Wasting Energy on WORK!

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Oh dear me! I’m tired, exhausted, I need some ENERGY!
It’s February and cold.
Not much daylight, and yes, I am getting old.
I rise at 5:15 am and stretch, not sure I’d get through the day without stretching those limbs. I lift light weights fifteen minutes and use the step machine for a little while too.
Then its shower, coffee, yoghurt, granola and off to work!
The day is a blur of calls, meetings, invoices…….you know, I think thats the problem. I feel fine in the morning, but that thing called work is sapping my energy.
I think I need to give it up!

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!

Dolce Far Niente

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This only happens to me in Italy. I’ve tried to practice it here in the US, but it doesn’t work. There is always something do. There are things to do in Italy too, but somehow, they aren’t so important. What is more important is sitting with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine and just enjoying the moment.

Can’t wait to be back!

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!

An oasis of peace on three hills

No need to add any more to my retirement blog this week! This article says it all!

Colledimezzo is among the 20 most beautiful cities in Italy on Skyscanner

The travel search engine has announced the list of the 20 most beautiful cities for 2019: the small town in the province of Chieti among the places of undisputed beauty, to be inspired for the next trip out of town

colledimezzo-3Colledimezzo is among the 20 most beautiful cities in Italy on Skyscanner
An oasis of peace that saw its birth around the tenth century, Colledimezzo owes much of its fortune to the wild and lush nature of the Val di Sangro, which we recommend exploring through interesting trekking routes. But before getting lost in the green of Abruzzo you must get to know this mountain village closely dominated by a basilica in which a magnificent painting was found depicting “The Madonna with Child, Saint Francis of Assisi and the client” by Tanzio da Varallo … yes, one of the greatest Italian artists of the Seventeenth century! The church in question is that of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, a hidden wonder of our Peninsula. After a walk in the center and a salute to the Palazzo d’Avalosandate to find Lake Bomba and take a souvenir photo “you can read in the list published by Skyscanner.“

I’d like to add to this article by saying the folks who live in Colledimezzo are the warmest people I have ever met. They are helpful, friendly and welcoming. So glad we bought a home here. We can retire and relax in tranquility.

Saturday Morning – Practicing for Retirement

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I’m looking forward to the peace and tranquility of retirement, and of course, the views.

Saturdays are usually spent in a blur of chores, cleaning, changing the sheets etc. You know how it goes.  Even before a hair appointment, I’d rush round the house like a crazed whirling dervish. Why? What did it achieve? It just made me exhausted before I even left the house.

The weekends are always spent cleaning, and then preparing for the next work week. We have to work, but we shouldn’t let it rule our lives should we?

This morning I’m starting afresh, enjoying cappuccino and a spot of breakfast while catching up with the news. When I leave the house, I’ll be relaxed and refreshed.

Who wants to start the day exhausted? Retirement is on my brain and I’m practicing for my Italian life.

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.
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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.

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.

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