Le Avventure del UNO-45

Friday, went to work to find only three of us in the office. Myself, Francesca and Marc.  I was able to leave around 4:00, and Sarah (from switzerland) had invited Zoe, Danielle and I for dinner at her place, so I rushed home to get ready because I wanted to go shopping for a new borsa because my target one is starting to fall apart. When I got home I showered and also prepared my bags to go to Muto in the morning, then I headed out toward Via Nazionale to find a new purse. I walked up and down Via Nazionale down to Piazza Venezia and back up to Termini and had no luck in finding a new bag.  However, I did stop in a bookstore and I found a recently released Italian film on DVD that looks entertaining, I figured I could show it for Italian Club back at school, and I also bought a Nicholas Sparks book in Italian as my next challenge! 

Before heading back up Nazionale to Termini to catch the A line I stopped in the Despar Supermercato to get a bottle of Chianti to bring to Sarah's house. Then I trecked back up Via Nazionale, realized there was a fermata at Piazza della Republica, so I hopped on the A line there, and rode it to Lepanto, across the river toward the Vatican, and got out and followed the directions she had sent to get to her apartment. It took me and my map a few minutes to realize which side of the metro stop I had exited, I almost had to stand on the map like Joey in Friends when they were in London to figure out which direction to head, but luckily I managed to find the right road and headed the right direction toward Piazza Mazzini, and was at Sarah's apartment by 8:10.

I was the first to arrive, so she gave me a tour of her apartment.  She lived with 7 other girls, and the place was rather large. Each room was plenty spacious and seemed nicer than what I was living in, but their kitchen was the tiniest thing I've seen, and they too did not have a salotto or living room to hang out in (mom!). We sat down in the kitchen and opened some wine and we chatted while she prepared the final parts of our meal and while we waited for Zoe (Danielle couldn't come because her sister was visiting).  One of Sarah's roommates (can't remember her name) was joining us for dinner. She was from Budapest, Hungary and was also interning, but at a wedding planning company, and she had just been given a potential full time job for the following year, so she took out her bottle of Limoncello and offered us some.  We sat and chatted while Sarah continued to pull new dishes out of the fridge and added the finishing touches.  Sarah had worked in a kitchen of a restaurant near San Pietro for her internship, so apparently she loved to cook! Close to 9, Zoe finally arrived, and Sarah dumped the risotto in the pot. We drank some more wine then moved to the table in Sarah's bedroom to eat the meal. She had made couscous, potatoes, risotto and a chocolate cake (the same kind she brought to Nunzio's apartment).  We sat down and indulged in all the delicious treats and had a wonderful evening.  10 minutes before 12:00 I ran out the door to make the last bas back to Via Udine, I had to flag it down because right when we walked out we saw it driving by.  We did the two kisses very quickly in the middle of the road and then I ran onto the bus. Safe!

Even though it was only 12:30 when I went to bed, I hit the pillow hard and didn't stir one bit until my alarm went off at 6:50.  Makes me nervous that this summer is going to catch up with me right when I get home and I'm going to have to sleep for a week straight!

I arrived in Frosinone puntuale to find Nonno and Maria waiting for my on the platform.  They ushered me to the car and put my things in the trunk, then I offered to drive back to Muto for Maria.  Surprisingly she was grateful for my offer and let me drive her white FIAT Panda all the way back to Muto, no complaints!

When we arrived I unloaded my suitcase as usual and Nonna came out asking if I had laundry to do... as usual I responded "Of course", but told her not to worry about doing it, and I hustled to throw it in the washing machine myself.  I got myself organized and brought my things up to the Blue room that mom and dad always slept in.  Since it was only me in the house I finally would have the chance to sleep in the best bedroom! Sweet! I unpacked then decided that I should probably go on a run despite the extreme heat, so I changed and headed out on a short run before Nonna pulled out lunch.  I can't remember the specifics of lunch, but I do know that is was delicious, and delicious enough to put me into a food coma afterwards.  So I climbed upstairs, showered, then took a nap in the blue room.

When I woke up I descended downstairs to see what the older crowd was up to. The conversation... mushrooms. Nonna and Maria were talking about the Festa del tartufo in Campoli and it sounded as if they were ready to go up and buy some mushrooms, so I suggested we drive up before the sun set and check it out, they agreed without hesitation and off we went.

Climbing up the hills of Campoli I could tell Nonna and Maria were very excited to see the Tartufi and buy some mushrooms.  When we arrived, Maria dropped Nonna and I right at the beginning of the festa street and went to go park the car.  Then we slowly made our way up to the top of Campoli passing numerous stands with sausages, porcini mushrooms, porchetta sandwiches, cheese wheels, tartufi, granitas etc.  We even passed some of the local ragazzi wearing ciociare (the traditional footware).  We stayed just long enough for Nonna to buy 20 euro worth of funghi porcini  and a kilo of pasta with tartufo baked in, and then we retreated back down the hill to Muto so that Nonna could show off to Nonno what she got in Campoli and then begin cooking.

For dinner we had tartufo flavored fettucini in a funghi porcini sauce and it was spectacular.  After dinner I hung out until Ilario came to pick me up to go to the festa of the night.  Destination: Atina.  In Atina Inferiore we walked through the stalls and stalls of junk, purses, jewelery, soccer jerseys, candy, music etc. then stopped at the giostro where Claudia convinced me to go on a ride with her.  We went on this ride that went in circles and bucked you up and down, that if rode in America, they normally would have strapped you to the bench as to not fall out, but here in Atina we were rolling all over the place and were actually encouraged to get up out of our seats and dance in the middle of the platform while the ride was doing its twists and turns... No thanks! I hung on with my dear life!  After the ride finished we headed back to the car. We had a relatively early night because most of his friends were away at the beach, I didn't mind of course and I was happy to take any extra hours of sleep because my summer had been preventing me from getting maximum sleep!

Sunday morning I woke up early as usual to catch the best time of the day at Muto.  Nonna had the Moka ready for me to turn on and make a cappucino, then she gave me the last cornetto from the bread box and I headed out to the patio to enjoy the coolest part of the day at Muto.  Around 10:00 Fabrizia called saying there were no trains until this afternoon, I knew that wasn't right, so I looked up on trenitalia.it from my phone and found that there was a train at 11:00 that she could take, and Nonno and I would be waiting for her in Frosinone.

It was easy to find Fabrizia exiting the train in Frosinone because she was the only blonde.  Maria spotted her first, which was pretty impressive, the Nonno went over and they hugged each other for a good long while.  Nonno was thrilled to finally see Fabrizia back in italy and it was adorable.  We headed back to the UNO-45 and climbed in, then I drove us back to Muto where Nonna was waiting for Fabrizia to arrive as well.  It was a bittersweet moment when we were all standing outside the front door of Muto, until Nonna realized it was past noon and rushed inside to finish the mushroom pasta, that Fabrizia had just informed her she wouldn't like! Uh ohhh! Joking... just a horror story of mushroom soup from her childhood, but she assured nonna the food would be fine and she would enjoy it.

After our delicious meal of mushrooms and fried zucchini flowers Nonna ordered us to go rest and refused to let us touch the dishes.  We attempted to wash a few, but then she came at us yelling, and we both resigned and went up to nap, assuming it would be more dangerous for her to keep yelling at us with that force.

After nap time we rode up to Campoli, admittedly being a little nervous taking the UNO up the back  roads and having second guessed the route one time.  However, we arrived safely and weaved our way up the side of the mountain on foot because I refused to park on a steep incline. We weaved up through the percorso of the festa and walked past a number of stalls and homes that were selling tartufo products or other hand made goods.  At the top of Campoli we climbed the tower where a local photographer had his art displayed, and then we huddled in the piazza where everyone was already eating, drinking and dancing.  Only staying for a short minute, we retreated back down the hillside of Campoli stopping to by some tartufi for Nonna (as a surprise! she didn't buy them the day before b/c she thought they were too expensive) and the pasta with tartufo for Maria (upon her request).  Before reaching the car we saw the local teenagers dancing to folk music in there cioce and spotted two ripe figs on a fig tree that I had to climb a wall and look like a fool in order to reach.  All in all a successful first festa for Fabrizia.

At Muto we presented the gifts to Nonna. First the figs, and then the TARTUFI (saving the best for last). However, we didn't quite get the reaction we wanted... we asked if she was happy and asked the same of Nonno and all he could repeat was fichi! He was mesmerized by the TWO figs we had brought home and neither of them seemed to be nearly as thrilled about the tarufo as they were about the two figs....  those nonni ... very strange!

After we gave everyone their gifts we sat down to dinner and enjoyed whatever delicious treats nonna had prepared for us.  As the sun set we saw the spare exploding in the distant town of Posta Fibreno, preparing for the festa later that night.  Both Nonna, Nonno and Fabrizia somehow convinced me to not go into work the next day, so that I could spend some more time with Fabrizia and attend the best festa in Fontechiari, la festa degli emigranti.  After the were successful in their efforts to prevent me from going back to Rome in the morning and after I had emailed my boss we finished up our meal.  Since Fabrizia just arrived, she was pretty tired, so we resigned to bed early that night after Nonna explained to us what the festa was at La Posta that night... gesu christo sotto l'aqcua!  Apparently they have a procession of the cross down to the lago di posta fibreno and then they submerge the cross into the water and celebrate... for what reason, I'm not too sure, but it sounded pretty entertaining!

Going to bed around 10:00 was a relief and not having to wake up at 5:00am to head back into Roma was an even bigger relief.  I was content to wake up the next morning and have the whole day ahead to spend with Fabrizia. When I woke I made myself a cappuccino and then started to make myself eggs, having to call Nonna to help me flip them.  She boasted how eggs are the only thing Alex could make, and she seemed disappointing in my lack of egg flipping skills. After breakfast the agenda for the day was slim.  All we wanted to do was enjoy Muto, head in to Sora after 4 to do a little shopping and then relax with the nonni.  Fabrizia and I walked down to the forno past the prime baking hours and were only able to get one fagotino al ciocolato. Worth it! And then we napped and read outside on the patio until 4:00 when the stores in Sora opened and we headed into town, me driving the UNO. In Sora we went to the Brasilera to pick up some fresh bags of espresso, then we went to the giolleria to get the pearl necklace and bracelet mom had got strung for me, and for Fabrizia to treat herself to some new gold hoops.  After our errands were complete we headed back home to get ready for the festa and figured out rides to get up to Fontechiari.

Bernard came to the house around 7:30 and he drove us right to the main piazza and dropped off the nonni with Fabrizia, while we drove back down the hill to park the car illegally and then head back up.  When there's a festa, there are generally no parking rules, so we parked right in front of a stop sign. Perfect.  We met up with Fabrizia and the Nonni when we reached the top of the hill then we went to go wait in line to get our free tickets for the food.  We were very impressed with the comune di fontechiari when all of our names appeared on the list of emmigranti and then I had to pretend that my brother was somewhere and couldn't come get his ticket so that Bernard could get a free meal, because for some reason (he won't tell me the whole story) his name was not on the VIP/immigrant list.  For 9,00 euro if you weren't an immigrant of Fontechiari or for free if you were you could have all the wine you wanted, tagliolini e fagioli, panino di salsiccia, crespelle, spezzatino di pecora e minestra ciociara.  Fabrizia and I only made it to the sandwich, the tagliolini and then the crespelle, but Maria had everything checked off her tag by the time the night was over.  We ran into Ilario and his friends while we were with the Nonni and he said he could bring us home later, so we stayed and hung out with them while the main piazza in Fontechiari turned into a discoteca for the younger crowd.  Quite the entertaining night, and Fabrizia and I had a great time dancing to some songs at the close of the night.  We returned home to Muto around 2:30am and I prepared myself for the early morning commute back to rome Tuesday, and told Fabrizia I would return Wednesday night if I didn't have to work on Thursday.

crespelle ladies
My journey Tuesday morning was already recounted in a timely manner, so I will skip the details of that.  But after the long commute Tuesday morning, I arrived at Aircom to hear the good news that I would definitely not need to come into work Thursday, lucky for Fabrizia, I could start my ferie early.  Tuesday and wednesday I packed for Sicily and went to work getting everything done in advance and set everything up for my reentry 10 days later without Francesca, and Wednesday I did my hour commute with my baggage for Sicily in hand, so that I could escape the office and head to Muto as quickly as possible without heading back to Piazza Bologna.  After work I successfully made it to Frosinone around 5:30 where Fabrizia and Maria were once again waiting for me.  I got in the car and once again drove her white panda back to Fontechiari because none of the vecchie had trusted Fabrizia with the roads to Frosinone yet.

Luckily for me I had arrived just in time to make it to dinner at the neighbor's house. Fabrizia, Nonno and I walked down Muto around 7:30 to head to the house of the other francese for dinner, while Nonno described to us that we were doing a passegiata romantica and that we should have young boys take us on romantic walks as well.  When we asked if he ever took Nonna on romantic walks he tried to avoid the question, but then finally admitted to having took la signora on a few romantic walks (la signora disagrees).

When we arrived at our destination the table was being set for 16 people, the wood fire was being started, and the wind was also picking up.  We discovered that they had a grove of 18 peach trees with the most delicious peaches you would ever taste, and we snacked on peaches, nuts and chips while we waited for the meat and the rest of the meal to be prepared.  We hung outside until it became to windy and we had to move the table indoors, and then once the meat was almost ready, 1.5 hours after we had arrived, we were finally allowed to sit at the table.  The entertainment of the night was Toni (?), the australian neighbor, who had just arrived and quoted she felt better in Italy because "bevo, mangio, fumo, (making sex hand motions)" She nearly made Fabrizia and I cry when she said that at the table.  Food wise, we were each given our own personal plate of antipasti, complete with olives, prosciuto, melon, cheese and bread.  I was full by the time I was done!  No worries though because more courses were to come. Following the antipasto were other vegetables and then the abbachio.  We were served from two huge pots of lamb and I unfortunately could only fit two tiny ribs into my stomach because I was already so full from the antipasto.  In between courses Fabrizia and I found the australian filling our glass back up with wine, and then we also started adding peaches to the concoction. Delicious.  For dessert there were baskets of peaches, most of them from their yard except for the nectarine that Nonna picked out and then was appalled at when she found la ticketa still stuck to the side of the fruit.  Along with the fruit came a home made peach torta, made by another women who was at the party from Canada, there was also Tiramisu and then after that portion of dessert they came out with individual packets of ferrero rocher sorbet.  By that time it was nearing 12:30 and Fabrizia and I were falling asleep before the oldies! Yikes!  When the hosts descended the stairs with bottles of limoncello and after dinner bitters, Fabrizia and I looked at each other and mutually decided it was time for us to excuse ourselves and walk home to Muto.  We were pathetic leaving before the Nonni, but we were so tired and we had a big day alla piscina the next day, so we thought it was in our best interest to head home.  We said our good byes and our thank yous and we were fast asleep in our beds just before 1am.

Thursday morning we headed into Sora for the Mercato. Goals: Find leather shoes, a leather bag, baby gift for Fabrizia's friend, and a seat cushion for Nonno's chair.  Success rate = 33%.  Madness at Mercato as usual, Fab and I split up to peruse the shoes... no luck, then we met back up with Nonna and Maria where they took us to find baby gift for Fabrizia, then Fabrizia and I bought Nonna a beautiful Padre Pio bracelet for 1 euro.  All in all a rather successful trip.  When we got back to Muto we discussed with Nonno his plan for the doctor's so that Fabrizia and I would be able to drive up to Arpino and go to the pool at Suncrest Hotel! It was a long discussion, but we finally figured it out and we were on our way to enjoy the sun.   We spent the day at the hill top pool, met some strange man from Canada whose sister was marrying the man who worked at the hotel, and by 5:30 we descended back down the hill (Fabrizia at the wheel this time) as to not be late for the fresh pesto pasta dinner.  When we arrived we helped make the pesto, crushing it with a mortar and pistil, and found out that Nonno's doctors appointment was successful (no longer did we feel guilty about not going).

 After dinner we waited for Ilario to pick us up and take us to the Notte Bianca in Atina, and once again Fabrizia and I had a wonderful night, us trying to stay on top of Ilario's rapidly fast speaking friend Melissa.  We danced in the piazza in Atina and bought Peronis and Porchetta sandwiches from the truck parked in the piazza and had a grand old time.  Unfortunately it wasn't an actual Notte Bianca because the shuttle buses stopped at 3:00, so we had to catch the last one to make it back down to Atina Ponte Melfa to where we had parked the car.  I wasn't too disappointed we didn't stay out extremely late because at 8am I had to be up and on my way to Ciampino to head to Sicilia.  All in all... great 3 days with Fabrizia, and the stories we heard from Nonno and Nonna just got better and better as the days went!

8am off to Frosinone to catch the train to Ciampino!