My Red SMEG

When I started furnishing our home in Italy I wanted it to be different than the houses we’d called home in the UK and the US. Completely different! I also didn’t want to fill a 200 year old building with antiques. I wanted it to be quirky and fun. My daughter designed the kitchen and called me about fridges from the SMEG shop.
“Do they have a red one?” I asked.
I swear I heard her smile down the phone as she replied, “as a matter of fact they do, and that is the one I would have chosen myself.”
Three years later this house is now my home. The fridge is the first thing folks see when they walk into the kitchen and it always makes them smile.

The Villages of Italy

“Buy a house in an Italian village for $1”
We read it in the newspapers, we see it on the television, but not many people pursue it. Not many people understand what these villages and houses look like, or appreciate their history. We certainly paid much more than $1 for our Italian home, and still spent a great deal after purchasing, but we weren’t looking for a project. Not easy overseeing something in Italy while living and working in the US
Now I’m retired I walk around our little Italian village daily. The contrast between houses is amazing. The photos above display two beautiful homes, but in between them, a deserted shell just begging for attention.
The huge house next to ours has been empty since the sixties. Such a shame, the architecture is amazing.
I don’t think there are any $1 homes in Colledimezzo, but when you see buildings in other villages advertised, remember, they are surrounded by history and love, and begging to be restored so they can stand proud again.

Sleepy Little Village

I’m trying to take life slowly. Forcing myself to not rush to get chores done. I have all the time in the world, but it’s quite an adjustment.
This morning I didn’t open my eyes until after seven, and then laid in bed until the clock chimed 7:15. A good time to rise.
My brain reminded me of my morning stretch routine, so I obeyed. Then upstairs to make a Cappuccino in the temperamental Smeg coffee maker. Came out perfectly. I sat on the kitchen deck and enjoyed my morning coffee. The sleepy little village had not yet come to life. No cars, no people, just the sunrise, the hillside and me.
What next?
A trip to San Vito on the coast, a pleasant walk and lunch in one of the local seafood restaurants.
It’s a hard life!!!

Distracting Landscape

How do I find a routine in this beautiful place?
I’m halfway through my third week in my new home.
Yes, I’ve done a lot. Drivers license, medical card, bank details updated, but when I’m not running around establishing my presence, I’m hypnotized by the amazing views.
A few moths ago I began writing a Children’s book, “Queen Tess – a Short Shaggy Dog Story”. I really need to finish it so my daughter can work on the illustrations.
I haven’t been totally idle. I spend a little time every day learning Italian and mixing with the locals. Talking to the village folks is a fun way to learn the language.
There was a wood fired pizza van in the piazza last night. Nothing better than a warm evening on the piazza eating pizza and drinking wine.
This morning I visited the village doctor. His office is a few steps away from my house. When I introduced myself he smiled and told me where I lived. Yes, he knew me already. News travels fast in a small village.

The day is young, after lunch I’ll jump in the little Panda and drive to Lancanio. There are a few things I need to buy that I can’t buy locally, and quite honestly…can’t wait to drive again.

Relax?

I’d like nothing more than so just sit back and enjoy the view, but I’ve moved to a new country, there are things to be done.
I quarantined until Monday and then took my COVID test at the local chemist…negative…yea! Celebrated with a typical, delicious Italian lunch at the neighboring town of Villa Santa Maria. How I was longing for that fantastic vino bianco and mouthwatering pasta. We took the day off to just enjoy being here.
Tuesday brought my first challenge. I went to apply for my Italian driver’s license in the town of Atessa. It was a long drawn out affair, but definitely not dull. Eye test, forms to sign, do I have any diseases? After a couple of hours I left the office with a copy of my British license and a stamped form certifying I’d applied for my Italian license…hope it comes soon. Back to Colledimezzo where a wood fired pizza van was parked in the square. Great way to finish the day. Best pizza I’ve had in years.
Wednesday started with a trip to Maisons du Monde, which is around 40 miles away. Needed to pick up a couple of small pieces of furniture, they remembered me from last summer. Lovely folks.
Early evening Aperol Spritz in the square with friends, and an evening of relaxation.
Thursday…still organizing things at home, also basked in the sun a little on the terrace.
Today, trip to the lovely town of Lanciano. My husband has mastered the parking system there, it can be tricky. Trip to the Bank to show them my residency card which gives us much better banking rates. Cappuccino in the sun and back home. Next week I need to get my medical insurance, then I can relax and smell the roses…retirement is suiting me I think.

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.
colledimezzo, municipio (1)

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.

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!

Trabocco – Punta Cavalluccio

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Reservation made!
Trabocco Punta Cavalluccio

I’ve enjoyed two delicious lunches at Trabocco Pesce Palombo in Fossacesia. One recently in April, and one a couple of years ago, in late August, when we found our little piece of heaven in Abruzzo.

We return to our lovely home in Colledimezzo in July so I decided to try a different trabocco this time, and I’m very excited. These wonderful seafood restaurants are so busy that even now, I couldn’t make a weekend reservation. Full until August. We’re on vacation, a weekday is just fine.
I’ll send photos of the food!

The Beauty of Abruzzo

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I never tire of the rugged beauty and greenery of Abruzzo. It soothes my soul!

Keeping up with the Italians

 

Retirement was always something I dreaded.
It meant I was getting old.
Only two weeks ago I was in my sixteen! Now I’m in my sixties.
Last year we bought a home in Abruzzo, Italy. It changed my whole prospective on retirement and now I think about long lazy days in Colledimezzo with a goofy smile on my face. I have a few years to go yet, time to practice my cooking. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to compete with the fabulous traditional dishes that have been passed down from mother to child, but I can start with the sweet treats. So far these have been a success. On the left, Almond cookies, on the right, Italian breakfast cookies, which are very good to dip in your morning cappuccino.

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