YES I drove from Guardia Sanframondi in  Campania to  Pescara in Abruzzo by myself!! It was about 144 miles! I am so proud of myself…. Me who was and still is terrified of the narrow village streets and the winding country roads did okay on the autostradas even though I went through tunnels twice as long as the Lincooln tunnel and at 100km.  Joel if you’re listening, your mom drove as fast as 114km, can you believe it?

When I got to Termoli, I was ecstatic thinking, Pescara was just up the coast a bit but no, it was actually another 75 kilometers away and that part of the trip was horrible.When I arrived in Pescara I had no idea as to where the train station was and was lost for awhile and texting with Barbara who was patiently waiting wasn’t helping.  When I got some directions and found it, it was so big and I was on the other side from where she was, I couldn’t pull in because they wanted me to pay for parking.  I texted her I’m near a big black locomotive and a lot of motorcycles – Barbara thought I must be at another station!

By the time we got to Pineto our Airbnb hostess were wondering what happened to us? One didn’t speak English so she had her sister there to explain, however much was left very vague.  We were not exactly sure where the beach was or the grocery store and I was exhausted and not about to get in the car again.  So we ate a light meal of cheese, olives, sausage, and wine.


Tell me that doesn’t look like an Italian repast?

We had a horrible time with WiFi, only Barb was on because one of the women put the password on Her phone before they left.  The next day we had NO 💦 water , so we called.  The next door neighbor said we would have water tomorrow, oh well isn’t that nice?  Roberta ( the English speaking sister) sent another sister over who also spoke English and as she and Lucia (?) arrived the water came back on, Go figure, this is Italy.  But since she was here maybe she could get me on wifi. Turns out the letter that Barbara and both thought was a q was actually an a!

We spent a day exploring the town, having coffee, found an open air market,


We just happened upon this open air market and bought some apricots.

Barb bought an outfit, we had a pretty good meal at a local pizzeria, went grocery shopping.  Still tired from traveling we went to bed kind of early…at 5:45am a rooster started crowing, I thought I was dreaming. I opened my eyes found my glasses and looked at my phone for the time , Geez God! At about 7am the garbage truck came by, at 7:45am the man next door started up his car outside my window and opened his gate to leave.  At 8:00am the church which is about 100 yards away began ringing their 🔔 s.  The clanging went on for over a minute, and it was a Friday morning?? There was no a/c and no screens so we actually slept with the windows open.  Barbara pulled down the metal shade that has tiny air holes in but my room had French doors and a beautiful full sheer blue curtain, so my doors were open and just the curtain hung – by the way there were no bugs whatsoever coming in! Just noise!


This little church made BIG noise! Those 🔔 Bells! The Church Of San Francisco

Hi We thought we would cook dinner since our hostess left us a lb. of pasta and a ajar of pasata which is like tomato purée/sauce but when we tried to turn the stove on, there was no gas! After a phone call to Peter who suggested the gas was not turned on, I realized I had seen two yellow lever like handles under the sink and sure enough, I turned one and whaadayaknow, we had gas

To Be Continued…


The Boys on the Bike.


Our Last Night in Guardia

The day had finally come, my last one in Guardia Sanframondi.  Over the the last two weeks, so many expats left;  Mike Simon went home today, Michael left two days ago, Sharon from Chicago left last week, Linda and Mike from Nova Scotia left,  Dan went back to England, Judith returned to Northern California, Marsha and Chris went home to NJ, Glen went back to Canada, Kelly headed to Rome,  I guess It  was time for me to leave too.  Many of those mentioned above will return in the fall for the harvest of the grapes and the olives,  I wish I could too!

I sorted out the food, some to Anna, some I could take to Pineto with me.  I had bought a lot of things while I was at Nonna’s House, things you need if you are going to live there because it is not a hotel and the kitchen really didn’t have a lot of  everyday items you need if you are going to cook.  I kept telling Peter I would ask Pasquale for the money although I kinda knew I wouldn’t. As I did discuss with him that I had made many purchases, he suggested he would put them all in a box with my name on it – a Lori box, it will be here for you when you return.  I thought that was so sweet as well as good salesmanship

Pasquale suggested we all go out for dinner that night to celebrate out last night. He would take us to a restaurant in Telese that served Florentine steak. I was up for that and hoping they really knew how to cook it and not over cook it like the veal I had that has to come from the cow not the calf. I cut it up and threw it to the dogs next door!

We are on our way…. First hugs and kisses with Anna, Pasquale’s mother just in case I don’t see her in the morning.


Anna and me in the BAR.

Dawn is driving me and Joel is on the back of Pasquale’s new motorcycle. I told Dawn to be prepared, I was pretty sure we were in for a real “ride”.  Sure enough just as we head out of town Pasquale makes a sharp left down a steep hill, and the road twists and turns.  This is a really old road, one that goes from the town all the way down the mountain to the river!  Pasquale and Joel were zipping along, you would have thought they were racing for gold.  We tried to stay with them but common sense prevailed.


They hardly enjoyed themselves as you can tell.


Prepping for the ride back

The restaurant was great looking, not like any we had come across so far. The decor was a fusion of country farmhouse and Italian rustica.  Pasquale picked out four cuts of steak for us and we added insalata, chips, escarole and wine. What a feast! Heartily enjoyed by all right down to gnawing on the bone to get that tender rare meat.  If you are not in Firenze, and you want a great Steak Florentine, you must go to IL FIASCO DI VINO a Telese Terme.


What a fun date!

The whole evening was wonderful and of course there is always room for gelato. AND Pasquale bought dessert, he took us to a special gelato place.  I love ice cream as any reader of my blog knows.  He remarked that all the Americans who come only want gelato for desert, why?  Perchce mangiare il gelato e come fare sesso!

To Be Continued….

I Giorni Volano

Time waits for no one and as my time with Joel and in Guardia winds down,

The Days Are Flying By!

Sunday morning I have my own Guardia  ritual which is what most of the town does;  I get up, get dressed, grab my shopping bag and go to the open air farmer’s market.  I love it! This week I didn’t buy much because we are leaving.  I bought some oranges, bananas, tomatoes and olives.  I still had not used the fava beans  or fennel I bought last week.  Tonight for sure it would be orrichiette with fava beans and onions;  You cannot imagine how good that tastes and you will never find it in an Italian restaurant  in the USA.

Joel took me out driving so I could get over my fear of driving this Fiat 500L in Italy.  He is seriously and sincerely concerned about me driving from Campania to Abruzzo by myself. He’s concerned! I’m a wreck.  We try for a destination where I will follow the GPS. Sounds like a plan.  I was doing fine until I didn’t see the red light in Telese because the rear mirror in the Fiat blocked my view and the lights were on a pole that was about 6 ‘ tall on the side of the road.

Once I was out of town things went much smoother until she ( the gps) said to turn right after 300 meters. First of all if she is going to speak English, then why is does she speak in meters, I don’t know how far 300 meters is so I passed the turn.  So I turned around and made the turn. BAD MOVE! Within 50 yards I had a white gate with a flashing red light in front of me. Is it possible there is train here?  Two seconds later, the arm goes up and over the rise, two cars come barreling down straight at us.  “Move to the right” , Joel yells. I do and go up,over the small rise and immediately I came nose to nose with another car. I jerked the car off the road a bit, stopped, put it in neutral, and said I’m done.

You can guess where this is going…. we ended up on a road ( more like a path) wide enough only for one car literally. A car came at us, the woman pulled her car into a side shallow ditch, I kid you not, we drove on.  Joel was furiouL,s with the GPS and launched into a litany of how he would be a nervous wreck thinking about me while I was driving across Italy to Abruzzo with the GPS.  The next car that came toward us forced us up the side of the road.  That did it. Joel was really yelling about the insanity of following directions from this maniacal mechanical voice!  I just prayed we could go ahead, no more cars would come by and surely this road would end in some area of civilization ( since those cars had to come from somewhere). Yes it did….

Now that we were actually out of the woods I re-programmed the GPS (again) for our destination of Saint Agata Di Goti. For some reason we’re still 4 kilometers away.  Once we got into the really beautiful old village and parked the car, we were struck by its cleanliness, quaintness and charm.  People young and old were riding bicycles, eating gelato, sitting and talking.

The following photos are just a few of my impressions of Saint Agata di Goti.

I loved the character etched into this man’s face and posture

You can always find a few women sitting and talking in every village

A long view of the steeple

It’s pronounced
Cheen in ma! right Joel?

Wherever you look the streets are paved with these stones and yet another church.

Oh look our mayor is campaigning in Italy! Hey Bill there are no electoral votes there.

By the time we walked around it was getting dark and Joel had spotted a restaurant that looked inviting so we decided to eat in this charming village.  He ordered a pizza Bolognese thinking it would have some red sauce on it – thinking was the key word here because nowhere in the description was the word pommodori.  It was a pizza with slices of mortadella on it and dabs of pistachio purée.  Live and learn or at least ask mom to translate for you!

To be continued…






Mussolini made the trains run on time

On a very sunny Saturday Joel, Raffaele and I took a morning train to Naples.  I’ve always wanted to see it and last year Joel didn’t get to go very many places because of my broken foot, so we’re off.  I asked Raffaele to join us because I could not imagine wandering around there in the heat and not knowing how to get anywhere. The night before I told Raffaele what I wanted to see and we planned accordingly.

We got on the train in Telese and changed in Caserta for a train To Naples. No one collected out tickets. When we arrived at the station Raffaele said we should buy tickets for the underground so we would not have to so much walking.  The underground line we needed wasn’t running! We were told to take a bus across the street.  We waited and waited and waited and waited as many buses stopped and picked up people but none were the right bus for us.  Finally it arrived and it was insane to try to get on the bus. Even a rush hour Number 6 subway doesn’t get this jammed. A young man offered me his seat which meant he had to stand but not on the floor, the seats are slightly raised so he teetered on the edge. More people tried to get and at each stop people on the bus yelled at them to get off the doors would not close! Then the man sitting next to me brings a photo up on his phone and points to a man standing just in front of Raffaele- He is a known pickpocket and the police publish his photo to warn the public, OMG.  No tickets were collected.

I wanted to see The Veiled Christ, so after buying tickets, we stood in line. Once in you are warned repeatedly not to take any photos.

Magnificent Sculpture
The Veiled Christ
Giuseppe Sanmartino

It was a very moving experience – you slowly circled the roped off sculpture with a small group of people (they only allow so many in at a time) and you hear the intake of breaths, and the exclamations as the viewers see the extraordinary artistry of this piece.; The veil with its myriad delicate folds and draping, then the hands, then the bones  and the veins and you marvel at how this could have been done out of marble?

After that we needed to ground ourselves with some food, so we stopped at Toto and Peppino’s, a nice little restaurant where we could sit outside in the shade and have some pizza (what else?) and insalata.  FYI Toto and Peppino were a famous Italian pair of comedic actors much like Abbott and Costello.

Next,  The National Archeological Museum Of Naples.  I said I only wanted to see the Pompeii exhibit, however, apparently we had to walk through some sculptures of god and goddesses which were impressive.  I think Raffaele was disappointed in my lack of enthusiasm for the sculpture so I had to play the sort of American no European really likes, and tell him about Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York and how it is FILLED with sculpture and paintings that I have seen many times.  He, however, was curious about the MET. Was it larger than this? Yes very much so. Does it have other cultures represented? Yes, floors dedicated to ancient civilizations, whole wings of Medieval armory, Egyptian pyramids, and on and on. I think I will send him a book about our wonderful museum.


You can see the burned areas of the mosaic


Quite intact mosaic

I was actually not pleased the Pompeii exhibit since it was primarily a lot of paintings and mosaics, all marvelous and obviously salvaged from the homes of wealthy Pompeiians.  I had hoped to see every day household items.  However there was one glass case filled with the most amazing measuring instruments.  There were brass ball plumb lines,  a primitive form of a protractor and other devices used in far future centuries.

There was also some erotic art on display along with some instruments of torture and a box full of anatomical body parts used to beseech the gods for various favors such as childbirth.


Sex has been around a long time


Zeus misbehaving as a swan

Then we have Zeus who liked to,transform  himself into various creatures and disguises so he could have his way with women, presumably those who were married to some mortal man.

We still had two churches to go and the famed Christmas Alley ( where all the the tchotchkes are sold and some of the Neoplolitan Christmas figurines.

First stop Chiese di Gesu Nuevo; This is by far the most baroque church I have ever been in.  It is overwhelmingly gilded and marbled and is that all in the name of glory to God? Neither Joel or Raffaele loved it.  I thought it was an over the top statement for sure but there was wedding about to be held when we were there. The whit carpet was rolled out, the altar was full of white flowers and I think that bride was one fortunate girl to have her wedding performed in such a grand place.


The Church of New Jesus Gesu Nuevo

At the other end of the spiritual expression of faith was the Chiese de Santa Chiara.  A lovely church, simple and dignified yet filled with spectacular stained glass windows, of which there was none in the baroque church.  AND there was wedding about to be held here too.  We saw the bride outside the church with her father and respectively waited till the bridal party made their way down the aisle and we followed them in.  Sitting off to the side we listened to the Mass in Italian and it was beautiful.


Joel in Santa Chiara’s Church


Saint Chiara above the altar Beautiful,stained glass

After a swift trip through Christmas Alley looking and poking through booth after booth pretty much selling the same things, we headed to the train station.  Our route took us down an infamous street named Forchella, an area known for the black market  cigarette trade now, but gangland shootings in the days when the camorra ruled the neighborhood.  I saw women with wooden boxes with lids hawking cigarettes and then when the siren of the approaching polizia could be heard as he tried vainly to get his vehicle up the street, the lids closed! The police had difficulty coming up the street because the people, the cars and the ever-present motorcycles did not open a path for it.

Finally on the train to Caserta.  At Caserta we were to connect to Telese BUT no train.  We waited and waited and waited and finally Raffaele tracked (pun intended) down an official who explained that the train was late due to police action farther back on the line. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes….the train arrives and we are on our way home, it is late, dark and we’re hungry.

Oh well, they said, Mussolini made the trains run on time!

To Be Continued…




Thursday morning the alarms went off and we were out the door to meet Tina ( our friend from Molise/Campobasso), who was kind enough to join us on our trip to Caserta, but also to drive.

Tina is gracious, generous and the kind of Italian mother you’ve heard about….She has two sons who she loves dearly and within two minutes in her company, Joel became a prince.  If he wasn’t finished with his coffee, we would wait, because this was to be a free fun day with no rules!  You know that was music to his ears after 3 days with me, who was trying to get him up early to eat breakfast before noon!

We got in the car to go and Joel thought he should go back in the bar to get water.  Not necessary – Tina has bottles of frozen water packed, along with lunch for a picnic on the grounds of the Royal Palace.

Finally I was making the trip to Caserta to see The Royal Palace, the House of the Kings of Naples. Up until today, I thought the king was in Naples because Naples was the capital of Italy at that time. WRONG!  There was no unified country known as Italy, there was a kingdom that bordered just south around  Rome then looped northeast to what  might now be Abruzzo or Molise and included the entire southern peninsula and at times the Island of Sicily.

It was a warm sunny day and surprisingly there were no crowds at the Palace. We were so lucky.  Hot as it was outside, it was nice and cool inside and walking on marble floors within marble walls makes for a pleasant temperature on a hot day.

First picture of the day taken by Tina


I can’t believe you want me to walk up all those stairs!


Joel and Tina on ONE of the magnificent marble staircases

Did you know?  That this palace was designed in the style and fashion of Versailles? That it is the LARGEST royal palace in all of Europe?  Bigger than Buckingham Palace and bigger than Versailles and it has this magnificent garden planted in the shape of a violin.  I tried to get a good image of the garden which surrounds the Palace but was unable. Here is a photo taken as we traveled up the neck of the violin.


Angels adorn the neck of the violin and fish swim in the water.

And inside the grandeur continues to excess…


It might be a little much for our apartment.

For such an important king, such a small throne,


The King Of Naples throne

If you were not Michaelangelo, no one knows who painted al these magnificent ceilings.


Every Ceiling was a Masterpiece

All that glitters is not gold BUT IT IS MARBLE underneath!


All That Glitters…

And what could be better than a picnic on the Royal grounds?


Tina, A Wood Nymph

Joel hardly enjoyed his pizza.


Chowing Down a Slice.


This really has been a heck of a trip so far…By Wednesday I figured Joel would be over his jet lag NOT! So best to let him sleep late because we  have a 2:30 appointment with my friend, Raffaele to take us on a tour of the medieval village.  Sleep deprived and a little grumpy, it’s been hard to get him eating on an Italian time schedule.

We are blessed to have Raffaele as a tour guide because he actually lived in the medieval village. His was the world of these myriad stone paths and steep stone steps to where?


Enjoying the view!

We spent a couple hours traipsing through the labyrinth of narrow streets, spotting the churches, small plazas, steep stairs going where(?), the new doorways and the abandoned


I Wonder Who Lived There?

All throughout this formerly abandoned town (village) you can see the reclamation and restoration work of the 100+ expats who have bought homes here.  The following photo was taken on The Artist’s Way, a street called that because many of the houses are owned by artists, one being Clare Galloway, a Scottish painter who was the first foreigner who moved into Guardia.


Along the Artist’s Way

Clare was featured in three episodes of House Hunters International, probably the main impetus for infusion of  Americans and Canadians in Guardia.

In the midst of one of my descents down some stone stairs, my phone rang and it is Peter.  He was at the airport and his flight had been cancelled!  Was this airline crap ever going to end? He had been hanging around for hours with about 22 other angry passengers, getting mixed messages from TAP.  He thought they might get on an AIR Italia flight ( didn’t happen).  I would call him back when I left the village.

After the tour, we went to the Bar for a drink and joined a festive group of expat friends, Mike, Cindy, Steve, and Dawn.  It was lovely sitting out on the terrace sipping wine and nibbling on snacks ( except for the noisy diesel tractors coming home from the fields). I called Peter and he didn’t pick up – maybe he is on a flight.  So I contacted our house sitter who was going to leave tomorrow and asked him to contact Edith, our NYC cat sitter and ask her to feed the cats  because only God and  TAP know when Peter will get home!

Drinks turned into dinner at a new restaurant in town, Il Platano, the place is lovely, pizza is good, it’s really hard to get bad food here, lol 😂.  It was late, we had climbed up and down a lot so going home and to bed sounded like a great idea because we had to get up early the next day for a trip to Caserta.  I tried Peter one more time with no luck.

My phone rang at 1:30am! Guess who? My husband was excited to tell me that finally TAP flew them to Lisbon, put them up in a fancy hotel 50 minutes outside the airport and will fly the tomorrow to JFK.  I said, it’s 1:30am here, I’m in bed, have to get up early, glad you are at least in Lisbon, nice you are in fancy hotel, I took care of Seth who should call Edith, make sure you pay when you get home, pay the electric bill too, I love you, good night, talk to you….

To Be Continued…




So good to me.  Monday mornin’ , it was all I hoped it could be….

Peter left for Rome very early Monday morning, hitching a ride with two other expats heading out of Guardia.  Luigi (Pasquale’s father) drove the trio to Telese, the nearest town with train service.

It started out all right;  the alarm went off, he had packed the night before.  I mumbled from the bed, do you have your passport? Pills? Take a banana, I love you, make sure you close the door.  And went back to sleep.

A couple of hours later, he called in a real panic!  He didn’t have his passport, it was 90 degrees in Rome and he was soaking wet from the long walk from the Termini to the somewhat obscure hotel I had found.

What do you mean you don’t have your passport?  You heard me I don’t have it.  Well of course I said, you must have it.  However Peter claimed he searched all of his bags.  Thankfully, the desk clerk let him in so he could go to the room and search thoroughly because groping in his suitcases in the lobby was difficult.  I looked in the night stand drawers and all around the bedroom.  Now we were both in a panic!  He thought he would have to come back by train and I said, why, it’s not here!  Now I know that when I’m frantic and think I’ve lost something, I keep looking in the places where it should be and it isn’t – until it is!  While we were talking, he kept searching and there it was, tucked into a small zippered pocket he hadn’t noticed before.  Thank God, that disaster was averted.

On a lighter note, when the the trio had to change trains in Caserta, Kelly and Mike had a two page printout for their tickets and Peter had one, uh oh…. Kelly to the rescue.  He calls Pasquale (who had printed Peter’s ticket out the day before) who says, “Turn it over”! Lol.

Joel was expected to land in Naples at 7:30pm.  I had arranged for Pasquale to pick him up.  About 5:00I get a frantic call from Joel ( it’s been that kind of a day), saying he got off the plane in Milan and has no ticket to go to Naples, and the flight number on his itinerary is NOT on the departure board!  OMG 😮 So back and forth we go with: well find an Air Italy desk, there are no desks here only signs for gates, there must be maybe a sign for departures, go there where people check in, I told you I’m in a part of the terminal where there is nothing, but shops, I’m screwed. Go into a retail shop..what good is that going to do? Listen to me, go into a shop they all speak English, ask where you can get information about Air Italy! OK.  They send him to some gate where, yes the flight number was changed, guess they were keeping it a secret!  Joel sends me a text saying he is getting on plane 6:15.  I show this to Pasquale and he searches the departing flights from Milan to Naples and nothing is leaving then.  Texting Joel is futile – I think he must be on the plane already since it is now like 6:10.  Pasquale continues to search for a flight leaving Milan and I’m saying maybe we should go now so we are there when he lands.  I say, please call the Naples airport they must know when planes are landing!   Come to find out Pasquale never even heard of Air Italy!!! Now as I am looking at his computer screen, I see a flight from Milan, Flight #615! Geez Louise, Joel never made it clear that the new flight number was 615 or that he was getting on the plane 6:15 and you saw how he texted it.  Color me exasperated.  So the computer says the plane will land at 7:40 which means we should be on the road already, but while we were scrolling through the list of flights, he DID call the airport.  It took a while but finally he got a hold of someone who looked up the flight and said that plane wasn’t arriving till 9:30pm because it was going to stop in Rome on the way to Naples.  Thank God we called.

So time for a quick chicken dinner with Michael and then Pasquale and I took off for Naples Airport.  If you think your airport like LaGuardia in NY or West Palm in FLA where they don’t want you to stop for a minute to pick someone up with their luggage is tough, then don’t go to Naples Airport.  The police regularly come through and make all the cars move that are semi-parked and waiting for an arrival and don’t want to pay exorbitant parking fees.

Luckily I hopped out of the car, found Joel in an instant, and we were on our way.  Joel had now been traveling for 17 hours through at least 4 time zones and he was bleary-eyed and hungry.  We stopped for pizza and gelato on the way home and we got home just after midnight.  The last of  Monday’s madness.