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Posts Tagged ‘Guardia Sanframondi’

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?

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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

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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.

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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…

 

 

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Picture is worth a thousand words…..

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Corso Umberto A Study in Stone and Greenery

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Mountains and Mountains and More Mountains. View from Guardia

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A Curious, Cautious, Camouflaged Lizard on the Wall

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Looking Down Down Down

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View From My Window Bells in the Morning

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Grape Vines, Planted Rows Mountains – This is Guardia

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A Cloud Painting

 

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Corso Umberto Roadside

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Rising From A Rock BELIEVE

 

 

 

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OMG if you’ve never traveled trying to use an Italian GPS, you have NOT experienced the real frustration of being totally lost in a foreign country, or finding  yourself in the middle of an olive grove because the voice said turn left!

We set out on the simplest of journeys and in one day had enough close calls to bring my blood pressure up and enough cortisol running through my nervous system to unnerve a Buddhist monk.

Maybe you remember from last year or maybe not because I don’t think I even mentioned the incident.  At some point last year I noticed a huge scrape on the right rear side of the rental car!  I nearly had a heart attack right then and there.  I was with Joel at the time and we wondered if this happened when we were led into some field with NO road, just a rutted path that we kept shifting the car from left to right.  Joel said no.  He insisted Peter did it backing out of the insane driveway which is actually not a driveway but an old public road.  Of course Peter was gone and could not defend himself.  Regardless of who did it, I was hysterical – I did not take insurance out on the car 🚗 and I could only imagine the scene and the cost at the drop off location. My last week was ruined.  I called Peter crying and he calmly said, talk to Pasquale. 

I did, and Pasquale says, “No worry, you meet me at the bar at 5:00, I take you to my friend, he fix your car.” Pasquale is like The Godfather in Guardia and in two days the car was “perfetto”. 

OK that’s the back story, with that in mind AND the fact that this damn FIAT 500L is bigger than I had hoped, I am ever vigilant of any scrape or scratch.  Therefore we are not long on the road when true to reputation, the GPS has directed us  onto a road/path that actually ended in clump of trees!

To make matters worse yet better, the car is equipped with a warning system for backing up. That is beeping and flashing yellow then red as Peter carefully attempts a K turn by inches. If he goes back, there is a drop off into water, if he goes forward there are trees and two rusty iron poles (God only knows why they are there).  I am out of the car trying to guide him with my frantic pounds on the back of the car yelling STOP!

We made it out unscathed that time, hoping this isn’t a percentage game.  Onward and this particular day we seem to be driving in all the wrong directions.  There’s nothing so uncomforting as driving on a narrow twisting road and having the GPS voice repeatedly say, “when possible turn around”!

Our next mishap was somehow we ended up in an olive grove. How you ask? Well the GPS satellite doesn’t recognize the difference between a path in an olive grove or vineyard and an actual road.  So here we go again traversing a narrow path completely surrounded by olive trees with no end in sight. We don’t know if there is an end and you cannot turn around.  Onward down a hill and there is an old man on the side of the road working.  We stop…He looks at us in utter amazement.  I don’t know the Italian word for lost so I throw up my hands and shrug my shoulders, and I think he understands.  He points down the road where there are two men and a woman and a truck and a tractor.  OK it’s worth a try.  We pull up and in between hand gestures and some Italian, I make it known we want to go to Guardia Sanframondi.  Thank God I know the Italian words for left, right, and straight.

After a while on the road, I can see Guardia’s medieval castle looming in the distance.  At least we know we can get home, but we have yet to get to our destination, which is this great vino and olive oil place called Forresta in Castlevenere.  I am determined to get there to see Assunta, the owner, and buy some of her tasty olive oil.

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The Tasting Table

Destination reached, hugs, kisses and smiles.  It is so amazing to be in another country and return a year later to be greeted like old friends.  After we bought some olive oil, I promised Assunta that prossimo mesi  io ritorno con Joel, le actor.  They loved Joel who ate all their bread dipping it in olive oil.

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

 

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We are airborne and headed for Lisbon FINALLY.  There’s not much to say about the flight except that the seat and space are more comfortable than American Airlines but TAP does not serve snacks.  We were in the air for probably 45 minutes and then they brought around coffee, tea, juice, wine or beer.  Sorry Peter, no gin ☹️ and we even had our mini shaker with us.  According to the captain the serving of alcohol in the air is regulated by the government.  OK but what does that have to with peanuts, pretzels or blue corn chips? Remember how disdainfully you thought of those meager offerings?  Well we had breakfast around 9:30am and nothing else to eat except for coffee and a few chips Peter bought pre the nose bleed incident. We were starving!

About an hour later dinner was served; it was chunks of beef, mashed potatoes, green beans- I ate it all.  Then the entire plan went to sleep, but not us.  I forgot to bring an Ambien with me and because in Newark the flight was so full they checked our carry-on luggage for free WHICH I reminded the manger at JFK, so by being Miss Smarty Pants I kissed my Tylenol PM bon  voyage – it was now in the baggage compartment.  I watched a movie but you know, you can only shift your weight around so many times; I couldn’t find a comfortable position and it was a loooonnnng  night.

We had only minutes to spare to catch the flight to Rome but we did and soon we would be on terra firma, Italia.  Landing, luggage retrieval all went fairly routine and we went off to find the car rental office.

At the Hertz desk I immediately remind them that I called several times to insure that I would get either a Fiat 500L or a VW Golf. Yes they had one if I could wait a bit, it was being washed. When we got the keys and went into the garage to get the car I was SHOCKED, UPSET, DISTRAUGHT, anxious, okay, overtired and really carrying on BECAUSE the Fiat 500L is a BIG CAR!  You don’t know how much time I spent online researching the cars available and calculating the length. That’s how I came up with those two models which looked so small online and were listed  as both economy and compact.  Wringing my hands, walking around and around the car, saying over and over again, oh this is awful, this is too big. This car is way too big for Guardia.  Look at that Fiat Panda Peter, that’s the size car I wanted, even smaller, OMG what are we going to Do?  You can see how easily sleep deprivation and starvation can make a prisoner crazy because I was crazy at that moment.

I decide to march back in and freely admit I made a mistake, I need a smaller car!  Which I did to no avail. Madam this is the car you ordered, look here on the slip. Yes I know I asked for this car but I thought it would be much smaller.  You want a smaller car? Yes I want a smaller car, This is the smallest car we have. How can you say that when I saw a Fiat Panda out ther?  Ahhh, but you requested an automatic transmission. The Fiat 500L is the smallest with automatic transmission.

Totally defeated and despondent I return to the garage to inform Peter, who tries logic by telling me it is like a mini SUV – clearly an oxymoron that only this moron ordered. We have an SUV at home which I am quite comfortable driving IN AMERICA.

The problems with the FIAT and me are: Guardia and surroundings are in the mountains; narrow, hairpin curves, steep climbs, no shoulders, and most of all Italian drivers who literally drive up your ass and pass on the right on a curve, a straightaway or in a parking lot!!

We had no choice but to hit the road since we had a 2-3 hour ride ahead of us.  I had no idea how Peter was  going to be able to drive after our 24 hour no sleep trip and we both were not looking forward to navigating the mountains of Campania in the dark.

We had to stop for a piece of pizza at roadside rest stop which in Italy is actually a real treat since the food is always great and the places are like mini malls.  But that did put us into dusk and then dark. However, at the car rental place I made a last minute decision to rent the GPS because the car didn’t come with one. Originally I planned to use Google maps on my phone but the data plan offered by Verizon was pricey, I couldn’t get the SIM card I wanted till I arrived in Guardia and in the end Hertz discounted the rental. I carefully budgeted this trip and in about 27 hours I blew it with the ride from the shore to Newark and from Newark to JFK so in the state of mind I was in 5pm on Monday evening in Rome’s airport, paying more $$ for the peace of mind to get where we needed to go tonight and everywhere else for the couple of weeks seemed like a good idea and it was….we arrived in Guardia Sanframondi at about 9:30pm. We looked like we felt. Said hello, hugs, kisses and got the key to Nonna’s House where we crashed. Good night.

To be continued…

 

 

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A lot of planning went into this trip/adventure/experience in Italy in order to make it  happen at a reasonable price and to accomodate two people traveling together but returning separately.

For one thing, we flew in and out of Rome which is not convenient to Guardia Sanframondi.  That neccessitatated each of us spending the night in Rome before we left for the USA for morning flights.  Also since Joel would be arriving in Rome at night, he would have to stay a night before taking a train in the morning to Campania to join me.

Peter left Guardia early on a Monday morning for Rome. He wanted to be able to spend the day there and meet up with Christina, our friend we met last year who manages a  B&B there.  Pasquale, who can arrange almost anything, got Peter a driver to take him to Rome right to the hotel, which I had booked right near the train station.  After he checked into the hotel I think he did have a few minutes of anxiety; it’s hard to be in a place where you don’t speak the language although in Rome that’s not such an issue BUT Peter didn’t also have a telephone there. Somehow he talked a bartender in the cccccc hotel into allowing him to make a phone call to me.  Without a smart phone or iPad he couldn’t check himself in early and didn’t remember his flight time or number.  I calmed him down and assured him I would get all this information to Christina through WhatsApp and she would relate it to him.  Really technology overseas can be your savior! samsung-galaxy-s6.

He spent the day roaming around Rome; the 9AD7035D-DE1F-46EC-BB2F-AF608C30D08F

And he found his way to the Luxe-Adventure-Traveler-Rome-Italy-Trevi-Fountain-1

He even discovered Rome’s own underground metro system which I might add he was a little disappointed in because they only have 3 lines AND the cars and stations are not very clean or pretty – Graffiti everywhere!!! IMG_5146

Later on he met up with Christina and they had tea and dinner while they waited for Joel to arrive.  Joel was due to land around 8:30pm and expected to join Peter around 9:30.  And when he did he was starving!  OK so they’ll all eat another dinner!  Look at cute these two guys are in Roma….  IMG-20180514-WA0003-2.jpg

I had them booked at the Hotel Marsala, Peter said his room was fine, Joel said his room smelled like dirty socks.  The next morning Peter took off to the airport and Joel headed to the Termini to find the train that would take him to Telese where he would be picked up and brought to Guardia.

ARRIVEDERCI ROMA

FAST FORWARD: All good things come to end eventually and the time had come for Joel and I to take our leave of Guardia Sanframondi.  It was sad, there were tears, we gave away any remaining food and we headed north to Rome, where we would spend the night and leave for the airport the next morning. 

With the pedal to the metal we made as good time as we could because we had to get the car returned by 1pm.  At least I didn’t have to encounter Andreas, the ass who was at the counter when I rented the car a month earlier.  Finally after more hairpin turns in the parking garage, we reached the 5th floor where two guys began poring over the car – finally I said, “It’s perfetto”! And we were off to the Hotel Marsala which was within walking distance but not by car which is exactly what can happen in Rome or Florence.  You can see your destination however to get there by taxi 🚕 (you remember the multiple suitcases), well we went this way, that way, and around and finally we arrived.  I was so hot and tired, I couldn’t imagine taking a room such as I imposed on Joel and Peter (single bed, shared bathroom in the hall)! So I upgraded us to a private bath and WiFi.  My room was glorious.  

I just wanted to rest because we had an evening planned for us by Jessica, one of my daughter, Chiara’s college dorm mates! Jessica moved to Italy shortly after college graduation to work in the travel industry. She married an Italian and they live in a very toney neighborhood in Rome with their adorable little girl, Beatrice.

Well Jessica outdid herself and arranged for a fabulous 2 hour golf cart tour of Rome for Joel and I.  She knew I would have  a really difficult time hobbling around with my boot and cane.  It was so much fun and our driver/private tour guide was exactly what you would expect – very good looking, tall, lean and very Italian! 

We zipped around central Rome, stopped at Church, Joel wanted to see, saw the Colliseum and learned that originally it had been totally covered in marble ( I’m not surprised after having seen marble in every house and store and bar in Guardia). The marble was stripped off to build the Basilica and the Papal Palace.  Of course we went to Trevi Fountain where Joel tossed the obligatory 3 coins in the fountain. He had received explicit instructions from our new Guardia friend, Michael on how to throw coins the night before.  I’m pretty sure he got the correct arm over the appropriate shoulder considering both he and Mike discussed this over many glasses of Luigi’s excellent wine and topped off with Limoncello.

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“Take it from me Joel, it works”.

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Mom to Joel: “Hey that’s a lot of Limoncello you’re chugging there”

 

 

Now if they work he will fall in love, get married and return to Rome….MMmmmm

To be continued…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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…

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And the olive oils

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😋

Ciao for now!

To be continued…

 

 

 

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I didn’t take enough photos when I was there, I didn’t take enough notes thinking  I would remember a lot more! But not everything becomes a story and not everything was of enough interest to translate into a blog post.

BUT, there are snippets here and there that deserve a mention or at least a look see;

Something that you see all over Italy are beautiful fountains, not all of them like the magnificent Trevi Fountain.  I saw a woman washing her hands in fountain such as the one below in Florence one evening.  This lovely antiquity is on the main road in Guardia Sanframondi, set just off the sidewalk and available for all, so egalitarian!  A cool sip of water on a hot summer day, a splash of water on warm face, a quick wash y of your hands, sticky from dripping gelato!

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You’ve heard me speak of the new old town built around the medieval town.  Here’s a glimpse of Peter leaning up against the stairwell to the apartment that we stayed in last year and this year.  He loves the location, so central to everything – well that and it had two wide screen TVs!

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So sweet, so luscious, delicious and bountiful!  Spring in Guardia means being surrounded by beautiful fruits and vegetables growing and are there for the picking!

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”Mom, how come none of these places serve like a breakfast sandwich”?  It does seem like there are two universal Italian breakfasts;  many years ago when I was in Italy but much farther north, ( Tuscany, Emilio Romagna, Lombardy, Veneto), I had a delicious breakfast every day of frutta, formaggio, Parma, pane, sort of a deconstructed breakfast sandwich.  However here in Guardia, a cream or chocolate brioche and coffee was the daily offering.  Mom to the rescue ( I need my driver to be happy).

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We never did find out what it was with Amalfi and lemons!  They were  everywhere so we stopped on the side of the road ad bought two. Unfortunately we never got to taste them before it was time to head back to the U.S.A. I hope Cindy and Steve enjoyed them.

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Then there was the day, I asked Raffaele to take me to the town of San Lorenzillo where there is a master ceramist, he introduced me to last year. Most people think of Cerreto Sannita as the ceramic city, and in fact it’s town center is home to many shops featuring elaborately ornate and intricately detailed ceramics.

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Not So Ornate – However Almost Every Piece Is In This Palette

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I Wish I Had Taken The Time To Focus And Enlarge This Picture Because These Statues Are Exquisite

I found another postcard from Guardia…..

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Name That Saint!

 

Raffaele arranged for a couple of us to go to the top of the castle, I think I wrote about that little adventure earlier, ( https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/the-sights-and-sounds-of-guardia). When we were walking around the roof top  and looking over the parapet, I spied this.   Do you think a bird or the wind carried the seed to the top of this wall where it took root and blossomed?

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Rising From A Rock

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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