A Taste of Abruzzo – Oh what a Lunch!

Rinascita Lancianese in Lanciano is our favorite Cantina. I don’t think they make a wine we don’t like. Alessandro, my Italian friend/language coach introduced us to this cantina because it’s run by a very good friend of his! On Sunday we attended a wine/food tasting event at Rinascita Lancianese and it was wonderful. OMG the pork!
The mouth watering dishes above don’t include dessert. We drank their white sparkling wine, Trebbiano and a wonderful Merlot. It was organized for expats. Australians, Americans and Brits. There were 20 of us and we had a blast.
Did I mention the pork?

Good Day Everyone – Buon giorno a tutti!

Too much time has passed since my last post. We’ve been busy, but in a fun way. If I ever had to start working again I’d have a problem, I don’t have the time.
A week ago we took our first tourists around Colledimezzo. So glad we got involved in this project, it was fun! Since then we’ve been on the go the whole time. Our life here is full of fun and surprises. I’m still discovering new places to shop for local food, delicious cheeses and all things Abruzzese. I’m also still finding things I need for the house. We came here with very little.
Domenico, our brilliant carpenter, finished the bench for our little alcove/bar area so I had to find cushions. I was so excited to find a couple of large side cushions that look like photographs of our village. Aren’t they gorgeous? On Sunday we hosted lunch for five very good friends. I cooked pasta di fagioli, which is a soup starring cannelloni beans and small pieces of pasta. I followed that with chicken, sausages and onion’s roasted in the oven. It all went very well. Good food, good friends and great conversation. Of course the wine was excellent too.
Today I’m a little tired…but managed to muster up strength to help with a firewood delivery for our neighbors that live down the steps from us. Our neighbors from Iceland jumped in to help too, and the wood was soon stacked neatly away.
What now? A little (very little) bit of housework and then maybe a walk. It is a glorious day.

Buon giorno a tutti!

I just ordered a Limoncello!

The short three and a half hour drive from Colledimezzo to Minori was easy. Lovely countryside, small villages and beautiful blue skies We arrived at the Minori Palace Hotel and were pleasantly surprised. Beautiful hotel and lovely friendly staff.

It didn’t take us long to unpack our small bags and soon we wandered down the cobbled road looking for a place to eat. We weren’t hopeful because in the past, restaurants on the Amalfi Coast opened in the evening. Lunch time was always a challenge. COVID has changed things a little. We hadn’t gone far when we came upon a lovely looking place. We stopped and had a delicious seafood meal. I decided to have a Limoncello with my dessert, and laughed when I was presented with a gigantic lemon to go with it, only in Italy!

Our quick four day trip has started well.

The Color of the Amalfi Coast

Finally! A trip to the Amalfi Coast. Abruzzo is my home, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but I still want to travel. I love every inch of this country, but some places are very special. Ravello on the Amalfi Coast is one of those places.
I haven’t visited the Amalfi Coast since 2017. It’s been way too long!
In the past it has been a long and tiring journey from the US, but this time, a three and a half hour drive. I may make a habit of it.
Watch out for photos…

Vasto – Seafood and Sunshine

My daughter and I flew to Abruzzo in August 2017 giddy with excitement because we were house hunting. Come on, who wouldn’t be excited about house hunting in Italy? It was a dream come true. Our trip was successful! We found a perfect house in the incredibly beautiful village of Colledimezzo.
My husband’s first trip to Abruzzo was in March 2018. Another crazy, busy, whirlwind trip. In two weeks we bought furniture, light fittings and everything else we needed to make it home. Very few people in the stores spoke or understood English and our Italian was terrible, but we managed, thanks to everyone’s kindness and patience. It was exhausting, but worth it.
During our March 2018 visit we stayed in the beautiful Residence Amblingh in Vasto https://www.amblingh.it/
Wonderful place!
Now, in 2021, we call Colledimezzo home and enjoy revisiting all of the restaurants we discovered over three years ago. Today we visited Vasto. It was a beautiful sunny day. Restaurants are open again and we were happy to see Lo Scuda, one of our favorite haunts, has survived COVID. In 2018 we had our first lunch there. Delicious seafood, a little too much wine, and a lot of fun. Our meal today brought back many happy memories. The food was pretty good too!

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)

Remembering Rome

I’ve visited Italy since I was a teenager, and always been smitten, but Rome sealed the deal. In 2010 we spent over two weeks in Rome. It took my breath away. There was a surprise around every corner. We’ve visited often since then, and never tire of its ancient beauty.
Now Rome is only a three hour drive away, but of course with the current situation, a drive we can’t make. Today, feeling optimistic, I’ve made a reservation to stay in Rome for four nights in September. If it’s not meant to be I can cancel the reservation. I don’t need to book flights anymore, so what do I have to loose?

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 5) Atessa.

 

 

I’d booked a hotel in a town close by, not knowing the route would take us through Colledimezzo.
colledimezzo, municipio (1)

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

Colle2

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.

Colle

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