Saturday morning is the most lively time of the week in Pineto in the winter. The streets in the center are overtaken with market stalls. Vendors sell socks, underwear, household goods and a variety of clothes. Many people are out for a passeggiata. There are lots of bambini in strollers.
I bought a small piece of ribbon from a stall with sewing thread, scissors and buttons. I barely bought a foot or 30 centimeters. When I asked “quant’è?”, “how much”, the vendor waved me goodbye with that friendly flick of the fingers that they use here. He didn’t want any money.
The food market at the edge of downtown is also in full swing on Saturday. There are many fruit and vegetable stands, as well as cheese, porchetta, salame, dried beans and honey. I bought brown rice or rici integrale at a stand and the man started to speak to me in English. I told him I was trying to speak Italian. Later, I realized that I had just used a phrase from the lesson I took with an online teacher via Skype the previous night. I also realized that I used it wrong. Provo a parlare is correct for I try to speak. I said provo di parlare. When to use “a”, when to use “di” and when to use absolutely no pronoun between the two verbs is confusing and a matter of memorization. My teacher grouped the verbs together in a logical organization, but it will take practice.
I watched the crowds and bought a few apples at the stand where people were filling bags with apples. One of the men at the stand started to loudly hawk their offerings. I didn’t understand a word of it, but it was like music. I continued to be amazed at the fresh tomatoes and artichokes in January. My bag was gettting heavy when I bought a head of Romaine lettuce at another stand and handed the vendor one euro. He motioned for me to wait. He came around and put my lettuce in a bag where he had already placed a large cabbage. Now my bag was heavy and my heart was light.
On Wednesday I traveled from Pineto to Vasto changing trains in Pescara. The second train continued to follow the coast but went through many tunnels. Sometimes arched openings in the tunnels revealed quick bursts of seascapes. The view of Ortona showed a busy working port.
Luigi picked me up at the Vasto San Salvo train station and took me to Villa Monteferrante, the hotel he runs with his wife. My room there was my favorite room of all the places I stayed in Italy. On the same floor as my spacious bedroom, there was another empty bedroom, a small kitchen, and a bath shared with the empty bedroom. Up some more stairs was a terrace with an awesome view of the sea. I had the terrace all to myself.
At Luigi’s recommendation, I walked to the Marina di Vasto and ate lunch at Lido Luccioletta down the hill from the villa. After a lunch of lasagna and sauteed zucchini, I explored the wide and curving sandy beach. There were many empty beach chairs and closed beach umbrellas. I tried to imagine the shore in the busy July and August season as I enjoyed the quiet of sharing the beach with only a few others. As I walked to the end of the pier, I watched a class of youth learn to sail on small boats. Then I continued walking hoping to reach the southern point of the curve. I didn’t make it that far before turning back. In the end, I accumulated over 7 miles of walking. Not bad for a sprained ankle.
At a small shop, I bought some mozzarella di bufala and some other groceries at a small grocery store. I cooked dinner and ate on the terrace until the sun started to set.
I moved to a B&B, Sogni D’Oro Guesthouse, closer to the town center with a view of the hills from my balcony. When I booked through Booking.com, I did not need to use my Italian to make the reservation. To add a day to the reservation or to check in I had to call the owner … Continue reading →
I left Rome in a downpour. While walking to the Metro, someone behind me talked. I thought that I had dropped something. He was trying to sell me an umbrella. My new rain jacket with hood was working just fine. Right then I wished that I knew an Italian swear word.
I took the Metro from Termini to Tiburtina and then found the bus depot. Later in the day, I saw a photo of Metro stairs with water pouring down. Both the Red and the Blue lines were closed for part of the day.
Luckily I found the bus depot easily and bought my ticket with some time to spare. The map shows the bus route from Rome to Pineto. There were many tunnels and much rain. At one point we went through a tunnel and there was no rain. The driver continued on through another tunnel and the rain returned. The bus made several stops when we got close to the Eastern seaboard. I asked the driver to let me off at the Hotel Lunik in Pineto. Then I walked to my hotel on the northern side of the town.
Calascio is the red dot above the line and near Santo Stefano di Sessanio.
My first view of the Adriatic as I walked to my hotel.
This was the door to the balcony.
The room was advertised as having a sea view. If I stood on the balcony, I could see the sea.
The room was newly painted and the owner was working on updating the hotel.
During the night, I could hear a storm coming in from the Adriatic. Suddenly, along with the noise of the tempestuous wind, there were loud scraping noises downstairs. I realized that when I came in there were two entry doors. One door was sitting in its frame, but the wall was not finished around the frame leaving gaps open to the outside. I think the owner was trying to fix this before the storm hit. So I had another night with little sleep.
When I sprained my ankle, surprisingly, I stayed relatively calm. I was tired and dazed. I determined to take one step at a time. Finding out that my ankle was not broken was a huge relief. When the doctor said I could hike after a week of elevation and ice I hoped he was right. However, my plans to take a bus to Calascio on Saturday morning had to change when I returned to my room at midnight Friday with almost no sleep for over 24 hours. On Saturday, I called Marissa and Fred to say I could not come to Calascio that day. Marissa informed me that there were no buses on Sunday to Calascio. Then to top it off, they were leaving on Monday to stay at a hotel near the airport before flying back to the states. As we talked, it was evident that Calascio with its steep streets and stairs was not a good place for a sprained ankle. This was the first time I felt like crying. I thought I would stay with them for two days in Calascio and walk in the plains behind the Santa Maria della Pietà. Maybe I would find out more about my grandparents. It was time to change plans. Mi manca Calascio – I miss Calascio or more literally, Calascio is missing to me.
Santa Maria della Pietà and Rocca Calascio from my 2011 trip.
Most people today will not need this advice. It is easy to buy a Sim card for your cell phone that will work in Italy. Just call your company and discuss your travel plans with them. It is not that I am a luddite, but I have not bought into a cell phone plan. I use a cell phone only for travel and the Virginmobile phone that I bought years ago with the pay as you go plan works fine for me at under $10 per month. Of course it is expensive per minute, but I use it very seldom. And don’t leave me a message on that cell phone, because I never retrieve the messages. That costs me money.
Before leaving, I told my neighbor that I wanted to rent a cell phone in Italy. He said – hey, remember the 70’s and those people called hippies? They traveled without cell phones. They survived. Yes, I survived and the lack of a phone made for some adventures. In all of the seventeen days I was in Italy, there were two or three times when a cell phone would have saved me time and hassle. There are few pay phones left in Italy. I still have the phone cards that I bought to use at a pay phone. I never used them.
There are two major cell phone companies in Italy, Vodaphone and Tim. Marissa told me that Vodaphone works in Calascio. She bought a vodaphone track phone at the post office, I think in Rome. You can find Tim and Vodaphone stores in major cities. The National Geographic site has phone rentals for cellular phones abroad.
I used Rick Steves’ Packing list for women almost to a T. I packed light and used only my carry on luggage on wheels plus a briefcase. This worked well as I took buses and trains and hiked up the hill to Rocca Calascio with my luggage. (Well I hiked part way up and then stuck out my thumb.) I packed a light weight nylon duffel bag and filled that with gifts on my last day in Rome. Then I checked one bag on the way home. Note to myself: Next time, check the duffel bag. Fill it with clothes. It is not fun to lug the duffel bag around the airports. Keep the wheeled carry on bag with plenty of room to add gifts as you use up your Euros at the duty free shops in the airport. Or keep it light and enjoy walking around the airport. There is also a lot of walking at Termini Station to get to the train for Fiumicino Airport. Plan accordingly. Then, rent one of those airport trolleys for luggage when you get into line for U.S. customs. I was in a slow moving line for over an hour.
Bring an extra luggage strap or two to wrap around the duffel bag before you check it. This can keep it tight and strengthen it for the luggage handlers. I also used the luggage straps when my luggage started to bulge a bit or to tie things together when I walked with all of my luggage.
Shoes were the biggest weight. Make sure your shoes work well. Since I was hiking, it would have been nice to bring hiking boots. Instead, I brought old gym sneakers and ditched them after the hiking. They were comfortable and I did not miss them later. I brought two good pairs of sandals and that worked well for summer. Keen and Ecco sandals were my choices. One pair more rugged and one more citified.
I read that you can bring an old pair of jeans and leave them behind. It’s a thought. I found the jeans even too warm for hiking in June. Lightweight pants and capri pants were a good investment before the trip. I bought one pair of pants that you can roll up into capri length and two other very light weight cotton capris. They were all easy to wash and dried quickly. I brought a skirt and some tops that I never wore. I never used the scarf, but I did not get to the Vatican where it would have been handy as a head covering.
Life in Abruzzo shared Porta dei Parchi’s recipe for Shepherd Steak. We ate this wonderful cheese dish at the end of the transhumanza. It is a good way to use day old or dry bread. We were at the shepherd’s hut in the alta plano and ate Shepherd’s Steak and a stew with wild greens. This is truly one of the first times that I had mint and liked it! Maybe I am not allergic after all.
I took this picture of the sign in the tourist office in Scanno. It is the first time I actually found the tourist office in a smaller town. Of course, it was not open. According to the sign, the office is closed for vacation on the 18th through 26th of June. I was there on the 18th along with hundreds of other tourists.
Joyce B. introduced me to the book, Italian Hilltowns by Norman F. Carver. Carver’s beautifully evocative black and white photos of hilltowns across Italy included several photos of Calascio including one of the Rocca Calascio castle. The mystery of the photos worked on my imagination and my wallet. I bought copies for several relatives. Carver, who is also an architect, wrote about the history of the architecture and the urban design of the towns. Small diagrams showed the organic town structures.
Archway in Calascio
I met Joyce B. when I lived in Seattle in the early 80’s. She worked in a weaving store and I was a weaver. Joyce had just returned from living in Italy for a year. She visited Calascio where she still had relatives. For a brief time we thought we might be related. Then my Aunt Ida explained that she and Joyce’s mother were good friends. So Joyce and I are Calascini cogine, but not technically related.