Category Archives: Uncategorized

Doctors, and wineries, and la cena – Oh my!

Yesterday was a Very Busy day and I want to share it with you.

It started out pretty early. We had an appointment with my knee surgeon at the hospital for X-rays. It was the standard 45 day post op checkup. I’m happy to say I’m fit as a fiddle. I’m now cleared to walk normally up and down the steps, which I did with very little problem. I’m very happy!

It was a pretty day (mostly) with a lot of fall colors and watery blue skies. Not too cold. To go from our house to the hospital in the city of Perugia we can take the SuperStrada around the city (faster but busier), the road that goes through the middle of town (tiny one way streets) or the pretty 2 lane road through the mountains. So, on the way to the hospital Luther took us through the city. On the way home I chose the mountains.

The road goes by a winery and agriturismo we like so we stopped to buy some wine. They also raise pigs which become prosciutto. Here’s the big ole sow. The piglets had run inside. The pens are super clean, and have inside and outside parts.

We also stopped at a place we’ve been passing all the years we’ve been here. It is an enormous castle and a beautiful golf course. We were looking for the restaurant that was supposed to be there. We drove up to the castle which is shuttered. Word has been it was supposed to be an upscale hotel, they also advertise condos for sale. For a long time it was covered with scaffolding but it had been removed a year or so ago. Yet still it is not open. Somebody put a lot of money into this property with the 18 hole Trent Jones golf course.

Castle

Old olive groves surround the castle

The golf course. We don’t have many golf courses in Umbria, or Italy, for that matter. It had a number of people playing. The sign at the entrance says welcome in Italian, English, German, and…Russian. Tells you who they are hoping to attract.

~~~~~~~~~
We had been invited to la cena (dinner) by our friend Vera. She is such a gem. Her suocera (mother-in-law) was having a big dinner for friends and family. No special occasion that I could discern. I was a little reticent but decided I need to mix more so we said we’d come. Vera said not to expect much. It was a down-home feast with the contadini (contadino means farmer) so local folks – working people, farmers.

I will tell about it in pictures 🙂 Here is Vera and her suocera.

The meal was going to be in the garage. As garages go, it was a nice one. Here is the cinghiale who watches over the scene.

I asked what the wires across the ceiling were for. I was told they were to hang the grapes that they dry to make Vin Santo. It is for personal consumption. The grapes are allowed to raisin to get sweet before they make it. They don’t make it every year so no grapes were hanging.

What garage do you know that has a crackling fire? It was for warmth but also for roasting chestnuts at the end of the meal.

Beside the fireplace inside sat Silvester, the ancient Tom Cat. He’s 13 years old and never been to the vet. Not castrated…Italian men don’t allow “cutting”… he didn’t want to be bothered or touched. When he moved it was the slowest I’ve ever seen a cat move. He must be hurting 🙁 But he did seem to be enjoying the fire’s warmth.

Just outside is their big forno (wood oven). And the outside fireplace. Both were roaring hot.

Here is the pork liver (I am fairly certain I’ve never had pork liver before) that had been cooked for both the crostini and the secondo, much to Luthers dismay. Not really, there was plenty of food and he tasted it. We were surprised Italians love liver so much!

The meal begins with crostini. One, liberally dosed with the new olive oil, the other, fegato (liver). Very, very rich!

Beginning the polenta. Two kinds of corn meal…Add to the boiling water,  bring to a boil again and continuing adding hot water,  “til it is right”, cook, stir.

Takes a LOT of stirring to make polenta

The polenta is pronounced ready.

To go on top, a luscious ragu. It had simmered for hours and hours in the biggest pot I’ve seen in a home kitchen! It was pork bits. All sorts with bones and all. Plus lots of sausage. By now the meat was off the bones. They scooped the meats out and put them on a separate plate.  Then they took the tomatoes, which the meat had simmered in and scooped it into a separate dish. Rich and mouthwatering.

To serve, the polenta goes in a plate, add meat and sausages, and top with rich tomato sauce.

Two long tables. All men at one, all women at the other – hah! (Kids were upstairs) Very typical. After a while Vera and I moved over to the men’s table. There is no rule or prohibition to sit together. But the men and women prefer to talk of men’s and women’s things so why sit together?

I had fun. It had been a long day and I was pretty tired so we had the dolce (dessert) and headed home before the chestnuts were roasted. A very traditional, home cooked meal that couldn’t be beat! And a unique experience.

Santa Cecilia, patron Saint of musicians

Today is the feast of Santa Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. Every year, here in Umbertide, she is celebrated in the dark of night with the city band playing in the streets. I woke last night at 3:54am to the sound of music. I went to the window and a saw below, the musicians riding through our centro on the flat bed of a truck. I love this tradition. Here is her history.

St. Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs. Her feast day has been celebrated since about the fourth century. She was a noble lady of Rome who suffered martyrdom in about 230, under the Emperor Alexander Severus.

According to the story, despite her vow of virginity, she was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding, Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart, and for that she was later declared the saint of musicians. When the time came for her marriage to be consummated, Cecilia told Valerian that watching over her was an angel of the Lord, who would punish him if he sexually violated her but would love him if he respected her virginity. When Valerian asked to see the angel, Cecilia replied that he could if he would go to the third milestone on the Via Appia and be baptized by Pope Urban I. After following Cecilia’s advice, he saw the angel standing beside her, crowning her with a chaplet of roses and lilies.

The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church.

Cecilia was buried in the Catacomb of Callixtus, and later transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep.
~~~~~~
These are the things that brought me here, keep me here, and endlessly entertain me. 💕

Taking advantage of a sunny day

We’ve had a lot of wet dreary weather. Not cold, just damp and gray. So, this weekend, Saturday and Sunday were supposed to be pretty and sunny with no rain. We said, “let’s do something!”

Tiber on our way to the garage.

Sunday was the festival of San Martino. One of my favorites. On the 11th of November, Italy celebrates San Martino, a soldier of the Roman Empire who became a Saint for his great humility and generosity.

The story goes that while he was riding at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers, he met a poor, freezing beggar, cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with him. That same night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given to the poor man and thanking him for his compassionate gesture.

It is also said that at the moment he shared his cloak, the sun came out and that is why what in the U.S. is known as Indian summer, in Italy is called Estate di San Martino: a short period of time during the first weeks of November characterized by relatively good, warm weather.

Well, our weather was quite nice today so, in honor of San Martino we went wine tasting!

We visited Arnaldo Caprai winery. There were lots of people there maybe because hardly any wineries are open on Sundays. It was a nice operation.  Pretty tasting room, nice outside space. We did the standard tasting, grechetto white, montefaclco rosso, and sagrantino. We also asked to taste the Pinot nero and another Sagrantino. They brought us plates of bread with the new oil. And also they brought out plates of just roasted chestnuts. In honor of San Martino. We bought some wine and a bottle of the new oil.

Now for lunch. Five years ago, almost to the day, we had dined at Locanda Rovicciano We enjoyed it then so we decided to go back. It is an ancient building at the end of a dirt road. As you drive down the road you pass a number of houses that are surrounded by junk and the neighborhood looks really ugly. But once you pop out at the end it is quite pretty. It is also a B&B and there were several groups of Americans. How they found the place I’ll never know!

We had reserved and it’s good we did as the place was packed. I had the scrambled eggs with white truffles to start. Just outside of where we sat I could see a flock of white chickens. I knew where my eggs came from. They were brilliant yellow as are all the eggs here sourced locally. Happy chickens. The chef brought out two tiny white truffles and placed them on a tiny scale. They are sold by weight. He shaved one onto my eggs and recorded the grams. A yummy treat and not something you can get just anywhere. Luther had maccheroni with cheese and sausage. Real comfort food and a huge plateful.

Fried bread for munchies.

Luther’s maccherioni

My first bite.

Eggs with truffles

For secondi I had the pigeon cooked under a brick on the fire. Luther had the lamb. I had spinach and Luther had the roasted potatoes for our contorni. A nice meal.

Back in Umbertide the festival of San Martino was in full swing. There were booths with flea market type junk and booths with hand crafted things like woolen hats and scarves. There was a big tent with the new olive oil all sourced from just near here. And the fires were crackling with the chestnuts roasting. I bought a cone of them along with a bottle of Umbertide oil from Monte Acuto. The band was setting up on the stage. The Nowhere men. They played old rock and roll. All in all a nice fest and a nice day.

Compare and contrast

So, I’ve completed a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) of therapy at Prosperious. It is hard not to contrast it with therapy I got at Casa di Cura Liotti. For one thing, I’m in a lot of pain now, after my sessions. I admit this was not something I was seeking out! But it tells me that there’s a difference between the two. I cannot put my finger on what, exactly it is. I raised the issue with my therapist and he assured me it was normal. Next week, I hope I will be able start working out in the swimming pool. The Prosperious doctor needs to assess my incision first.
~~~~~~~

Beautiful autumn day. Our Saturday K-zero market was up and running. I bought some things for soup. I experimented with a soup his past week and really liked it. It had winter squash and a couple links of sausage. Also some fennel, pasta, and chick peas. Nicely hearty. So I bought more squash and some nice dark cabbage for another soup this week. The squashes here are huge, like pumpkins, so they hack them up into pieces and you just buy what you need.

My piece of squash…soon to be in my soup!

Last night we fell back…our time changed to standard time. I’m told it is the last time it will happen here in the EU. They have decided to scrap the whole thing. Should make for some confusion ahead!

One week home

Well, I’ve been home a little over a week. It’s been good. I had most of the week free. I shopped at the market Saturday and Wednesday. I met up with friends for caffè. I had a Campari spritz with Luther in the piazza and walked to our new, very sleek and glitzy pizzeria very nearby named FOXX. I pronounce the pizza first class.

Monday I went to Prosperous to make an appointment with the doctor for PT. I saw him Friday and liked him. He admonished me to keep using my crutches. So I will. I’m set up for PT Monday-Wednesday-Friday ongoing – start Monday (tomorrow).

Saturday I went back to Perugia and my doctor removed my punti, staples. I thought I’d be happier but actually my knee hurts more. But I also went to the grocery store and our special butcher so maybe that’s why it’s more painful…

Pictures  near our butcher in Bosco. I’ve always loved these views. More soon!

Sabato

Today is Saturday. There is only a half day of therapy today, and none tomorrow. I have NO idea how I’ll amuse myself for a whole day here.
~~~~~~

This morning after raising all sorts of ruckus yesterday, I had il Capo Dottore, his name is Berrettini. I finally put my glasses on so I could see his name tag. And also both of the Dottore Del Citernas father and son. Turns out there is no way I can transfer between facilities within the same Region. I wish I had just known that at first. Che casino as they say here, which means, what a mess! I can check myself out at anytime though. And if I want I can go to Prosperious as an out patient, walking over for daily sessions. I think I’ll have to pay for them if I don’t want to wait for the system to find a place. That’s OK. I told il Capo I would like to be released on Friday. Just a week, which I can handle. So, the saga ends. Italia – 1 Hamptons – 0
~~~~~~~~~

This morning I was a bad girl. I went to ginastico and they put us in the room with 7 beds. And instructed us to point our toes up and down. Well I did that for a long time. Quit and waited. Finally someone came back and put a big rubber roll under our knees and we were instructed to do leg lifts. So I did about a bazillion of those. Finally I quit. I sat and waited maybe 15 minutes and then I got disgusted. It was such a waste of time. So I left. On the way down the hall I met an employee on the phone. He got excited I was going on my own. But I told him I was perfectly capable of going down an elevator on my own. They insist on escorting us for some reason. He asked me to wait and I did. Then our PT guy, that I had waited so long for, came out of the elevator. I said finito, and he asked if I wanted to go down on my own. I said si. And went back to my room. I wonder if there will be any repercussions from me doing this. I hate to wait and hate to waste my time. Bad l’Americana!!
~~~~~~~~~
Today’s lunch was good enough. Bow tie pasta with ragu, chicken cutlet and peas. Pear for dessert. I put hot sauce on the chicken 😋

This next week will be more of the same so you won’t hear much from me til I’m sprung outa this joint. Except for any interesting observations or decent or interesting meals. Thanks for following along so far. Ciao!

Rehab – day five.

Short post since not much has changed. No word about my transfer.

It is a brilliantly sunny day. Cool and crisp. Very autumnal. It’s my favorite time of year so I am hating that I’m missing it. We DO have a door to a balcony in our room. It allows lots of sunshine to come in. Cheery.

Today’s lunch was fish. Well, it IS after all, Friday in Italy where they hang onto Fish Friday religiously. 😋 It was pretty good.


I’ve joked while here that this is my Italian lesson for the day along with my ginastico or PT exercise. I’m speaking more than I’ve ever spoken before. I’m definitely getting better and no one laughs at my attempts. If I could just stay here another month or so I’d be fluent! Just kidding!!  But seriously, I think it will help me be less self conscious about speaking when I get back home. This is an unexpected extra. This morning a patient came up to me speaking German. So I responded in German. THAT surprised him 😅. Anyway, that’s it from Casa di Cura for today!

Ginastica Italian style.

    First off, latest news. I got a new piece of information yesterday. It’s always something it seems. So I was counting on being moved from here to Prosperious for the rehab, as you know. I had a gaggle of people in the room to include the “big” doctor. I guess he’s the head guy – il capo. He has everybody’s charts and makes decision about care. I asked when I’d be moved to Prosperious and he explained that the hospital I am in is a rehabilitation hospital and they don’t send people other places. So if I want to go somewhere else it’s on me to figure it out. Again, blindsided by the System. Luther had asked the nurse on Friday and she had confirmed I could go there but nope. But misunderstanding again. He asked can she go to Prosperious after she’s finished here? Well yes, of course I could do more after. But after means after two weeks of rehab HERE. There has been much gnashing of teeth. Should we pursue the change to Prosperious, considering we didn’t know exactly how? Or should I just tough it out here. I knew my doctor was here and that’s a consideration. But Prosperious is one of the best in the country. We slept on it.

    Any orthopedic docs in the house? This was interesting to me. A list of my new parts that they gave me.

    ~~~~~~~~~

    Another scrumptious lunch. 😏 I could eat the pasta, but not the secondi. It was unknown fish and crustaceans and extremely fishy tasting. Not to my liking.

    Physical therapy Italian style
    So, today was my first ginastica, or Physical Therapy session. I’m finding it hard to slow down to the pace they want here. I started walking with a walker yesterday. And he told me to slow down. I naturally move fast. Italians naturally move slow. And he caught me carrying the walker once and I was reprimanded. I was not to ever walk without using it. In trouble again 🙄. This morning a gaggle of us headed upstairs to the top floor (which is orange) for a session. 5 women and one man. We laid on beds and Rikki and Francestino told us what to do. I did a total of four exercises. Blink. I think the session lasted maybe 30 minutes. The man to my left fell asleep. The lady at the far end was snoring. So what’s this going to help? Of course it didn’t hurt to do some exercises. I’m sure it did some good. If/when I transfer to Prosperious we will see what difference there is. One thing is all the ladies are in their 70s or 80s, one looked to be in her 90s, so how can they stress them too much. And the man? He did as little as possible.

    Afternoon we were all herded up to the top floor again. They let me use my crutches. This session they placed two electrodes on my injured leg and for an hour I sat bored to tears listening to the other 4 Italian women talk. These ones aren’t very old. Some could be early 50s. I need to look up the procedure to see what it does.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    Final news flash
    Il Capo of the hospital came to our room on his rounds and in our conversation he mentioned that my surgeon had initiated a transfer to Umbertide to Prosperious! So the decision was made for us and I’m sure it’s the right one. That my doctor did this means he is fine with me going there. And this hospital is fine with me going there since it is convenient for family and friends to visit. Totally different viewpoint. Since it’s National Health, it’s not for profit so they are fine with me going elsewhere. Interesting.

Hospital impressions

Now for my hospital impressions.

Two hospitals: Silvestrini (S) and Casa di Cura Liotti (CCL). I had my first operation in January 2018 in Silvistrini. It is a huge University Medical center. Casa di Cura is a small, partly private hospital in downtown Perugia where I am now, September 2019. Here are my impressions of the two plus some other things I found interesting. Some are a bit mundane but it’s what I noticed!

(CCL) Is rather dark and dreary due to the lurid paint they use here. And they don’t like putting the lights on in the halls. (S) Was more the norm that you’d see in the US with light walls and neutral colors.

The colors they choose differ with each floor. What were they thinking? 🤭

(CCL) The beds are electric and I can up and down as I wish. You don’t know how empowering that is! (S) had cranks, and I was stuck in bed and couldn’t get to it.

(CCL) There are two beds. No curtain between them. Cozy. A bit hard to get used to but it is what it is. (S) DID have curtains in it’s shared rooms.

(CCL) Each room has a private bath to share by its two residents. (S) there was one very odd bathroom which was shared between two rooms by four patients.

(CCL) The food is not so bad. Palatable I’d call it. And with my little pack of additions it’s almost good. I don’t have a lot of appetite but my blood is low so I’m eating. (S) practically inedible.

A little different from my normal food pictures ha ha. I ate the pasta which was pretty good. Not the mystery meat or eggplant. I normally like eggplant but not this.

(CCL) All the staff are young and nice. They go about their work cheerfully to a person. Not one has been mean or short with me. I don’t have a nurse Rachett or a Senore huff n puff like last time. Way better here than (S).

(CCL) Provides water for patients and delivers it, and other help you need if you ask for it. (S) Did NOT provide any water and would not bring any. Nor could you drop something on the floor and ask someone to help you get it back or ask your bed get cranked up or down. They expected the family of the patients to do that. Two very different places.

My medicines caused a stir. I always wondered why they have their pills in little blister packs. Lots and lots of waste. I prefer the easy bottles we have in the US. Well, today I think I figured it out. I had brought my own blood pressure medicines which I had removed from the blister packs and placed in small jars. No, no, no they aren’t good if not fresh. An aha moment.

They have a passaggita in the hospital. Just like in a village! All the crutches and walkers come out and it seems like all able patients walk up and down the hall.

I have a room mate. She’s a small rotund Italian woman who had a fall which got her here. I’m guessing she’s 80. Her name is Francesca. She’s sweet and we’ve become friends. She’s been here over two weeks and I just heard she leaves Thursday. Happy for her. And, get this, she came with at least three family members from Puglia! 550km away. Her doctor said she wouldn’t get the good care she could get here. So I guess he got her set up here. I had heard the health care is much worse in the south, a definite consideration if a person is planning to move here. Just goes to show the huge difference people talk about may be true.
~~~~~~~
More tomorrow.

Ginocchio intervento 2 – knee operation 2

This will be a brief post just to update on how I’m doing.
~~~~~~~~~
So the day arrived to check into the hospital. We arrived at 4pm as instructed. The orthopedic floor was full so I was put on the floor above. I had a nice quiet room to myself. I had broth for dinner.

Next morning I woke early and waited and waited for the surgery. Finally got wheeled off about 10:30am. First big surprise was they did the anesthesia differently. I had known I would get an epidural which numbs you from the waist down. The last operation they used mega tranqs to make me sleep and did the spinal in my sleep. This time it was done while I sat on a table! It was scary more than painful but it did hurt. And when they wanted to use gas to make me sleepy I said “I don’t want to hear, see, or feel what is going on!” Make me sleep. They did.

I woke on the way to my room. I guess I got there around three. The doctor came and explained the entire old prosthesis had to be replaced. The other one was defective. This was interesting news. They did give me morphine for the night. And another pain killer the next day that was different but strong. I’m afraid I was woozy and I don’t remember it well.

The next day the doctor visited and lifted my leg and bent it slowly. I was actually amazed at how far he could bend it with no pain. They put me on the bend machine which repeatedly bends the knee to a percentage of flex for an hour. Twice a day. And the flex increases daily. But I’m up to 70% with no pain. I am so happily surprised that this is so totally different from my last experience.

Next post I will give my impressions of the hospital experience and compare with the last one. It’s pretty entertaining.