Trippin’ Part One: La Vacanza

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Just another stupid, one of a kind, octagonal UNESCO World Heritage Site 13th century castle/citadel built on a hill… in Castel del Monte Italia… sigh…

Yes, it’s been a coon’s age since I aligned proverbial pen and page to form an article. Sorry for the dry spell, but you see, I’ve been busy doin’ my thang… first, a stimulating new summer gig as lead caterer for Bonnie Q BBQ… then a last-minute working vacay to Italy… then a two-week-and-change road trip to California, Oregon and Washington… and now…

Now — one thing at a time as they say. It all started with an email from Monica — the manager and co-owner of ExperiencePlus!. Together with her sister Maria Elena (called M.E. by those who know her), Monica runs the operations in Italy while M.E. keeps the Fort Collins contingency under control. After working for Monica and living in Italy in 2009 for most of the year and returning almost every successive fall like stray but lovable animals, we were the perfect duo to call up in a sottaceto (that’s “pickle” in Italian). Within a week, we’d seen the email, answered exuberantly, received plane tickets, wrapped up our summer jobs, finished moving out of our apartment into our new rental house and — on September 29 — hopped on a jet plane.

The fabulous crew at ExperiencePlus!, plugging away in an old pig barn south of Bologna long ago converted into offices, mechanic’s shop and bicycle warehouse, endured their busiest season yet. By late September, they were stretched thinner than a piece of prosciutto across several slices of melon. And that’s exactly where we stepped in:

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But first, some gelato affogato (drowned) in espresso. It’s Italy; no reason to hurry things…

We arrived in Bologna late the next afternoon, jet-lagged but ecstatic. Familiar faces neared, blurred into warm Italian greetings: one kiss lightly on each cheek. The plum orchard on the south side of the farm had been harvested; the remaining plump, juicy fruits dropped lazily from mosquito-soaked trees. Rick — Monica and M.E.’s dad — talked of (and later followed through on) homemade plum tarts. In the kitchen, the old espresso machine (broken, but officially allowed to be coaxed into much-anticipated use by yours truly) sputtered into existence.

And we’d need its help: the next morning, another (working) adventure began!

Per usual — with the help of our friends at ExperiencePlus! — we procured a couple of bikes to accompany us to Puglia. After finishing up in Vieste, we took off into the warm air for a few days of two-wheeled adventure…

That’s all folks! Pardon any errors because I’m about to finish my glass of wine here in the United Lounge in Los Angeles and board another plane…

A la prossima (until next time)…

4 Replies to “Trippin’ Part One: La Vacanza”

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