Chapter Twenty Three  September 24 - October 30, 2005




From sea to land for the first time in almost three years is quite a transition. From English to Italian is quite a transition. From boat to villa is a leap! Showers daily. Always hot, sometimes lengthy. Bicycles. Daily trips to the gelateria. A garden to read in. All of these adjustments are huge. Ahh, but we’re managing quite well.

Seraphim was put to bed in mid October and she is resting comfortably on the hard in Fertilia, Sardinia.

We arrived in Sabaudia, Italy just two weeks ago. Sabaudia is 70 km south of Rome where we have the good fortune of being guests of John’s friend. Our friend picked us up at the airport, drove us to Sabaudia and ,of course, took us to dinner. Spaghetti smothered in fresh porcini mushrooms. It was out of this world. We met a dozen of his friends that evening. Whenever we were introduced, our friend followed up by saying "if you have a problem you just call Mario. He'll take care of you." Next it was "if you have a problem you just call Maurizio." And on and on it went with Fabio, Patrizio, Mimi and Pippa. Unbelievable. He delivered us to our new home at 1:30 AM.

He couldn't grasp us living without a car. This has been eating at him for months. He insisted on delivering us to a car rental the following morning but John protested. Now he's begun to believe we will be o.k. on bicycles but only after a lot of discussion. He had one to offer us and we insisted we would rent the second one. Later the next morning he picked us up for coffee and was entrenched in an animated conversation with his good friend Fabio. Within minutes they were shaking hands and our friend was hugging the guy. Seems he had a brand new bike to lend us for the winter. We're blown away. Our friend is a very charismatic character if you haven't already guessed. He's enormously funny. And then he's very serious. We told him we didn't know how to thank him for his generosity. He said we didn't have to, that the richness of John's friendship was enough.

Our friend has walked us around the entire neighborhood and introduced us to "the best" (his words) coffee bar, news stand, perfumerie, jeweler, butcher, cheese shop, patisseria and gelateria. Each introduction proceeds with a long explanation of who we are and what we're doing. The eyes light up. On several occasions, these people expected us and we were "the boat people, the American winter guests." Several mornings later we returned to the newsagent to say hello. Taped to his shelf behind the cash register were four 3X5 glossies of us which he had downloaded from our website. And Pedro the parrot was repeating, "Seraphim, the worldwide sailors, hello". We cracked up. The whole town knows us and we've been here two days.

The town is a seaside resort, very affluent. It's where the wealthy city folk from Rome and Naples have second homes and visit on weekends. Red Ferraris and Jaguars everywhere. The village is surrounded by three lakes and sits on the edge of a National Forest. There are 3,000 inhabitants and we think we know half of them! We were here two days and we ran into three people we knew in the grocery store. What a hoot.

There are three lakes in Sabaudia. We love to go to the lake on Sunday morning since we haven’t found a church yet. We’ve used the serenity of the lake to do Sunday morning worship. And admire the lake boats, too.

Now that we're settling in to Sabaudia, the whole experience is feeling beyond our wildest expectations. We went to visit Mario and Fabio several days ago. They have become our favorite people. They own the newsagent. We asked them if they knew of someone who could help us learn Italian and within minutes Mario was on the phone to Joseph, better known as Pipo. Pipo is Italian and married to a Brit. His wife wasn't available to teach but he agreed very reluctantly to meet us the next day. We met and he told us he wasn't capable of teaching. Mario was distraught.  He wanted so much to help. In the same moment he hung his head and almost unconsciously walked over to a bin of balls and said "pallone". Soon it was "giornale, libro, scarpe......He had become our teacher temporarily.

Meanwhile, we had made another inquiry at the tourist office and they referred us to Carmela. She's wonderful. We hired her to come five days a week for the next month. We'll see how we go from there. She's 30ish and works as an interpreter. Very enthusiastic and even came with a pronunciation chart on her first day. She’s very earnest and we’ve already learned to love her. The Italian is coming slowly but we’re optimistic.

Besides teaching us Italian, Carmela helps us with all kinds of other inquiries. The best markets, where to buy specific items, traditions and politics. Of course, Halloween was one of those confusions. We saw costumes advertised but weren’t sure of the commitment. She assured us it was an American holiday which they copied and we wouldn’t be likely to get visitors in our neighborhood. Somehow, John heard differently. And we are now sitting with full bowls of his favorites, Kit Kats and cocoa Happy Hippos. No visitors.

We have just returned from Venice. Venice was enchanting as it was the last time we were there. But this time we were with friends and living high in a charming, very Venetian hotel right on the Grand Canal. It could not have been better. Bernard and Judy were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and we were invited to contribute to the celebration. We did our best. They hired a tour guide for the day which consisted of a historical tour around central Venice followed by lunch on the tiny festive island of Burano. We then went to Murano to experience the art of glass blowing. Next to Torcello, the most unbelievable of them all. The duomo was consecrated in 1008. Primitive and wonderful. We don't know of a more astounding place to visit. It's that simple. Seeing Bernard and Judy after a year’s stint was of course the best part of it all.

We've stocked our new home with fresh pasta, spend days on our bikes exploring the neighborhood and we’ve now both purchased Italian walking shoes for our weekly jaunts to Rome. What a life!