Largest Loaf on the Van

Largest Loaf on the Bread Van

This morning I woke up full of energy, so I breezed through my housework, repotted plants and rearranged furniture. That wasn’t enough! After brunch I was still full of energy. It was a beautiful day, so I took a walk. The clear blue sky was a perfect backdrop for the snow dusted mountains.

A three mile walk was easy, and brought me back to the piazza. A glass of wine seemed like a good idea, followed by another…and then someone persuaded me to have a third. The villagers, (cittadini) were socially distancing, but enjoying the sunshine and each others company. Then the bread van turned up. Lester, a huge bread fan, decided to purchase some delicious freshly made bread…and bought the biggest loaf on the van.
A good day I think, lets hope summer brings a drop in the new cases of COVID. We’re all ready to mingle and have fun.

Small Change and Sausages

When I first visited Italy I was 16 and accompanied by my mum and my crazy aunt Jennie. I had lots of fun. So much fun that even back then I knew I’d live here one day. The Euro was not the currency during my visit in 1973, it was the Italian Lire. There were around fifteen hundred lire to a British pound, and small change was so small it was barely used. Instead the storekeepers would give you a couple of Italian sweets/candies. It made me laugh, but made my dear old aunt quite crazy.

The Euro is worth a little more than the Lire was, but it seems small change is still quite unpopular here in Italy. Today I shopped in my favorite butcher, lovely man, first class meat. He had no small change and instead gave me sausages (salsicce). I had a big smile on my face when I walked out of his butcher shop (macelleria), and when I got into my car, I laughed out loud. It totally made my day!

Baking – Cooking – Living the Dream

I never tire of the views here in Colledimezzo. Even if I walk the same path every day, I find a different angle to photograph. The light varies by the hour. Later in the day the mists make my photographs magical and surreal. I lived in Colorado for 25 years, and enjoyed the beautiful Rocky Mountains, but they didn’t boast the colors of Abruzzo.
Photography, travel and writing are my big hobbies, but my other passion is cooking. I adjusted my recipes from England to the US back in 1995. I learned to measure in cups, became familiar with the different products and even adjusted to high altitude baking, although my Yorkshire Puddings weren’t always a success!!!
Here I am living in Italy, with new challenges. Grams/Kilograms…no cups and ounces like the US. I’m beginning to master the flour…so many to choose from and your bread/cakes/pizzas will be a disaster if you don’t get it right. When we used to visit for vacation, an Italian friend always asked me to bring baking powder from the US, now I understand why. There is no self raising flour and no baking powder the way we know it. Baking power (which has a completely different name) comes in little sachets, usually infused with vanilla. There are different instant yeasts, and if you choose the wrong one, the result is inedible. Yes, I learned that from experience. I’m taking the safe route now and using fresh live yeast.
Thats enough for today. I’m still loving the Italian way of life. Miss my daughter terribly, but when Trump and COVID are history and she can come to visit, everything will be perfect.

The Weekend – Italian Style

This weekend brought us two glorious sunny days!
On Saturday we returned our rental car and picked up first (and hopefully last) Italian car. I didn’t realize buying a new car was such a big deal here. Our lovely shiny red car (macchina), was ready and waiting for us when we arrived at the dealership. Marco, the lovely man who sold it to us, was excited and enjoyed the admiring look on my face as he peeled the cover off.
Yes Italian cars come wrapped!!!
When we got back to Colledimezzo the locals made a big fuss and congratulated us on our new purchase. (I have yet to drive it, new cars make me a bit nervous).
Today we met our friends in the piazza for the usual Sunday lunchtime drink. So much fun sitting in the sunshine watching everyone come out of church in their Sunday best. We got home and I hadn’t even taken my shoes off before the phone rang...”turn around and come back out, we’ve all been invited to lunch with Pio, he’s cooking”. This is the way things happen in Italy, beautifully unplanned. We had an amazing lunch made with local produce and served with good wine. Everything of course made better by the great company and wonderful conversation.
We finished the afternoon with a walk. Gorgeous weather, lush surroundings, autumn colors still exploding (even though its November).
And what made this whole weekend better…TRUMP lost the election. Of course the petulant child has not conceded yet, but no one expected him to be gracious in defeat!
Now we need to beat COVID and we can end the year on a much happier note.

Pescara

Maybe next time I visit Pescara it will be for fun!

Over the past three years I’ve flown into Pescara from Milan, ridden the Pronto bus to Pescara from Rome, and rented numerous cars from Hertz. For three years, the same helpful folks have worked there.
Although I do enjoy taking to Marco and his staff, I’m looking forward to be driving my own car. It’s ordered, but unfortunately it takes over two months to arrive. Until then, I’m driving a Fiat Panda. Cute little car…not as small as they were back in the day.
Driving in Italy (Abruzzo anyway), comes much more natural to me than driving in the US. The Italians drive fast, but efficiently. No on sits in the outside lane like its their right. They use the outside lane to overtake, and then move over to let others do the same. I enjoy driving in Italy!

Sleepy Village

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Days are slipping away. I sit sipping my cappuccino and reflecting on my life. We are soon to leave our Colorado home of over 20 years. Actually it’s not even ours anymore, we’re tenants now, until we move out on August 1st. The house is sold to a wonderful couple who fell in love with it, just the way we did all those years ago. Every window has a view, mountains, trees, deer, sunsets. I know they’ll while away the evenings on the deck, watching the sunset, listening to the silence of dusk after the birds decide to slumber.
I’ve never tired of this house, or the view, but I have grown tired of the busy American lifestyle. I love my job, and the folks I work with. I’ll miss my friends, but the years seem to be flying by. Wish my daughter was moving with me, but she’ll visit. I’m ready to take life at a slower pace in a sleepy little village called Colledimezzo!

Staying Alive – 2020

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It has been a bumpy year! Who’d have thought we’d be fighting a pandemic, along with all of the other trials and tribulations this year has brought. I’m not naming any, because we’re all sick and tired of hearing about them.
Through all of this mess, I’ve sold a house, sent my personal possessions to Italy and sold most of my furniture. Not an easy task, but one that had to be done.
This sixty three year old heart has had palpitations. This sixty three year old brain has been working overtime, and keeping me awake. Sometimes I wondered if I’d make it to Italy.
Now, we’re almost there. I have a “final day” at work on the calendar, flights aren’t booked yet, but will be soon.
I look at the picture of my retirement village and it keeps me alive. Three months from now, I’ll be there….

Staying alive!

A Christmas Story

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Once upon a time there was a little girl called Sandra. She was born in the fifties into an unhappy violent marriage. She was four, when her beaten, bleeding mother plucked up the courage to leave the monster she was married to. Her mum worked hard to keep food on the table and because of that Sandra spent a great deal of time alone dreaming of things she thought she’d never have.
In 1967 Sandra’s mum married a good man and life wasn’t so difficult anymore, but she still dreamed. What did she dream of?
Italy!
Why?
She didn’t really know, perhaps she was born with the dream. Sandra also had a weird uncontrollable gift. She knew things would happen before they did. Sometimes it was scary, but she lived with it with the help of an unseen presence, that she thought of as her Guardian Angel. Her first trip to Italy was 1971. To the Adriatic coast! She was smitten and returned often.
Sandra was married when she was 20, and travelled a great deal, often to Italy, but usually the Mediterranean coast. Her first trip to Rome was 2010, it gripped her heart, and that of her husband. It prompted them to search for a home. They looked in Campania, Tuscany, Lazio and then finally and after five years of searching, they came upon Abruzzo.
Abruzzo is on the Adriatic Coast, and only about three hours from Rome. Italy is beautiful, but Abruzzo is a piece of heaven. It takes you back in time to how Italy used to be before the tourist invasion. Quiet and traditional. The folks who live in Abruzzo are inquisitive, caring folks, genuinely interested in your well being. If they ask how you are, they really want to know. They’re proud of their land, their wine and eager to share.
Tomorrow we fly to our home in the tiny village of Colledimezzo, province of Chieti. A beautiful village perched on a hillside. It isn’t our permanent home yet, but we escape to Colledimezzo as often as we can.
Merry Christmas everyone, don’t lose sight of your dreams, instead make them come true!

This Crazy Little Thing Called Retirement (Part 7) Fossecasia

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My daughter and I were a little giddy when we left Colledimezzo. We took the SS652 towards the coast. Twenty minutes later a carpet of azure spread out in front of us. Breathtaking!
The Adriatic in all of its splendor!
I first visited the Adriatic coast in the early seventies, with my mum and my crazy Aunt. We spent two weeks in Rimini and thats when I became hooked on Italy. I was fifteen years old. My daughter spoke, bringing me back to reality
“Mum, you’ll be living the dream” she said, “Close to the mountains and close to the ocean. What more could you ask for?”
My eyes filled with tears of happiness, sharing this journey with my daughter made it even more special.
“Lets park down by the sea. I’d like to try and eat on a trabocco.” I said.
“Trabocco?”
“Yes, they used to be fishing platforms, but now they’re restaurants. Gino D’Campo visited one on his show a couple of years ago.”
I watched travel shows about Italy when ever I could, and if it was a travel show that included cooking, even better. Gino was my favorite.
We tried to get a table in two trabocco restaurants, both fully booked. Finally trabocca Punta Pesce Polumbo welcomed us. Our Italian was very limited, and our waitress spoke no English, so it was quite the experience. It was a fixed price meal, wine included. The food was absolutely delicious and we ate and appreciated the delicious fish and pasta, not realizing just how many courses we’d be getting. Had we known, we’d have eaten less at the beginning. Although every mouthful, every single morsel was delicious, we had to raise our hands.
Our waitress laughed, “Finita?”
“Si, mille grazie.” I said patting my stomach.
“Mum, it’s grazie mille,” my daughter corrected me. “You have to master this language if you’re going to live here.”
She was right of course. “I’ll go and pay and then I think we should go back to Atessa and maybe take a nap. All that food has made me sleepy.”
We paid and left, but we didn’t take a nap at the hotel, instead we wandered around the beautiful little hilltop town of Atessa, stopping in quaint little bars to taste the the local beer and wine.
I absolutely knew I’d found the place I wanted to retire and I was happy!

An oasis of peace on three hills

No need to add any more to my retirement blog this week! This article says it all!

Colledimezzo is among the 20 most beautiful cities in Italy on Skyscanner

The travel search engine has announced the list of the 20 most beautiful cities for 2019: the small town in the province of Chieti among the places of undisputed beauty, to be inspired for the next trip out of town

colledimezzo-3Colledimezzo is among the 20 most beautiful cities in Italy on Skyscanner
An oasis of peace that saw its birth around the tenth century, Colledimezzo owes much of its fortune to the wild and lush nature of the Val di Sangro, which we recommend exploring through interesting trekking routes. But before getting lost in the green of Abruzzo you must get to know this mountain village closely dominated by a basilica in which a magnificent painting was found depicting “The Madonna with Child, Saint Francis of Assisi and the client” by Tanzio da Varallo … yes, one of the greatest Italian artists of the Seventeenth century! The church in question is that of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, a hidden wonder of our Peninsula. After a walk in the center and a salute to the Palazzo d’Avalosandate to find Lake Bomba and take a souvenir photo “you can read in the list published by Skyscanner.“

I’d like to add to this article by saying the folks who live in Colledimezzo are the warmest people I have ever met. They are helpful, friendly and welcoming. So glad we bought a home here. We can retire and relax in tranquility.

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