Sunday, September 4, 2016

First Day in Agropoli

Woke this morning from a restful sleep at 9 am.  Understand, I’m usually up when we’re here by 6:30 at the latest.  Sandy woke shortly thereafter.  Tired, tired, tired, but what a wonderful rest.  I stumbled to the kitchen and almost had heart failure when the gas stove wouldn’t fire up so I could get the Moka rolling to produce some of the magic elixir.  But finally through the fog I remembered the cut-off valve under the counter and all was well.  Almost exactly when I began to hear that wonderful burbling sound which means the Moka is almost finished I saw Sandy stumble from the bed and so fired up some milk for her caffè latte as well.  We luxuriated as we sipped our morning brew on the terrazza, enjoying a beautiful azure sky and that ravishing mountain breeze which we love so well. Breakfast for me was a no-brainer, leftover pizza.  Just didn’t have an egg to fry to put on top and make it the perfect breakfast, which Fabio tells me is called a ‘Bismark’ here.

The view from the driveway

The beautiful Villa Astone.  Our apartment is on the bottom right.

At eleven Fernando showed up to take us to the Centro and serve as our interlocutor in the great matter of the wi-fi.  I should explain that wi-fi in Italy is a very big deal, or rather the difficulty of obtaining it in any dependable form.  Almost all routers here are connected to phone lines which are still not fiber-optic and are intermittent at best.  But last year Fernando introduced us to a nifty little portable modem which basically creates a hot spot that covers a circle of about 20’ in diameter.  Not perfect, but so much better than what we had before!  Plus, we can take it on adventures and hop on-line when we’re sitting in a small cafe in some remote hill town.  And, to reiterate earlier comments, having access to reliable wi-fi is absolutely essential to making a long stay like this in a foreign country possible.  Unless, of course, you’re prepared to break all ties with your home country and move home, bank accounts, utilities, and social contacts to your new one.  Which we definitely are not.  We had to wait in line for 20 minutes while a saintly store clerk in the TIM store patiently explained to an elderly Nonna what her options were for her tablet.  And never showed the slightest sign of frustration as a long queue built up behind us.  That’s the best of Italy, friends.  As one whose mom suffered from Alzheimer’s but was able to function independently for far longer than she should have, all thanks to the patience and kindness of neighbors, friends and her saintly sister, that sort of thing touches my heart.

Fernando discovered that the SIM card we purchased last year is expired but scoped out the best deal for us on a new one, three months and 20 GB for only 24E, so we are happy campers.  Afterwards we strolled on up the Via Gaspari and around the corner to Bar Anna where we all got coffee and Sandy a cornetto, the wonderful local form of croissant.  We sat out on the piazza and just basked in the weather and the relaxed atmosphere.  Earlier, when Fernando had parked in the municipal lot we were amazed at all the vacant places on a Saturday morning.  Fernando’s response, “Yesterday it was still August in Agropoli, today it’s September.”  Translation:  the tourists are gone and life will be a lot calmer around here for the next 10 months.

Our favorite stop mid-morning, Bar Anna

And here's why:  delicious pastries and gelato, great coffee, all out on the piazza.

As we idled away, Fernando spotted our pal Nunzio Mastrolia on his way to the bookstore across the piazza and trotted over to speak to him. After a quick visit to the store (Nunzio and his wife Teresa Sanna are the brains behind our Italian publishing house) Nunzio came over for hugs and some catching up, then off he went to book train tickets to Rome.  We strolled over to the Banco di Napoli Bancomat and all three got some cash and then Fernando took us by a cute little hole-in-the-wall paneficio for a beautiful loaf of bread and by a new mozzarella shop where they also sell all sorts of artisinal foods.  We scored a half-kilo of the little ‘mouthful’ mozzarelle, bocconcini, then puttered on home. Fernando said his good-byes and Sandy and I sat out on the terrace to enjoy our exquisite little bocconcini and bread doused with some of Rolando’s luscious olive oil.  If there’s a more luxurious lunch, I can’t imagine what it would be.

Delicious fresh-baked pane

The Oro Bianco, a new shop for artisinal foods

A selection of Cilentan cheeses

Sandy's happy:  1/2 kilo of bocconcini.

A huge, aged scamorza

The afternoon was devoted to life on the internet, a quick nap and a trip to the Maxxi Futura Ipermercato for basic groceries.  It’s odd how relaxing and enjoyable taking care of the basics can be after the stress and tension of the trip.

Fresh seafood at the Maxxi Futura supermarket

A perfect lunch:  fresh bread and bocconcini with Rolando's nectar of the gods.

 And then home for a quiet dinner and more rest. Not the most exciting day, but just what tired bodies and sprits needed.

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