There’s no Labor Day in Germany to mark the official end of summer, but our trip to Italy kind of substituted for a season finale -though it also marked many firsts. First swim in the ocean, first sweltering 100 degree day, first juicy tomato… now I understand perfectly why so many Germans head south on holiday. It was great to have a week of really sunny, hot days -a shot in the arm to make the transition to winter a little easier.
Our NYC friends Joe and Paola were living in Abruzzo for the summer and they invited us to come visit. Paola grew up there and we stayed in the apartment where she spent every summer with her mother, four siblings and various other family members and guests. Alba Adriatica is a big summer destination for Italians from all over the country and it felt very festive. The apartment was right next to the beach and we went swimming every day, joining hundreds of people who waded in the shallows and tanned under bright colored umbrellas.
Joe and Paola showed us tons of fantastic places in the area, including an ancient hermit’s cave dating back to 3000 BC and one amazing restaurant after another -often in the little medieval towns perched in the hills above the beach. We got to meet some of Paola’s family and friends and were invited to an unbelievable lunch made by her mother. Over several hours, we slowly ate multiple delicious courses, chatting all the while and taking breaks for naps (actually, just me who napped).
Christian and I also did some hiking by ourselves in the incredible Gran Sasso mountains. Many of the peaks are way above the tree line and the landscape is quite surreal. We even saw the mountain where Mussolini had been briefly imprisoned in a hotel, then rescued by a daring group of Nazi pilots in 1943.
The entire trip was incredibly relaxing and it was really nice to be with New Yorkers again. Thanks to Joe, we got caught up on all the election news and gloated over the rather bad luck that the Republicans had that week (Todd Akins, Hurricane Issac). I became really sad when it was time to say goodbye, thinking about how long it would be before we would see Joe and Paola again, and almost jealous that they would be returning to NYC by the end of the week. But the grass is always greener and I was really just glad to have lived in a place where I could make such interesting friends and that now we could meet up again in other wonderful corners of the world.