited to cook something that night but there may be an issue with the gas. Or it may be something lost in translation but I’m afraid to start cooking pasta and have the gas run out in the middle and I’m not getting the reassurance I need to hear from Pasquale who says he can check tomorrow. SOOoooo Peter goes to Pasquale’s bar to buy a chicken for dinner and I decide to make a fancy insalata.  My idea did not go over so well.

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Radicchio, fennel red onion and oranges just didn’t make it as salad for him.  We did have a good laugh though when we figured out that we were renting a place that should have gas but maybe didn’t from Pasquale so in order to eat, we buy a chicken from him.  Works out really well for him!

TUESDAY: When we stay at the apartment, we can go to the bar in the morning if we wish, and have grande caffe Americano, one nero and one con latte calde and our choice of a brioche. This sort of uinversal breakfast pastry varies in form and name and filling. In Florence they were smaller and referred to as a cornetto, in the U.S.A. I’ve heard them called croissants, at Orso’s it’s a bioche with cream or marmaletta or ciocolatta, or a fruit tart. We sit outside, sip our coffee, Peter reads The NY Times because his wonderful wife got a month’s subscription on her kindle for him! We spent about two hours soaking up sunshine in the garden.

WEDNESDAY: As we sat having our usual morning coffee, we were introduced to Steve and Cindy, a couple from Arizona who moved to Guardia in January permanently.  Of course that opens up a conversation of a million questions and answers.  As it turned out we were going to see a house for sale that was just doors down from them.  Unfortunately when you say a few doors down from someone in Guardia you could be talking about a 45 degree angle of uneven stones.  They came along with us to preview the house which had a most spectacular view!

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The crane to the left is there because they are working on the building that was a former convent.  This view was from the terrace!! LOVE it. But you can’t live outside even if you plan only to come in the spring or fall. The kitchen had been modernized  and had a fireplace which was probably the only source of heat. That was the only room on the first floor, maybe two steps up the staircase, there was a bathroom branched off.  BIG problem there – the stairs wind a bit upwards and are marble.  How would I ever get down in the middle of the night?  One level up was a big bedroom and then another level up there was two smaller bedrooms which could be opened to make one large. Well that’s too too many stairs and made of marble, not to mention I was pretty sure there was a leak in the roof and some water damage in the walls. No sale today.

THURSDAY: We wake up to a gray day and I notice a message on WhatsApp from Pasquale.  It’s in Italian but I think it says we should move the car because we may be over the hour – that’s my rough translation.  I send Peter down to move the car to the bottom of the staircase and I will get myself down.  As I descend, it starts to rain, I don’tsee the car! I keep going down, it’s raining harder, no car, I’m at the bottom and it is a downpour and still the car is where it was parked.  I am screaming curses as I hobble with cane to the car and get in soaked to the skin, wondering how and why the car had not been started and backed up before I got down the stairs?  Don’t bother, there is no sane answer.  For a moment we discuss the message about moving the car and we are going to head to the bar BUT it has started to hail! YES, it is May and it is hailing, big marble size pellets.

Not only was the car being drummed with ice marbles, the street was also flooding. We were parked probably closer to the more level upper end but below us it just went gushing past.

All good things come to an end, even hail,storms, so we headed down to the bar to assure Pasquale that the windows were shut! However, it’s Giovedi and apparently almost every place in Guardia is closed.  No one told us.  One little cafe up the road was open so we stopped in for a slice of pizza and a delightful arancini which is a rice ball stuffed with some sauce and peas and mozzarella.

 To be continued…

 

 

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Ah but before we get to the land of ruins and romance we still have to get to the airport on time.  And before that somebody had to put in a significant amount of time planning and planning and planning  every detail of this adventure in Italia.

The hardest part was coordinating the flights so we could fly out together but return at different times.  In the early 1990’s I wrote down about 25 goals I hoped  to achieve and one of them was to spend 3-6 months in Italy.  Well as you know life takes over and here it another year in another decade so…okay it won’t be 3 months – I’ll spend one month in Italy and really try to learn some more Italian.  And that’s why we are flying home at different times LOL – it’s my dream, not Peter’s.

My sister-in-law Juanita was kind enough to agree to stay in our apartment and feed out cats and move our car for alternate side parking.  Luckily for us it coordinated with some NYC doctor appointments she had. So far she has reported that the luck of the Irish has been with her because the 2 times she went down to move the car, the street cleaner didn’t show up in the designated half hour you must be in your car and prepared to move it. Luck of the Irish??? She’s Spanish and Italian!!! 418DAE9B-3225-43EF-9A33-EEC8BEEAF863

Then there was the housing arrangements n Guardia San Framondi where we decided to return. It’s a small village in the mountains of Campania.

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

Last year we came as tourists, this year we live here.  Also a car rental, train tickets to and from Florence ( YES we spent 3 nights in Firenze), two hotel rooms for two nights in Rome because return flights to NYC are early morning and Guardia 3 hours away! Cell phone plans, cancel newspapers in NYC and NJ,  hold the mail, cover myself for real estate ( more about that later), sign permission slips for key entry to our apt for Juanita and then Jade, who is coming in for 4 days to take care of the cats and visit her mom and also our cat sitter wo will look after the fur babies for 2 days until Peter returns. Exchange currency, WHEW!

I did all this planning throughout February and early March AND THEN on March 8th, I broke my right foot 😫!

A Nor’easter was raging outside so I stayed inside and was cleaning. Vacuumed the den, left the vacuum cleaner in the doorway, picked up the brass waste basket and walked barefoot out of the room – tripped on the cord, dropped the metal can and must have  have landed on my own foot and broke (not fractured) the fifth metatarsal.  At this point I didn’t

really believe it was broken but I can now say I brought my boot to the boot. Does the cliche, “…the best laid plans…” come to mind?

But the next day after a hobble to City MD and brutally revealing X-Ray and a visit to an orthopedist , I added this to my pack list; 8FEE8EB9-48A9-49D8-A7EE-3A65B57FE6AD

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UNLUCKY #13 – I HAD ONE GREAT MEAL IN ITALY – THIS IS NOT IT!!

Guardia as I mentioned before is no tourist mecca.  A small town with a population of about 5000 people and the average age is 46.  An interesting statistic with possibly no bearing on my next statement;  There are 3 – 3.5 restaurants in Guardia Sanframondi so where to dine out is never a real dilemma, take your pick, 1,2, or 3.  Peter wanted to have dinner at a restaurant that was practically across the street from our apartment- Le Meridiana (The Sundial).  The dining room was very large with a bar area adjacent in the rear.  I think one of the attractions for Peter was that three walls were glass from floor to ceiling.  It was a Thursday evening and we arrived around 8:00pm, not early but perhaps not as late, as we Americans have been led to believe, when Italians eat.  The entire restaurant was EMPTY!  Naturally we chose a table near the windows.  I was flabbergasted that no one was there except for a couple of girls and a guy in the bar.  Well clearly, service wasn’t going to be an issue.

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Lovely, Large and Empty!

I freely admit that I’m not an adventurous eater, I don’t usually put anything in my mouth that I’m not somewhat familiar with (dangling preposition).  However, here I am in the fatherland, so there should be no problem finding a delicious dish.  Also we are in the part of Italy known for their wine, cherries, grapes and fresh meat because as Raphael told us, “We are a people married to the land.”, agriculture is the main industry.

I look forward to using my limited Italian to order for both of us;  Peter order a fish with a name that unrecognizable in any language let alone Italian,  I opt for what I think will be a juicy pork chop-taking advantage of an opportunity to have some pork which is something along with veal and lamb we don’t eat in our home because Peter isn’t comfortable with eating anything as smart as a pig or as young as a calf or lamb.  Hey, it’s his thing, I just go along with it at home, lol.  Of course we must have a prima piatti (first dishes);  I don’t remember what he ordered but I had a very delicious tagliatelle with wild mushrooms.  So good, looking forward to my main course.

The fish arrives with its head and tail on and so I inform the waiter with some Italian and lots of hand gestures that he must remove the head and tail and bring it back hopefully filleted.  My dish is served and there all by itself on a large plate is a very darkly grilled, very thin, not flat piece of meat.  It is obviously a pork cutlet, maybe I didn’t read the menu correctly.  A pork cutlet would be okay but NOT a pork cutlet that has been grilled well beyond well done and is now very tough!  Aha, well, we are not in New York City and there are no vegetables accompanying the cutlet, actually there is no nothing on the plate!

I ordered vino rossa locale which was good but not nearly as good as Pasquale’s father’s wine.  The final disappointment came with dessert.  I ordered their ricotta cheese cake and when it was put in front of me, it was clear that this small triangle of  what did not taste like ricotta and was topped with some strawberry syrup and a blob of Redi-Whip on top, WAS NOT HOMEMADE.

I’m not saying that the food was not good, it just wasn’t great for me, Peter loved his meal.  And why was it empty? Well Thursday night out isn’t a pre-weekend, find a date for the weekend, night.  That and this is a town where if your Mama isn’t cooking you a delicious dinner, then your wife certainly is.

It was definitely time to go home and go to sleep.  We are weary from our busy day and can’t wait to get into bed.  

                                                                                            to be continued….

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House Hunting in Italy – A Busman’s Holiday??

I don’t know any real estate agent or broker who doesn’t live their profession pretty  much 24/7.  I don’t mean they are in their office every day or showing properties every day but whether it is meeting new people to expand your network or staying in touch with your circle of friends and those that are in a position to recommend  you or previewing new properties, well that’s the life of a real estate salesperson.  So even on vacation, you can probably rest assured that we (that’s me) will look a the postings in the windows of local real estate firms, read the local real estate magazines and some cases (uh oh now it’s getting personal) will actually engage a local broker to show them some property.  BUT wait, that’s not to mean they would waste another professional’s time by asking to be taken out but have no intention of purchasing,  No, when it’s just real estate curiosity that has taken hold on of oneself, then the appropriate thing to do is just go to some Open Houses,   Well that’s enough about practices here in the United States, don’t forget I’m in Italy (so to speak).

My trip to Italy was predicated on two major ideas; first to discover my roots and see the village my grandfather, Luciano Fantacone was born and raised in and secondly to explore the possibility of buying an inexpensive property in Italy, specifically Guardia Sanframondi.

I intentionally contacted Pasquale Orso about lodging and knew that he had assisted other Americans in finding a home there.   Within the first hour of meeting Pasquale, he spent considerable time explaining to me that he had connections and he could find us the perfect place.  I spent considerable time explaining to him that this was more of an exploratory trip and that I wasn’t planning on buying anything this trip!  The greater gist of this conversation was Pasquale extracting a commitment from me NOT to allow any random person on the street to entice me to look at some house because we were obviously Americans. ( Many Americans have already purchased property in Guardia Sanframondi).  I told him I understood and as a real estate broker would not do that.

That brings us to the afternoon that Pasquale is going to show us two houses;  We all      (literally 5 of us) pack into a small (tiny) Italian car and off we go to some outlying street of the town and one must park the card sort of off road at the top of a small incline.   The house is below in front of us, very sweet ranch like property with no lawn (I didn’t seem much lawn at all anywhere), however a very large patio with a rather make-shift open wall roofed structure off to one side where lots of potted plants were residing.  I thought I heard him say something about keeping the plants out of direct sunlight.  The house itself had a LOT of possibilities although Peter didn’t seem to think so.  There were really only 2 rooms;  A large great room that was the length of the house and featured an open kitchen (not exactly our standards) a fireplace, a kitchen table, a dining room table and chairs and living room furniture.  At the end of the room next to entrance to the bedroom was a very modern bathroom.  The house was not filled with light, not that many windows.  We went to the bedroom which was so big, not to make into two rooms would be a crime.  It was also dark but I believe there was a possibility of creating another window at one end.  Since Pasquale’s english isn’t exactly perfect I wasn’t clear on the configuration of the property as it seemed to be somehow connected to 3 other homes although not visibly.  He was talking about some Count or Prince or some nobility that at one time owned the estate.  The house had two small outbuilding rooms that were connected to the house  and were being used as storage sheds BUT they had two tiny windows that looked out on the mountains AND they could be enlarged.  Peter was not impressed that much and now in retrospect I think it was a shame that we saw this one first.  Cost $35000.  I’m sorry to say I don’t have a photo of the house, but this was the view.  

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I Wonder How Long It Takes Before You Get Tired Of Looking At The Beautiful Mountains?

Secundo – we are now back on one of the two main streets in Guardia and as we head down a hill, Giuseppe, a friend of Pasquale and our new driver, pulls off to the side of the street.  We are in front of a huge 3 story house.  You know using the word house here is a bit of a misnomer.  There are houses as we know them, if not in a recognizable style, they are at least wooden structures with roofs.  This is a tall thin stone structure, with a garage door (be still my heart)!  A house with a garage in the main part of town (not the medieval city).  As we enter, the first thing I see are the stairs, so many of them…But first to our immediate right there is a very large room, freshly painted and with a new floor and huge window looking at…the mountains!  And at the other end of the room, what did we see but the garage door!! Apparently the previous owners decided a first floor room was much more marketable than a garage, NOT!  Maybe they didn’t own a car, because parking on the narrow streets of Guardia is not exactly easy.  OK, so no garage, let’s go up and look.  Very steep stairs to the second floor where there are two bedrooms, nice views.  Up some more stairs, also very steep and lo and behold there’s the kitchen with a Juliet balcony, how clever, NOT.  Aside from my comments and the fact that I climbed the stairs barely breathing, it was clear to Giuseppe that this house was not for us!

                                                                                                     To be continued…

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