Michelle and Paul
Michelle will be taking his last name so Paul is taking her on a romantic trip to the land of his ancestors. We will (temporarily) cash in our healthy lifestyle as we eat and drink our way through the Bel Paese. After a flight from Boston to Milan, we will speed across the Po River valley at 220 mph via high-speed train to Bologna, Italy’s culinary capital. It’s the home of the oldest university in Europe (founded in 1088!) and has one of the best-preserved historic centers of any of the large cities. We’ll be stopping here to rest for a couple of days after the flight before heading out to the countryside; Paul planned this trip to visit only small towns where he has friends or family. Bologna is a place to enjoy some of the best food, art and wine Italy has to offer. Agriturismo – a combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian – is a style of vacationing in farm house B&B’s that is increasingly popular in Italy. We’ll take a train from Bologna to Pescara, a small city on the Adriatic Coast, and rent a car to drive up into the hills to Loreto Aprutino, where Paul’s grandfather was born. Casina la Rosa is a charming farmhouse where we’ll spend three nights enjoying the traditional cuisine and exploring the homeland of the Acciavatti family. Following this, we’ll drive further up into the foothills of the great Apennine mountain range, to the medieval village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. This community was virtually abandoned in the great waves of emigration to America and to industrial jobs in the north. In 1999, when the Italian entrepreneur Daniele Kihlgren visited, there were only about 120 people left in the town, and many buildings had collapsed or lost their roofs. Kihlgren decided to beuild what is called an albergo diffuso (literally: “scattered hotel”) in the town, with modern appointments and an excellent restaurant. We’ll stay two nights in a room with a view of the surrounding national park, borrowing mountain bikes to go out on excursions. Following this, we’ll begin our long journey to the far south of Italy, where our friend Michelle lives. We’ll go as far as we can by high-speed train, getting off at Bari and renting another car (in the south, it takes far longer to get around by train than it does by car, something that’s not true in the more urbanized north). We’ll spend the night in Bari before setting off along the instep of the boot to Badolato, in Calabria, about 250 miles away. Our friend Michelle is an American who came to Italy to discover her roots. To make a long story short, she met a man and stayed in the village where her great grandfather was born! She now works as a freelance writer, thanks to the miracle of the Internet (and she will tell you that in her village, it’s a miracle when it works). With her husband Paolo, their goats and dogs and their campagna (a place in the countryside), she has built a beautiful life here. From there we round the tip-toe of the boot, with Sicily just a few miles across the Strait of Messina, to Palmi, a clifftop town along the Costa Viola (literally “Purple Coast” from the color of the water) where Paul’s grandmother was born. There we’ll enjoy some time on the beach – and also maybe do some genealogical investigations – for a couple of days. Paul’s friend from Los Angeles now lives there with her husband, so we’ll get another chance to see Italian life from the “inside.” We have to return our car in order to get to Napoli (Naples), because what lies before us now is what is widely acknowledged to be the worst road in all of Italy: the fearsome Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway. Construction started in 1966, and Calabria was finally connected to the rest of Italy 8 years later. Rebuilding has been going on ever since, plagued by the rough terrain and Mafia infiltration. We’ll take the train. We’ll enjoy just a day in Naples, which is worth a trip all its own. The next day, we’ll take another high-speed train climbing all the way up the Italian boot through Rome, Florence and Bologna to Milan in just five hours. We’ll do a little exploring of Italy’s fashion capital before finally boarding a plane back to Boston. In lieu of physical presents, we’re inviting our guests to be a part of this magical journey. By selecting one of the gifts below, you can help us make our dream a reality!Italy Naples, Italy Bologna, Italy Loreto Aprutino, Italy Santo Stefano Di Sessanio, Italy
In an historic building, with origins in the 13th century, that belonged to the aristocratic Gessi family and was decorated by masters of the Renaissance
we're somewhat off the beaten track, but Italians eat well everywhere.
breakfast isn't a common Italian mean, but a cornetto (croissant), maybe some cheese, and a cappuccino would start the day off for us... and you have to pay extra to sit in the nice cafès
a deconsecrated church, lit solely by candles, with background classical music and a lit fireplace. yes, we will want to eat here.