Another Christmas Approaches

Last Christmas seems like yesterday. It was exciting and special. It was our first family Christmas in Colledimezzo.
I’ve spent Christmas in Germany, England and the US, but nothing compares to Christmas in Italy.
Traditional and filled with joy.
Shopping in a Supermercato in Lanciano for my first Italian Christmas Tree.
I think I did well. Piazza Vizioli hosted a night of entertainment which was enjoyed by adults and kids alike. The moon showed its face and lit up the sky.
Happiness!
Can’t wait to be back.

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Dolce Far Niente

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This only happens to me in Italy. I’ve tried to practice it here in the US, but it doesn’t work. There is always something do. There are things to do in Italy too, but somehow, they aren’t so important. What is more important is sitting with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine and just enjoying the moment.

Can’t wait to be back!

This crazy little thing called retirement (Part 8) Vasto – the confirmation

 

We spent one more night in Atessa. After our huge lunch, we couldn’t eat another bite, but we wandered through the beautiful little town one more time. Cocktails completed the evening.

The next morning we set off to meet Monia, our realtor, in San Buono. Google managed to get us on a road that didn’t exist, and I was terrified we’d never be seen again, but we made it. San Buono was a pretty little village, but the apartment we went to view wasn’t a patch on the house in Colledimezzo. From San Buono, we followed Monia to Celezna. Celezna was slightly bigger than the other villages we’d looked in. The hill it was on was much higher, and the views were breathtaking. The house, on the edge of the village, had a terrace which boasted views of the Adriatic. Tempting, but not tempting enough to turn our heads. We’d already found what we were looking, our mind was made up! We stopped in a small coffee bar and told Monia we’d made our decision and wanted to make an offer on the house in Colledimezzo. Then we cheek kissed Italian style and went our separate ways. She had other clients to see, and we were heading to Vasto for our final night.

Vasto was a beautiful surprise, as was the Residenze Amblingh where we spent our final night. The photos I’ve posted are just a few to tempt you to come back next week and read about our afternoon and evening in Vasto. It may be my favorite town in Italy!

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!

This Crazy Little Thing Called Retirement (Part 6) Colledimezzo

 

We arrived in the little village of Colledimezzo an hour early, my fault, my timing was all to pot. It had been a long and tiring journey from Colorado to Abruzzo, a place we had never before visited. The extra hour gave us time to relax and watch the village wake up. We ordered coffee in the Emy Bar, which proved to be the hub of the village. My lovely daughter got a lot of attention from some of the male residents, which made her blush and made me laugh. Everyone was incredibly friendly. We were two strangers who didn’t speak Italian, but it didn’t seem to matter. We sat in the little square and enjoyed the attention and the view.
When Monia, our Realtor arrived, we’d just finished drinking our second cup of coffee, petted a well looked after stray cat, watched a mamma dog play with her young pup, said Buon Giorno more times than I can remember, and decided the village of Colledimezzo was a wonderful place.
The house on Via Badia was the third, and last house we visited in the village. As soon as we saw it, we knew it was the one.

Joanna took a short movie to send back to the US. The house, which was on three floors and built into the side of the hill, stole our hearts. It was an old, lovingly restored, Olive Mill and oozing with character. A nice, shy young man, who was the son of the owner, showed us around. The stone walls, the big windows and the views were wonderful. I was done, didn’t want to see any other houses, but Monia quite rightly insisted we should.
Sitting in the square again, we talked for a little longer, and decided to go ahead with the viewings the following day in Celezna and and San Buono. I was wildly excited, but also a little scared at the thought of parting with a huge sum of money on a house my husband had never visited. It felt right, but it was a big decision! Thank heavens my level headed daughter was there with me, guiding me through it all. I could never have done it without her.

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.

This Crazy Little thing called Retirement (Part 5) Atessa.

 

 

I’d booked a hotel in a town close by, not knowing the route would take us through Colledimezzo.
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Jo drove slowly on the winding road through the village, past Piazza Vizioli and around the tight hairpin that took the road in another direction as it climbed the hillside. It was narrow and lined with houses and little shops, then in the blink of an eye, we were back in the countryside again.
The beautiful walled town of Atessa was another twenty minutes drive. atessa-chieti-abruzzo-italy-old-town-hill-landscape-italian-97764032
When we got there, we couldn’t work out how to maneuver our way through the narrow streets, to the hotel so Jo found a place to park and I ran to the hotel to get help. No one spoke English, but I managed to make the staff understand what I needed. A young lady who worked as a waitress, came back to the car with me and jumped into the passenger seat. While I walked back to Al Duca (the hotel), she directed Joanna through the narrow streets and showed her where to park. It was with great relief that Jo turned off the engine. She’d driven clear across Italy and had enough driving for one day. We took our cases into the lovely old hotel and then went for a walk. We were tired and stiff from sitting in the car all day.
Atessa was an unexpected delight, adorned with lights, it looked like something from a fairytale. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3994A band played in the piazza. Through every gap in the buildings you glimpsed a view of the rolling hills of Abruzzo. We sat outside a lovely little restaurant and had a pre-dinner drink before returning to the hotel. After delicious home made pizza, salad, and a carafe of wine, we went to bed, happy to have made it across Italy to Abruzzo!

The window in my room looked across ancient rooftops, and I left it open, allowing the evening breeze to blow the curtains. The band still played outside, and every fifteen minutes, the church bells chimed. It was the music of Italy and it made me feel welcome.

This Crazy Little Thing Called Retirement (Part 4) Colledimezzo

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With the soft top of the little Fiat 500 rolled down, the sun on our shoulders and the breeze in our faces, we continued across the mountains of central Italy. I was pleased Jo was driving because the views were spectacular. Most of our journey took us through national park. Picnickers sat among the trees, their laughter tantalizing our ears as we passed, stalls selling wild truffles and asparagus popped up along the road side. This was a part of Italy I had never seen, and didn’t know existed. As we climbed higher the trees became sparse and wild horses roamed by the side of the road. Magnificent, well fed, healthy animals.

The scenery was incredible, but we were growing weary, it had been a long day and the journey began to tell on us. It was easy for me, I was the passenger, but Jo was driving, and that was tough on unfamiliar mountain roads. We began to ascend the eastern side of the mountains and little villages appeared, scattered on hilltops. Some were perched so high they looked unreachable. Every time a new one appeared I’d say.
“Look Jo, thats Colledimezzo,”
I think I must have repeated myself a dozen times before she gave me the look! Each village was equally as beautiful. Then finally we were directed away from the main road by a sign which read COLLEDIMEZZO, and there it was in all its beauty.
My future home.

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This Crazy Little Thing called Retirement – Crossing Italy (Part 3)

My daughter lived in Dallas at the time, so we took different flights and met at the Marriott Rome Park. A lovely hotel not far from the Airport.  My husband and I stayed there a couple of times on prior visits to Rome. Jo and I met at the bar, giddy with excitement about our trip. After all, it’s not everyday you fly to Italy to buy a house. After a couple of cocktails we sat down to dinner. Our excitement was infectious, we had a lovely evening…unfortunately the wine and food didn’t make for a great night’s sleep! It was worth it though.
The next morning we returned to the airport to pick up or rental car. I wasn’t that confident about driving in Italy back then (that soon changed) so my daughter did the driving. An excellent job she did too. We’d never driven across Italy before, or visited Abruzzo, so we had to rely on the car navigation system, which seemed to be constantly confused. Jo wanted to take the smaller road across the mountains, rather than the highway. Once we got away from the hustle bustle of Rome, we relaxed a little and decided to stop for lunch.
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Luckily, we saw a restaurant right on the road side. This was our first real experience with “non tourist” Italy. We were the only folks who didn’t speak Italian. Tables were pushed together at one side of the restaurant to accommodate a large family gathering of at least 40 people. All talking together, drinking wine, sharing platters of food. Kids laughed, played (and occasionally cried). The menu was in Italian of course.
We ordered salad and meat, a little wine a bottle of Aqua frizzante, to wash it down with.
I looked around me at what would become my everyday life, and I liked what I saw. We couldn’t linger over lunch because there was a very long journey ahead of us. We had to cross the mountains of Central Italy, and find a small village called Colledimezzo.

Crazy Little Thing Called Retirement – The Journey (Part2)

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In August 2017 we spent two glorious weeks on the Island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast. It was a lovely time. A few days in Capri, a couple of days in Naples and a whole week in a beautiful villa in Scala, close to Ravello. Our villa overlooked the town of Amalfi and the deep blue mediterranean. There was a house for sale close to our villa which was in the process of being renovated. We weighed up the pros and cons of buying it. It was very tempting, and just what we were looking for, but the cost of buying and completing the renovation would have been too much for us.

I’d been searching on line, for a home in Italy for a couple of years, but never found the perfect place. The homes I really liked were much too expensive. The cheaper ones needed a lot of work. Then I remembered that several folks we’d talked to in Rome had told us about Abruzzo and how beautiful it was. They’d only moved away to find work, but returned as often as they could. Although I’d never been there, I decided to do some research and was fascinated with what I found. Lots of lovely unspoiled hilltop villages, beautiful mountains, and even more captivating, the Adriatic Coastline.

I immediately began my search in Abruzzo, and stumbled upon Abruzzo Rural Property, run by a helpful young lady called Monia. Thankfully she spoke great English. Three houses took my fancy, and Monia found a couple more. All in the Chieti province, which bordered the Adriatic. I asked if we could go and view them and we set a date at the end of August. She was surprised I wanted to make the trip so soon, but I daren’t leave it any longer in case I chickened out. I had to strike while the iron was hot. Spending large amounts of money make me nervous.

My husband had no more vacation days left, so he couldn’t come with me so called my daughter.
“Hey Jo, I’m going to look at a house in Italy, will you come with me?”
“Sure, when do you want to go?”
I think she expected me to say in the Spring, or next Summer. She probably thought it was another one of our pipe dreams…
“Next Friday, I’ll pay!”

As you can see by the photo, she enjoyed the trip very much. When we hired a rental car in Rome she asked “Do you have an open topped car, doesn’t have to be an Alfa Romeo, or anything fancy.”
The result was a little open topped Fiat, which took us across the mountainous region of central Italy from Lazio to the Chieti province in Abruzzo.

It was a blast!

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