|Welcome to my Italy 2002 page. As with previous pages, the intent
of this site is to describe our trip to Italy and the various things we did while
there. The main body of the text comes directly from a small notebook I used to
record dates, times, and people while we were there. In some places I have inserted
small windows which explain thoughts and feelings that I had while there, but never wrote
in my notebook. Although most of the stuff contained herein is pretty routine, I
hope you will enjoy reading of our experiences, and will understand what a great place
Italy is and how nice the people there are.
As we did with our last Italy page, my comments are in BLACK and Teddie's are in RED. - Mike
2:50pm – Now sitting at gate 51B at EWR awaiting a 1700 departure on Alitalia. Check in was quick and easy, as was the walk through security. Reduced passenger loads due to 9/11 tomorrow?? Don’t know, but it was only 45 minutes from house to the gate, so there are no complaints so far!! We have only one flight to Rome, so we hope our 3 bags arrive with us. It is getting to where I dislike long flights, but this one should be fairly smooth and easy. Mom and Dad were unable to start their car after we got out at the airport, but they eventually got it going and drove off. I will call them in a few minutes to make sure they got home OK.
Wednesday 9/11/02 6:05am (all times from here on are Italian)
We’re now about 40 minutes from landing and people are beginning to wake up and mill about. It has been a long flight, but a fairly smooth one and we will arrive in Rome about 45 minutes ahead of schedule. The plane actually pushed back from the gate at Newark 10 minutes early, and we must have ridden the jet stream most of the way out. Peppone was going to meet us, so I hope he is able to locate us in the terminal. We are anxious to see a familiar face and will be glad to be on the road to Roccalbegna.
We arrived safely in Roccalbegna at about noon and got a good nap before walking around town for a bit. We had some Vin Santo and cookies with Vezio and Primina and Mr. Rafaello. In the evening we had dinner with the Zamperini family and Eugenia. It was Giulia Pandolfi, Andrea, Mario, Anna and Eugenia. We started dinner with a slice of prosciutto and then had rice with peas and zucchini. This was followed by pasta with basil and pine nut pesto. Then there was salad of peppers cucumber, and tomatoes which was served with fried lamb chops and fried zucchini flowers. After this we had some cheese from Sarono (sheep and cow mixed) then fruit--peaches.
It was a great evening, and I got a lot of chances to practice speaking Italian.
Peppone met us at the car rental lot and it was a good visit. He looks great and it was nice seeing him again. We all went to the airport
snack bar for coffee and chatted for a while before discussing cell phone matters and possible meetings later in the week. Then we left and made the drive to Roccalbegna where we found Anna and her mother sitting on their front steps. They welcomed us and let us in the apartment where we unpacked our stuff and took a nap. Now I am up and feel we need to move around for a while so we can sleep tonight. I’m still very tired, but that will pass in time and I am anxious to see everyone.
We finally got out and about and walked to Vezio’s (saw man w/poodle in the piazza) and visited with Primina. She called Isotta who told us they would be here either tomorrow or Friday. Then Vezio came in, along with Andrea and Mr. Raffaello. We had a fun visit and it gave us all an opportunity to use our dictionaries again. Then we left and saw Eugenia as we were walking back to the apartment. Andrea has invited us to dinner at his mother’s at 8:30. Teddie and I drove to the crash site (it still looks very well, although the plaque is showing some signs of age). There is an old, dried up wreath at the site and I’m sure it remains from the 10/01 ceremony that Moreno sent pictures of.
Just returned from dinner at Andrea’s. Andrea, Mario, Anna, and their mother were there. Later Eugenia came and then Violetta. Anna and Eugenia speak a little English, so we were able to communicate some. Teddie said they want us to do something with them tomorrow morning at 10:00am, but we’re not sure what they have in mind. We both enjoyed being with the group very much tonight. They are dear friends and we have missed them these past two years, so it was especially enjoyable being able to spend a couple of hours with them. But we are still quite tired from the trip and need to rest. Also, we know they all must work tomorrow and are never sure what time they would normally head for bed. Now I must get some rest! Tomorrow I hope to feel much better than I do now.
(Zamperini kids - oldest to youngest – Mario, Andrea, Violetta, Anna)
Thursday 9/12/02 8:45am
Slept good until 5am – then on and off for a couple of hours. Feel much better than yesterday, although still tired and ears ringing quite loudly. Teddie said Andrea was going to meet us at 10am at the “tower”, but I do not know where that is. She thinks he is referring to the restored chapel above the town, but we are not certain. Weather this morning looks very nice – clear, blue sunny. The apartment is as we remembered it – very quaint and a nice mix of the new and the old. They have outfitted it with a collection of miscellaneous items – cereal, soap, shampoos, etc. The key is on a “Hawaii” keychain I gave them in ’96. We are very happy to be staying here.
Just returned from the Farmacia. Eugenia said “no Andrea” at 10:00, but could not converse much beyond that. She did say to meet her at 10:00, and then I assume she will show us where to go. On returning to the apartment I ran into Vezio’s friend (Emilio?) and it was nice seeing him again.
- olive trees
- plum trees
- walnut trees
- blueberry tree (??)
Now back in apartment. Eugenia explained to us that the 10am event was not until 2:30, and is a raising of a cross at the bridge. We will walk over in a while and attend. We drove to the “Rancho” and walked to all the corners – they have been very busy down there and it looks great!! Almost all of the old blackberry bushes are gone and they cut down some of the old olive trees which needed removal. The wild flowers are in bloom and it was pleasant to just stand and watch the butterflies chase each other. Did some shopping at Simonelli’s on the way home (gelato at the bar first).
Refrigerator makes funny little noises.
Anna gave us 2 jars of plum jam they made from plums off the Rancho. Drew little plums on the label.
Gravel road to land – N42 47.206 E011 30.617
Walkway – N42 46.747 E011 30.625
Trail – N42 46.738 E011 30.544
Corner 1 – N42 46.789 E011 30.544
Corner 2 – N42 46.789 E011 30.547
Side 1 – N42 46.780 E011 30.481
Side 2 – N42 46.795 E011 30.492
The raising of the cross was interesting – it’s a modern rendition done in welded steel about 20’ high. They had a very large crane lift it atop a cement pad built on a large rock. Andrea indicated this is the largest crane in the Grosseto district. There were about 20 people in attendance and they had champagne and wine after the work was done. When we left there, Teddie and I walked to the chapel above Vezio’s house and took some pictures. Then we wandered around the lower part of town and came back to the apartment. Soon we plan to walk to La Grotta for dinner.
Dinner at Andrea’s was great! (we met him on the way to La Grotta and he said we were invited to his house). In attendance were Andrea, Mario, Anna, Eugenia, and Andrea’s mother. We spent 3 enjoyable hours eating, petting the cats, looking at old pictures, and watching a video of the October 2001 ceremony at the crash site. Also, Andrea showed us a video the school children did that was similar to the one they gave me in ’00. As always, I am happy to see the children involved as they are the ones who will remember the crash, and all it stands for, when I am gone. Andrea and his family are such good friends and we feel very lucky to have them.
We are supposed to meet Andrea this morning at the Tower, and I think that is at the fortress on the south side of town. We are not exactly sure what will be going on there, but we will follow along.
We did buy milk yesterday and saw Franca. Today, we will need to do a little more shopping.
Bought some stuff for sandwiches and made our lunch. We drove down to the piece of land, and Mario and Andrea have done a magnificent job of clearing the weeds off of it. There were many beautiful wildflowers growing. Last night Anna gave us a jar of plum preserves made from the plums on the land. We will wait until we are home to try them out.
Went out at 2:30 this afternoon to watch the raising of a new cross on top of one of the hillsides. This was done with a huge crane from Grosseto. Of course there were drinks for all after that.
Tonight we had dinner with the Zamperini's again--the same group as last night. It started with homemade salami, spaghetti with tomato sauce and then tortellini stuffed with prosciutto and cheese. This was followed with pepperoni and zucchini and sauteed shrimp. Then we had mozzarella and pears and tiramisu along with a big cookie with walnuts. The recipe for the cookie is said to be 1000 years old.
After dinner, we watched a video of the ceremony last October and part of the school program two years ago. It's almost midnight now, and we have had a busy day.
Friday 9/13/02 3:30pm
Recently returned from a little road trip up to Monte Amiata – very nice! Somehow we missed that on our previous trips but finding there was a geocache there made us take a closer look at the area (found the cache – GC496E). Then we drove through Castel del Piano and Arcidosso and turned toward Monticello Amiata where we hunted down another cache (GC7C7A) – left travel bug 307304. (Check out www.geocaching.com for more information) From there it was back into Arcidosso where we had a pleasant lunch (spinach ravioli with sauce - my favorite!) before pressing on to Roccalbegna. Saw Massimo as we walked into town. While at Monte Amiata Moreno called but we had left the phone in the car. Upon seeing he had called, I called him back and he said they would be in the village this evening and we could all meet at Vezio’s for dinner at 8:00pm. We’re looking forward to seeing them again!! Now we’re going to take a nap and then may go to the monument before dinner.
Walked to the “fortress” to take some pictures – the light was very good. Went up via the path by the school and came back by way of the path past Simonelli’s. I’m getting to know my way around here! Ran into Andrea on the way back and he confirmed that we are expected at Vezio’s around 9:00pm. He also asked if we would like to go with them (Andrea, Mario) to the hospital tomorrow around noon. I assume they are going to visit Luciana, but will try to confirm it all at Vezio’s tonight. Teddie has been napping for the past hour or so but will need to get up soon.
Just returned from dinner at Vezio’s with Moreno and his group. Isotta and Jacopo are getting very grown up now and Jacopo is speaking some English. It was very nice to see them again – they are such nice people. Tomorrow we will return for lunch and in the evening there will be the celebration in town!
I was awake early again today at 5 AM. I would like to sleep a little later. We drove first to Mt. Amiata and found a geocache at the top. Then we drove several miles east and found a geocache near Monticello Amiata. We put a travel bug in the second cache. Bug Bunny is too large to fit into the two caches we found today.
We finally went to S. Fiora to visit the old fish farm. It was interesting to see the black and white swan and the other ducks. We could also see some large fish swimming around. We were the only ones visiting and payment of 1 E was on the honor system. After that, we went back to the crossroads for Roccalbegna and had lunch in a roadside hotel/restaurant. It was spinach and cheese ravioli with meat sauce on top. We had a half bottle of wine with it.
When we returned to Roccalbegna, we rested for a while and then headed over to Vezio and Primina's for dinner and to see Moreno and family. They are all looking wonderful. Isotta is 21!!!
The menu tonight was bread and bean and noodle soup. There were two different kinds of fresh cheeses which were quite interesting. Pickled onions and mushrooms accompanied this along with prosciutto and figs.
We stayed up very late talking with them, and it is now past 1:30. Tomorrow is the festival and the church bells will probably start to ring at about 6AM.
Saturday 9/14/02 10:00am
Slept in until 9:00 this morning – it is going to be a long day, but should be fun. The village is now brightly decorated and will be a busy place for the rest of the day. I’m especially looking forward to the 10pm fireworks! We will be going to Vezio’s at 1:00pm (l’una) for dinner and will probably be there most of the afternoon. This is a very good time to be here. Weather has been very good, except for once or twice that it rained for a brief period. Florinda told Alberto that this would be a wet fall here, but so far it hasn’t been too bad. We still have 9 days to go, though!
As usual, dinner at Vezio’s was great! Vezio and Primina were there as were Moreno and his family, plus Vittorio and Don Valentino. It was pleasant chatting with the gang and interesting seeing Moreno & Vezio discuss the new cross in town. Eventually we left to return home to the apartment for a while and will meet them all later for leftovers and pizza. While we were leaving, we saw Ricardo and visited with him while others walked by us with armloads of fireworks to set up at the chapel above Vezio’s. The weather is perfect today and should be just right for the festivities this evening.
Now back from the festival – it was great!! It began with the walk to the river where everyone, and the band, proceeded in a slow walk to the area where the cross was installed. There they had a lengthy service to bless the place, and then walked back into town. We saw many people and took many pictures. Around sunset they lit the large balloons and that was exciting. Two went up and out of sight over the village, but the third caught fire on the ground and blew straight towards the band which then quit playing and scattered. Everyone got a big kick out of that. They then served panini and vino to everyone. At around 8:30 Isotta, Jacopo, and I went to La Grotta and bought 5 pizzas to bring back to Vezio’s. We ate the pizzas, plus some other stuff they had, and chatted until exactly 10:00pm when a huge boom rattled the windows and signaled the start of the fireworks. We went to the piazza and watched the best show ever! At the end they fired the rockets so they all went off over our heads and the entire sky was covered in a web of bright orange sparks. When it was done, glowing ambers rained down on us for quite a while! Then we went for a walk with Moreno and his family to the cross so he could see how it looked at night. We all stayed there huddled together for a long time chatting and laughing about all sorts of things. They are a wonderful family and such good friends! Then we returned to the festival and watched the people dance for a while. While there, Beatrice came up and said hello. It was good to see her again! Finally we decided it was time to call it a night so we came back to the apartment. It was a great day – good friends, good food, wonderful festival. I really love this place!!
Not too many bells this morning. Some at 7am, and they are ringing again now at noon. We are supposed to be at Vezio and Primina's today at one for lunch. I used the washing machine this morning and have a load of clothes out on the line now. I will need to do another load tomorrow.
I also wrote out and mailed several postcards. I think I remembered Mike Lindsay's address, but I will have to send the card to Glenda later. I have looked everywhere and can not find the paper I wrote those addresses on.
We had lunch this afternoon with Vezio and family. There were two kinds of lasagna followed by broiled chicken with fried potatoes and a salad.. Then there was the Roccalbegna pecorino which was followed by two desserts. One was an apricot and lemon soufflé and the other was like chocolate covered éclairs all stuck together in a pan. I was quite full and only had a small slice of the soufflé.
We came back to the apartment and rested for an hour before the village procession. After the group got to one end of the town where the new statue and cross are located, the bishop held a mass at the site and gave communion. The march then continued on to the far side of town and then returned to the main church in the piazza. They then went in the church for some other kind of ceremony. We had pizza and some leftovers at Vezio's along with wine, cheese, and several desserts. I am still full from lunch and only had one piece of pizza. Just before dinner, they lighted the balloons in the center of town. Two of them flew away like they are supposed to and burned up in the sky. The last one collapsed in the piazza and burst into flames sending the surrounding band scurrying away and pieces of flaming balloon going all over the place. I was afraid that my hair might get caught on fire!!
Later there were fireworks in the piazza which were shot off at the fortress on the edge of town. They were quite spectacular. Mike and I both felt it was the best fireworks display that we had ever seen. This was followed by dancing in the piazza till midnight.
I hope to get a good night's sleep. I don't want to wake up at 5am again.
Sunday 9/15/02 6:40pm
Slept late again today but feel rested now. Had a light breakfast at the apartment and then Teddie and I walked up to the fortress via the trail from the school. We then came down and back to the house. Teddie started laundry and I went to the Rancho to just wander around for a while. After that we walked over to Vezio’s to join the gang and Don Valentino for lunch. When we were done, Moreno and his family came with us to the property and we spent a great deal of time looking it all over. Then it was off to Vezio’s property where we helped them pick beans while Isotta’s rabbit wandered around the garden, and Vezio cut the grass. Moreno, Chiara, Teddie and I took a long walk around the perimeter and it was very pleasant being with our friends. We then came back to the apartment and had difficulty finding a parking spot but finally located one below the village. At 8:15 we will return to Vezio’s for a light dinner and visit. Tomorrow Moreno and Chiara will return home, but may go to Mt. Amiata for lunch. If they do, we will try to join them. I lost my sunglasses at the festival last night and our friends were very concerned about that even though I told them they only cost $20US. We tried to find them but I’m sure someone picked them up off the ground. We haven’t seen Andrea much the past few days (since Moreno and his family arrived) but hope to be able to spend some time with him during the week. He has asked me to meet with the students at the school on Wednesday at 10:30, but we’re not sure what is in store. The other night he showed us videos – one of the 10/2001 ceremony, and one of the school (a modification of the one of 2 years ago). We have seen Alessandro in town the past couple of days and chatted with him for a while. Also, we met a German couple at the festival who are building a house on the south edge of Roccalbegna. Teddie and I looked at it today and it is a very big project. They said they would like to get together one evening, so we may try to pursue that later in the week.
We had another wonderful visit at Vezio’s tonight. Teddie has been acting very quiet this afternoon, though, and I’m concerned the stress part of being with friends is starting to get to her. Anyway, the visit was fun and we talked about all the differences between our countries/cultures and everyone found it interesting. We find that we enjoy Moreno and his family so much that it is always a pleasure being with them. Vezio was very tired from working on his land and kept falling asleep at the table. Teddie brought some support hose for him and he was very happy to receive them. I was afraid it might be too personal in nature, but that was not the case and he seemed to be very happy to receive them. Tomorrow we will probably follow the gang to the restaurant at Monte Amiata at around noon. We’re hoping that Andrea will join us, although Anna told Chiara that we has probably going to be busy. Earlier today I missed a call from Peppone so I called him back but could not reach him. Later he called again and we finally connected! We are going to try to set a date and time when we can get together for a while. Perhaps on Tuesday or Thursday. Already our little schedule is getting very busy and it seems like we are running out of time!
Monday 9/16/02 9:35am
I am at the crash site now and the air is very still and quiet. The sky is blue, the sun is coming up, and it is a perfect day. I have decided to come and just sit alone for a while to contemplate the events which first brought me here 6 years ago. I still find it interesting that a place of such peace and beauty was once a place of death and violence. And, as always, I am amazed that 58 years later I was able to locate the area, thanks to the untiring efforts of so many fine people.
Just returned from a very pleasant dinner at a restaurant on Monte Amiata with Vezio, Primina, Chiara, Moreno, Jacopo, and Isotta. We had a very good Italian dinner together (it was Moreno’s treat – he would not let me contribute) and then went for a walk down the gravel road nearby. While most of us stayed on the road, Vezio, Primina, and Moreno went into the woods and paralleled the road looking for funghi. A few times we thought Vezio and Primina were lost, but they always reappeared. At one point Moreno found a mushroom, but did not pick it. Instead, he called Teddie and me to look for it. After a little searching we both found it at the same time. Then we returned to the cars and came back to Roccalbegna (with Isotta driving our rental). Then a quick stop and Vezio and Primina’s to say goodbye to the gang, as they will leave for home in ½ hour. It was raining fairly hard as we started for the apartment, so Primina gave us an umbrella to use. We spoke with Peppone on the phone this afternoon and he will probably come to Roccalbegna on Thursday around 5:00pm. He said he would be in touch on the phone and let us know for sure.
All is quiet around here. We took a nap when we got back to the apartment and then I walked to Vezio’s to return the umbrella. Primina was there and she insisted on giving me some peaches and then she told me her mother is not well, but I could not understand if it was serious or not. The rest of the evening was spent quietly in the apartment. Tomorrow we plan to go to Montalcino so Teddie can do some shopping (and I can buy some Italian sunglasses). The phone rang this evening and it said “STEFANO”, but when I answered, there was only background noise and then a few key tones. Our time here seems to be moving by quickly. There are still things to do and people to see, but we are here for less than a week more now. Also, I have not used the metal detector yet and would like to spend at least a little time with it this year. My hopes of finding something personal (ring, watch, ID tag, etc) become slimmer each year, but I am quite happy to have found the items we have turned up in the past.
Stopped by to see Moreno and get on the internet for a few minutes. I needed an address for Glenda. Also sent a brief email to a group of friends and relatives.
At noon, we drove up to Mt. Amiata to a restaurant named the Ghatto D'Oro--Golden Cat. We had a nice lunch with too much food again. After that, we took a walk on a nearby trail. Vezio, Primina, and Moreno hunted for mushrooms, and they did find a few. They found one big porcini and I got the honor or picking it. We had a lot of mushrooms for lunch--some in the pasta, some in soup and a large platter of fried porcini. It was all quite good.
When we returned to Roccalbegna, we said goodbye to Moreno, Chiara, Jacopo, and Isotta, as they had to return to Rome. They may be back this weekend. It rained right after we returned, but otherwise the weather has been quite good--sunny and cool.
I took a nap after we returned and we had a light dinner of bread, cheese, and peaches. I am not hungry at all after all the food at midday, but I felt like we needed something light before bedtime.
Tomorrow, we plan to go to Montalcino. I would like to do some shopping although I don't have anything particular in mind to purchase. Mike wants to buy some new sunglasses. We have been to this town before, and it has a lot of shops for tourists.
Tuesday 9/17/02 10:20pm
A very busy day! This morning we drove to Montalcino to do a little shopping. Teddie bought a cheese board (olive wood), wine stoppers, and a couple of other things. I got sunglasses. We had lunch (a salame sandwich and red wine) and then gelato. We left Montalcino and drove SW to Grosseto where we hoped to buy a bench or two. When we got to the Obi store, it was closed for lunch so we drove back to the NE and explored the archaeological site at Rovine di Roselle. They were very old and Teddie found them to be extremely interesting. Some of the rocks on the outer wall were very large and we wondered how they ever moved them into place. When we were done there we returned to the Obi store and found a bench that we liked. It cost 67 Euros, so I asked for two. Each came in 2 boxes so the girl tried to charge me 4 x 67 and I complained. As the line behind me grew, the assistant came over and straightened everything out. It rained steadily on the way home and the streets were quite wet. When we got back to the apartment Teddie fixed sandwiches and Andrea came by and invited us to Cantina across the street. The man from Montebello and his son were there, along with Andrea, Mario, Anna, and Eugenia.
Giuseppe Naldi (man from Montebello)
Matteo Naldi (his son)
It was good fun and we (tried to) talk of many things. Then we all walked up to the bar and had coffee before returning to the apartment. A couple of them wanted to stick around and play Gin Rummy, but we said it was too late so perhaps tomorrow. In the morning we will go to meet the school children and answer some of their questions. While at the ruins we received some messages on the phone from Stefano and he said he would meet us on Sunday. Then Alberto called again to check on us and see if we needed anything. I put one of the benches together in the apartment and need to tighten it all up and carry it to the property. Friday or Saturday I need to check with Moreno and Vezio about the second bench going at the crash site. Im not really worried about it being stolen, but am concerned because it is not my property and I dont know if I should put any more items out there. Ill get their opinion first. Met some folks from Dallas at Montalcino and we chatted for a while. I must say that its good to hear a familiar voice again, although I really enjoy hearing the Italians talk with each other.
Wednesday 9/18/02 9:15am
We are getting ready to go up and meet the students in about an hour. It will be good to see them again, although they will mostly be different children than were there 2 years ago. It is our understanding that they will show us a video they made (Andrea sent a transcript home with Moreno for them to translate for us) and then they will ask questions. This afternoon I hope to borrow tools from Vezio to complete the assembly of the benches and install one at the Rancho. I have hand-assembled it here in the apartment and it looks good, although we dont know how it will withstand being in the weather all of the time. They told us at cantina last night that Mario will put a gate up at the Rancho tomorrow at 2:30pm. Were not sure of exactly where it will be placed but we think we may know. Also, were not sure of why it will be there, unless they plan to put sheep or goats on the land from time to time (Note: We later found that a gate sort of symbolizes that the land is owned, and not abandoned.). That would certainly help keep the vegetation down to a manageable level.
Were now back from lunch at Andreas. We met with the students this morning and it was enjoyable. They were not the same ones we met last time, so many of them looked a bit puzzled by our presence, but they were all friendly and had questions about the Trade Centers, Iraq, and other things. We saw a movie the students made and dedicated to the memory of my father. Also, they said they were going to study Hawaii and would like some pictures of Hawaiian homes, food, flowers, etc. We promised to send these when we returned. After this we came back to the apartment and then went looking for Vezio to borrow some tools for the benches. We could not find him, so we returned and put the benches together as best we could without tools. Then Vezio stopped by and soon left, to return with the needed tools. He and I completed assembly of both benches and he then left again. When that was done, we went to Andreas for dinner. Also there were Massimo and Francesco. We gave them a Kauri bowl we bought in New Zealand and they presented us with a gift from the Scuola 2 pieces of linen with crochet on them. They are very pretty and Teddie will find a nice way to display them. Eventually Mario had to leave for an ear doctor appointment, and Massimo had to return to work, so we said our thank-yous and returned to the apartment. In 15 minutes Andrea will join us with a shovel and rake and we will take a bench to the Rancho and install it.
Andrea brought a shovel, a hoe, and a chainsaw. We brought everything down to the property and found 4 flat rocks for the bench. I dug small depressions for the rocks and we mounted the bench on it. It looks great!! Andrea then took us onto his property (actually, his mothers) and showed us 5 sheep that were running loose. The way the gates and all are configured, the sheep can run freely on his land and ours. Then we returned to the cars and drove to La Grotta where we drank a beer (good!). and then returned to the apartment. After parking, Teddie and I walked to the Germans construction area and looked around before coming back here to rest up and perhaps get a quick nap. I cant remember the last time we have been so much on the go!
This evening we decided to walk to the cross and view the place at night. On the way we stopped at the stationary store to buy some writing paper to write a note to Stefania, and while we were there Stefano (Stafanias boyfriend) and Giovanni Simonelli came in and surprised us! We later asked them to come back to the apartment for some vino and Stefano explained the pictures that Stefania had sent for us to see. He is trying his English now and that is good. It was enjoyable seeing both of them again! I have been trying to converse with the Italians so long now that I find myself even thinking in broken English!! Tomorrow we hope to drive to Saturnia, Scansano, and then back home to Roccalbegna in time to meet Mario at the Rancho at 2:30. Another busy day coming up!
We headed off for Montalcino at about 9 this morning. It was pretty much as I remembered it. We had a nice lunch and then picked up a few souvenirs before heading out of town for Grosseto. After locating the hardware store which was closed for lunch, we headed back to some ancient ruins near Roselle. They are actually the ancient city of Roselle and date back before the 6th century BC. They were quite extensive and numerous civilizations prospered in this location. The nearby Ombrone River was navigable at that time. After this we headed back to Grosseto to purchase the bench
Mike wanted to stop and eat at MacDonald's but thought better of the idea. While we were eating a sandwich at the apartment, Andrea stopped by to invite us to visit the cantina of a friend. The friend is the same man who works at Monte Bello. We had bean and pasta soup, prosciutto, bread, fruit and pecorino from Sardinia. There was a cookie and gelato for dessert.
Tomorrow we meet at the school at 10AM. Thursday, Mario is installing a gate at the rancho at 2:30, and Peppone should be here at 5-6PM.
Thursday 9/19/02 8:40am
Teddie and I are in our morning routine a small bowl of Rice Krispies and a tiny cup of Italian coffee. Only 3 more days in this wonderful place before we begin our trip westward. The weather looks great this morning clear blue skies, calm winds, crisp temperature! Weve certainly seen more rain on this trip than in our previous 3, but it has not been bad and the rain showers usually do not last all that long. No complaints!
We are back from our little morning road trip. We went through Triana and on to Saturnia where we hoped to see the thermal springs, but when we got there the area was difficult to navigate due to all the construction, a luxury resort, and many fences. We walked around for a while and then decided to leave. While in the town, though, we did a little shopping and bought two small decorative plates that will go very nicely with our other Italian memorabilia. Then we went to Scansano where we parked in the hospital parking lot and walked down the hill to the town center. We stopped at a wine store and bought 2 bottles of wine requested by our friend, Darlene. Then we had lunch, ate a gelato, and went back up the hill to the car. The road to Roccalbegna from Scansano is very winding, so the ride back was fun for me, but not fun for Teddie. Now we wait until 2:30 when we will go to the property to watch/help Mario install a gate.
The Italians have installed the gate at the Rancho and it looks great!! It is green and stands about 4 tall and 5 wide and has MG welded in metal rod at the middle of the top. I believe Mario made it. On the way to install it we met Vezio so he came with us (Andrea, Mario, Anna). Andrea drove the APE and Anna rode along with him. Vezio came with Teddie and I, and Mario drove a small tractor. They brought the gate, tools, cement, and a basket full of wine and food. It was interesting watching them discuss every aspect and they would not let me help very much. When the gate was mounted, they covered the space below it with rocks and cemented them in place.
Today we went to the school to meet the children and to view the latest video. It was a very pleasant morning and the children had some questions for us. Afterward, we spent some time putting together the benches. Vezio stopped by to help us out with some tools.
We had lunch with the Zamperini family again including Francesco and Massimo. We had the spinach and ricotta ravioli in oil and sage. There was also some with basil and pine nut pesto. After this we had a very nice dish with green beans, tomato, onion, garlic, and pieces of lamb. It was very delicious. Then, there were also some fried potatoes, pecorino (fresh and aged), cookies, and wine. We all practiced our English and Italian.
After lunch, Andrea came with us, and we brought one of the benches down to the rancho and placed it near the large olive tree. Tomorrow afternoon, Mario will install a gate, and we will all have some wine, bread, and cheese. Tomorrow evening, we will have pizza with Massimo and Violetta.
This evening while we were trying to buy some paper in the tobacco shop, Giovanni Simonelli and Stefano stepped in to say hello. They came back to the apartment and had a glass of wine with us. Stefano showed us the pictures of their property in Bricherasio and explained the details to us. They have a lot of work ahead of them. We do not have time to go there this year for a visit, but perhaps on our next visit and for sure in 2006. It was nice visiting with the two of them.
Friday 9/20/02 10:10am
Got too busy to enter in the log last night. Peppone got into town at 7:00pm and I met him at the river and we walked over to the apartment. After a while Andrea and his group showed up and we had food and wine in the cantina (the basement of the apartment). Teddie and I, Andrea, Mario, Anna, their mother, Peppone, and Vezio came along later with a big bottle of home-made Grappa (very strong). The eating and drinking continued for several hours before everyone agreed it was time to wrap it up. We did not want Peppone to drive out last night, so we had him stay in the spare room. He got up at 6am and I joined him for a cup of coffee and then we walked to the river where his car was parked. Hopefully he made it safely to Rome this morning. Teddie is doing some laundry today and I cleaned out the cantina. We are planning to go to the monument to do a little cleaning, but it looks like rain soon outside, so Im not sure what well be doing. I wanted to go to the Rancho and swing the gate open for the first time, but it has to set up for 48 hours before being disturbed. I noticed the other night when Teddie and I walked home fairly late, and this morning when Peppone and I walked to his car, how deserted and quiet the village is at night. There are no people, no barking dogs - nothing!! It is almost like a deserted movie set.
Just returned from the crash site where we scrubbed the monument with soap and water and then explored the woods for a while. Many small (and one huge) mushrooms are present this year due to the increased moisture. I have decided to leave the second bench there, so we will take it out after lunch. When we returned to the apartment, Vezio met us with some tools we had been looking for, so now we are ready to go. Teddie is packing some food and we will sit at the bench and eat it at the crash site.
We placed the bench above the monument and it looks very nice. Then we ate lunch, after which Teddie sat on the bench and read a book while I went through the woods with the metal detector. Although I found no items of a personal nature, I did find several interesting fragments and will bring them home with me. We saw no one in the area of the crash site and it was extremely quiet and peaceful there. After a while we left and I dropped Teddie off at the apartment and then went to the Rancho where I am right now. The gate looks great and Im still anxious to try it but will have to wait until tomorrow. The bench is comfortable and Im happy with the location we chose. Its under a large olive tree and has a great view of Roccalbegna off to the right! Also, you can see down the slope of the property, which is quite pretty now with an assortment of colorful wild flowers. While sitting on bench at crash site, we watched the ants carry bread crumbs down the hill.
Walked to the recycle bin to deposit wine bottles. Many cats in this village! Andreas cat was feeling more secure yesterday and freely wandered around the apartment for a while. Vezio said Moreno and family will be in Roccalbegna tomorrow morning. Maybe they will come down to the property and see the bench and gate! Mario joked about how we could put a table there next visit, a roof the following visit, and eventually a restaurant. Only one more full day here in Roccalbegna. This has been a wonderful visit (as they all have), but I find myself getting a bit anxious to be back home in our old familiar surroundings. Plus, we miss our dogs, Pepper and Sandy. It will be nice to have a few final days in NJ, but I will be ready to head back to the islands on the 28th. Being here is a great experience, but theres no place like home.
Back from dinner at Vitos now! It was fun spending time over there Vito speaks pretty good English his wife is personable and enthusiastic, and her mother is a very pleasant woman. The children were playing while we were there Serena seemed pleasant and helpful, but Sergio was a real handful! His mother says she gets calls from his teachers all the time! Dinner was great and we left there absolutely stuffed! Tomorrow is our final full day in Roccalbegna and it promises to be a very busy one! Sunday we will do our packing, cleaning of the apartment, and be on the road by noon. Before we left for Vitos, Andrea and Eugenia came by and said a reporter from the La Nazione would like to interview us on Sunday afternoon but we told them that would be impossible. Because of the plans to see Stefano in Rome at 5:00pm, we need to leave here by noon so we will have plenty of time to drive to the Corsi Hotel and get checked in before we go to meet Stefano. I have not heard anything from Peppone since he left this morning and am a little concerned. Tomorrow I will try to call him to make sure he returned safely home this morning.
Yesterday morning we made a trip to Saturnia, and it was very disappointing. The entire spring area has been enclosed by a hotel and large fences have been installed, so you can not even see the hot springs. Too bad. The parking was also a mess, and we noticed that many people driving campers were parked along the side of the road about a mile away. I think they must take a shuttle bus to the site.
We stopped in Scansano to shop around and bought the wine that Darlene requested. We plan to leave it in Bloomfield. Maybe she can drive down from Boston to get it. We also had sandwiches at a bar with a glass of wine.
We met Andrea and family along with Vezio and went to the rancho to install the beautiful gate they had made for the property. It is about 4 feet across and painted bright green. The put the letters MG on the gate. On Saturday, we will be able to open and close the gate once the cement around the posts hardens. They are talking about putting fencing across the front of the property also. After the gate was installed, we all had a snack of wine, bread, prosciutto, cheese and beer. It was a great picnic.
We were supposed to have pizza with Massimo and Violetta, but she was sick, so we had pasta and pizza in our cantina. Peppone showed up at about 6 and joined us for dinner and spent the night. It was about 11 when we finally finished with dinner, and the men then all went for coffee at the bar.
Michael and I are both tired, but we plan to head out to the crash site to clean the stone.
Mike cleaned the stone and we made a little hike through the woods. Someone had done quite a bit of brush cutting which cleared a trail for quite a ways back into the woods. We then returned to the apartment and I put together some bread, meat, and cheese along with two beers for a picnic lunch. We loaded the second bench into the car along with the lunch and headed back to the crash site. Without too much effort, we were able to place the bench in a fairly level spot. After eating the lunch, Michael went out with the metal detector, and I enjoyed reading the book I brought along.
Tonight, we are supposed to have dinner with Vito and his family.
Dinner with Vito, his wife and her mother was quite nice. The two children, Serena and Sergio were there also. Vito first served pasta with meat sauce. We then had peas and green beans and roast beef. After this, there was a course of cheese (pecorino) and a chocolate pastry. We drank a bottle of Vito's father's wine. They also served grappa and coffee Mike had grappa in his coffee and said that he liked it. We had a very enjoyable time and were happy that we could spend some time with Vito and his family.
Moreno and family will return tomorrow morning.
Saturday 9/21/02 1:20pm
Teddie and I walked around the village for a while and ran across the man with the poodle near the bridge. He talked to us for the longest time, but we only have the vaguest idea of what he had to say (something about the rain making the river rise). Then we walked partway down the road to the property and I took several pictures of gates. There are many types, but the bedspring type seems to be the most popular. On the way back we walked across the river and then climbed the embankment on the other side. I sat on the bench and called Peppone while Anna walked Poli by and Mario and Vito passed by performing their work duties. As we approached the church, Andrea and Eugenia stopped us and explained that a reporter would call at 12:30 and do a phone interview. We ate a sandwich at the apartment and then heard Andrea approach with his phone. I chatted briefly with the reporter and then he spoke with Andrea for a little bit. When they were done, Andrea got his camera and took a few pictures of us sitting on the church steps. Massimo came out and took a couple of his own and then we went to his office to exchange email addresses and home page URLs. Now we are back in the apartment (complete with cat sleeping on a chair) and winding down. Tonight is the making of the vino, and tomorrow we are packed and gone.
We went by Vezios this afternoon and Moreno, Chiara, and Jacopo were there. We visited for a while and had some Vin Santo and then they, plus Vezio, said they would come to the Rancho for the Opening of the gate ceremony. On the way to the car we met Andrea and he said he would join us there. When we arrived at the gate, Teddie poured a small glass of wine for everyone and they clapped and took pictures when I opened the gate for the first time. Then we stood around and talked for along time while people took turns sitting on the bench and Vezio toiled away on the fence made of brush. After a while the guys walked down to the river and explored while Teddie and Chiara sat on the bench and waited for us. It felt so good being on our beautiful little piece of Italy, enjoying the view and the conversation with our friends. It was one of those moments that I wish could last forever. Now we will rest one hour and then go to the cantina to help Mario make wine!!
This morning I did some laundry and a little bit of packing. We then went for a little walk around the village down by the rocks. Mike took some more of his gate pictures. Next time we will take pictures of the windows.
The reporter from the Nazione called today at 1230 to speak with Mike about what we are doing here. He will be here tomorrow afternoon to have a chat with Andrea. Andrea was hoping that we would still be here to speak with the reporter.
Our lunch was some of the bread and salami and the remains of the swiss cheese. I put some of the olive oil on my bread instead of mayonnaise, and it was really delicious. I tried to buy a small bottle from Franca, but she only had large bottles. Next time I will look for the oil sooner. I am not going on the olive oil quest at this late date. I already have the perfect t shirt quest which I will have to do in Rome at the airport.
This afternoon, we met with Moreno and family and went to the ranch for the ceremonial opening of the gate. Andrea also came along. While we were there enjoying ourselves, Vezio rebuilt the brush fence up to both sides of the gate. They are especially happy with the gate, as it keeps the property looking like someone owns it. We all celebrated with a small glass of wine.
Tonight we will do the new wine at 730 in our cantina and the Zamperini cantina. We had a wonderful time at the last one, and I know that we will have fun again this year. Moreno and Chiara will join us.
The tapping of the new wine was lots of fun as expected. Vezio also joined us. The meal started with macaroni with meat sauce followed by roasted potatoes and lamb. There was also risotto. Many wines were served at the table along with the new wine. After the dinner, some of us took turns doing the turns on the wine press. I think that we will keep our day jobs. Pressing the grapes is too difficult.
Sunday 9/22/02 8:45am
Last night was a lot of fun! Andrea, Mario, Violetta, Anna, Massimo, Francesco, Moreno, Chiara, Jacopo, Andreas mother (Giulia), Eugenia, Vezio, Guiseppe (fellow from Montebello), and another guy we didnt know. Andrea and his family kept bringing food and we ate until we were stuffed!! Then he gave us an exquisite print from the artist, a jar of local honey, and one of his old Air Force shirts. Violetta disappeared for a while and then returned with two bottles of olive oil for Teddie. There was a lot of conversation about Italian and English, and Chiara kept encouraging Teddie to speak Italian. Also, they said there will be an English class here soon and Massimo said when we return in 2 years he will speak English to me and I can speak Italian to him (good luck, Massimo - I sure hope your English is better than my Italian!!). Chiara asked about the rules for baseball and Massimo and I started to explain, but it got confusing so we stopped. Another time. The making of the wine was great! As with last year, they drove the spigot into the barrel and many gallons of red wine flowed out. Then the grapes were put into the press and everyone tried their hand at working the lever. All in all, it was another fantastic evening with many friends! I’m torn between two emotions now – my reluctance to leave the village, and my desire to return home. Now we must pack and prepare for departure.
We're all packed now, and the car is loaded. At 11:00 we will go to Vezio's to say goodbye and then make one brief stop back here before heading over to the crash site and then on to the Corsi Motel. While moving the car I saw some of our friends, but we have said no farewells as of yet. That is always the difficult part of the trip.
Now at the Corsi! We went to Vezio's this morning and said our goodbye's to the group and then went back to the apartment and said goodbye to Andrea, Mario, Anna, and their mother. It was difficult for us to leave everyone, so we did it as quickly as possible. It was raining quite hard, so Primina loaned us two umbrellas for our walk back to the apartment and Andrea will return them later. Because of the heavy rain, we reluctantly decided to not go by the monument on the way out of town. We had a nice visit there the other day, so that will be our farewell for this year. On the freeway heading south we had a motorist acting very strangely and trying to get us to stop. He kept signaling like there was something wrong with the car, but I would not pull over when he was near us. Finally we slowed to where he was several cars in front of us, and then abruptly pulled over and examined the car. There was nothing wrong with it, so we do not know if he intended to rob us, or if there was something else we overlooked. After checking in at the Corsi we walked down the street to the snack bar for a sandwich and a beer (and gelato, of course). The fellow who waited on us was nice and even spoke a little bit in English. Now we are relaxing until about 4:30 when we will go to meet Stefano. While still east of Grosseto we came across about 15-20 sheep in the road. They had jumped a wire gate and one of them had his rear hoof caught on the wire. We stopped and untangled the wire from his hoof, but there was nothing we could do to get them back in the field, so we drove on.
Back at the Corsi again! We met Stefano and his friend (Alessia) at the gas station as planned (although we were a little late). Alberto called about 15 minutes before we got there, but I was driving and could not talk and Teddie was at stress level #10 because of the traffic and other drivers. Stefano led us on a drive through Rome until we got to his grandmother's where we had a very lovely visit. She is such a pleasant person and looks unchanged from 4 years ago. All too soon the visit was over and we headed out for the Corsi with Stefano leading the way. Teddie's stress level must have risen another point or two, but she survived. We pulled into the restaurant across from the Corsi, where I let Teddie out and then drove across the street to put gas in the car. The attendant did not speak English, but recommended I put 2 x 10 Euro notes in the automatic machine. Forgetting the price of fuel in Italy, I only put one in, and later had to pull back up to the pump and put another E10 in!! By then Isotta appeared so we drove across the street to the restaurant. When we sat down I started to call Peppone and the phone began to ring in my hand. It was Peppone calling from the Corsi looking for us! We all had a good dinner (too much food....) and it was great seeing everyone. Near the end of the dinner Peppone disappeared and we soon found out that he had paid the check!! What a guy! I explained that the "last dinner" was always to be on me, but he would hear none of it. Outside, we all said our goodbyes and our wonderful Italian friends hopped into their cars and disappeared into the night. Now we are preparing to turn off the lights and tomorrow will be our last few hours in this incredible country.
After saying some difficult goodbyes, we departed Roccalbegna at about noon in a pouring rain. It is very difficult to say goodbye to our friends--especially knowing that it will be two years before we see them again.
After we had been on the road for about an hour, a car pulled up and passed us and then shortly turned on his emergency lights. We thought that there must be something wrong with his car, but he kept on going. He then allowed us to pass him, and he waved at us like something was wrong with our car. He tried several times to get us to pull over to the side of the road. We managed to just slow the car down to make sure that several other cars passed us, and eventually he disappeared. It seemed very suspicious, and there was nothing wrong with our car. It reminded us both of the stories about people being pulled over with similar tactics and then being robbed. It was very strange.
We arrived at the Corsi at about 3 and then walked about a block down the street to a bar for some pizza sandwiches. The man in the bar was very nice and spoke English even though I tried to speak Italian to him. I will never be mistaken for an Italian. : / We rested for a while, and then met Stefano and his girlfriend Alessia on the Gran Raccordo. We followed him to his Grandmother's house in Rome. It was very nice seeing her again, and she looked quite well. She had sweets for us to eat and soft drinks. She had made these tiny éclairs for us and there were also some small cookies dipped in chocolate. It was a very pleasant visit, but I do not like driving in Rome. Mike enjoyed it quite a bit. He thinks it is quite amusing when the Italians make four lanes out of a two lane road. They also seem quite happy to run red lights when they feel that no one will hit them at the intersection. "When in Rome,............"
We arrived back at the Corsi just in time to meet our friends for dinner. Peppone came with his friend Alessandra. Also joining us were Isotta, Stefano, and Alessia. The antipasto was quite filling. In fact, there was so much of it that I had nothing else to eat. The others had different types of pasta then desserts with after dinner drinks. I tried the Amaro which tasted very much like a Brandy Alexander. It was a very nice evening.
We are happy to be tucked in our beds now at the Corsi hotel. We finally figured out how to turn on the AC, so we do not have to listen to the train and the jets all night. We will be up at six and down to breakfast before heading to the airport. It’s really been a great trip—but too short!
Monday 9/23/02 7:50am
At gate C31 awaiting boarding. We got up at 6:45 this morning and had a good breakfast at the Corsi - the food selection was excellent and the service very cordial and professional. Then we loaded the bags and headed to Da Vinci! Missed the car rental return on the first shot and had to circle the terminal once, but finally got it right and turned in our trusty Renault. After a little confusion (in Terminal B instead of C) we checked in and made our way to the gate. Teddie is now roaming around looking for t-shirts she promised to try to buy for a neighbor. In an hour and a half we will be in the air and leaving our beloved Italy. It has been another fantastic visit - thanks in no small part to the generous hospitality of our Italian friends. We will miss them all!
Watch is set to NJ time now. Aircraft late in leaving, screaming children right behind us (kicking Teddie's seat). This promises to be a long flight. Estimated time to EWR is 9 hours.
Last Revision 05/22/2004 06:41 AM