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!

Cursed Cars?

Today I would like to talk about the vessel in which we travel. The car. I have had many cars over the past thirty some years, but I can honestly say the cars I have loved the most are also the cars that have caused me the most grief. My love for cars started when I was 17. Not sure why, but I was hooked. Of course my passion was for the Italian car. Eventually, whilst living in Germany, at the young age of 25, I got my first Alpha Romeo. A silver Alphasud.

Our first Alpha Romeo

This is the exact car we bought. We LOVED it. That car was fast. We didn’t have it for long because things started happening.

My husband was driving on the autobahn in this car when something felt wrong. He pulled and checked it, only to find the tires were falling apart. Big chunks of tread were peeling off. This isn’t good when you are doing over 100 miles an hour on the autobahn.

The dealership gave use new tires.

About a month later someone decided to take a hammer to the bonnet/hood and made an awful mess of it. I cried.

We knew we had to get rid of the car, even though we loved it, it wasn’t meant to be.

We traded it in for another Alpha Romeo, and what a car that was. I loved that Guilietta. It was a black beast.

Mafia Staff Car

I can’t really find a picture that does this car justice, but we lovingly called it the ‘Mafia Staff Car’ because that’s exactly what it looked like. This car drove us from Germany to Italy in style. I loved this car, until a German bus reversed into it. I watched from my office window as this happened, and flew down the stairs ready to kill the idiotic bus driver. I thought my husband was going to cry. I had to be restrained. The next car we bought was a Saab 900 Turbo. Fast but without the personality of the Italian Cars.

We had not given up hope yet though.

We moved back to England, taking the Saab with us, and when it died we took a trip to Newcastle Upon Tyne where someone was selling an Alpha Romeo Sprint Veloce. We bought it and drove it home!

Sprint Veloce – ours for a day

We drove it back the following day after having it checked out, it was in bad shape and dangerous to drive. We were extremely lucky as the guy selling it was shady to say the least, and it could have ended badly.

Still desperate for another Alpha Romeo, we went back home to Chatham and found a Guilietta for sale in London. We went and looked at it. It was silver and seemed to be in good condition. It checked out mechanically so we decided to give it a try!

Last Alpha

We just weren’t meant to have an Alpha Romeo in any way shape or form!

We were driving down a very dangerous road in Kent. A road notorious for accidents, when without warning the bonnet/hood flew open, blocking our view completely. It smacked back against the front window. My husband was driving. My daughter and I screamed. Luckily he managed to safely pull over. We were traveling at around eighty miles an hour so this could have ended very badly.

Now with the exception of the Spring Veloce, which we should never have bought from the ‘crook’ in Newcastle, these were all good cars, but for some reason, we were not meant to have them . It saddened us because we loved Alpha’s. Are these cars cursed? I think not! Are they bad cars. No! Maybe a little temperamental like anything Italian, but we just aren’t supposed to own one. What did we buy next? A black Golf GTI! Never had a bit of trouble with that. Sold it to move to America!

What is the moral of this story? I have no idea, I just wanted to share it.

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