9/11/00 8:30pm EDT
The trip is about to begin!! Mom and Dad dropped us off at EWR (Rob was going to but decided to go sailing instead!). We checked in and are now waiting to board. Because of poor directions, we had to go through x-ray twice and they almost emptied my bag to do a visual inspection the second time. Teddie is on the verge of an anxiety attack and I'm beginning to get sleepy. Quite a beginning!
9/12/00 11:52am Paris
Finally arrived at Paris! Flight was about 6.5 hours and mostly smooth. The Paris airport is better than London, but not by too much. Exited plane into curious elevating bus, carried to terminal, walked, boarded another bus, walked, passport & x-ray check. We are now at the gate awaiting boarding. There is lots of construction. The terminal has an art-deco appearance, but is attractive and clean. Lots of Europeans!!
12:29pm Boarded flight to FCO (A320). Confusion over gate change. Had to check in despite already having a boarding pass. I had 26A and Teddie had 26F - window seats on opposite sides of the airplane.
9/13/00 11:26am Roccalbegna
Arrived in Rome on time but no Peppone there to greet us! Looks like he was delayed in south Italy longer than he expected to be. Got our car and drove to Roccalbegna without incident. Used GPS although I'm sure I would have found it on my own. Parked car and walked to Vezio's where we found Vezio and Primina. They called Moreno and we all had a hectic chat. Then Vezio took us to Andrea's (we came across Eugenia and her brother on the way) where we met Andrea, his mother, and Massimo. They were putting the finishing touches on the apartment. It is beautiful!! We can tell he has gone to a lot of work putting this together. It has a kitchen, bath, and bedroom on the first floor (all new appliances), a bedroom and sitting room on the second floor, and a wine cellar downstairs. He had furnished it complete with towels, dishes, soap, cokes, wine, snacks,and everything else he could think of! What great people!!
They knew we were tired so they all left us early and we cleaned up and turned in for a fitful night's sleep. This morning we bought groceries at Simonelli's and had a nice reunion with Edoardo and Franca. After breakfast we drove to the crash site and spent a few minutes there before returning to Roccalbegna and then driving to the property where we walked and collected burrs. Finally , we returned to the apartment where Andrea came in and helped us light the stove. We will be going over there for lunch at 1:30. Saw Vito driving the street sweeper and he honked and waved. Also saw Riccardo and chatted with him briefly.
Spoke of seeing plane crash. He was one mile away when it went down. Was on site in about 40 minutes. Felt certain that plane originated from Naples, not Corsica. Also, said no bombs exploded after the crash. He felt sure this was the case, although I explained that I had received contradictory information from others.
Had lunch with Andrea, Mario, their mother Giulia, Francesco, and Alessio (student who translated on former visits.). After dinner tried to use public phone but it did not work for us. Will have to check the number and try again.
Although weather was hot yesterday, today has been very dry and pleasant. We hope this is the start of a string of perfect weather like last year.
(late) At lunch, Andrea and Mario said that they and Vezio tried to clear part of my land but it was too hard. They said that winter was the best time to do a clearing.
Andrea brought me to the basement and showed me a cabinet that appears to have been made with aluminum from the plane. He was unable to tell me anything about it, but showed me some partial printing on the bottom. Unfortunately, not enough printing remained to read any more than a few letters. I took several photos. It appears that aluminum angle iron and sheeting were salvaged from parts of the plane and riveted into the shape of a cabinet about 1.3 meters tall. Sometime, probably since its construction, the cabinet was involved in a fire which left the back blackened and deformed. Andrea indicated he would keep it in the basement, should I decide to do something with it later. I believe it came from the parents of one of his students, but I'm not sure which one.
Tonight is the festival. Andrea indicated "2100". I saw Mr. Raffaelli and Franca at the square while we were chatting with Mr. Bindi and they both asked about Teddie. Right now (6pm) she is sound asleep in bed while the carpenters are busy on the floor below installing doors over the front of the water heater. They have been very busy and I hear their saws running right now.
mercoledý 13 settembre 00
We arrived in Roccalbegna yesterday evening at about 6PM, and we were both exhausted. The flight from Newark was another overnighter on which we did not sleep. We have had no flight delays so far, and our luggage has made it with us OK. We are grateful for our good fortune.
The Paris airport is very similar to the London airport. The Continental flight parked on the tarmac, and they picked us up in a bus to transport us to the terminal. Once we reached the terminal we had to stand in a line to catch another bus which took us to a different terminal. Customs was nothing more than a cursory glance at our passports. We eventually made it to our gate in time to relax before the next flight. While we were waiting, Mike happened to go around and glance at the arrival/departure sign and noticed that our gate had changed!! We did not have to walk too far to change gates, but I never heard them announce a change or even that we would start boarding. People just started lining up and getting on the plane. They do not board by row on Air France. Wine was free on the flight to France and to Italy. The bathrooms in the terminal were black marble and immaculate.
Picking up the rental car in Rome was a little time consuming but otherwise non-eventful. We had no trouble finding our way up here from Rome. There have not been many changes in the last couple of years. They were restoring the city hall building when we were here last, and that is now completed.
We parked the car and went to Vezio and Primina's house, because we did not know where Andrea's apartment was located. She fixed us a drink and then Vezio walked with us over to Andrea's. The apartment is right next to the house where he and his mother live. Andrea has done a really wonderful job of remodeling the place, and we will take lots of pictures. The entry of the house opens directly onto the stairs up to the master bedroom. To the right of this is the kitchen which is all new with new appliances including a dishwasher!! I'm not sure what this area was used for in the past, but there are large hooks and nails still in the beams of the ceiling.There is a small bedroom, which is off the kitchen, and there is also a bathroom off the kitchen. Everything in the bathroom is brand new and it is very nice. There is a small washing machine under the counter. That is a big relief, because I don't know if there is a laundry nearby. I found the clothesline this morning. It's outside the windows of the master bedroom.
Below the kitchen is the wine cellar. Of course it is filled with their home made wine in large glass bottles. When I say large I mean that they are about 30 gallon bottles. There is a small room behind the wine cellar with a large table which looks like half of a log, eight little chairs, and a sink made out of a big piece of stone (marble?) Brass faucets come out of the stone wall over the sink. They frequently have parties in rooms like this.
Tomorrow night is the festival, and if invited, I will walk with the townspeople through the streets. I'm not sure what sort of gala event they will be having after this. One year it was a huge fireworks display set off in the piazza. The other year they set off hot air balloons with a flame going in the gondola basket. This of course, eventually consumed the balloon when it was high in the air.
This morning, we drove to the crash site and found that the long gravel road has been paved. It is still only about 1 1/2 cars wide. The small hunter's road to the site is still badly rutted gravel, but we are only on this road for about 1/4 mile. The monument seems to be holding up well in the weather. We will go back again another day to clean it.
After that, we drove out to the land that Mike bought and inspected it. Of course it is quite overgrown, since no one has been maintaining it over the last couple of years. Mike said that he plans to speak with Moreno about getting someone out there to clean it up a little. I think that the job is too big for he and I to try to tackle while we are here. I wish someone had a goat to put on it :- ). Nothing is fenced, though, and some of our neighbors are growing grapes, etc. and would not appreciate any goats on their land. The small plum trees have really grown. The walnut trees are bigger, too.
We came back to the apartment to relax and have lunch, and Andrea came over and invited us to lunch at his house at 1330.
Addendum: Of course we ate way too much at lunch. It lasted for 3 hours. We had some type of rice dish to start, then spaghetti with meat sauce. This was followed by a meat course with potatoes and deep fried pumpkin flowers. The meat was t-bone steak (2 giant ones which the 7 of us shared) and lamb which was coated with bread crumbs and fried. This was followed by fresh fruit, and Mike and I shared a peach. The final course was dessert which was chopped up fruit with a sugar sauce. We drank two different wines during the meal and then we had espresso. After that, we had some port. Those in attendance at the dinner were Andrea and his brother Mario; their mother Giulia, Francesco (their nephew and the only grandchild) and his friend (who speaks English) Alessio.
Mike went to use the phone after this and I went back to the house to wait for the workmen who were finishing up a job in the kitchen. I took a nap until they were finished. We went out to the piazza this evening to watch the dancing. It is just one of the events which precedes the festival tomorrow. We were also able to get in touch with Alberto, and I know that he will be sending e-mail to our list today or tomorrow. I don't know how we messed up with the phone, but we ended up calling him collect!!! Fortunately, he agreed to accept the charges. I still don't know how Mike did that. He dialed the numbers while I listened to the receiver for instructions.
I am off to bed now--hopefully to sleep the entire night. More domani.
The church bells went off at 6am this morning. Then again at 7:15 and 7:45. This is the day of the 14 Sep celebration, so it must be the custom. I don't remember if this happened last year or not.
Last night we went to the bar and tried calling Alberto (a few times). Finally we got through but, for some reason, they made it a collect call!! Alberto accepted and we caught up on the main news and he told me I had been using an incorrect number for his voice mail (hence our inability to connect). We'll try again in a few days and hope it works.
Later in the evening (9:00pm) we went to the square and watched them dance for a while. Vezio and Primina glided around the floor with every song and everyone seemed to be having a very good time. After a while Violetta came by and we visited for a while. Vito was called over to translate - his English is as good as ever, although I think he has not spoken it since we were last here.
This morning is another beautiful day - clear, crisp, and absolutely no wind! Can it be too much to hope for weather like we had on our last visit?!!
(note) Andrea's apartment - we find it to be a charming place. Because of the ancient design, and the way the streets are arranged, walls are not quite square and plumb and ceiling beams are not exactly parallel and perpendicular. But we enjoy this very much and feel the place has an abundance of good character. The interior has all brand new appliances and fixtures and cabinets. An interesting mix of the old and the new. The bath window opening was originally constructed in the 15th century (and had been sealed up for many, many years), as was much of the rest of the place. There is an old wine cellar in the basement and a door leading out to the alley behind. The ceiling beams are very old and have been cut by hand. In some places they sag slightly, but they all appear very sturdy and timeless. We like this little place very much!
Today we meet the teachers at 10am for a few minutes. Nothing else is planned, although there will likely be festivities going on all day today. We may elect to take a drive this afternoon - we'll see.
(late note) While standing at the crash site yesterday the absolute silence was briefly broken by the sound of a military aircraft streaking overhead. I found that interesting and slightly eerie.
3:30pm Alessio and Andrea met us at the school at 10am and we met a few of the teachers. They showed us around parts of the school and explained some of the things the kids are doing. Then we checked out the Internet on their computer and I showed them parts of my home pages and they made note of the web address for future viewing. When we were done there, we returned to the apartment and Alessio went home to continue his thesis on Dante. After lunch we took a drive through Rocchette, Semproniano, and Triana. Although it was not a long ride, the day was pleasant and the view magnificent. We stopped along the way and bought ice cream and coke and sat in the shade by the curb. The shopkeeper had left his card game across the street to serve us and, after a while, his friends became impatient and called for him. By then we were ready to return to the car so he joined his friends as we strolled back to the car. When we reached Roccalbegna we parked the car and then walked up past Simonelli's house to see how the construction of two years ago was coming along (it looked very good), then continued up the hill and climbed to the fort. Coming back we took the back path to the main road and then walked down the road to the apartment.
6:00pm Just finished watching the annual procession and, as last time, it was quite nice. All the women marched together, followed by Don Valentino and the choir (?), followed by a holy man (Teddie thinks he may be a Bishop) walking under a cover carried by 5 men (including Vezio and Andrea) and holding a small statue. Then there were 4 people carrying a large cross, followed by everyone else. I saw almost everyone I ever met here. Teddie slept through the entire affair! She has a giant case of travel fatigue but has plenty of time to get over it. In a while we will go to the piazza to observe the festivities (if I can get her up).
11:27pm Just returned from the festivities and they were great. We went to the piazza and joined the throngs - saw many that we knew. Vezio invited us to dinner at his house at 8pm. We spoke for a long time with Riccardo and then watched them light the balloons while the band played below. This year they kept them tethered because the land is very dry and they did not want to start a fire. Then we met Andrea's sister, Anna, and her friend Stefania. Stefania speaks English very well and we chatted for a long time. She invited us to dinner on Saturday night and we gladly accepted. Then we went to Vezio's (10 minutes late) and had dinner with Vezio and Primina and Primina's brother,Vittorio. At 10pm Vezio took Teddie and I up halfway to the fort and we waited for a while until they started the fireworks display. They were the best we have ever seen!! Big, LOUD, and lots of them! Afterwards we visited in the crowd for a while. Vezio was getting chilly and we were getting tired, so we went by and said goodnight to Primina and then Vezio walked us home where we found Andrea cleaning up around the front of his place. It was a special evening - good food and fun conversation at Vezio's, followed by a wonderful fireworks show with the entire village lit up in the background below and a radiant full moon in the sky above. As I told Teddie, "I really like this place!". She agrees.
giovedý 14 settembre
This morning we were wakened at 6AM with church bells ringing. Tonight will be the big celebration, but church stuff is going on all day today. Mike and I went to visit the school today, and they turned on one of the computers to get on the Internet. Alessio was there to interpret for us. They laid out a brunch for us. They had coffee, water, and wine. I poured Mike and I a small glass of wine. We did get on the Internet and located Mike's home page for them and saved it in their "preferiti" spot. We also checked out poodle cam while we were there. Fortunately there was nothing new going on in the living room.
I fixed some panini for lunch and then we took a ride around the countryside. We stopped in a couple of little hilltop towns around the area including Rocchette, Semproniano, and Patricci. We had a gelato and coke at a bar in Patricci. When we returned to Roccalbegna, we walked up past Simonelli's house and then up to the fort on top of the rock. We were trying to identify Rochette from the rock, but it was a little hard to figure out. It was very easy to see and identify Roccalbegna from Rochette. We will have to try it again on another day with binoculars.
Tonight is the procesione followed by drinks and panini in the piazza. I think that I should take a little nap this afternoon, so I am not too tired tonight to enjoy myself. More later.
9/15/00 9:10am Weather report - perfect!! Just like yesterday. We are doing some laundry in the little washer in the bathroom. Like the one at Simonelli's, it makes funny little puffing and wheezing sounds, turns one way, rests, then turns the other way. Strange. It only does a maximum of 3 lbs. so we may need to start doing a little load every day. (Note: we later discovered that was 3 kg, not 3 lb). We plan to go to the bank to try and exchange some money, to the artist to see if he can do a painting for us, to Simonelli's to buy some groceries, and then perhaps to the crash site with the metal detector for a while.
11:09am Went to bank and exchanged some cash. Then ran across Stefania who invited us to the bar for coffee. After that we went to Simonelli's for supplies and then checked with Eugenia about the artist's hours (come back at 3 or so) before returning to the apartment and our laundry operation.
2:20pm Cleaned up crash site and put new tape up. Then we returned to Roccalbegna and had a very pleasant lunch at Varo's Restaurant (home made pasta). We were having difficulty communicating with waitress so another customer came over and translated for us while her family ate their lunch in amusement. We chatted for a bit and I gave her one of my cards with my home page URL on it. After lunch we parked the car, walked back to the apartment and are now going to finish the laundry and take a siesta.
New GPS waypoints:
Road2 42 44.386 011 28.330
Fork2 42 45.021 011 27.779
Cross 42 44.144 011 28.649 (beyond site - meets cross road)
Turn 42 44.183 011 28.799 (turned back here)
Path 42 44.256 011 28.482
(late note) While returning from crash site we stopped by the side of the road to take a picture of the intersection (fork2) and I noticed many sheep in the woods apparently asleep. Some were standing, most were laying down. But all appeared to be frozen in time. One even stood motionless with his head among the tree roots.
Pandolfi property - between kilometer 44.1 and 44.2
6:34pm Teddie is feeling very poorly and doesn't know why. She feels exhausted but is not running a fever. Hopefully it's nothing more than travel fatigue and she'll be better after a good night's sleep. I took a drive to Mt. Labbro but did not bother climbing as it is quite hazy and the view would not be that great. I went back to the artist (Angelo Buscema) and, although he speaks no English, I managed to order a small painting. I gave him the money and he will give the painting to Andrea when it is done. Now I need to find someone who can explain this to Andrea.
11:30pm Dinner at Vezio's was most enjoyable. Moreno and Chiara were there as were Isotta and Jacopo (both are getting very grown!). We talked about many things and it was a very special time for me. It is so good to see them again! While I was there Alberto called to check on my progress and, later, Peppone called. He (Peppone) said he hopes to drive to Roccalbegna on Sunday afternoon, so perhaps we can get together then. Now it is late and time to end this day.
venerdý 15 setttembre
After my nap we went out to the piazza for the evening celebration. We briefly spoke with some men who had some information they wanted to give us about the crash. We were then joined by Riccardo and then Stefania a friend of Anna Zamperini. Stefania speaks excellent English and works as an interpreter. She also speaks Russian. She lived in Australia for two years. She has invited us to dinner at her house on Saturday evening. At 8PM we went to Vezio and Primina's house for dinner and we were joined by her brother, Vittorio. We spent a lot of time discussing the items on the table and in the room in Italian and English. It was a wonderful evening. They served crostini, then minestrone. This was followed by chicken and potatoes, then fruit and cheese. Primina also had ice cream bars then coffee and grappa.
At 10PM we walked up the hill a ways and watched lo spettacolo pirotecnico. They were fantastic and really close as we were within 100 yards of where they were setting them off. I thought that some of the flaming debris would come down on us. After that, we picked up a small shovel at Vezio's and then walked back to the apartment.
9/16/00 9:15am Weather report - great!! Yesterday got cloudy in the afternoon, but so far today looks very nice. Teddie is up and says she feels much better and will be able to go to lunch with me. I feel she should avoid the coffee, but she doesn't think that is necessary and has an empty tiny coffee cup at her side right now. We're hoping she just had a case of severe travel burnout and that she will be fine for the remainder of the visit. The Italians are very concerned about her; almost everyone I talk to asks about her. This morning I think I will go to the property to take GPS fixes, and then may go to Mt. Labbro again for pictures if the haze is gone. Don't yet know if Teddie will be coming with me or not.
11:00am Marked the approximate corners of the property with the GPS. They are:
CORNER1 N42 46.772 E011 30.543
CORNER2 N42 46.781 E011 30.546
CORNER3 N42 46.795 E011 30.475
CORNER4 N42 46.777 E011 30.466
There was a knock at the door and I found a young boy and a woman (his mother, I presume) out front. The boy explained (in English) that his name is Siro and he is 7 years old and he would be glad to translate for me if I needed to speak to Andrea. I asked him where he learned his English and he said "in school". All the time we spoke he seemed to beam with pride and I thought he was so neat I had to get Teddie to come down to meet him.
On the way back from parking the car this morning I glanced in the window of the locked artist's shop and saw he has begun work on the painting and he placed it on the easel for me to see.
Met Siro's father - Tullio. Mother and father are very nice. Mother does not appear to speak any English, but father speaks some and Siro does quite well.
Bought some basic groceries and then returned for coke & biscotti in the apartment.
5:00pm Had a lovely lunch (dinner?) with Moreno and family. Everyone was there except Vezio who is somewhere fishing. Then Moreno, Chiara, Isotta, and Jacopo came back to see the apartment and we gave them the tour. As they were leaving, Andrea happened by and came in to show everyone a few items that were found when they were renovating (old sword, picture). As they were leaving, Siro came up and I gave him a signed dollar and told him if he brought it to me as an adult, I would give him a week's food and lodging. Eventually everyone left and now we are alone for a while. Teddie has gone downstairs to read and nap, and I will do the same shortly. In a few hours we are expected at Stefania's for dinner.
We are having such a wonderful time!
11:45pm Just back from dinner. Stefania is such a character - a thousand stories to tell, switching back and forth from English to Italian in the blink of an eye - we enjoyed her immensely! Also present were Eugenia, Anna (Andrea's sister), Giovanni Simonelli, and Stefania's boyfriend, Stefano, who was very nice. It was good food and good conversation (sometimes 3 conversations going on at once - one in English; two in Italian.) Teddie is still very fatigued, though, so she suggested we go at around 11pm. Guess she's not fully recovered from whatever ailment took hold of her yesterday. Tomorrow will be busy too, so I hope she's able to hold up OK. After then things should quiet down for a few days or so.
sabato 16 settembre
I was awake again at about 4:30 this morning, but I went to bed at 9 last night. I was not feeling well yesterday afternoon and missed the pizza dinner with Moreno and Chiara. Mike went and took the gifts that we bought in NJ. I think that I was exhausted yesterday, but Mike thinks I drank one too many caffÚ's.
Moreno brought the land papers for Mike. We are having lunch with Moreno, Chiara, Primina, and Vezio. Tonight we are having dinner with Stefania and her fiancÚ Stefano. We have no other plans for today except one more load of laundry since the sun is shining.
Mike is out at the property now. He wanted to walk the lines all the way down to the river and record it on his GPS. I had no desire to go out there and walk through all the weeds and stickers again. He's talking about driving up to Mt. Labbro to take some panorama pictures if it is not too hazy. He spoke with a local artist yesterday about having a small fresco painted on an old board. He wants one of the rock and the house tops here in town. He caught the guy just in time, as he is on his way back to Sicily for a while. I guess he lives here in the summer and he is somehow related to Armando Bindi. His last name is Buscema. Andrea really likes his art style; there are several of his paintings here in the house.
9/17/00 11:00am Today's weather report - cloudy, but dry. I think it has been a long time since the area has received any significant rainfall. The ground around the crash site used to be like thick peat, but now it is dry and dusty and the hillsides are all a dull brown.
Just returned from a walk up the rock where I drew a very rough map of Roccalbegna. On the way up I ran into Siro and Vito's children. They all wanted to follow me, but Vito told his kids they could not, because it was too dangerous. Siro still wanted to come along, but I told him to stay with his friends and I would see him later. Soon we will go to the bar and use the phone to leave a progress report with Alberto. Then it's off to Vezio's for lunch with the his family.
4:45pm Dinner at Vezio's was quite pleasant (as always) and we had much to chat about. Don Valentino joined us and that was nice. Before dinner, we went next door to the place where Don Valentino stores his wine and he showed us the equipment. There was a vat about 3' high for storing the grapes, a press for squashing the grapes, and two plastic drums for storing the wine (one for white, one for red). While we were at Vezio's Peppone called to say the winds were a little too strong so he would be here tomorrow by car. I would assume this meant he was originally going to fly up. We had Moreno call him later and arrange for us to meet him in Tarquinia between 3 and 3:30. I figured this would be best as it will give us an opportunity to explore the countryside some more while also reducing Peppone's driving time. The plan right now is for us to go to Grosseto first, and then wind down to Tarquinia. Moreno says it is a nice place to visit, so we can look around for a while if we arrive early.
8:20pm Decided to take a walk, so I strolled through town and down along the gravel road to the start of the trail to the property. Very pleasant. Teddie stayed here and read/rested. Now we're pretty much settled in for the evening. Tomorrow morning we are off to Grosseto and then south to meet Peppone. I'm having a grand time, and have since we arrived. Teddie is having a very good time too; especially now that she seems to be feeling better.
domenica 17 settembre
We had a lovely lunch with Moreno, Chiara, Isotta, Jacopo, Primina, and S.ra Pandolfi. Vezio was on a fishing trip. We had gnocchi in tomato sauce as the first course and beans (canneloni raised by Vezio) with sausage as the second course. There was cake at the end of dinner along with pecorino cheese. Of course we all had wine and then chased everything down with grappa.
Mike and Moreno discussed a bunch of stuff about getting his codice fiscale, so the Italian government can send us our tax bill for the land. It is such a small piece of property (about 1/2 acre) that the tax bill will probably be about $7-10/yr. At least that is the amount that Moreno figured.
After lunch, we took a tour of Vezio's apartment. It lacks painting and having a small kitchen installed. Moreno and Chiara then came with us to Andrea's apartment to check it out. They really liked it just as we do. Chiara was marveling over the bathroom and the size of the shower. We think it is average sized, but she said that it was large according to Italian standards. Andrea joined us and they discussed information about the kitchen cabinets and appliances. They are anxious to have Vezio's apartment completed.
As they were leaving, Siro, a seven year old Italian boy we met stopped by to say hello. His mother brought him by to introduce him yesterday, and he speaks very good English. His family is from Rome, but they visit here on weekends. He said that he would be returning to Rome today, but he would be back next Friday. He asked if he could come by on Sunday (today) and give us some Italian money in exchange for a dollar. Later while we were in the grocery, he saw us there and came in to ask if we needed any help with translation. He came by the house again later and Mike gave him a dollar with his name written on it. He told him to hang on to the dollar until he is an adult. Then he can find us and stay with us for a week in exchange for the dollar.
We saw Buscema on Saturday, also, and the drawing for the painting was completed. Mike wanted the "rocca" as the background with the rooftops of the houses. Then there is a small still life in the foreground. It will be frescoed onto a really old board from around here.
We rested (Mike slept, but I did not) from about 5 until it was time to go to Stefania's house for dinner. It is #12 straight down the street between the church and the municipal building. The street looks very medieval, and I am sure that it is. The people at the dinner were her fiance' Stefano, Giovanni Simonelli, Anna Zamperini, Eugenia del Giudice. She served liver patÚ on crostini, prunes wrapped in bacon and broiled, and ham mousse. That was the antipasto. The first course was spinach lasagna, and the second course was a pesto flan. She made most of it in her little machine which I have forgotten the name of. For dessert, she had some sweet chocolates and Betty Crocker blueberry muffins. She made those especially for her American guests.
She took us on a tour of the house straight away, and of course like most of the houses around here, the entry is directly into the kitchen. Under the stairs there is a trap door which goes down to the cellar, and she plans to make this into her kitchen in the future. The room behind the kitchen is their sitting room with TV, etc. It also has a small bathroom in an enclosure which looks like a free standing closet. It has a toilet and sink. Her aunt lived in the house (she died last year) and needed a toilet downstairs as she had difficulty going up the stairs.
Upstairs there were two bedrooms and a bathroom. The guest bedroom on the back of the house had a balcony and a big rottweiler.
The dinner was very good and the company was wonderful. I was really tired by the end, as it was about 11:30. I thought that I might pass out and my head would drop into my plate.
Mike made the coffee this morning and then headed out for a hike up the rock. I did the dishes and a little light housekeeping this morning before starting to write. The floors were getting very dirty, so I swept them and made the beds.
We are going out to the bar now to use the phone for a report to Alberto. I hope it works this time without dialing him collect like it did the other day. That was embarrassing. After that, we will go to Vezio and Primina's for lunch.
9/18/00 8:42am Weather report - cloudy, but dry. Looks like it may rain, so we will probably carry an umbrella this morning. We're off to Grosseto and to meet Peppone as soon as Teddie is ready to go.
1:49pm Now in Tarquinia. Tried to get the fiscal code in Grosseto, but was unable. FC people indicated my passport had to be stamped before they could issue code (said I needed a Visa). One man suggested I go to the "palace on the circle" and they might stamp it there. We finally found the place and the girl behind us in line helped translate. It appeared they were going to do it until they found out we were staying in Roccalbegna. Then they indicated we should do it there and they started waiting on others. So, we got back into the car and drove down here. Did a drive to the top of the hill, but didn't see anything to look at that was open. Now at a bar where we had a beer and hot sandwich. We will meet Peppone in about 1 hr.
11:26pm Just got back to Roccalbegna. We met Peppone just as we had planned - it was great seeing him again - like running across a long-lost brother! We toured the city a bit and went to Tuscania for a short while. Then back to Tarquinia where we shopped for a while and then had dinner at a nice outside restaurant. Peppone and I argued over who would pay the bill, but then he pulled a quick one and went in back and paid before I could say any more. Also, he brought us a cellular phone to use and explained how to make it work. The technology is very different than that in the US. I purchased the prepaid card (L100.000) and am borrowing the phone. Will probably buy a phone later on. Then we left in separate directions and made it to Roccalbegna in about 1+45. As we were entering Roccalbegna, Alberto called to discuss the Fiscal Code Fiasco a little. We may try again in a few days - we'll see. The drive back was dark and winding. The low beams on the car are very bad, but we made it without incident.
lunedý 18 settembre
The lunch yesterday was very nice. Don Valentino was able to join us and Isotta acted as the interpreter. I watched while they made the antipasto course, and they made me eat a few also. The antipasto was crostini with different toppings. The bread is coated with maionaise or burro and then the topping (anchovies, patÚ, or tomato salsa (fresh tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and basilico). The pasta course was lasagna. There is no ricotta cheese in the lasagna, but I am not sure what is in it except tomato sauce. After that was the meat course with a salad. The meat was pork ribs with sage and garlic which Vezio cooked over an open grill in his apartment in the back. We finished off with fruit, cheese, cake and or ice cream. They then offered caffe' and grappa. We said goodbye to Moreno and Chiara until next weekend.
Today we are off for Grosseto to see if Mike can get his codice fiscale.
I don't think that I slept much last night, but I feel OK this morning. After Grosseto, we are supposed to meet Peppone in Tarquinia at 3:30.
9/19/00 11:05am Weather - perfect, but slowly clouding up. I went to the property for a while this AM and cleared a very small portion. The blackberries have thorny vines which catch on your clothes and pull you in, the flies are quite bad, and it got hot. In a while I'll try again when Teddie is with me and perhaps we can at least clear a path to the bottom of the property. We are doing laundry now. Not sure what we'll be doing for the rest of the day yet. No plans.
5:27pm After lunch we went to the property and did some more clearing. This time we made a trail to the river. The river is almost dry now but it was quite scenic down there. Our little property is supposed to run all the way to the river, but the legal description shows it to be around 1/2 acre, so I'm not sure. It just seems a lot larger than that. When we got back Andrea took us to the Natural Reserve (Pescinello) where we saw the birds they were raising. I had been there in 1996 but it was under construction at the time. On the way back we stopped for a beer at La Grotta. Then we took the rental car to Santa Caterina for gasoline and Andrea asked to come along. Once there he took us into some sort of maintenance hangar and showed me a tank about 3' in diameter and 5' in length. He thought it may have come from the airplane but I told him I did not think so as it was not aluminum and it was not shaped like an airplane tank.
Now we're back at the apartment and Teddie is fixing an Italian/American dinner for us.
martedý 19 settembre
The trip to get the codice fiscale was not successful. They said we needed some additional paperwork and some type of stamp on our passport. Passports are never stamped anymore. They sent us around to the police station to get the proper paperwork, but after standing in line for about 30 minutes, they said that we have to get the paperwork done in Roccalbegna. I think it is a type of paper where the police ask you what you are doing here and write down your address and phone number. Anyway, I am leaving the details to Mike and going along for the ride.
After all that fun in Grosseto, we headed off for Tarquinia to meet Peppone. We arrived at about 1:30 and had some pizza and beer at a bar. We drove east of Tarquinia for a while toward Viterbo. We were unable to see the necropli on the west side of town because it was Monday, and all those things are closed on Monday. It's OK because I saw lots of that stuff in Rome on my first trip.
We returned to the furniture store parking lot on the highway where we were to meet Peppone, and he arrived right on time. From there we drove back into Tarquinia and found the entrance to the centro storico (inside the old walled part of the city) and walked around town for about an hour. We also stopped at a bar and had some soft drinks. Then we got directions to a hardware store and it was just down the block, so we stopped and picked up some things we had been needing. Mike wanted a small sickle and some big pruning loppers to work on the land. I needed clothes pins and a basket to hold them. He also got gloves and reflective tape. He plans to put the tape on some trees to mark them near the memorial site.
We then went with Peppone to the city of Saturnia with plans to have some dinner. We did not find anyplace to eat, but we did find a jewelry store and bought a bracelet for our house sitter. The price seemed really cheap, so I hope that it is really gold. He did not take credit cards, so I had to use some of my cash. We walked all around the old part of the city and much of it was built in the 12th century or before. Some of the new stuff is from the 16th century. We looked at a real estate office and the typical apartment in town was about 650 square feet. That is probably 2 bedrooms, bath, and kitchen. Forget about the living room. It's a luxury item when you are in the old part of the cities. They usually have a small dining area which also houses the TV and a couch.
We decided to return to Tarquinia and get our car from the furniture store lot and followed Peppone to a parking area and walked back into the old part of Tarquinia to find a place to have pizza. We all ordered a different type of pizza and shared. Peppone gave Mike a piece of his pizza with porcini mushrooms. He did share half of it with me, though.
Peppone brought the cell phone to us, so people would have an easier way to get in touch with us. Mike has been trying to figure the stuff out on it, as the instructions are in Italian. It's like a new game for him.
The ride back to Roccalbegna was difficult last night. The headlights on the car are out of alignment, and we could barely see the road. The bright lights worked well, but the oncoming traffic did not like them too much. I was relieved when we finally got back to the house. Alberto called just as we were arriving to park the car. He and Mike chatted about the codice fiscale.
I was really exhausted and showered and went right to bed. I woke up at 5 this morning and decided to take one of the sleeping pills. It worked very well, and I slept until 10 this morning. I have one load of laundry on the line now and another in the machine. Each load is maximum five pounds and takes about an hour.
Mike worked at clearing some of the brush from his property this morning, and he was a sweaty mess when he returned. I don't think he will go back out there to work on it too many times on this trip. A DR brush trimmer would probably do a good job for him.
I don't have much more planned for today except doing a little grocery shopping and finishing up the laundry.
9/20/00 8:15am Having breakfast. Weather - overcast, but dry (so far). We're waiting for the coffee to finish cooking. In 1/2 hour it's off to the Municipal building, then some touring of the countryside. Alberto figured out the email part of the phone and sent a few emails to it last night. It's good to be able to be in touch, even if this is a vacation. It's a chance to get away from work, not family and friends. When we were at the Municipal building yesterday, Massimo asked for my home page URL and email address and gave me his email address. It will be nice to be able to write to someone who lives in the village.
9:42am Went to Municipal building and the man tried to explain what was necessary (for the fiscal code). We weren't sure what he was trying to say so we all walked across the piazza to see if Eugenia could translate. What we understood is that they can do nothing because our passport was not stamped upon entry. The issue of registering with the local Carabineri never seemed to come up. Looks like we'll have to leave it for Moreno, although we hate to put him to any further work on this.
5:57pm Returned just now from Montalcino and Pienza where we mingled with the tourists and browsed through the shops. On the way to Montalcino we stopped at an old abbey and took a few pictures. Got to talking with the tourists (they were Americans from San Diego). In Montalcino we saw the castle that I went up on back in '96! I remembered being there before, but had not remembered the name of the town. Took a picture of 2 Westies (West Highland terriers) we saw. Then on to Pienza - lots of tourists there too. Bumped into one of the people with the Westie and also the gang from San Diego. Finally we headed back to the peace and quiet of Roccalbegna. When we parked the car we ran across Alessio coming back from lunch at La Rocca. We all laughed at this because we saw him just this morning coming back from breakfast at La Rocca! Now we will rest a while before going over to Violetta and Massimo's for dinner at 8.
10:55pm Dinner was very good and the conversation lively, as usual. In attendance were Violetta, Massimo, Andrea, Francesco, Mario, and Riccardo (and Polly, the dog). After dinner Andrea gave me an English translation of the script for a slide show which will be given at the school tomorrow - it was very touching. I'm so glad to be even a very small positive influence on the children and the community.
mercoledý 20 settembre
Last night I made dinner here in my little cucina, and it actually turned out pretty well. Some of the tomatoes that Andrea left in the basement were getting a little too ripe, so I fixed a tomato sauce with them and some little green peppers and garlic. I baked a chicken breast and put the sauce on top of it. I served it over some pasta. I also made some antipasto with the local bread, sliced tomato, and marzolino cheese. It all turned out pretty well. I even used the dishwasher.
This morning we tried to make one more effort at getting Mike's fiscal code but were unsuccessful. I don't think it is going to happen on this trip, but perhaps Moreno can get it for him in November.
After that, we headed out to Montalcino and Pienza. We also made a stop at an old abbey St. Antimo near Montalcino. Montalcino is the place with the "fortezza" where you can climb up in its towers and walk along the wall. It was very interesting. We also had a glass of wine and a granola bar which I happened to have in my purse. We did a little shopping in town and picked up a couple of tuna sandwiches for lunch. Both of these towns have shops which are open for tourists while most of the shops in Italy are closed from 1 till 5.
We are both pretty pooped, but tonight we will go for dinner at Massimo and Violetta's house. The last time we were there Massimo made pizza.
9/21/00 853am Weather - very nice! Didn't sleep much last
night - guess I'm a little nervous about all the stuff going on today. Got a phone email
last night from Alberto "To: Harrison Ford" asking me if I needed an agent!
Teddie and I had a good laugh over that one! Also, I didn't bring any really
formal clothing with me (again) so I'll have to make do with what I have. When will
I ever learn?!! We leave in 45 minutes.
pinzimonio - dipping veggies in oil & salt
(the lunch group)
Ailide Simoni (translated for us - woman in blue jacket)
Barbara Rosini (School Director)
Chiara Romagnoli (former art teacher)
Daniela Corsini (teacher)
Francesco Falaschi (Director)
Stefano Ruzzante (vis-ed teacher)
Giancarlo Alessandrini (Cameraman)
Anna Zamperini (Andrea's sister)
Also present: Alessio, Eugenia, Violetta
8:00pm What a full day it was today!! We walked to the school at 10am and they were all expecting us. The film people had their cameras set up and even our chairs were taped to the floor in place. All the schoolchildren were in there as were many of the teachers and others from the village. They had Teddie and I sit in the front, facing the students and gave me a brief introduction and asked me to speak for a bit. Then the mayor donned his official ribbon and gave a brief speech, after which we exchanged compliments. After that the students asked me several questions which I answered as best I could. When that was done, they dimmed the lights and showed a slide show that they had put together with music and pictures and dedicated to the memory of my father. It was EXCELLENT!! (Click here to read the narration from the slide show) When it was done I was choked up and Teddie was in tears. My hope is that they will send us a video of the show one day. (Note: Andrea provided us with a video of the presentation before we left Roccalbegna) Then we went into another room where they showed us a video they had made, also dedicated to the memory of my father, using the contribution I sent last year. Although it was all in Italian, the kids' acting was great and the camera work, costumes, etc, were exceptional. They gave me a copy of the tape and I am most anxious to bring it home, have it converted to US standard, and send a copy to Alberto for his review. When that was done, they had us walk through the village doing our "normal" stuff while they filmed us. We had some flowers to take to Primina and I decided that would be a good time for it. However, having a photographer with us surprised Primina and she stayed back in the doorway out of sight. I hope to go there with Alessio this evening and apologize for surprising her. Then they did an interview with me and then with Teddie. After that we went to Andrea's cabin for a nice lunch (see previous name list). When that was over, we went to the crash site where they filmed more and continued with the interview. Finally that was done and we went back to Andrea's cabin for more wine and cheese and conversation. Mr. Raffaelli joined us there. Eventually the Director and Cameraman said it was time to go, so we elected to leave also. I asked Alessio to bring Andrea by the apartment when they were done (cleaning up the cabin) as I want to give him the donation to the school while Alessio is still here to translate. All-in-all, it was a long but fantastic day! The presentations by the children were fantastic and the taping of the documentary didn't seem to go badly.
(Note: It's difficult for me to find the right words to express my feelings for the children of the Roccalbegna school and the videos they made. I'm greatly moved by them every time I watch them, and I am so proud of the kids that it's hard to describe. The movie, and the slide show, were dedicated to my father and I find them to be a wonderful tribute to his memory, and to the memory of the other crew members. The children demonstrated great effort and sincerity in this project and I will forever be grateful to them and all their talents.)
(Note - when at the school, they gave me several watercolors that the children did for me. That are extremely well done and I will treasure them forever! I would like to frame each of them and hang them on the wall, but will probably have to settle for an album containing them all.)
10:00pm Alberto called a while ago to let me know he received the 3 messages I recorded when we got home. He said he would send out an email containing the information in the messages. I waited for Andrea and Alessio but they never showed up and I'm getting sleepy. My guess is that they either forgot or misunderstood. Oh well - I'll see them again in a day or two, I'm sure.
giovedý 21 settembreThe dinner last night was really nice. All the Zamperini children were there along with the only grandchild, Francesco Pellegrini. Riccardo was there also and helped translate for us. Dinner started with antipasto, of course, which was bread, prosciutto, and a little pickled fish. It must have been an anchovy. This was followed by pasta which I think was rigatoni in a sauce with little bits of prosciutto and was flavored with red pepper. This was followed by baked eggplant which was very good and then a meat dish of veal and potatoes. Then they served Vin Santo and biscotti which was followed by ice cream. Then they brought out another sweet wine which they said is from Sardegna. It was a very enjoyable evening. Today, the film crew from Grosseto will be here to film us walking from the house to the school, and then the children from the school will give a presentation about Mike and the plane crash, etc. It should be quite a day and will be followed by lunch at the school or Andrea's cabin. We will follow wherever they lead. Addendum: This has been a very long day and it is not over yet. We went to the school at 10 this morning and greeted everyone. Then we watched a slide show with music which they had put together about Mike, WWII, etc. It was very moving and emotional. I cried all the way through it. How can music and a few slides do that? There are some very talented people here. The students also did some really nice art work, and they gave the pictures to Mike. We then watched the movie that the children had made and it was noted in the introduction of the film that it was made with the help of a gift from Michael. Before the slide show, the video crew asked questions of us and filmed the whole thing. Several of the students had questions for us. After all the stuff at the school, they asked if they could photograph us walking through the town just doing our normal thing and acting like tourists. After that we went to Andrea's cabin for lunch, and then they wanted to film us at the crash site. They had many more questions while we were there. We then returned to town and Andrea's cabin where we had more to drink, and ate a lot of cheese. We are home at last, but Mike has asked Andrea to stop by, as he wants to give him a gift for the school. He and Alessio should be by shortly. Poor Alessio, he still has to do homework on Dante tonight!!
9/22/00 9:15am Weather report - perfect! Dead calm, crystal clear, brilliant blue sky! We will probably drive to Mt. Labbro this AM so I can take a panorama picture. Other than that, nothing is planned and Teddie has a load of clothes in the little washer.
Vezio b'day -- 12 Aug 32. Last anniversary was their 42nd
A few days ago we ran across a woman in the street who had something to say to me, but we couldn't understand her. She repeated what she had to say a couple of times and was very frustrated when we were unable to understand, and eventually continued on. Today we saw her while walking back from the car and she immediately crossed the street and headed straight for us. When she reached us, she pulled a plastic bag out of her shopping bag and handed it to me. Inside was a pot lid made from a piece of aluminum from the plane!! Then we understood what she had been trying to say the other day! Her name is Rosaria Lorenzoni and I believe she is related to the man in Scansano who gave me some articles made from the plane on my previous visits.
Zamperini cabin - km 46
2:56pm We walked to Vezio's and he agreed to accompany us up Mt. Labbro. It was a nice drive followed by a pleasant hike up the hill. The view was out of this world - I took my panorama series! We then returned to Roccalbegna and Vezio went home for lunch. At this time we came across Alessio and I asked him to come with me and translate. We found Andrea at the school and I gave him my school donation for this year. Then Alessio said his good-byes (he's returning to Bologna for school) and we walked to La Grotta where we had a pleasant Italian lunch (spaghetti). On the way back we ran into Alessio who said he had decided to catch the later bus. We chatted for a while and then said goodbye again and returned to the apartment. Now it may be time for a short nap.
12:03am What an unbelievably fun evening! We went downstairs at 7pm but they said they weren't quite ready so we went to the piazza and visited with several folks including Eugenia, Anna, Siro's mother (Beatrice), Andrea's mother, and others. Then, at 8pm, we went to the basement and watched them tap the wine. It was all in a large wooden barrel and Mario knocked the plug inward with the spigot and a hammer and the red wine immediately began pouring out and everyone cheered! they emptied it all into a big plastic can and we all had a glass of it. Then they took all the grape remains out of the barrel and put them into a press apparatus. Mario rigged blocks on top and then ratcheted an attachment which mashed the remaining wine from the grapes. Teddie and I took a turn at it and could see that it was hard work. Prior to the pressing, we sat down for dinner with everyone at the long slab board of a table. Even Siro came by and had a small sandwich before leaving to go back to his house ("My Mama said to not stay long"). Throughout the evening Teddie and I marveled at how fortunate we are to have friends so willing to share their homes and lives with us like this! They are all so special to us that I feel they are "family". It's hard for me to put my feelings into words, but suffice to say that I am very attached to our wonderful Italian friends.
Misc thoughts from the evening:
- Mario showed us how they smear pig belly fat on their shoes and boots to make them waterproof. Everyone seemed to enjoy watching him do this (to his shoes).
- In attendance at dinner were (as best I can recall): Mario, Andrea, Violetta, Massimo, Francesco, Anna, Eugenia, Riccardo, Vezio, Siro, Maurizio Seggiani and Alessandro Giustarini. A few others came and went during the evening.
- The setting has probably changed very little over the centuries: Huge slab of wood for a table, basement with rock walls and brick floor, ancient beams supporting the ceiling, lots of loud conversation and laughter. We were feeling very grateful that we could be there with them.
- I asked them about a cow horn hanging from the toolboard and they explained that it was used to hold the sharpening stone for the sickle when working in the field. I suggested they could use it now to hold their cell phones and they laughed at that.
- The wine was great! The batch they made was only a week old, but tasted very good to me. The "2nd batch" (after the pressing) was more opaque and less tasty, but they mixed it with the first and probably wound up with about 20 to 30 gallons. They explained that they usually keep the two batches separate, but this time they would mix them. I got the feeling that they would normally not have done wine this early, but did so to show us how it was done (Teddie had asked about it right after we arrived in the village).
- During the evening, others would wander in and out. A couple, we think, were Francesco's friends. They would taste the new wine, have a little conversation and laughter, and then disappear back into the night.
venerdý 22 settembre
We got up about 8 this morning and put in a load of laundry. After coffee, we headed off to see Vezio and Primina. We felt badly about ringing her door to give her flowers yesterday with a film crew right over our shoulder. We thought she might be upset with us, since she did not know that we were coming. She just laughed and was a little embarrassed because she felt she was not dressed correctly. We had coffee with them and then talked Vezio into coming to Mt. Labbro with us. It was a beautiful day with no haze, so Mike was able to get some really good panoramic views from the top of the mountain. They wanted us to come for lunch at their house, but we really feel like we are imposing on them by eating there so often. They are much too generous. We saw Andrea and Alessio and went to the school to give the donation to Andrea for the school. We came back to the house to get the flowers to give to Andrea's mother. She liked the ciclamini bianchi. I think that is what she called them. Our word is cyclamen.
Mike and I then walked to La Grotta and had some pasta for lunch. We had the spaghetti carbonara and a glass of red wine. It was really good. Mike talked for a while with Sig. Varo who owns the place and had shown him a large piece of the airplane at one time.
I plan to take a little nap now, and then we will go over to Andrea's wine cellar (next door) for wine at 7 this evening.
9/23/00 9:15am We're finally both up and eating breakfast. The party last night has left us a little tired but I'm ready to make a plan for the day! Weather report for today - cool and crisp (but not cold), light winds, brilliant clear blue skies!! Gorgeous!!
Cities on today's drive:
Santa Caterina (for gas)
7:45pm The above is the route we took today. The weather was perfect for a cruise in the countryside and we enjoyed ourselves. We parked and then walked through Massa Marittima, buying a few small souvenirs in the shops and eating panini & beer at a roadside cafe in town. We walked all around the higher parts of town but managed to find our car at the end of our stroll (I marked its location with the GPS, but we didn't need to use it). Then we headed down through Piombino where we parked overlooking the water and could see Elba Island directly ahead. There was even a small beach below where a few people braved the crisp air to sunbathe. Then we went to Follonica where we walked briefly at the ocean front and took several pictures. It's quite a vacation spot and there was lots of activity such as swimming, sailing, boating, etc. After that we drove to Punta Ala and that proved to be a bit of a disappointment as all the view property at the end of the road seemed to be private. From there we continued on to Grosseto where we knew we'd have to follow a convoluted route right through the middle of town. But the route appeared obvious on the GPS so I just followed along and it guided us through town perfectly! After that we drove to Scansano, but did not stop there. For some reason the town was quite lively with many people walking around and cars in abundance! Passing through Scansano we came to about 25 minutes of driving around very winding roads until we reached Santa Caterina where I fueled up. Then in to Roccalbegna and the apartment where we just finished eating dinner. A very enjoyable and pleasant day!
23 settembre, sabato
Wine in Andrea's cantina did not exactly start at 7, so we went to sit in front of the Farmacia and visited with several people there. Eugenia, the man with the poodle (Quinto Polemi), Siro's mother, and Vezio. Siro's mother brought out the yearbook from the school he attends in Rome. It is Marymount and they have grades K-12. He and his sister Ginevra both attend the school. The wine party started at 8 and Mario showed us the wine in the barrel in the cellar. He hammered a large spigot into the barrel pushing the cork to the inside. The wine began to gush out of the barrel into a large plastic container. They filled a large glass bottle (30 liters?) with the wine and there was still wine left over in the plastic container. They left it still dripping out of the barrel and we went next door to"our" wine cellar to have dinner. I thought that we were just having wine and cheese. We sat at the long table made from a rough log, and it was really nice. Violetta and Anna just kept bringing food. We started with a rice and vegetable dish, then there was a meat dish, followed by pizza. I was so full that I could hardly eat anything. Of course there was prosciutto, and pecorino along with the vino nuovo and vino vecchio. The people there were Vezio, Andrea, Mario, Anna, Violetta, Massimo, Francesco, Riccardo, Alessandro, Maurizio, and Siro finally arrived in town and stopped by for a panini and coke. He is an adorable boy, and I thought that it was so nice that his mother could just send him down the street to be with all these people in the village. He did have instructions, though, not to stay too long.
At about 10, we went back to Andrea's cellar and began the pressing of the grapes. All the grapes, stems, leaves were removed from the barrel and put in the press. Mario began the press, and Mike and I both took turns pulling the handle. It was great fun, and it was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. After it was pretty much pressed, we began to look at all the stuff in the cellar, and Mario had great fun telling us all about it. All the while we continued to drink some of the vino nuovo. It was seven days from vine to glass. After about an hour or so, Eugenia started pressing the grapes some more. This last bunch of wine (the wine that was pressed) is not supposed to be a good as the unpressed wine. They said that it had more tannin in it, and they keep it separate from the rest. All the crushed stems, grapes, etc. that remain can be fermented and distilled into grappa. They did not plan to do that with this bunch and said that they would compost it.
It was a fantastic evening, and I am quite sure that no other American tourists get to see this part of Italy. We feel very special that they were willing to share this experience with us. I know that Mario and Andrea went to a great deal of effort to make this happen for us. Normal wine harvest and wine making begin after the first of October. I had a great night's sleep--the best since we left home.
Today, we went on a little road tour to Massa Marittima. It was an interesting city north of Grosseto. We bought a few souvenirs there and some grappa as dinner gifts. We then headed down to Piombino on the coast. This is where one may catch a ship to the Isle of Elba. We stopped at McDonald's for drinks and ice cream. Mike had American coffee and I had coke. I tasted the coffee, and it was quite good. It tasted like coffee smells, but never tastes. The ice cream was the soft type in a cone and was absolutely yummy.
We drove down to an old fort area on the coast which was quite scenic. We could see Elba and the ships transporting people to and from the island. There is also a lot of industry in Piombino, but the sea at the port appeared to still be sparkling clear and Mediterranean blue. Piomba is Italian for lead. Piombino has been the port for many years to deliver the lead from the mines on Elba. From there we headed down to Follonica which is a beach resort town. There were still plenty of tourists all along this stretch. We parked illegally and walked around the area for a while.
We then headed down the coast a little further to an area that looked like it would be another great ocean view. Unfortunately, access to that area was closed to outsiders. It was all private property occupied by villas and a marina. It seems strange to me, because we live in a place where there is always access to the ocean front and all the beaches are free. Mike said that it reminds him of NJ. I know that there is a fee to get on the beach at Spring Lake. Hawaii is unique I think in preserving the ocean front for all the people.
From there we returned via Grosseto and Scansano to Roccalbegna. I warmed up the chicken I made a few nights ago and added some more noodles to it. We had some of the locally made bread also. We are both tired, but we had a wonderful day. Tomorrow, we have been invited to Andrea's for lunch. It should be an interesting afternoon.
9/24/00 8:56am Weather - perfect!! I had 5 emails waiting for me this morning on the phone - one from Moreno and 4 from Alberto. I like this phone email business! Moreno confirmed the reservation at the Corsi Motel for the 27th, and Alberto gave me Peppone's correct home phone number. Also, Alberto asked "which Massa?" (there are actually 14 of them in Italy, according to my computer map), and a few other things. The voice mail out/email in system is working well for us. This morning I will see if I can get a couple of nails and a hammer from Vezio and put up the 2 reflectors I made near the crash site. They are just tin can lids with a piece of reflector tape, but I would like to use one to mark the gravel road and the other to mark the trail. Perhaps I'll do a little light scanning with the metal detector, although I still hesitate to dig in the dry soil. So far, I have not used the detector at all this year.
9:36pm Just back from Scansano!! After breakfast Teddie and I went to Vezio's (at about 10am) to get a hammer and nails to put up the reflectors I made, but Primina said his leg was bothering him and he is still in bed. We're worried about him and this leg business. He told us the other day that he hit his leg with a rock (back in March or May!) and it hasn't been healing very well. Chiara told Teddie that he has seen a doctor, but we're still concerned about him. Anyway, we then went to the crash site to take a few pictures and use the detector to find some fragments for the students. Then it was back to the apartment to clean up and then over to Andrea's for lunch. Alessandro Taradel was there - I met him when I was here in 96. Also there was the Zamperini family. Anna surprised us by giving us a painting of Roccalbegna on wood that she did. It's very nice and will look good on the wall! Then we waited around to go to Scansano and I saw the artist in his shop. He called me in and after some fanfare cut open a taped-up box and pulled out the painting we had ordered!! It, too, looks good and will also be very nice on our wall at home. Now we have two paintings of the village on wood; (one from the heart, and one from my wallet!). We're very pleased with both of them. Finally Vezio, Andrea, Teddie, and I piled into the car and drove to Scansano (with Andrea at the wheel) with Alessandro following. We parked up the hill from town and walked into the town center where they were having their annual wine festival. We strolled around a while, drank wine, ate stuff that Andrea bought, and generally had a nice time. Even ran across Violetta's son, Francesco, there! Then it was back to the cars, arrividerci to Alessandro (he had to drive back to Roma), and I drove us back to Roccalbegna. While walking back to the apartment we ran across Eugenia and Siro's mother and sister sitting on the church steps. We chatted for a while and then returned to the apartment for the night. Both of us agreed that it was yet ANOTHER wonderful day in Italy, thanks to our dear and generous friends.
domenica 24 settembre
We went out to the crash site this morning and did a little digging. We came back with a small bag of airplane parts which Mike will give to the students here in town. They had requested some pieces of the plane.
At one, we went next door to Andrea's for lunch. In attendance were the usual Zamperini family and Alessandro Taradel from Scansano. He speaks very good conversational English and is a history professor at a local university. He discussed Italian and French history at length. The menu started with prosciutto, followed by pasta with meat sauce, pasta with tiny mushrooms found under "wild prune" trees, fried lamb chops, and fried artichokes with a side dish of salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers; wild boar in spicy tomato sauce, fruit (Mike and I split a peach) and a dessert which was very similar to tiramisu. It was made with ricotta instead of mascarpone cheese. We enjoyed the new wine from the cellar along with some older wine. We brought some grappa which we purchased in Massa Marittima, and they seemed to enjoy drinking it. It was also in a pretty bottle, and I know that they enjoy reusing the old bottles for their wonderful home made wines.
After lunch, we drove to Scansano with Alessandro, Vezio, and Andrea. There was a wine festival going on there, so there was a lot of activity. A glass of wine at the stands was 1,000 lire, which is about 50 cents. We each had about 3 glasses of wine. We had great fun, and I know that none of those Americans on tour buses get the same experience here that we do. In fact, if they don't have friends here, even Americans, Germans, etc. traveling on their own do not get the same experience that we do. We are very lucky to be privileged to have the friendship of so many people here.
Mike drove the curvy road back from Scansano and did a really good job. I think he really enjoys driving here with a stick shift.
I am unsure of our plans for tomorrow with the exception of meeting Andrea and Vezio at 3 to go to a ceramic factory in Usi followed by a visit to the Agriturista at Montebello. I'm sure that we will have a great time.
9/25/00 8:46am Yet ANOTHER perfect blue-sky day!! I'm beginning to think we haven't really been lucky on these last 3 trips - I just had bad weather on the first.
I just left a message for Alberto in response to his morning's email. He has confirmed that the last night dinner (on the 27th) will be at 7:00pm. I'm going to go down to the crash site shortly to nail the homemade reflectors to the trees. Vezio gave me little square nails yesterday - they look like huge carpet tacks. Laundry is in the washer, and we have no other plans until 3pm when we meet Andrea.
1:20pm Went to the bank for cambio (money exchange), then on to crash site where I nailed a reflector to a tree at the start of the gravel road (right side) and another at the start of the trail to the monument.
While there, we cut back a few bushes and generally cleaned up the start of the trail. Then it was back to town (stopping to take some pictures of Roccalbegna) and on to the property where I took more corner fixes with the GPS. I can average them all out when I get home. Now we're back in the apartment having a sandwich and will be leaving in 1 1/2 hours.
Impressions while on our property:
- overgrown, but beautiful!
- olive trees are quite old.
- blackberry vines are horrible!
- flies look vicious, and are persistent.
- where property meets the river is especially pretty
- covered with little burrs when we return
- the walk back up the hill should be done slowly
- location is perfect for us - good view of Roccalbegna, but not on a highway (or even a road!)
Gravel road to monument is between 14 and 15 km mark.
Andrea's house number - 1
Mayor of Roccalbegna - Biagio Giannone
Maurizio Seggiani - works in Muni bldg
Alessandro Giustarini - at dinner when we did wine.
Vittorio Catani - Primina's brother
Quinto Polemi - man with poodle
Stefania Rosini - translator
Alessio Tiberi - student, translator
About 100 students at Roccalbegna school
8:25pm Finally back at the apartment for the evening. We met Vezio and Andrea at 3:00pm and Andrea drove us all down to Usi where we visited Roberta, the ceramic artist. Bought a few things and Andrea gave us each a present "from the school" (they are still wrapped). Roberta showed us through her workshop ("laboratorio") and it was most interesting but I was so afraid of knocking stuff over that I had to leave. Then we drove to the start of the gravel road and walked to the crash site where we dwelled for a while. Afterwards we drove to Montebello but they said they didn't serve until 7pm. It looked like we were going to leave but instead we walked down to a barn where we saw horses, pigs, and ox. Then back to the house where they served us antipasto and wine. A most pleasant evening. When we were done, Andrea drove us back to Roccalbegna (he must be getting used to Teddie - his driving style tonight was more of what I remembered from the 1st year. Perhaps my driving back from Scansano last night inspired him!). Teddie gave Vezio and Andrea the sweatshirts she brought for them, and then I went to my car and retrieved the metal detector, lopper, sickle, and stone and brought them to Vezio's. Now we're in for the night. Tomorrow we'll have pizza with some of our friends in the basement. The next day we're on our way to Roma!
More GPS fixes:
MONTEBELLO N42 45.334 E011 25.525
TO MONTE(BELLO) N42 44.92 E011 25.406
GERMAN (USI?) N42 43.402 E011 27.763
PATH (TO LAND) N42 44.256 E011 28.482
SITE CRASH N42 44.237 E011 28.467
TRAIL2(TO SITE) N42 44.252 E011 28.482
TRAIL (TO LAND) N42 46.735 E011 30.545
C1 (LAND) N42 46.772 E011 30.543
C2 N42 46.784 E011 30.547
C3 N42 46.798 E011 30.483
C4 N42 46.785 E011 30.481
BOTTOM (OF LAND) N42 46.777 E011 30.440
FORT (ROCK) N42 47.187 E011 30.424
ROCCHETTE N42 43.787 E011 30.698
PRESERVE N42 47.683 E011 31.123
lunedý 25 settembre
This morning we took a ride down to the crash site where Mike nailed his reflectors onto two trees and took some more pictures. He plans to make a separate site on his web page for those who are interested in the crash site. Then we drove down to the property and he took some GPS readings at the corners of the property. Of course, we were covered again with "stick tights", but they seem to brush off quite easily from most of our clothing.
We came back to our apartment and made some sandwiches. The vine-ripened tomatoes are absolutely heavenly. I am eating as many of them as I can. Andrea and his family have made our stay here very comfortable.
The trip to Usi and the ceramiche factory did not take very long. Usi is very close. We met the artist who makes all the pottery and bought a few pieces to take home. She gave us a tour of her workshop which has two kilns. She said that she actually has two clients who purchase her work from the shop in Saturnia who are from Honolulu. I will have to make a special note to look for her stuff in the future when I am shopping.
After that we stopped at a farm near there. It had the air of being something commercial in the past like a restaurant or hotel, but I don't think there are any commercial activities going on there at this time. The place was actually the elementary school at one time.
From there we headed to Monte Bello where we looked at their animals and then had a light but perfect dinner of pancetta, salami, artichoke hearts, pickled green beans, onions, and squash followed by pecorino cheese from Sardinia. The waitress, Angela, is from Sardinia. The pecorino was slightly more tart than the local pecorino from Roccalbegna. We also had two bottles of red wine.
When we returned to the house, we gave two of the sweatshirts to Vezio and Andrea. They were very appreciative, and we hope to take their pictures tomorrow in the piazza.
We are having a pizza party tomorrow in our wine cellar. We will bring the insalata and gelato. I will also buy a big jug of vino and some beer tomorrow morning.
9/26/00 9:15am Needless to say - the weather is again perfect this morning!! Teddie is doing some laundry and we have to do a little shopping for food and then we plan to spend a few hours touring the villages and countryside east of here. What better way to spend our last day in the area than a ride through the country?! Alberto sent an email this morning saying the dinner for tomorrow has been changed from 7pm to 8pm and that Moreno knows of a better restaurant. "Last Dinners" are always a mixed-emotion event for me. It's so nice to see so many of our friends in one place, but it also means we will be leaving them soon. And on this trip we have two Last Dinners - one tonight and another tomorrow! I guess that's the cost of meeting (and leaving) people you enjoy so much.
3:45pm Just returned from our drive. Water at the apartment is off, but I ran across Massimo at a dig down the road and he said it should be back on in about an hour. On our drive we went through Sovana, Pitigliano, Sorano, Acquapendente, Rigo, Piancastagnaio, Santa Fiora, Bagnore, and Triana (plus several very small villages). Outside Sovana we toured the tombs. Teddie was not as interested in them as I thought she'd be. While there, Moreno called on cell phone to confirm our Corsi reservations and dinner arrangements. When we finally reached Roccalbegna, I stopped at La Grotta where I got a vanilla/lemon ice cream (gelato!).
- Italy countryside is much prettier than Olympic Peninsula
- The combination of Teddie reading the map, me driving, and the GPS between us has proven to be a good one (although I wish Teddie had more interest in learning hot to use it).
Got phone email from Stefano wishing me a happy Italian birthday!
5:30pm Took several digital photos of the doors in town. Walked almost every street in only 40 minutes or less.
11:57pm Everyone has left and we are now getting ready for bed. In attendance this evening were Andrea, Violetta, Massimo, Francesco, Luciano, Mario, Vito, and Eugenia, and Vezio. It was a great evening and everyone seemed to have a good time despite the fact that most of them had to work in the morning. We showed the video of the slide show and everyone was touched. Afterwards we went down through the arches and looked around an olive factory that Vito works in during the season (Nov-Dec). Then it was back to the apartment for a little more conversation and wine. After a short while everyone left - we said our good-byes to Violetta, Francesco, Luciano, and Andrea. The rest we will probably see on the way out of town tomorrow. Andrea said his goodbye very quickly - I suspect he does not like farewells any more than I do.
martedý 26 settembre
We did some laundry this morning and then headed down the road for a little day trip. We went to Sovana, Pitigliano, Sorana, Aquapendente, Rigo, Piancastagnaio, Santa Fiora, and back to Roccalbegna.
We visited the tombs near Sovana, and they were interesting. The sign indicated that they were created in the 2nd century AD. Then we stopped in a bar for lunch. I ordered a panino al prosciutto e pomodoro for Mike and a pomodoro and olio bruschetta for myself. We chased it with two really cold birre.
After returning to the apartment, we discovered that the water is off. Mike spoke with someone, and they said that it would be turned on again at 5 today. I hope so, as I just filled the washer with laundry for our final load. It should dry during the evening.
While we were walking the trail toward the tombs, the cell phone rang, and it was Moreno wishing Mike a happy birthday, and confirming our reservations for the restaurant tomorrow night. Not long after that we received an e-mail message on the phone from Stefano wishing Mike a happy birthday and confirming that he would meet us for dinner tomorrow.
After the water returns, I will wash the lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers for the insalata that I will bring to accompany the pizza tonight. We also have a large container of gelato in the freezer. I will also offer the final bottle of grappa which I purchased in Massa Marittima a couple of days ago. I purchased a couple of bottles of red wine also. If it was not so difficult, I would buy a case or two of wine to take back with us.
Departure weather - severe clear!! We're having our morning coffee now and then will get serious about the packing.
11:21am Slightly ahead of schedule. The apartment is cleaned up, we are all packed, and the car is loaded. We saw Massimo and the mayor and they stopped to say goodbye. Now we are waiting for Alessio's mother to come by to say goodbye (they told us last night she would be by at noon). Then we will say our good-byes to Vezio, Primina, Eugenia, Vito, Mario, and perhaps the Simonellis (plus anyone else we run across that we know). If all goes according to plan, we should be at the Corsi by around 3pm. Although we're ready to start working our way home, it is difficult to leave this place and already we look forward to our return in 2002. We have thought very little about our jobs (I am SO ready for retirement!); mostly about "the girls" (our poodles) and how anxious we are to see them again. Other than that, I can't say I'm even particularly anxious to be back in Hawaii again. The weather here has been better than Hawaii's lately, and it's very pleasant driving on good roads with few cars and skilled drivers. Getting back into the rat race is not going to be fun.
9/28/00 10:31am. Just boarded the flight to Paris (Airbus A321). Feel really whipped, but will be OK. Yesterday we arrived at the Corsi at around 3:20pm. Called Moreno's and spoke with Isotta. Then went down the road to a bar and ate lunch and returned to Corsi where we packed and took a quick nap. Then back into the car and tried to drive to Moreno's using only the GPS, but waypoint was in error for some reason and we got lost in the neighborhood. Called them on cellular and they "talked us in". We visited for a couple of hours and then rode with them to Ceri where we met Stefano and Peppone (with his friend, Loredana). Had a nice dinner and stayed until they started flashing the lights for us to leave. Then said goodbye to Peppone and Stefano and rode back to house with Moreno & Chiara. Said a sad goodbye there and returned to the Corsi. Was 1am by the time we got to bed. This morning we were up at 6:30am and on the road by 7:30. Check in and car return went OK. Plane is now 1/2 hour late in getting out, and does not appear to be anywhere near ready to depart. Change in Paris is only one hour, so that may prove interesting. Peppone gave me a cellular to keep last night - he would not accept any money for it!! The cell phone concept has proven to be a good one on this trip and it will be nice to step off the plane with one on our next arrival. Will require a new SIM card, but I can probably ask Alberto to mail me one just prior to travel. Although we're anxious to have the travel over, we were NOT anxious to leave Italy.
1:25pm. Now in Paris sitting on plane bound for EWR. Was a most interesting connection! They pulled EWR passengers, plus BOS, NYC, and a few others, from the line as we deplaned and then we followed the boy with the sign for a mad dash through the terminal, up and down stairs, across the parking lot, up more stairs, and to the gate (last one at the end of the terminal). We were among the last to board and now Teddie is probably at stress level #9. Flying time will be 8+06. Acft is B777 (Continental Airlines). (Note: As a result of the quick connection, my bags didn't catch the plane and got to spend a little extra time in Paris!)
giovedý 28 settembre
The pizza dinner in our cantina was excellent. I brought all the dishes upstairs and did one more load in the dishwasher. We cleaned the house and said some final good-byes and were on our way to Roma.
Once we checked into the Corsi and repacked our bags, we went over to visit with Moreno and his family. At 8, we met Peppone and his girlfriend Loredana, Stefano, and Moreno's family, and had dinner at the "La Rocca". It was very good, and we were the last ones out of the restaurant. It was about 1am before we got in bed.
We were up at 630 this morning, got breakfast at the Corsi, filled the car with gas and headed for the airport. The line for check in was very long, but we came early, so it was not a problem. We are just relaxing now in preparation for the long trip ahead.
As a final note to this page, I am reminded that I am but the messenger in this situation. Although everyone has treated us so very well, it is my father, his fellow crew members, and all of the young men and women who placed their lives on the line during World War II, who deserve the praise and recognition. Without their hardships and sacrifices, our lives, and the world, would be much different today. They are the true heroes and, as such, I dedicate this page to them and their memory.
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Last revision - 05/22/04 06:38 AM