Posts Tagged ‘Joel Berti’

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.


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.


“Take it from me Joel, it works”.


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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Will we ever get to the town of Amalfi? We’ve been up the road and round and round ….


The Never-Ending Road

The road in and out of Amalfi is just one one roller coaster thrill ride and so is this blog post because my photos  and anecdotes are from both the trip up the mountain to go down the mountain to the town and shore and then back up the mountain to go down the mountain to get back on the autostrada to get home.  Now wasn’t that clear?  So here we are going up or maybe down, either way we are going way too fast for me but not for my son, (leave the driving to me), Joel.  You see those arrows along side the road ?


Pointing The Way To Certain Disaster

I thought a normal person would have taken those as a warning sign! Wouldn’t you? You have no idea;  It was Saturday afternoon and every daredevil, high level testosterone, macho man on a motorcycle was out on his loud screeching bike or very Italian Vespa with requisite chick on the back and they were passing cars on the left and the right and on a curve. Holy cow !  Even my seasoned California canyon Uber driver was in awe! These people are crazy!

OK well Joel has a motorcycle himself, so he knew the bike riders were a nutty bunch but he had never seen a car pass another car in bumper to bumper traffic on a curve!!  How did the driver know someone would let him?  And he didn’t anticipate the three motorcycles coming around the same curve in the opposite lane!  My God this is so nerve-wracking.


Plenty Of Room To Pass

Believe it or not we actually made it into town, had a lovely dinner overlooking the shore.  Funny thing, there was no sand, nada, niente , none!


Black Stone Beach

And from way down there, this is what it looked like way up there,


Just Try To Check In There

We we’re losing light quickly and were a looonnnggg way from home.  I dreaded the trip back up the mountain and down and with good reason.  Joel was always saying, “Mom take a picture of that down there”.  Oh sure, I was holding onto the arm rest for dear life and working the brake on the passenger side, you know the one  that isn’t there!

BUT I did decide to take some video as we were making our way off the mountain….       BUCKLE UP YOUR SEAT BELTS PLEASE!!



AND that was just the beginning….my foot was already aching.  How long was it going to take to get the hell off this road?

Seeing is believing…. This last video shows just how crazy Italian drivers are!  My sage advice: “ Do not let your daughter date an Italian with a motorcycle”

We lived to tell the story another day but it took us hours to get home.  It seems Abigail had a penchant for Avellino- East Avellino, West Avellino.  Then somehow, someway we found ourselves in a town that was celebrating (oh yeah it was Saturday night), and on a one way street heading down, down, down. It was narrow and it looked like we might be near water.  It was dark and I felt like we were driving down into some riverfront late at night – not a good feeling.  Finally at the bottom, it looked like if you kept going and bore left, we might just get out of there – so we did. Turns out we had detoured ourselves into Salerno?! I’m sure Abigail,was behind this mistake.


To be continued…






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Last year on my birthday, Peter and I took a ride down the mountain and up another.  It was suggested that we take a ride to Cusano Mutri, so we did, and there we came upon a little restaurant, a cafe really.  The trip was filled with one postcard after another.


Oh Look A Mucca!




The town itself is lovely and also medieval.  I haven’t gone up the road to their castle but from a distance it seems much more intact.  I was told it was not as old as the fortress in Guardia.  img_0186



La Piccola Perla Del Maltese is right out of Central Casting as is the owner Franco and his wife.img_0188

And the food!  I ordered an appetizer for Peter and I when we were there and didn’t tell him what it was because if I did he probably wouldn’t eat it.  The restaurant is known for its pork dishes.


Porchetta, mozzarella and porcini mushrooms – delicious (but a little too much fat for me)


“OMG These Tomatoes Are From Heaven”

Clearly Joel had a lot to say about the unbleivably out of this world bruschetta!  20180521_124436

The really funny part of the day was the demeanor of the owner.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to express how bizarre this was; It’s noon, we arrive.  The restaurant door, albeit hanging beads is open so I walk in.  Its dark and no one is in the cafe.  I walk up to the bar and yell out “HELLOOOO”. Out he comes from the back room, no greeting smile on his face.  I smile and say ciao and say “Mangia pranzo? ” Incredulous, he looks at me.  You would think I just asked him to cater a party of 25 within the hour.  I smile again and  point to Joel and say, “Mio figlio” to which he nods and extends his hand.  Perhaps he has now recognized me as the nut job who showed up a week ago in the mid afternoon AND AGAIN no one was in the restaurant but Peter and I.  He must wonder how do I manage to arrive at the most inconvenient times?  Well what is the convenient time?  Anyway, to further put him out, Joel wanted to eat outside, so we sat at a picnic table and Franco  put a tablecloth on it, put out the outside napkins not the cloth ones.   A few moments later he returned wearing a white apron and inquired in Italian of course if we wanted a drink. Then he sat down (yes he sat down) and wanted to know what we wanted.  Long story short, we ordered two beers, two pastas, two salads, a bruschetta and some water and it came to 20 Euros.  Joel loved it all, and is sure this is the way to live.

So for the second year in a row I’ve been blessed to celebrate my birthday in Italy in this quaint little restaurant which serves the best pasta I’ve ever tasted!





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The beauty of being here is being here! I want Joel to experience the people and the place, so we are going to buy some olive oil and some concoction of 🍅 spices and I don’t know what else is in it but it makes one hell of a sauce for pasta with some chopped olives. 20180507_205132I want to buy a jar to take home and the olive oil.  We went  out of town towards Telese to the Forreste cooperative.  What a place!  Like gas pumps, there are huge silver tanks with indications as to what wine is in them.  You literally pump your own wine in multi-liter jugs.  This is definitely better than a wine club!

We go in and are drawn to the olive oil tasting table, where Joel proceeds to eat most of the bread while Assunta liberally pours rich olive oil on the bread for him to mangia.  Between the two of us we decided the robusto was the one for us.  As it turns out, I bought the robusto oil last week with Peter and have been cooking with it all week. Assunta realizes. I am taking this home this home on the airplane so she she conveys to me that she will put it in a tin. This idea leads to lots of running around by her daughter and frustration in trying reseal a can.  So come back domani. Fine tomorrow sounds good, meantime we will take the sauce and the spicy mixture and maybe Joel will stop putting honey on the bread and eating it.

Assunta wants to know what Joel does, so I say cinema, thinking that was the closest word I could come up with. She says, “Actor”?and immediately calls out to her daughter that he is an actor.  Ahhhh… selfies all around with lots of blushing.  It was really so cute! IMG-20180522-WA0001.jpg

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Joel decided he would like to visit his great-grandfather’s ancestral home so we set off for Molise.  Molise is the smallest and youngest of the regions in Italy and lucky for me it isn’t too far from where we are in Campania.

Peter and I made the same trek last week because when we went there last year in my quest to find my roots, we met the most delightful woman, Tina di Giglio, who,was raised in Syracuse NY and then as a teenager, her family returned to Mirabello and now she works in the registry department in the Municipio in the village. Tina greeted us with a warm hug and a huge caciocavallo, which is an excellent cheese, also known as horse cheese.

5FB744B3-C221-4260-BF14-1825A23C54DA.jpegWe spent a couple of hours poring over ledgers from the 1890’s through the early 1900’s.  I was trying to determine which brother was the older, my grandfather, Luciano or his brother, Antonio -a great debate had ensued over the winter between cousins. It’s amazing what can get so-call lost in translation  or just misinformation! Anyway to set the record straight, Grandpa Louie was the elder.

We were also looking for death certificates of 3 siblings, who,we never knew about until my cousin Kathi unearthed records through the Mormons.  I found those; very, very sad, a girl child named Giovanna died at 11months old. A few years later, a baby boy was born and named Giovanni and died 7 days later.  More years passed and a girl child was born and named Giovanna- she died at 18 months.  It was heartbreaking to think of what our ancestors suffered through.

Joel and I stopped for gas on our way and naturally no one spoke Englishand it was a self service station. Well I was a little familiar with how it worked having experienced it with Peter. So I took out 20€ and was slowly deciphering the Italian instructions when an attendant popped over. I indicated I wanted to put the diesel fuel in. OK, he went ahead and took the 20€ put it in his pocket, pulled out some card which he swiped over the pump and proceeded to pump in the fuel. DONE! No change and I can’t see the pump to see what registered.  I’m pretty sure we were taken!

Ten feet out of the station two lights on the dashboard go on !! Now you know that the manual is completely in Italian and at this time I didn’t know how to photograph text and get it translated. So I did what I do best.  Out of the car with cane and manual in hand I walk into a cafe, “do you speak English?” NO. He says the word Tabacchi and points down the parking lot.  We go in, the man speaks a little. I show him the manual with the icons of the lights that are on and he somehow gets it across to us that the pressure is low and he says oil (I think) but I point to the oil can icon so we soon learn it is a tire.  Joel says probably because of the rocks ( more about that later) and the other light – he makes the motion of pulling up the emergency brake and again Joel says it might not have been down all the way. Mille grazie and out we go.  Our luck, there is a small tire shop 2 doors down, unbelievable ! I walk over and stand in the doorway of the garage.  There are two cute men who, are obviously brothers and another very good looking man working on a car 🚗. They look at me, I look at them.  A few more moments pass, one of the men approaches me and I say, “I need help” and I point to the tire which looks a little soft.  He, in turn, tells the other 2 of my problem and they all come over. Si, they look at the tire, it needs air. The main guy gets the air pump and proceeds to check each tire and fill with air. I say, “I hate this car” . They laugh, and it is a Renault. 9E9CFBC2-7ADF-47B9-898E-9AEC45511752.jpeg

My response is “Yes and that is the problem, it is a French car”. That sends them all laughing. Of course the French can’t make a good car.  Joel asks them what do they think the best car is. All together now, “Mercedes and Volkswagon”.

I offered to pay and of course the answer was no.  We are so happy to have our problem fixed but when we get in the car the light is still on 😳.  We sit and I wave at them and we explain that the Luce rossa is still on. Good looking Italian gets into the car next to me, looks at the dashboard, touches something and the light goes off.  Really I did want to kiss him!”Grazie  grazie Italian genius “, we say and off we go.

To be continued…


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Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You!

Could it really be forty-one years ago that I drove myself from my home in Avon CT to Hartford for a doctor’s appointment and then to St. Francis Hospital?  Apparently yes, because today is my son Joel’s birthday!  When my parents and grandparents would tell me how quickly the years go by  and at this point they’re flying, I, like every other young person ,didn’t really get it.  Well I get it now.  Joel is 41 and Chiara is 35 and now I’m a grandmother myself.

Last year I wrote what I thought was akin to a mother-son love letter so I’m not going to repeat it again. All of it is true and I hope he reads it again because it is full of love and appreciation for who he is.  Posted last December 17th, Happy Birthday Dear Son!

3000 miles and 3 hours earlier often gets in the way of communication although as any mother knows, if there’s a will, there’s a way.  This Christmas, like last year,  my daughter and her family are headed west to spend the holidays with Joel and we will be here on the East Coast. I think it would be wonderful if we could all be together, however, my feeling is that the kids like it the way it is.  I have a Norman Rockwell Christmas in mind and they are thinking along the lines of what I heard referred to as Westivus.  Apparently, some friends from Boston are also flying out to celebrate with them.

I hope today has been joyful for Joel.  I wrote a Happy Birthday greeting on his Facebook wall – aren’t I just the 21st Century Mom and called him this evening.  I hope to see him in the near future to give him the real hug I sent virtually.

So Happy happy birthday Joel, I love you very much and wish I could spend more time with you.



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Joel Berti

Joel is 40 years old today!! ! OMG, it’s hard to say it out loud!  How is it possible that my first born child, my son, is 40 years old?   This IS the only time I’m going to admit in writing that I actually have a 40 yr old son.

It doesn’t seem that long ago…I was supposed to attend one of my best friends’ wedding.  I had a doctor’s appointment that morning  and then I was going to be off to the wedding.  Well you know where this is going;  the doctor examined me and said “you’re not going to any wedding, you’re going straight to the hospital.  Where is your husband?”  I said, “He’s at work”.  So the doctor said, “Well how are you going to get to the hospital”?  “I’ll drive myself”!

So I called my husband’s office and left a message (these were the day before cell phones) and drove off to the hospital.  By the time I got there, I was a little panicked.  I was having contractions and  didn’t know what to do with the car so I pulled into the Emergency Room parking lot and parked the car.  As I was getting out of the car, a cop came running over, shouting, “Lady you can’t park there”!  I looked at him, started to cry and said, “I’m having a baby”!   Oh boy, that did it – he said, “Don’t  move” and went and got me a wheel chair.  Meantime, uh, where was that husband?

A couple of hours later, the nurse brought me a bundled blonde haired boy and I said, “Oh no, I had a girl”.  She assured me that this was my baby and I insisted that I had a girl. After one more go around of this conversation, she snatched the baby from my arms and said words to the effect that perhaps tomorrow I would feel differently about this beautiful little baby boy.

She was right of course.  Joel has my heart.  I love him for so many reasons;  he is a good person, kind-hearted, he never says anything bad about anyone, he is a gentle soul.  He is easy-going (sometime way too laid back for me), creative, a thinker, an artist, and smart enough to look inward often and assess what he sees.  He seeks the truth in all things, is often naive about people he meets, he adored his baby sister and often let her tag along with him and his friends.  I’m so happy that she flew out to California yesterday with Finley and Francesca to be with him on this landmark birthday.

I thought this post might be like an open letter, telling Joel how proud I am of him, how much I love him and hope that he is happy in the life he has chosen for himself.  He is very different from Chiara in so many ways and their lives are as diametrically opposite as the coasts they each inhabit. 

I wonder if he’s ever going to marry and settle down.  The path doesn’t seem to lead in that direction, time will tell.  I’d like to see him as a father, he seems so at ease with his nephew and nieces. 

Astrology, therapy, numerology, Frank Sinatra, new wave, Pseudolous, older women, younger women, surfing, GCA waiter,  room-mates, acting, writing in his journal, lactose-intolerant, allergic to my cats, Charlie Brown, Wilie Wonka, Mr. Smee, Hartford Stage, “why don’t you model?”, a vintage motorcycle, house music, Father Sarducci, Acme Theater, preppy Izods, Louise’s, La Jolla Country Club, bartending, catering, PB+J’s, oh those blue eyes,  tuna fish, sometimes  poor, playwright, roofer, Bee Pollen, beard-no beard, penguins, vintage tee shirts, Wrangler corduroy jeans, Halloween

Now if only he would return calls and call his mother more often……

I love you Joel Berti – Happy Birthday!!

Joel Berti

Joel in San Diego 2008

Finley Ray, Joel Berti, Finny

Joel and Finley

Sneak Joint, Joel Berti

Joel at The Sneak Joint in San Diego

Halloween, Joel Berti

Pumpkin Carving

vintage motorcycle

Ready to Roll

january 23 2005, Joel Berti, Lori Berti Press

My Wedding 2005

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