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My Italian family name is Potenza. When my family traveled over from Italy to America, they were given the last name of the town they were from back in the “old country.”

I have heard the name Potenza since childhood and it always had a beautiful mysterious pull to it. I never dreamt that I would one day step foot on the soil that I share blood with.

Potenza is a small place in the lower mid section of Italy. It sits tucked into the side of a mountain. The roads curve and rise with the city as if they are one with the land. As we drove into the city the conversation in the car was really more just nervous chatter. We were all pretty much floored to be in a place where we knew our ancestors had been. We spoke of those that had left to go to America. Wondered what would make them leave this town. We wondered if family remained.

As in Rome, once we arrived in Potenza, we were immediately lost while looking for our hotel. Our printed directions sent us in circles; roads changed names every time there was a slight bend (but then it also kept its previous name as well) which sometimes meant the road you were on could possible be called this: A4, Ckglhdfgjd sdkfjsdgkjs, Gkcghskdg de sdkghsgdk, and the best one ASDgkslhdgs del akdhga kdge akghsdkgsg. (Which my mom was trying pathetically desperately to pronounce while I ennie minnie miney moed decided which we need to turn on). If I have not emphasized enough in all previous ITALY posts… if you drive… get the GPS. …..or…. GET. LOST.

This was actually the map drawn for me by a local gentleman... it shows me exactly how to get to our hotel from nearly 5 miles away.

I finally decided to stop and ask for directions (which really means) I had to put on my cutest DUMB LOST AMERICAN GIRL face and try to “preggo” myself into directions from anyone that would take a second to speak to me. This job was one of the most frustrating… and at times… rewarding… task I had.

It was frustrating because people speak so quickly  that all I would get was the first 2 maybe 3 steps and I would be lost again. So we would drive those steps and then have to stop again. It was rewarding because, let’s be honest I spoke to some B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L   Italian men while I was asking for directions. They all find it necessary to place their hand on the small of your back while they explain things and point with their other hand. Several times I returned to the car to find mom and grandma still talking about the hunk that gave me directions. These conversations were hysterical, I think Grandma really wanted to be me liked Italy.

This is the view from our balcony window, absolutely stunning

Our hotel in Potenza was the Grande Albergo Potenza, and I highly recommend it. Our room was comfortable, not elaborate… but it had a gorgeous view looking down into the town of Potenza. The staff was friendly, spoke great good a little English, and helped teach us some Italian. They called a cab for us to tour the town and made us dinner reservations at a place called Osteria, a Tuscan kitchen.  Something about reading a sign for a restaurant that says a Tuscan Kitchen (in Tuscany) made my pulse race.

We made a habit of ordering several different things off of the menu every where we went and just making them all sampler plates. Here we had Carpaccio which is raw cow shaved very fine with a balsamic vinegar to dip it in. I never thought I would eat raw meat like that, but something about it was phenomenal. There were Proscuitto and Ricotta stuffed Philo dough pastry (my favorite of the whole trip). Grilled eggplant, dried red peppers, olives, cheeses, hams, salamis, stuffed molten lava chocolate cakes. Wine. Wine. Wine. Heavenly sigh. Dearest Potenza, you were one of my faves.

We took this beautiful glass elevator all the way to the top and then all the way to the bottom, when the door opened at the bottom… this is what we saw… I may have momentarily thought we were in a horror movie.

The lobby of the Grande Albergo Potenza

Um...this may have been after dinner and several glasses of wonderful vino...actually I am sure that it was.

The street lights here almost give off a candlelight glow, nothing flourescent about Italy

It was my job to choose good wine wherever we ate, I think I was 10 for 10

The inside of Osteria the Tuscan Kitchen... yum

Molten chocolate lava cake... with the most incredible chocolate filling I've ever eaten

This is the Carpaccio, the raw beef... fantastico

The tray on the left... those were my favorite. The Ricotta, Proscuitto, and Philo dough

Everything in this country seems to photograph well, even your water glasses

My Grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Sherman, eating dinner in Potenza, Italy... go GRAMMA!

This was the best wait staff we had the whole trip, we loved Osteria! Thank you so much for having us!