Living Cheaply in Italy – Vivere a buon mercato in Italia

You can live cheaply by shopping wisely, but the priceless views are free.

When we first moved to Italy clothes shopping was difficult. First, we didn’t know where to shop, also, the Italians are smaller and more petite than us. Hubby is six foot three inches, so trousers are an issue. He tends to put off shopping until we visit our daughter in the US. Our new area makes it a little easier for me because I’ve made myself familiar with the many weekly markets. Even our little market in Villa Lempa is packed with bargains. The week before Christmas I bought myself a lovely red sweater to wear on Christmas day, it cost me €10, which is less than the local taxes I paid for sweaters in the US! It washed well, and I liked it so much, I bought another one in a different colour.

We enjoyed a very cheap New Years Eve this year, not by intention, it just happened. We set out to get lunch at a local restaurant, but when we saw how full the parking lot was, changed our mind, and went to “My Way” Bar and Pizzeria in Villa Lempa, which is one of our favourite places for Pizza. For thirteen euro we shared a huge pizza washed down with a glass of wine (or two if your name is Lester). After our pizza, we walked across the piazza to another cafe/bar (McDream Music Cafe & Food). We’d been meaning to try it for a while, but never yet ventured in. It was warm enough to sit outside, and I ordered a couple of glasses of Prosecco (and some dolce for hubby). The Prosecco came with a selection of a snacks. We weren’t hungry, but nibbled on them because they were too delicious to leave. The wine, cake and snacks cost only €7.50. Thats what I call a cheap New Years Eve.

During the evening our daughter called, she was having a late breakfast after skiing in fantastic new powder in the Colorado Rockies. I love hearing from her, and knowing how happy she is, it ended 2022 on a very good note. Also our good friend Nino called to wish us Happy New Year. My family in Italy! We managed to stay awake to see the New Year in. It was wonderful watching fireworks across the valley. A truly spectacular way to welcome 2023.

Happy New Year Everyone!

The Beautiful Adriatic

I woke up at 5:30 am yesterday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep! I opened the window and let the morning air freshen the room. It felt good. We had a busy day ahead and by 9:00 am we were on our way to Pescara to deliver original, signed documents to Fabrizio, the agent handling our house purchase. This is the first time we’ve met him in person. Nice guy, glad to make his acquaintance. All of our niggling questions were answered and we feel better now. We were back home by 12:30 and after a quick lunch we did little more packing. When the church bells chimed 4:00 I stopped. I was exhausted and imagined it was much later. It had been a very long day. Instead of my usual evening walk I relaxed and enjoyed a glass of ice cold wine. I found a very good bottle purchased in Tropea, Calabria, last year. I knew it would make me sleepy, but was too tired to do anything else anyway. Moving house in your mid-sixties is a little hard. I think I’m doing okay though. There’s a lot of energy in this old girl, and the house we found in Gabbiano has inspired me. I think it was meant to be.

Today we took the day off and lunched with friends in on the sea front in Casalbordino. After lunch we drove along the coast to Vasto and had a delicious gelato, best I’ve had in years. After devouring way too many calories, we dipped our toes in the beautiful blue Adriatic. It was warm and soothing. Today was a very good day!

Ice Cream even makes my husband keep a smile!

Last Day in Denver?

Will this be our last day in Denver? I thought Friday was our last day, and then it snowed. Not that we haven’t loved being with our daughter, we have, but I feel like the world has been playing with my head. Covid, Spring snow storms, flight cancellations? You really can’t make this stuff up can you?
We are all packed and ready to go…again. Tonight is our last night with Joanna and Christian, and of course Princess Tess. Tomorrow we will stay at the Airport Westin at Denver International Airport, and hope our flight actually leaves. I’ve loved being here, but I am missing Italy. It is my home now.
I wish I’d got to visit more friends while here in the US, but not possible, COVID took ten days out of our visit. We’ll be back, but not for a while.
July will be spent packing up our house ready to move to Gabbiano in Teramo Province. I’m both sad and excited. The friends I’ve made in Colledimezzo are the best, and will miss them terribly. I’m confident we’ll be back to visit them, and they will visit us too. I’m also confident I’ll make many new friends in the new area. My heart has been in Italy for as long as I can remember.
While staying with Joanna I’ve thoroughly enjoyed pottering around in her garden. I didn’t realize how much I missed that and can’t wait to transform my new outside space. There is a lot of hard work to be done before we move though, but I’m ready and all I need to do is focus.

A day has passed since I started this blog, and now I’m in a room at the Westin at DIA, drinking a glass of Chardonnay and feeling horrified at the price. Two glasses of wine cost me more than we would normally pay for a three course lunch with as much wine as we could drink in Abruzzo. How could this ever have been normal for us? I suppose because we both worked, and had good jobs, but now we’re retired, I resent the prices.

Can’t wait to be back in Italy! Abruzzo, I’ve missed you.

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?

Autumn in the Air

It’s September (Settembre) tomorrow. Even though the temperatures are still in the upper 20’s (upper 70’s lower 80’s in Fahrenheit), it’s feeling a little cold. After three months of upper 30’s (upper 90’s f) anything feels cold. I’m enjoying it though.

It’s the season to bake pies and make preserves. This year seems to have been a good year for figs. I’ve made lots of fig jam, (marmellata), and a big tray for fresh fig pies. The hot peppers are ready too, so I’m making jars of delicious pecante (hot pepper) sauce. There are fruit trees everywhere. Yesterday we were given a big bag of the delicious plums. Small, yellow and sweet. Yes, they were definitely plums and not apricots.

Today we stacked logs in the garage ready for the cold weather. Neatest stack of logs I’ve ever seen, stacked the Italian way. I’m looking forward to cozy evenings in front of the fire.

I had my first facial in Italy today, just down the road in Villa Santa Maria. Lovely little place. Even after being here a year, I could only understand half of what she said to me, but she was patient. It was very relaxing.

And now, I’m sitting out on the terrace with a glass of wine looking at the forest in front of me. There are tinges of orange in the trees, autumn (autunno) is coming.

Last year, on the highway, I remember following tractors pulling trailers full of freshly harvested grapes. It made me smile. I’ll be seeing them again soon. Life is simple and good here in Colledimezzo. People live from day to day. They get together in the evening and talk about food, football and family. It’s whats important to them and what they love.

Lazy Days of Summer

I forgot about book marketing and writing today, and had a lazy day at home.

I had to pop out to the local Cantina in Bomba for some wine which was a pleasure. The Cantina is on a beautiful country road, a road I love to drive. It’s bordered with wild flowers and wild fruit trees. Gorgeous.
I bought a five liter box of their Vino Bianco, and a five liter box of Pecorino. The local wines are really good, better than I ever bought back in the US. Ten Liters of wine came to the grand total of…twenty one euros…yes, thats less than thirty dollars. Life is good!

I stopped at my favorite garden center and bought a few more plants for my terrace too. Have to be surrounded by pretty flowers while I drink my wine!

Pottered around trimming, repotting, and enjoying the day. Then cleaned myself up a bit and dragged my husband up to the piazza for a couple of drinks. Prosecco for me and Birra Italia for him.

It’s a hard life being retired.

Take care everyone and stay safe, get vaccinated, this new variant is a bad one.

Lazy Hazy Sunday!

This morning started bright and sunny so we decided to go ahead with our plans to visit Ortona. Beautiful drive, but by the time we got there it was spotting with rain. Not enough to wet us, and it was still warm, so we enjoyed our walk overlooking the Adriatic. Plan was to stop for lunch, but…there was no room at the Inn. Everywhere was fully booked. Of course there is only outside seating at the moment, so it’s difficult for both restaurants and diners. We enjoyed our walk anyway and headed back to the car.
On the way home we stopped off at a restaurant called “La Scogliera”, (the Cliff) which is just before San Vito and timed it just right. We were shown to a table for two, but after we arrived folks just kept showing up, and being turned away. Busy day!
The food was amazing! I was the DD and drank sparkling water, but my dear husband had two big glasses of wine, and a silly grin on his face.
I’m enjoying my glass of wine right now.

Largest Loaf on the Van

Largest Loaf on the Bread Van

This morning I woke up full of energy, so I breezed through my housework, repotted plants and rearranged furniture. That wasn’t enough! After brunch I was still full of energy. It was a beautiful day, so I took a walk. The clear blue sky was a perfect backdrop for the snow dusted mountains.

A three mile walk was easy, and brought me back to the piazza. A glass of wine seemed like a good idea, followed by another…and then someone persuaded me to have a third. The villagers, (cittadini) were socially distancing, but enjoying the sunshine and each others company. Then the bread van turned up. Lester, a huge bread fan, decided to purchase some delicious freshly made bread…and bought the biggest loaf on the van.
A good day I think, lets hope summer brings a drop in the new cases of COVID. We’re all ready to mingle and have fun.

Piano piano

There are rumors that the lockdown is going to become stricter in Abruzzo. The infections have risen over the past few days. There aren’t a huge amount of cases, but Abruzzo is very rural, so hospital beds are limited.
With that news, I decided to get out this afternoon and buy one or two things that may not be available to me next week. Wine of course!!! One of my favorite cantina’s “Spinelli” is close by, so I stocked up on Rosso, Pecorino and Rosato.
Next stop was a nursery/flower shop called “One Shop”. I don’t have a garden here by choice. After tending to over three acres in Colorado I decided a patio was all I wanted. It’s a little too early for summer flowers, but I managed to find few flowering shrubs to pretty up the area by my back door. Also herbs for the balcony on the top floor. Nothing better than fresh herbs.
Shopping in small, local, family run shops is a perfect opportunity to practice my Italian vocabulary. Today, for the very first time, I was able to speak more Italian than English. I was thrilled to be understood and happy to translate English words into Italian when requested. The friendly people in this area love to learn English just as much as I enjoy learning Italian.
Piano piano (slowly slowly), I’ll get there in the end.
Colledimezzo is a very small village, with around 550 inhabitants, and currently we have four active COVID cases. All isolated, but it is still a worry. I don’t think they’re seriously ill. Speriamo di no. (We hope not).


We invited friends to our home for lunch yesterday.
I set the table ahead of time with glasses, bowls and napkins, then stood back to see how it looked.
It was a table that invited lively conversation. It was a table set for five friends to sit and enjoy good food and wine.
I reflected on how my life has changed this year.
I no longer have crystal glasses, with matching decanters, or fine plates and bowls. I left those in the US for my my daughter to enjoy. She’s young and will appreciate them for many years to come.
My glasses don’t match, nor do my pans.
The wine is no longer $30 a bottle, but seven euros for a five liter box from the local Cantina, and much more enjoyable.
Yesterday was the first time I’d invited one of our Italian friends to eat with us, and I was terrified. We’ve enjoyed meals in his kitchen on several occasions and he is an excellent cook. Of course he brought one of his culinary masterpieces, which made our little soiree even more enjoyable. I sighed with relief when he complimented my risotto!
“You’re a good cook.” He said. I was thrilled.
Here in Abruzzo, it doesn’t matter what your glasses look like, or whether or not your plates match. What does matter is the people who sit around your table and share your food. People come first and foremost here, and thats the way it should be.
I still miss my daughter, she should have been here with us for Christmas…next year!

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