Lazy Summer days in the Plains of Navelli


Getting to the villages of the plain by public transport requires some thoughtful logistic planning. This time we flew to Rome Ciampino, something I usually try to avoid unless someone is picking us up by car, but it was cheaper to fly, so what, we would arrive at 4 pm and I should be able to live with that and manage somehow to move further.

Which is correct until L’Aquila but not for the last stretch of our trip, getting to the village. The last bus leaving LAquila and actually stopping in the villages around the Plains themselves, and not just on the main road Statale 17 leaves the Bus terminal at 6.45 pm. So you get out of Ciampino Airport which is not blessed with a handy train station like Fiumicino, you take whatever taxi, bus to Ciampino rail station (here the timetables of the trains), you reach somehow bus station Tiburtina and get a bus of Arpa (see here) and all of this will never get you on time in L’Aquila to catch the last local bus to San Benedetto in Perillis at platform 24 at 6:45.

So you accept gratefully the invitation of your friend to sleep in Rome, get the kids stuffed with pizza, get a great girl’s night out, literally, sitting and sweating on the balcony, because you accidentally arrived in the midst of the hottest heat-wave of summer. Then you convince your kid to sleep alone in the bed generously offered by the kid of the house, instead of sticking to you like a bandaid because he cannot sleep and feels alone, get some minor disaster the day after in said friend’s house and spend the morning fixing it and then with 2 kids and 3 pieces of luggage forget about the plan to let them see at least the pillars in Saint Peter’s square and call it a day in Rome.

We even skipped the Maritozzaro near Trastevere Station (via Rolli 50, in case you are interested). The mythical maritozzaro all my friends and the taxi driver yesterday mention, making the last, real, sweet-rolls with cream. It was to hot for cream, I admit it.

At the end of the Roma-L’Aquila stretch we managed to take the bus from L’Aquila and drove through all the mountains and all the villages before we got to ours. At that point son Nr. 2 was shivering with fever, we somehow managed to air the house, fix some dinner thanks to canned beans, get him in bed, fish a paracetamol from the bottom of the purse, get him a good sweat and at 12 pm the kids were sleeping, my side of the bed was all sweated and I knew we were home.


The day after I enjoyed my favorite view on the tower of Bominaco (the village we drove through yesterday on our way) while sitting in the crisp morning light outside the temporary living unit where my mom has been relocated to a couple of years ago. Because the main reason for me to plant my quarters 5 weeks alone with the kids here, in a village half destroyed, with no other kids, no shops, no bar, no post-office and just three buses driving though it a day, was only feasible without my mom around and with her car at my disposal.

My mom, as all aging moms, tends to follow, rightly, her rhythms and schedules, but as my kid told his teacher while choosing his place in the new class for next year “I’ve gotta work to do and cannot be distracted by a chatting mate”, I came because I’ve gotta work to do. Or so I thought before leaving.

Because the point is that in June, after 6 years, the reconstruction works of our house were supposed to begin and I wanted to be there to check where our stuff would be placed exactly in the garage we borrowed for it, what would they do with the windows and doors, dating earlier than my great-grandfather, that were to be replaced (but not forgotten in a container, god forbid) and in general make sure our home was in good hands.

But as we are the pilot-project under a new organization of the reconstruction, we were subjected to extra checks, extra opinions from several offices involved, extra controls, and now, Summer holidays considering, they might start in september. Maybe. Because this is how it works with big, public projects in Italy. We, the owners, have nothing to say, nothing to do, must keep our hands-off our houses and be grateful. Which we are, of course, but in these 6 years I wish they let me fix at least the leaking roof, and save a couple of rooms that are now covered with the most interesting mold sorts. Which I gratefully offer to Science, should be out there some biology graduate in search of a thesis-project.

This all leaves me with half a mission and two kids to entertain in the hot, quiet summer in the plains. (With no Internet, other kids, bars to puck up an ice cream etc. etc.) It builds character, I keep telling myself.

So the first morning I went to do some basic shopping, read a couple of books, took a nap because that’s what are lazy summers for, and then at 3 pm I woke up because by the time the sun has been shining the whole day on the shoe-box pre-fab house and the heat was becoming unbearable. Which reminded me why my mom fled to her sister in Poland for the Summer.

So off we went. To the lake of Sinizzo where I last swam in 1988 or something like that.


And driving to the lake, we took a de-tour along Peltuinum, the ancient city on the sheep-route you can still see, trodden for millennia twice a year by sheep, dogs and shepherds moving from Abruzzo to Puglia and back.


And then we went to the lake, to discover that the deep part near the parking lot was the domain of screaming, jumping, flirting, showing-off teens, while the low side, near the trees, was reserved for quiet adults and parents with young children. So I moved near the parents and my pre-teeners were swimming back and forth the two camps.

And there we swam, we explored, I read, they ate terrible chips from the vendor at the parking lot and figues, I messaged with my friend asking if she was coming with her kids of we would go to them, she messaged back she rented with a friend an umbrella at the beach at Montesilvano and to join them.


So off we went to the sea for the weekend, and now I am figuring out on Google Maps how in the world I will be able to drive in Rome this afternoon, to run a couple of errands, see a couple of friends, buy a pair or more shoes at the Outlet in the outskirts of Rome and picking up my husband at the airport tonight. Without the kids driving me nuts in a car without air-conditioning. Because we fell for it again, cheap flights at impossible hours.  Luckily, tonight, we will drive back to the plains by car, with the sun down and a car at a controlled heat.

Because this whole idea of getting to Italy alone with two kids has the added advantage that I cannot leave them anywhere for half day while I drive to Rome to pick up their father. So we will have to do. And I am enjoying every second of it.


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