Tuesday 31 December 2013

Arrivederci 2013

Why are there so many sayings about not looking back
yet it's the first thing we do when we get to 
New Year's Eve? 

This time last year I really wasn't looking forward 
to the New Year - I felt uneasy about it being 2013.
I was right to feel that way; it certainly hasn't 
been the best of years & the low points
far outweigh the highlights.

But hey, tomorrow's another day & another New Year.
Time to turn the page.

Monday 30 December 2013

Natale Al Borgo

Shop Window Nativity 
This evening we went up to Castellabate to celebrate
Natale al Borgo - another excuse for the Italians to
indulge their love of food & music.
We walked through the narrow alleyways,
peering through doorways to check out
what was being prepared behind 
the ancient wooden doors.

Salsiccie alla griglia
Dolce, dolce, dolce!
We wound our way to La Piazzetta, where women
sat spinning wool & the laundry was being
done by hand.
Laundress feeds the duck

Spinning by hand

Presepe vivente
But the main highlight was the presepe vivente,
with a new baby laying in the manger....

Cute or what?

Sunday 29 December 2013

Saperi E Sapori

Last night we went into Santa Maria for the
annual post Christmas celebration, 'Saperi E Sapori',
an evening when there are food stalls galore,
chestnuts being roasted over an open fire
& Corso Matarazzo is dotted with
easels displaying photographs from a bygone era.

Weddings from years gone by
Rather than money being exchanged at each individual
food stall, there are a few 'casse' dotted about the narrow
streets, where you buy tickets for €1,50 each
& then exchange them when you decide what
culinary delights you'd like to try.
The evening's menu
Hubby & I decided we'd go for the traditional
fusilli - one of our favourite dishes whenever we
go to a sagra. Cilentan fusilli is much longer
than the type we were used to in the UK
& it doesn't take a very large portion to fill you up.

Fresh fusilli
There was a fish stall, where the day's catch was being deep fried
in the kitchen behind, as well as a pizza stall, 
stalls offering wine, water & cantuccini - twice-baked biscotti
Pesca fresca
- and, of course, a dolce stall (sorry, no pic, was too busy deciding
what to choose).
The whole Centro Storico was heaving - I swear every single one
of the 4000 residents had turned out.

And as we walked back along Corso Matarazzo, stopping to look
at the old photographs along the way, it felt good to
be part of Santa Maria's future history.
Memories of holidays past for the older generation

Saturday 28 December 2013

Christmas Is Where The Heart is

So we've just celebrated our fourth Christmas
at Il Sogno, and a wonderful one it was indeed.
Much of it spent with our 'adoptive family', the Russos
(I'll blog about that another day).

And then this afternoon, I found this blog post from
my dear Twitter friend Eileen: 

It brought a tear to my eye, as I thought of Christmases
past & our family, over 1400 miles away.
But then I smiled, because the memories
are good & there to be treasured forever.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Buon Natale

So Christmas morning has finally arrived...
I was up just after 6 am, having gone to bed just after 1 am,
and I was greeted by one of those perfect dawns
that take my breath away.

Hubby's broken open the pink fizz & cut me a slice
of panettone, so that I can have my traditional 
Christmas morning breakfast.

Buon Natale tutti - have an ab fab time!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Memories of Christmas Eve 2010

Today has dawned as brightly as it did on 
Christmas Eve 2010, and with the day
come memories we will always treasure.....

Of packing up the belongings we had brought with us from
the UK to Villa Caterina. And of hubby turning up to collect me
once I'd finished cleaning the villa, only to
have forgotten the remote to the electric gates - he was 
shut out, I was shut in! Luckily the owners of Il Cenito 
lived just up the road so help was fairly close at hand.

Of the heavens opening as we were having lunch
at La Torretta & the prospects of us getting
anything else moved from Mario's deposito to
Il Sogno looking somewhat remote.
But it was an almost tropical storm and
an hour later the sun was out once more & I was
finally able to start helping with the move.

Of Giuseppe & Gerardo both giving up their
traditional Christmas Eve spent at home to make
sure our dream of waking up at Il Sogno on
Christmas morning would be fulfilled - without 
them it wouldn't have been possible.

Of finally closing the front door at 4.30 pm,
looking in bewilderment of the myriad of boxes 
now stacked in 2 spare bedrooms & taking up rather a 
lot of the lounge. I haven't a clue what we ate that
evening; I do know that we went down to Grace &
Tom's and probably had a snack tea with them.

Of going to Midnight Mass at La Chiesa di San Biagio
with Tom & Grace, arriving dead on midnight, worried
we were late, only to find Mass didn't start until the
Priest was happy the church was packed to overflowing.

Of piling out of church at the end of Mass to watch fireworks
being let off in the piazza, before dashing to the nearest 
bar for a coffee, in true Italian style.

Of not going to bed until 3.30 am - tea and 
Christmas cookies at Grace & Tom's had followed
the journey back to their place.

Of finally falling asleep, still smiling, knowing that
we were going to wake to the most awesome views 
on Christmas morning.

Vigilia di Natale

Christmas Eve sunset

Christmas Eve 2010. I'd been back in Italy for exactly 2 weeks.
And today we were going to be moving into Il Sogno....
the dream of waking up there on Christmas morning 
was about to be realised.

Monday 23 December 2013

Le Luce di Natale III

The 'main' feature in Santa Maria
This evening is 'Natale a' Marina' in Santa Maria -
a 'Presepi vivente' (live Nativity), lots of food
stalls & a chance to try a
panettone gelato for the first time.

As is usual for this part of the Cilento, 
it was organised chaos - lots of people
milling about in period costume,
lots of chatter but no-one seeming to 
know what they should be doing or when.
We didn't follow the piper down to the
stable, as we were too busy eating
our gelati, so we missed the
Presepi - oh well, we'll have to go to the
Twelfth Night celebrations in Castellabate
to see it.

But we did manage to bag a half-price
Perugina panettone from La Bufalina - result!

Corso Matarazzo
Oh, and the lights are pretty too, if a little sparse
this year.

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Or Is It?

The Christmas cards were on the mantelpiece within
an hour of me arriving home from my trip to the UK.
The tree was up less than 24 hours later.

And now all the presents are sitting under it,
patiently waiting to be unwrapped in 2 days time.

But....yesterday's temperature peaked at 17.5 degrees; we had
mid morning coffee & lunch on the terrace

and took a stroll by the sea whilst eating ice cream.
It all seems a bit surreal......wonder how long it'll
take for the novelty to wear off?

Sunday 22 December 2013

Sparkle From The Inside

Never lose your inner sparkle

Yesterday I stood lusting after a dress in the
window of Missoni at the Cilento Outlet Village;
it was a short (but not too short) shift dress,
created from a slightly metallic bronze-coloured thread 
and as it caught the afternoon sun, it truly looked
stunning. It was only €456 rather than the
original price of €926 - and there would've been
at least a further 20% off that price as part of a seasonal

It would be the ideal dress to wear on Christmas Day 
for the next umpty ump years..........oh how I wanted it.

I dropped huge hints on how beautiful it was,
what a bargain it would be & how sparkly I would
look on Christmas Day.....
to which hubby responded with
"You don't need a sparkly dress, you sparkle from the inside".

It's the nicest thing he's said to me,

Le Luce Di Natale II

Corso Garibaldi
Yesterday we decided we'd like to see the Christmas lights
in Agropoli. Nowhere near as extravagant as those
in Salerno, but being able to look down on
Corso Garibaldi from the top of the steps
in Centro Storico did make for some 
breathtaking moments...
A view from on high
Time for a passeggiata
I like to ride my bicycle

Via Piave

And the main feature - the tree!

Saturday 21 December 2013

Mine At Last

Illy have been e-mailing me for weeks about this year's
coveted Art Collection cups.
I have even stood in the Illy store at the
Campania Centro Commerciale & pouted
my best pout, all to no avail....
But today, finally, at the Fashion Bar in Agropoli, 
hubby gave in and I now have an early Christmas present.

I will, however, be good & wait until
Christmas morning to christen them.

Friday 20 December 2013

Follow Your Heart

I found this on Google yesterday & it struck a chord...
If we'd truly thought about this instead of 
following our hearts, we wouldn't be
living in Italy, about to celebrate our
fourth Christmas here.

If we'd listened to the In-Laws' objections, we
certainly wouldn't be here. 
But you only get one chance at life
(that we're aware of) and chasing 
dreams is something we should all do

So if you're pondering something life changing,
listen to your heart - ignore that voice in
your head & just 'go for it'.

Le Luce Di Natale I

Immediately after lunch on Thursday, we set off for Salerno to see
the Christmas lights - yes, I know they wouldn't be on
when we arrived at about 3pm, but when we
last went on New Year's Eve's Eve 2011,
it took us over 2 hours to get there & another 
45 minutes to find somewhere to park.
So we thought we'd go while there was less traffic
about, grab a coffee once we'd parked up & then
wander round the Centro Storico to take some
'before' pics until dusk settled.
This building is derelict behind the fa├žade
The tree is pretty spectacular 24/7
Corso Vittorio Emanuele

The theme of the lights is Il Giardino Incantato, & when they are 
switched on, it truly is enchanting.....
A magical tree
Tunnel of stars
Stunning piece of art

Il Giardino Inverno

Stars & planets
The tree is just stunning
It's easy to see why thousands of visitors flock here 
every Christmas & New Year