Rome, Italy to Castel di Sangro, Italy

06.15.2010

Today I left Rome to head to the land of my great-grandmother in Abruzzo.  I have cousins in Castel di Sangro, about a three hour train ride to Sulmona and an hour drive south of Sulmona.  From Rome, it is 130 km heading a bit south and east.  It is right on the edge of the southern part of Abruzzo and in the middle of the Abruzzo National Park area. It is so beautiful and luckily, not as well known as other parts of Italy, like Tuscany.  It reminds me a lot of home.  It’s green, mountainous and the people are very friendly.  There are lots of outdoor activities to take part in, including hiking, camping and skiing.

The train ride was pretty uneventful for me.  There was a woman across the aisle from me who either had motion sickness or just wasn’t feeling well because she vomited for most of the trip.  Not speaking Italian, there wasn’t much I could do, though I wanted to offer her some of the Phenergan in my bag to help with the nausea!  Aside from that, I was able to offer her napkins, wet wipes and a plastic bag to vomit into.  She was quite a mess, but there was a lady sitting across from her who also helped out quite a bit.  I felt so bad for her.

I arrived in Sulmona and Gianni and Teresa met me there.  Teresa recently had surgery on her retina, from what I could gather.  I feel like such an idiot.  I wish I knew more Italian.  In Rome, I haven’t had to speak it at all because everyone just automatically starts speaking in English to me.  It’s kind of irritating.  I have two phrasebooks and in the beginning of our encounter, I was really struggling.  As the day progressed, I started to get better and words were coming easier.  It just doesn’t help that whenever I want to speak, it’s Spanish instead of Italian that comes out!

Gianni took me to an apartment that will be home for me for the next couple of days.  I am not sure whose apartment it is, but it’s nice and I like having my own space.  Then he took me to their apartment and Teresa made me dinner.  A big bowl of pasta, followed by a hamburger and potatoes, followed by a hunk of cheese and some prosciutto with a sweet bread, all washed down with wine and water.  I couldn’t finish it so Teresa put the leftovers in a bag for me to take for lunch tomorrow when I go to Pescara.

Then Gianni took me to Gianluca’s place, which is where we stayed for our last night the last time I was there.  It looked different than I remembered it, but it’s really nice.  He has a furnace that runs off the shells of olives and nuts.  It’s quite amazing!

Gianni took me to the park in town and we walked around a bit and found Gianluca’s wife and daughter.  The last time I was there, she was pregnant with Paola.  I stumbled with my Italian and they were very gracious and kind.  Gianni then took me to Irma’s place, but they weren’t home, so then we went to one of the piazzas and sat for a bit.  When he dropped me off at the apartment I was able to call Maria to confirm our plans for tomorrow, so I am pretty excited about that.  I stayed up for a bit working on journal entries on my laptop, then went to bed.