|Note: The following narrative comes from my logbook that I carried during our Italy trip. It is a verbatim copy of the notes which I tried to take every day to describe our events and activities. As such, it will be under development for some time as I make minor corrections and additions and add photos. I also hope to encourage Teddie to add comments of her own in the left column. Much of what I've written will be of little interest to most people, but should give a feel for how we spent our vacation this year - at least the part in Italy.|
Click on a picture for a larger view
Note: Comments in this column are Teddie's. She will continue to add to them as time permits.
9/5/07 4:46pm EDT
Now it begins - we are at the Newark Airport awaiting the 6pm departure of our Alitalia flight. For some reason it seems they have changed our seat assignments and we may not be sitting together - Teddie is at the counter checking. This will probably be the most difficult leg of the trip as it is overnight and will then involve a drive to Roccalbegna upon arrival in Roma. Surprisingly, Teddie seems to be taking it all in stride for a change.
The seating is OK - we are two seats apart, but the seat in-between is empty. We finally took off after sitting on the taxiway for almost 40 minutes. Some people continued to get up and go to the restroom during that time. Now we have an 8-hour ride coming up!
|The flight was nice, but the service was not so good. For about 6 hours, we were not offered any drinks. They never turned off the fasten seat belt light during the entire flight. People finally began to ignore the light and leave their seats. I did as well and made my way to the back where they had a couple of ice cubes and a few cans of warm soda. We both tried to sleep to no avail. Amazingly, I did not feel too badly when we landed. We both must have been on our second wind!! The apartment is wonderful, and we are very grateful to have such excellent friends in Italy.||9/6/07 8:00am Italy time
Day 1 in Italy
We are on our descent into Roma - it was a smooth flight but we will be glad to get out of the plane and on our way. Food on Alitalia was better than Continental, although they did
not come by as often to offer drinks. I will need to buy a large soda once we get our car! We should be in Roccalbegna in a few hours! (note - took 2 hours of standing in line to get our car at Hertz! Other rental companies had practically nobody in line, but their rates may have been higher).
The apartment - very nice! Most everything is new, 2 floors, full appliances! We will be very happy here and it is so nice of them to let us use it.
Rosy - A wonderful person! Enthusiastic, warm, friendly - I can tell already that we will like her a lot!
Saw Vezio and Primina this evening and that was good. Spoke with Chiara on phone and hope to see her and Moreno during our visit. Also, saw Eugenia and Mr. Raffaelli at choir practice.
|I am not used to shopping every day,
but that seems to be the Italian way. Milk and bread seem to be the
things that I go to the market for at least every two days!
I don't know why I missed that last step down to the cantina. I have been up and down those stairs many times over the years. I should have skipped the meal and gone to the apartment to ice and elevate the foot, but I just could not miss out on this event. My entire right foot swelled and turned black up to the ankle. The pain is not too bad, though.
Day 2 in Italy
Our first full day in Italy!! We had the usual first fitful night's sleep, but both feel much better today (although my ears are really ringing!). We had a light breakfast this morning and then did some grocery shopping. The milkman and a bicyclist were having a loud argument when we arrived, but it did not develop beyond that. Saw Pierpaolo and
Eduardo Simonelli and met Pierpaolo's girlfriend, Silva. Also saw Giulia and Vito's mother-in-law (Angela). After dropping off the food we drove to the crash site and spent some time there reflecting on the incidents that first brought us here. Road in is quite rough - car bottomed out several times and Teddie yelped whenever it happened. Now we are back at the apartment and just finished a light lunch.
worry about being misunderstood. But she often stops to explain to me what was said, so she is certainly doing much better than I!!
|The language class and my study seem to
be helping a lot during this trip. I am able to speak some simple
sentences and conjugate some verbs at least in the present tense. I
think they understand me, but wish that I could do better. I only
understand them if they speak slowly and with very simple sentences.
There are so many things I wish to express to them, but I don't have the
skills. It's really helpful to have a translator on occasion to
express our feelings.
At least once a day, I try to spend a little time with the foot elevated. I brought a book to read for entertainment, and I always have the travel books. Maybe some day I will have them memorized.
Day 3 in Italy
A beautiful day outside - blue, clear, calm! We had a fitful night's sleep (still adjusting) but feel good. Teddie's ankle is sore but she will be OK - no long walks yet, though. We spoke with Peppone this morning and hope that we can all meet between Roccalbegna
and Roma one day - he will call us back and let us know. Teddie is talking with Stefania as I write this, and I'm not sure what they are cooking up. Also, we have yet to decide what we want to do today.
Montelaterone. Nice castle/fortress at top but it was closed. Back to Arcidosso where we got out and walked around for a while before returning to Roccalbegna. Saw Vezio walking up hill at La Grotta and stopped, but we couldn't understand what he was asking, so everyone shrugged and we all said goodbye. Then saw Eugenia going down the hill and chatted (sort of) with her before continuing on and parking the car. Just had some cheese and soda and will relax for a while before deciding what to do next.
on Monday to discuss this with the man. After dinner Teddie and I went for a little walk. Saw Eugenia and walked partway home with her and then saw Primina. Went to her house and we visited with her and Vezio and chatted with Moreno and Chiara on the phone. They will be here either Friday or Saturday - it will be very good to see them again, as it has been 5 years! Tomorrow we will go to Vezio's for lunch with them and Don Valentino at 1:00pm.
Day 4 in Italy
Another perfect day outside!! Except for the first year I came, when the weather was damp and chilly, the weather has always been extraordinary during my visits and this year is
proving to be no exception. It seems I am finally getting settled into the time zone difference and jet-lag as I am out of bed at a more normal hour! Flies wake me up - no screens on apartment - need to buy a fly swatter! Teddie's ankle was better last night, so perhaps this won't be much of a setback for her.
Just returned from a lovely dinner with Andrea, Rosy, Francesca! Rosy seems to speak more and more English the longer we are here and that has been very helpful to us. We had a very good time and could have stayed longer, but decided to go as Rosy has to work tomorrow. They are a very nice trio and we hope they share many, many more years together.
|We had a nice drive to Florence, and the cemetery was very beautiful. We never knew it existed and were quite happy to learn about it. The keepers of the cemetery are quite proud of the job they are doing , and their pride certainly show with the way the grounds are maintained.||9/10/07 6:10pm
Day 5 in Italy
A very busy day! We started by going to the Post Office to mail out some postcards, the hardware store to buy a fly swatter and some stuff to refinish the bench, and then the grocery
store for food. At 11am we met Andrea and he drove us all the way up to an American military cemetery just south of Florence. He had been in contact with them a while back in regard to the possibility of having them add my father's name to their plaques. After looking the place over, and discussing the matter at length with the Director, it was finally decided that my father does not qualify. The cemetery has headstones for those buried there, and plaques for those who are listed as MIA. Although my father was originally MIA, at some time later they must have determined that they had his remains. I will need to discuss this further with my mother. After talking with the Director we walked through the cemetery and were led to the grave of Morris Margolis, a crew member who died in the crash! Then we continued through the cemetery, looking at the rows and rows of white crosses and trying to imagine how many lost lives they represented. It was a very moving experience. Before leaving we sat on the curb and ate panini that Andrea had brought, and spoke with the Director a while longer. Then it was time to leave and start the 2 hour drive back to Roccalbegna. Thankfully Andrea was awake and alert, as Teddie slept in the back seat and I dozed on and off most of the way back. Upon arrival Andrea headed for his house (staunchly refusing any money for gasoline) and Teddie and I came back to the apartment. Although we were not able to have my father's name included on the plaque, the visit to the cemetery was a special experience and Teddie and I are very glad Andrea brought us there.
|Refinishing the bench did not take too long. Mike
did most of the hard work--sanding. I hope the varnish lasts for a
couple of years until our return. I fashioned a small sign in
Italian to indicate "wet paint."
I spent quite a bit of time looking for the geocache on Monte Labbro. I thought the guy in the white pickup truck would never quit watching me. It was a relief to finally find that cache!
Day 6 in Italy
This morning we drove to the crash site and refinished the wood on the bench. While we were there, we also cleaned up the monument a bit and moved away stones which had rolled away from it. Then it was back to the apartment for lunch and laundry. Came across Andrea while we were looking for a parking spot and he said we will go to the school around noon tomorrow. Now we are finished lunch, and the "Candy" has just stopped, so we will hang our laundry and then drive to Monte Labbro in a while. Weather today is cloudy, but no rain.
|It was a delightful day today with the children and
teachers at the school. We are so pleased that they have found some
wonderful things for all the children at the school.
The luncheon in Andrea's cantina was wonderful as always. Who could ask for better food or company?
Day 7 in Italy
We are relaxing in the apartment now and washing a load of laundry in the Candy. In another 2 hours we will walk over to the school to visit with the students for a little bit. Otherwise, there is nothing planned for today, so we will play it by ear. The weather today is perfect again, unlike yesterday morning that started cloudy and misty. Teddie continues to study the language and is doing much better than me. Still, we have great difficulty communicating with those who speak no English at all. As such, Teddie is being very careful to not misunderstand what is being said to us - that has caused us some embarrassment in the past. I have offered to leave her here for a few years so she can further study the language.
Valentina Faralli - English teacher who came out from Grosseto to translate for us.
Saverio Renzi - Headmaster of the schools in the area.
Spartaco Giannetti - Uncle of Andrea's.
|I always love this little trip we make up to Montalcino
and Pienza. I especially enjoy the sandwich on the sidewalk with a
glass of great red wine. While Mike was surfing the net and paying
bills, I visited a couple of shops. I was looking for linen towels
for a friend, but they were just too expensive. So, he got linen
napkins instead. How many people have real linen napkins? Not
The meal at Mario's was delicious as always. I guess everyone in Italy is a great cook. We always enjoy fantastic meals here.
The concert was quite nice also. The musicians are very talented. I have studied piano and clarinet, so I know how much they must have practiced to be so proficient.
Day 8 in Italy
A long day, and more to go! We left a little before 9am and drove up to Montalcino where we shopped for quite a while and ate lunch (salami sandwich and red wine). While we
were there I happened upon an Internet spot so I rented a computer for about 20+ minutes (€ 2) and paid my credit card bills. I started downloading my email but there was too much spam, so I stopped the download. Because we found the Internet spot, we decided we would not need to go to Grosseto at this time, so we turned East and went to Pienza for a while. My shopping results - - money clip, pocket knife, marble ball, holder for ball. After we parked back in Roccalbegna, we ran across Mario who invited us to his place for dinner (lamb) tonight at 8pm. Also, this morning we saw Vito while on the way to the car and he invited us to have lunch with his family tomorrow, a little before 2pm. I can't imagine how many meals we have enjoyed at our friends' homes! As always, we wish there was a way we could repay them all, but I don't know what it would be.
|Benedetta's mother, Angela, made a wonderful lasagna for
us today. I think that most of the ingredients were the same as
regular Italian lasagna, but instead of noodles, she used crepes!
Very tender and delicious. She is from Arrezzo, this is apparently
how it is made there. We were happy to meet Vito's mother while we
were there also. Vito served a wonderful after dinner liqueur which
we both enjoyed.
Of course the festival was enjoyable as always, and we enjoyed meeting another English speaking lady, Arabella. She has an agriturismo near Murci, and I wished later that I had asked for its location.
Day 9 in Italy
Just finished our tiny cup of coffee and the Candy is quietly doing its thing. As of right now, we are planless for the day except for a brief shopping trip and lunch at Vito's. The weather this morning is dry but with high overcast. We have a map laid out on the table and are trying to decide which route we want to take to Venice next week. Plenty of time for that.
Vito's mother-in-law - Angela Borgiani
by Vito's MIL who was in attendance for about half the meal and then had to leave to continue making panini for tonight's festival. Also, Vito's mother dropped by and seemed very nice, although she too spoke no English. We had a nice time visiting the family - Vito is very pleasant, his wife is friendly and enthusiastic. Serena is turning into a beautiful young woman, and Sergio is the typical mid-teenage boy. We spoke of many things - the area around Washington, the demographics of Roccalbegna, English TV, etc. A very enjoyable afternoon!
Arabella Rodrigauez - Speaks English - rents out apartments in Murci.
Spent time chatting with Ricardo. At about 10:40pm the band shut down so we helped put some chairs away and came back to the apartment. We love Roccalbegna!
|Yes, I discovered that the water was off right after I got
wet and soapy in the shower. So, I wrapped myself in a towel and
went downstairs to the kitchen faucet where there was still a little water
in the pipe. I brought back a glass of water to rinse myself off.
I dried off what I could and went to bed a little bit sticky. It was
great to have water back in the morning.
It was wonderful visiting with Moreno and Chiara again. It seemed like the 5 year time lapse just disappeared. They both speak very good English.
Day 10 in Italy
The water in the apartment went off sometime yesterday evening and we didn't notice it until we were getting ready for bed (Teddie in shower). I will need to contact Andrea this morning to
see if we can determine the problem.
Moreno then came down and he too looks as he did last time we saw him. Then Jacopo came down and instead of a boy, there was a young man! It was such fun seeing them again and getting caught up on the past few years. We all went to the cabin behind the house and enjoyed a very nice meal. There were so many things to talk about! We will have to finish our conversation tomorrow. Eventually it was time to leave so we said our goodnights and started for the apartment. I decided to check the piazza, so Teddie came back alone and I met Rosy and Andrea and sat and listened to the band with them. At one song they got up and danced - they were very good! Finally the band stopped and started putting their instruments away so I returned to the apartment and am now getting ready for bed. Hopefully the espresso that Primina served will not keep me awake for long!
Day 11 in Italy
Weather today is dry with a high overcast. We have finished breakfast and are doing laundry in the Candy now - the capacity is small so we have to wash often. Chiara has said we should drop by around 1:30pm, so we have time to take care of a few things around here.
Day 12 in Italy
There is machinery and people outside the apartment working on the drain pipe and other utilities! Last night's festival was, as always, a great deal of fun! Because it had rained, and there was a possibility of more rain, they began the fireworks around 9:40pm, and many of them exploded in the clouds, lighting the village with an eerie glow. The show was constant and exciting and VERY loud. The grand finale lit the sky for the longest time and sent debris raining down on the crowd for several minutes afterwards! Then the band fired up again and the festivities continued. Sandwiches (panini) were handed out, women with plates of sweets were everywhere, as were men with large bottles of wine and stacks of plastic cups. We stood and shouted with Moreno and Chiara for a while and then opted for more quiet conversation at "our" apartment. It was a very nice visit that lasted until 12:30am. Moreno is very interested in linguistics and we found his information interesting. It was nice catching up on the past five years, and seeing our old friends again. Today they are taking Primina to the eye doctor in Siena, so we will probably see them this evening. Not sure what is on the schedule for today - will probably take a walk through town for a while to see how it fared from the festival.
|We had lunch in a nice place in Scansano on one of the
back roads. It was "Il Grottone". It is in a cave in the side
of the hill where Scansano sits. We sat in the very back where they
had constructed a vaulted ceiling. It was very picturesque, and the
pasta and wine were quite good.
The trip to Grosseto was quite fun--especially finding Paolo in his shop in the old city. It was a very interesting place. Thanks to Paolo for providing us with new geocaches to find!|
Day 13 in Italy
Last night we went to Vezio's and visited with Moreno, Chiara, Jacopo (and later Ricardo) until almost 1am! What fun it was to visit with such dear friends again. Ricardo had us all laughing with his many stories! Construction outside our apartment continues and the area is all torn up. We can still get in and out, but it means having to hurdle the construction tape. Now we are trying to formulate a plan for the day - perhaps a trip to Grosseto or some other nearby place. It's hard to do when we get out of bed late (9am) and business are closed (usually from around 1pm until 4pm). First I think I will go to Vezio's and pick up the metal detector so we might use it later this week. [?Found 114ZG among wind turbines] Lunch in Scansano - little "cave" in restaurant - people at next table loud, but enjoying themselves. Spaghetti and red wine for lunch.
part of the city - a very interesting place we had never seen - - lots of shops, almost no cars, and tons of people! Eventually the GPS brought us to a small shop with a man at the counter. Teddie asked him if we was Paolo and he looked a little confused until I held up my GPS, and then he lit up with recognition. A very nice person. After that we let the GPS lead us out of Grosseto and back to Roccalbegna.
[GC1597E - had wrong coordinates - led us to the middle of a field. GCXMAQ - could not find - lots of garbage in the area]
Day 14 in Italy
What a busy day! We left the apartment at 9am and drove down through Scansano (3rd time in 3 days), Magliano, and on to Tarquinia where we found Peppone waiting for us in the parking lot - how good it was to see him again! Stefano was running late, so the three of us drove into town and went into a restaurant where we waited for Stefano. Soon he bounded in - he too looks great!! It was so special seeing both of them again! After lunch we wandered around town until Stefano said he had to return to Rome. Then the three of us wandered around for a while longer until it was time for Peppone to go. The time went by much too quickly. Then Teddie and I drove to Grosseto where we parked and then went into the walled
city again. I found an Internet Point and we paid for 1/2 hour but it was disappointing because the computer did not read my USB drive correctly (would not load U3) and the connection was poor. I checked some of my email (mostly spam) but finally gave up because of the poor performance. We then followed the GPS to Paolo's shop where we had another nice visit with him. He gave us a present - an Italian geocoin!! What a pleasant surprise! We wished we could have visited with Paolo longer, but he had a business to run. We went about 5 blocks north and found one of his micro caches (GCQYRV). Teddie accidentally signed in the middle of the log, instead of at the end! Then we followed the GPS back to the car and started on our way. Weaving around the narrow streets was interesting - cars parking half into the street, others cutting in front, merges without rules, etc. But soon we were out of Grosseto and on our way to Roccalbegna. Stopped for gelato on the way. Teddie is being very quiet - a combination of fatigue and fear (my driving). Everyone compliments her on her Italian but I'm not sure if it is because her Italian is good, or simply because she is trying. A little of both, probably.
Day 15 in Italy
GC - Finally found this one in Roccalbegna! Looked in cave, on outside trail, etc! Teddie spotted it as I was declaring it a no-find! Weather today - Bella! No water at apartment - ??? Now on our way to the COOP
the Rancho. When we got to the bench, we found that Mario had placed a table there for us to use. After a bit, Mario came down driving a tractor and we all sat at the bench. Before long, we heard The Star Spangled Banner on a trumpet in the distance - Luciano!! What a nice touch! Soon, he and Mr. Raffaello came by and we all enjoyed the food and drink that Andrea brought. Sitting there listening to the Italians converse brought back good memories of the past and reinforced my affection for these special friends of ours. I'm not known to be a particularly emotional or sentimental person, but the treatment we have received from these people make me proud to call them our friends. Now we are resting at the apartment and will go to Andrea's at 8pm to watch him stir the grapes for Saturday's wine!
jack-hammering that vibrated the entire apartment. They later knocked on the door and
explained that we needed to take a different route to and from the apartment - one they had cleared and smoothed a bit. New sewer pipes are installed but junction boxes are still without a cover - phew! At Rancho - Teddie and I decided that we will purchase a second bench on our next visit - several people in the grass or sitting on rocks!
|It was very inconvenient to lose my glasses. I
noticed they were gone when I wanted them to read my book before bedtime
last night. I was very happy to find another pair at Eugenia's
farmacia and they were on sale, too!
Today while I was sitting at the table reading with the new classes, I could hear a clunking noise in the washing machine behind me. Yes, it was the missing glasses going for a spin. I did manage to shut off the machine and retrieve them without spilling too much water. They were no worse for wear and quite clean! I am happy to have a spare pair.
Day 16 in Italy
The jackhammers have been going on for a while outside, but it doesn't matter as I have been up for some time. Teddie just came down to the kitchen and the coffee is ready. Weather is very nice, but we have no plan at the moment. I would like to spend some time at the crash site with the metal detector, so this will be the best time to do that. Now we
have a load of laundry in the Candy - last day to wash socks and jeans, due to 2-day drying time on air rack.
Day 17 in Italy
A beautiful morning, and our last full day here! No plans for the day - Cantina at Andrea's tonight. We will probably spend some time getting ready for our drive to Venice tomorrow. Also, we will clean the apartment but may wait until tomorrow morning to do that.
Sandro Zamperini - Met at Vezio's - Andrea's cousin - his father is brother of Andrea's father.
Asked Mario if he knew, but he too was unable to find it. He brought out a friend who has a Ford, but he failed too. Finally, he flagged down another friend who is a mechanic, but no luck! The three of them went over the car from end to end, but were unable to locate it! Then the mechanic telephoned someone and pointed at the Ford emblem in the grill. Turns out you have to pull it out slightly, rotate it counter-clockwise, and then insert the key and turn in both directions! After all of that, the oil level was OK!
Day 18 in Italy
Today we travel! We plan to pack and then clean up the apartment, and then we will say goodbye to Vezio/Primina, and then to Andrea and all the Zamperinis.
Day 19 in Italy
We checked out of our hotel, drove to Marco Polo (very close), returned the car (about $960US), and eventually caught the big blue bus to Venice! It was too early to check into our hotel, so we left our bags in the lobby and set off on foot to explore the area and to buy our train tickets to Torino. Using a map and the GPS we found our way across the Grand Canal and to the station. The line at the ticket counter was long, so we used a self-service machine. We were not sure which station to choose for Torino, so we called Stefania in mid-purchase to get the answer. Venice is an interesting place - some observations: many people, many shops, lots of narrow long boats, old buildings, bridges, some dogs, more shops, and lots more people. The very opposite of our beloved Roccalbegna, I'm afraid. We eventually found our way back to the hotel, checked in, and then carried our luggage to our room on the 3rd floor!
That called for a quick nap, and a little quiet time to write in my log. Soon we will venture out again for a while to see what we can see. We bought a 24 hour pass on the canal boat but will wait until tomorrow to use it. Also, I think I'm learning about my tolerance boundaries on long vacations. Perhaps more on that later. Many shops here sell "opera masks" - some very ornate and elaborate. Some homeless people begging for money, some blacks (Nigerians?) selling purses on the street. Tourists everywhere! The place is very photogenic, so everywhere you look there are people taking pictures. Teddie just came back to the room with a small bowl of ice -
something that is not often asked for here, apparently.
reading the tour book and I'm playing around with my camera and PDA (Solitaire, Mine Sweeper). Will probably turn in soon so I can get up and out early.
Day 20 in Italy
Weather is high overcast, but dry. should be a nice day to get out and about, without being too hot. Just returned from breakfast - light and continental. Teddie is still in bed, but awake, and will miss breakfast if she doesn't get up soon. Today's plan is to ride the Vaporetto around, visiting San Marcos and other places. It will also be a good test run for tomorrow morning when we need to take the boat to the train station which is very close, but on the other side of the Grand Canal.
Teddie is up and getting dressed. Look like she will make it to breakfast this morning! I think she walked a little too much yesterday.
scenic and interesting, but has involved a lot of walking and that has been tough on Teddie. It will be good to finally be all settled on the train to Torino tomorrow.
Day 21 in Italy
Happy birthday to me! We left the hotel at 6:30 this morning into a downpour! We have no raincoats and no umbrellas, so there was nothing to do but slog through the pouring
rain (complete with thunder and lightening)! Thankfully we caught the boat right away, but then had to navigate the steps into the train station (ramp led to a locked door) and the water flowing down them. By the time we got in the station we were SOAKED. Now we are on the train and underway, but we will be wet for hours. As I look out the window I see large pools of standing water everywhere, so I assume this is an unusually hard rain for the area. I am just glad the Venice diversion was not all my idea or Teddie would be difficult to deal with right now.
but no reply yet (turned out she never got it).
Day 22 in Italy
Finished breakfast. Stefania is doing some work now - her sister types while Stef dictates (she had wrist surgery a few days ago and is mending). We have laundry in the machine and are getting our bags organized. I have a slight sore throat and fear a cold is developing, but cannot be certain yet. Teddie seems to have survived yesterday's dousing with no problems, although I did hear her sneeze a few minutes ago. When we go from the apartment to the main house, the two Rottweilers try to jump on us and we just talk mean and push them away and they are fine. Quite a difference from our two poodle girls (which we dearly miss)! Stefania and Stefano's place is really looking good - a very nice gate at the entrance of the "compound", a grassy area off the parking lot, with a nice stone wall below, and nice furnishings throughout. When we were here three years ago there was a lot of work in progress but that is all done now and the place looks great.
Day 23 in Italy
Stefania was gone by the time we got up - she and her sister went to town to have the
stitches removed from Stef's wrist. Teddie and I had breakfast and chatted with Stefano for a while and then I used the Internet to check email and do some banking. After a while Stefania and her sister returned and we talked about ambulance procedures and staffing. Also, we briefly discussed the Italian health care system and its comparison to the US health care plans. Italy's seems to be much more liberal then the U.S. and I wondered where all the funding came from. But the conversation took too many tangents, and quickly got off track, so I decided to let it go for now. Stefano then drove us into town so he could buy some food and mail a letter, and then he drove us far up the hill to an area with a beautiful view. This is a lovely area with mountains and valleys and little communities scattered throughout. Now we are back at the house again and preparing lunch. My cold lingers on though, and I plan to take a big nap later this afternoon.
Stefania and Stefano have dinner customers tonight so they have set up two tables for them and one for Teddie and I. My cold is getting worse, but I plan to enjoy the meal this evening. It's interesting to see them in their "work mode" - very efficient!
Day 24 in Italy
The rest of the dinner last night was excellent! Several different platters and types of food - I will try to get Teddie to elaborate. Coffee was served at about 11pm and I then
immediately excused myself and went to bed - the cold is still very much with me. This morning we got up late and joined Stefania and Stefano for a light breakfast and then began packing our bags. Around mid-day they served a pasta lunch (very good!) and then we finished packing and loaded the bags into Stefano's car. Said out goodbyes to Stefania (made mine very quick - I always hate saying goodbye to friends). Stefano then drove us all the way to the bus station in Torino and stayed with us to make sure we got our tickets and got on the bus OK. He is such a nice guy - and a very hard worker. It took us two hours to get to the airport, after which we called the hotel on the cell phone and they sent the shuttle bus for us. We are now in our room (Hotel Sempione) and it is nice. In an hour or so we will go downstairs for dinner and then come back up and get ready for an early departure tomorrow.
Day 25 in Italy
We are now at the airport. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and then gathered our bags and met the shuttle driver in the lobby (originally we thought he was another passenger). A quick ride to Malpensa Terminal 1, a fairly quick check-in, an effortless pass through security (not necessary to remove our shoes), and now we are in the gate area waiting to board in an hour or so. My cold is still very much with me, and Teddie is starting to cough, so we're not sure what shape we'll be in when we arrive in New Jersey.
The remainder of the flight to Newark went fine. Rob picked us up at the airport and took us to Mom's where we stayed until 5:45am today. Rob again brought us to the airport (his 4th trip for us) and we checked in - Teddie to Amarillo, me to Seattle. Right now I am halfway to Seattle and only a bus, ferry, and taxi ride from home. Overall, the vacation went very well. Above all, it was great to see my family and our always-special Italian friends. It felt good to be back at the crash site, and we enjoyed being in our favorite foreign country. We both agreed that the trip was a bit on the long side and we started getting homesick for Washington and the poodle girls, so next trip will probably be shorter and simpler. More like - a couple of days in NJ to adjust, Rome, Roccalbegna for about 8 days, Rome, NJ, and home. And, we're thinking of May '09. We'll see how it goes. Right now all I can think of is getting home, seeing the girls, and unpacking.