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Published: March 3rd 2018
The wind howled throughout the night, with intermittent rain showers and chilly temperatures settling in by morning. We had planned on taking the local train into Sorrento proper today, which lies about 3 miles west of where we are staying in the suburb of Piano di Sorrento. But we were forced to scrap that plan when a steady rain and chilly wind continued into the early afternoon hours.
Yesterday, by way of contrast, the weather turned out to be quite pleasant, so we ventured out for a walk through the grounds of the Villa Fondi de Sangro across the street from our apartment. This villa abuts the property (Villa Jenny) our group rented in 2016, although none of us had explored the grounds and gardens during our visit.
Villa Fondi was built in 1840 by the Prince of Fondi Don Giovanni Andrea De Sangro, but destroyed by an earthquake in 1980. Following that disaster, It became municipal property and faithfully restored to its original condition. Now used as a multi-purpose structure for public events (including weddings), the villa is neoclassical in style, on two floors with a rectangular layout.
The villa is surrounded by a typical garden of
the mid-nineteenth century, with numerous plants, trees (including olive trees) and various species of palm trees. Particularly enjoyable is its scenic terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples, and the tiny fishing village of Marina di Cassano below.
Inside the villa there is the "Georges Vallet" Archaeological Museum, a small museum set up by local and regional authorities to collect and display historical relics from the Sorrentine peninsula. Although we did not seek entry into the villa, we spent quite awhile walking the grounds, which are far more extensive than we had recalled. It must be gorgeous when the flowers and other shrubbery bloom in the warm weather season.
During our stroll around the grounds, we were able to take a couple pictures of the adjoining Villa Jenny, but the place appeared to be shuttered for the winter months. Francesco tells us that the elderly matriarch of the family, who has owned Villa Jenny for many years, passed away late last year. We had not met her, but understood from Francesco that she would drive herself from Rome to stay in the villa for several months each year. Her son, the absentee manager, has apparently inherited the property, so
it remains to be seen whether it will be sold or continue as a rental.
From the Villa Fondi, we walked a few blocks to a small pizzeria for lunch. As we browsed through the menu at the many types of pizza on offer, we began to feel like we had entered the spiritual domain of Popeye the Sailor; or as the printed napkins referred to him - Braccio di Ferro.
Apparently the Popeye comics and cartoons were popular items in Italy. We shared a pizza, with several toppings, along with a couple bottles of Corona. When the pizza pie was delivered, it was baked in the shape of a heart, another interesting touch at this quaint little pizzeria!
After lunch we walked to the train station in Piano di Sorrento, a distance of .6 mile from our apartment. We plan on riding the train into Sorrento while we're here, so we thought we'd better find the station. On the walk back to the apartment we made a stop at the grocery store for a few items forgotten yesterday, ate some hot soup (pasta e fagioli), took showers, and turned-in early while the wind howled outside.
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