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My Love and I Celebrate Christmas in Italy…

 

When Italian authorities throw Canadian Journeywoman, Sheila Wright out of the country, she returns undaunted and determined to make Italy her own. A glorious romance ensues, not only with a tall, dark, and handsome Italian, but with the land itself. We asked Sheila for a seasonal romantic excerpt from her latest book, Amare. She offered us this lovely Christmas tale…

 

Gino doesn’t want to share me…

Gino’s family is full of sighs when we tell them we will be going to Abruzzo for Christmas. They are disappointed but not angry, assuming all Canadians must have an undeniable penchant for white Christmases. The real reason is that Gino doesn’t want to share me with his family. Feast after family feast with all the requisite badgering and scrutinizing is more than he can bear.

 

A romantic chalet in Villetta Barrea…

We decide to take the train to Alfedena. Gino has heard of a mountain village called Villetta Barrea, not far from the station. He suggests we rent a chalet, where we can cuddle up together in front of a blazing fire while snow falls silently outside. I agree. Abruzzo is famous for its salamis and wines, so we add these to our tableau. A quick call to the tourist office in Villetta Barrea reassures us that there will be no problem finding accommodations once we arrive. We are eager for an adventure.

The train station at Alfedena lies at the foot of the mountains, with Villetta Barrea nestled somewhere over the other side. Alfedena isn’t even a town, just a station in the middle of nowhere. Stranded as we are, I am relieved to find balmy weather and not a speck of snow in sight.

 

We’re blessed with Italian angels…

We will be blessed with angels on this trip, and the first one shows up in the form of Signor Ponte. He acts as if there is nothing he would rather do than give us a lift over the mountains, he’s going that way anyway, nessun problema. On the way, Signor Ponte tells us about his life, and we do the same. He drops us off at the tourist office in Villetta Barrea, gives us his business card, and makes us promise to call if we are ever back in the area. We promise sincerely.

The tourist office directs us to our next angel, Signora Luca, who has a chalet-type apartment for rent, complete with view of the valley and wood-burning stove.

 

A pilgrimage we can’t refuse…

We are settling in for a post lovemaking snack of wine and salami when Signora Luca knocks at the door.

“My husband and I will be hiking into the mountains with some amici tomorrow morning. Our destination is a cave that contains a hidden spring. We make this pellegrinaggio every Christmas Eve. Would you like to join us?”

We don’t hesitate. “We’d love to!”

“Benissimo. Pack a lunch. It will take most of the day to get there and back.”

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