Monday, January 27, 2014

arriving in Sorrento, Italy!

Driving into Sorrento was gooooorgeous. The blue-sky day helped... but so did the views along the windy road along the side of the hills!

We hit a ton of traffic along the main road in Sorrento.
...Thankfully, we were still able to return the car on time!

Tons of holiday decorations:

Hotel Il Nido was a 10-minute ride up a winding steep road... up, up, and up!
We had two adjoining rooms, each with a balcony.
...Nice find Mom! Great views of Sorrento, the sea, and even Mount Vesuvius.

One of our balconies:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Guarda la Americana..."

Riding my bicycle up to my apartment building's gate just now, I was arriving back from picking up some groceries from the store and also water from the park.

There was a lady unloading a ton of bags from her car and putting them in the entryway.

When I pulled up on the sidewalk she said something to me in rapid Italian. I replied with, "Parlo un poco Italiano. Mi dispiace." (I speak a little Italian. Sorry.)

She continued talking to me in Italian... and I just kind of shrugged and smiled as I got off my bike, walking towards the gate.

The lady moved a bag out of the way and said, "Ecco." (Here.)


As the lady walked back to get more from her car and I unlocked the gate to go inside, I hear her say to her little girl in the car... "Guarda la Americana."

Hahahahaha... well, I know enough Italian to understand that one! ...She said to her little girl: Look at the American.

Nice. I got a chuckle out of that.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

driving - Alba Adriatica to Sorrento, italy

We left Alba Adriatica super early in the morning, in order to be able to return the rental car in Sorrento by the time Hertz closed for the Saturday.

The ride was gorgeous the entire way. We went through the mountains... but first, we departed Alba Adriatica with the sea to the left... as well as a gorgeous sunrise  : )


A view of Mount Vesuvius!

Our first great lookout view of Sorrento!!

a Alba Adriatica con Italia, Gabriele, e Maria!

The afternoon of our second day in Alba Adriatica, Italia, Gabriele, and Maria stopped by Gina's house for a bit. It was great to see them! Italia (pictured below with Dad and Mom) is the one relative that my great aunts in Rochester, NY have been in contact with over the years. She even visited Rocheester, NY to meet the family years ago!

On our first family trip to Italy five years ago, we were trying and trying to call Italia but could not get through (it was recently after the earthquake and telephone lines were down)... we finally found a 'Mario Maiorani' in the area and called... thus, finding Mario and Gina!

Crazy how things happen.

Turns out... Mario and Italia are cousins themselves!

Me, Gina, Sean, Maria, Dad, Mom... front row: Gabriele, Italia

Dad, showing them pictures from Lenny and Lexey's wedding!

Italia and Dad were talking about all of the relatives that she met during her trip to the United States... Dad was inviting them to all come to the States and meet family... he was serious! It would be awesome if they did... the picture below shows Dad inviting Gina and telling her that he will take care of her  : )

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

dinner at Jacqueline and Giacomo's - Alba Adriatica, Italy

Dinner was a bevy of PIZZAS!

...And below are some of my favorite photos from our time spent with family in Alba Adriatica  : D

Silvana, bringing out more pizzas!

Ylenia with her dad, Giacomo... and Dad   : )

Buddies -- Vincenzo and Sean

Francesca, Denis' girlfriend, brought dessert for the night, mmmmmm
Silvana, Francesca, Denis, Jacqueline, Ylenia:

food, food, and onto more food!

Although we all thought that we would not have to eat again for another week... after a few hours of down time... we were off to Jacqueline and Giacomo's house (kids: Ylenia and Fabio) for dinner!

We were told that plans changed from the original menu of food... and they were going to make pizzas. Awesome. Sounds good to me!

Their house is set on a hill... overlooking the mountains and the sea. It was gorgeous.

As we walked into the house, we were greeted by this hugely long table... ready to seat everyone! Ahhh... feels good to be surrounded by family and it reminds me of our family get-togethers in East Rochester when I was little.

Ylena, The Cook!

Ylenia had it all set in the kitchen... creating gorgeous pizzas with a variety of toppings on huge trays. Her mom, Jacqueline was at the outdoor kitchen making potatoes to go with all of it as well.

Giacomo gave us a tour of the house and Dad made a new buddy:

It was pretty cool listening to Giacomo and Dad tell stories of their pet birds. Dad had one growing up and his stories were similar to Giacomo's - they both were excited to share with one another and understand exactly what the other was saying!

Dad's bird growing up, Pretty Boy, would come out of his cage each evening and sit on the side of my Poppy's glasses to watch television with him. He would also fly into my Nonny's hands, as she would cup them together while she washed dishes after dinner.

lunch at Silvana and Vincenzo's - Alba Adriatica, Italy

Wow. Silvana's lunch was amazing... and intense. Intensely GOOD... but the food just kept coming!

We began the meal with bread and a spread of salamis/cheeses.

Then... onto the pasta.

We had an amazing lasagna (that Dad was still raving about two weeks later!)...

THEN out comes carbonara pasta - Mom's favorite!

From the pasta 'primi' course... was the 'secondi' course of... DUCK.

Then... salad.

(We were overly stuffed at this point... but still had to try a bit of everything... aaaand it's very possible that I'm forgetting something here too...)

Stuffed. But the meal still wasn't over.

Out came this amazing tray of dolci - sweets! (Shown below.)

And, of course, espressos too.

Let me just also mention here how much I love Christopher.

We are about the same age and have a lot in common. His English is better than my Italian and he is hilarious. Somehow, the My Little Pony story from Christmas day came up... and Christopher got all excited... saying that HE received the rainbow pony for Christmas this year! - NO JOKE! ...He ran to his room to get it -->

HA! Amazing.

He should make his hair match.

Vincenzo, Christopher's dad, rolled his eyes and said that every year since Christopher was a little boy, he only wants My Little Ponies for Christmas and his birthday. I love it. And I love this guy.   : )

Sean is definitely buddies with Chrisopher's brother, Denis. 
Denis is sarcastic and funny... and he and Sean could usually be found together joking and laughing -->

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fabio's cafe - Alba Adriatica, Italy

Our first morning in Alba Adriatica, we took the short drive to the cute cafe where Fabio works (including Gina... and the dog, Jerry, too!). We had cappuccinos and brioches. Deeeelicious! Giacomo, Ylenia, Vincenzo, and Silvana met us there too.

Then we went back to the house for a bit... before heading to Vincenzo and Silvana's for lunch... let the day of eating BEGIN!

Gina and Mario's gorgeous house... just a block for the sea:

(We stayed in the apartment on the ground floor and Gina lives upstairs.)

Italian BINGO for Christmas!


This game is very similar to what I know as BINGO in the States... it is an Italian game, which is traditionally played around the Christmas holiday. Denis was excited to bring it over to Gina's our first night in town. We all played after dinner... and Fabio was the winner!

Gina helped Mom and Silvana... 
...thankfully, they called the numbers in both English and Italian  : )

Dad and Gina - Alba Adriatica, Italy

Dad and Gina are so cute when they are together. Gina is quite sad, having recently lost her husband, Mario. We are related to Mario's side of the family... and Gina through marriage... but Dad and Gina hit it off together. It was great to see Gina so happy to have us there! Dad really cheers her up and makes her laugh  : )

...But Gina's true buddy?? --> Jerry!

Jerry had always been Mario's sidekick. ...But now, Jerry is really taking care of Gina and watching out for her. He's quite possessive. He seems to be sad without Mario too. Gina said that he even licks the photo of Mario when they are at the cemetery to visit him.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

dinner Night 1 with the cousins, Alba Adriatica

Returning from a great little trip to Ascoli Piceno, we arrived back to Gina's house in Alba Adriatica and dinner was almost ready.

We tried Skyping with our cousins -- the Pizzingrillis in East Rochester, New York... but could not get a strong enough Internet connection. At some point during my time in Italy, I hope that my Aunt Lenore and Uncle Bubby and their kids are able to make it out here... it would be a lot of fun to have them meet and visit our Poppy's cousins in Alba Adriatica!

Everybody came over for dinner. I love love love these Italian dinners. They are so laid back yet full of energy. It reminds me of family get-togethers at my Nonny and Poppy's house when I was young... the huge pot of soup on the stove... pepperoni bread and tons of food set on top of the pool table... and a house full of love.   : )

Dad and Vincenzo:

Giacomo and Sean:

The kids! Mom brought the I <3 NY t-shirts for them   : )
Sean, Denis, Fabio, me, Ylenia, [Giacomo for the photo bomb], Christopher:

Gina!  : )

A quick video of everyone hanging out (and talking at once!):

Friday, January 17, 2014

...and then I rode a donkey?!

Walking over to another square in the lovely ancient town of Ascoli Piceno, we found a Christmas market... an outdoor ice skating rink,

...aaaand a donkey!

This happened:

Oh... we found a talllllll Santa as well: