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Report 1008: 'I Vincitori' Learn to Get Lost in the Hills and Valleys of Italy

By Marian from New Jersey, Spring 2006

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Page 2 of 15: A Day at the Beach (Sunday, 7 May)

photo by MarcS

Santa Maria di Castellabate, relaxing after lunch at La Taverna del Pescatore

This is our first full day at the Villa Trotta. We get up, individually and gradually and sit on the porch, nibbling on the bread, yogurt and other goodies we bought yesterday. I make coffee in the caffetière. (We are learning to deal with the ants that are so much a part of rural kitchen life here.) Although we have an American style electric drip coffee pot, we have not yet found any filters. Sitting on the terrace is such fun, but we finally get ourselves together and head out for Santa Maria di Castellabate to have lunch at the Taverna del Pescatore, which is recommended in several of the food guidebooks.

We head down and around the mountains, Marc driving, and along the shore to Santa Maria di Castellabate. But getting to the town is not the same as getting to the restaurant. We have not yet mastered the entrance and exit to these little shore towns, and finally get to where we can park close to the water. I ask several people where the restaurant is, and they all know it, but their directions are still too vague for us. One particularly helpful, well dressed woman engaged us in a conversation about New Jersey. She had been there to visit relatives, and we all seemed to enjoy the conversation with each other. (I do love speaking Italian, even when I know I am getting my verbs wrong.)

Finally we find the restaurant, which is quite pretty. I have a wonderful anchovy stuffed appetizer, and some sort of tuna in an agro dolce sauce. We sit for hours, watching a family with an adorable baby. Another big family is at a second table, their somewhat older children are playing outside, we realize, while the adults finish eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. We catch the baby’s eye, and she becomes our friend. So, so cute.

After lunch we slowly walk back along the shore to our car. The water is beautifully clear, and the distant scenery is, well, breathtaking. People are in the water, but mostly kids as the weather is not yet really warm. Santa Maria di Castellabate appears to be a family beach resort and we see many signs for “rooms to rent” (camere da affitare). We decide to take a different road home, through Castellabate, a hill town with an imposing medieval castle and bell tower, with the vague goal of finding an internet caffè, or a gelateria, as well as more sightseeing. The views from Castellabate are beautiful (big surprise!) and we wander up and down the area for a bit, then head back to Perdifumo.

As we approach the town, we decide to stop for coffee at the little bar in town. We do so, and take our various drinks outside. But I have the distinct impression that I have taken the seat of one of the elderly men who are the bar's regulars. No one says anything, or asks us to move; just a feeling I get.

On the way from the town to Villa Trotta, we again stop at the alimentari for provisions. We have a little scare as we hear from my nephew that our mother (Marc’s and mine) has been taken to the hospital with a leg swelling. (She has been in a nursing home for several years, and has been in a very bad way for over a year as the result of a stroke which left her with a host of physical impairments.) But this turns to be simply a wise precaution on the part of the nursing-home staff, and she is returned “home” without being admitted. So we are relieved, to say the least.

As we settle in for what will become an evening pattern, we head for the kitchen. It’s really too cold to sit out on the terrace, but we graze on the wonderful food we've bought. Then we sit in the large and comfortable living room, watching Italian TV (especially quiz shows), reading, knitting, and mostly drinking wine. Such a hard life!

Tomorrow, maybe Paestum, the Greek excavations north of Agropoli. And I will telephone the De Conciliis winery about making an appointment to visit.

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