We try to find a car to rent to go and spend a few days with Marc, Desiree and kids. Marc is John’s brother. All the cars have been rented out. After hours of looking at different options, to get to them, a rental car is returned early in Gallipoli. By mid afternoon we are on our way. It is about a 4 to 5 hour drive to Sicignano Degli Alburni from Gallipoli. We leave in 104 degrees Fahrenheit. After a few hours drive, we are high into the mountains of Southern Italy and watch as dark storm clouds move in, followed by lightning and thunder, and then rain so intense, everyone has to stop driving. Next the wind picks up and hail pounds the car so fiercely, we are afraid it is going to break the windshield and dent the car. We move slowly, trying to find a tree to hide under. For a moment, it clears enough for John to vaguely see a tunnel not too far away, and we head blindly and slowly in that direction, all the time being pounded by huge hailstones and heavy rain and you have to shout to be heard. We make it into the tunnel and join a number of other cars, motor bikes and people taking refuge from the storm.
Eventually, the hail stops and the rain eases. It has dropped to 65 degrees fahrenheit and I am shivering from the cold. We continue our journey through windy roads all the way up the mountains to the hilltop village of Sicignano, where John’s family and great grandparents are from. Marc and Desiree have purchased a villa there, so that they have a way to reconnect with their roots. As we enter this beautiful village, we see John’s last name on a building – Saggese. At the town square, we get out and stare in wonder at the views and the beautiful buildings. One of those beautiful buildings is the home that Marc and Desiree have purchased, and we see them come out onto the street and find us.
The villa was built in 1928. The walls are several feet thick, the ceilings high, with beautiful tall doorways in every room. Most of the rooms have the original tiles on the floor. It is stunning and a blank canvas that Marc and Desiree are putting their stamp on. They have already done most of the kitchen and are almost done with the bathrooms. It is really beautiful and a very romantic place.
I go to bed early after dinner with cousins of the Saggese brothers. The brothers stay up and chat until 4:00am, catching up with the help of a little Limoncello.