Posts Tagged With: Midge Guerrera

I’ve Been Blogged!

Che cosa?  What?  Non puo essere vero? That can’t be true.  My pal Angela whipped out her cell phone and showed me the blog that had been written about the night Jack and I danced the night away in a tiny local bar surrounded by thirty-somethings.  Note, I said written about –  not by me!  All these years I’ve written about other people, places and things and I hadn’t really thought about how they might have felt seeing themselves revealed.  Actually, I don’t give a tinkers damn how Verizon Wireless feels when I write what a terrible corporation it is.  Or don’t feel sad when I bash politicos.  Perhaps I should.  Perhaps, I too need to think before I pound a keyboard.  I mean, is it fair of me to decide that a certain village isn’t worth stopping in or that I wouldn’t let a wild dog eat in a certain restaurant?

In today’s world of instant access via Instagram, Facebook and all the other “wheeeee I can send something out to stratosphere sites,” I feel compelled to never leave home without full makeup, my hair done and ready for my closeup.  Compelled but often, yawn, don’t bother and then WHAM a fugly photo of me shows up on FaceBook.  ERRRRRRGGGGG.  If you are going to take my picture – stand on a chair and shoot down – I look thinner.

Midge & Jack Party 2017

I didn’t post this picture.  But it isn’t bad. The person who did, likes us.

Back to the blog –  the author didn’t use our names, so why did I think she was writing about us?  Because people who weren’t there told me they recognized our personalities and young folks who were there told me it was obvious. We were the only “old” couple there. GRRRRRRRR.

Ad un tratto li vedo, ballano bene, conoscono i passi, ma non è quello che mi colpisce: sono una coppia di mezza età, ballano stretti stretti, si guardano negli occhi, si amano con la tenerezza e la complicità di chi attraversa la vita insieme…

Suddenly I see them, (Guess who?) they dance well, know the steps, but that is not what strikes me: they are a middle-aged couple, (Bless you darling)  dancing closely together, looking at each other with love, tenderness and the complicity of those who go through life together.

There is more but I would need permission to re-post it.

Discovering that tons of people in Pontelandolfo knew exactly who this particular blogger was writing about – even though she didn’t use our names – felt a little bit squirrely.  Then I read the article.  OK,  it still feels a little bit strange, but since all press is good press, what the hey – I’ll enjoy the moment.  Especially since the story was touching, positive, a wee bit sad and reinforces the good life we have here in Pontelandolfo.  It was also very well written.  I would like to have coffee with the author. PS – if it isn’t about us – gulp –

PS – if it isn’t about us – gulp – I WILL FEEL REALLY STUPID.  Even if it wasn’t about us, it served to make me rethink – or remember – that old adage – “Think before you speak.”

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/speak.html

 Ci Vediamo

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Seeing Pontelandolfo for the First Time – Again

It is almost time for us to leave the one place where I can feel my grandmother in every corner – and I am depressed.  This is not an unusual state – every year as I start to close up the house in Pontelandolfo and make arrangements to be picked up at JFK in New York, I get depressed.  Pontelandolfo, village of my grandparents, aunts and uncles resonates to my very soul.

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Maria Rosaria Solla and Francesco Guerrera – Happy Owners of 221 South Branch Road

Why do we leave?  That question smacks my soul at the Mini Market, Marcelleria, Pasticceria, Farmacia – as I tell folks we are about to depart yet again, everyone asks the same question.  Why not just stay here?   Because Flagtown – the village where my Pontelandofese family settled, where my dad was il Sindaco, mayor, and where we even have a street named after my family  – resonates with me too.  The pull in both directions is so very strong that at times I feel my heart being ripped apart. Giusippina Guerrera – my dad’s first cousin – reminded me that 20 years ago I was the first one from America to return and search for those left behind.  She constantly tells me that blood attracts blood – like a magnet finding its way to those who are part of who we are.   Sitting outside of Kaleb’s bar looking out over the Piazza, thinking about Giusippina, my family and friends in the USA and my trips to Italy over the past 40 years made me really think about the first time I saw Pontelandolfo. Saw it, left it quickly, but felt the incredible pull to return.

Twenty-one, knowing everything there was to know in the world – but being far from worldly, I was blessed to have my Aunt Catherine offer to take my younger cousins Bobby, Maryellen and I to Italy for the first time.  Thank God, it was 1971 and I’m glad I was able to score happy pills. We landed in Milano and the first thing I discovered was that no one could understand Aunt Cat’s Italian. Never having heard anyone in my family speak Italian, but knowing that Aunt Cat spent her formative years in Italy, I just figured we’d be OK.  I didn’t realize that she spoke the ancient dialect she grew up with in Pontelandolfo.  Actually, Northern Italians were rude and said things like “we don’t speak Spanish here.”  The official checking passports at the airport said it first.  Aunt Cat’s face dropped and she refused to speak again – until we reached Campania.  Luckily, I had taken a year of Italian at Montclair State, carried a Berlitz phrase book and could get us to the car rental agency and put gas in the car.  Bobby and I drove the car – when we got back we told everyone it was a Ferrari – but I haven’t a clue what it was.  That trip was like a rapid fire slide show –  100 towns in 100 minutes.  Zip there went the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Zap, I think that was the Amalfi Coast – shit – the curves – how did we get here. Wham – Grosetto and a film crew shooting a spaghetti western.

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After the whirl wind but frustrating tour, we got to Pontelandolfo late one morning.  The village looked like a movie set – it was pristine.  We discovered that the powers that be -I think the Communist party was in power then – rehabbed the city to promote tourism.  (Boy, did I hear that line over and over again in the next 30 years.)

On the stone city walls were funeral announcements. A number of them said Guerrera.  That was kind of freaky – realizing that people with my last name really did live and die in this place so far away from Flagtown.  I wondered if my nonna or nonno knew them – had played with them as children – gone to their weddings.

Aunt Cat started acted skittish the moment we got to Piazza Roma and looked at Pontelandolfo’s iconic tower. I didn’t understand why.  (When I was older and wiser I figured it out – she was having flashbacks to being the crippled kid that the local priest kept insisting should be institutionalized.  Here is an earlier blog – Nonna Comes to America.)

As we wandered the tiny medieval streets, Aunt Cat told us tales about coming to the village for market day.  She tried to point out where they lived on a little hill outside the village center.  It had to be a long walk for a little girl with polio.  Coming from modern New Jersey, it was hard to imagine her walking to a communal fountain for water or helping her mom wash clothes in the communal laundry trough. Her grandfather, my bis-nonno Liberantonio Solla, played the concertina in the piazza, for weddings, parties – and often drank his fee away.  After aimlessly wandering and not really talking to anyone – we sure as hell weren’t invisible but must have had a don’t talk to me wall up – we realized we were starving.

Great roasting over an open fire smells spilled onto the piazza.  We followed our noses. There was a beaded doorway and a smiling face beckoning us closer.  No one understood the sign but we figured out it was a tiny osteria – local restaurant.  The three of us went in and ate what ever the owner was serving that day and listened to more of Aunt Cat’s stories.  I don’t remember what we ate but I do remember it triggered a visceral response and my heart got bigger and bigger in my chest.

Leaving the three of them sitting in the sun and digesting lunch, I whipped out the Berlitz, wandered the narrow alleys and tried to introduce myself to older people I met to see if anyone remembered my grandmother or grandfather. One older gent with a gleam in his eye remembered Maria Rosaria Solla!  He took me to meet a woman he said was a relative.  She promptly wanted us to come back for cena later and meet everyone.

Paolo Collection (33)

I raced back and told Aunt Cat.  She was horrified.  “Absolutely not! They know we’re  from America and want our money.” Bobby and Maryellen were bored and wanted to go back to civilization.  Being 21 and ornery I stomped off. Not knowing where I was going, I ended walking up a cobblestoned hill to get as far away from my chicken shit family as I could.  I found myself on  the steps of the church where my Grandmother was married, my aunts and uncles were baptized.  High on a hill, I looked out over the alley, popped a happy pill and while tears streamed down my eyes, I vowed to come back.

As long as there is a wind in my sail, I will return.

Ci vediamo.

Categories: Finding My Family | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Bravi! 5 Year Old Actors Rock the Stage

Today, I saw a production that had me laughing, literally crying, rocking, smiling and cheering.  I wasn’t anywhere near Broadway or even Rome.  I was in the charming little theatre space below the new church – L’Auditorium Parrocchiale S. Giuseppe Moscati in Pontelandolfo (BN).  Those of you who know me – or worse yet – have gone to the theatre with me know that I have the attention span of a gnat and am critical of anything that doesn’t flow.  Today, my attention was held from the moment I entered the theater.

This morning, however, having been to numerous badly done school plays, overly long boring dance recitals I was not looking forward to the show. “Do I have to go?  Yes, you have to go. You said you would go.  But a preschool and kindergarten play… ”  Putting on my big girl pants I went.    Going down the steps to the theatre, rock and roll children’s music had me energized – wait a minute – a teacher thought to use pre-show music to set the tone!  Right on!  The teachers of the Scuola dell’Infanzia di Pontelandolfo have theater in their bones.  The show, Paese Mio Che Stai Sulla Collina (My Town on the Hill), had all the trappings of really good children’s theater.  Unlike other school events I have seen here, this was a well scripted production.  It dealt with the immigration of Pontelandolfese to America and the traditions they took and those they left behind. The teachers knew how to use the children’s strengths and weaknesses to the best advantage of the overall production.

Now you know that every little 4, 5 & maybe 6 year old waiting backstage was dying to know if their family was there.  They were probably jigging and wiggling with anticipation.  The creative teachers used that wiggle jiggle!  The reason for the pre-show rock and roll was not only to energize the crowd but to give every little actor a chance to check out the crowd.  A little face would appear in the crack in the curtain – the first time it happened I thought “Oh, Oh, that kid is in trouble.”  Then the curtain opened just enough for the little tyke to prance and dance for 20 seconds while his/her relatives cheered.  That hip hopper left and seconds later a different face appeared, looked and danced.  This pre-show was brilliant for the mini actors and the worried parents.  Everybody got to check out everybody else.

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The set was painted by a teacher.  Center stage is the village’s iconic tower and fountain.  The wings on either side represented places that the immigrants travelled to.  (There will not be any pictures of children.  Without a signed release from a parent that would be a yucky no, no.)

What amazed me, is that this is a public nursery, pre-K, K school and the actors memorized lines in Italian, English and the Pontelandolfo Dialect.  Was the English pronunciation perfect – no – did they try their damnedest – yes.  My niece and nephew went to a Waldorf school and children there leaned how to memorize.  This old school method really works and public schools in the USA should think about it.   The show ran about 45 minutes and the dialogue and singing was well disbursed among the 15 or so 5/6 year old actors. The pre-school children were in dances and songs – including the finale sung in English. Again, the teachers worked with the children’s strengths and understood how to capitalize on those strengths.

Traditional dances and songs were woven into the storyline.  Having seen the town’s dance company perform, I knew that the dances had been simplified – again a move by a good arts teacher. There was some side-coaching but generally the production ran smoothly. (No little people stood there frozen in fear scrunching up their skirts.)

The scene that had me rolling on the floor took place in Waterbury, Connecticut.  The immigrants, now living in an American city, were sitting around the breakfast table in robes, curlers and slippers talking about how great the USA was – mostly in English.  Suddenly, they got the itch to travel back to Pontelandolfo and visit.  With a quick change they appeared in Pontelandolfo in sun glasses, shorts, cameras dangling and hoisting suitcases.  They were greeted by locals and stood there looking stunned.  A look I have seen on Pontelandolfese who return to Pontelandolfo speaking the ancient Italian dialect of their grandparents – a dialect that has evolved.  Today, most people speak Italian.

I do not know the names of the faculty.  They all should be commended!  The arts galvanize and unite a community.  Good teachers of the arts give children a gift of a lifetime.  The confidence that has been imbued in these little actors and the visible lack of fear of performing is a gift that will keep on giving throughout their lives.

Ci Vediamo.

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Second Act Tale 

When I announced that no one could use the word retired or in pensione around me – I was in my second act – ask how the second act is going – a few eyebrows were raised and I heard a few snickers.  I love this second act idea – it is perfect for me since the characters in my life – personaggi – are straight out of the Comedia dell arte. Stock characters who keep me on my toes and improvising. In small towns like the one I grew up in, Flagtown, NJ, and the one I live in now, Pontelandolfo (BN), if you fall down some one is there to pick you up. If you think about getting married 42 people call you to talk you into or out of it.  No monologues allowed – shove that soliloquy.  Acting is reacting and in small towns you react a lot.

 May 14th was my birthday – il mio compleanno! Sixty-seven years older and bolder.  That morning, the cast of characters that often upstage me riffed off the birthday theme, forcing me out of the Diva role into the role of the straight man.  When I came down the stairs my dining room was draped with crepe paper chains.  The ever creative Nichola had dressed the set! Besides the crepe paper chains, the living room and dining room were festooned with flowers. 

Fit for a Diva’s Dressing Room!


 Quick a  line – questo è un funebre? No, Midge tu non sei morta – solo vecchia!   Ouch, what a quick comeback –  I’m not dead only old – gulp.  The three dozen plus roses and buckets of flowers were the set decorations for la festa!  Thank you Janet for sending a bouquet across the sea – how do they stay alive during that 8 hour flight?  Thank you Nella, Fabio,Cosimo and Michele for the hot colors.  Thank you Zia Vitoria for the wine and cheese.  And thank you Nicola for scurrying around with Jack and dressing the set, long before the Diva took the eye pads off and stared at her gorgeous morning face in the mirror.


 No BORING dinner party for me.  Or worse cocktails and idle chatter.  No, at 9:30 AM the supporting cast arrived for La Festa delle Sfogliatelle. I am another year bolder!!  It is my birthday and I can eat what I want to!  I could also have my handsome houseman – Jack – ply the guests with peach bellinis.  After four of them I stopped looking for my light – where ever I was the light was shining.  Then I noticed that the supporting cast had more lines than I did.  Did they forget – I am the star of this here show?  Remember acting is reacting, it was time for them to stop reacting to me and for me to do a little reacting myself.

That reaction is a great outpouring of love for my family here and my family in the USA. Zia Giusipina on the way out the door had the best exit line.   (Spoken in dialect it sounds so passionate.)

Your heart is young and gentle. Your blood is Italian – my blood is the same.  We are Guerreras – all strong women.  Live life now and happily.   Go with love.

One tear rolls down my face. 

                                 -Fine –

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Alex’s Take on Aunt Midge’s World

My talented and delightful niece, Alexandra Rose Niedt, takes her Italian heritage seriously! She was the third person in our immediate family to apply for – Italian Citizenship.  (She would have been second but her mom had to get it first.) The winsome lady also has the wanderlust! Not afraid to travel alone she often pops into Pontelandolfo – when we are here and when we’re not! We had only been in town for three days, when with toothpicks holding open our travel weary eyes, we headed to the Naples airport. She glided into the airport pulling a suitcase bigger than she was and people noticed her.  The kid is a chip off the Guerrera block and carries herself with Una Bella Figura – just like her ancestors.  Shut up Auntie M!  OK, OK, here’s Alex –

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Annarita Mancini fills Alexandra in on the latest gossip.

Dear Readers,

Years ago, I started coming here to see my family, so not too much surprises me when I come to my ancestral home. Though this trip, I did notice something that took me for a slight loop that I wanted to update you all on: my Aunt Midge has become a complete local.

Now let me clarify a few things on this topic-

• I don’t know if it’s because of my roots or because of the bond I have with my family here, but I always feel somewhat like I’ve been here forever. Whether that be all of the familiar faces I see in the piazza, or the friends and family members that make me laugh entirely too hard, it’s difficult to say. All I know is that I always feel a sense of belonging.

• Midge has been spending more and more time here over the past 3 years, from 4-7 months at a time, so granted there has been time for this all to take effect.

• Being considered a local and simply feeling like one are two drastically different things.

Midge arrived back in Pontelandolfo nearly 3 days before I got to our gorgeous little village, so she’d really only had the chance to see our family, go to IKEA to buy some more furnishings for her house and drive to Naples to pick me up at the airport.  (A task which I am always grateful for, as taking the train from Naples in the evening is not on my top 10 list of things I most enjoy.) Because she hadn’t had the chance to fully settle back in to the swing of things I got to bear witness to her complete transition from “that crazy American lady that’s always writing at Bar Elimar” to “one of our own.”

I thought, as my generation is obsessed with them, I would present this to you in list form.

1) Walking through the Piazza random people come rushing over to my aunt saying “Bentornata!” (Welcome back) with hugs and kisses all around and excited conversation. This happens frequently, with people I know and also people I have never seen before. I thought I knew everyone! Dead wrong.

2) While sitting in the Piazza drinking a macchiato, a school bus full of children drives by and the kids lean out of the windows screaming “Hello!  Hello!  Hello!” to their former English teacher. I laugh for a solid minute at the ridiculous nature of little heads popping out the window in Italy shouting hello!

3) We need cheese, so I say why don’t we go to the caseificio in town? My aunt responds with “Oh no, we can’t go to him…” And follows with some story about the inner workings of the politics of the town and our family… Or was it that he sold her bad mozzarella once and she won’t go back? Same thing!

4) When we do make it to the caseificio (the one she frequents a little outside of town) after more hugs and kisses from Nadia, the long time employee, she proceeds to ask for specific cheese. Nadia on the sly tells her what is most fresh and what to stay away from today. Because you know, she’s a regular.

5) Sitting at one of the bars around 9pm Midge is about to leave when one of the women we know stops her. She asks for help making costumes for the town play “Dramma Sacro du Santa Giocondina.” Midge, being the true thespian she is, heartily agrees. This play is so important, it happens once every 4 years and is taken very seriously. Go Midge!

6) We are having a little gathering at Midge’s house the night before I leave for London, so of course we have to go to the pasticceria to buy dolce for after dinner. Upon arrival we begin to talk to the girl behind the counter, when out from the back (having recognized Midge’s voice) comes the owner Nicola, who immediately takes over our order and starts shooting the shit with us. After we’re finished he takes the treats to the register, tells the girl to give us the friends discount and waves goodbye. I mean, what a life?

I love this town, it’s home. It’s beautiful in the morning, and lights up after 10pm- literally and energetically. I hang out with the same people whenever I’m here, and have created really beautiful relationships with friends and family alike. But I’m always just visiting. Sure, I’m from here, sure I feel like a local, but I haven’t put in the time to truly deserve the right to be considered one.

My Aunt Midge has, and is now sitting back and reaping the benefits of a truly loving community. And I am forever impressed.

Questa e l’Italia- La dolce vita.

Ci vediamo la prossima volta,

Alex

(Thanks Alex, I actually cried when I read this.  I love you to pieces!  Auntie M)

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Balance

Some things you don’t take photos of. They are too real and hit a visceral button that brings on roll after roll of images.

This Tiny old brown and black birdlike woman with legs as thin as twigs was prancing down the promenade. her arms swinging, the flower print scarf hiding her hair. Balancing on her head – no a part of her – was a white plastic bag of groceries.

I cry. It has been years since my grandmother walked into her house from the yard with a basket of clothes on her head. Thats whose face I saw – Grandma – my nonna – the rock of my childhood.

Why today? What makes today different? Is it because we are leaving Pontelandolfo tomorrow?

The women were total opposites. This woman was tiny, thin and probably only 15 years older than I. The only thing she had in common with my grandma was the ability to balance.

Balance – how does one balance living half a year in one world and half in another?  Tomorrow morning, October 28, we will be heading back to the USA. The six months in Italy flew by.  I am so grounded here that I hate to leave.  This morning I made the rounds saying “Ci vediamo aprile” to so many people.  They all ask the same question – why do you leave?  I don’t really have a good answer.

Balance – I must remain connected to both worlds – no matter where I sleep that night.

Ci vediamo.

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Culture Clashes – The Good and the Not So Good

This is not a rant.  I am not in a foul and ugly mood.  It is just that after a while I can no longer hold my tongue.  Some things in Italy annoy me.

Kids and Cars –

Everyone out there who is as old as I am can remember the fun filled roll around in the back seat time before mandatory seat belts.  Clean it up, I’m talking about being a kid and not buckled into your assigned third of the seat.  As toddlers we would stand on the back seat of the car peering out the back window, sticking our tongues out at the drivers behind us.  Or hanging out the side window and giving trucks the arm pull down signal for tooting their big horn – then getting yelled out for sticking our heads out.  When  you were about 4,can you remember sitting on your dad’s lap and “driving the car” ?  How about those fun filled times riding in the back of the pick up truck.  Sitting on the edge of the truck bed and balancing as the wind whipped your face.  Then there was the piece of plywood my father had cut to fit the back seat of the car that my mom tossed pillows on.  it was an instant bed for long drives.  So what if the car flipped and we flopped around.  Somehow we all survived and made it to – well whatever age we are.  Then someone started keeping data on folks killed in cars.  A lot of them and many because they weren’t buckled in.  Safety first!  Seat belts save lives!  Well, where car safety is concerned, here in Southern Italy it is kind of like 1955 .  I see toddlers standing on front seats – wheeee – you can really see out the window.  Now, not all parents do that – I have seen kids buckled up for safety.  Frankly though, I see more standing on seats and hardly ever see a car seat.  Someone lovingly holds all the wee ones.  The absolute worse thing I saw was in Puglia – a helmetless tiny tyke on the back of a giant motor cycle clutching dad’s shirt as they sped through town.  Jack pointed out the kid was smiling and I was the only one having a hissy-fit.  Apparently, according to Jack, I am often the only one having a hissy-fit.   Is this car riding freedom a good thing or a not so good thing?  You decide.

You Can Dress Them Up But You Can’t Shut Them Up –

This is the second year that Comicron,  the fabulous  international comic short film festival was staged in Piazza Roma.  Artisitic Director, Ugo Gregoretti spent his younger days summering in Pontelandolfo.  It is a classy event, from the red carpet, the film stars attending, the beautifully appointed stage, to the well dressed folks sitting in the cordoned off area.  We got there a tad late and sat in the back behind the incredibly well dressed Antonetta.  She had on a fabulous long silky blue gown and dingle dangle sparkly jewelry.  How did I know her name was Antonetta?  Her pals got there later than we did and during a film bellowed ANTONETTA.  She leaped from her seat and five dapperly dressed donne chatted in the aisle next to us.  My evil eye and shushing had no effect.  Of course the young ushers also occiasionaly chit chatted in the aisle.  Jack said I am the only one it bothers and I should get over it – do you sense a “get over it” theme here?  This is not the only time chatty chicks bothered the hell out of me.  The first time I got so insensed I asked them to be quiet – the performers deserved respect.  Who were the performers?  Primary school kids! The moms in the audience felt compelled to share their shopping lists, lover’s names and whatever was on their minds  throughout the performance.   The only time they were quiet was when they were snapping pictures of their own kid on stage.  Che fa!  Is freedom of speech whenever and wherever you want to talk a good thing or a not so good thing?  You decide.

What Time Does It Start?

The producer/director in me gnashes teeth and is ready to kill when the advertised time of events are absolutely ignored.  My theory is the lack of timeliness is taught in the elementary school.  Case in point.  A few years back I went to the primary school’s end of  year show.  It was slated to start at 3:00.  Parents who worked left work early to get there by 2:00 to join the non working parents and thier toddlers in line.  Why so early?  Well audience consideration is not taught in the school either – there were not enough seats for all the parents.  People got  there early to grab a seat.  It was a hot June afternoon.  By three, standing outside the school in the sun I was drenched in sweat.  By three-thirty, I was drenched in hate and wondering why the bloody doors hadn’t opened.  We could hear the kids still rehearsing.  Hey teachers, if you don’t have it ready by now give it up.  They let us in at about 3:35.  Everyone scrambled for a seat or wall and the spectacular finally began about ten minutes later. (Don’t get me started on the production values.)  

The team that produces the events in the piazza and/or the acts they hire seem to have lost their watches too.  This year the August festaval headliner, jazzman James Senese was promoted as starting at 10:00.  At 9:30 I’m nagging Jack to get a move on so we can get to the village  before the show starts.  Jack raised an eyebrow and said , “it will start at 11:00.”  We got to the piazza a bit before  10:00 and there wasn’t any crowd.  Sitting at a table at Bar Mixed Fantasy, Jack told me to look behind me.  I did and there sat the roadies for Senese eating sausage sandwhiches at 10:00 PM.  No one was on the stage.  At about 10:45 things started to wake up and crowds started to form in front of the stage.  Somehow they knew  when the show would start.  Son of a witch, Jack was right – the show started at 11:00.  Cripes, maybe I am an Ugly American with my own expectances and Jersey girl angst.  Jack, ever living his theme with me said, ” Midge, this is Italia, get over it.”   I must say, I have never gone to events in Northern Italy – except the opera in Verona and that started about 10 minutes late – so I don’t know if tardieness is just a southern thing or universal.   In the scheme of life does timeliness really matter?  Is timeliness – or the lack thereof – a good thing or a not so good thing? You decide.

Those of you who live in or visit Italy or simply have an opinion – please join the conversation.  You decide!

Ci vediamo .  Thanks for listening.

Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

La Dolce Vita – The Tour!!!!!!

Mi Chiamo Magherita Anna Guerrera

Dad's head shot for a State Senate Run.

Dad’s head shot for a State Senate Run.

  Go Slide 1 –  John Guerrera

La figlia di Giovanni Francesco Guerrera e Margaret Foretek

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 Go Slide 2 – Nonna & Nonno

La nipote di Francesco Guerrera e Maria Rosaria Solla

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Go Slide 3 – Salvatore’s Remains

La pronipote di Salvatore Guerrera e Caterina Guerrera – Don’t give me that look  – it’s a small village.

Midge cutesy

Go Slide 3 – Midge

But hey – call me Midge – I’m a Jersey Girl and an ex-Pat – one of those gypsies who spend part of the year – ex – out of  the – patria – fatherland. Or as my pal Madame Lawrence and I like to say – the mother country.  My husband, Jack and I spend a good part of every year in Italy – living

Ponte from Rose's house

Slide 4 – Pontelandolfo

La Dolce Vita! The Sweet Life!

Belle Viste, glorious foods, incredible wines – every baby boomer’s fantasy – the standing ovation of second acts – just thinking about it makes my heart go pitter patter – or is that agida? Rats – that’s dialect – acido – the more I study Italian the less I know – pain in my acido.

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 Go Slide 5 – Villa

Midge, get back to the story – yeah – where were we – oh yeah our 6 months in Italy – this year we unpacked our bags in our great house – that’s not it.

Restored Stone Italian Home

Restored Stone Italian Home

Go Slide 5 – House 

Still ain’t too shabby – living here for 6 months and closing up the New Jersey money pit – I still had cash left over at the end of each month. How could that be? Reasonable – not NJ – rent  – 3 bedrooms – 3 bathrooms – utilities included and all the produce we can eat.  And a landlord we absolutely adore – coupled with extended family we love to pieces.  Sigh – perfetto!

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Go Slide 6 – Historic Village

Here’s our little village – Pontelandolfo – provincia di Benevento – regione di Campania. My family left in the early 1900’s – why? They were starving – no jobs – war ravaged land…

La Dolce vita!        Wait, wait here it comes –

Go SFX 1: Boom – Crash – Clang

That other shoe –   After two days – we’re told my husband was a clandestino – illegal immigrant – deport his ass criminale!


Congratulations!  You just made it through the opening few moments of my new one woman show – “La Dolce Vita – or Is It?”  Thanks to Marie Di Stefano Miller and the Westlake Italian American Club I was able to present my – gulp – very first performance of the show to about 100 members of the club.   Is it terrible of me to admit I freaking loved every second of it!?  I loved sitting in the dressing room – yeah this place was classy with a real stage with dressing room – anyway I loved the butterflies in my stomach and my visualization of a successful show to calm my nerves.  I loved putting on that dash more of extra make up and high heels – uncomfortable as hell but I planned on not using the stage but walking throughout the house and I’m short.  

Westlake 1

That’s me – the short thing in front.

I loved the smile on my cute husband’s face as he watched me perform – instead of watching the slide monitor.  

Jack Westlake

Cute Techy!

I loved the check.  I gotta say I just love all of it.  Seems the audience loved it too – well almost – there always seems to be another shoe in my life.

Dear Midge,

I want to thank you very much for the well developed program you presented last night.  You are a superb presenter. Its progression was right in stride, and you enabled everyone to identify with the various scenarios.  Well done.

Many are still talking about how much they appreciated and enjoyed the program. 

Until the Other Shoe – Bang, Boom

My bizarro antics held the audience until I winged – not my shoe – worse – a plastic table flag holder at two women who must have not seen each other for at least 3 minutes and had a lot of catching up to do – cause they talked frantically for the entire hour – never coming up for air.  What the hell is wrong with me – 98 people were absolutely focused on me – clever me – funny me – and I go off and wing a frisbee at two chiacchierone.  The audience was shocked! I made a joke of it – talked about being a “Jersey Girl” – but lesson learned!  DIVA BEHAVIOR IS VERY BAD!!!  Thanks Marie for not calling social faux pas police.  Marie’s letter continues –

Again thank you for sharing your exploits with reliving the Italian pathways that lead to the US.  Interesting that on both sides of my family I have a grandfather and great grandfather who had two wives.

Marie Di Stefano Miller

Thank you Marie for the kind words and the opportunity.

You too can see the show – just have your club give me a holler!  Yes this a blatant self promotion plug. Need cash to maintain La Dolce Vita.

(I promise not to wing the flag holder at anyone in your audience – maybe candy kisses – now that is an audience control idea – pocket full of kisses.)

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