Sunday, October 4, 2015

Finding Italy in New England

typical New England lunch: clam chowder & lobster roll at Fishbones, Chelmsford
Every once in a while during my  50+ years  of living in Italy I get a chance to  return to  USA . This  time  my trip coincided  with that of Papa Francesco and while he was having  meetings with VIPs and  prisoners  I  visited New England  relatives and attended  my 50th college reunion in Buffalo, N.Y.  

Roberta Witts at her  art and framing gallery, Chelmsford, MA
  With  my brother and sister-in-law  I visited  numerous small towns  in the rolling hills  between Massachusetts and New Hampshire where they live.
We  stopped  at  farm stalls and antique shops,  ate in local Italian (and non) restaurants and  enjoyed   the first  signs of fall foliage, when the trees turn  bright red and gold.
their first visit to neighboring vineyard

Since my brother and his wife have no intention of coming to visit me in Italy,  one of the things I wanted to do was find some Italian style food and places for them to enjoy  right in their own backyard. I must say that my mission turned out quite successfully. 

Al Fulchino's winery   offers  dinners and opera as well as wine
Things have changed  since I was growing up in New England, now   Italian wine and handmade pasta  are readily  available  as we discovered during our day trips around   the  picturesque countryside which  resembles  Tuscany and my local area -Tuscia, 60 kms north of Rome.
Within  10 miles  of their home we found the  Fulchino vineyard   in Hollis , N.H. and tasted some of their wonderful wines  along with excellent Wisconsin cheeses. 

This lovely Tuscan style villa houses the Fulchino Vineyard
 Owner Al Fulchino told us about the  special dinners with opera singers that are held at the Winery  which are a great way  to  enjoy Italian lifestyle without flying over to Italy.  
For those who live in central Italy  Opera Extravaganza’s  house concerts and musical events can be enjoyed here in Vetralla .  ( )

pasta and wine now available in New England small towns

Valicenti organic pasta sauces

cheeses from all over the world including  fresh mozzarella
Young owner at Valicenti Pasta Farm
Also in Hollis, N.H. we found  the Valicenti  Pasta Farm where an  Italian-Irish couple produce  wonderful pasta, ravioli  and pasta sauces  in many different varieties. Valicenti Pasta Farm sell from their big yellow barn where the perfumes  of pasta sauces  fill the air.  They sell their wares at numerous  farmers markets and deliver to the top restaurants in the  area and in Boston.   Check their website

chrysanthemums are a seasonal flower in both US and Italy

 beautiful tomatoes at Kimball and Lull farms near Pepperell, MA
Other  farm stands  along the road  sell huge varieties of tomatoes and  pumpkins  as well as  mums which are used to  decorate cemeteries  in Italy  in November.    

Since   the Carrabba's restaurant group had  filmed a  commercial in Vetralla  about a  year ago,  I was curious to see what their  food  and restaurants were REALLY like so one evening we drove over there for dinner.
   At  7p.m. on a Monday  the parking lot was full, lots of people at the bar and getting “takeaway” and  people waiting to be seated  but when we left  at 8:30 pm  the place was empty! 

8:30 p.m.  and the place is empty

When I went up to the kitchen area  to  take a few photos of the chefs preparing salads (as shown in their TV commercials) the manager   told me  that company policy  forbade photo taking except  of the clients who might be celebrating at their table. 
sideways dipping  at fake marble table  
fettuccine Carrabba

 A few cultural differences that annoyed me after a lifetime here in Italy:  waiting in line to be seated, being stuffed into a narrow booth (we changed for a  round table), a fakey/ friendly loud waitress, a bowl of generic olive oil and bread  for dipping before the meal, the price of wine and the  tipping.  The food was good  and since  portions  are so large, doggy bags are a necessity. 

Does anyone else  get reverse culture shock when returning to their home country?

Hope  you will  share with friends and leave comments.
Check  the website Presentations page  for my next  conferences and  presentations. 


  1. loved learning about NE through your blog! after another trip home to Italy in nov I will be in Asia and hope to see American after that trip...........Lobster and chowder is far better than chain restaurants...and your description of 'service' is spot on. but then we only eat food that is cheap or affordable and lots of it.....otherwise it would be far to expensive to drag 6 people to dinner every week....have always thought this is why mcdonalds is so popular: for $5.00 you can have a one asked for a healthy meal...

    coming 'home' is always a shock and i am only on the road 3 months at a time.
    but if i had to pick something i miss most, it is how easy it is here: i can eat somewhere 24/7, can buy groceries late into the night, drive in banking, but nothing replaces the fresh cappuccino that cute man at the bar makes me each beginning to think in need a 50/50 life: 1/2 here and 1/2 home in italy

  2. we had a great visit w you Mary Jane! Have a great trip home, we hope we see all of you again soon!