Italy

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It’s been a while since I wandered the cobbled streets of Colledimezzo.
Three months in fact
So much has happened
The world has changed
Can’t wait to be back

It’s been a while since I gazed on the mountains and tree covered hills of Abruzzo
But the memory is so strong
I smell the scent of woodsmoke and fresh mountain air
And meatballs and spaghetti and lamb and sweet delights
Can’t wait to be back

It’s been a while since I hugged my friends in Colledimezzo
Enjoyed their laughter
Reveled in their kindness
Enjoyed their warm hospitality
I’ll  be back as soon as I can

 

 

 

It’s been a while!

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been back from Abruzzo for one week now, but my heart is still there. I didn’t leave the way of life behind, but brought it with me, in the cooking especially. I miss the simple, flavorful food so, I make it here in the US.

It doesn’t taste quite as good because the produce isn’t as fresh, but it will get me by until I return.

Retirement is on my mind!

A Christmas Story

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Once upon a time there was a little girl called Sandra. She was born in the fifties into an unhappy violent marriage. She was four, when her beaten, bleeding mother plucked up the courage to leave the monster she was married to. Her mum worked hard to keep food on the table and because of that Sandra spent a great deal of time alone dreaming of things she thought she’d never have.
In 1967 Sandra’s mum married a good man and life wasn’t so difficult anymore, but she still dreamed. What did she dream of?
Italy!
Why?
She didn’t really know, perhaps she was born with the dream. Sandra also had a weird uncontrollable gift. She knew things would happen before they did. Sometimes it was scary, but she lived with it with the help of an unseen presence, that she thought of as her Guardian Angel. Her first trip to Italy was 1971. To the Adriatic coast! She was smitten and returned often.
Sandra was married when she was 20, and travelled a great deal, often to Italy, but usually the Mediterranean coast. Her first trip to Rome was 2010, it gripped her heart, and that of her husband. It prompted them to search for a home. They looked in Campania, Tuscany, Lazio and then finally and after five years of searching, they came upon Abruzzo.
Abruzzo is on the Adriatic Coast, and only about three hours from Rome. Italy is beautiful, but Abruzzo is a piece of heaven. It takes you back in time to how Italy used to be before the tourist invasion. Quiet and traditional. The folks who live in Abruzzo are inquisitive, caring folks, genuinely interested in your well being. If they ask how you are, they really want to know. They’re proud of their land, their wine and eager to share.
Tomorrow we fly to our home in the tiny village of Colledimezzo, province of Chieti. A beautiful village perched on a hillside. It isn’t our permanent home yet, but we escape to Colledimezzo as often as we can.
Merry Christmas everyone, don’t lose sight of your dreams, instead make them come true!

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 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.

Adriatic Sabato

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And Saturday is here again. Always busy with chores because I work during the week. Not complaining, I have an interesting job among very special folks. If I didn’t work I wouldn’t have things to look forward to, like my upcoming trip to Abruzzo. Feast your eyes on this rugged unspoiled coast. Isn’t it beautiful? I can’t wait to call Abruzzo my home, but wait I’ll have to, because it’s not quite time.

In two weeks I’ll be enjoying this beautiful view in person. An Adriatic Saturday!
Good things are worth waiting for!

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.

The Real Italy

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I never get bored with Italy. Been visiting since I was a teenager. It’s beauty and history are captivating. The food, the wine, all the usual things make me love the country. However, until I visited Abruzzo, I realized I hadn’t seen the real Italy. It took only a short visit to remind me that local Italians make Italy what it is, and the folks of Abruzzo are the warmest, most helpful people I have ever met. While writing this blog my eyes fill with tears as I recall our recent visit and all we achieved with their help. We made more friends in two weeks than I’ve made in the last 20 years.

Colledimezzo is a tiny village in Abruzzo, less than 600 inhabitants. Of course everyone became familiar with us immediately. A mixed race couple with British accents. We stuck out like a sore thumb. Those locals immediately accepted us, helped us and made us feel like one of them.

It’ll be a few years before we can retire there, but the ground work is done. We have a second home there now, and lots of vacations to look forward to. Good things are worth waiting for!

Vasto – Abruzzo – Italy

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Amblingh Residence – Vasto – Abruzzo

Going over photos from my last visit to Italy, I found this! The view we enjoyed while we ate our last breakfast in Italy after our whirlwind house buying visit. This photo was taken from the breakfast room of the beautiful Amblingh Residence in the gorgeous sea-side town of Vasto. I’ve added it to my list of favorite places. It was the epitome of Italy. Beautiful beaches, restaurants with tables outside, high up on a cliff and overlooking the turquoise waters of the Adriatic. By day the gentle waves reflected golden sunlight. By night a bejeweled coastline.

Any doubts I had about spending our money on a retirement home in Abruzzo were dispelled as I ate delicious local breakfast breads, washed down with cappuccino and soaked in the view with a background of Italian conversation.

Check the link above to discover the best place to stay in Vasto. Can’t believe I want more people to discover this beautiful old town. Instinct tells me to keep it to myself, but it’s just too good not to share.

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