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Our last week in Mattinata has been quiet and uneventful.  The weather has been ideal.  Warm with low humidity and cool evenings.  Valentina (Luca’s sister) and I, along with the kids, have fallen into our daily routine.  Beach around 9:00 am, return between 1:00 and 2:00 pm, lunch, siesta and regroup in the late afternoon.  Then it’s playtime outside or off to the centro for shopping.   It has been restful and a good schedule for the kids.  The boys have needed something regular after the total upheaval in their life.     The boys and I are ready for our next move to Luca’s parents for the weekend and then the Grand Hotel Salerno for the week. 

Last Sunday we celebrated Russell’s 4th birthday party with a family barbeque Italian style.   Skewers of lamb, chicken and pork marinated in olive oil and rosemary were roasted over fragrant olive wood.   

Luca at the grill

 It was accompanied by bruschetta pomodoro.  Tomatoes here are out of this world.   Russell was pleased with his birthday party.  He said, “A lot of people came to my birthday, Mommy.”  I was so happy that he didn’t miss having a party with his little friends.   He was thrilled to receive the box of presents from Grandma and Grandpa Nubile.  Of course, Duilio asked permission to “help” him open his presents. 

Russell blowing out his candles


NOT the police station I visited

As a foreigner planning to live in Italy, I had to report to the police station in the city in which I will be residing within 8 days.    Through contacts or “amicizie”, Luca was able to arrange an appointment at 0830 one morning.    (Appointments are not the norm.)  We arrive on time at what I soon realized is the immigration entrance by the fact that there are people of several nationalities clamoring at the gated entrance, many of which do not smell very good due to the hot and steamy weather.   People are pushing and talking loudly to get the attention of the employees; babies are crying.  It’s like a scene out of a bad movie about a third world country.    Luca pushes through the crowd (“scusi, scusi”) and speaks to the woman about our appointment.  She responds that she’ll let the officer know we’re there and disappears.  Waiting, waiting…nothing happens.  Luca removes the barriers at the entrance (note that if you do something like this in the U.S. you risk being shot or at least “taserized” by a police officer) enters the building and tells another man that we have an appointment.  He clearly is more on the ball from what we’ve already observed.  After a few minutes, he ushers us into a separate entrance.

Luca and the officer discuss my situation for a few minutes.  I’m catching bits and pieces of it.  I can tell something is amiss.  The officer is asking yet again for documents we’ve provided many times.  There must be hundreds of copies of our passports, marriage and birth certificates floating around the Italian government.  Luca is explaining that we’ve taken care of everything with the Italian Consulate in New York.    I almost laughed when the officer asked how he would know that I’m the children’s mother and Luca responds that he could simply read the boys passports.   Finally, the officer agrees and tells us I need FIVE photographs and a “marca da bollo”, which is basically a stamp or another way for the government to collect money.  You need a “marca da bollo” for virtually everything except coffee  in Italy.  Interestingly the Italian consulate wouldn’t provide you with this information beforehand (note that Italian consulate in New York is the place we visited most in the City).

We march off to a photo shop around the corner, get the photos, the “marca da bollo” and return.  We are brought to another group of immigration officers ahead of other people waiting.   Nice.    We wait for the officer to become available for about 15 minutes.    Great, our turn.  Luca explains that I am not a “convivente” but legally married to him, then my status changes to “la Signora” again.  The officer seems to have difficulty with the concept that we do not yet have a permanent address (been in the country for just a week) but will be living in Salerno.    Discussion, discussion…..rapid, heated discussion then the officer pulls a simple form out for Luca to attest to the fact that we will be living in Salerno.  Ok.  On to the next hurdle.    The name change to my married name is on the last page of my American passport.  Apparently, this also causes some confusion.  Must be the first time an American passport has been presented to this station.   Discussion, discussion…then that gets straightened out.  The result of all this is a sheet of paper with my photo glued to it and several stamps of a number “2” on it.  Wow, this would be hard to forge (note:  add sarcasm).  Probably would have taken less time to forge it than the 2 hours it took at the station.

I tell myself that every country has its good and bad points.  I better get used to it.


Mattinata

After two hot and sleepless nights at Casa Giulia, we left for the beach.  The boys and I would stay in Mattinata for two weeks.  Luca would work in Salerno and come on the weekends.   Mattinata is a small seaside town in the Puglia region on the Adriatic sea.    Despite its small size, it has everything you could need with several mascelleria (butcher), general markets, farmacia (pharmacies), frutta and vendura vendors along with other shops.   Yes, that’s right, no super Walmarts here.  For each type of item you want to buy, you visit a different shop in which the shopkeeper assists you and is actually knowledgeable about his or her product.  What a concept!   I am happy to report that I have purchased fruit which does not have those annoying little stickers on each piece. 

View from Mattinata Center

In late afternoon, many people head towards the center to do their shopping or simply walk around.  This is typical in all city and town centers from what I have seen.   The streets and sidewalks are narrow.  Thankfully, at 7:00 pm the center is closed to traffic.

Our bungalow

We’re staying at a complex of small bungalows and apartments.  There is plenty of space for the kids to play outdoors.   The boys are really enjoying their time here playing with their cousins, Vincenzo and Ludovica.  Vincenzo, Duilio and Russell are working around the language barrier as only little boys can with grunts, growls and laughter.   Duilio and Russell are already picking up Italian words while Vincenzo is saying English words.  Russell likes to exclaim “l’acqua per favore” loudly since he has mastered that phrase. 

Ludovica and Russell

La Spiaggia (the beach)

The beach

Each morning we head out to the beach.    Instead of sand, this beach has smooth stones of varying sizes.  Nice for avoiding sandy bottoms but a killer on our tender feet.    The water is warm so you can comfortably swim for hours.   (Sometimes swimming is the only choice because it is so hot.)   Similar to many beaches in Mexico or the Carribean, vendors roam the beach selling clothes, hat, jewelry and coconut.  One oddly cheerfully guy from somewhere in eastern European sings “coooo-co, coccobello” as he sells slices of coconut.   I always think to myself that he must be from somewhere really bad if he’s happy to lug around coconut on a scorching hot beach. 

Duilio playing biliardino

Duilio has become addicted to biliardino (foosball).  I suspect he’ll be a champion by the end of the summer.   He’s crazy competitive.  I don’t know if that bodes well or not….

Fashion Note:  “Cheeky” bikini’s and speedos are required attire on this beach.    An important note is that it is a family beach so we’re not talking twenty-something bodies.  Get the picture??  Mama mia!

We’re truly are gypsies now.  We’re abandoning Casa Giulia in Cava and will move from place to place in August.  It wasn’t what we were looking for.    I don’t know where we’ll be next week, probably somewhere in Salerno.  We’ll move to Luca’s parents for a week, perhaps a week in the mountains then a two week stay at a lovely agriturismo (like a B&B except they also grow something like grapes or olives) near Salerno.


Cava Center

Russell in Cava Center

Cava de’ Tirreni  is situated at the bottom of some hills and is really charming.  The center is more or less a pedestrian zone with shops and restaurants.   Sorry West Hartford center, Italian city centers are just “way cooler”.  (I have no other way to put it.)   We had a delicious dinner fuori.  Duilio says “Italy has good stuff.”  He’s a big fan of the food here. 

Borsello

Fashion note to all you American men.  Borsello (aka man purses) are all the rage in this area.  Think it will catch on in the US?


Duilio enjoying business elite

On the 14th, we had a flight from JFK to Rome.  I have to say that this trip over the pond was the easiest one since we’ve had kids.  We broke up the trip by staying at the JFK Sheraton the night before.  The boys got to swim and relax before we flew that evening.  We also flew business elite.  What a difference from coach where you feel like you’re folded into the seat.  No begging for a glass of water in business.

Duilio and Russell had a blast checking out the bag of goodies and playing with the seat controls.  We all even caught some ZZZZZ’s.

After an uneventful drive from Rome to Cava de’ Tirreni, we attempted to find Casa Guilia (our temporary efficiency apartment).  We had turn-by-turn directions from Google.  Unfortunately, road signs are necessary to use them.  Not even the locals know the names of the streets.  We finally had to call Casa Guilia and the owner kindly met us at the central train station.  We followed him up the same streets we circled many times!