Monthly Archives: October 2014

Hold the phone…

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.

Exciting News!

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.

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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!

Trip to Fabriano

So I am in the hotel and able to use my laptop to update and upload all my pictures so I can catch this blog up. Yay!

We left around 10AM. It is only about an hour drive. Very rugged countryside with lots of big national parks in the Appinine mountains. Big bald mountains and lots of gorges. It was pretty but supposed to rain later and quite cool.

We arrived in Fabriano about 11AM and found our hotel with the help of Serena, our GPS lady. We are staying at Residenza la Ceramica which got good reviews in TripAdvisor. I have to agree. It is a small boutique place right in the heart of the old town. One huge plus is they have a big, gated parking lot right out front.

We went in and checked in but didn’t ask if we could take our bag in as it was early. We headed right out to find the Giotto exhibit. I loved this town. Beautiful Centro with lots of nice small streets and lots of shops. Amazing that I had never heard of it but that goes to show you that the Marche region is way off the tourist track at least for Americans. We heard no English spoken today. The Marche has much to recommend it. Adriatic coast with beaches and cliffs, huge rugged mountains and gorges, lovey interior towns. Nice.

The show was good. It consisted of a main show in the museum downtown and three churches with frescoes. The show explores the vibrant fourteenth century. At this time Fabriano was considered part of Umbria as it had close links. It was close to Gubbio and Assisi and St. Francis visited regularly creating a culture of faith. At the end of the thirteenth century an entirely new western pictorial style was introduced. Giotto’s influence had found it’s way through the pass to Fabriano. Many of the masters are not known widely. Campodonico and Nuzi are among the best and had schools of their own. We looked at all the paintings, statues, and frescoes in the museum. Then we visited the Cattedrale di san Venanzio where a very nice lady showed us into very small, very tall chapels on either side of the alter where there were the remains of beautiful, very vibrant and colorful frescoes. Wonderful.n

Cathedral.

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Pictures of the frescoes in the small, very tall side chapels.

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Same church, one of the side chapels outside in front of the altar with amazing frescoes.

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We then walked to the next church. Kind of a nice touch is that they have stenciled on all the streets the pathways between the churches and exhibits so one only has to follow them.

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The next church we again had a nice lady take us into secluded chapels with gorgeous frescos. All about 700 years old.

The sky had clouded up and we found a place just in time before a huge thunderstorm hit complete with thunder, lightening and hail. But we were snug inside with our nice lunch and bottle of wine at Sbrodovino.

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By the time we finished lunch the sun was out. We headed to our hotel where we checked into our very nice suite. It has nice skylights, two big rooms and a big modern bath. Very nice.

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For dinner we went to Ehmbe. It was a modernish looking place inside an ancient building. It was FREEZING outside. Wow what a change. We had a nice dinner and returned to our hotel. The people at the desk are very friendly. We chatted a bit and headed up to our room.

Morning now and bright sunshine but it’s still cold. We are heading to Metalica (not the band!), a wine region south of here and then on back to Umbertide. I want to post this now while we are here in the hotel with good WiFi.

Catching up

I am still having problems with updating so no pictures right now. I will add them a little later since we are going on a short overnight trip and I should be able to use the hotel wifi. [added pics below]

Sunday was a most gorgeous day. It was sunny, 70s and the perfect blue sky with that beautiful fall sunshine. We had been invited to go to lunch with Susan and Gary and their two guests from California, Irene and George. We went to Calagrana which we had enjoyed once before. It is so pretty. I took some pictures and will add later. Irene and George are vegetarians and Susan had called ahead and they had made a few dishes that they could choose from. Top picture is my veal chop. Next is my porchetta appetizer. Last two are semifreddo desserts.

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After lunch we went to Preggio, a hill town that was having a chestnut festival. The place was packed and there was not terribly much to see. Still, since we had to park miles away we got to walk off lunch and continue to enjoy the day. View from Preggio.

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They have started to paint the apartment. It is a nice creamy white. Still have not begun to clean up. We got bad news yesterday. Our kitchen is delayed and won’t be installed until November 10th. Nuts.

Yesterday we looked at outdoor furniture. We need to measure before we buy but found some nice stuff. We also bought the living room lights and the ones for the guest bedroom.

As I said in the beginning of this post, we are off on our first trip. It is a town in the Marche called Fabriano about an hour away. They are having a special exhibit at their museum of Giotto works. But the whole town is involved so we thought it was worth an overnight. It will be the first time we left the cats alone.

Furniture store and Civitella di Ranieri

We did visit the furniture store I mentioned. Actually it was better than I thought it would be. They had tons of antiques and it was interesting to look. One thing I am looking for is a table for the kitchen. I can’t buy it until the kitchen is installed and I can measure. They did have lots of tables of all sizes to include new unfinished ones which I liked a lot. Cecilia met us there and we talked about custom tables which they make there. We will return once our kitchen is installed.

We also attended the concert at Civiteli di Ranieri on Thursday evening. We went to the short reception and met Russel Scott. He is a composer and also the music critic for the New Yorker. A very interesting guy. The presentation was him introducing two of his compositions and then they were played on a very poor audio system. Very muddy sound. I think he was displeased with it too. But it was fun to go and it widened and stimulated our musical interests. The foundation needs to upgrade their sound system.

Permesso issues

I am having internet problems on my MacBook Air which I normally use to update this blog. For some reason it has decided not to see our router. The PC and both iPads are fine so I am having to update with the iPad. It is not as easy as with the Mac.

It has been a couple of days since we went over. I was desperately hoping they would have cleaned it up. I believe they are in the process but it is distressing to see the thick coat of dust on all my things. Sigh. They are carrying debris down in buckets now but not cleaning up yet.

While there we checked the packages that Jimmy brought over from Emanuele’s office. The rugs are there and the wine racks. My exercise bands were there as well as (gasp!) a letter from the post office about the long lost medicines. Yay! So at least we know we will get them once Luther fills out the forms. The two bamboo trays I ordered do not seem to be there yet so I need to look into that.

After that we decided to grab a beer at Bar Mary. In doing so we ran into Jim our realtor who asked us whether we had bought our Porsche. We explained we had not yet gotten our Permesso to allow us to buy a car and he was astounded. He went right into the police station conveniently next to the bar. After much back and forth it was determined that we did indeed NEED our Permesso to buy a car. Jim had thought we could get our residency with only the receipt. Not so. But the good news is that the people on the third floor of the Comune building called and found out our photos were not acceptable to the questura. At least because of the call it alerted them that we we here and still waiting. They should be calling us about getting new pictures. That said we have no idea whether we have to wait another two months or more(!) hope not. This not being able to buy a car thing is getting VERY expensive.

Meeting with Emanuele

Emanuele moved the meeting up a day so we met yesterday afternoon. I had my list but it wasn’t necessary. They have finished the door in the hall. The electrician was there working on all the wiring and I am sure he will be installing the lights everywhere. They have already replaced the mantle over the pellet stove. We looked in the attic. What a transformation! It is still crumbly concrete on the floor and he suggested industrial carpet to go on it which I was really happy about as I had thought we would do that ourselves. They removed all the unnecessary walls so it is one giant open space. They even painted the ceiling white. Still just an attic but good for storage. Pedini will be bringing the kitchen one day next week to be determined. We discussed the painting to be done and I said I was fine with it all white. He said it should be hot. What he meant was warm ­čÖé as in a creamy white rather than cold white. He will paint swatches after the kitchen is in for me to choose from. So he says in 10 or 20 days we can move in. I can’t wait.

Today is market day and it’s in full swing down there even though it is very wet but I don’t think it’s raining right now. The loud man is in full form. Luther and I always buy some seafood and now that we know how to ask for the fish cleaned AND de-scaled we are good to go! I’ll see what other produce is out there as well. We will also probably have a cappuccino at Bar Mary and people watch. Always fun.

Tomorrow we are going to the furniture store as I mentioned. The name of it is
Luigi Filippo Bastianelli I took a look at the site. They do it all there (new custom built to look old, old, and restoring your own pieces) so perhaps I’ll find something but I kind of doubt it. It looks like a junk/antique place mostly.

Then we decided to go to Civitelli Ranieri tomorrow evening for the concert and presentation by Russell Platt. You may remember from a couple of months ago that this is a NYC based foundation for artists of all kinds and they have free presentations. We hadn’t been in a while because nothing interested us. It is nearly the end of their season which I believe runs until November. What a great thing to have so nearby.

Two things of recent note

First, I finally found some soft toilet paper! TMI? Not really. The T paper here is not very soft at all. Since we came I have tried many brands, probably 5 or 6, and finally found one that is nice and soft called Scottonelle.

Second, cat litter here in Italy is eons behind modern cat litter technology. Let’s go back a few decades. When I was growing up there was one kind of litter and the entire litter box had to be changed often or it smelled. When we moved to Germany we found that those canny Deutschers had moved way ahead in litter technology to invent the clumping litter. All the Americans I knew with cats were so happy to have found it. When we returned to the States happily the new litter had found its way there and we were happy there as well. The year is 2014. We moved to Italy with our two cats. For the first month or so I used the litter in the grocery store. After a time I finally realized it didn’t really clump. And it smelled. I said we HAD to find clumping litter. In the little town of Umbertide there are three pet shops. The word for clumping is agglomerante. Armed with that information we finally found one pet store (of the three) who had some! Happy days are here again. Yes small things make me happy!

More reno pictures

I’m afraid this is getting a little repetitive but we are moving toward the home stretch. I went over the day before and looked in the closet. Bad. Clothes are pretty dusty. I decided to go back today and tape them both shut and try to tape the cardboard over the living room doorway. Probably too late now but they still have to sand the floors so can’t hurt I guess. I want to be there when they are moving stuff out of the living room as it is covered with dust in there. I want to “carefully” remove the plastic on the sofa after everything else is out. Then I want to vacuum it before it moves. I’m pretty concerned about it.

So I went over and did the taping. One of the workmen was still there. After I was done and he’d left I took a few more pictures. They made good progress. The new wall around the terrace looks really good with the old stones on it. Here is a picture. See how they match the windowsill stone?

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They started building the zona di notte doorway in the hall. I am not sure how I feel about this. I guess it’ll be OK once it’s done. It will allow some privacy in the bedroom and will also allow us to put the cats there if work is being done. I am sure I’ll get used to it. It will also restrict how big a piece of furniture can go back there. Picture.

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They also finished the last tile in the pantry doorway. It’s hard to see but here’s a picture. It still needs to be cut along the edge to fit. I guess they do that last.

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Meeting

We have a meeting set up with Emanuele Wednesday morning to discuss final work. As far as I can see we have these things left:

  • Finish door in hall
  • Cleanup site (whew!)
  • Floors to be sanded and refinished in 2 steps because of the furniture
  • Kitchen to be installed
  • All walls need to be painted
  • Overhead lighting needs to be installed
  • All wiring needs to be finished; covers, switch plates, dimmers, plug fittings, etc.
  • Fireplace needs to be opened, inspected and cleaned (and I think Emanuele is Umbrianizing it sometime)
  • Need to replace mantle on pellet stove fireplace
  • They took off old door shutters and still need to install the new ones

I want to talk to Emanuele about moving the shelves in the living room into the pantry but I think I’ll wait on that. I want to be sure they are firmly attached so they won’t fall and I am not confident I can do that.

Shopping

Today we also went down to the lighting store near Perugia. Drat. I thought because it was a big box store it would be open but Monday mornings in particular are problematic. Actually I think the Italians have a great idea easing into the work week. Not getting up early and going to work on Monday would have suited me just fine when I was working ­čÖé . We just need to give up on this doing anything on Monday idea.

Since we had gone all that way we went into a really big shoe store that WAS open. Pretty good prices. Luther got some running shoes. Next we drove down to Metro – another REALLY big store. When we went in it stretched on forever and reminded me of Costco. Well it SHOULD have reminded me of that because after we’d walked blithely in a woman kept calling out to me, Senora, Senora! I don’t really answer to Senora yet but finally figured out she was talking to me. Turns out you DO have to be a member, just like Costco so out we went!

I contacted Cecelia who helped us with our Gas and Water contracts back in the summer. We will meet her on Thursday to see the furniture store owned by her fianc├Ę’s family. I may not like it but I’d like to look. I forgot to say we visited a store up towards Citta di Castello last week called Tiziano. It was recommended to me by Susan. They don’t have a lot of space for furniture on site but they can order anything you want from a bazillion catalogs. This may solve my furniture problems. We need to measure our mattress and bed to order those. Now I have to wait until we open that doorway I taped to do that!

Apartment yesterday

Yesterday morning we went for a nice long walk. We drove over to the other side of the river to a very small, lightly traveled road which turned out to be the old Roman road to Perugia according to small signs we found. It was a pretty area. Strange to think we were walking on the road the old romans would have taken. It is definitely not on the beaten path now!

We started out at a really beautiful church complex called Mezzacorona. On one end was an olive oil and wine seller who are only open from four to seven on Saturdays. Next to it was a really old church and tower. And next to that was a defunct restaurant. I forgot my camera so didn’t take any pictures but need to go back to do that. We went through the church door which led into a basement lower church. Great old stone arches were lighted with discreet lights and candles which an unknown someone had lighted. Up above that was another, larger church. The walls had many paintings from the 1,500s. All this in a very out of the way place. Amazing.

Later yesterday we dropped by our apartment to see if there was any more progress. They look to have finished the wiring work and have been working on covering up what Manuele calls the “tubes”. These we would call pipes. They are the pipes on the terrace. One large black one was already there. Probably takes waste water away. The other was the smaller one that goes from the kitchen sink and out. These had been discussed and we had decided not to make the covers into seating. They will, however have built in lights that point up onto the walls to make a muted light. I am looking forward to seeing how that will turn out. I took some pictures but it is hard to really see how it looks because I can’t get back far enough.

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The pile of stone to the right of this picture appeared today. I think it will be laid on top of the tube covering but am not sure.

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After we went to see the apartment we had an appointment at Bar Mary to meet Lynda who had rented her apartment to us last January when we were house hunting. She has moved here for the forseeable future as she said. She is very nice and I look forward to seeing her around Umbertide.