This Week in the USA

Buongiorno!

Most of you have seen my blog yesterday about an Afternoon in Salento, a tiny hill town I discovered while standing on another hillside while exploring nearby on my first visit to Italy after purchasing Villa D’Amore.

I just want to take a few minutes to update you regarding why there was a “no blog” space of almost a month before yesterday and why there will be another week to possibly two week long space before the next blog in this series. I am relocating from the Philadelphia, PA – Wilmington, DE suburbs to New Port Richey, Florida (Tampa, FL metro area). Just like Villa D’Amore and Italy, I didn’t see this coming. . .

About two years ago, I did a major downsizing from a 3,800 sq. ft. home to my current condo. I thought I would live in my current condo forever and so I spent $30K making it what I wanted from a design perspective. As you will learn in blogs yet to come (my blog is for the most part a chronological story), this downsizing was heavily influenced by my experiences in Italy. Now, I am doing another form of preparation for spending much more time in Italy combined with family reasons.

I have 5 daughters and 15 grandchildren!! My three oldest daughters are my first sweet husband, Gail Oxley’s daughters. (Gail passed on to Heaven on June 1, 2008 after a long illness with ALS). At my insistence, they came to live with us within 6 months of our marriage. They were 4, 7 and 8 years old and I was just 21! It’s not that Gail didn’t want to have them live with us, but he certainly was not going to push them on me, especially considering our young marriage and my age. Our two youngest daughters then came along, for a total of 5 daughters in our household ages newborn to 16, at the time of the youngest’s birth. During 2015, I had a couple of surprises – the two daughters with the 8 youngest grandchildren (from oldest adopted and oldest biological) were both presented with wonderful opportunities to relocate, resulting in a better lifestyle and job opportunities for their families. I was so happy for them!

First, Jeanan and Kevin decided to leave their longtime area of Alexandria, VA (Metro Washington, DC) for New Port Richey, Florida. Kevin’s mom and dad lived near there and while visiting, they fell in love with the area and saw what their money could buy real-estate-wise and so, they built a house. Their jobs were independent of location, so better cost of living for them, not to mention better climate to raise their twin daughters (the Princess Twins) who just turned two and they would be closer to their son, Trevor as he attends Florida State University. (Please note: the Princess Twins DO NOT control my mind.)

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Next, Lauren and her husband lived in Newtown, CT (Fairfield County) and Mike, who is a restaurant management executive, was presented with an incredible opportunity to move to the Gulf Shores, Alabama area to run The Hangout, Gulf Shores and The Gulf, Orange Beach, AL. (Check these out on the internet). They moved to the wonderful town of Fairhope, Alabama. So, off went our 5 youngest grandsons.

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While I was truly happy for both of my daughters and their families, my mind began twisting into a pretzel as I tried to imagine how I would live near Philadelphia, visit Alabama and Florida often enough so my small grandchildren would know me AND still have time for Italy. After much mind-twisting thought, I decided to sell my PA condo and buy two smaller condos – one in Florida and one in Alabama.

Well, my friends, my Florida home is ready and it’s freezing up here in Philly, so this week, I’m “getting out of Dodge”. See you all on the other side!!!

Goodbye, Philadelphia!

Hello, New Port Richey!

A presto dalla Florida (see you soon from Florida),

Giò (Jo)

An Afternoon in Salento – Un Pomeriggi nel Salento

So, lunch . . . I wanted to check out our local deli at the bottom of “my hill”.  It was situated just as I got to the main street of the area called Velina, fratzione di (sister town of) Casalnuovo Cilento. As I turned right on this road, Via Arbosto or SS447, I spotted the deli immediately on my left. I pulled into the parking lot and entered the deli and met our new friend Danielle for the first time. Although he spoke no English and I spoke very little Italian, through an exchange of simple one to two word phrases, pointing and charades, I managed to get a vegetarian sandwich made of melanzani (eggplant), funghi (mushrooms) and mozzarella on magnifico pane (magnificent bread). I was the excited recipients of one of these fantistico sandwiches and bottled water for only 2.25 euros!! And Danielle was so friendly and had the nicest smile.

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There were no tables to sit at in the deli, but no problem, I happily munched on my delicious sandwich on superior bread in the car before beginning my new adventure to discover Salento, the small hilltop town I had spotted from “my castle”.

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As soon as I gobbled down my sandwich, I set off on my journey. I had purchased the Western European TomTom, so I plotted my course to Salento and I was on my way. Although Salento was only about 8 kilometers away, I could see there were some tricky hairpin turns involved. The beginning of the journey was on familiar turf as I exited Velina, passing the train station and driving through Stella as I would normally travel to get on the SS18, an autostrada that took me to points north, such as Agropoli or even Rome or south to Palinuro, Sapri or Maratea. But, that’s where the familiar turf ended. “New turf”, I noted with a huge grin, as I always do in my travels.

As I crossed under the SS18, i drove by a relatively flat open field and dry riverbed and that’s where the “flat” ended. The tiny road, only about wide enough for an Italian-sized car-and-a-half, immediately began heading straight up, while twisting and turning. “Boy, am I lucky I’ve become more familiar with driving a stick” I thought, as I reflected on my dusty stick shift driving skills from many years ago, when I crashed a car into the laundry sink in my garage, when it lurched forward due to my failure to step on the clutch when starting the car . . .

I was immediately brought into the present as I rounded yet another ridiculously hairpin-ish, hairpin curve that also sent me 20 feet closer to Heaven at the same time when immediately in front of me, there were cows!! Horns of very angry looking cows. Horns of very hostile looking cows that appeared to want to skewer me and my car right through the front window so they could waste no time spearing me! How dare a car disrupt their walk down their road from their meadow to the barn! And I’m sure this rarely ever happened to them, considering the tiny size of this town and of this road. Now, this was probably the best photo op I had ever been upfront and personally presented with, and how did I respond? Why, I was so shook up, I took a fabulous picture of the dashboard. So, for illustration purposes, the follow-on shots will have to suffice.

Even more exciting (read scary) than surprise cow horns in our faces, was the fact that I had to BACK down the sharpest, hairiest, hairpin curve I had ever (and have yet) to see.

Once the cows were all in their meadow, I continued winding up to the town, where I found interesting, old architecture and nice but curious people who could not seem to understand why in the world anyone foreign (stranieri) would visit their teeny, tiny hamlet.

I even found a friend – a dog who followed me everywhere. I affectionately nicknamed this dog “Joe” in honor of the sweet dog friend our dear friends, Jean and John befriended in Elutheria, Bahamas. “Joe” escorted me all throughout the town and was a true guide.

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Once I reached the edge of town, I could see back over to the castle where I had first “discovered” and Apple-mapped this town. After enjoying the indescribable views and Joe’s company, I departed with a smile on my face and yet another adventure to remember.

Buon Giorno!

Giò