Posts Tagged ‘Florence’

Everybody knows that Robert De Niro is a great Oscar-winning actor and he doesn’t like DT, BUT did you know that his great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from the town of Ferrazzano in the region of Molise?  Yes, Molise, same region that my grandfather was from, and where I visited twice this past May.


As you approach Mirrabello in Molise, you can’t help but notice an imposing village in the distance high up on a mountain.  That would be Ferrazzano.


So when Joel and I went to Molise, we also went to see this pretty town.  We didn’t realize it would be so windy up there, boy did it howl! Tina Di Giglio, a friend we made in Molise last year, led us up there.  We were to follow her, lol, who knew it was going to be a motocross race!  Tina, like every other Italian driver races to wherever they are going at breakneck speed.  We stopped in some parking area with a great view, but not before she led us through a street (I use that term loosely because it was an alley), so narrow,I pulled the side mirror in!

The almost 360 degree panorama was breathtaking. My photos don’t do justice. Joel walked down to another level, but the cobble stones and the stairs were too much for me and my boot.


From our perch, we could look out and see Campobasso which I believe is like the county seat of that province of Molise.


i saw this gate and doorway, thought it was interesting, so…


If you ever thought recycling in the United States was a pain, you just haven’t experienced Guardia Sanframondi’s system.  It is so complex and confusing that every month you can pick up a calendar at the Municipal and every night you take the garbage out and hang it on a hook that is attached somewhere on your building or a wall in your driveway.  IMG-20180503-WA0000.jpg

And the garbage bags have faces 🤓😳🤢!!

Jumping back to Florence for a moment, while on the hunt for the perfect birthday gift for myself on the Ponte Vecchio (naturally), we came across a very Italian street entertainment;  A Punch and Judy puppet show!


It was such a treat to see the little kids sitting down and watching in awe as the hustle and bustle of the Ponte Vecchio area surrounded them.

As much as I loved being in Guardia and Italy in general, there were two disturbing national and cultural issues;  Way too many people in Italy smoke! Really, I was shocked by the prevalence of smokers everywhere.


AND the diesel automobiles 🚗  🚙 hold your nose! Sometimes in traffic we would be caught in the midst of a bunch of diesel powered vehicles.

,VINO and OIL, well that’s what the sign said… I’ve already told you about this place The Forresta Cooperative where both the olive oil and the wine are local  and in great supply!  Remember I said the wine was in huge silver tanks, there for your own pumping so to speak.  Seeing is believing…


And the olive oils



Ciao for now!

To be continued…





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Out and about on a warm and sunny Saturday, we head back to the Flea Market to visit the food stalls in the industrial building.  When I walked in, it reminded me very much of a marketplace I went to in Paris, with the olive oil vendors and cheese mongers.  It was definitely a foodie haven.  I roamed the aisles which were full of families shopping, this being a Saturday.  20180428_130946.jpg

Wherever you looked, your eyes feasted on mounds of fresh verdura (vegetables), hanging formaggio (cheese) and salsiccia (sausage). 20180428_130001.jpg I pointed out a few Italian specialties that I knew Peter would never eat  nor understand why anyone else would eat them;  20180428_130304.jpgWhole rabbits were for sale, lots and lots of tripe (stomach intestine), the latter which I can hardly believe I ate for dinner many a night with my father. Now the thought of….let’s not go there.20180428_130202.jpg

The cooking school was on the second floor which was also one huge food court.  20180428_131235.jpgPeople everywhere eating plates of pasta and platters of mortadella, prosciutto, cheeses and olives. AND coffee or rather espresso-Italians love their tiny cups (like a shot) of espresso a few times a day.  There’s no sitting down to linger over a cup of coffee and have the waitress refill your cup. Nope, it’s a stand, sip, swig and go, for them.  Practically everyplace in Italy has a bar or is a bar and is not to be confused with an American bar although they often have wine, beer and some liquors too.

But today is a shopping day, I can feel it in my bones.  Late yesterday as we cruised through the marketplace I spied a particular style handbag 👜 and was hoping to buy one today if I could decide on the right color, decisions, decisions!  So out we go into the crowd of shoppers and after much haggling with one dealer we purchase a very nice belt for Peter and with more negotiating for that special price for you lady,  I bought a lovely pale pink handbag that will never fit in my suitcase going home and and impractical to carry on the plane because it doesn’t close up tightly enough.  Then again not sure practicality plays a big role in impulse shopping.

Enough of this stuff, where’s the antique flea market?  We don’t know who to ask, so we start walking down some other streets in our neighborhood when we come across – you won’t believe it! – A head shop.  It was like a candy store literally, colorful  and happy.  We’re on vacation so what the hey?! I pick out 5 lollipops 🍭 and some stuff that looks like brown rock candy.  I think I asked the woman at the counter about the flavor of one of the lollies and that’s when she casually mentioned that there was no CBD in them. “OH?” MMMmmmm.  That’s when she said that marijuana was illegal in Italy!! A store in Florence full of paraphernalia, pipes, hookahs, edibles, papers and more but NOT really selling marijuana.  I put the lollipops back. She did add that those amber colored candies had a trace of the oil of CBD, “for relaxation “, she said.  Tucked those little sweeties in my handbag and before we left we tried to find out if they knew where there might be an antique flea market?  It was suggested we head to St. Ambroseus Square, and once again we asked  kind strangers to call a taxi for us.

Upon arriving at said square all we found was a couple of racks of used clothing 👎.  We walked around and saw a sign in the distance, stopped at at restaurant to ask what it was and joy of joys, the answer was “oh some antiquities”.  I told you, we have a magnetic attraction to such places.  We split up, each going our own way, it was a two aisle flea market and I found two booksellers with 💯 ‘s of books and neither had what I was searching for – Alice nel  paease delle Meraviglie while Peter was probably drawn to the vintage clothing stalls.  We met in the middle, well that’s not quite true I found him trying to decide between a vintage linen sports jacket and a really smart looking striped jacket. I left him betwixt and between, he would have to decide. I meandered into a lovely booth run by an English lady who had emigrated to Italy and was now a citizen.  We talked about socialized medicine; The topic came up when she saw my boot and cane. She had some interesting English flatware with white Bakelite handles.  I thought one knife and one fork would make a nice addition to my Bakelite flatware at home.

And now we had one more stop to make, I’ve been waiting for two days….The Ponte Vecchio, famous for being the only bridge on the Arno not bombed during the war.  “We must go there Peter”.  Lol lol lol.  Happy Birthday to me – I bought a thin, white gold filigree band, a definite Florentine design, to wear with my wedding band.  Quite the dicothomy there – we bought our wedding bands at a street fair in New York for $10 each because we were looking for an art deco design and we immediately loved them. Don’t put it in the box, I’ll just wear it😍.

P.S. Peter got both the jackets, fair is fair after all.

To be continued…

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Stop, Look and there you’ll see that all the white taxis are coming from around the corner and they have people in them, let’s go that way. I can only imagine how we looked; Peter loaded down with bags hanging from his shoulders, some suitcases rolling, I’m bobbling along on my cane, quite the pair.

We made good time getting to the center of Rome and our driver dropped us off on the appropriate side of the Termini (which is important because I swear the station is the size of the Coliseum).


I tried to plan ahead for everything; I made the train reservations weeks ago.  I converted currency so I wouldn’t get ripped off at the airport and I would have €uros to pay the taxi. Oh so smart- BUT what I didn’t remember was that I had to get some small bills AND that the cab drivers in Italy don’t expect tips. SOoooo the $53€uro cab fare had me in a bind.  I had a fifty and a ten, was tired and couldn’t figure out a tip, because Italian cabs charge for luggage too.  Oh well, that $€7 tip re-enforced the driver’s opinion that Americans are either rich and generous or stupid but at least not Ugly Americans.  FD6366CD-F097-4F4D-BD4F-E9571560417A.jpeg

Now it was just a matter of waiting to see out train’s departure  announced on the big board – just like Penn Station. We waited, and waited, and waited. Pretty soon I was sitting on the floor ( I still can’t believe it), I was so tired, my foot was aching. Train was scheduled to depart at 12:18 and by the time it was 12:10 and the binario (platform) was still not posted, I suggested Peter go to the Italo booth and see what’s what. Naturally there was a line AND he had to take a number! Like in a butcher shop!!  Good thing he went, apparently the last stop on the 🚂 is Brescia, so that’s the town that appears on the screen. Who knew?  Don’t ask, don’t tell.

Here we are again trying to transport 5 pieces of luggage, 2 alter cockers, 1 cane  and a partridge in a pear tree through a swarming crowd (think the subway at 8:30am) and locate platform 6, Carriage #5 (think West 45th St at 7:45pm). We got to Carriage #5 and WE COULDN’T LIFT THE LUGGAGE UP THE TWO STEPS into the train!!! Oh what a scene; Literally we look like we are out of Central Casting. Unwashed, unshaven, the ubiquitous black string passport bag swinging down in front of me, Peter straining to pull the big suitcase up the stairs, ay yi yi! Finally some man who truly would like to board the train, picks up the bag and plops it down in the aisle. I wondered where the suitcases would go – they gather behind the last seat. BUT We still have another bag too heavy for me to lift and I’m still outside and Peter is in. This rather strong looking young woman looks at me and the cane and shakes her head and picks up the bag and pushes it onto the train where Peter can retrieve it and store with the other. A thousand Mille grazies are pouring forth from me as I get on the train. I half expected to hear 👏 not because I did anything but because finally I’m out of everyone’s  way and they can get on the train. We found space for the smaller bags, settled down and shortly into the trip fell sound 💤.

Sleep is an amazing state especially when you’ve been up for over 24 hours.  THEN, “Signora, SIGnora, SIGNORA” –  I wake up with a horrific start and cry “ Oh no I was sleeping”.  That precious elusive sleep was snatched away with a “Tickets please”.

To be continued…




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Ah but before we get to the land of ruins and romance we still have to get to the airport on time.  And before that somebody had to put in a significant amount of time planning and planning and planning  every detail of this adventure in Italia.

The hardest part was coordinating the flights so we could fly out together but return at different times.  In the early 1990’s I wrote down about 25 goals I hoped  to achieve and one of them was to spend 3-6 months in Italy.  Well as you know life takes over and here it another year in another decade so…okay it won’t be 3 months – I’ll spend one month in Italy and really try to learn some more Italian.  And that’s why we are flying home at different times LOL – it’s my dream, not Peter’s.

My sister-in-law Juanita was kind enough to agree to stay in our apartment and feed out cats and move our car for alternate side parking.  Luckily for us it coordinated with some NYC doctor appointments she had. So far she has reported that the luck of the Irish has been with her because the 2 times she went down to move the car, the street cleaner didn’t show up in the designated half hour you must be in your car and prepared to move it. Luck of the Irish??? She’s Spanish and Italian!!! 418DAE9B-3225-43EF-9A33-EEC8BEEAF863

Then there was the housing arrangements n Guardia San Framondi where we decided to return. It’s a small village in the mountains of Campania.


View of Guardia Sanframondi. You can clearly see the old town and parts of the new town built around it.

Last year we came as tourists, this year we live here.  Also a car rental, train tickets to and from Florence ( YES we spent 3 nights in Firenze), two hotel rooms for two nights in Rome because return flights to NYC are early morning and Guardia 3 hours away! Cell phone plans, cancel newspapers in NYC and NJ,  hold the mail, cover myself for real estate ( more about that later), sign permission slips for key entry to our apt for Juanita and then Jade, who is coming in for 4 days to take care of the cats and visit her mom and also our cat sitter wo will look after the fur babies for 2 days until Peter returns. Exchange currency, WHEW!

I did all this planning throughout February and early March AND THEN on March 8th, I broke my right foot 😫!

A Nor’easter was raging outside so I stayed inside and was cleaning. Vacuumed the den, left the vacuum cleaner in the doorway, picked up the brass waste basket and walked barefoot out of the room – tripped on the cord, dropped the metal can and must have  have landed on my own foot and broke (not fractured) the fifth metatarsal.  At this point I didn’t

really believe it was broken but I can now say I brought my boot to the boot. Does the cliche, “…the best laid plans…” come to mind?

But the next day after a hobble to City MD and brutally revealing X-Ray and a visit to an orthopedist , I added this to my pack list; 8FEE8EB9-48A9-49D8-A7EE-3A65B57FE6AD

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