Showered shaved and dressed I bounce down the stairs and I am greeted with a “Bonaseara” and a beautiful breakfast spread. Requesting my “Capachino” from Maria Pia, I then start to select some fruit, meat, cheese and bread to enjoy for breakfast. We are planning to visit the city of Siena today. I am sure it will be wonderful. The drive to Siena goes quickly and we find a parking spot with ease. Up the stairs we travel then up the rolling hill heading into the center of the city.
Our first stop is the cathedral. We stop and take pictures from the square before entering the church. It is a beautiful medieval structure with paintings in the tradition of the dark ages. Here I choose to light candles for my mother, father, and Monica. I say a prayer for each and I am grateful that I am here in Italy. My only wish is that I could have done it when they were all here with me. I am lucky to have found Marti and I feel fortunate that she will be with me. We continue walking around the city of Siena. We are looking in shops seeing the displays of fruits and vegetables. Meat type stores selling processed hams, dried sausages, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and other delicious items always catch my eye. I wish these type of stores existed in Aptos California. We stop at a nice restaurant for a bite of lunch and to rest our legs. Walking seems to be the best form of transportation in these Italian towns.
After lunch we return to Casa Bolsinina to rest and relax before our 8:00 pm dinner. I am excited for tonight’s dinner. Our first nights dinner was very delicious and exciting with the variety of favors, textures, and unique mix of ingredients.
This is the last day we are all together so I hope this will be our special last day. We have planned a day trip to Florence Italy and I for one am very excited to visit this beautiful city. My wife Monica had visited this city often and I had photos of her on the walls of my office. She was sitting in front of the statue of Neptune and I always knew it was one of her special times. There were other photos of her in Florence but this one is always in my mind. Also I remember how her eyes would sparkle and her face light up whenever she would tell me about her visit to Florence. She so loved the works of art from the carvings to the paintings and the beautiful sculptures. I feel so lucky to have been the one she choose.
I guess I am a very lucky person because now I have another wonderful person, Marti. Together we will be able to experience my winter years. I can only hope that we will enjoy many winters together. I should explain that her eyes also sparkle and her face lights up when she talks about Florence. Marti enjoys the architecture of the cathedrals and the beauty of the city’s design.
Today I will view Florence in person and I will see what impresses me most. The drive from our B and B takes just over one hour but of course I get lost so it takes an extra thirty minutes. Inside the city we fight the traffic and I know understand the difficulty of driving in a crowded Italian city. It is not the cars that bother you it is the motorcycles, scooters, and tiny little vehicles that skirt around you, hide in your blind spot, and fit into spots you do not expect a vehicle to be. We are looking for a place to park and suddenly we find a parking garage. We pull in and the attendant takes the car.
What luck we are right at the start of the Florence street market. We start walking down the middle of the street. It is lined with booths selling all types of Italian goods. Leather items from belts to outstanding Jackets. Scarfs made from silk, cashmere, wool, and other types of cloth. Jewelry made from Morino glass as well as silver and gold. I am amazed at the number of items as well as the quality. I am surprised as well by the fact that the booths on the street are operated by the owners of the stores the booths are in front of on the street. We learned this little fact when Marti was looking at a pair of gloves but did not like the color. We were quickly whisked into the store behind the booth and a much larger selection of colors, types of gloves, and other Italian leather products could be found.
Marti and I want to see the cathedral, the statues, and the famous bridge. Ginger and Uncle Charley want to continue shopping the hundreds of booths. We agree to separate and meet back at a junction of streets before lunch. We are now on our own. Marti and I head directly to the cathedral. It is fantastic, it is enormous, and it is beautiful. I am fascinated by the fact that people from the Middle Ages were able to build such wonderful buildings. Just like humans before them they created wonderful buildings to honor their God. Inca’s built huge structures, Stonehenge was created by the early inhabitants of England, North American Indians built totem poles, giant Buddha’s were constructed in China and Japan. To me people with a strong faith in their God will honor their God with giant structures built-in the honor of their deity.
We walked completely around the cathedral and it was fascinating. The number of people in the streets surrounding the cathedral made it difficult just to walk. I was amazed. The crowd of people was suffocating so we moved over to the area where we found the works of art. Then right before my eyes was the statue of David and next to David was the statue of Neptune. The throngs of people around the outside of the museum were staggering. In just fifteen minutes I watched three bus loads of people mass in front of the museum then follow their guide into the first museum. Five minutes later the process started all over again with three different bus loads of tourist. During this whole time individuals purchased entry tickets and entered the back of the line some three hundred feet from the entry door. It was surprising to see just how much organization there was in what seemed to me was nothing but mass confusion.
We headed to the river that flows by the city of Florence Italy. It was just two blocks from where we were. We could see the bridge that crossed the river and lead into the expensive jewelry area. The bridge was so packed with people neither Marti nor I wanted to try to cross over. We checked our watch and decided to start back to meet Uncle Charley and Ginger. Weaving our way through the body of humans we found the start of the market of booths. We were a little early so we begin to shop.
Wow the deals you could find inside these little booths. All of the leather goods were made in Italy and most were of a fine quality. Morino glass converted into jewelry was beautiful as well as artistic. Stylish leather jackets for men with the inside fully lined was priced in the reasonable range and with just a little haggle you could secure a bargain. Scarfs of various colors and material were fluttering in the gentle breeze. Marti shopped until I dropped. I was hungry and tired. Right at that time we found Ginger then we found Uncle Charley and into a restaurant we ducked.
Lunch was just ok but we were sitting down, out of the sun, drinking cold water or wine and we could walk just a few steps to the toilet. We ordered two pizzas, and pasta with tomatoes. I ordered a side of spinach and of course natural water. After lunch we walked back to the car and drove back to the ranch (Casa Bolsinina) to organize our gifts and relax. Dinner was at 8:00 pm and it was our last dinner at the ranch. I was feeling a little sad. Tomorrow we would separate as Uncle Charley and Ginger would take the train to Rome and Marti and I would head to Todi.
Dinner was grand for our last night at the farm (Casa Bolsinina). Maria Pia started the meal with a fancy carrot dumpling; this was followed by tasty pasta with a zuknee purée, which in turn was followed by a wild boar meat in wine sauce with potatoes. Dinner as usual lasted late and soon we were heading up to our rooms to pack and prepare for our departure the following morning. I packed the bags and then climbed into bed for our last night of sleep at the Casa Bolsinina.
Morning arrived and we finished packing for our departure. Then down the stairs we went and enjoyed our last breakfast with Maria Pia. We packed the car and soon we were headed to a small town that had the best direct train to Rome. We arrived at the train station and unpacked Uncle Charley and Ginger’s luggage. Marti accompanied them into the train station and assisted with the purchase of the tickets. With the two of them settled Marti returned to my double parked car and we were off to Todi. As we drove to Todi we saw the express train to Rome pass us by and I silently said my good byes once again.
We arrived at Todi and after parking the car began our exploration of this medieval town. Talk about a climb uphill. I think that of all the Italian hill towns we visited this one was the most difficult one to walk. From the time we left the parked car we were walking uphill until we finally reached the church at the top of the mountain. If it had not been for Marti’s short shopping stops along the way I am sure that I would never have made it up the hill.
The square was very large and the church was unfinished. We visited the church and even though it was unfinished it was beautiful in its own way. We walked around and visited more shops. One of the jewelry shops that we stopped at and purchased a necklace had provided us with a recommendation for lunch. So off we went to this restaurant for lunch. Lunch was very good and we enjoyed a side of spinach with butter and cheese that accompanied our egg pasta with bacon and veil with a mushroom and gravy sauce. We talked and laughed and after a very leisure lunch departed the restaurant for our stroll downhill to the parked car. The car was right where we parked it and we did not get lost on our way out of Todi. We did wonder if Uncle Charley and Ginger had arrived at their hotel in Rome so we sent an e- mail but have not heard back. Into the car and off we went to find our little B and B for the night.
We did not get lost and much sooner than normal we were pulling up into the B and B parking lot. What a first this is the first B and B with its own parking lot in town. I am very impressed. The Torre Sangiovanni is a wonderful little place just a short distance from Todi. The outside of the Torre Sangiovanni looks like a castle but with a beautiful flower garden that welcomes you inside. The staff speaks broken English but we had no difficulty in talking with them. Inside the B and B was beautiful and very tastefully decorated. Rosary Pecoraro the owner and chief were very delightful and added to our enjoyment of this quaint establishment.
Into our room we went via an elevator! With just eight rooms I was again very impressed. Our room was beautiful with special unique touches that enhanced its beauty and charm. We were very pleased with this room and soon we were relaxed and settled. Marti chooses to walk around and explore her surroundings and I choose to add material to my blog. About one hour later Marti returned to our room and told me how charming this B & B was compared to some of the others on this trip. She also mentioned the garden and how beautiful the spring flowers looked in front of the Torre Sagiovanni. I was tired from typing so together we left the room and took a walk around the area. Our walk turned into a gentile stroll and we enjoyed the evening. On our return to the Torre Sagiovanni we decided to sit outside in the garden and enjoy a glass of wine before dinner. This was very relaxing.
A short time after 8:00 pm we entered the Hotel Torre Sagiovanni’s restaurant for dinner. We choose to start off with an appetizer of toasted bread with a medley of toppings. What a great choice! We were excited by each topping and instead of just eating some we decided to cut each in half and together we enjoyed them all. This taste sensation was followed by special egg pasta with asparagus and zucchini, and then a fantastic lamb dish ended our three course dinner. We finished our lamb and were ready to stop eating when the lady suggested that we try her homemade tiramisu. I did not want to hurt her feelings so we said yes. It arrived shortly and Marti and I started to eat the first bite. Oh my gosh, it really was homemade! In fact, it was just made. I could tell this by how crisp the lady fingers were inside the tiramisu. The custard was so fresh it maintained its firm shape yet melted inside your mouth. This was the best tiramisu I have ever eaten. I am sure that later that night I must have dreamed of nothing else. What a dinner and what a way to remember this B and B.
Our night of sleep was excellent and we departed our room in time for a late breakfast. We were seated and I enjoyed a bowl of fruit as Marti enjoyed a selection of baked breads. A short time later a tray of meat and cheese was placed on our table and we continued to enjoy this leisure meal. Again she stopped by our table and asked if we would care for scrambled eggs. Presto, before my eyes was a plate of soft scramble eggs in butter and small slices of ham included. What a great breakfast. On our next trip to Italy I will return to the Torre Sagiovanni.
We departed the breakfast room and finished packing. Today we are on our way to the Rome International Airport. We will return the rental car and then check in to the Hilton Garden Inn at the airport. Tomorrow we will catch the shuttle bus to the terminal and then check our luggage, catch our plane and depart beautiful Italy for the windy city (Chicago). Driving a pitcher perfect road we wormed our way towards Rome. The sights along the way were breathtaking. The Tiber River cut its way to Rome and we followed along its path. The farms were many as were the small vineyards. Every so often a town or city would be sitting high atop a hill or mountain. What a beautiful way to end this special trip to Italy.
Passing Rome we drove straight to the airport. We then passed the airport and headed into the sea town of Fomachello. We parked by the boat harbor and selected a quaint restaurant for lunch. Still comfortable from breakfast we only ordered two items to share. A pasta dish and a special fish dish. The pasta was very good and just eating a little made it just a little better. The fish was outstanding. It was sole with citrus and it was very special. They rolled the sole into small balls. This was accomplished by taking the flat slice of fish and curling it up into a small ball then sticking a toothpick through the rolled sole. These small rolls were cooked and served on top of slices of orange and limes. They were very good. Then off to the airport our trip is ending. I just do not want to go home. I will need to return the rental car and I will need to catch my confirmed flight for Chicago. Then the next day I will be home, oh how sad. The trip will be over…. But maybe not — stay tuned — there may be more to come.

We completed our lunch and returned to our car and proceeded to depart the lovely town of Orvieto. We were on our way to a small farm B and B recommended to us by Bill and Ann. The small B and B was located just outside the city of Monteroni d’Arbia. We were on our way with reservations for four nights at the Casa Bolsinina. We found the town of Monteroni d’Arbia with ease next was locating the Casa Bolsinina. We traveled up and down the street that we understood was the street where we would meet the street that the Casa Bolsinina was located. We drove around and around the area. We tried one street after another street but we had no luck. We stopped and asked local people and they all told us the same thing. Drive down this road about three kilometer see the sign for the Casa then turn left for three more kilometer and you would be there. Finally in desperation we followed the directions exactly as written.
Heading down the number two highway for three kilometer we could not see a sign but a dirt road was to the left. What the heck I turned down the road and started to check my kilometer gage. The first kilometer was a dusty pot hole road that looked more like a farmers access road to view his crops. Then all of a sudden a bridge appeared and the road was paved about one more kilometer later the paved road changed into a dirt road. To my left and right were crops growing in the Italian soil. They looked a little parched and the soil was dry and cracked. Behind my car was a dust trail that covered the road I had just driven down. At exactly the three kilometer mark a road forked off to the left and a bold sign stated Casa Bolsinina to my left. I turned the car down this roadway and on a rise above me was the beautiful Casa. Into the property I drove and parked the car beside a large multiple building complex. We exited the car and were greeted by our host Roberto.

Out of the car and into the Casa we went. Our search had ended we were here at the Casa Bolsinina. The lady of the Casa, Maria Pia, greeted us and showed us to our rooms at the top of the stairs. Roberto delivered our bags and we just laid down on the bed tired from the drive and our adventure of trying to find the Casa. Dinner was scheduled for 8:00 pm so we placed our order and relaxed as dinner was prepared. At around eight we walked downstairs and sat down at our table for dinner. Dinner at the Casa is a four course meal with an optional fifth course of desert. The food is outstanding. Maria Pia prepares the dinner from fresh ingredient most of which are grown in the garden. All meals start off with wine and then an appetizer, followed by a pasta dish, followed by a meat dish, and a vegetable. For those who still have room a desert is then served. We are here for four nights and I will eat my dinner here each night. What a happy way to enjoy the evening.
At the end of dinner it is a short walk up the stairs and into the bedroom I go. I can watch television, read, play on my computer or just rest. I am so relaxed here that I do not want to return home. At around 11:00 pm I am fast asleep. I sleep fully relaxed and without worry. The following morning I am fully refreshed and eager to start the day with Marti, Uncle Charley, and Ginger.

 

The next morning we packed and prepared for another day of travel. We are headed to a lovely town north of Casperia called Orvieto. This town is known for its cathedral that has alternating layers of stone blocks creating the look of a building with stripes. We tried to drive up to the cathedral but the narrow streets and the no parking signs stopped me. I dropped my uncle Charley and Ginger off at the point closest to the cathedral and u turned the car and tried to locate a parking spot at the bottom of the mountain. I found one and Marti and I departed the car and started our walk up the mountain.

We arrived at the cathedral and looked all around the square for Uncle Charley and Ginger. They were nowhere to be found. I became concerned and we hiked down the mountain looking to see if I could locate either Uncle Charley or Ginger. I had no luck so I returned and Marti sent another e-mail to Ginger informing her that we were at the cathedral and were going inside. My hope was that they misunderstood and were inside the cathedral waiting for us. We entered the cathedral and I was amassed by both the beauty and the size of this church. We looked to see if either Ginger or my Uncle was inside but we did not see either person.

We decided to exit the cathedral and continue our search for the two lost people. It was at this time that I spotted both my Uncle Charles and Ginger approaching the cathedral square. I learned that my Uncle stopped at a barber shop for a haircut and stopped at some leather shops as well. His hair looked really nice and he had purchased a few belts. I was just glad he was again in my sight. We agreed to meet at the foot of the mountain at 1:30 pm and split up once again. Marti and I planned to do a little shopping and Uncle Charles and Ginger wanted to visit inside the cathedral.

At around 1:05 pm Marti and I started down the mountain to meet up with my Uncle Charley and Ginger. Once we reached the bottom of the mountain we realized that we were on the other side of the mountain. If we were to meet my uncle we would need to return to the top of the mountain and then walk down the correct road to meet up with the two of them. Time was flying by but I just hiked up the mountain as fast as I could. We found the correct road and were rushing down the hill when I spotted both Uncle Charley and Ginger sitting at a cafe ordering something to drink. We walked over sat down and enjoyed a lovely lunch outside the restaurant watching people walking by on their way to wherever they were going.

I had a great nights sleep and we awoke the next morning refreshed and ready to explore the surrounding area. Our hostess suggested a small town a few kilometers away because today, Friday, the city hosted a selling event each Friday. Vendors of all types of items set up booths and people from the area flocked into the town to satisfy their needs. Shirts, shoes, belts, cookware, knifes, material, just about everything was for sell. It seemed more like a flea market to me but I am just a visitor.

We walked around and looked for some items but soon we were board so we decided to leave. On the way back to Casperia we stopped at a small restaurant recommended by two other guests at the La Torretta. What a great lunch it was. The L’Asprese was superb! We started off with an appetizer that was filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, olives, and a large bowl of beans. This was followed by each of our main courses. Some had pasta and some had meat. We again shared our food and everyone enjoyed the meal, the service, and the happiness inside this restaurant. We said our good-byes and headed back to Casperia. I thought this fact might just be one item of importance to all of you who may plan a trip to this area. The bill for this great meal was almost one half of what we were charged at the “Friends” the previous afternoon.

We reached Casperia and parked our car a little higher up the mountain. Instead of taking the lift or the elevator we entered the medieval city from one of the few openings in the wall surrounding the city. We walked up more steps but it took about 30% less time to reach the La Torretta. We relaxed for the remainder of the late afternoon and at 8:00 pm departed for a special dinner at the advanced cooking school located inside Casperia.

We arrived early with a reservation for 8:30 pm, but we were seated anyway. Shortly after being seated other guests arrived and soon the room was packed. The meal started with a special wine that was made by the host of the cooking school. It was a red wine that had a full body flavor but little aftertaste. Our first course was a delicate little thin sliced pork with Julian lettuce and a creamed tuna dressing. That was followed with special baked bread filled with ham and cheese. The next course consisted of bow tie pasta with shaved zucchini and crispy ham on top. Then we were surprised with a special stuffed ravioli (the ravioli was stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach).  The main course was a delicate sliced pork in a savory sauce and a side of crispy thick potatoes.  Desert was two puffed baked pastry squares separated by a delicate whipped cream and fresh strawberries filling. A light dusting of powder sugar was added for visual impact.

The meal was a delight with great conversation, good people (even the mayor of Casperia was present), pleasant music and an outstanding dining experience. We talked about it all the way back to La Torretta. It was past 11:00 pm and time to go to sleep and dream about this dining event.

Then off we went looking for the city of Casperia. We approached the medieval town and were unable to proceed by car into the walled city. We called our B and B, La Torretta, and soon a man appeared driving a four-wheel modified scooter. He loaded our luggage onto the scooter and pointed us in the direction of a lift that would take us up to the next level. The lift was small and it was just roomy enough for the four of us but no one else could fit. On exiting the lift we were greeted by a woman who pointed us in another direction to an elevator. We again crowded into this elevator and were whisked up into the medieval town.

Stepping out of the elevator we walked around a corner and were inside a town that was built around 1200 to 1400 AD. The streets were very narrow and filled with stairs. We walked up stairs then we walked down stairs just following the path. Sometimes if the land was flat the path was without stairs but most streets had stairs.

We reached the La Torretta our B and B and I was a little winded. Then inside we went and the beauty of the La Torretta B and B was a big surprise. Up the stairway and into a large reading, writing, television viewing, and board game room was before us. Our rooms were off of this main room with a breathtaking view of the countryside. I would learn early in the morning that swallows would fill the sky early each day to feed and tend to their nests before migrating south to Africa.

Up another flight of stairs and we entered the kitchen and breakfast room. The kitchen was beautiful with all of the normal items found inside a kitchen of today. All I could think of was how difficult it must be to carry these items up all the stairs. All I did was carry myself to the La Torretta and I was a little winded. What if I needed to carry my weekly grocery items up once each week! No wonder people in these towns never move and if they do they sell their home furnished.

Off of the kitchen was a terrace filled with potted plants, herbs, and flowers. The view of the countryside was beautiful and if you looked down from the edge it was about two hundred feet to the bottom. I enjoyed the view and the furnishing inside the La Torretta.
On this first night we choose to eat at “the Friends” restaurant located inside the medieval city. What can I say. Everybody makes mistakes and I sure made one selecting the “Friends” restaurant. My best comment was that it was the closes to the B and B. Next time I will walk outside the medieval city and select a good restaurant.

Today I am on the first Airplane heading to Chicago for our connecting flight to Rome, Italy.  We arrived early to the Chicago O’Hare Airport.  Our connecting flight to Rome was just four gates away from our arrival gate.  We had just a short wait (under one hour) before boarding.  I was ready to board when there was an announcement that someone found an I-Pod and if anyone lost one they should report to the counter.  After checking my belt I discovered my I-Pod was missing.  I reported to the counter and lucky for me it was my I-Pod.  Safely in my pocket I boarded the airplane and soon we were flying to Rome, Italy.

We arrived in Rome Italy and quickly passed through Italian Customs. Our next stop was luggage pick up and I was pleased to see both of my checked bags arrive minutes after the luggage carrier started.  Out of the secure Airport area we headed to the Avis car rental location.  Three floors above street level we located the Avis Preferred car rental desk.  We were greeted inside the small room by a woman who was very unhappy about her rental experience.  She was waving her arms, shaking her head, and taking very affirmative body positions to aid in expressing her displeasure.  The Avis counter manager was polite but unyielding in his position.  The loud discussion was joined by another person ever so often. This individual was a friend, husband, father, or brother to the upset woman.  The argument continued and even moved outside the small room and back to the rental car.  All three individuals returned to the small Avis Preferred room and continued.  Finally without either person prepared to yield a break in the discussion occurred.  At this time, the Avis Counter man offered to assist me with my rental.  I was very pleased with my assigned rental car and expressed my pleasure to this young man.  Prior to departing the little room I asked for directions to the Hilton and was provided with very easy to follow directions.

Marti and I departed the Avis office room and headed to our rental car.  As we departed I was surprised to see that the unhappy lady had returned to the room and the earlier discussion resumed.  I wondered when some form of resolution might occur.  I was also surprised to notice how less attractive a person looks when they are unhappy and arguing.

Off to our Hotel we went so we could shower and rest until the arrival of my Uncle Charlie and Ginger. Our room is very nice and the hotel is very restful. Marti was very exhausted and after her shower was soon fast asleep.  I spent time writing e-mails and updating my blog.  I am very happy to be here in Rome and looking forward to my trip around Italy.  I am especially looking forward to my time in the village of Terravecchia.

Around five pm Marti and I returned to the lobby to await the arrival of my Uncle Charles and Ginger.  They arrived and we heard all about their adventure in trying to arrive in Rome, Italy today.  They discovered that they had lost their passports and needed to secure new ones on Friday.  Friday was the day before they were scheduled to leave.  This resulted in a drive from Monterey to San Francisco and a scheduled visit to the US Consulate.  Normally it is tough to secure an appointment however they were lucky and took the last available appointment time.  Ginger had reviewed all of the information on Thursday so she was prepared with all necessary documents, forms, and copies.  They were both on time for the appointment and with everything properly prepared they sipped through the process.  Next they had to wait for the passports to be created.  Five hours later and with two new passports in their hands they returned to Monterey.  Uncle Charley and Ginger were ready to depart on Saturday with bags packed, new passports, and boarding passes for the flights. The first flight departing San Francisco and arriving in London was pleasant and uneventful.  Moving through the Heathrow airport security proved much more difficult.  The scan of their carry on luggage indicated possible restricted items necessitating a search of the luggage.  The security person conducting the search was very through and meticulous.  These excellent security qualities resulted in added time delays for Uncle Charley and Ginger in their already tight flight connections.  With a little prodding of the security supervisor and the aid of another assigned security officer they slowly completed the transfer from one flight to the next.  This security problem made them the last two people to board their connecting flight.  A giant “THANK YOU” was earned by the airport attendant as well as a gracious tip.  Regardless of these little obstacles, they are here now and our adventure is ready to begin.

We are leaving this beautiful villa at the La Colombaia Hotel in Agropoli, Italy and planning to drive four hours north to the La Torretta, in Casperia, Italy. Before we start this drive to the north we are planning to stop and see the Greek ruins at Paestum just a few kilometers from Agropoli. We said good-bye to our host and away we went. In less than twenty minutes we were driving down a street heading to a group of buildings that housed the museum, research center and of course souvenir shops. To our left for over six hundred yards were the ruins of a very old Greek city. We could see the beautiful Greek temples with their multiple columns, both a small and a large amphitheater, and hundreds of home foundations. This Greek city was established during the Greek colonization period around three hundred years BC.
We were able to walk around in the ruins with little concern about where we were walking. Unlike our visit to the Inca ruins where we were only allowed to follow specific paths this area was open and just some barriers were present. We viewed the area and took photos. I have read about how the Greeks were the first of the Mediterranean city states to colonize inside Italy. Later we see how the Romans developed more of Italy followed by most of the other city states of the Mediterranean area. Italy became the first melting pot for people of the Mediterranean region. People from Egypt, Spain, North Africa, the Mid-East, Israel, and Turkey all landed and colonized parts of Italy. In addition to the Mediterranean people we can see the impact of the northern European people as they sailed into the Mediterranean Sea and established castles and fiefdoms in Sicily and southern Italy.
I would guess that it is very difficult for the Italians of today to fully understand their ancestry. That may be why Italians prefer to state their region first, then their Country. So I will say, I am a Calabrian Italian, not that I am an Italian who comes from Calabria. This is easy for me to understand as I already say that I am a Norther California American instead of a United States of American.
I have only seen photos and travel shows of the ruins in the country of Greece but based on this limited understanding the ruins in Italy were better preserved and included more of an idea just how the Greek cities would have looked. I was very impressed with the number of standing columns in the multiple temples, and how little the building blocks had been moved or reused. I enjoyed my time here in this historic area of Italy and the amount of knowledge I gained.

Now we are on our way to Agropoli for a short stay at the La Colombaia Hotel.  We choose this stop so there will be a break from the inside of the car.  Our actual target destination is the La Torretta B and B, in Casperi where we will spend a few days. We estimated to drive directly to Casperi it would take a little over eight hours.  Spending eight hours in a car is not a vacation to me so our stop will break up the drive and keep us all relaxed.

The drive to Agropoli was beautiful.  The scenery changed from sea-side and mountainous to rolling hills. We stayed on the main road and watched the country side disappear as we burrowed through so many tunnels that I lost count. We did not get lost but it did take us a little longer than we had estimated.  It could have been because we left a little late.  It could have been that we stopped along the way.  It just did not matter.  We arrived and the La Colombaia Hotel was anything other than a Hotel.

The La Colombaia was perched on the side of a hill with a view of the valley below and the bay beyond. It reminded me of an elegant home with an owner who loves to entertain guests year-round. The rooms were spacious and artfully decorated.  The view from our terraces was spectacular. Even our bathroom had a small little window with a beautiful scenic view. The grounds were well taken care of with flowers in bloom, colors vibrant and relaxing, and walkways clean and void of any litter.  The pool was inviting and relaxing just to view.  The water inside the pool was crystal clear and absent the scent of chlorine. I was fully relaxed just walking around the Hotel.

After a rest from the drive we decided to find a restaurant for dinner this day.  The hotel suggested a little place close by that they felt we might enjoy.  As promised the drive was short and as we entered the restaurant we knew we were in for a treat.  The restaurant was decorated with all types of hitching gear for horses.  You know things like leather yokes that fit over the horse’s heads, the leather straps used to hitch horses together, as well as photos and paintings of beautiful horses graced the walls.

In one corner of the restaurant was a counter like you would see inside a deli filled with all types of good things to eat.  I ordered a selection of prepared vegetables from the counter and everyone else ordered from the menu.  Dinner was excellent and we departed the restaurant with full tummies and ready for a good night’s sleep.

Well I am getting to the last few photos!  I think I may have just two more posts left.  But do not worry soon I will have some more photos from Uncle Charley and Ginger!  You see there was only one person without a camera on this trip, ME!

We left Italy via the Fiumicino international airport and we fly direct to Chicago Il USA.  I have always loved Chicago but it just was not the same after our time in Italy.  We stayed in Chicago for the day and departed the following day.

Our room at the hotel InterContental in a suburb of Chicago IL USA

The Chicago sky line at morning from our hotel the InterContental

The Chicago sky line at night from our hotel the InterContental

Italy has an old practice that is followed by cemeteries in the country.  Italian people could only rent the burial plot for a term of fifty years.  If your more recent relatives wanted they could renew the plot for another fifty years.  If the plot was not renewed your remains (bones) would be removed and transferred to a common plot by the church or your bones could be placed inside a small niche inside the cemetery.  Either way it would be very difficult to locate individuals who had passed away greater than fifty years ago.  I am happy to report that practice is no longer followed in Italy.  So in a hundred years from now we will be able to find someone’s grave that passed away 100 years ago.

Searching each and every headstone I was looking for possible relatives.  Again and again the two more familiar names would appear but the two last names we had difficulty locating in Terravecchia were just as scarce inside the cemetery. During this search I saw one person with my last name.  Her first name was Anna so I asked my Uncle Charlie to take a photo for me.  I will share it with anyone who would like to see the grave.  I was very surprised to learn that Anna was related to the grounds keeper of the cemetery.  But he was not a relative of mine, I guess.

We departed the graveyard and returned to the city of Cariati where we found the ladies resting from shopping.  We told them of our luck and they became just as excited as we had.  The time was past noon and we were all hungry for lunch so off we went to another town for lunch.  We stopped at a new restaurant inside a hotel that was run by a new young Calabarise chief.  We had a wonderful lunch of true Calabarian dishes.  Our first course was an antipasti that included, sausage, ham, olives, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant, along with a bowl of pepper sauce, and my favorite sardines. I had enjoyed everything on the plate at both of my grandmother’s homes.  I was in heaven.  Everyone ordered a second dish some had pasta and some had veal.  When the individual dishes appeared it was a time to share.  Each plate was filled with memories and each plate was special in its own way.  One of the most memorable dishes was prepared just for Milo.  It consisted of homemade pasta with slices of salmon in a white sauce.  We were such pigs that we even ate desert.  I will for sure return to this restaurant again.

We returned to our B&B to rest and prepare for our departure from Calabria in the morning

I am sad that we are leaving Calabria.  This country has become very special to me.  I feel like I really belong here.  I would be comfortable living high in the mountains or down by the Sea.  I prefer the southern side of Calabria with the sea-side village of Cariati and the Mountain town of Terravecchia but that may be because my grandparents lived there.  I am sure that when I return I will explore more and more of this beautiful country and find just the right spot to spend more time.  I have talked to Marti and we have agreed that we will return to Calabria.

I will drive for a total of about 336 kilometers tomorrow, unless I get lost again.  I am finding out that getting lost is not as bad as when I was younger.  We have built into our schedule extra time and our schedule is more flexible to our needs.  So each time we make a wrong turn, follow the poorly marked road signs, or just find ourselves lost it is the start of a new adventure.  It has become a type of road game.  Find out where we are and then find out how to return to a better path.  I cannot speak for the three other people in the car but it was fun for me.