Sunday, November 25, 2012


I can hardly believe that in two days, I must leave this beautiful country.  I know another adventure lies ahead, but there is so much more here that I want to see and do.  All must wait until next April when I return to the north of Italy.

Today, Tina, Donato and I went to San Spirito, a resort town just north of Bari.  

It's Sunday and there were lots of people taking a passeggiata by the sea and lots of vendors hawking their wares. 

The water is incredibly clear...............

These men were cleaning the eggs from sea urchins, which are apparently  a much sought-after delicacy here.

This is an open sea urchin showing off its colorful eggs.  I guess you would eat them if you're a caviar lover, but I pass.

It was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday.  

Just for the record, this is Tina and Donato's house, where I've been graciously hosted for the last three weeks.

It looks kind of small from the outside, but there are three floors with four bedrooms and three full baths.  

This will be my last blog entry from Italy.  I've had a wonderful three months here.  My best memories will be those of the warm and gracious people I've met--not just the wonderful southern Italians, but also the people I've encountered from New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, and England--and the very special few days I spent with my long-time American friend, Grace.  

Next stop..............BANGKOK............and, I'm guessing, culture shock!  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Tomorrow I will be shopping for ingredients for the Thanksgiving dinner that I will prepare for my friends here in Italy and some of their family members.  It will be a bit of a challenge, because finding the ingredients I needs for my favorite dishes is difficult.  For example, no fresh green beans are available at this time of year.  Southern Italians eat the vegetables that are in season.  So it will be a medley of cauliflower, broccoli and carrots with herb butter instead.  No problema.

I know that most of my American friends and family will be spending the day the same way I will—in the grocery store and the kitchen getting as much done as possible before Thursday.
So now, while there is time, I want to wish all of my friends who celebrate Thanksgiving a very happy holiday.  I hope you have a wonderful day with your family and/or friends and take a moment to appreciate all the blessings in your life.  I know I will be feeling gratitude for my friends and family at home and for the new friends I have made on this journey.


Monday, November 19, 2012


A couple of days ago, I was angling for more comments because I was feeling homesick; and thanks to the friends who tried.  As most of you know, I'm not the computer whiz.  It takes me a while to figure out how things work, and then I'm never really confident that things will work.

I guess I'm part of the problem in this situation, because I didn't know I had to make some choices in the "Settings" category of my blog design.  So I think I've now got it set up so that anyone can comment.  I think the easiest way to do it, if you don't have a Google account, is to choose Anonymous from the pull-down menu below the comment box.  If you do that, though, please be sure to sign your name in the comment box, so I know who wrote it!

If this doesn't work for you, let me know by email, and I'll do further research.  


It’s been raining here for three days, and it’s going to rain for three more days.  So, we’re not doing much sightseeing.  We did go back to Bari on Saturday and visited a museum there that displayed the works of Puglia born artists from the 1400’s through the 1900’s.  It was mostly religious art.  I asked my friends if there was a museum where I could see more contemporary Italian art, because I really haven’t seen much non-religious art since I’ve been here.  Of about 20 rooms we toured, maybe 3 displayed contemporary art from the 1800’s to the 1900’s.  Oh well.

Anyway, we’re just hanging out at la casa, cooking some really good Italian and American food, reading, watching TV (not me, because the talk is too fast for me to understand), and generally lounging.  So I figure I should take some time to give credit to the woman who inspired me to embark upon this journey.  Her name is Rita Golden Gelman, and last year I read her book Tales of a Female Nomad:  Living at Large in the World.  This woman was divorced at age 48 (which, if my memory serves me, was in the mid-1980’s).  She started travelling then and hasn’t stopped.  She is truly a female nomad, and I stole her handle for my blog.  What a poacher I am! 

Almost everyone who learned of my travel plans has commented on how brave I am to be travelling alone for this extended time.  But my adventure pales beside that of Rita Golden Gelman.  If you want to read about a woman who is truly courageous, I can recommend her book, which details her travels in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Israel, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Borneo, and Bali, where she lived for eight years on the royal compound.   She has no permanent address and only the possessions she can carry.  Her travels are guided by her instinct and serendipity.  And she has a pretty impressive ability to connect with people at all levels of society, from peasants to princes.

Rita Gelman makes her living writing children’s books, and she doesn’t make a lot of money.  So, her travels have been primarily in countries where the American dollar stretches enough to support her nomadic lifestyle.  You don’t see any European countries on her travel itinerary.

I found her story fascinating; and before reading her book, I had never really thought about doing anything similar.  Having been a nomad for close to 3 months, my admiration for her is even greater.  This is not a “piece of cake” life style, but it isn’t boring. And like Ruth, it’s the people I’ve met who provide the memories I know I will treasure most. 

I’m not sure I’ll be lucky enough to meet a member of the royal family of Bali in an airport, but who knows?  Life is full of surprises when you are fully open to life.

Friday, November 16, 2012


My hostess Tina has been having some serious pain problems with one of her feet.  So we've been out sightseeing just a couple of times this week.  Plus it was cold and rainy a couple of days.

On our second sightseeing trip this week, we toured around Bari, which is where my host Donato was born, and where Tina and Donato lived for several years after they were married.  So they know this place very well.

As with many Italian cities, there's an old city and a new city.  The tourists, of course, spend most of their time in the old cities, because that's where the history is and that's where you get a strong sense of the passage of time in this ancient civilization.  Bari isn't as much of a tourist draw as some of the other cities I've visited, but it's nice.  It's by the sea.......

This walkway is 12 kilometers long, and it's lighted all the way....quite the pretty sight at night, I'm told.  As you can see, we were there in in daylight, and it was a beautiful one.

The streets of old town in Bari weren't very busy.

And there weren't a lot of sights to see, but you can always count on a couple of churches.  

This is the Basilica di San Nicola...I guess it's pretty obvious that I didn't take this picture.  The architecture is 11th century Byzantine.

This gives you some idea of its grandeur inside.

The frescoed ceiling was beautiful...and gold always showcases things nicely.

This altar was in the basement of the church, which was a pretty amazing place.

I wish I could show you the total effect of all these beautiful arches that filled this space.

    As well as some pretty stunning art.

One church is enough for today, and San Nicola was the best of the two we saw.  After walking the streets of old town, I got a driving tour of the city, and there were times it looked like Florida.

But it isn't.  


I know my family and some of my friends are reading my blog, because they mention it in their occasional emails to me, but I rarely get any comments on my entries.  There have been 1167 page views so far for 35 entries, which means, I think, that 33.3 or so people are out there in cyberspace peeping in on my adventures.  

If you've ever been away from home for a few months, you know how much you can miss people.  Well, I'm missing family and my friends. I'm starting to feel a bit disconnected.  So I have a favor to ask.  If you can figure out how to do it, please leave an occasional comment, so I know you're there and thinking of me once in a while, like I'm thinking of you.  

If you can't figure out how to leave a comment (and I know it can be confusing, because my niece has a blog and I had to get instructions from her on how to leave a comment), send me an email, and I'll do my best to instruct you on the steps.  

Mille grazie.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Italy seems to be a place of superlatives.  Just when I think I’ve been in awe as much as I could be, I see another place that has my jaw dropping.  Today it was Matera, which is in the Basilicata region of Italy.  Matera is one of the oldest cities in Italy; according to our tour guide, it is 35,000 years old.  Our tour was through the Sassi di Matera (Stones of Matera), which is the ancient town.  Ancient Matera is a UNESCO Heritage site.  

These so-call sassi date back to the 1200’s and are dwellings carved in the low mountains of this area.  There is usually no more than one living level above ground, and some of these sassi have 5 or 6 levels underground.  At one time, Matera was under the sea, and as you walk through this ancient town, you can see the fossils of sea creatures in the stone walls.  It’s a pretty amazing place. 

And it covers a pretty large area, as you can see from this picture. 

This is only about half the area. 

And this canyon gives you some idea of the elevation.  

You can wander around the stone streets yourself; or if you want an education, you can take a tour, which is what we did.  

There were many herbs and plants that grew in the crevices of these stony structures—thyme, capers, arugula, rosemary, and chicory, to name a few I recognized.  

There was apparently a church or chapel on every street of the old town.  Our tour took us through 4 underground churches that were part of a monastery.  The churches are also used as museums that display the works of Italian artists.  It was very cool.  I took lots of pictures, and it was hard to choose which ones to share, but here are some of my favorites…

A fresco at the altar of one of the churches..

An example of the modern art displayed.

A fresco of a saint whose name I can't remember.

The face is on the other side.  What a contrast to the fresco above, eh?

There was also a furnished sassi, which was a kind of museum that displayed household furnishings and tools used from the 1400’s through the 1800’s, all mixed together.  

When the U.S. put a man on the moon in the late 1960’s, Italian families were still living in these sassi without electricity, sewage systems, or water.  They used lanterns for light, wood fires for cooking, terra cotta chamber pots for sewage, and collected rain water in cisterns for cooking and drinking.  

This is a photo of a photo of the family who last lived in this sassi.

The Italian government is partially funding the renovation of these sassi into bed and breakfast inns, shops, and living quarters.  We saw several places where renovations were taking place to modernize these stone structures.  

The building in the foreground on the right is a bed and breakfast.  Can you imagine staying there?

That stony structure in the middle is a of the more humble ones I've seen in Italy.

Much of the time here, I feel like a time traveler.  This was especially true in Matera, because only foot traffic allowed in the area we toured.  It was very tranquil, and you could pretty easily imagine what it would have been like to be living back here in the day.  Another great touring day with my friends, Donato and Tina.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


This area of Puglia is all about olive trees and vineyards.  It’s amazing to me that anything can grow in the rocky soil here, but according to my Italian friend Donato, you could bury an olive pit in concrete and a tree would sprout from it!  And Donato knows his concrete.

I’m happily ensconced in the lovely home of my friends Tina and Donato, who are very, very gracious hosts.  Tina is a great cook, and if I stayed here too long, I would be in trouble.  Their eating habits are a bit different from mine.  They have a coffee and a sweet roll early in the morning. Then for lunch, between 1 and 2 p.m., they eat a pasta course, a meat course, and fruit.  Dinner is really more like my typical lunch—a panini, or pizza, or an assorted antipasto—and they eat it at 9 p.m. or even later.  I’m trying to adjust.

Today, we went to “trulli town”, better known here as Alberobello.  This is a trullo.

Trulli are dry stone huts that were constructed as temporary field shelters and storehouses or as permanent dwellings by small proprietors or agricultural laborers. They date back to the 1400’s and are unique to this area of Puglia. 
Imagine an entire town of trulli… are some photos I took as we roamed this charming and unique place, where many of the trulli have been converted to small shops, bars, and restaurants.

This is a twin trulli.  See the symbol on the left side of the roof.  Many trulli have Christian or magic symbols on their roofs. The number of cones on a trullo usually represent the number of rooms in the complex.  Many have only one cone.

                                      A typical trulli street

Your typical trulli tourist

Here is the church in trulli town.  

             The outside

A side altar on the inside...unfortunately my picture of the main altar turned out very blurry.

And this is a really interesting stone pulpit.

After our tour of trulli town, we drove to Polignano di Mare, a lovely seaside city with great charm.  Some sea views……

Some street views.......

And a view of friends having a good time....

Tina and Donato

Tina and the Trulli Town Tourist

We stopped at a small takeout restaurant before we left that had two things for sale, bread and focaccia.  There were six different kinds of focaccia, and it was different from anything I’ve seen in the U.S.  It was like a bread pie with a top and bottom crust.  I got one filled with prosciutto and mozzarella, and it was delicious.  Donato had one filled with ground meat, and Tina’s was a mix of onions and olives.  We liked it so much that we bought some to have for our evening “snack”.