A Christmas present. I just checked the Polizia di Stato website and our Permessi are ready!!! We applied to renew them in early February. And here it is, only TEN months later and they are ready! The old ones expired in June. So I told Luther, when we go to collect them we’ll thank them and say “OK, see you next month!” Which is about right to start the process all over again. 🙄
Well, we are back from our eventful trip to the USA mainly to visit my sister on Thanksgiving. We had an issue on our trip over with our expired Permessi di Soggiorno. I haven’t written about it but we continue to have the same problems renewing year after year. This year we put in for our new Permessi in early February, well before they expired in June. Here it is December 1 and we still do not have our new cards. It is the Italian way. But this time it has impacted us. The word had been until recently, we could travel on our expired Permessi with the Poste receipts showing we had applied for the new one. The issue is with travel from one Schengen country (alliance of countries with open borders) to another. This trip we were flying from Bologna to Vienna and then to the US. Since we were going THROUGH another Schengen country, Austria, the woman at the Austrian air counter said we couldn’t travel on our expired Permessi. The Postal receipt was not acceptable as a police document. In the end we were allowed to go since we were American citizens traveling “home”. This is an unwelcome development which will probably affect us on future travel. We will need to be mindful how we travel. On our return we went through passport control in Munich and we didn’t admit we lived in Italy rather we were tourists, which worked to get us home.
After a long travel day we arrived at my sisters house where she had prepared a nice green chili for us all. We hit the sack shortly afterwards.
It was a nice visit with me achieving my goal to renew my drivers license. We also cooked the Thanksgiving dinner together which was fun, and we had the Macy’s parade on TV and after that the dog show. Both of these have been fixtures in our Thanksgiving day since before our Mom passed away. Nostalgia. I’ve missed them. Luther got his football hit afterwards.
We also did some shopping and eating lunches out. I cooked one dinner. Cindy cooked all our favorite chilies, which are a taste we miss. We had oysters one day. We visited Montecello, Jefferson’s home, one day. It had been years since I’d been there. All in all a really nice time with my family.
We had planned a short trip to Williamsburg afterward. This has been “our” spot since we were young and broke. We have been back countless times. We stayed in one of the Colonial Homes which we had always enjoyed. The house we were in this time, the Peter Hay Kitchen was looking a bit worn. It needed a bit of TLC and a facelift. But it had a nice fireplace which we used both evenings while there. A lovely gentleman came to lay and light it for us and the first evening I didn’t have money for a tip. When we called the second evening I was happy to see the same man so I could make it up to him. To his credit he was as nice and helpful the second evening even though he probably could expect no tip based on the first night.
One day while there we drove north to the Middle Peninsula to visit a long-time favorite restaurant, Merroir, home to the Rappahannock Oyster Farm. It is on a beautiful point of land next to the marina in Topping VA. Wonderful fresh oysters and crabcakes. We were very happy campers.
The return home from Dulles started well. We drove the 2.5 hours from Williamsburg to Dulles airport and dropped off our car. Then checked into United for our return. We got all comfortable on board. We were told there was a maintenance issue. OK, I watched a movie. The maintenance crew came onboard. The pilot told us the issue was fixed, they just did the paperwork. Then we taxied out. Where we sat for about an hour. Then we taxied back to the gate. Where they started letting people go off the plane. I had finished my movie. Finally after about 2.5 hours they told us that plane was going nowhere that night 🙄. So we all got off.
They eventually found a new plane, but not as nice, and we finally got in the air 5 hours late. Needless to say we missed our connection to Bologna. We heard a flight attendant say there were 181 separate connections from that one flight that were missed! Everyone at the Munich airport knew about the United flight that arrived 5 hours late. We went to a Lufthansa service center and they snagged the last two seats on the 3:40pm flight arriving at about 5Pm in Bologna. We finally got our car and headed home on the 2.5 hour drive home arriving at 9 pm, tired but glad to finally be home. Traveling is often not a lot of fun to put it mildly.
Now we look forward to our Christmas season in Umbertide. Always nice.
Spring at last!
Finally the weather has turned. Temperatures in the low seventies. Still pretty wet with rain often but I can deal with that. More people are out of hibernation. Umbertide is perking up! We even had our inaugural aperol spritz’ last week! Let the season begin!
Last Sunday we met up with some new American friends who live in Passignano over on Lago Trasimeno. Beautiful day. Lots of people out doing activities along the lake front. Sorry I did not bring my camera!
Last week we went to Città di Castello to visit our good friends at the Questura 😉. Actually, now that we are applying for PdS number 5 we do feel like we know the officers there…and they us. They know our names and are very friendly. I know we are lucky here to be dealing with this office in a small town rather than a big city like Florence. There they deal with so many immigrants that they are said to be thoroughly unpleasant and the waits can be horribly long.
Well, the saga continues. We got a phone call, after all this time, from the nice lady (Sandra) we’ve been dealing with to get our German licenses converted to Italian. Seems our German licenses are so old they are not in the German computer system for them to be converted to Italian. Sandra said they have written and asked that they be entered but nothing ever happens. Sigh. So this coming week we have to visit Sandra to find out what address they used etc. I think it’s worth a try for us to request this ourselves in our most formal, ingratiating German. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I say. Both of our stateside licenses expire this year so we will be unable to rent a car without a valid license. Luther is fine with taking the Italian test. I’m sure he will pass. But I will not have a license once mine is expired which would bother me. I’m hoping we can get a response out of the Deutchers.
I just put up a page, accessible from the top navigation, with a summary of information about moving and living in Italy. It is called “So you’ve decided to move to Italy”. I will constantly update it with things I learn that I think will be useful. Go to the page here.
Yesterday we went for our interview at the Questera to renew our Permessi. These police are in charge of immigration. They are based in Citta di Castello. They are generally very friendly. For this I am grateful because I’ve heard some are awful. After we got our fingerprints taken and had handed in all of our photocopies and passport sized pictures we thought we’d broach the subject of our Italian Culture class.
More explanation about this is called for. We had to sign an agreement to stay in Italy. The letter we signed is an agreement between us and the “State, in the person of the Prefect of PERUGIA”. We agreed to attend this class and pass the A2 Italian proficiency test. There is a point system. The letter clearly states that we get 16 points up front. If we do not take the class we LOSE 15 points. We need a total of 30 points after two years. I should mention that they did not give us this agreement until AFTER our scheduled class date. We believe they forgot to give it to us when we went in for our initial fingerprinting etc. They told us not to worry at the time. Since then we have been trying to figure out how to take this class with no luck. The two year date for our agreement to expire is September 4 of this year and it says it gets reviewed and we’ll get a letter if we are not compliant and they extend the agreement one more year. Then if we still don’t pass muster they deport us. This week, when we asked the officer about how we can take the class, she said it is not mandatory and not to worry about it. I can’t understand why the Questura told us this when this paper is quite clear. I am sure we have not heard the last of this. Sigh.
Last Sunday we decided to invite our friend Vera and her husband and two little girls over for pranzo (lunch). I made sure she was OK with something ethnic and she said she was. I made tortilla soup with added toppings of crisp corn tortillas, avocado, lime and cheese. Then we had a burrito with chicken with golden raisin sauce and sour cream. Next we had do-it-yourself tortillas. We had a tequila pork sausage with additional condiments of avocado, grilled onions, dressed cilantro, limes, tomatoes, with a mole sauce on flour tortillas. Everyone seemed happy to make their own. Graziano, Vera’s husband, was very adventurous for an Italian. Maja and Desiree who are 6 and 10 ate everything with gusto! And of course Vera, coming from Bosnia and Slovenia was excited to try all the new tastes. She also brought me the biggest chicken I’ve ever seen! And a bottle of Vin Santo as gifts. I should say it was all Italian spoken and I was ok with that. We had a lot of fun. Here we are at the table. Vera was taking the picture.
Today is the Saturday market. We have noticed that both the Wednesday and Saturday markets were very small this week. The big Wednesday one had probably a third of the normal vendors. I had mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to try the gobbi. I have a recipe which sounds pretty good and good for you. Here is the product I bought this morning.
You have to trim the crap out of it. It is a relative of the artichoke family and has some spines that need trimming. I also removed most of the outer leaves. Like celery it has coarse threads that need to be removed. Once trimmed and chopped it looks like this.
Now I need to blanch it until fork tender. The recipe says this removes the bitterness. If you like it bitter boil it less. Once cooked you sautéed some cherry tomatoes in olive oil and add some garlic. Put the gobbo in the pot and sauté until done. Here is a picture of the finished product. The taste was…forgettable. Not worth the trouble.
Finally I bought something I’ve always wanted to have…a lemon tree! Apparently they do well here and can be left out except for a hard freeze which doesn’t happen often. It will flourish in the sun on the terrace. And it flowers and fruits all year. See how pretty!
Yesterday we went to the Questura in Citta di Castello to finalize our application for our Permessi renewals. I remember how scared I was last year doing all this. Now it has become routine. I guess that’s good. That said, you may remember that I went for a two year renewal. After all there is a box to check for a two year Permesso. They wouldn’t put it there if we couldn’t get one would they? NOPE! We can only get a one year Permesso. We paid 20.00 Euro (each) extra for the two year as opposed to a one year. Seemed like a good idea to me.
We arrived at the Questura and the officer who came to let us in the door knew our name! He is a very nice guy. He told us we had overpaid. And gave us a letter saying so. Also he gave us a form to fill out to get a refund. Good so far but wait for it. In order to get the refund we had to buy a Marco da Bollo or stamp to affix to the form. The stamp cost 16.00 Euro (each)… So to get the 20 euro refund we have to go to the trouble to fill out the form, buy the stamp, and go to the post office, wait in line, for our essentially 4 Euro refund. Another learning experience and out 50 bucks!
Renovating the Commune building
We were warned that the Commune building was being worked on right across the narrow street from us. So on Monday morning when I walked into the living room I was met with this sight.
We are essentially on the fourth floor and are unaccustomed to seeing anyone outside our windows. We also cannot figure out why they are doing this work. They are taking off the stucco in long strips from the ground to the roof. Under the stucco is old crumbly brick. To me it seems to be decorative work. Who knows!
Rocky wants out
Here is Rocky hoping he can go outside. Poor boy. We want to get what they call rabbit fence to go on the railing of the terrace. Until then he only gets to go out wearing his harness with me on the other end of the leash.
As I put on my Facebook page, I walked onto the terrace yesterday afternoon and found this pot of succulents that the former owner left here. I had no idea there were tiny daffodils in there. Signs of spring!
Finally, I wanted to share this beautiful picture of our view and the sunset over the river. Lovely.
Today is a sunny, cold Wednesday and the market is in full swing. I can never resist a picture of the brilliantly colorful produce. I plan to try a recipe for cuttlefish tonight so I’ll be visiting the fish people.
Since my last post I made a BIG list of things we need to get done. Here it is:
- Order screens for windows
- Go to Tiziano and order guest room furniture
- Go to Leroy and Merlin to get things for the guest bath
- Call TV guy about missing connections (AGAIN)
- Go to Deruta to order an outside table
- Pay TV tax
- Renew Permesso di Sogorni
- Take Permesso receipt to health department
- Call for Stranieri class
- Go to EMU to order outside chairs
- Go to initial doctor appointment
- Schedule MRI
- Look into fireplace doors
- Look into awning for terrace
- Buy pots for terrace
- Go to Essalunga in Arezzo
So far we’ve worked our way from 1 to 7. But those were pretty significant things.
The window screens needed to be ordered because before we know it, it will be warm and we’ll want to open windows. We don’t want the cats to fall to their deaths so screens are necessary. A window screen is called zanzariera in Italian after the word for mosquito or zanzara. I like that. And I like that the word zanzara kind of sounds like a mosquito does.
Getting ready for our first guests (MY SISTER!) so items 2 and 3 need to be done before April. We ordered a dresser, wardrobe and bedside tables from Signore Tiziano which should be here in a couple of weeks. And we got items for the guest bath.
We went to our favorite ceramic shop in Deruta Ceramiche Artistiche Gialletti Giulio. We ordered a 100cm ceramic table-top and base. They should be ready to be delivered by the end of March.
We did pay our TV tax so we don’t get fined. And we did call the TV guy again. This is because they didn’t have cables to hook the speakers up to the TV when they delivered them way back in December. We’ve been trying ever since to get this finished. Frustrating.
We applied for our renewal for the Permessi. We went for two years this time. We have our appointment for March 3 at the Questura. We’ll see how long it takes this time.
The other items are not quite as pressing. We definately need an appointment to attend the Stranieri class in Perugia. It is a requirement to be able to stay in Italy so important. We need to do it before June. We also have to take the Permessi receipts to the Health dept before June when our insurance runs out. And we’ll need to get outside chairs before April. Doctor stuff can’t be put off for too long. Pots for the terrace need to be done before springtime planting. The fireplace and awning are less time sensitive. Essalunga is the last supermarket that I have on my list to visit to look for exotic things. The nearest one is in Arezzo – about an hour from here.
We also went over to Emanuele’s office and picked up our new carpet for the office. It was not an expensive carpet but it looks nice. Last item we have to buy now is a sofa bed for this room. The only thing is that we have to be SURE that whatever we buy can fit up the stairs into the apartment. Remember the table!!
WOW! Today a red letter day! Here is what has been happening. Since we received our Permessi last Saturday we have been working hard to get our Residenza. We went to the Comune (city hall) on Monday morning and they did the paperwork for our house. Putting it into our name and showing we will move in at the end of the year for garbage tax etc. We took that to another department where they filled out our papers to get our Residenza which will include a visit by the Police to our house to make sure we actually live there.
On Tuesday we went car shopping in Perugia. It was not very hopeful. We thought we were going to have to order a car which would take a couple of months minimum. We decided we’d go up to Citta di Castello on Wednesday, Christmas Eve, where they have an auto row type street to see about ordering an Alfa. We went to the VW dealer first. The salesman was pretty helpful. We explained we needed to buy a car as soon as possible. He found a VW Golf Diesel with most of what we wanted in Arrezzo (not too far away). They would install the GPS for us at an additional charge. Seemed like a good deal. We told him we would think about it. We wanted to try the Alfa dealer. He pretty much laughed at us saying what we wanted was impossible. Since we did have the VW in hand we decided to go back and buy it.
We did so. They explained that our Permessi were not enough to buy it. We had to have the Residenza. SO when we got back to Umbertide we decided to visit the Police to see if we could speed it up some. Serendipitously we ran into Jim (our realtor) as we were turning away from the Police door after reading their hours. Jim is not put off by closing time. He rang the bell and ushered us right in. He talked to the Policeman who found our visit request at the bottom of a big stack. He explained where we lived and he stamped all our papers and called ahead and we went up and GOT OUR RESIDENZA permits!!! I think getting our Permessi and Residenza in only 3 business days must be a record.
This means we can actually close the deal on the VW and return our rental without extending it (we hope!). This is a most welcome Christmas present for us!
Looks and is comfy!
We also went to Castiglione del Lago with Susan and Gary for lunch on Sunday. It was a lovely, very mild day. Lots of folks out and about. We had a great lunch at Monna Lisa. This is a seafood restaurant that we were sure Susan and Gary would love as we had eaten there with Jodi and Don recently.
Finally, at the end of a very eventful year for us, we want to wish everyone a Buon Natale! We will have a nice Christmas Eve dinner with friends tonight.
In case you read this short lived post before I am editing it now, we were sadly wrong. We did not yet get our Permessi!!
We went to the questura and they were expecting us. We signed papers which say we understand that we have to comply with the rules. You have to promise that you will acquire the Italian spoken language to a certain level (A2). You must acquire adequate knowledge of the principles of the Constitution of the Republic, the organization and functioning of public institutions and civic life in Italy.
They have a point system. You get 16 points when you sign the forms signifying you are at the A1 level of the language. You are required to attend a class called the civic formation session. If you don’t attend, they take away 15 of your points. Ultimately you want to get 30 points. We are not totally sure how to get them. Perhaps we have to take the language test? We have two years to figure it out.
Sadly when we went to the Comune these papers are not the Permesso. So we are back to waiting for word. We think perhaps these papers should have been signed back when we applied. Hopefully it has not slowed things further.
We got home on Thursday around 1PM after visiting the wine region south of Fabriano. It is a gorgeous area of Italy. Dramatic mountains and impossibly green. I took one picture and will add it once I get it off the camera. We purchased some white wines.
Yesterday we visited the bank to pay for the rest of the lighting. Then visited the Comune (city hall) to prod theme about our Permesso di Soggiorno. No news.
We went over to see Emanuele and got some sad news. The little old lady in our building who had called us banditi died in her sleep on Thursday. The funeral was this morning. She had a son who lived with her who is said to be mentally slow. I wonder what will happen to him. Now both of the other people who own apartments in our building are dead.
Gary came over to show us how to work the heat and have it switched from summer to winter. He also showed us how to work the pellet stove. Now we just need pellets!
Today, Saturday, we went to the Coop supermarket for groceries and pellets for the stove. Then we visited the Kilometer zero market. We are fully into the cool season vegetables. Lots of cabbage and kale.
We went back upstairs with all our heavy stuff. Carrying stuff up five flights is not easy! Now for the EXCITING news…just after we came back my phone rang. It was the Questura in Citta di Castello. They want us to come and sign papers on Monday!! I think this may be IT! We may be getting our Permessi! Now we can buy a car!