My Second Birthday in Italy

December 11, 2018

Ciao a tutti! Hello from Italy to all of you. It’s December, and time to celebrate another year of living. As someone who lives da sola in Italia, alone in Italy, I have pretty low expectations for celebrations. And yet, something always happens to brighten my birthday.

For those of us born in December,  we tend to consider any day of the month to be open for a party or dinner or something. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are off limits by choice. After all, those days overshadow our brilliance.

Here’s my 2018 birthday week story, (so far).

7 December I received a surprise text from April Lee. She and her husband Eric would arrive in Chiavari in 40 minutes. Would another woman and  I like to meet with them for lunch and a chat. YES!

I threw off my cleaning attire, freshened and dressed to meet them.

April M. Lee is the Creator of The Arrival. She offers excellent group experiences as a life coach, Ci gong master, counselor and as a person who genuinely cares about the welfare of us all.

When I finally met her in person, she and her husband Eric, were warm, funny, brilliant and very genuine people.

All four of us ate at la Miramare by the seaside in Chiavari.

The food and conversation exceeded my expectations. We said our farewells by the seaside. They headed to Genoa while the two of us who live in Chiavari, Sandra and I, went our separate ways as the wind howled and the waves rose.

 8 December held another surprise visitor. Karen, a woman I met in one of the on line Italian groups, wanted some advice regarding life in Chiavari. She has been searching for a home where she can settle in. I met Karen outside of the Chiavari train station and we got to know each other over coffee at Bar San Marco. I did my best to answer her questions. And I found that even with the age difference we shared many traits in common.

Karen was hungry for a good meal of pasta after our walk through Centro Storico and the antiques market. I brought her to one of my favorite local restaurants just off the piazza with the statue of Garibaldi.

My meal consisted of gnocchi with calamari and zucchini in a light sauce. It was divine.

Not only was the pasta superb, (mine was gnocchi with seafood and zucchini),

(Karen’s was spaghetti with seafood),

We made friends with a wonderful couple from Torino. I plan to visit them in the springtime.

  • Thank you Karen Le for coffee, lunch and excellent company.  I hope you do move to Chiavari. Either way, you brightened my day. Keep in touch.

9 December is my actual birthday. Whoo Hoo.  I had made plans for this day. I caught the 834am train from Chiavari to Pisa where I would stay the night and hang out with my friends, Nancy and Michael Mascio. They had a week in Tuscany planned. I joined them to attend the Chocolate festival in Viareggio Today.

After dropping off my luggage in my hotel room, we headed for Viareggio. This Tuscan, seaside enclave is a mixed bag of architecture.  As we walked the mile to La Passigiata, the seaside promenade, each of us snapped photos of the varied design styles.

Look at the Arabic influence on this Christian chapel.  

And here’s a completely different architectural choice around the corner.

Gated townhomes lined one street.

But soon we arrived at seaside on the promenade.

But where are all the Chocolate sellers? Apparently,today’s even was cancelled.

So we prayed for advice.

Nothing like a stable on the beach to inspire a person.

Some police officers suggested a pasticieria, a pastry shop named Saro, situated along the promenade. Five or ten minute’s walk, they said.  After about 20 minutes we joined several locals at an outdoor restaurant and feasted.

Nancy’s fried calamari was the highlight of our meals.

Now that we were well fed and fortified, the hunt for Saro continued.

When we found it, we discovered artisan chocolate from Sicily.

Sorry, no photos. Somebody really cute and adorable is getting special candy for Christmas. And I bought a cannoli plus a small assortment of yummy treats. Again, no photos. I ate them all.

After wandering a bit more with my friends,

We needed to get off our feet and back to Pisa for a bit of a break. We had walked 4 miles already.

Upon arrival at our hotel, the staff surprised me with a birthday cookie and white wine!

We only had a few hours in the morning to explore. We walked through a roundabout with a statue of Victor Emanuel.

And down a shopping street all the way to the river.

The light was perfect for the buildings to be reflected in the water.

Prior to arriving at the river, we explored a Carmelite church.

Santa Maria del Carmine boasted incredible art.

Like the pieces above and below.

We also supported their ministry by purchasing items in their store.

But now it was time for cheek kisses and hugs as the Mascios continued their plan.

And I am off to Rome to see my cousins, the Buzzelli’s. Who knows what will happen next.

Living la dolce far niente.

Ciao ciao.

Ciao for now.

Ciao for now!

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