Opera for All

The Sannio Hills are rich with culture. You have often heard me talk about Pontelandolfo’s folkloric dance company, Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo. They produce an amazing annual multi-day international folk dance festival – check out some of my older posts. What I haven’t shared with you as often, is how these hills are so “alive with the sound of music.” Occasionally, Jack and I have bumbled upon musical events – look there is a poster for a concert at the Roman Theatre. Oh, it was yesterday. Facebook and Instagram seem to be our province’s village criers. Don’t bother with the daily newspapers – go straight to the digital world. Not wanting to be called a luddite, I friended Orchestra Filarmonica di Benevento on Instagram. Now, we have no excuse not to drag our aging bodies out of comfortable chairs and immerse ourselves in top quality music. Our first adventure kicked off my seventy-fourth birthday! Happy birthday to me – I got to see –

Loved the performances and the venue.

Getting dressed up to sit in fabulous comfortable orchestra seats made me do a happy dance. AND those seats did not cost me the down payment on a Ferrari! Orchestra seats in a jewel box, acoustically perfect theater cost me – wait, wait for it – the incredibly low price of €30 with a €1.80 handling charge! (About $34.) My Arts Admin nose had me looking for who was picking up the tab. Logos on the orchestra’s website made me guess they get underwritten by Ministero Cultura (Italy), Region Campania, Città di Benevento and a few corporations. They didn’t give out programs and the ushers were probably student volunteers – so a bit was saved there. But they did spend a bunch on the production values. More about that later. Benevento’s Teatro Comunale Vittorio Emmanuele is on the grand pedestrian boulevard, Corso Garibaldi. Just strolling down the majestic street and looking at all the high end shops, cafes and museum facades, reminded me how lucky we are to spend so much time in this province. This was our first visit to this theatre. Designed by famous Neapolitan architect, Pasquale Franesconi, the performance space opened in 1862. The interior is rich with all the wedding cake artistic features one expects from that period. Recently updated and refurbished, the theatre even had a handicap bathroom seconds from our orchestra seats. (I mean there was no lock on the door, but I’m not bashful.)

A literal 14 second look at the theater.

When the orchestra, buried below the stage in a real orchestra pit, played the overture, Jack and I looked at each other and grinned. We had seen members of the orchestra dressed in formal funeral attire, carrying interesting instrument cases scurry up the street. The musicians we saw running were young and I thought maybe they might all be students at Benevento’s famous music school, Conservatorio Statale di Musica Nicola Sala di Benevento. When the orchestra was revealed, the focused faces were of all adult generations. Their musical proficiency was evident. They could stand with any symphony we have heard.

Then the curtains opened on a simple yet functional set. The performance space is limited and designer, Luca De Lorenzo, adapted well. His costumes also brought each character to life. The first scene of the Barber of Seville has always felt like a throw away to me, so we didn’t know what to expect. Sadly, we weren’t given programs and I don’t know who were heard sing on May 12th but Figaro was freaking amazing! Not only did he have the musical chops, he was a triple threat. That magical singer, actor, mover combination that rocks the stage. The other triple threat that I kept waiting to enter was Berta, Rosina’s governess/maid (she looked younger than Rosina.) The other performers carried Gioachino Rossini’s score incredibly well too.

I googled the cast list and discovered these singers have performed with opera companies throughout Europe. I am absolutely impressed. Here is the list –

SERGIO VITALE,  director
MAYA MARTINI, assistant director
LUCA DE LORENZO, sets and costumes
Created by Arte Scenica di Stefano Giaroli
LUCIANO BRANNO,  Chorus Master

Interpreters of the Opera Studio held by Rosa Feola and Sergio Vitale

FIGARO, Francesco Auriemma – Alfonso Michele Ciulla
ROSINA, Federica Foresta – Angela Schisano
THE COUNT OF ALMAVIVA, Francesco Tuppo – Eder Sandoval Guevara
DON BARTOLO, Gabriel Wernick – Hazar Mursitpinar
DON BASILIO, Carlo Feola – Nicola Ciancio
BERTA, Carmen Aurora Bocale – Enrica Musto
FIORELLO, Luca DeLorenzo

The chorus played a variety of roles in different parts of the theatre. When they marched in through the center aisle, the entire audience grinned like kids on Christmas morning. Bravi anche to the Philharmonic Orchestra of Benevento Choir I “Cortesi.”

The Orchestra Filarmonica has an outdoor summer season. The venue, built in the second century by emperor Hadrian, is the Teatro Romano di Benevento. Imagine a town’s important archaeological asset being used for performances! Can’t wait for our next musical treat in the Sannio Hills.

Ci vediamo,

Midge Guerrera

Theatre folks – if you are making your plans for next season consider my work. Grazie! Published plays can be found here –


Train Travel Rocks

Train 9939 for Bari departs from binario 8. Jack and I were ensconced in Italo’s first class lounge at Milano Centrale. Ah, the benefits of senior rates and first class train travel. We didn’t rush and drag our suitcases down two flights or up escalators. We gathered up our bags and took the private elevator right to the tracks.

Italo’s first class lounge in Milan is a long and narrow room that is filled with comfortable “Italo Red” couches. We snagged two that faced each other and stared out the window at the minions racing from binario to binario, while we sipped coffee and noshed on a snack or three.

Great view of the energy of the station.

My phone rang and not being on the concourse I could actually hear my pals talk to me. We swapped stories when I said shit. There is an influencer shooting video and describing the lounge with me in the frame. Should I flip her the bird? Would she give me a SAG day rate? By the time I got my hand over my head she turned her phone in the other direction. Hmm, maybe I need to be more conscious of what or whom I snap a video of?

We boarded the train and discovered I had booked the Italo Club Car with two private rooms, five single seats and our four facing seats. (We were originally traveling with friends and booked the easy conversation facing seats.) Promptly, all cozy in his Club Chair, Jack started snoring. I decided it would be rude to take of picture of him with his mouth open and took this one instead.

If our friends had come we would have played kneesy.
You need to know your seat mates well.

I miss our friends, but am glad we aren’t sitting with knees touching. Luckily, no one sat in the other seats – yet. Obviously, I made a mistake booking a four some. The singles along the window and private rooms looked more comfortable. That said, Jack was so comfortable, even with the train traveling at 248K an hour, my husband slept through five stops.

We had the four top to ourselves until Firenze. The “fixer” boarded and sat across from us. What is an AD Trentino? Anybody know? Seriously, this quasi business attired woman just said that to the ticket taker and no ticket was shown. The big clue she would spend the trip blathering was her reaching under the armrest to plug in her phone. The second clue was the focused scrolling through her contact list. Call one – to a harried professoressa asking the teacher to cut a student a break. It was obviously a hard sell. If she had called me, I would have hung up on her. She kept going on and on about this kid. I wanted to shout, let the kid fail, but I realized then she would know I understood her. Call two – to set up a meeting with someone she wanted to lobby on behalf of something else. Call three – social faces into the FaceTime screen. Call four – and it went on and on. I stared at her. She said to her call Devo parlare basso voce. And then she finally started to whisper. I guess the raised eyebrow stare got to her. My laughter erupted – her whisper was entertaining to the entire cabin.

A wonderfully harried young businessman raced into the car shouting in English on his phone. “No, we can’t meet then. This is important bla bla bla.” He went into one of the private cabins, shut the door and continued not just that conversation, but hung up and started another. Then another and another. All corporate secrets were revealed to the whole car. The little room had walls – but they didn’t reach to the ceiling! I was impressed he spoked English with an Eastern European Accent and about three other languages. Too bad, he was so stressed out. The weather was great and the views he never saw were fabulous.

Great! I snapped just as the letters were changing. But you understand the entertainment value.

Il treno viaggia in orario. The changing sign kept me amused and since it was being read aloud in both Italian and English I really got a giggle out of it. What a great way to learn important phrases in either language. Prossime Fermate. Next Stops. Prossima Fermata Bologna! Next Stop Bologna. Siamo in arriva a Bologna. We have arrived in Bologna. Non fumate nell’ ambiente. I think they meant don’t smoke in the bathrooms. What I heard in English was “Don’t smoke int he ambiences.” Now, I thought I had a fairly decent vocabulary but didn’t have a clue as to what a space called ambience was. Maybe it is a British thing. I texted my talented Niece, Alex, who went to university in London and asked her. “What is an ambience?” We both laughed out loud. Don’t smoke in the atmosphere. Don’t smoke in the feeling. Don’t smoke in the …. The giggling kept me occupied all the way to Benevento. Il treno e in orario. The train is on time. Grazie per aver scelto italo. Thank you for choosing Italo. Arrivederci. See ya!

Ci Vediamo!

Midge – www.midgeguerrera.com

A shout out of thanks to my publisher, Read Furiously, for promoting my interview! Thank you for reading what I write – if you want to know more about me why not check out Episode 165!

“Vaffanculo,” Expressive New Wine

When life hands you lemons – or the Pandemic closes your hotel – make lemonade. NOT. The ever creative and entrepreneurial owners of our favorite Milanese B&B, Il Girasole Milano, Nicola and Matteo Negruzzi understood that people around the world were feeling crappy. Hmmm…. In case you didn’t know, the name of their wine that grew out of the Pandemic is a vulgar Italian idiomatic expression – essentially meaning “fuck off” or “up your butt.” It is also a wine that sold rapidly during the two plus years that Covid had as all feeling – well – gulp – fucked and continues to sell today.

Nicola Negruzzi told me the story –

It was the end of November, 2020 and they got a call from a very good friend who was having a very bad year. A disabled child, the pandemic, Milan closed up tight and – well you went through it and you understand. At the end of the call, she said to Nicola, “you don’t know how many vaffanculos I have to say a day.” To make her laugh, Nicola designed a label for a sparkling Trebbiano wine from Abruzzo. He took a picture, sent it to her and said, “Come here, we drink this wine and say vaffanculo together.” It was just a joke – join the rest of us and raise a glass while screaming “vaffanculo!” Their friend not only laughed, she ordered a case. Nicola and Matteo realized they might be on to something that could save their souls. They asked a friend to design a professional label, ordered a bunch of wine from a vineyard in Abruzzo, attached wooden baskets to their bicycles and started creating an old fashioned huckster promotional buzz. They pedaled around Milan looking for groups of masked up, glum looking people. Imagine the surprise and cheers when two men carrying bottles of Vaffanculo Wine, stopped and offered glasses accompanied by the very cheerful, but vulgar, toast. The wine took off like rockets. The timing, creativity and energy of the brothers is a marketing case study.

Taking the project even further, they got the permits to turn their empty hotel into a bar open just for apertivo. Matteo took mixology courses and started creating signature drinks. Together they created a menu of interesting stuzzichini, canapès.

They papered the neighborhood with fliers announcing the opening of “The Garden.” I was shocked when we came to the B&B to see their old parking lot festooned with trees and shrubs in enormous pots. They created spatial social distancing islands of tables surrounded by plants.

From 5:30 PM until 10:00 PM locals visit the Garden to snack, gossip and drink. The featured wine – Vaffanculo. Imagine someone coming to the bar for the first time hearing customers shout, “Matteo, Vaffanculo per due.”

Yes, I did. You know I did. I bought a case and shipped it home to Pontelandolfo.

Here is some exciting Midge News! I was a featured guest on the theatre podcast, OnStage, OffStage. Interviewed by George Sapio, I had a great time. Actually, when I heard it for the first time, I cried. I sounded like a real writer! Who knew that my pandemic lemonade would be getting a book and five plays published! Listen to the podcast and hear all about it.

Ci Vediamo!

Midge Guerrera

The Lamb is Burnt – Buona Pasqua

Happy Easter! If you don’t celebrate Easter, Happy Day. Like many people, I was up early getting ready for family, friends and food. Food being the key ingredient. Smiling, I walked past my set table. Last night, the china was placed, napkins were fashioned into cascading waterfalls dripping down the wine glasses and the silver was polished. Sigh, I am a great planner. All I have to do this morning is cook. Well actually, I didn’t even really have that much to cook. Jack had cut the rutabaga up and it was ready to boil. I had prepped the broccoli rabe. Guests would be adding to the feast. The lamb, the wonderful organic, grass fed and running happy in the fields lamb was my primary responsibility.

I love lamb. Rare lamb is my favorite Easter dish. Yummy, stop rolling your eyes – a carnivore is a carnivore. Following an Ina Garten recipe that my cooking pal Kathy sent me, I had marinated the leg of lamb in yogurt, rosemary, lemon rind, olive oil, salt and pepper. It did look like someone had vomited in my refrigerator, but the marinade was guaranteed to make an incredible tasting lamb. I pulled the lamb out of the frigorifero and left it on the counter to warm up While the oven was pre-heating, I had a Bloody Mary and thanked the universe for a terrific day. Each time I walked into the kitchen and saw the lamb, a smile appeared on my face.

Wiping off the yogurt – which was disgusting – I envisioned the crispy outer shell and rare interior. My mouth was watering in anticipation. We had calculated that an eleven pound leg of lamb would need about three and a half hours in the oven. At 11:30, the leg of lamb went into the 450 degree oven. “Alexa,” I bellowed, “set timer for fifteen minutes.” I puttered anxiously waiting for her dulcet beeps. The oven was lowered to 350 and I went into my office.

I’m doing the Dramatist Guild’s April challenge, “End of Play.” That means put your butt in a chair, let your creativity flow and finish the play that has been percolating for days. I’m researching WWII Italian Prisoners of War who were incarcerated in the USA. The stories are amazing. I really got into the research.

Suddenly, Jack stormed into the room. I looked up. “Midge, there is smoke in the kitchen. Who is watching the cooking.”

“I am. Just from my desk in the office. I can kind of see around the corner to the stove.”

Then, I saw the smoke. The oven must be filthy – didn’t I clean the oven this year? Sighs escaped from my lips and I shuffled over to the kitchen. Yup, there was smoke. Yup, it was coming from the oven. I opened the door – the lamb looked crispy. Grabbing my instant read meat thermometer I took the lamb’s temperature. What the … 146! No, no, the guests wont be here for two hours and the meat is done. While it rests it will cook even more. It was supposed to take three hours – what – it has been three hours? The beep of the smoke detector filled the room. The windows were opened. Crispy smoke detector activator lamb may have changed my standard Easter menu. Merde.

What to do? I took the lamb out of the oven, covered it with tin foil and opened a bottle of red wine. Red goes with lamb. I hope there will be some left for our guests.

Has it Really Been A Year?

The fabulous folks at read furiously sent me this today!

It is hard to believe that just a year ago my first book of stories from Pontelandolfo was accepted by a publisher, printed, distributed and in many of your hands. I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for taking this roller coaster ride with me. Not only have many of you bought the book, but you have come to readings, sent me photos holding the book and dashed off notes thanking me for causing you lips to creep up into a smile and laughter to bubble up from your diaphragm. Mille Grazie!

Wowza! Bravi for sharing! ( I really need to make a video that features all of your pictures!) Each and everyone of you have found your way into my heart. Thank you for all your support. Wait for it – here it comes – the pitch as only our Midge can do it.

It is not too late to get on the humor train and join these happy folks by getting your own copy of “Cars, Castles, Cows and Chaos.” They make a great gift and can be ordered Wherever books are sold.

There I did it. Or come and see me next week – laugh at my antics, listen to story or two and enjoy the camaraderie! I will be in Pawling at the Library on Thursday March 30th at 7:00 PM.

Or visit Nyack! The Nyack Library is hosting me on April 1st at 2:00 PM.

Someone asked me the other day “What’s next for this book?” Well – my favorite next dream would be if Fiat’s marketing department would call and say – “Hey, this funny book is all about Fiats in Italy! Why don’t we give one to every new Fiat owner and have you tour Fiat dealers telling your funny tales.” Anybody know anyone at Fiat??? Of course the next biggest fantasy would be the book turning into a limit series on Apple TV!

Again, much love to all of you. Thank you for a fantastic year. Keep on traveling, share your stories and most importantly giggle daily.

Ci vediamo –

Midge – midgeguerrera.com

What I Learned on our Winter Vacation!

Oooo, the little demon in my brain is bellowing in my ear – WINTER VACATION??? Cripes, your whole life is one big vacation – you spend months in Italy, bum around Europe and hang out with New Jersey pals.

What can I say, Jack and I have “third act” wanderlust. We also have dear friends – former Asbury Park, NJ pals – who ditched New Jersey for a life in Ecuador. Marie and Jan were our travel buddies for more than ??XX?? years and we love to let them find adventures for us. It is our great joy that they are expats living in Ecuador. It is their great joy that we live in Italy. Do you get the picture? Three years ago, Jan and Marie stayed with us in Pontelandolfo and helped me celebrate my big 70th birthday. Three years have gone by and now it is our turn to celebrate life in general at their home in the mountain outside of Ambato, Ecuador.


Lesson 1: You don’t always get what you pay for. We bought United Airlines First class and Business Class tickets. Don’t ask me why each arduous leg of the flight had two diverse class status’s tickets. The first leg was to Houston. The plane configuration was not the Polaris class that we have enjoyed flying to Europe and our seating area was filthy. I always bring alcohol wipes and I was wiping food and crumbs off the seats, tray table, pocket, everything. Where the heck is the foot rest? Is the seat in front of me falling apart? Are Jack’s knees touching the seat back in front of him in Business Class? This reminded me of flights we have taken on the old cheap Norwegian Air recycled planes. Oh, and the staff was barely interested. Eucch, dirty, uncomfortable and ignored. The second leg, Houston to Quito, had a clean plane and wonderful staff. The seats were certainly not anything special, didn’t have foot rests and the control for the in flight entertainment was under my butt. Both flights used Dish TV as the inflight entertainment. Movies started at a specific time, the lackadaisical crew from Newark never gave out headsets until the films had started. I must admit, the United Lounge was a great place to hang during our four hour and forty minute layover. But is the lounge worth the high price for the tickets?

Midge, why did you buy the seats that cost a un sacco di soldi? Are you loaded. Did your book, Cars, Castles, Cows and Chaos, sell a million copies. None of the above, but a great book or play sale would make me smile. We fly in the high price seats because my glorious butt is too gloriously large to squeeze into a coach seat. Yes, I am on a diet. Yes, I am attempting to remember to excersize it off. Meanwhile, gulp, I cough up the cash for big seats in a freaking dirty plane. Glad I brought those wipes along! Sad, we spent all that cash for seats and service that was nothing like the super seats and service we get on United when we soar across the Atlantic to Rome.

Lesson 2: A lot of things in Ecuador remind me of Italy. A. Quito sits high in the Andean Foothills at an altitude of 2,850 meters. Ambato is a wee bit lower on the hill at 2,577 meters above sea level. These are mountain towns, with curves and cliffs that scare the pants off of me. Just like driving in the Italian Sannio hills – only higher. B. They have universal health care, just like Italy. Actually, they have reciprocity with Italy and our Tessera Sanitaria, health insurance would have been accepted. C. We loved looking at all the elementary school children going to school in uniforms. They weren’t the same as the ones in Pontelandolfo but the idea was the same.

Even the little yellow bus with a driver and an aide reminded me of Pontelandolfo

D. Bella Vista! The verdant green mountains, forests, mountain peaks and glacier topped volcanoes are glorious to see in both countries. E. One of the wonders of Pontelandolfo are the huge white dairy cows that summer in the mountains. The contadini travel up the the mountain and milk the cows right where our bovine friends are enjoying the mountain grasses. We were driving and noticed people on stools milking the cows living in the hills between Quito and Ambato too. F. Road and village lawn maintenance is done by tethered cows, goats, pigs and horses! A Pontelandolfo sight that gives me the giggles!

Goats keeping the grass cut in Piazza Roma, Pontelandolfo

G. Wonderful historic architecture juxtaposed with modern buildings, reminded me of many Italian cities. The styles were similar to what we see in Benevento. H. Just like Italy, even the smallest villages have a plaza/piazza! Check out the fresh flowers around the fountain.

Lesson 3: Things I wish both Italy and the USA had. A. Clean bathrooms open to the public in every Ecuadorian gas station. What a brilliant idea! Want to build a gas station? Sure, but you must provide all travelers access to a clean and modern bathroom! We tried more than one and it is a great idea. You might have to spend 10 cents at the toilet paper machine and/or pay the person who cleans a quarter but that is a cheap fix for the “I’ve got to go now” traveler. B. Plug in charging stations can be found in parking lots all over towns. Electric cars in a country rich in oil – imagine that! C. Voting is quasi mandatory. If you don’t vote you will not be able to renew your car’s registration or access any other government related services. Elections are on Sundays too! Italy has elections on Sunday but they don’t make voting mandatory for existing within the framework of government bureaucracy. Ecuador consistently has over 80 percent voter turnout. E. Senior Discounts that are incredible. 50% off all transportation, including airline flights that originate in Ecuador! 50% off all land line telephone services. Senior lines in all banks and offices that are absolutely honored.

Clean bathrooms where ever gas is sold! Speaking of gas – electric charging stations. (They don’t offer bathrooms.)

Lessons learned! Winter, spring, summer or fall travel is a great way to learn new things and appreciate the things that you have. I learned a lot from my winter vacation in Ecuador. Thank you Marie and Jan for being our grasshopper pals of yore, generous hosts and adventurers of today.

Ci vediamo a presto!


2023 Started With Sauce

My New Year started with thoughts of old years. On January 1st I knew I had to make my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce. I didn’t know why. I just knew I needed the smells of grandma’s house filling my kitchen and to feel the presence of those who are no longer here. As the fireworks went off and people toasted 2023, I pulled pig parts and sausages out of the freezer. It was an instinctive action, it was 12:02 AM Sunday morning and Sunday is – was – spaghetti day. I wish it still was, but it hasn’t been for years. Not since my Aunt Catherine died and the family Sunday table collapsed out of my life.

As I started chopping the onions, garlic and green peppers, I remembered the scent of Sundays at grandma’s house. The sauce bubbling on the stove, chicken parts covered with millions of onions roasting in the oven and garlic sputtering in a hot frying pan. The kitchen table was opened up to almost big enough for all the Guerreras that would race in when the firehouse siren roared noon.

Guerrera’s share a Sunday meal. I’m the little one on the right mugging for the camera.

As I added a handful of fresh parsley to the pot, I saw my Aunt Cat grinning. Every time she tossed whole parsley – stems and all – in the sauce pot, she would look at me with her big Cheshire Cat grin. It was her culinary secret to leave the parsley whole so it was easier to fish out. Later, when no one was looking, she would scoop out every cooked piece and eat it. There is something comforting about wilted parsley dripping tomato sauce pulled out of the pot and popped into my mouth. Please don’t tell Jack – he hasn’t seen me do this.

The parsley is ready!  Yummy.
The parsley was ready for tasting.

I left the pot simmering, filling the condo with aromas of my past and visited my walk in closet. Now, we have owned this condo since Covid lockdown and I have never organized my closet. The closet is more than a closet, it could be a New York City studio apartment. My purse collection – yes I love purses and shoes – was tossed up on a shelf that I could barely reach. Clothes that I hadn’t worn in years were cramped in garment bags. We spend half the year in Italy, do I really need to know what is lurking in the garment bags? Sigh – I decided my New Year needed organization and what better way to jump start organizing than as my mom would say, start in one corner and work out. What corner? The closet is in the furthest corner of the place. Hmm. I walked in the closet door, remembered my mom, and stopped at the first corner. A corner that held an old dresser, four shelves stuffed with who knows what and a couple of squished robes. Starting at the top, I pulled a plastic box down off the highest shelf. My primary concern was not passing out after the hard plastic conked me in the noggin. My second concern was who would find me in the closet if I was bleeding from plastic pieces and lying on the floor. Luckily, my sense of drama was stronger than the box and I managed to catch it before it conked me. Having no idea what was in the box, I shoved the stuff that was on top of the dresser on the floor, plopped the plastic box on the newly cleared dresser top and opened it up. New gloves I didn’t know I owned, spiked rubber things to put under you boots and prevent death by black ice, Christmas joke jewelry from a pazillion years ago, empty jewelry boxes and –

I wore it with great joy and love.

Now I understand why the universe told me to make that sauce! After finding this precious piece of my history and the condo full of the odor of my grandma’s kitchen, I knew where my 2023 was headed. Back even further into my past and closer to the family of my present.

Buon anno! Have a healthy, happy, creative and successful 2023! May all your resolutions come to pass and if they don’t may laughter fill your days. Abbracione.

Ci vediamo a presto –

Midge, www.midgeguerrera.com

Tis the Season to Be Jolly!

The air is crisp, bacala is in the cupboard and gifts are being hidden under beds. As volunteers work together, Christmas season in Pontelandolfo gets more exciting each year. The calendar of events kicked off on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which seems to always be the beginning of the Christmas Season. Decorations are dusted off, nativity scenes are pulled out of storage, lovingly placed in a prominent place and the baking begins. Family homes fill up as sons and daughters who work far away return to the village they love best. The bars all take on a festive air with lots of hugging and kissing among friends who haven’t seen each other for a while and yet instantly reclaim the closeness they had as children. This years calendar – Christmas 22 Under the Tower – had me clapping my hands and dancing around the house. I couldn’t believe all the live performances scheduled in this year’s calendar. Sala Papa Giovanni Paolo II – a community room – was recently rehabbed and turned into a small theater. Complete with plush red velvet seats that cuddle your bottom. This season it has a full schedule of films, concerts and theatre. Wowza. So many choices!

Do I dare admit that I am more than a little homesick for the Sannio Hills? I’m in New Jersey, pleased as Prosecco Punch, to be doing readings of my travel/memoir Cars, Castles, Cows and Chaos. Yes Virginia there is a Santa or Babbo Natale and the book will fit in your “hung with care stocking”. But I kind of wish that on Christmas Eve I can tap my nose and instantly land on our Italian veranda. My landlord and great buddy, Nicola, sent me pictures of the house twinkling with lights and laughter. Each year cars filled with kids drive up to see his latest spectacular. He was one of the first people to decorate his home for the holidays. Now more and more people are doing it. I love the magic of the lights twinkling in the valley.

La Casa di Babbo Natale is ready! Interesting how the jolly elf looks different in various countries but brings the same joy no matter how he looks or what language he speaks.

Pontelandolfo lives in the heart of every Pontelandolfese in the world and in the hearts of those who have come to visit and felt what we all feel – the spirit of the Sannio Hills. Have a season filled with happiness and joy.

Boun Natale! Vi amo tutti.

Ci Vediamo


Books make a great Christmas Gift and as my Sister Sue said – “Midge’s books and plays fit in a Christmas Stocking.”

Cars, Castles, Cows and Chaos Available wherever books are sold.