At12:30 P.M. my friend Kevin Reilly arrived and picked me up. He had a pizza and purchased a half a case of beer. I was still getting ready, shower and shaved. At we left for the airport. His car was full of dog hair. After driving and Kevin yelling at other drivers he dropped me off at in NewarkAirport. At the airport I met a kid from Charlotte, North Carolina and we talked. Then I met an Italian from Milan, who could talk English, but only a little. When the plane took off, I met a nice Italian lady from Venice. She was old, but she was very nice. I could talk to her in Italian. On the plane all the Italians were talking Italian and I loved it. I never looked out of the plane window and just read my newspaper. I feel that it has been a bad trip with the turbulence, but all is O.K. I did mess up. I bent my glasses while reading the paper.
I think of all the stress and depression and anxiety I went through preparing for this vacation. I even cannot believe from pass events that I am rally here and traveling. But, as I see it, it is now or never. Greece and Italy are the places on my travel list. I think of other places, but my body cannot handle the physical strains of traveling. The funny thing is where do these problems come from? Why should I be sick about trip and sometimes I think why am I going in the first place? I decided to go, hesitantly on this trip. I am having the best time of my life. I guess, I should be married and settled down then running around Europe. I feel I hate to fly, but I love to travel. I feel this is the last trip to Europe for a long time.
July 8, 1998
On the plane to Athens, Greece I am nervous wreck, I cannot take my prescription to clam myself down, but it is only an hour and a half flight to the AthensAirport. I guess I can hold out. So far it has been a great trip except this flight has been bumpy. On the trip from Newark to Rome I was able to sleep for a few hours. That was a first time I was able to sleep on this whole trip. On this plane I can hardly write this journal entrée do to the turbulence. I met a mother and her son from Burks County Pennsylvania. Nice people, but this jet lag is killing me. We landed in Athens. But the luggage is lost. I took a taxi with an Argentina school teacher. Before, we booked rooms at the Hotel Amazon near the Acropolis. Later, I went downstairs to the front deck for advice on a good restaurant. I ended up going to a place that had good gyros and other food. I had wine and met a person named Dave, an Australian, who was waiting for a Visa to enter Spain. We talked about Australia and the United States. But he told me of the partying in the GreekIslands. I told him I would think about it if I would stop at one of the islands. But, it was obvious he was a party animal and I am a person on a genealogy quest. I figure I would party in Vasto.
July 9, 1998
The next day I called my girlfriend Anna around in the morning. There is a seven hour difference between the United States and Greece. It was good to hear a familiar voice. That morning was a rough one because I was still suffering from jetlag and I was hung-over. I went to breakfast and I had orange juice and bread and butter. Afterwards, I went to the NationalMuseum, that dealt with Greeces fight for independence, and then to the NationalArcheologicalMuseum to check out Greek and Roman artifacts. Afterwards, I went to the storefront of a boat that sold tickets for a ferry from Greece to Italy. I then went for a walk to go to the post card hunting. I then went to the restaurant for some beer and to relax. After, I went to my hotel room to write out the post cards. Funny, there was a fire today and all you can do is smell the smoke in the streets and in the section of town I was in. It took the firemen forever to find the fire. Also, last night I watch televising with Greek subtitles. The room where the television was located was smoky. I told the manager and it a turn out there was a fire in the kitchen. Greece needs more fire alarms. Also, I cannot believe when I exchanged money at the banks all the desks had ashtrays filled with cigarettes and the bank was smoky. After, I purchased the post cards and I went back to the room and wrote them out. After, I left the room and I took a walk to see the entire archeological site around the tourist area. I took some pictures through the locked fences. Afterwards, I went back to the hotel and showered and shaved. Then I went to the restaurant for some chicken gyros which were very good. After, I talked to a Belgium lady who was married to a Greek, but he had died and she did not like living in a desolate part of Greece. So she moved to Athens. Her and her husband grew chickens in the Belgium Congo in Africa. After independence of the Belgium Congo they moved out of Africa to Greece. After diner I went to watch television in a room for all the people staying at the hotel. I met a young man from Albania. A true communist, but does not know that the he was talking about. He told me that he watched a television show on U.F.O and that said that U.F.O. does exist. He believes it because he saw a program in U.F.O. on television. I told him that if somebody or you touch a U.F.O., then believes it. Dont believe in what you hear on the television. I was obvious that this kid was brainwashed because he believe in everything the television said.
July 10, 1998
Woke up early and I went to the Angora Romana. I saw many Roman and Greek artifacts and a lot of ruins. They had a museum with great with great artifacts and a temple that was still standing. Afterwards, I took a walk to a mountain to see another sight. Bit, it was so isolated and far I decided to turn back. I went back to the Acropolis. But this time there were tourist from a boat were there. Afterwards, I went to the restaurant for some fried eggplant, a salad, and some vino. The eggplant was oily. After, I went to the Superstar sales office to get a ticket for tomorrows journey to Italy on a ferry. I then decided to go t-shirt shopping for Anna. I walked the whole area where the tourist ago around the Acropolis. After seeing many different types and prices I purchased a t-shirt and return to the hotel far a nap. I woke up around and shower and shaved. I went down the stairs and saw Maria, the teacher who I shared a taxi with when I arrived in Athens. We went to the restaurant and I ate and she drank. Afterwards we sent to the tourist area around the Acropolis. We returned around in the morning. Maria was a nice girl, but I could not really talk to her because my Spanish is not too good.
July 11, 1998
Woke up early, packed my backpack, and went to the Superstar office to get on the Superstar bus to the ship. I met three girls from Chicago. We all set off to Patras in a bus. I recall the driver of the bus was chain smoking the whole way to Patras. After three and one half hours our ride ended up at a café near the ship waiting for the departure at four oclock. We were joined by a couple, an Algerian man and Italian girl. There was no organization in Greece when it came down to organization. We tried to enter the boat, but we had to go to the Superstar office and then to the immigration checkpoint. In one way or another I could not wait to get to Italy. We finally enter the boat and a porter took me to my room. It was a small room with four beds. Two folded out from the wall. I could not decide if I should take and Dramamine or the patch I purchased in the United States for sea sickness. So I talk the bartender if anybody gets sick and he said not many. So I thought to myself, forget it. I just drink a few beers. When we sailed I was so nervous. So I just drank a six pack and watched the world go by. I loved it. I recall seeing the town of Patras get smaller and smaller, but you could see the smoke from the pollution rising in the atmosphere from a distance. Afterwards I went to the buffet for something to eat. I did not want to eat with the girls from Chicago in the dinning room. I had spaghetti with marinara sauce; the sauce was greasy for a tomato sauce, and a piece of bread. Afterwards, I watched television and watched the movie Dumb and Dumber in English with Greek subtitles. I laughed my head off. I guess I have not had a good laugh n a long time. After, I went to bed. I found that sleeping in a boat was great. No sea sickness.
July 12, 1998
I woke up around in the morning. I took a shower and was ready for Italy. We arrived in the port of Bari. I took a cab to the train station and lucked out. There was a train that goes to Vasto. I asked the taxi driver about it. He took me inside the train station personally and asked the ticker person about the train ticket to Vasto. I guess I tipped him too much money. Now I am waiting for the train. After much confusion I went on the train and arrived in Vasto around At the new train station in Vasto I took a bus to the RossettiPlaza. I recall on the bus we went through Vasto Marino and I saw Alfonzo Pietrocolas house. When I arrived at the RossettiPlaza I walked to Hotel 7 where I stayed in Vasto back in 1993. I could not believe what a long walk it was. I guess I am getting too old for pack backing. When I arrived I could not believe the hotel had closed down. So I went to the Panoramic Hotel. I was the nearest hotel and it was very hot to look around for another hotel. At the hotel I took a room fro 70,000 liras per night. Then I went for a walk in the town though it was very hot. I was in a dream world. I could not believe I was here in Vasto. I returned to the hotel and watched television and drank some beer. The deck clerk recognizes my name and asked if I was related to anybody in town. I said I did have relatives in town and he gave me my passport back that I used as a deposit for the room. Afterwards, I set out to see the town again. I found Giuseppe Pietrocolas house in the old medieval section of town and just like five years ago there was Virginia Argenti head sticking out of the window looking at the street. She did not recognize me and I asked for Carlo Pietrocola. He opened a window and saw who I was and he came down to open the door. We talked and it turns out that some relatives have died in the past five years. Giuseppe Pietrocola past away and Alfonzo Pietrocolas wife had also past away. Carlo was married and still lived in this house. He gave me his phone number to call and set up a time to meet in the future. One funny note was when he said his father died I said mi piace instead of mi dispiace. He understood my mistake. Afterwards I waked around and went to a Vasto Phil. This is an exhibition of old stamps, post cards, and wine tasting. I met a girl from Astoria Queens, New York. She was half Irish and half Italian whose family moved back to Italy. I tired the wine tasting and filled out a form on the wines taste, smell, and texture. Afterwards, with free posters in my hand, and other information, I waked towards Saverio Tanas house. And there he was waiting for his wife outside his house. He could not believe it was me. We talked and then I saw Sylvia, Lucias daughter, her husband Francisco and their daughter. And then Margherita came out. She was also surprised to see me. Before leaving I asked them where there is a good restaurant. They said to go to a restaurant that is owned by Roberto Molino. Who I believe was a distant cousin of theirs. Margherita and Saverio had to run off to the church. Sylvia, Francisco, and their daughter took me to the restaurant. There, we talked and then I returned to the hotel. I showered and shaved and then return to the restaurant to eat. I ate well that night. I had tomato and mozzarella and spaghetti Bolognese. I also watched the world cup soccer. I turns out that the name of the Restaurant is call the Cisterne Romana. I met Roberto Molino, who knows Saverio, and called Saverio by his nickname Rino. Even though there are Molinos in my family, it turns out that Roberto is related to Saverios aunt. Afterwards, I walked to the hotel picked up the photo album and my family tree and returned to Saverio Tanas house. The photo album I had was photos of them taken by my Uncle Joe and Uncle George when they visited Vasto back in the 1950s. Also, there were letters by them that they had mailed to my grandmother. At Saverio Tanas apartment I showed Saverio, his son Patrizio, and Margherita the album. It blew their minds away. Later, Gina and Bernato Tabilio stop by. They could not believe the alblum. We drank some beer, talked, and later Gina and Bernato waked me to the hotel.
July 13, 1998
That morning was a rude awakening. The sun was so bright in my room and there were really no shades on the window. I had agreed earlier that I would meet Gina and Bernato at eight in the morning to go to the beach. But, they were able to talk me into staying at their house. Giovanni and I left to go to the beach. But, first we went to the bank to exchange drachmas, or Greek money. At the bank Mariella, the daughter of Nicoletta was working at the bank. After the bank I checked out of the hotel. At the beach I met Dominico, Nicolettas son, Leno, another son, and Lenos wife Maria. Leno had a child called Ilario and Dominico had a son Ernesto. At the beach I showed them the photo album. They all died over the album. I also showed then the family tree. Afterwards, Nicoletta showed up. We all sat around like we were all friends. She looks at me and called me, the American. I still cannot believe how she looks like my grandmother Filomena Pietrocola. She also liked the photo album. Later, Giovanni and I went for a walk on the beach. Mostly we saw families at the beach. Later, we took a ride back to the house to eat dinner around in the afternoon. We had spaghetti, steak, bread, and a type of sautéed vegetables. Also, there was the home made vino. Later, we had fruit and cookies. Afterwards, we watched television. I fell asleep immediately. Afterwards, Giovanni and I dropped off film from my Greece trip and went to the beach to talk to Ernesto, the son of Leno. He asked many questions about the United States. Later, I picked up the photos and went back to the house. We had mozzarella, prosciutto, bread and a tomato salad. All of the food was great. Later, that night Lucia stops by. She was so happy to see me. She would say Gregoriooo in a happy voice. I showed her the album and she loved it. We talked and had some cookies. I still cannot believe that Lucia looks so much like my Aunt Gilda. That night I slept in Ginas daughter Annas room. I slept well that night. See Photo of Gina and Nicoletta
July 14, 1998
In the morning I talked to Giovanni on who was who in the family. I was able to record their names in my journal since I could not recall all the names I have heard since I arrived in Vasto. Afterwards, we went to a café for coffee and pastries. On the way to the beach I stop by Alfonzo Pietrocolas house, but he was not at home. I met Giovanni at the beach. At the beach I met Lino, or Michele is his real name, Dominico, Nicoletta, and some other family members. We talked and then Giovanni and I went for a walk. Afterwards I drank some beer at a bar on the beach. Afterwards, I talked to Dominico on how different American beaches are from the beach in Vasto Marino. Around we went back to the house to eat. We had pasta with fish and tomatoes, beard, and a fried fish with breadcrumbs. After, we had figs. These figs were big and tasted sweet. Also, there was home made vino. After a quick siesta, Giovanni and I went to the central part of Vasto. There I showed him my family crest. I put him on my shoulders to take a close up picture of the crest. A lady stops by in her car and asked us what we were doing. She was very talkative and was interested in art and fashion. She was a short fat lady whose blue eyes shot out when she talked. Later, we went to the churches, the parks, stop for a beer, and then Giovanni left and agreed to back me up later. After I stop by Carlos house and met his wife Maria. We agreed on meeting tomorrow at . After I went to a café near the central part of the town and watch the people come out of their homes for their walks. Funny, I saw the same bum in the piazza I saw five years ago. After Giovanni and his friend Massimo picked me up. We went to the house and talked. They were interested in New York City. Afterwards, we had dinner around . We had leftovers including a potatoes dish that had mashed potatoes mix with butter and we had prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella, sauté mushrooms, a type of ricotta cheese, but on the heavy side, and a type of pork that was spicy, but was like a type of pork jerky. But, the pork was very good. We also had bread and vino. After dinner we watched television and then later they were persistent on me calling home. I tried, but all the operators were busy. So I told them I would try tomorrow. Gina could not believe I would not call my parents. I told her I am an old man and not a young boy on his first trip. Also, I talked to Anna, Ginas daughter on the phone. Around at night I went to bed even though Gina and the rest of her family were persistent on me calling my family in America. See Photo Vasto Marino Statue
On the beaches of Vasto Marino there are many hotels. On my next trip I believe I will stay at a hotel called the Europa in Vasto Marino because they had air-conditioning.
On the beach Giovanni told me a joke. It turns out a lot of Albanians watch Italian television and learns Italian. What is the difference between a Southern Italian and an Albanian? The Albanians can speak Italian.
July 15 1998
Woke up around four and called my girlfriend Anna collect. I told her to call my parents to tell them all is O.K. It is hot in the bed. I can feel the sweat in my back. Funny, it is a cool day in the afternoon. Woke up again, took a shower, and Bernato and I went to a café for a decaf expresso. We first stop by a book store to look at history books on Vasto. Later, we set off to the Pietrocola Pharmacy where I met Filippo Pietrocola. Filippo knew I was a distant relative and was interested in the family tree. He wrote in his relatives in the tree. He looked at the album and spotted and identified a lady in a photo. He told me he wanted a copy of the tree after I was done. At the pharmacy I saw an old document of the first Pietrocola Pharmacy in Vasto. Filippo, who was the assistant mayor, told us that the daughter of the lady in the photo was worked at a bar in the supermarket. Bernato and I set off to the supermarket, on the outskirts of Vasto, and found out that this lady did not work at the supermarket that day. But, the manager gave us a phone number to contact her. Later, we found out that the lady at the supermarket was not related. After we left and Bernato and I were heading back to his house. But, I asked him about his friend who had a farm and I would like to visit the farm on the outskirts of Vasto. The next thing you know we are on our way to the farm. At the farm we meet the owner and his wife. They were an old couple. I recall at the entrance of the house there was an old dog that just sat there looking at us when we entered the house. We had cake and cookies and then set off to look at the farm. He had olive trees, fig trees, eggplant, tomatoes, chickens, cows, and calves. I could not believe the size of the fig tree and the figs. After we said our good byes and set off to Ginas house. At the house we sat and talked. I had a appointment to go to Carlo Pietrocolas house. But, the clouds came in. Also, Gina and Giovanni came home and before you know it, the rain started with thunder and lightning. Also, it started to hail.I recall Giovanni quickly moved the car to the garage, but hit the car against a wall and did some damage to he car. At dinner we ate string beans and tomatoes, steak, bread, and some home made vino. After, Bernato game me a ride to Carlo Pietrocolas house in the rain. We arrived and Carlo was not at home. But, as I rang the door bell he pulled up in his car. I could not believe the great job he was doing in his house. The inside was all tile and plaster. The house had a gothic look to it. Anyway, he looked at the history of Vasto book, then the photo album, he knew many people in the album, and then he worked on and made the corrections on the family tree. But, there were words and names he could not figure out and he could not find the ordinal family tree that I wanted to study. I was so disappointed. After, Maria showed up, we talked, and later we headed out for a restaurant in San Salvo, the town next to Vasto. We past several restaurants, but they were all closed. Finally, we arrived at the Restaurant Lucia and ate. They had oysters, sardines, and shrimp. I had cold cuts, mozzarella, and garlic bread. For my entrée I had spaghetti with mussels. Carlo and I had a lot of wine. I told them the joke Giovanni told me earlier. After dinner we set back to Ginas house. I was drunk and messed up my Italian. I talked to Giovanni, Gina, Bernato, and later set off to bed. See Photo Fig Tree at the Farm.
One funny thing about Bernato is that he is like the town social butterfly. He knows a lot of people and stops to chat with them.
Also, I noticed if I mention something I wish to do they all try to make it happen. When I try to call America, they were so persistent on me calling America. Also, when finding the lady in the supermarket, it seems it was more important to them than me to find the identity of the lady in the family album.
July 16, 1998
Woke up, did not take a shower, but I washed my face and shaved. Gina and I went to the café and there we met Bernato. I had a cup of decaf expresso and a pastry. Bernato and I set off to find the mystery person on the photo in the photo album. We set our sights on the person that Filippo Pietrocola mentioned at the pharmacy the other day. Bernato and I stop by the bank to exchange money. Mariella, who worked at the bank, loved the album and her letter that was in the album. But, first we went to the print shop so I could purchase four copies of the history of Vasto book. We set off to find the mystery lady in the photo album. It turns out it was the wrong person that worked at the supermarket bar. So Bernato and I dropped off the books in the car. Stop by the church for a quick prayer, and set off to Saverio Tanas house. There Saverio and I talked about who that mystery person was in the photo album. So we set off to this other persons house to see if we could find the mystery person. First, Saverio took to a persons house and it turns out that this old lady that answered the door was the wrong person. After talking to some friends in the streets we set off to another address. It turns out this mystery person was Anna Notarangelo. I believe Anna Notarangelo is the daughter of Giulia Pietrocola, who was the sister of my grandfather. She loved the photos and was persistent on Saverio, Bernato, and I to stay. But, we had to get ready for dinner at . Bernato and I drove back to the house. There, Gina asked me many questions on American colleges and the school district I taught in New Jersey. She could not believe that students that failed in Paterson were passed in the next grade. At around one thirty in the afternoon I was driven to Saverios house for dinner. There, was had gnocchi, chicken, carrots, artichokes, and bread. But, in the middle of dinner a saleslady arrived and showed Saverio and Margherita a cleaning machine that steam cleans the floor and sucks up the dirty water. I watch television and read the paper. The lady left and we returned to dinner. Fabio and Patrizio joined us for dinner. I could not believe that Fabio and Patrizio act more like children even though they are in their twenties. They would fight at the table, argue, and would start hitting each other. Another funny thing is when I would ask Margherita a question, when she was not yelling at Fabio and Patrizio, she would answer me with a spray of food coming out of her mouth. Around Giovanni arrived and we went to the beach. I had to do a shot with Saverio before I left his apartment. The shot was a type of lemon liquor, but it was very strong. When I drank the whole thing in one mouth full I started to cough my brains out. Everyone in the room started to laugh. Saverio slap me on the back to help. At the beach the usual people were there like Lino, Marco, and later, Dominico. Also, a lot of their children were running around. Later, we were joined by Gina, who walked from her house to Vasto Marino. At the beach we talked and I told them some Crazy Joe stories. They all laughed. At the beach I had some beer and many people return to the beach after dinner. Later, we talked to Lino, Marco and Dominico, and then we headed for Nicolettas house. She lived in an apartment on a street across from the beach. There I met the wives of Lino and Marco, Lucia and Americo, one granddaughter, and Nicoletta. She had a beautiful view of the sea and had binoculars to look for her family on the beach. There we talked and I saw a photo of Saverio and Nicoletta when they were babies. After, we went to Ginas house and there we had dinner around at night. We had prosciutto, mozzarella, bread, fresh tomatoes, basil, and cheese from the Abruzzi area. We had cake afterwards. We talked and Gina wanted to hear stories of Filomena Pietrocola. I told her a few stories that made Gina laugh. Later, she took out her photos and showed me photos of her family events. One funny note is that I had two of these photos in my grandmothers collection. Also, I recognized a photo of a Molino that lived in Baltimore, Maryland. I had to admit to Gina I was tired and I was falling asleep while I was looking at the photos. So, I went to bed. See Photo Saverio and I.
One note, while walking around Vasto I met another Pietrocola, but he was of no relationship. But, thinking about it he could be related if I did the research.
July 17, 1998
I woke up early and went down stairs and saw a note. I could not make out it out but I think it said something about I walking to the beach since everybody was down there and I was home alone. So, I washed my face and brushed my teeth and Giovanni showed up. Giovanni and I went to the beach and I saw the house of Alfonzo Pietrocola was open. Meaning the front door was open. So, Giovanni parked the car and I went to the house. I saw some people I did not know and asked for Alfonzo. Alfonzo appeared and he looked pretty good. I know his wife had past away a few years ago. We talked, but he was in a hurry. It turns out he was in the middle of a business transaction of some sorts. We agreed to meet another time to go to a restaurant. After that I met Giovanni, Bernato, and Gina at the beach and later I met Dominico, Lino, Marco, and their children. Gina and Bernato did not stay long. I finally did some sun tanning, read some documents on the hotels of Vasto, and I wore my Speedos like a real Italian. Prior to going to the beach Giovanni and I stopped by a library in Vasto. I always thought the Gabriel Rossetti library was the only library in town, but it turns out there has another library that was much bigger. I could not believe they had magazines with nude people on the cover. But, they did have other books on the history of Vasto. At the library a person, a friend of Giovannis, gave me a brochure of all the hotels in Vasto and other tourist information. At the beach I swam in the water, drank some beer, and did some more sun tanning. At the bar on the beach all the little kids played cards and I watched two cousins, the sons of Marco and Lino, fight and throw sand at each other. One was blinded by the sand and he ran into the bar and washed his eyes out. After, all was O.K.Also, a girl came up to me to sell me something. I believe she was selling tickets on betting on soccer games. I could not really understand what she was selling so I asked her name and I told her my name was Sylvester Stallone from America. She laughed and walked away. After, Giovanni and I set off to this house to eat. We had pasta, wine, cheese, prosciutto, and another type of cheese that was more like cream cheese, and plenty of bread. We also had fruit and cake. After Giovanni and I set off to the house of Luca. We were driven by Bernato to Lucas house. At the house Giovanni, Luca, his girlfriend, and I set off for an archeological dig right next to San Pietro church. San Pietro church was the one that fell off the side of a cliff and only the front door is still standing. At the archeological site I saw a Roman bath, but you cold only see the mosaic floor. There were archeologists working on restoring the mosaic floor in different rooms of the site. We also went to the façade of San Pietro church and Luca pointed out that San Pietro is built on a Roman house or temple. Also, when landslide occurred in the forties of fifties a lot of Roman artifacts were exposed.Later, we walked to the Palazzo Avalos and Luca pointed out several medieval parts of the palace that was now being renovated. After we dropped off Luca and Giovanni and I went to Ginas house. At the house Gina was giving a lesson to a girl on Latin and Giovanni decided to go to the store. We decided we would meet at and go to the beach. I went upstairs and took a nap. I woke up around and read my history of Vasto book while waiting for Giovanni. It turns out that Giovanni was late because a neighbor was hit by a car and he went to visit the child who was hit by the car. So, I decided to join Giovanni to go to the gym. The gym was much like an American gym, but the equipment was old and different and the weights were in kilos and not in pounds. Also, Giovanni try to explain to me that if a machine has a pulley, the weight is cut in half. But, I tried to explain that the weight written on the machines already take the pulley into account. At the gym Giovanni soon realized we were late for a show tonight. So we hurried back to Ginas house and he took a shower and then Ernesto arrived. Giovanni, Ernesto, and I took the car and we pickup a friend of Ernesto and we all headed for the show. It turns out the show was located at Aqualand, a water theme park that had a lot of rides that all had water. There we met two girls that were friends of Giovanni. It turns out we went to see the Ms. Molise pageant. Molise is a town near Vasto. But, it turns out most of the people were there to see an Abruzzi comedian named Vincenzo. The comic Vincenzo does a lot of stories, jokes, sings, dances, and impersonations. Everyone laughed and there were a lot of people. But, I could not really understand what Vincenzo was saying and I headed to the café and had some beer. It turns out that Vincenzo did a lot of his material in Abruzzi slang that made it hard for me to figure out what he was saying. At the café there was a huge screen so you can watch the show. One funny story is how I went to the bathroom and the toilet was a trough in the floor you had to squat on to go to the bathroom. Afterwards, we went to the house and I went to bed. It was around one thirty on the morning. Prior to going to the show I ate a type of prosciutto. The prosciutto was laid out in a tray. It had arrugala lettuce, cheese, and lemons on top. We also had mozzarella, bread, and wine. Luckily for me I took a nap and was able to stay awake at the show. See Photo of Roman Mosaic in Vasto.
July 18, 2004
I woke up late and Giovanni and I went to the beach. At the beach the whole gang was there and I made my way to the bar. I had a few beers and then I saw a beer called Ceres. Ceres is strong ale that I remember from my last visit to Vasto. At the café I watched the grandchildren of Nicoletta play cards. I also took a walk and to no avail I could not find a t-shirt that said, Vasto on it. But, I did find a hotel if my sister Laura decides to go to Vasto. It has air-conditioning which is a big plus in this town. After, Giovanni and I headed back to the house. It turns out today is the anniversary of Gina and Bernato. Bernato purchased a half of dozen roses for Gina. We headed to the Trattoria La Lanterna for diner. I was surprised because I thought all restaurants were closed at this time of the day. I had tortellini, bread, wine, and for desert I had a pastry and expresso with Sambuca. Bernato was in a hurry to return to sleep. I cannot believe how fast these people eat. Afterwards, we went back to the house and there, for the first time, I was not sleepy. I took a walk. First, I took a walk to Carlo Pietrocolas house, but he was not there. Second, Saverio Tanas house, but he was sleeping. So, I then headed to the beach. I stop by the house of Alfonzo Pietrocolas house and he was home. But, I guess Alfonzo is in bad shape. I guess losing your wife and your brother in a few years is a real disaster. He seemed sluggish, slow, and not talkative. We had a beer and he talked about his children in Perth, Australia and other family. A friend stop by, which I saw two days ago and this person told me Alfonzo was sick and takes a lot of medicine. He came in and felt Alfonzos head. He said it was warm. I said my good-byes and left. I headed to the beach and had some more beer. Giovanni and Gina were at the beach. I also talked to the kid who ran the bar. He was interested in America. Gina was upset because I drink a lot of beer. But I told her it is common to drink a lot of beer in America. We went back to the house and to my surprise nobody ate. Gina put out some food for me. I told her she did not have to do that. But, she really appreciated me visiting her so I ate. I ate bread, mortatella, a cucumber salad, wine, and she put out four different types of cheese for me. I ate like a pig. After eating all this fatty food I felt I needed a bypass surgery. After, I was invited to go to a movie with Giovanni and his friends. But, I turned that down and took a walk to the center of town. It was hot so I walked with my shirt off. In town I stop by Carlo Pietrocolas house. But, he was not home. I stop by Saverio Tanas house and we talked of many different things. Saverio and Margherita ate their late diner around at night. But, they ate on the terrace that was used as a kitchen in the summer time. I sat with them and had some wine and also a type of eggplant that was marinated in vinegar. My grandmother use to make that same type of eggplant I explained to them. That night they invited me to diner the next day. I said my good-byes and went back to Ginas house. I could not believe at at night there was so many people at the center of town. That was a long walk because I was so tired. See Photo of Vasto Marino Beach.
July 19, 1998
That night sleeping was a tough one. I left the window open and I guess a bug was eating me alive while I was sleeping. I was awakened by Bernato because I agreed the day before to go to church with them in the morning. Prior to mass we went to a café and had I had an expresso. I think by accident I drank the regular expresso and Bernato had my decaffeinated expresso. They thought the mass started at , but the mass really started at in the morning. I was surprised to think that my grandmother came to this church some twenty-eight years ago to see Gina and Bernato get married. It turns out that Grandma Filomena Pietrocola did not know there was a wedding. Here I am at the same church with Bernato and Gina around the time of their anniversary. The mass was different than an American mass. A lot of group praying in the beginning of the mass. Also, I saw that there was a monk and a priest at the alter. There were nuns in the audience and the church was crowded. The church that we went to was in Vasto Marino. After church we went to the beach. At the beach the whole gang was there. I went for a walk on the beach and saw Lucia and Americo. Also, I met another friend of Ginas, a woman who was studying in the United States and has a daughter who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. Later, I returned to the house with Bernato and prepared myself for dinner at Saverios house. But, things did not work out that way. I took a ride to Anna Notarangelos house to make plans to visit. On the way there Bernato asked me where my shirt is. I had it in my hand. He told me to put it on when walking in the streets. It was so hot that a lot of times I walk around with my shirt off. So, I headed to Anna Notarangelos apartment near the Banco Populare Lanciano Sulmona and I rang the bell to the apartment in the hallway. No one talked on the intercom and the door just opened. It turns out they Anna Notarangelos family was expecting relatives. When the person, I did not know, answered the door she thought I was her sister and was hesitant to let me in the door. Finally, Anna Notarangelo said it was alright. I said my hellos to all. I met Anna Notarangelo, Anna Notarangelo sister Bettina, and Annas husband. Anna had two daughters. One had their husband there and they had one child. The other daughter, who arrived later, had two daughters, but her husband did not come to the apartment. They insisted I should stay and eat dinner with them. But, I knew I had to be at Saverio Tanas house around one thirty. I showed them the photo album. Anna, Bettina, and the daughters were all the photos. They all loved it. I could not believe that Anna Notarangelos family went out of their way to use a phone book and called Saverio Tana to cancel my plans for dinner at his house. I guess by stopping by must have been very important to them. So I sat down and eat with them. One husband of Notarangelos daughter knew some English and asked me many questions. But, I could not believe this guy had so much hair coming out of his nose and ears. We had pasta, veal cutlets, wine, bread, salad, and ice cream for desert. They asked my many questions on me and my family. I told them about my adventures in Vasto and meeting other family members. At the end I took their picture, said by good-byes, and Bettina Tana, Anna Notarangelos sister, gave me an original womens sleeping pajama from Vasto. It was embroider and had tomato sauce stains on it. I recall my grandmother, Filomena Pietrocola, used to wear this type of pajama in the Bronx, New York. There is a rumor that maybe my grandmother made it. One of the sisters husband and their child game me a ride to the beach. There I met the whole gang and told them of mydilemma of not eating at Saverio Tanas house and eating at Anna Notarangelos house. They all laughed when they saw the pajama I was given. They all said that the pajama is an antique. It is funny how Nicolettas family is hanging around the beach entrance and watches the people walk by. It was funny when Dominico pointed out two women who had g-string bikinis. He asked me if I liked them. Also, he taught my a little Abruzzi slang. He said that Che Voi! means What do you want? I take it when you are busy and somebody bothers you can say, Che Voi! At the beach I was dead tired. But, I could not sleep. I met an old man form Milan who vacations in Vasto Marino. It turns out there are thirty thousand people who live in Vasto, but in the summer there are over fifty thousand people. After, Giovanni, Gina, and I left for the house. At the house I did some research on the names of the in pictures in the photo album on Anna Notarangelos family. At Anna Notarangelos house I had Anna Notarangelos daughter write in the names under the pictures. Anna Notarangelos daughter was from Chieti. Also, I looked up some names in the Vasto history book and found who was who on the family tree. Funny, there are two Giuseppe Pietrocolas in the Vasto history book, but one is only listed in the family tree. These two people were grandfather and grandson according to the history book. After, I took a walk to Vasto and stop by Carlo Pietrocolas house, not there, and then to Saverio Tanas house who was not there. So, I walked around and stop by the museum. To my surprise they had expanded the museum in the Palazzo d Avalos. At the museum I saw many Roman and Medieval artifacts. They also had a computer to show more information. I also saw Luca, Giovannis friend, and Luigi Santoro, a friend of Bernato, who I had met five years ago, and he opened the museum for me back in 1993 when it was closed for the winter. After, I headed to Saverio Tanas house. At the house I saw Saverio outside waiting for Margherita. They were all ready to set off for a walk. There were a many people out walking around. I take it on Sundays people eat, take a nap, go to church, and then take a walk. A lot of people were dressed in there best clothing. We met Saverio Tanas son, Carlo, who does not live at home, and his wife. We also met a cousin of Margherita and a person who had a sister that lived in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. After, I headed back to Ginas house. I stop by a café for a beer. After the beer I walked to the house and met everybody. Gina asked me if I ate. I told her I did not eat and she fixed my up a plate of chicken with potatoes, mozzarella, beard, and a salad that had shredded carrots and cabbage. I drank some homemade wine and knew I was not going out that night. Giovanni went out to Vasto Marino, but I stayed in to watch a program with Bernato on the war against the Mafia. I temporarily fell asleep watching the televising and knew it was time for bed. See Photo of Gina and Bernato's Anniversary
Woke-up, took a shower, and Bernato, Gina, Giovanni, and I went to the café for something to eat and drink. There I met a doctor and told Giovanni of my old doctor, Doctor Talucci, in New Jersey. From there we went to the beach. But, when Bernato dropped us off Gina went into the church in Vasto Marino to pray. Bernato went to get and estimate on the damage Giovanni did to the car during the hail storm. Giovanni and I went to the beach. As usual, the whole gang was there. Nicoletta Sallese, her maiden name is Tana, and her family. At the beach I told Dominico to give each grandchild of Nicoletta an American quarter. At the beach we met another friend of Giovanni. Giovanni tried to get me to take a small row boat out to sea. I said them no thanks and told them I do not like boats. This was a lie because the boat Giovanni wanted to take out had to paddle that you had to work with your feet. I was not in the mood to paddle around the sea. Instead, I did some sunbathing in the sun and then made my way to the bar and had some beers. I looked at Vasto up on the hilltop and thought to myself what a beautiful place. Afterwards, I took a walk to the beach to take some photos. Later, Giovanni, Gina, Bernato, and I went back to the house of Saverio to have dinner. There, Saverio and I wrote in some names of people in the photo album. After, Margherita made a pasta dish for me with muscles. We also had a dish with string beans in tomato sauce, bread, and wine. We talked and later we were joined by Patrizio who had a girlfriend. As usual, at the end of the meal, we had a shot of liquor. This time the liquor was a shot that was made of walnuts. After, I said my good-byes and went for a walk. First, I stop by Carlo Pietrocolas house, but he was not home. I dropped off some film to be developed at the photo place. Later, I stop by a reality office to get information for my sister who was planning a trip to Vasto. But, it looks bad because most rentals had no air-conditioning and they had a two week minimum. I think her best bet would be a hotel. Later, I returned to the photo store and pickup the film. At the photo place I had copies made of my photos for the relatives in Vasto. Then I set off to Vasto Marino by foot. I like to walk to Vasto Marino because it is all downhill. Also, the walk helps me burn off all the food I have been eating. In Vasto Marino I stop by a store that had a t-shirt with a picture of Vasto. I did not really care for it, but it is the only one available, and I did not buy it. At the beach I met the gang and showed them my pictures. I could not believe how fat I had gotten. That is why I walked all the time. Also, when Giovanni and I went back to the store to purchase the t-shirt he knew the store and told his mother to purchase the t-shirt. Gina knew the owner and purchased the t-shirt at a discount. She bought it for me. I thought this is getting out of hand. First, they feed me all the time, and now they are clothing me. Later, we headed back to Ginas house. There Gina made an old family dish. She scooped out the inner part of a loaf of bread, mixed it with eggs and cheese, made them into balls, and then cooked them in sauce with onions, peppers, and olive oil. It turns out that Ginas family purchase virgin olive oil by big containers. Each container is about three gallons and the container looks like an old tin milk container that was used in old farms in America. That night we ate outside. We had bread, wine, prosciutto, mozzarella, and other cheeses. I was still stuff form earlier that day, but I ate anyway. Later, Giovanni joined us, but he did not eat much. Also, when we finished, Bernato could not resist working in the garden. So, while we were all sitting at the table in the patio, Bernato started watering his garden near the patio. I thought it was funny. Giovanni asked my to join him to go to Vasto Marino to hang out, but I told him I was too tired and remained in the house. I watched television and then I fell asleep. See Photo of Vasto Marino.
One funny note is that when you eat you sweat. Each night I sweat in bed and when I wake-up the pillow is wet. It turns out that air-conditioning is not popular in Italy. I feel if anybody visits Vasto, they should stay at a hotel with air-conditioning.
July 21, 1998
This morning we went to the café for breakfast without Giovanni because he was out late last night and spends a lot of time on his computer. After breakfast we went to buy the bus tickets and had to wait until the lady opened the ticket booth which was in the morning. After, we headed to the beach and as usual the whole gang was there. It turns out Nicoletta family runs the Lido Bussola, a beach area where there are many chairs and umbrellas. At the beach I went to the bar and had a beer or two. There I met Ernesto, who asked many questions about America. After, Giovanni showed up and we later parted for dinner. At dinner we had spaghetti, bread, steak in a tomato sauce, and prosciutto and cheese. Later, I went to Carlo Pietrocolas house for one last visit at around . Believe it or not, he was home. We went over the album and filled in some names. In conclusion, a lot of these relatives are pretty distant and are not on the family tree. Carlo has been busy with his house and was not able to find the original family tree. After, I returned to the beach. It was hot, but I walked it in order to lose some weight. There, as usual, the whole gang was there. But, this time, instead of beer I had a mineral water with bubbles. The water was good and I recall seeing it in the United States, but nobody in my family drinks it. After relaxing, Giovanni and Gina showed up and Giovanni and I went for a walk on the beach. Giovanni saw a girl he knows, but then again, Giovanni knows a lot of people on the beach. But, this girl turns out to be a girl I met five years ago. When I first arrived in Vasto five years ago I was lost and I asked some teenagers for some help to find an address I was looking for in Vasto. It turns out the addresses I had been wrong.This girl was one of teenagers that help me find my way. In fact, I recall taking her picture with the rest of the teenagers. See saw me and said, Ah, the American! I could not believe I saw her after all these years. I knew she is a good person because she was babysitting a child that was handicapped. We said our good-byes and Giovanni and I went for a beer. I drank beer only. Later, we sat on the beach chairs and watch the sea get darker. Later, we talked to everyone in Nicolettas family. It was time to go and I said my good-byes to all. Dominico, Nicolettas son made sure I knew Che Voi! He gave me his card to bring more tourist to their beach called the Lido, La Bussola. I said, tu conosce Disneyland? Or, Do you know Disneyland? Dominico said, Si! So I said I will call this place DominicoLand! All the family laughed. I went to the car and Gina and Giovanni and I went to a pizzeria to pick-up a pie. No box, but the pizza was wrapped in papers in a paper bag. Then we dropped off a worker who works for Nicolettas beach. After, we headed for Ginas house. There I ate the pizza. The pizza was different from American pizza because it was small and thin. Also, I had some prosciutto, mozzarella, bread, and Bernatos friend home made wine. Later, I finally agreed to go out with Giovanni to a persons home and then to Vasto Marino to hang out. At the party there were a lot of people in a small apartment that had an outside terrace. It turns out it was a girls birthday, but I met a lot of people that were weird. The birthday girl had red hair and sparkles all over her face and hair. Another person at the party was a muscular man that had a broken tooth, in fact, a lot of the men all had short haircuts. But, the parents were very nice. The mother was from Rome. I was dead tired. So, around Giovanni took me back at the house. At the house it turns out Lucia and Americo were waiting for me. I said my good-byes and went straight to bed. I was so tired I was ready to pass out. I recall Gina asking me if I wanted to stay a few days longer in Vasto, but I was ready to go. See Photo Carlo's House.
July 22, 1998
At in the morning I woke-up took a shower, packed, and waited for the rest of the family to wake-up. I said my good-byes and was driven to the bus stop by Bernato. At the bus stop I had an expresso and then took the bus. I recall parting I was ready to cry when I saw Bernato waving good-bye. I cant remember a time when I felt that way when leaving a place that I had such a good time. In four hours we reached Rome. We left at in the morning and we arrived around in the morning. At the rail road station in Rome I met a girl who helped me got to the airport. This lady was going to Istanbul. I cannot believe at the FiumicinoAirport there are such small bars to wait in for a plane. At I checked in my luggage, had some Ceres beer, and shopped. To my surprise they were out of Cuban cigars. So, I figure when I go to Aruba I will buy the cigars. Boarded the plane around two thirty and then took off around three fifty in the afternoon. On the plane I had a window seat and the emergency door was in front of me. So I had plenty of leg room. I sat next to a girl form a small town around Naples. She was a real religious person with Rosaria beads and who will probably marry in Italy. I saw the movie Titanic and did not sleep at all on the plane even I only slept four hours the night before. We landed around six forty at night. I got my bags, met Anna, and then we headed to a restaurant to talk of my travels. After dinner I was dead tired and Anna drove me home.