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.

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.

Pandemic Flight

I could have inserted an image of an airport, or the plane, but I thought the destination would be prettier. Colledimezzo in all its glory, taken today as I enjoyed my first morning walk.
Back to the flight, not as bad as I thought, but not great. My daughter dropped me at the airport in Denver. It was an emotional good bye for me. I miss her!
My Italian residency/ID card was the only documentation I needed to board the flight, other than my passport. Delta airlines did a great job. They kept folks distanced, boarding, and during the flight. More than I could say for other airlines, where folks jostling and pushed to board. I’ll remember how well Delta did during these awful times and fly with them again.
Atlanta was uneventful, but I noticed the airport was not so strict on mask wearing. The international terminal was pretty empty, so I just kept my distance from folks. I’d already completed my documentation allowing me to land in Amsterdam. For those passengers who hadn’t, it was handed out at the gate prior to boarding. Thanks to my daughter I was in first class on this flight. Food was delicious, as was the champagne.
This was the first time I’d flown through Amsterdam. Busy airport, even during a pandemic. My temperature was checked and my documentation stamped before I could proceed to my departure gate.
My flight from Amsterdam to Rome was a little uncomfortable due to an ignorant selfish idiot sitting in the same row as me. Luckily there was an aisle and three seats between us because he wore his mask under his chin and proceeded to cough and sneeze into his hands throughout the flight. He was warned more than once by the flight attendant, but as they say…”you can’t fix stupid”.
I was very relieved when we landed in Rome, and even more relieved to collect my luggage. I always fear it won’t be there.
My husband was waiting for me…I survived a pandemic flight.

New Home – New Life – Retirement

Well here I am! Been talking about it and planning it for three years, but never really thought it would happen!
I’m RETIRED!
In my head I thought I’d leave the US in a blaze of glory. I’d planned on hosting a leaving party at my local bar for a few close friends, but COVID came along and stopped that!
The two wonderful folks I supported at Western Union, hosted a small, safe, socially distancing party, which was absolutely wonderful. I was able to say goodbye to a few close friends who’d made a difference in my life. I had to fight back the tears as they said lovely things about me…were they really talking about me? I almost stood up and said STOP, I’ve changed my mind…I’m staying, but here I am, thousands of miles away in Southern Italy.
I miss my daughter, and I miss my friends, but I know they understand I needed a quieter, more relaxed life. I’m very lucky to be able to follow my dreams.
More stories to come.

Pre-Flight NERVES!

It is August 25th today, and two day before I fly to my new home in Italy! Of course my suitcase is overweight because of the things I forgot to send with the movers.
Two days before I fly and so far…my flight hasn’t been cancelled or rescheduled with impossible connections. (yet)
I’m nervous though!
I know I have to wear a mask, obvious, I always wear one when I leave the house. Now I have to take a plentiful supply because I have to change my mask every four hours on the international flight.
Also, the cabin crew can’t help my stow my carry on luggage in the overhead compartment. Makes sense, they have to consider their own safety and touch as little as possible. Yes, I had to re-pack my carry on to make it light enough for me to lift over my head.
I have two suitcases when I’m only allowed one. The second is much heavier than I’m allowed.
Instead of make up in my liquids baggie, I have disinfectant and hand sanitizer.
I have to take food on the plane with me, no guarantee I’ll be fed on the domestic leg of my journey.
Along with all of this, I worry about COVID.
I’ve never travelled through Amsterdam before so that airport is unfamiliar to me. My normal route is Denver/Frankfurt/Rome. This time its Denver/Atlanta/Amsterdam/Rome.
Did I mention I was nervous?
Pray for me everyone.

Shedding my Stress

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The last six weeks have been incredibly stressful. Making an International move during a pandemic isn’t the easiest thing to do.
On Friday July 31st, we left our home of 22 years for the very last time. It was no longer a home, just a house, an empty shell. The lovely couple who bought it will make it their home now. They were excited and full of plans and ideas…all I have now are memories.
Exhausted, and still stressed, we checked into the airport hotel. After a “bon voyage” dinner with my daughter and son in law, we had an early night. My husband’s flight was at 6:30 the following morning. A flight to Rome that filled us with trepidation. Fear of catching COVID on the way. Fear of being refused entry to Italy, even though we’re residents…so much fear.
Still trying to relax, I headed up to the Rocky Mountains with my daughter, son in law, and their pups (Queen Tess and Fendi).
We drank wine, had some good food and watched lovely sunsets, but I couldn’t relax until I knew my husband had arrived safely in Abruzzo.
Finally, yesterday morning, my cell phone rang and the number displayed was “Lester Italian”.
“I’m in Pescara, I made it.”
Pescara was the last leg of his journey before he picked up the rental car and drove to our home in Colledimezzo. Now he must quarantine, and then be tested for COVID, but I’m not worried about that so much. My gut tells me he’s okay!
Now, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, I can finally shed my stress and count the days until I join him.

Just Let me Fly

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To my friends my retirement plans appear to have gone smoothly. Things just fell into place!
They weren’t back stage watching me manage contractors across the Atlantic. Rising at 5:00 am, translating emails, working with furniture stores, banks, Realtors and trying to understand how to get things done the Italian way.
Luckily for me, the folks in our new village are wonderful, kind, helpful people. We couldn’t have done this without them.
“Oh things have gone so easily for you”
NO! It has taken perseverance.
Now we’re in the final chapter. House sold, furniture donated or sold. This final piece of the puzzle should have been easy. Book a flight and “hey presto” we’re on our way to Italy!!!
Not quite! Thank you Mr. Trump, for not being a great leader, actually for not being a leader at all.
Thank you for making Americans unwelcome in Europe! Luckily for us we have Italian residency and UK passports, but getting a flight from the US to Italy is almost impossible. We’ve had two cancelled already.
This isn’t the fault of Delta Airlines, who have been outstanding and helped us through this mess. I rebooked my flight for the third time yesterday, thanks to the great travel agents at American Express. They went above and beyond to help me. Lets hope the third time is a charm.
It isn’t COVID 19 that is bringing the USA to its knees. It is the way it is being handled, or should I say, not handled. Please Mr. Trump, in your last few months as President, show some compassion and decency to the folks of country you promised to “make great again.”

Sleepy Village

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Days are slipping away. I sit sipping my cappuccino and reflecting on my life. We are soon to leave our Colorado home of over 20 years. Actually it’s not even ours anymore, we’re tenants now, until we move out on August 1st. The house is sold to a wonderful couple who fell in love with it, just the way we did all those years ago. Every window has a view, mountains, trees, deer, sunsets. I know they’ll while away the evenings on the deck, watching the sunset, listening to the silence of dusk after the birds decide to slumber.
I’ve never tired of this house, or the view, but I have grown tired of the busy American lifestyle. I love my job, and the folks I work with. I’ll miss my friends, but the years seem to be flying by. Wish my daughter was moving with me, but she’ll visit. I’m ready to take life at a slower pace in a sleepy little village called Colledimezzo!

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