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Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most challenging.  Last Friday, I had an easy task of going to Salerno to pay the registration fee for my Italian language classes.   (I’m a little behind on the blog since we’re moving this week but more on that later.)  The boys and I drove down to the city and starting trolling for parking spots.    We almost completed a full circle of the city when I spotted a space.   After my truly excellent job of parallel parking the Panda, we emerged in search of a “parcometer.”   To pay for parking in the blue lined spaces in the city, you pay for a ticket in machines placed throughout the city.  (It’s actually good system.)   So far, I had only seen these elusive specimens as free standing gray metal units in larger parking lots.    Little did I know that city officials had also camouflaged them as small green units mounted on buildings.   For about 15 minutes, I dragged the boys around several city blocks fruitlessly searching for a parcometer swearing under my breath in frustration.  (Let’s just say I described the parcometers with an adjective that rhymes with plucking.)  I stopped and asked a gentleman for directions in Italian and he even understood me!  Off we go with a purpose but still no luck in finding one.   I swallowed my pride and called Luca for help.   After explaining the situation, he informed me that I could also purchase a scratch ticket type parking ticket in a tobacco store.   I had seen several in our city tour we quickly found one and I successfully paid double the amount for a ticket I would have purchased at a parcometer.    We trekked back to the car, placed the ticket in the window, took a few deep breaths to chill out and off we went to the Accademia Italiana.   Fortunately, all went smoothly after that and we stopped for a well deserved gelato limone on the way back to the car.  Just one of those little challenges that I’m going to face as I get accustomed to living in a new country…

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Peasant eating dinner

Last weekend, we went to a medieval festival in a little  borgo (village) called Corpo di Cava.   I had been to a similar fair in the US but it is a lot more authentic on the backdrop of medieval era buildings.   There are many of these festivals in Italy for different reasons.  This particular festa is held to commemorate a visit from the pope about 1,000 years ago. 

Peasant with his donkey. Good costume!

We arrived just as a parade was marching through the street with drummers out front followed by men at arms, clergy and then the “pope”.  The boys were thrilled to see real “knights” with chain mail and swords.   We’ve been reading about knights since we stayed at the castello in Perugia.    As with celebrations everywhere, food is major attraction at the festa.    We purchased a couple of “menus” where you take the tickets to different serving stations set up throughout the village.  The primi piatto was a chickpea stew and a cup of red wine.  They actually gave you an earthenware bowl, wooden spoon and cup.     Live medieval music and dancing was the backdrop to our first course. 

Community Laundry

You then wander through the cobbled streets with various narrow passages to see the animazione – people in period dress performing different tasks such as washing clothes, making pottery or eating a meal.    Duilio was especially intrigued with how they washed clothes.  He said, “Why do they do that?” as the women scrubbed and slapped the clothes on the stone trough.    I could tell he was thinking, “where’s their washing machine?” 

We found the station for the secondi piatti which was stewed lamb (I think) on a bread trencher.  I was surprised they could make such tasty food in large quantities.    We really enjoyed the festival.    We may even participate in one sometime.    How do you think Luca would look in tights? 

Luca in tights?

Website for the festa:  www.festamedievalecorpodicava.it


 

View from the upper level

We’ve been staying at Villa Lupara for about two weeks now.  Last Monday, we moved into a larger suite which includes a separate upstairs bedroom and a kitchen/dining area.  We’re much more comfortable with the extra space and ability to cook simple meals.   Villa Lupara was formerly a circa 1800s farmhouse built around the ruins of a medieval bakery.  The bakery operated during the time of the Lombard Prince Arechi in the 1100s.   I am actually sitting near the oven as I write this.   

Oven

It was renovated and reopened as an agriturismo in 2007.  They grow grapes for sulfate-free wine, olives for olive oil and other fresh produce – all organic.   We’ve benefited from the end of season glut of tomatoes with all we can eat free tomatoes.  Delicious but we’re actually getting sick of pomodoro this and that.   Somebody get me a filet mignon.

View looking up from the pool

The building is beautiful but the grounds of the villa take your breath away.   They are green and peaceful with a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean Sea.   In the late afternoon, you can hear the tinkling of cow and goat bells as the shepherds urge them home. 

In the south of Italy, you either live in a city or “not”.  Outside the cities are these mini-villages which are considered “frazione” or fractions of a city.  They usually consist of a few villas, apartments and some basic markets.  Then there is the “localita” which isn’t even considered a fraction.  It’s a place.   Villa Lupara is considered one along with its neighbor “Croce”.  Croce has what looks like (or was) a church, a pizzeria and bizarrely enough, a muscle-head gym.  I say bizarre because it’s odd enough to find any super muscular Italian men in the cities never mind Croce.  Most young men are slender and middle-age men are generally slim with the exception of their contented stomachs.    A gym in Croce is really an oddity. 

Cows drinking in the square

Animals roam freely in Croce.  Of course, the resident feral dogs wander around barking and chasing cars.   We’ve also seen goats by the road side and cows enjoy their mid-day drink at the public water fountain in the square.  I’ve seen them drinking there a couple times!

View of Mediterranean

Pool and grounds

Farmhouse

Grape arbor