Category Archives: Italian life

Christmas season begins…

Last night they lit our town Christmas tree. We went down and joined in the fun. It was mostly for the kids. Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) was in his hut, and there were lots of performances by the kids. We went to Bar Mary. It was very mild out so we sat at a table outside. We were joined by some friends who happened by. Then there was the count down – dieci, nove, otto, sette, sei, cinque, quattro, tre, due, uno!! And the tree was lit!

Here are pictures! First the unlighted tree. Then when it is lighted up.

Chestnuts roasting.

One of the vendors selling Christmas ornaments.

I call this “Cityscape” – projected lights on the buildings (I’m not sure I’d want to live there!)

And with the Rocca in the shot.

Our Collegiata, lit up for L’Imacolatta – with the moon and sparks.

And one of the many sconces of lights on the streets.

Enjoy the season! Buon Natale.

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.

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!

First Prosperious therapy session and…

So, Monday was my first scheduled PT session at our nearby rehab facility, Prosperious. Super highly thought of here in Italy, with both in-patient and out-patient facilities. I can walk there from our house but this is, in and of itself, a workout. First I descend 56 steps…piano, piano. Then I walk about 10-15 minutes. This is all good IMO. Walking is good. Steps, maybe not so much but once I can use both legs then good. Repeat…

Once I reached my destination I was directed to Lorenzo for my therapy. The facility is nice. Big and spacious with lots of folks, of varying ages, in various stages of therapy for various joints. Oh, we fragile humans!

Prosperious from outside

Mostly it is non-weight bearing exercise now with some massage. And afterward, electron therapy. Luther and I laughed at my auto-correct which changed electrode to electron. So they place electrons (-trodes) on my thigh to stimulate the muscles. Luther said it up-ended his quantum physics learning!

And afterwards I walked home. I didn’t pay, I didn’t get my patient card back. I’m sure they will inform the idiot American of her error eventually.😑
~~~~~~~~~

It is not all about medical issues, thankfully! Last night we decided to walk over to FOXX, our new pizzeria just across the river. Short walk for us. We wanted to try their Apericena. This is an interesting mash-up of two Italian words by the way. Aperi is short for Aperitivo, or pre-dinner drink, and Cena is the word for dinner. So you get a drink and bar food. It’s like a happy hour thing. It starts at 6PM. Here are some pictures of the posh new space and the looooonnnggg buffet of food. Order a drink and it’s all you can eat…cost? 8 Euro. Not bad.

My plate

Outside space – it is still nicely warm so many people were outside.

Spiffy bar

Since it was on our way we stopped to check out the 3 pomegranate trees I found earlier this year. I picked a few to see if they are ripe. I know NOTHING about pomegranates. I had to look up how to know if they are ripe, whether they will ripen more once picked, and how to open them up. The one I opened is one of the bigger ones and the seeds are yummy but a little sour. Maybe a bit too early. Pictures…

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!

I’m home!!!

Well, I am home. Up in my casa in the sky. Happy happy.

This past week went as I imagined. The routine is fixed. And I just went with it. The worst was the afternoon and evening which stretched on forEVER. I did my PT everyday. I worked hard and made the most of it. I’m doing very well. I saw my doctor this morning and he said I had to come back in a week to have my punti removed. (Staples)

Time is weird. Although the days stretched on and on, when I looked back it didn’t really feel like two weeks. Of course it was an alternate reality so maybe that was it. And I thank my visitors for helping break up the monotony. My husband, who went above and beyond, Jen, mia amica in Perugia who came many evenings, my Italian teacher Marilena, and our friend Vera.

I arrived home about noon today, Friday. I managed the 56 steps to our apartment. It wasn’t hard per se but I need to be careful of my “good” knee, which is not so good really. It has to do all the heavy lifting for a while. So I’ll limit myself to one up and down a day, allowing myself to go places and do thing without a lot of stress.

Rehab – Day four

Il Capo Dottore came by as usual this morning. He speaks good English. He’s married to an American woman from San Diego. He confessed he was unhappy that she is a die hard trump supporter. I’ll say no more. I relayed that Luther went to Prosperious and they told him they would call the hospital here and arrange for my discharge. One guy said it probably wouldn’t happen until Saturday. I guess it doesn’t matter since I’m getting PT here. And I’ve told Luther to stay home until I’m discharged since I don’t need anything. No sense in making him drive all the way down here.
~~~~~~~~

PT today was a hoot. The PT therapist had about 11 of us there. The lady next to me began to give him (he looks to be late 30s) her recipe for a chicken dish. I was thinking, only in Italy. He was noting it down while we were warming up. So he asked l’Americana for a recipe. I had just been talking about cooking Mexican, Thai, Indian so I decided to give him my Chicken Fajitas recipe. It is simple enough and doesn’t require a lot of strange ingredients. He was happy.
~~~~~~~~

My roommate, Francesca was slated to leave after PT today. But just before she was coming they realized they had never removed the staples in her incision. So she stayed and I went up to PT. I was afraid she’d be gone and I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye…and I was right. She was gone when I came back. So sorry. She and her family were lovely. Her son would cut her meat, open the bags with the utensils and the Grana Padano bag for her soup or pasta, and peel her fruit. Sweet, taking care of la mamma. I’ll miss Francesca, we were truly the odd couple!


~~~~~~~~~

Lunch was good today. Risotto with asparagus, and turkey polpette or turkey meatballs with tomato sauce and peas. Kiwi for dolce.

Once I do the second PT, which is after lunch sometime, then it is mighty boring. I’m sure it’s why they do the passaggiata everyday, get themselves out of their rooms! The evening stretches on endlessly. Sigh.

Another day

Ginastica today was much better. Good workout. Felt good to do it. There’s one lady there who had both knees done! I’d couldn’t do that. Of course I didn’t understand all the directions but once everyone had started I imitated them. One funny part is at one point I gave the thumbs up to Francesca (my roomie) for her good work. The instructor said the odd couple me and Francesca, she is from Bari Puglia and doesn’t understand Italian any better than l’Americana! I guess we are the odd couple. 😀

If you didn’t know, all regions have their own, very different dialect. They don’t necessarily resemble actual Italian at all. After the formation of Italy they mandated one language as “Italian” and they picked the dialect of Florence as the official lingua. Places like Puglia, Calabria, Sicily, Campagna (actually every region) all speak totally different languages. My roommate speaks Bariese dialect. I’m sure all her family does, as well as her friends and the people where she lives. She’s never needed Italian. I’ve listened to her on the phone with her friends and wow! Really strange language.
~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday I washed my hair! It made me very happy. I had to figure out the bathroom. It is commodious and very green. Sink at one end, shower in the middle, which drains into the drain on the floor, and toilet with bidet on the wall opposite. I like this bidet thingy. It eliminates the need for the separate appliance. It allows you to clean yourself better and easier than the bidet. Quite well thought out.

Since I couldn’t get my bandages wet I couldn’t actually shower so I did it piecemeal. Start with the bidet. Go to sink and wash face and bits. Then wash hair with shower attachment. Easy peasy.
~~~~~~~~~~~
Other news
The administrator brought a form, helped me fill it out and Luther has to take it to Prosperious. Then we will see what they say.
~~~~~~~~~
Life goes on outside the hospital. Luther and I had our appointments to pick up our long awaited Permessi di Soggiorno. He went and got his and told them I was unable to come. This time it took 7 months 🙁