Category Archives: House renovation

Progress continues…

We had lunch with Susan and Gary today to catch up after our visitors left. They are off to Rome to meet up with THEIR visitors who are here for three weeks! They will be traveling with them all around from Lecce in the far south to Venice in the far north. It was good to see them.

I waited another two days to go take a look at the apartment. They finished the hall ceiling, patching the hole and cleaning the iron beam. Looks nicer for sure. The entire kitchen floor is covered with that mud the put down under tiles so I couldn’t go in there as it was wet. From the bedroom window I looked at the finished patio. So nice! Here are four pictures, two of the patio and two of the mud!

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Renovation pictures as promised

So at 6:30 I went over and happily all the workmen were gone. I don’t like going over there when they are working.

They have removed the hall ceiling drywall. There are a couple of holes that will need to be repaired and it looks to need some clean up but it will look way better than the drywall.

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Here is a picture of the air conditioning unit in the bedroom, just like my sister’s in the US!

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Pantry where they have been tiling. The walls are all done in there and the windows put back. Starting to take shape.

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Last, the hole in the ceiling in the kitchen where the stairs used to be. They have filled the hole with the barrel ceiling that is in the rest of the room. Nice!

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Great visit!

Well we dropped our guests off at the train station around noon today. We had a great visit. They brought great weather with them. Now that they are gone it is pouring rain.

As you know we had toured Assisi a couple of days before where we learned about St. Francis who was said to be able to talk to animals and once preached a sermon to the birds. Anyway, Kaye was taken particularly with a story about St. Francis and a wolf.

Seems a wolf was eating the people and animals in a town. The desperate citizens asked St. Francis to help. St. Francis went into the woods where the ferocious wolf lived and convinced him that God wanted him to stop hurting the people of the town. The wolf bowed his head and placed his paw in St. Francis’ hand and they went together into the town. The townspeople were astounded and agreed to feed the wolf from then on so he wouldn’t be hungry. He lived two years that way and was buried in the churchyard.

We decided to visit Gubbio yesterday. I did learn a couple of lessons with our first guests, do some research! So I downloaded info on Gubbio. A happy coincidence! Turns out Gubbio is the town where the wolf incident occurred! Kaye said she thought the wolf and St. Francis were her favorite things from her trip. Here is a link to the Wolf of Gubbio Legend.

We tried to visit the Chiesa di Pace where a wolf skeleton was found in the 1800s corroborating the legend. It was closed. Too bad. We toured the upper town, took in the view and visited another church. Here are pictures in the church. One is a fresco of St. Francis and the wolf.

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Another coincidence – we had made reservations at Taverna da Lupa (Tavern of the Wolf) so we were all excited that our theme was ongoing. It was a nice place. Not as good as our previous restaurants though. We sat outside. It also turned out to be a Buon Ricordo member. This is a group of restaurants that each have a specialty dish and if you order it you get a ceramic plate (I have probably 6 of them from many vacations – indeed a Buon Ricordo (good memory)). Kaye and I ordered Faraona al ginepro – roasted Guinea Fowl with Juniper – and got our plates. The dish was very good.

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The Plate!

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All in all a nice day. Last night we went outside so Luther could smoke a cigar. HORRORS! Bar Mary was closed! What was this! Even Cafe Centrale was closed. This morning we found out it is now considered the winter season so they close early on Tuesday. We went back up and got wine and glasses and sat outside. Susan and Gary and Mr. Luca dropped by to meet our guests.

Renovation news

We met with Manuele last evening after our sight seeing. It was good to see much progress. The air conditioning units are installed in the living room and the bedroom. We discussed covering the pipes on the patio. Manuele wants to uncover the old ceiling in the hallway where they installed the new stairway. It is now covered with wallboard but under that is the old vaulted ceiling. Of course we agreed with that! He also discussed with us the fireplace. He wants to change it so it doesn’t look like a Tuscan fireplace (who knew!). It has brickwork and he says they only use stone in Umbria. So I was fine with that as well. I believe he is not charging extra for this as he said “I will do this for you”. Also that Zona di Notte thing was again brought up. Manuele made a pretty good case for it and I think we will have him move a glass door which is at the head of the steps into the hallway. He will tint it which will make the master bedroom and bath more private. He said we could probably start moving in in a couple of weeks! whoo hoo!

Touring with friends

Yesterday we went to Assisi and Montefalco. It was a beautiful day. Not too hot or cool. We walked through town – very crowded! We tried to tour St. Francis’ church but we forgot it was Sunday so they were having Mass. We did go down to see St Francis’ tomb where there were plenty of the faithful paying their respects.

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We passed by a house adorned with beautiful decorative wrought iron. I believe it’s owner was the artisan as I could hear sounds of works in the back. They were so ornate and lovely I took some pictures. The one is a fat man. The others are dragons or griffons.

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Next we went to Montefalco. It is the heart of the Sagrantino wine region. Very beautiful, scenic and with many grapes, very green. We had reservations at L’Alchimista. It is a wonderful restaurant right on the main square with outside tables where we sat. The lunch was wonderful. We had what is called Kilometer zero specialties. There is a town called Trevi where they grow the “black celery” or sedano nero. It is VERY local and is only available for a short time. They had several specials using it. I had the soup. Kaye had a stuffed celery. It was filled with pork and served in a tomato sauce. We all seemed in the mood for a secondi so we mostly had beef filet. Mine was served with sauteed radicchio and gorgonzola. Luther had it with rosemary and olive oil. Here is the square from our table:

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Today we got a late start. That was OK as I was going with the flow. We had planned to go to Montepulciano to one of our favorite restaurants, La Grotta.

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We thought we’d have time to stroll the town but that was not the case so we headed straight for the restaurant. We toured the famous Chiesa di San Biagio. It is a beautiful church just across from the restaurant.

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We dined outside on the beautiful patio.

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Here are some of the dishes we had:

First course for me. Crostini with a liver spread and Vin Santo sauce.

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Luther’s Tuscan salad called Panzanella featuring stale bread.

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Luther’s rack of lamb.

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Kaye’s house-made tagliatelle with white truffles. (she LOVED it)

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Jeff’s marscapone dessert with coffee gelato.

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All in all a lovely, long lunch. We headed straight back as it is kind of a long drive. Now all are resting.

House renovation update. We went over where I took couple of pictures of the rubble in the hallway after the relocated the stairway to the attic. The place is a wreck! We have an appointment tomorrow at 5:30 to meet up with Manuele to discuss a few things.

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First guests!

First, we ran into Manuele yesterday and he told us things were moving along and they were 60% finished. He said it should be done in 2 or 3 weeks. He also talked to Pedini about the kitchen and they will deliver between October 20 and 22. Then we can move in! And BUY stuff!

So today we are having our first guests. Kaye and Jeff from Woolongong Australia. We have stocked the frig and I am going out to the Saturday market in a minute to grab a few last things. Then I am going to attempt to make an apple cake! This will be my first try at baking anything here. Gathering the ingredients was not easy. Baking powder was a challenge but I found some. Also vanilla which I found in imitation powder form (ugh). Vanilla is something they just don’t have here. I need to find vanilla beans (which I read they DO have) and make my own extract. I think I may have some in my shipment but I don’t want to uncover the door to the living room (where it is all stowed now) with all the mess over there.

I’ll take a picture of the cake and post it later whether it comes out — or not. After that my posts may be a bit sporadic. I’ll post some pictures of us touring with Kaye and Jeff.

Progress continues

It has been two days since I last went over to our house. There have been trucks coming in the early morning to pick up debris. It is the only time that they can come and not disrupt businesses etc.

They have finished pulling up all the old tiles in the kitchen, leaving the concrete that the tiles were attached to. In some places it is gone so you can see old linoleum under that! They filled in the trenches where the new pipes run in both the kitchen and the new pantry. They insulated and covered the walls in the pantry. They closed off the door between two of the bedrooms. So I am pretty happy with the progress. Looks like they may start tiling both the terrace and the kitchen/pantry soon. Here are some pictures.

Closed off door between rooms.

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Pantry with new walls and filled in trench.

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Kitchen floor.

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Attic. Mostly cleaned out.

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We also went on a fun drive to a winery (boo we were a little late to taste the wines) and then to Bevagna (we had been here before but it’s a cute town in the wine area) for lunch at Ottavius. It was good if very slow service. I had an interesting pasta with pistacchio and basil sauce. It was good.

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Luther at lunch.

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Here are a couple of pics of the pretty town of Bavagna. It is a very old Roman town on the old Flamenia road I wrote about a while ago.

This was very cool because there was one ray of sunshine coming from a window in the church and it was falling right on the patron Saint San Francesco.

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Progress…

The work started as promised on Monday. We could hear them using power tools from down on the ground.

This morning (Tuesday) very early a truck came and they dumped a bunch of debris into it and it drove off. Then all day there was much noise of working. We could hear it from this apartment. The streets are narrow and the sound echos. They leave the windows wide open.

So with all of that noise I figured there would be molto progress. I went over and was kind of disappointed. But they are probably doing things in the attic that I can’t see. What I did notice was that all the kitchen tiles for the floor have been delivered. And there was a wall in the future guest room that was covered in a red plastic substance. Manuele was concerned that there was a crack running through it and it is a load bearing wall so he took off the plastic covering today (I hated it so was glad) and they covered it over with the stucco they use on the walls here. I assume the crack was not important or they wouldn’t have covered it over. Here are the two pictures. In the second one you can see at the bottom left on the wall in a little rectangle the color it used to be.

floor tiles in their boxes

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Ceiling in apartment below

We had a meeting set up with Emanuele this morning at 11. We were outside on the piazza and I saw Josephine (remember her from the meter reading incident?) waving at me from a window beneath our apartment. It was evident that she wanted us to come up which we did. This is the apartment just under our new apartment that is owned by the Swiss lady. Josephine took us into this apartment and we saw damage done to the ceiling due to the work in our apartment above. Some of the mortar between the stones in the ceiling had crumbled and fallen to the floor and on the bed. Turns out Josephine has had keys to this apartment for many years. The Swiss lady has died and she got a letter from the attorney handling the estate. They will be selling or renting the apartment. Josephine showed us around. It is a lovely place with 3 big bedrooms, and enormous bathroom, sun porch, living room and updated kitchen. Very nice overall if furnished a bit old fashioned. We assured Josephine that we would talk to our Geometra about the damage to the ceiling.

We waited for Emanuele to meet us in the piazza but he never showed up so we bought some pizza-to-go from the local bakery for our lunch. This was some EXCELLENT pizza. This shop is always so crowded I never tried to buy anything or it was sold out but today it was nearly empty and had pizza. I got a Pizza con funghi (with mushrooms) yum.

I went up to the apartment since I had seen all the workmen leaving and took a look around. They have done a lot of work. They have removed all the wood from the floors they took up. They have removed most of the tiles from the kitchen floor. There were a number of big buckets filled with debris waiting to be removed. They have jack hammered trenches into the floor from the old kitchen into the new one for the water, drains, and gas. The pipes have all been laid. Out on the patio I found they had punched a hole through the wall for the drains to go into the pipe, or an Emanuele calls it, the Tube (waste water pipe). No wonder the ceiling downstairs had crumbled! Anyway, it all looks good. Here are pictures of the debris buckets, trenches, and hole through the wall.

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Perugia, more on reno, market day in Umbertide

A lot has happened in the last couple of days. Yesterday morning I said we were headed for Perugia. We left and it was pretty sunny but by the time we got there it had gotten blustery and cold with glowering skies. It did not really rain though, just spitted a few times. I need to get some warmer clothes!

We were headed to scout out the MiniMetro. We found it with no problem. It is small with only 6 stops and goes from the bottom of the hill near the stadium to the very top of the hill town in the center. We purchased our ticket and boarded. It’s fun to watch them operate. They attach themselves to a continuously moving cable. When they reach a station they unhook and small tires convey them to the platform and stop. Then they propel them forward until they hook back onto the cable. They run about every 2 minutes so no waiting. They reach the end of the line then spin around on a turntable and go back. Very steep trip up to Perugia. Takes about 15 minutes to go from end to end with free parking at the bottom and it drops you right at the top in the center of town.

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Arriving in the center on a spectacular overlook of the countryside from up there we head up just a short way to the main area of town. We visited two churches. First was Chiesa di Filippo Neri. I had heard it was incredibly ornate. And it was. I was sorry to see huge cracks in the domes which could have just been in the frescoes, but who knows.
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We walked up the steep narrow streets. It is really a beautiful town with hundreds of tiny, almost cavelike streets.

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We visited the Duomo, or the main cathedral. It was enormous.

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Then we visited the National Gallery of Umbria. If you want to see pre and renaissance art this is the place to go. The works start in about 1230 AD and work up to the 18th century. It is almost all religious in subject matter. Many of the works were beautifully rendered, the colors vibrant. But it was all meant to scare the crap out of the people. Their lives were dominated by the church. I never saw as many “Adoration of the Christ”, “Escape to Egypt”, “Annunciation”, “Cruxifiction”, “Flagellation of Christ” and “Christ going into Heaven” as I’ll ever need to see again! The subject matter varied little. The saints changed over time. I did enjoy it, but I was very done at the end. The first picture is the Griffon which is the symbol of the city. Reminded me of Buckbeak for any Harry Potter fans out there.

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We spent 2 hours in the museum! Then headed out to find lunch. We tried two of Luther’s recommended ones, both were closed, either for good or for lunch that day. We fell back on Da Cesare where we had dined with the Gang on our last trip to Umbria. We ate inside since it was so cold outside. The food was classic Umbrian and we split a mixed Bruschetta antipasti and both had pasta. It was good. Since we returned we have gotten a good recommendation for our next trip for Bottega del Vino from our friend John in Montone. It sounds great and we look forward to trying it.

We headed back on the MiniMetro and then home where we had a meeting with Emanuele at 4:30 at the apartment. We met up with him and his partner Paolo and the Electrician and the Plumber. I had sent a rather curt email in the morning about the fact that the sofa was STILL uncovered which may have lit a little fire under him because they covered it while we were there. We had discussions about the pantry space. It will be a nice big space and he has good ideas for shelving across one whole wall and then on the otherside for part of it. We explained that we wanted some floor space dedicated to the cats which is always a priority. So all is well at Via Grilli – for now.

Today we did a bunch of errands. We first had Cappuccini at Bar Mary and did people watching at the market. Then I did my shopping to include tomatoes, potatoes, onions, arugula, and those red and white beans that are so good. Look at all these peppers!!

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Then we got our porchetta pannini. That stuff is like CRACK! I thought about it all week since last Wednesday. This time Luther didn’t make the mistake of not getting one. Don’t you love the pig face!? Poor pig but I have to see he was much appreciated in his final form.

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Next we hit our favorite seafood stand to buy fish for dinner tonight. We got whole sea bass to try.

Then we split up with Luther going to the barber to get his first haircut. It cost €8.00 (!) It looks way better than the scalp job he got just before we left at the hair cuttery. I went over to the shopping part of the market to see if I could buy some warmer clothes. I scored two nice hoody shirts that are more like sweater material, one has a zipper and is black, the other purple. They cost €3.00 each (!) This stall, like many, you just dig through piles of clothes to find stuff. Then I hit a nicer stall. Everything was hung up and it was nicer quality. I bought a quirky pair of pants with a tweedy look and rolled up bottoms. It is stretchy material, snug in the legs. And a pretty sweater (beige) with a matching infinity scarf. It is very long tunic style. Maybe now that I have an Italian haircut and Italian market bought clothes they won’t immediately know I am foreign! Nah, it’ll never happen 🙂

We headed to the bank next to put down a 50% deposit on the lighting for our house and dropped it off at Emanuele’s office with Paolo. Whew! all done and glad to get back to the apartment to eat our Panini, get out of the cool weather and read a bit.

Boxes scheduled; work progressing

We got the notification that our UPak boxes will be delivered on September 12. That works out pretty well for us. It is a Friday so not a busy day on the Piazza. And it is after the big Feste in Umbertide.

I have not told you about this. Every September Umbertide has a huge festival. It is centered around 18th century Umbertide. Everyone wears 18th century costumes. This varies from most other towns around here who almost all do medieval festivals dressing in medieval costumes. The citizenry set up all manner of recreations from that era to include a brothel, a hospital etc. Having never experienced this festival I don’t really know what will happen. All I know is that it starts on September 2 and goes until September 7 – Every night a live performance on the piazza. I am told it is loud. Susan and Gary have been known to leave town to avoid it. Since it is our first time we are eager to experience it. We may be sleep deprived but that will have to be OK. I will post alllll about it once it starts!

Work continues on our apartment. I went up Saturday and they had removed all the cabinets and appliances in the kitchen. The electrician had also removed all the switch plates and was working on the wiring. Here is the former kitchen which will become our pantry and store room.

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We also received our invoice from the lighting place. We have to go to the bank and send them half for a deposit.

Last evening and all night we had intermittent thunderstorms. I shut all the windows. This morning dawned gray and pretty chilly. I have no long sleeved shirts. The shipment can’t come too soon. They predict cool and wet weather for the next couple of weeks. So sorry for the wine makers. It is very bad timing after a too cool summer. Not a good year.