January 17th, 2017
Today is day 7 since I flew away from the United States and I could hardly be happier. It is still hard to believe that I am actually LIVING in ITALY. It still feels like I am only traveling. It is the honeymoon stage.
Other than the fact that my flight from Seattle was severely delayed, it was a marvelous experience. British Airways in Business Class is wonderful. The flight staff was fantastic and funny. The food and adult beverages were great. The seats went completely flat and there was a modicum of privacy between seats. Even the headsets were noise dampening.
After the 10-hour flight to London, I visited the Club for British Airways and later took the flight to Rome where I was met by my cousin, Sonseere and her driver. Normally, I only travel with 1 carry-on and a backpack or a huge purse. This time I brought so much extra luggage that it weighed almost as much as I do! And, in Rome, I could not find a rolling cart. Note to self and to you: do not do what I did! Stupido! I can buy most of what I brought with me here…and my shoulders hurt from dragging them!
Sonseere lives in Arpino, Lazio, an ancient and beautiful town perched on a mountaintop. It has been in existence since before Christ and became a part of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century A.D.
It is also the home of Cicero, called Cicerone around here. And there is a myth that says the 5-sided pillars built here and stacked without mortar are so huge that only a Il Ciclope, a Cyclops, could have built them.
The entire town was destroyed twice in the 13th Century. What you see here and now is almost all gothic construction. And it is lovely.
Tiny, romantic alleyways and wide streets alternate as you stroll through this town of 7700 people.
Statues of Cicero and Padre Pio appear around the corner.
And even in winter the views are spectacular, especially at Sunrise and Sunset.
As you can see, most of my photos are at dusk. I have experienced a killer case of Jet Lag. The first night we arrived at the hotel around midnight. I fell asleep at 2am and stayed in bed most of the day. At 7pm, Sonseere knocked on my door and suggested we go to Albergo e Ristorante Il Ciclope for dinner.
Sandra and her husband own this lovely and rustic place. Their food was spectacular. I ordered my favorite with a twist that Sandra adds. I love Cacio e Peppe, a Roman pasta dish with thin pasta. Sandra made it with Pappardele pasta, thick, flat pasta, and Saffron for extra flavor and yellow coloring. Delicious!
Sonseere and I enjoyed it with our house red wine and acqua frizzante, water with bubbles. We completed our meal with a torta topped with their fresh cherries in a sauce.
Sandra speaks English as well as we do and is a gracious, humorous host. She also offers lodgings, including apartments. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
The next evening after sleeping most of the day once again, we ventured up to another hilltop restaurant called Il Gardiniare for dinner with two new friends, Kylie and Antonio. Here we enjoyed another wonderful meal. I ate some lamb for our main course after apperitivi, Prosecco with Campari for a drink, and the best green olives I have ever tasted. The highlight of the night for me was our conversations and meeting a relative of the owner, young Sophia.
On our third night, when I once again surfaced from sleep, we drove to Isola del Liri, Isle of the Liri River. This town is surrounded by the Liri and is a lovely place to visit. We wandered until we found a tiny restaurant on a narrow street, Osteria Al Vicoletto. The place is famous for its fresh seafood from Naples
and its homemade pastas.
I had these round gnocchi. There were so many fresh, handmade pastas there.
Check it out if you are ever in Lazio. It is quirky and fun.
One of the highlights of a visit to Isola is its huge waterfall. There are actually 2 of them but this is the larger of the two, all lit up at night.
We stopped at a shop near here and enjoyed a dolce before returning to Arpino.
Mangia, Mangia, Mangia. Dormo, Dormo, Dormo. Eat and I sleep. That has been most of my week.
Yesterday I managed to stay awake most of the day. We ate more gnocchi at a local restaurant in Arpino. I cannot get enough of that stuff. It was delicious.
For me, being around people speaking Italian all the time, eating traditional Italian food, strolling along cobblestone streets and hearing the wind whistle through the gardens—all that makes me feel at home. It is also very restorative for me. I feel my shoulders relaxing. My brows no longer furrow. My smile comes more naturally as does my laugh. Sono molto felice! I am very happy. Wish you were here experiencing this awesome adventure with me.
It will be sunset soon. I will venture outside once again. Hopefully, next week I will be able to stay awake more. But, no pressure. This is Italy.
Ciao for now!