Now in Andrea's apartment in Roccalbegna! So far we have seen Andrea,
Rosy, Francesca, Monica, Benedetta, Chiara, Anna, Moreno, and Primina.
They all look great and, except for a bit more gray hair, just as we left
them 5 years ago!
The flights yesterday were a little tense. We only had carry-on luggage,
but they took our bags at Newark and tagged them all the way to Rome.
Shortly after takeoff I realized my passport was in the bag! Spoke with
an AA Supervisor at Charlotte and she eventually located my bag and
retrieved my passport for me. Teddie was getting quite stressed and we
were starting to make contingency plans with Alberto. But all ended well
and we made it to Rome OK, although quite tired. We finally got our car
(little Fiat 500) and made the 2 1/2 hr drive to Roccalbegna.
Andrea has set us up on the 2nd and 3rd floor of his apartment and it is
beautiful!! He has remodeled extensively and did an excellent job. We
feel very fortunate that he lets us use his place during our visit.
Andrea even stocked the kitchen with food
After taking a brief nap upon arrival here, I drove out to the crash site
and enjoyed sitting on the bench (Andrea's replacement - ours was stolen
long ago) and visiting the monument again. Sometime in the next few days
I need to discuss a possible refurbishment of the aging monument. Cell
phone shows site as N42 44.2407 E11 28.4661
Got a pretty good night's sleep so I feel more "human" this morning.
Teddie is up and feeling good, the weather looks clear and warm, and we
have no definite plans. We'll probably do a little shopping and then
drive over to the property and/or the crash site.
The apartment is very nice and serving us well, but I told Teddie she
probably needs to sleep on the 2nd floor, as getting to the bathroom from
the 3rd can be tricky at night. No handrail, narrow short steps. Better
suited for someone a little younger and more dexterous.
We need to find a
wifi spot today so we can send email to let everyone know we made it OK.
We were unable to find a TIM store yesterday to purchase an Italian SIM
card, so we have no phone.
The apartment is beautiful
We did a little shopping this morning and said hello to Pierpaolo who now
runs the shop. Teddie dropped by to see Eugenia (I saw her yesterday
evening) and then we drove to the property where we took pictures and
relaxed for a while. Andrea had cleared it all off and it looked great!
After returning to the apartment I walked to the bar and bought a gelato.
While out front, Massimo came by - it was great seeing him again and we
chatted for a while and then I brought him to the apartment to see
Teddie. While there, Monica and her daughter stopped by, along with Rosy
and Andrea. We are going to Monica's in a few minutes to discuss the
condition of the monument and what steps can be taken to rejuvenate it.
Also, we heard from Zoe. She wanted to get together on Friday evening,
but we have been invited to Vito's Cantina then, so I'm trying to find
another time we can see her.
Just returned from Monica's where we chatted with her, her husband (Aldo),
and Andrea. Such nice people and I especially envy her bilingual skills.
I had two concerns.
First, the property where the monument resides and, secondly, the eventual
disposition of our little piece of property. We decided to leave the
monument there. The land will probably never be developed or cleared for
farming. Secondly, just leave things as is with our property. Donating
it would just cause problems. (Note: need to ensure I've given Moreno
enough Euros to pay taxes well into the future).
The monument endures, although it's showing its
Teddie and I drove to the crash site and took some pictures. The writing
on the plaque is almost unreadable, so a replacement is needed. I will
look into bronze when I get back to WA.
Rosy's wifi seems to
be down so I'm unable to see if Zoe replied to my earlier email.
Tomorrow we may go
to Montalcino. Seems like we go there every visit. It's a nice drive and
an interesting place.
A restless night - still adapting to the travel and time zones!
Wifi not working
this morning. I wish we had cell phones, as no one can get a hold of us
reliably. Perhaps we can get a SIM card in Montalcino.
Arrived back from Montalcino a little while ago. It was a nice day
and there were lots of tourists there. We wandered the streets, took
photos, and had a beer. Lunch at the outdoor cafe - salad for Teddie
and meat tray for me. The drive out and back was nice although I'll
never get used to someone mere feet behind me waiting for an opportunity
to pass! Also, it seems there has been a lot of ground movement, as
the roads are frequently
Teddie went up for a nap and I walked down to the bar for a gelato where I
ran into Mario. He looks good but still does not speak English. Using
Google Translate I asked if he ever married and he shook is head "no".
I'm now back in the
apartment and Teddie is up. Dinner in a while, although what and where
are uncertain at this time. Weather still beautiful, although a bit warm.
Went for a walk around town while Teddie rested. Saw Mario, Anna, and
Monica. Explored side streets and took a few pictures. Most people I
passed gave me a friendly smile and seemed a bit curious. A few looked
the other way and ignored me. I guess it would be the same if a stranger
walked through my neighborhood.
Chiara came by the apartment! When we saw them the other day they first
asked if we could have dinner with them tonight and we said yes. But they
then mentioned maybe lunch would be better or perhaps next week when
Jacopo was in town. It was an unfortunate miscommunication that left us
thinking things were still up in the air, but Chiara felt dinner was still
a go. We will have to be more careful about this in the future. We all
finally decided to get together for lunch tomorrow and confirmed it three
Vito entertains with his accordian
Friday the 13th!! The weather is perfect this morning - clear,
blue skies and very little wind. We slept a little better last night
despite feeling bad about the misunderstanding with Chiara. I'm hoping to
find a white flag to wave when we go over for lunch today!
We are just
finishing breakfast - a bowl of corn flakes for me, a glass of milk for
Teddie, and a small cup of super strong coffee for both.
I saw Mario driving
down the alley in a red Ape this morning but didn't recognize him at
Teddie will do some
food shopping this morning and later (1300) we will be sure to show up at
Moreno's. We may wander around town in-between, as Teddie wants to take
more door pictures.
Just completed a pleasant walk around the village. Saw Rosy, Andrea, and
Francesca as we were leaving. Rosy and Francesca were on their way to the
eye Doctor's in Siena and then off to shopping afterwards.
Took several photos
- Teddie is documenting the various types of doors. She is now
resting, as she does not
Roccalbegna is very scenic
The stress of flying
and traveling is taking its toll.
(old note) two days
ago a white cat came up to me and I petted it. I then went to rub its ear
and it bit me on the hand. A little blood, but nothing serious. Bad
ghatto (but my fault)!!
1150 I was outside
checking my email and I met Giampaulo, Rosy's brother. Very pleasant man
speaks some English. Teddie came out and we had a nice visit with him.
Afterwards we roamed around and chatted with Monica about the upcoming
school visit on the 17th. It looks like Zoe will be able to
join us and we are excited about that. Twenty-three years ago it was
Beatrice doing the translating and Zoe was a student.
We will be heading
to Moreno's in an hour and hope they are not angry at us. It was a
misunderstanding of the worst kind, and one I hope to never repeat.
Andrea and Monica. Two very special friends.
We had a very nice lunch with Moreno and Chiara and Jacopo at the little
house behind Primina's. We talked of many things and enjoyed the lasagna
that Chiara made. We even chatted briefly with Isotta via
video chat on Chiara's cell phone! Afterwards Teddie came back to the
apartment to rest and I walked up to the fort and returned via the trail
to the school. Then I joined Teddie for a nap! Now we are awaiting
Vito's Cantina at 1930. Tomorrow is the 14 September Festival and that is
always enjoyable. Even without the fireworks it will be fun.
After exchanging a
few emails, it is arranged - Zoe will join us at the school on Tuesday and
then we will have lunch with her at La Grotta.
Cantina this evening was fantastic! Many of our old friends were
there, as were a few new ones. Vito played the accordion and at one
point Monica sang (she is very good). They sang a song about us that
was written by
Vito and Teddie enjoying themselves at cantina
Andrea, and then
they sang many folk songs. We could not understand all the words,
but the spirit of the songs came through loud and clear. The food
was delicious and plentiful and Monica's gelato was perfect. All in
all, it was a typically wonderful, and humbling, evening with dear
friends. They even had a poet/songwriter there who was the life of
the party, and very entertaining. Monica has promised me a name list
of everyone there.
Another beautiful day in Roccalbegna!
We are very tired
from last night's gathering but will be fine. Teddie and I both feel
extremely fortunate to have such wonderful friends. Everyone we meet is
so generous and friendly, and I wish there was some way to repay their
Tonight is the
festival but we have nothing planned for the day. Perhaps we will
wander down to the property (which was neatly cleared prior to our arrival
- no small job!) or out to the crash site. First we need to do
The food was great, and our friends are
Teddie finished the laundry while I drove back out to the crash site to
visit for a while. On the way back I stopped at a self-service gas
station and promptly lost 10 Euro while trying to figure the pump out.
Eventually a stranger came by and helped and I managed to put 15 Euro
worth in the little Fiat. Arriving back in the village, all the parking
spots in the south lot were taken and I wound up parking on the street
north of town. Met Stefano on the way back to the apartment - he looks
great. He introduced his girlfriend, Mara, who seemed very nice but spoke
no English. I called Teddie out to see Stefano and we had a nice visit in
front of the church. Then we visited with Luciano on the steps for a bit
before coming back to the apartment for lunch. Bread is now rock-hard and
requires a band saw to cut.
It was a very enjoyable evening!
have come through town - almost all are Harleys! There must be some sort
of a club ride going on.
Saw a man and wife
in the north Piazza who are familiar to me, but whose name I can never
remember. Nice folks, though.
We drove to the base of the fort and then walked up the steps. It's a
nice, clear, blue sky day, so it was perfect for picture taking. After we
came down and parked the car we walked over to the Jolly Cafe and bought
gelato. It was peaceful, sitting on the outdoor bench in the Piazza. Now
we are back at the apartment and probably won't leave until 1730 when the
procession begins. That will mark the beginning of the festival.
We watched the procession - Luciano, Vito, Andrea, Sergio, and others in
the band. Everyone eventually gathered in the Piazza and they lit the
balloons. The wind picked up a bit so the first failed but the second was
good. Saw Francesco (Massimo's son) and he is all grown up. Also met
Elena Pacchieri and her mother. When her mother was born they tied
the umbilical cord with line from a parachute from the crash site!
We also ran into many of our friends, including Violetta, who we had not
yet seen. She invited us to lunch tomorrow with her and Massimo at
1300. We have gone back to the apartment to rest a
Luciano and Teddie on the steps of the church
bit and then
will return to the festival for a while.
We went back to the festival but things were very quiet (band on a break?)
so we hung around for just a bit and then returned to the apartment. Ran
into Othello on the way back and he said a few things in Italian that we
could not understand. Nice guy, though. Now we are settling in for the
night. Teddie felt better today, so hopefully she will feel even better
Another perfect weather day! I walked through town at around 8am today
and it was like a ghost town! The only people I saw were a couple of guys
checking over their ambulance down by the basketball court.
The only thing on
today's schedule is lunch with Massimo and Violetta. I would like to
spend some more time at the property, so perhaps we will do that too.
Teddie and Violetta
We drove to Santa Caterina and down through Vallerona this morning so
Teddie could take some landscape photos. Then we came back through
Roccalbegna and went to Triana, stopping at a few places on the way. In
hour we go to Massimo's.
Lunch at Massimo's was most enjoyable and we managed to communicate fairly
well with Google Translate. The food was delicious and the company was
fantastic. Spending time with Violetta and Massimo brought back many
good memories. They are among our special friends that make
coming to Roccalbegna so enjoyable.
Now Teddie is
napping and I am undecided. Perhaps a walk through the village or a drive
down to the Rancho.
I wandered over to the Piazza where the children from 4 regions were
playing competitive games. Chatted with
(L-R) Aldo, Andrea, Luciano, Rosy, Monica
Monica, Rosy, Andrea, and Eugenia. Monica and I exchanged email
addresses and she gave me Rosy's new address. Teddie is still taking
a nap but I expect she will be getting up soon. She is having a
great time, but all the activity is making her tired.
It looks like we will have a quiet evening in the apartment tonight.
Teddie has turned on the TV and we will see if we can find a news channel
that we understand.
While Teddie was watching TV I wandered over to the Piazza and found a lot
of people there drinking wine and eating sandwiches. There was a solo
singer/musician performing and several of our friends were there. I
returned to the apartment and retrieved Teddie and we spent some time in
the Piazza with many of the people we know. Very pleasant! As we were
leaving, they invited us to dinner tomorrow at 1930 at Andrea's. Now we
are settled in for the night.
Evenings are usually very quiet in the village
As expected, another nice day. There is a high overcast, but the morning
is still bright and clear. Teddie just got up, so we will decide what to
do and where to go. Probably down to the property and again out to the
Had to go out and purchase bread and milk, only to find out that Pierpaolo
has gone on vacation for a week. Went down the street to the second
alimentari and purchased the food from
the woman there. She was quite abrupt and businesslike, but very
efficient. I've noted during all my visits that the Italians can appear
cold and withdrawn until you get to know them. Then they transform into
the warmest, friendliest people I have ever known.
(Note: Last night at
the Piazza I thought I recognized a Mr. Bianchi, a man who, along with his
son, met me at Santa Caterina in '96 with a fragment from the airplane.
At first he did not remember me, but when Monica told him about meeting me
with an airplane part, it all came back to him. It was nice visiting with
him after all these years.)
A classic view of Roccalbegna
After Teddie got up we went around and took pictures of the village,
including the little chapel up on the hill. On the way back we stopped
again at the alimentari and bought some wine to bring to dinner tonight.
Also, I earlier bought two very small coffee pots to bring home.
We packed a lunch in
my backpack and went to the Rancho where we relaxed on the bench under the
olive tree and pondered our good fortune to have such wonderful friends in
such a lovely country.
Ran into Stefano and
Mara earlier. They are leaving tomorrow to return north, a 7 hour drive!
I don't know when we will see them again.
Dinner was most enjoyable. In attendance were Andrea, Rosy, Monica, Aldo,
and later, Luciano. It was good food and good conversation. Monica
speaks and understands English very well and has a lively personality. We
had a very good time.
Looking down at the restored Chapel from the
fort atop the rock
As we were preparing
to leave, Andrea brought us to the basement where he showed us a cabinet
like structure made of aluminum that he obtained from a man in Scansano
who said it was from the crash. Andrea said he would hold it for me as
long as I wanted , as I'm not sure how I could ever get it to Washington.
Now I'm wondering if it could be made into something useful for the
school, both for function and as a monument.
(Note: Earlier this
evening and before dinner, I drove to the crash site and sat for a while.
It will always be a special place for me and I'm going to miss visiting it
when we leave here in 3 days.
Tomorrow we go to
the school and see Zoe again! Two special events in one!!
Yet one more perfect weather day! We are looking forward to meeting at
the school and also to seeing Zoe, our Swiss/Italian "daughter".
Meanwhile, we are relaxing in the studio and doing a small load of
laundry. Also, thanks to Rosy, we are able to check our email via wifi
and keep in touch with the people back home.
Our time in
Roccalbegna is winding down, with only one more full day here. Tomorrow we
will have lunch with Chiara and Moreno and then we will prepare to depart
no later than 0700 the next morning. I wish we had time to properly clean
the apartment, but we will do the best we can before we leave.
Luciano and Andrea with us at the school.
The event at the school was very humbling. All of the students gathered
out front, as did the teachers, Carabinieri, Andrea, Monica, Luciano,
Aldo, Violetta, and Laura (the Mayor's assistant). The Priest read a
prayer, and then Andrea and Monica read from a script - Andrea in Italian
and Monica in English. Zoe was there too and she spoke briefly to the
children. Luciano played his trumpet - the Italian National Anthem and
then the American Anthem. Laura spoke for a bit and unveiled a plaque
mounted on the wall of the school which basically duplicated the language
of the monument. Then the children sang a song they had written. It was
a fantastic experience and certainly more than I deserved.
After the ceremony
Teddie, Zoe, and I went to the bar for a drink while waiting for our 1pm
lunch reservation. At 1pm we walked down to La Grotta and had a wonderful
lunch. It was so nice to see Zoe again and get caught up on all her
activities. Following lunch we went to the Rancho where Zoe and I walked
down to the river bottom while Teddie waited on the bench. We sat for a
long time enjoying the peace and Zoe's company. Then we returned to the
village and dropped Zoe off in the small Piazza and said our goodbyes. We
don't know when we will be together again, but we all promised to keep in
Now we are resting
and have no plans for the rest of the day.
I went out and bought more cereal, and that may be our last trip of the
day. Teddie is now very tired and is coughing a bit, so we will likely
relax in the apartment. While I was out I ran across Giampaolo and
we attempted to chat for a bit. Then we saw Chiara and she told me
me Primina is in the hospital. I assume it is for testing, but
Teddie and Zoe pose in front of the plaque the
school dedicated to us. It was a humbling experience.
we will find
out more at lunch tomorrow.
Our visit is winding
down fast and, although we are anxious to be home again, we are going to
miss the people of Roccalbegna immensely.
Heading to bed. Teddie did not feel well this evening so we stayed
indoors. Tomorrow is lunch at Moreno's and packing!!
Our last day here! The sky is overcast this morning but the ground is
dry. Teddie just got up and looks better, although she said she has a
cold and is very tired. We only have one event planned for today - lunch
at Moreno's. Otherwise, we will need to get packed and clean the
apartment as we will be leaving early tomorrow. Another enjoyable and
heartwarming experience is coming to an end.
The kids at the school were great!
We walked outside to do a little last minute shopping only to discover we
were too early. We will try again in a few minutes when the shops open.
Our bags are 90%
packed, so we will not have to do much in the morning. In some ways I
think it would have been good to plan our last night at the Corsi Motel so
we did not have to head out so early, but we will manage.
Feeling very lazy - just got up from a morning nap. Earlier Teddie and I
wandered around the village, taking yet more photos. Saw the woman from
La Grotta heading home and briefly chatted with the retired fireman we met
on our previous visit.
The overcast sky has
given way to blue skies with scattered clouds. Every visit I have made
here has provided me with excellent weather, with the exception of my
original 1996 trip which was met with drizzle and chilly temperatures. I
hope the roads to Rome will continue to be dry for our trip tomorrow.
Just back from dinner at Moreno's with Moreno, Chiara, and Jacopo. It was
an enjoyable afternoon catching up on old news, asking questions about
Italy, and enjoying Chiara's fine meal. We also spoke of the tax on
I enjoyed taking pictures at night. The
village is usuall very quiet and peaceful.
property (Moreno has
been paying it from funds I left him). He said he has not received a
tax bill in a few years, so he feels they have decided it costs more to
bill than they would receive. It was hard to leave them at the end
of our visit. As we all know, it may be several years before we see
them again. Such it is with all our friends in Roccalbegna.
Got restless, so I went to Santa Caterina and put 5 Euro gasoline (less
than one gallon!!) in the little Fiat. We
Looking east towards Santa Caterina
plenty of fuel to take us to Fiumicino Airport in the morning. Also
at the ready are the GPS and plenty of coins for the tolls.
I finally managed to download the boarding passes for tomorrow's flight.
This was thanks to Rosy's wifi connection - a valuable resource for us!
We are pretty much
packed and ready now, and should be able to get on the road quickly
tomorrow. The plan is to rise at 0600 and head straight to the car return
area at FCO. It's been a great visit but now it's time to head home.
9/19/19 1750 EDT
The day started early, as Teddie woke me at 0545 to begin our trip home.
We drank a glass of milk, zipped up our bags, and loaded the Fiat.
The drive to the airport was uneventful although we missed Building B on
the first go-around and had to circle the airport once again. Once
It was great to see Stefania again
the car was returned
we found our way to the check in area and waited for Stefania. She
showed up right on time and gave both of us a big hug. It was quite
special seeing her again, as it must be at least 9 years since we were
last together. We chatted about old times, people in the village,
and she even translated a news article for us. All too soon it was
time to head for our gate so we said our goodbyes and received another
(Note: FCO airport
is amazing - clean, modern, and much like a high class shopping mall.
Going through customs and security was fairly easy and quick. A 2 hour
flight brought us to Heathrow - quite a contrast from FCO. We had to walk
down outside steps to deplane, and then ride a crowded bus to the
terminal. Then there we had to wait to find out the departure gate,
followed by a lengthy walk and tram ride to get to it. But we eventually
boarded our 777 and as I write this we are 1 hour from Newark. Soon we
will be dealing with deplaning, customs, car rental, and a drive to
Bloomfield. It will be nice to get some real rest tonight.