Thursday morning we hopped the high speed train to Rome. It was a terrific, fast ride and a great way to travel. The concierge at the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo (Simone) remembered us from last year. She’s a great gal and very accommodating.
The hotel is centrally located, so it’s an easy walk to all the sites that I love to see. My usual morning stop is at Campo dei Fiori for the farmers’ market. I stop in every morning just to browse around and see what’s going on. Always fun to chit chat with the vendors.
On Thursday night we met up with my BFF in Rome, Cristina DiPalma. Cristina is the daughter of Camillo and Maria who had us for lunch at their home in Alfedena. We had a great evening with Cristina and got a little silly, but that’s what wine is for, no?
One of my favorite places to visit is the Pantheon. There’s something about that place that just gets me. I can feel the energy when I walk inside. Everything about it is exciting. It’s a “must see” whenever I’m in Rome.
Friday night we had dinner at Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. The owner, Claudia, is a friend of my cousins Jeff and Sue Smith, so we had to make a stop there to bring greetings from the family. Claudia was SO nice, and the food was fabulous. Put this place on your list next time you’re in Rome.
And then, of course, there’s Rome. There’s nothing like Rome. I’m already thinking about next year.
Made a quick stop in Florence. Just strolled around the city in the afternoon and then had an outrageously delicious dinner at a little trattoria near the hotel.
Also, took a stroll on the Ponte Vecchio. I need to come back when I have an extra $10,000 that I don’t know what to do with.
I just love all that gold!
OK. Back to the blog. Been a little busy, and the hotel in Spoleto has WiFi only in the lobby. Good thing Dennis and I were just about the only people in the hotel. I would sneak out in the evening or early morning in my pajamas and go online. LOL.
Our first day in Spoleto there was a humdinger of a rainstorm. Maybe a good thing so we could take a little break from the frenetic pace we kept in Alfedena. Once the rain stopped, we wondered out to explore. Spoleto is very beautiful with typical, spectacular Umbrian panoramas. Our hotel was located right next to a Roman aqueduct, which needless to say is just magnificent.
Dennis is a big fan of “Don Matteo,” an Italian TV show that he watches in Florida, so we took some time to find different sites where they shoot the series. With the Italian economy being in dire straits, having a famous show filming in town does wonders to showcase the area and brings in many tourists. Spoleto seems to be doing OK.
During one of our strolls, we went by Teatro Nuovo, and I heard a woman singing opera. Sounded like a rehearsal or practice session. I could have sat on a park bench and listened for hours.
Food in Spoleto was super! (But come on, it’s Italy. I’m going to say that in every town.) I had the cinghiale (wild boar) and lentil soup on a couple of occasions. Delicious. And, of course, there’s pasta everywhere. Met a real nice couple from Ohio the last night at dinner, Linda and Crick. Had great fun chatting with them.
Next stop, Florence.
Well what kind of a blog would this be without news about Cousin Tullio? On Friday we headed out to Via Fonticella and (of course) Cousin Tullio was standing outside waiting as we arrived. Hugs, hugs and lots of smiles. We went inside to visit with everybody and catch up on family news. I’m really happy to see that he is doing quite well after losing his wife in January and was in very good spirits. I think having his sister with him is a plus.
Since we had a car, we made plans for the next day to stop back at the cemetery and then go to lunch. Concetta insisted that we stop at the flower shop so she could buy some flowers for our great-grandfather’s grave. Two armfuls later (and two vases) we’re off. Arranging the flowers was a very solemn moment and one I will long remember. I am sure our ancestors were pleased.
Then off to Pulcinella Ristorante for lunch. Our friends Rosa and Vincenzo speak some English, so there was even more conversation. It was a very good day.
Just a funny little story to share. As you may or may not know, Italians do not drink much hard alcohol, only wine and beer. So a friend had recommended a restaurant to us, and we decided to stop in for a cocktail and see what it was like. We walked in the door and were the only people there. We told the waiter we were in for a drink, and we could tell by the look on his face this was not what he was hoping for. The bar had only two stools, which we occupied. There was a drink menu available, and one of the items was a screwdriver. Not wanting to make this difficult, we opted for two. Oops, no can do. This stumped the fellow, so he had to leave the bar to get another fellow (probably the owner) to make the drink.
OK. First he had to leave the bar to get an ice tray… be right back. Then he filled two martini glasses with ice. Next, he got a shaker and put about a shot of vodka and added orange juice (remember, this is for 2 drinks). He emptied the ice out of the glasses, poured, and voila!
Dennis and I shared a few jokes about drunk driving, when suddenly out comes the bruschetta. I’ll tell you, they may not know how to make a drink, but they sure know hospitality!
Today we took a ride to Scontrone, a small village on the top of the hill next to Alfedena. Very small, very picturesque. The panoramas were gorgeous.
Later in the day we stopped to say hi to our friends, Camillo and Maria DiPalma (no relation, but like family). Needless to say, Maria fed us food and gave us wine. They are such lovely people. We took a walk with Camillo and made a new friend, Hugo, who lives in Alfedena and Ft. Lauderdale (figure that one out). Tomorrow we are going to the DiPalma’s for lunch.
Also this morning, we made the stop at the cemetery (that’s always a “must visit” when we’re here). The DiPalma family has its own private chapel, and Cousin Tullio’s late wife, Marina, is now an occupant. I noticed there were fresh flowers, so I suspected some of his relatives must be staying at the house here. So this afternoon we took a walk, and I can’t tell you how delighted I was to find and meet a new cousin… Cousin Concetta, Cousin Tullio’s sister. We had a wonderful visit, and she spoke very slowly, so we understood most of the conversation. But one thing that I was having trouble understanding is that she seemed to suggest that Tullio had put flowers in the chapel yesterday. I thought to myself I must not be getting this. But again she implied that they put the flowers and cleaned the chapel together. Finally I asked, “Is Tullio here?”
Sì sì was her answer (with a big smile). So I asked again to make sure “Tullio è qui a Alfedena?” Sì.
Well, I’ll be darned. Here I am worrying about him in Milan because I hadn’t heard from him in awhile, and he’s summering in Alfedena. Ha Ha. He was out visiting a cousin. Concetta said he never received my letter saying I was coming over. Is he in for a surprise when he gets home!!
We’re here in Alfedena. The plane trip was excellent, and the drive out was without incident. This year Mr. GPS was spot on; no side trips, no heart-stopping hairpin curves and no Valium for Dennis. I took the southern route, as opposed to my usual northern way, around the Apennine mountains, and I liked it a lot. It was a real easy drive. In spite of a little lack of sleep, we cleaned up and walked into town for our ceremonious first glass of wine. And, of course, we ran into my friend, Luisa, who told us that there was a festival in the next city over, Castel di Sangro. So, after a bite of pizza, we took a ride and investigated. There was a huge stage with music and lots of vendors. But alas, Dennis was falling asleep between the subject and the verb of his sentences, so we opted to head back for some well deserved rest.
Today, we are visiting with the parents of my friend, Cristina. Looking forward to it.