2 Stories and a Caprese


I like to think that all journeys have stories of which the traveler is unaware. Nothing can prepare you for the things that you see or experience once you set out. That’s half of the fun….as long as it isn’t too stressful.

I’m one of those people who is always watching and searching for stories. I have a bunch I’d like to tell but won’t just to protect the guilty innocent. Even if I switched names, I think they would recognize themselves and might not speak to me again. I don’t want that, of course.

If I don’t know you, though, all bets are off….and that’s where I begin today.

The Flight Over

After Hurricane Ian damaged a lot of the state of Florida last week, we were a bit concerned as to what would happen with our flight. Since Tampa International was relatively undamaged, our flight out was safe, we found out. However, as Ian moved east and north, our connecting flight out of Charlotte International was in danger of being cancelled or delayed, so American Airlines advised me to change flights and connect in Philadelphia instead.

In doing so, we lost our upgrades, which as okay since we would get to Italy in time to catch our train. Unfortunately, our new seats were so close to the seats in front that we literally could barely move. To get in-and-out of them, we had to crawl over the seats and fall into the aisle. Luckily for us, though, a seat behind us was open.

If you look at my graphic, you’ll see where I sat (Pink), where Mike was supposed to sit (Blue diamond), and where he ended up (Blue circle). There were six unoccupied seats on our flight, and two of them were the middles next to us. (THANK YOU, GOD) Our flight attendant had a seat facing us from the bulkhead.

That’s important to know because he sat there the entire time we were boarding, and he and Mike joked back and forth for a bit. I wasn’t paying much attention to him until Mike whispered, “Who does that guy remind you of?”

“Who?” I asked looking at the flight attendant.

“The husband of Carla from ‘Cheers,'” Mike laughed. He was right. So. Right. (If you watched “Cheers,” you might remember Carla’s ex-husband, Nick Tortelli, a brash, disloyal, sleazy deadbeat. He marched into scenes speaking with a loud, halting voice.)

“Nick” walked into my photo as I took it from my seat during boarding.

I can’t say our “Nick” was any of those things, but he moved and even talked like his doppleganger. When he collected trash, he bound up the aisle almost yelling.

“REFUSE,” he called out. “REFUSE.”

I looked at Mike the first time and said, “What? He can’t say, ‘Trash?'”

“What’ll ya have girls?” he hollered at two of us left in Row 25. “Chicken or pasta? Chicken or Pasta?”

“Ya want wine with that?”

“REFUSE.” He was always cleaning up.

When we got into Rome an hour early (Seriously!!) and tumbled out of the plane, I thanked him.

“Yeh,” he replied. “My pleasure.”

The B&B That’s Only A “B”

I had booked our B&B knowing that it was on the third floor with NO elevator and did not offer breakfast. (I should explain that the third floor would be the fourth floor in the US.) I don’t mind that there is not breakfast because Mike and I don’t eat much in the morning, anyway. I do, however, think it’s pretty hilarious that they call it a B&B when they don’t offer breakfast.

View from our room

At any rate, we arrived via taxi (which flew through the narrow, historic alleys like a bowling ball), and the owner, Domenico, met us to let us in. That was a good thing because we had to climb about 70 steps to get up here, and Domenico carried my bag for me. If he had not, I might have asked him to throw me a pillow so I could sleep on the floor inside the front door.

When we finally got to the room, Domenico was waiting breathing normally. I bent over trying to catch my breath.

“You okay?” he asked me.

“I’m American,” I gasped. “I’m not used to stairs.” I tried to laugh, which is difficult when you are gulping air.

View of the bell tower from the window on the staircase

Mike and I went out for a bit to get some fresh air and a cold drink. I forgot my ID, but I wasn’t going back upstairs to get it. It isn’t even so much that there are 70 steps. They are, also, very high. From the ground floor to the first floor landing, the steps are probably 13-14-inches high. That said, unlike the steps of the apartment in Amsterdam, these steps are deep enough so that my foot fits on them and wide enough that I don’t feel as though the walls are caving in.

Still, I’ll be glad I won’t have to climb them again after we leave in the morning.

The Caprese Salad

Mike and I went to Vietri sul Mare today to check it out since we’re staying there with my group next week. We were there a few hours and returned to Salerno around 2:00 to have lunch and rest a bit as we’re still jet-lagged.

As we walked from the train station to the B&B, we looked for a restaurant that was not too touristy. We found a few but did not like what was on the menu. While we were hungry, we did not want something really heavy. After 15 minutes and five restaurants, we saw a bunch of locals sitting at tables in front of Salumeria Del Corso.

(NOTE: A salumeria is a small store that sells cold cuts and cheeses. Some of them, like the one we found, serve meals, but they do not have an extensive menu.)

We ordered caprese salads, and they were wonderful. The tomatoes were fior di latte cheese were both fresh (I think they make the cheese themselves.). These caprese had sliced cuore di bue tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with basil. Instead of slices of cheese, they gave us two balls….more than enough so we took the rest with us.

The best caprese salad

Cuore di bue tomatoes are one of a variety Americans call heirloom tomatoes. They are large and can weigh .5+ pound in size. Interestingly, they have the shape like the heart of a bull. Fior di latte cheese is fresh mozzarella made with cow milk instead of buffalo milk. Both of these are favorites of mine.


Tomorrow, we head to Tropea for the day. We’ll be staying in a hotel with an elevator. My legs will thank me.

One Comment

  1. Filomena "Phyllis" Zinni Johnson

    I love the stories of your travels. According to 23 & Me, we are cousins from my mother’s side of the family. Her parents were Angelo Crugnale and Maria Civitta Trombetta. Both from Pettorano Sul Gizio. My father, Giovanni Gregorio Zinni is also from Pettorano sul Gizio. My mother, Carmela “Millie” Crugnale was born in Phila. and lived at 2761 Salmone St. I’d be happy to share any other information. It’s always good to hear from family.


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