Reflections on Retirement

A good way to end the day

If you really enjoy your job, and love the folks you work with, retirement is daunting. I longed to move to Italy, and dreamed about the day I’d retire there. It was planned for 2022 at the earliest, so I had a little time to think about it. Then came Brexit…the rest is history. Retirement to Italy after Brexit would have been complicated in so many ways, so instead of ambling along the road to retirement, I had no choice but to sprint. It was a real wrench!
The first month of my new life was exciting, fun, no work, lots of new places to visit. Lunch by the Adriatic, a lovely piazza to enjoy a late afternoon drink, pizza night, or just meet friends for coffee. Life was good.
And then came another COVID wave, was it number two? I forget, we’ve had so many.
The first “light lockdown” put us in the Yellow Zone, which wasn’t too bad. We could travel anywhere within the region, so we were able to walk along the shores of the Adriatic and take advantage of its lovely restaurants.
Then we were plunged into the stricter Orange Zone. Bars and restaurants only open for “take away” curfews in place. Carabinieri drove through the village often. We were only allowed to leave our municipality once a day, and only then for a good reason, with documentation stating that reason.
Over Christmas and Easter, in and out of the dreaded red zone.
Luckily Colledimezzo is beautiful, and there are many spectacular walks…are you bored of my photos yet? I long to see the Adriatica again. I did see it in the distance when we went shopping to Lanciano. It was tantalizingly close.
Shopping locally is nice. There is everything I need, butchers, small supermarkets, flower shops, hardware stores, furniture stores etc., so I have nothing to complain about, and I’m not complaining, I do like it here. A few things make my heart ache though. My daughter was set to come here for Christmas, but of course couldn’t. Summer is probably out of the question too. I’m not wishing my life away, but…I am so excited to see her and her husband at Christmas. I know it’s a long way off, but it is the light at then end of the tunnel.
On reflection, retirement is a good thing. If I hadn’t retired, I’d be dreaming of Italy, and you all know how much I did that. Now, I’m dreaming of freedom, and I know it’s in sight. Rumor has it May could be a good month. Vaccines are picking up steam and numbers are going down.
Have a lovely day everyone and “In bocca al lupo” (Translates as “in the mouth of wolves” and means “good luck” in Italian)

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 Taste of Christmas

I woke up this morning feeling out of sorts. Grumpy, headache, just generally off! It was the first day of a new lockdown. When we moved to Italy we planned to travel and explore, not thinking COVID would last this long. Travel is on hold of course. The local businesses have a bigger problem. Lock down is crippling them. It has to be done though. New cases were increasing.
I made a pizza for lunch, worst pizza I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot. I kept telling myself to snap out of it, but it didn’t work.
Around 3:00 pm (still feeling grumpy), I walked up too the piazza to catch the vegetable van. My spirits were lifted a little as I chatted to friends in the village and breathed the fresh air (with a hint of woodsmoke).
The vegetable van turned up and I couldn’t resist buying a big bag of mandarins. Freshly picked, leaves still attached. I headed home with a smile on my face, Colledimezzo does that to you. The mandarins looked so good I peeled and ate one as soon as I got home. It tasted just like Christmas.

Chasing the Meat Van

Colledimezzo is lucky enough to be visited by a butcher’s van, a rotisserie porchetta/chicken van, veggie van and fish van on different days each week. They all sell fresh local produce. I certainly won’t go hungry here, but I do need to become familiar with where they stop and also their individual jingle which sounds when they enter the village.
Today I decided to try the butcher. It wasn’t quite as easy as I hoped. He drove past me several times. Each time I’d wave for him to stop, and he’d wave back and smile.
No I’m not being friendly, I want you to stop.
The locals, who gather in the piazza to talk, found my antics very amusing, and watched with interest.
Finally Marella, the wonderful girl who runs the local bar, called him and he returned to the piazza. Meat purchased, game over, lesson learned! I’ll be shopping like a local soon.
Also had a great walk today. Walked way down towards the lake and then climbed the steep road back up to the village. My apple watch recorded almost 7 miles…maybe I’ve earned a glass of wine or two.

Retirement UPS and downs!

So here I am, a little over two months into retirement.
How does it feel? Pretty good most of the time. I don’t have to rush to get things done after work, or during the weekend. The washing can be done whenever I like, along with chores. I can take a walk when I like, shop any day of the week. Have a glass of wine, explore my new surroundings, write, exercise, daydream…
And now the downs!
Yes, there are some, but nothing that can’t be overcome. I miss my daughter and son in law, and their silly pups. I miss my friends too. Trying to learn to speak Italian fluently at my age is tough, but I’ll get there. I’m very lucky to be in a “Yellow Zone” in Italy, so COVID isn’t causing me too many problems, but its still on my mind, and of course prevents me from hosting a family Christmas. This too will pass and things could be worse. I think I’m still in the adjustment stage, but like I say, its only been a couple of months.

Flour on my TOE!

This morning I did the second rise on my ciabatta bread. I haven’t made it before so I was a little nervous. I started the sponge (biga) yesterday, and continued with the bread today. With the bread rising, and lunch cooking, I stood on the balcony and enjoyed a few minutes between showers. Not sure what made me look at my feet, but when I did I smiled, one of my toes was white with flour. The words “flour on my toe” stuck with me all day. The ciabatta bread was delicious, we had it for lunch with veal and curried vegetables.
I enjoyed a very quick walk this afternoon, but didn’t want to go too far, the showers persisted.
What else happened today? My crown popped out of my mouth taking most of the tooth with it. Luckily my friend told me about a good dentist she visits in Lanciano. A dentist that speaks very good English, which at this point is necessary. Stay tuned to find out what happens.
Happy Sunday everyone! (Buona Domenica)

Colledimezzo by Night!

The village is beautiful by day or by night. I wish these photographs could tell me about it’s history. Folks who have lived here their whole lives are eager to share their stories and have so much to tell. My mastery of the Italian language isn’t good enough to take it all in yet, but I’m learning. Soon I’ll be able to talk to the people who’s stories have been passed down through generations. As my Italian improves I will share their stories with you!

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!

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 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!

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