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.
They call this Mimosa and it is everywhere right now. I guess a very early bloomer. The leaves look like the mimosa I know from the states but the flowers DEFINATELY not. They are like little yellow puffballs.
We also visited an old church in a town called San Guistino. We had aimed to visit the castle there but it is open only on weekends. It purportedly has a gorgeous garden which would be better visited in the spring. We will return. Meanwhile I took a picture in the Church crypt. It was built in the 7th century and completely unlit except for candles.
I just finished reading a book called “The Consul” written by Walter Orebaugh. He was a diplomat in France in WWII and was captured by the Facists in Monaco and spent 2 years in Italy, first as a prisoner and then fighting with the Partisans in the mountains very near where we now live. He had a harrowing escape down the coast. The first house he mentioned in the book where the partisan group he was with were headquartered was called San Faustino. I googled and found that it is now a resort. I found it on a map and we went on an exciting trip trying to find it. We were on all sorts of roads. Mostly gravel through very mountainous terrain. We did in the end find it. The resort is closed for the winter but it is unmistakably the same house as there is a picture in the book and the bell tower is the same. I could easily imagine the Partisani in these remote, forbiding mountains. Here is a picture. We will have to go back in the summer.
On Thursday we headed out to class in Citta di Castello. We got almost to our exit and came to a stop on the superstrada. It was closed and everyone was detoured off. It was a stormy morning with really strong, gale force winds and rain or snow depending on where you were. We ended up only five minutes late but the roaring wind blew around the building. There was a lot of damage and a number of people killed and injured throughout central and northern italy. Hence the closing of the road.
On Friday we had a planned trip to a town called Forli (accent on the i so emphasis on the last syllable). It was about 100 kilometers north near the Adriatic coast. Along the way we saw numerous trees down and the big highway signs either blown down or folded in half by the winds. I guess that was the reason for the closing. The reason for the trip was an art exhibit at the Musei San Domnico. [website] The museum was in a former convent and lovely in it’s own right. The show was the art of Giovanni Boldini. He was an artist during the Belle Epoche in the late 1800s and early 1900s which was a dynamic period. He started out in Florence Italy but eventually moved to Paris where it was all happening. He had money so was not a starving artist. He had epic skills and his works are captivating. He mostly did portraits of beautiful women in the most amazing dresses. All of the women were so beautiful! Hard to imagine. He is not well known but should be. I could stand looking at some of the pictures for hours. He painted in impressionistic and realistic regimens and conveyed the magnificence of the gowns the women wore with amazing brush-work. Minimalist but when you stood back the dresses shimmered with gold, sequins, lace and satin. Amazing!
After the show we went to lunch at Salumé which was recommended in our Slow Food book. It was on a nice Piazza not too far away. It was very small. In summer there would be outside tables. The wait staff and chef were very nice. Both very young and enthusiastic. We had a stuffed cuttlefish antipasti with a pea purée to start. Then assorted pastas. Mine had squid with big rigatoni type pasta. Luther got classic ragu. Susan and Gary got pork cheeks with roasted cauliflower in an unusual green, leaf shaped pasta from Liguria actually called Olive Leaves. Very yummy. The chef and waiter stayed and talked to us for quite a while. They are very proud of their place. And they should be. Not that most tourists will go to Forli but if you do, try Salumé.
After lunch we visited Eataly. It is a store that celebrates Italian Food and Wine with branches worldwide and it just opened a store in…Forli(!) in February. It is right on the main piazza. It is four floors of all Italian goods, mostly food. A lot of fun and we made a few purchases.
Forli is definitely not a tourist destination but it was actually much nicer than I had imagined. Very walkable, lots of trees so summer must be lovely there. It was heavily bombed in the war by the Germans. Some of the city was able to be restored. We stayed at the Hotel Michaelangelo which was nice enough. Walkable to most sights. If there is another good show at the gallery I would go back for sure.
Yesterday morning I woke early to the sound of construction. Not so unusual around here. They had backed a truck down Via Grilli to take out debris from a house being renovated. Sounds pretty ho hum but look at how tight the space was!
We had planned a day trip or gite fuori la porta in Italian which means a short trip outside the gates, to Florence to visit our friends Ron and Linda. We met them around 5 years ago before they moved from Virginia to Florence. They are very happy there and we planned to meet them for lunch. We had not yet used the train to go so we drove to Terontola to the train station and took the 9:30AM train which arrived at just before 11AM. Nice trip. We met Ron and Linda and had a bottle of Prosecco in a lovely piazza at an outside table in a glass enclosed area. The weather was spectacular, in the mid 60s F and bright sun. Here is the Duomo under renovation in anticipation of a papal visit later this year.
I had asked Linda to take us somewhere where I could buy ingredients (foreign) that I can’t get in Umbria. I have forgotten the store name but will get it from her. I got lots of things I couldn’t have gotten to include Thai and mexican things. Here is a picture of my haul.
We had lunch at one of their favorites Trattoria Porcospino (porcupine). We could sit outside. The proprietor knows Ron and Linda and is a big USA booster but a little strange in an OK kind of way. The food was good and so was the company.
We walked to Ron and Linda’s apartment. On the way at an outside vendor along the leather market I spotted a nice leather tote bag. I had been wanting to get one and lamented that I had not sent any over with our stuff. This was much more fun. I bargained and am happy with my purchase. It is periwinkle blue and reversible so it can be a pale beige. Nice soft leather and it included a blue purse. Here it is!
When we went to our Italian lesson this morning my teacher remarked it was a color for spring. So OK with me. Bring it on! Our lesson was good (I guess). It is sometimes frustrating but I am trying. We have moved from 9AM to 10-12AM on Thursdays. Much more civilized hour and when we are done we can lunch. We went just over the Tuscan border to La Pieve Vecchia in Monterchi. Pretty old building with a lunch menu for 12 Euro to include 4 courses. And they were really good! We decided to become regulars and go after all of our classes…for the next 20 weeks!