I awoke gently to the special sound of one of our local bird species “who who who who-who . . . who who who who-who” and the church bells down in the valley. The realization that today was the day I depart Villa D’Amore to return to the states poured over me like a bucket of ice water, propelling me to jump out of bed and savor my last views of Monte Stella, my beloved valley and sea.
This would be the first time I would be traveling the SP430 detour return trip on a Saturday the first weekend in September and I was concerned about the traffic we may encounter as the remaining Italians returned home from an extended vacation.
I got showered and dressed and enjoyed my last fresh white figs and biscotti as I savored my final moments in my beloved Villa D’Amore.
Next, came the part most difficult for me . . . the covering of Villa D’Amore. I drape all furniture to protect it from the dust while I am gone. This action meant the next step was walking out the door fino alla prossima volta!!!!! And fino alla prossima volta could never be abbastanza presto (soon enough) in my book.
In spite of my ruminations that I may stay, soon enough I were in the car and in the thick of the beach traffic as I passed all the bufala mozzarella azienda casearias (dairy companies) along the way. The Mozzarella di Bufala Campania has been granted the status of Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). The provinces of both Salerno and Caserta in Campania are the traditional areas that produce bufala mozzarella. As I passed store after store, I want to buy it all and take it home!
For a quick lunch, I settle on an Auto Grill near the Ikea in Baronissi, a bit north of Salerno. I had been to many Auto Grills before and love them, but nothing could have prepared me for what I encountered this time – a Wild West themed fast food burger joint. I am not the type to go to Italy to eat American food, so this was not good news, but I found it amusing and enjoyed the Italians enjoying it. I chose a wonderful caprese panino from the regular counter. Although, of course not as good as a regular restaurant, you can never go wrong at an Auto Grill. I am always amazed that you can buy full bottles of wine there (for your drive?).
As I continue my drive towards Fiumicino, I pass Vesuvius and my very favorite cypress umbrella trees. . . I take picture # 1,004 of these trees, saving more memories for my departure.
Soon enough, I am nicely settled into my airport hotel, where all I can do is wait to be processed out of Italy. Why? My mind keeps asking me. I don’t have a good answer.
Before I know it I am preparing to land in Philadelphia with another chapter of Italian memories recorded forever in my heart.
Gio (Jo Oxley)