Young Entrepreneurs – Arochiosco

We read about it, hear the stories and see young people with advanced degrees in architecture, engineering, and literature sitting in the piazza bar letting the days pass them by.  The economic crisis that has racked Italy has had a profound effect on young people.  If one lives in a little village like Pontelandolfo and loves living here than finding a job is nigh impossible.  This is southern Italy – it doesn’t have the manufacturing found in the north.  Nor, does it appear to have regional governments that do something about the problem.  What’s a young person to do?  Sit and stare?  Polish your friends nails while slowing sipping your €.80 bicchiere di prosecco in the bar?  After university, some twenty-five to thirty-five year olds do just that.  Others like Elena Baldini and Jean Luca Diglio create their own prosperity!

Bar Elena

I wanted to call this story “Entrepreneurial Elena” but alliteration seemed just a wee bit lighthearted for what I hope will be a series on the young entrepreneurs who are making their own employment opportunities.  Architect, Elena Baldini – who I did first meet years ago in Bar Mixed Fantasy – has the passion and drive to be successful at whatever she puts her mind to.  Last summer, she joined forces with Gianluca Diglio – who grew up in an entrepreneurial family – get his family’s back story here –

They created Arochiosco, a neat summer time bar perched on the side of a mountain.  Found in Morcone’s Piazza M. Giuseppe Manente, the charming outdoor space features wooden gazebos with a birds eye view of Pontelandolfo, Lago Campolattaro and incredible valleys.  Sitting there was like sitting in a magical tree house.  Last summer, Jack and I originally went to Arochiosco to be supportive of the two young Pontelandolfesi.  It was so delightful, we went back just to go back.  Sitting there writing, I was reminded of afternoons spent in Fieosole – sipping prosecco and staring out over the rooftops of Firenze.  There was one HUGE difference – price point and lack of tourists!  For €3 we got a bag of chips, bowl of nuts, Campari Soda and white wine.  We also got to sit comfortably and watch the river of life that flows through Morcone.



Wait a minute?  How could two kids start a bar?  That takes cash for inventory, tables, chairs – who built the wooden structures? What is the real back story here?  Well folks – networking 101!  There is a bar in Morcone – directly across the street from the piazza.  The owner after talking to Elena and Gianluca made an offer that the two hardworking youngsters couldn’t refuse.  Network?  Si!  The owner was the uncle of Gianluca’s wife and he often thought of expanding to outdoor tables on the piazza.  Since his bar was a one person shop, he couldn’t do it.  Gianluca alone couldn’t help him but the incomparable duo – Gianluca and Elena could and did.



Elena had the bar experience – having bar tended and Jean Luca had the contact.  They worked out a percentage deal – did the hard work and created great seasonal jobs.  Networking 101!

Arochiosco open again this summer.  We will be there.  I applaud their drive and ability.  I also applaud the other young people of Pontelandolfo who are creating their own futures.  Congratulazioni!

Diglio Panificio – Keeps Me Sane

Have you ever been surrounded by people and yet still felt so lonely that your heart chakra ached?  That is how I felt this morning. I am in sunny Ecuador, met a super  italo-ecuadoriana, am staying with great friends but feel a gaping hole in my heart.  At first I thought I was home sick – I never get home sick.  Than I thought it was because my zia in Flagtown had a stroke yesterday and I am a continent away.  Shazaam – it hit me -I was feeling lonely because I didn’t have a sense of community here.  No “tribe” to connect with.  All that depressive thinking made me hunger for comfort – comfort food – bread like I can only find at Diglio Panificio in Pontelandolfo!  Diglio’s not only kept us in thick crusty bread but also was one of my connections to the community – it was a place I didn’t feel like a stranger or alone.

Some mornings I would walk down the hill just to buy a round of bread and if the Panificio wasn’t busy, I would talk to the owner, Nicola Diglio.  My Italian isn’t the best but we would talk about the village, economy, USA, whatever.  Nicola never made fun of my attempts to pronounce the pastries or how long it took me to decide which pizza slices to bring home in the morning for our night time snacks.  That bakery was one of the anchors of the community for me.

Some Wednesdays after strolling through the market, my cousin Carmella and I would take a shopping break by going to Diglio’s for a cappuccino, a little nosh and a lot of laughter.  Carmella is a bright star in my universe and of course she introduced me to this pasticceria.

Carmela & Midge
Cousins/Sisters having a laugh.

According to their brochure, Diglio opened its doors in 1983 with a commitment to use recipes handed down form generation to generation.   When you visit Italy, you can find the shop at 2, Via Eglido Gentile, 82027 Pontelandolfo (BN).  It truly is a pasticceria artigiana – when you watch the video you’ll agree with me.

While selecting pictures for the video I saw one of the Diglio’s little sandwiches on scrumptious rolls and got a little misty.  Zap – flash back to my dad’s first cousin, Giuseppina, insisting we stop at Diglio’s so she could buy the sandwiches before l’avventura.  Jack and I take Giussipina and her sister Paulina on road trip adventures.  They pick the place to go – it’s always a shrine – there are tons in our area. Since we never saw a shrine and loved listening to the two of them chatter and laugh at us, we would go to shrines – with bags of Diglio yummy mini sandwiches.

2012-06-20 05.13.02
Giuseppina, Paulina & Jack 2013 adventure

Then I flashed back to 1995. when I first knocked on Giussipina’s door, pointed at my family tree and said in pidgin Italian “tu sei il cugino di mio padre?”.  That timid knock resulted in finding my extended family and celebrating with what – pastries from Diglio.

1995 Giuseppina & Paulina – note the pastries.

Whenever I bought pastries I would marvel at the way they are presented – perched on a golden cardboard tray and gingerly wrapped in pretty paper.  The presentation always made any day that you bought a pastry feel like a special day. Some days I just need a special day and a sfogliatella prettily wrapped can be just the medicine it takes to turn the grey sky into blue.

One bite is better than a happy pill.

This past June was the first time I had Il Rusticacio – a small bread puff made with cheese, egg and salame.  When I bit into one I swear I felt my grandmother hugging me.  People have been eating – what we call artigianale – dough filled things for generations.  The connection I feel in Pontelandolfo to my family is intense and eating food made with ancient recipes makes the connection even tighter. Is that my grandmother pinching my cheeks?

One day I went into the shop and Nicola’s son, Antonio, who is a super creative part of the artistic bakery team was behind the counter. The door opened and his daughter  came in from school – she looked at me, I looked at her and recognition twinkled in both our eyes.  She said “Good Morning – How are You?”  The secret phrase I told the kids in the public school that I worked with to say to me whenever they saw me.  Boom – an even bigger connection to the bakery.

Community – that is what I need in order to feel secure, happy and healthy.  When I am in Pontelandolfo – we go back May 1st – walking into Diglio Panificio yields more than just a loaf of bread.   Enjoy the video!