23 May 2005
I found the location (amazingly!) without any backtracking, but the buildings were shuttered and the farm seemed to be deserted. After wandering up the hill and down the road a ways, I found the owners busy weeding part of their garden. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring a copy of our prior e-mail correspondence, and Marcella reacted as though they had been awaiting my arrival.
The room I was given was aptly named La Stanza Bellavista. The location was truly stunning, hugging the mountainside with a panoramic view of the valley with its fields of wheat and groves of olive trees. For the time I was there, it was my own little piece of solitude. Other boarders did not arrive until my last night there at the end of the week.
I selected San Giovannello as my base in that region because of it’s proximity to Villarosa, the small town where my biological great-grandparents once lived before emigrating to Pennsylvania in 1908. I simply wanted to gain a better understanding of the environment and the life they would have had, and left behind, in search of better economic prospects in the United States.
Although I could have had three meals a day provided for me at San Giovannello, I knew I would be taking day trips around the region, and opted only for breakfast. Each morning I would walk down the hill to the dining hall, and there would be a table set and waiting for me. This is where I became enraptured with fresh ricotta. Marcella purchased it from a neighbor who produced it himself from his own flock. My favorite breakfast became grapefruit juice, fresh ricotta spread on bread with a smidgen of honey on top, and a couple slices of prosciutto crudo on the side.