A Taste of Abruzzo – Oh what a Lunch!

Rinascita Lancianese in Lanciano is our favorite Cantina. I don’t think they make a wine we don’t like. Alessandro, my Italian friend/language coach introduced us to this cantina because it’s run by a very good friend of his! On Sunday we attended a wine/food tasting event at Rinascita Lancianese and it was wonderful. OMG the pork!
The mouth watering dishes above don’t include dessert. We drank their white sparkling wine, Trebbiano and a wonderful Merlot. It was organized for expats. Australians, Americans and Brits. There were 20 of us and we had a blast.
Did I mention the pork?

August 27th 2020 – Escaping America

Yes I’m writing another book. This one is about moving to Italy in the middle of a pandemic! It is a tongue in cheek dark comedy. I’m having fun writing it already.

Breath, girl, you can do this, but do you still want to?

After balancing the huge red squishy bag on top of my overfilled suitcase, I wrapped the strap of my handbag around my carryon and slowly manipulated my way towards the ticket counter. I’d only taken a few steps when a rather strict looking man came striding towards me. He held his arm up in a Hitler type salute and yelled STOP!

“Use the Ticket Machine.” He said.

Are you kidding me?

“I can’t use the ticket machine because I have a pile of documents that need to be checked. I’m flying to Italy, and I have medical declarations to show you.”

He rolled his eyes. “You can’t fly to Italy unless you live there, I think you’ll need to postpone your trip until COVID19 is over, there are rules. Vacations must be postponed.”

“I do live there. I have my residency card right here along with my other documents.”

The man looked even more disgruntled and stomped back to the counter.

Oh dear, he’s going to lose it when he weighs my suitcase.

Italian Friendliness and Creativity!

Photo by Sandra Thompson

I read a newspaper on line called “The Local, Italy” and one of the articles today made me smile. After making a couple of changes to reference Colledimezzo, I’m sharing it with you. It sums up what makes life in Italy so special.

The ten positives you’ll notice when moving to Italy from the US (or the UK)

The beauty
The way you can “stumble upon” beauty anywhere. The gorgeous architecture in churches and other buildings as well as small points of beauty such as the way someone has arranged their garden flowers.

The patience
The patience of the people with my poor Italian, the way they apologize because they don’t speak English! (Not necessary to apologize — this is Italy!).

The church bells
The sound of the church bells ringing, randomly as well as gloriously at 12 noon in the piazza.

The kindness
I asked the pharmacist how to contact the physiotherapist that lives in the village. When she couldn’t reach him by phone, she ran across the street and knocked on the door of his grandmother’s house to see if she knew where he was.

The friendliness
The way at holiday time, everyone greets each other with Buon Natale or Buon Anno.

The openness
The way you can meet people in a restaurant and become friends for life.

The history
No need to explain, it is overwhelming. The tiny village pf Colledimezzo (my home) brags of castles, palazzos and enough WWII stories to keep you enthralled all night.

The seasons
Here in Italy every season unfolds with such beauty and is distinct and wondrous.

The people
The old men sitting in cafes talking endlessly and watching the world go by. And the way every single Italian has an opinion on most things, and loves to share it.

The security
The feeling that I am safe and never alone. People are always willing to help.

The creativity
The creativity used to make everything work… somehow.

Smile through the Bumps!

It looks pretty idyllic doesn’t it? It is, even on a bad day, but life has still it’s little bumps!
My broken wrist, even though it’s healing, is really taking it’s toll. The cast is heavy and tiring to carry around all of the time. I’m limited what I can wear because even buttons are a challenge. Shoe laces, forget about it! On the bright side I’m learning to do a lot more with one hand. However fastening a bra does not come into that category!!! Nor does driving. How I miss exploring new places…and shopping.

I can still walk and enjoy these amazing views. In a little over two weeks my cast will be off and I’ll throw myself into the Christmas spirit and prepare for my daughter’s visit. Oh, and three wonderful days in Rome.

I’ll leave a little poem to cheer you up!

Smile: A Poem by Spike Milligan
Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

Foraging and Cooking – Local Delights

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. This silly old girl broke her wrist last week. Yes, I fell in the house and have three fractures and one break. hurts like crazy, but mostly it is frustrating. Difficult to function with one hand. Typing one handed is something I never thought I’d have to do! Anyway…..

Let’s get back to food! I purchased some very cheap, local red chillies on Monday. Don’t they look delicious? I had enough to make five small jars of picante sauce, which goes great with any Italian pasta. The only ingredients were chillies boiled in olive oil, garlic, and salt to taste. Delicious!

Yesterday I was given a bag of wild spinach by the little lady who lives down the steps from me. We see her foraging often walking the country paths with her walking stick over her shoulder and bags full of wild greens dangling from it. It seems to keep her fit and healthy. Today I picked out the grass and weeds and chopped off the thick stalks, before chopping and washing the spinach. Now I’m going to wilt this in olive oil with garlic, pesto (made from my own basil) and serve it for lunch with chicken.

I think I’m quite daring. I think foraging the countryside to use what is available is a great idea, and there is a lot available. Wild spinach, asparagus, artichoke, pomegranates, plums, apples, olives, persimmon to name but a few.

The good people of Abruzzo live cheaply, what can’t be foraged is bought local, it works well.

The Cats of Colledimezzo

There are very few domestic cats in Colledimezzo. Majority of these fluffy felines are cared for by the village. They are a little feral and mostly unapproachable. The bigger cat on the left was a kitten when I moved here a year ago. I’d feed her and her four legged sibling on left overs when I had any. She was the cutest little thing.

When she turned up again in May of this year, she looked like her days were numbered. She was skinny, her fur was matted and her eyes were dull. I fed her leftovers and a little milk, but she didn’t always want food, just wanted to sit outside my door and feel safe. Pretty soon it was obvious she was nursing, which is why she looked so bad, her babies were taking all of her goodness. She wouldn’t let me approach her, and hissed if I came too close, but I fed her anyway. After a couple of months she began to look much better. Still too skinny, but she looked healthy. Last week she turned up with her babies, two black, one the same color as her, and a solitary ginger kitten. They are adorable. No, I can’t take them in, but I can help them survive. The babies love bread and milk. The enjoy left over rice too.

Now as well as the locals who come to my friendship window…I have furry four legged friends too. I enjoy them all.

Wine, wine and more WINE

It’s been a busy and tiring week so far. On Monday we had a second load of wood delivered for the winter. I personally think we have enough for two winters… Lester knows best though.

Yesterday was a heavy lifting day. We decided we liked the bedroom on the middle floor better than the one we were in down below (This old house is sort of upside down). After trying it out for a few nights we decided to make the move permanent. That meant moving hubby’s gym, which was bolted into the wall, to the bottom floor. It also meant filling holes and painting, a well as moving and rearranging furniture. Worth it though, better view from up above. The bedroom we vacated is now a gym, dressing room and utility room as well as being a spare bedroom. It all looks great, but moving furniture up and down a narrow winding staircase isn’t easy. My muscles are old now and don’t recover so quickly.

Today we rested, well sort of! We met up with our friend Alessandro in Lanciano, and went to his local Cantina. As well as getting bottles of wine filled by what looked like petrol pumps, we bought local honey. We also watched the tractors and trailers come in and unload their grapes. Very interesting fun day.

Now, back home, I’m sitting in the kitchen sampling an excellent Merlot, which was free. Why was it free you may ask? It was free because my husband was with me and spent twice as much as I’d of spent on my own…they thought we deserved a freebee.

Now you know why I usually leave him at home when I go shopping.

Have a lovely day everyone. I hope my stories of living in Italy are amusing you.

The Giving Season

No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about the fruit bearing season in Abruzzo. Our very good friend Nino brought us this wonderful collection today. We have figs, large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and then his wonderful wife baked biscotti…I don’t think I’ll ever lose weight here.

When I walk I see trees bursting with fruit and the wonderful scent of jam making and baking wafts from open windows as I pass by.

It’s only going to get better as we move into Autumn.

Autumn in the Air

It’s September (Settembre) tomorrow. Even though the temperatures are still in the upper 20’s (upper 70’s lower 80’s in Fahrenheit), it’s feeling a little cold. After three months of upper 30’s (upper 90’s f) anything feels cold. I’m enjoying it though.

It’s the season to bake pies and make preserves. This year seems to have been a good year for figs. I’ve made lots of fig jam, (marmellata), and a big tray for fresh fig pies. The hot peppers are ready too, so I’m making jars of delicious pecante (hot pepper) sauce. There are fruit trees everywhere. Yesterday we were given a big bag of the delicious plums. Small, yellow and sweet. Yes, they were definitely plums and not apricots.

Today we stacked logs in the garage ready for the cold weather. Neatest stack of logs I’ve ever seen, stacked the Italian way. I’m looking forward to cozy evenings in front of the fire.

I had my first facial in Italy today, just down the road in Villa Santa Maria. Lovely little place. Even after being here a year, I could only understand half of what she said to me, but she was patient. It was very relaxing.

And now, I’m sitting out on the terrace with a glass of wine looking at the forest in front of me. There are tinges of orange in the trees, autumn (autunno) is coming.

Last year, on the highway, I remember following tractors pulling trailers full of freshly harvested grapes. It made me smile. I’ll be seeing them again soon. Life is simple and good here in Colledimezzo. People live from day to day. They get together in the evening and talk about food, football and family. It’s whats important to them and what they love.


A day in the life of…a retiree in Abruzzo

I don’t get up on a morning and think “what shall I do today?” I simply get out of bed and let life happen!
Yesterday I had my weekly Italian lesson. My tutor and I just chat now. He corrects me when I get my tenses wrong, but chatting in Italian is the best way to learn. At the end of the lesson Lester and I went to lunch in Fossacesia and enjoyed the the Adriatic as we ate fresh seafood. After lunch, we walked a little. Beautiful.

We picked up some shopping in San Luca on the way home and then a spritz in the piazza with friends. After that, we worked a little on a magazine article we’ve been asked to write about the village. Then we finished the day on the terrace and enjoyed the view.

Today we wandered up to the piazza and had a cappuccino with the locals. So much fun to practice our Italian with the people who live here. They’re patient and repeat words where necessary. Sometimes, if we miss the subject of the conversation, we’re lost. Today our good friend Nino gave us six big bottles of home made tomato sauce, the kind you use in pasta, can’t wait to try it. Life is good in Colledimezzo. It is simple, uncomplicated and without stress.

What will this afternoon bring? Who knows, we’ll find out when it happens.

Will I write another book…maybe!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B097BVGKLG

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B097BVGKLG

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