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 we depart Villa Velina 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, our beloved valley and sea.
This would be the first time we would be traveling the SP430 detour return trip on a Saturday the first weekend in September and Giorgio was concerned about the traffic we may encounter as the remaining Italians returned home from an extended vacation.
We got showered and dressed and enjoyed our last fresh white figs and biscotti as we savored our final moments in our beloved Villa Velina.
Next, came the part most difficult for me . . . the covering of Villa Velina. We drape all furniture to protect it from the dust while we are 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 suggestions that I may stay (envision Giorgio prying my hands from the terrace railing), soon enough we were in the car and in the thick of the beach traffic as we 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 we passed store after store, I want to buy it all and take it home!
For a quick lunch, we settled on an Auto Grill near the Ikea in Baronissi, a bit north of Salerno. We had been to many Auto Grills before and love them, but nothing could have prepared us for what we encountered this time – a Wild West themed fast food burger joint. Giorgio and I do not eat meat, and we are not the type who go to Italy to eat American food, so this was not good news to us, but we found it amusing and enjoyed the Italians enjoying it. We chose wonderful caprese sandwiches 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 we continue our drive towards Fiumicino, we 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, we are nicely settled into our airport hotel, where all we can do is wait to be processed out of Italy. Why? My mind keeps asking me. I don’t have a good answer.
Before we know it we are preparing to land in Philadelphia and we have another chapter of Italian memories recorded forever in our hearts.
Gio (Jo Oxley)