Monthly Archives: March 2016

Buona Pasqua a tutti!

Pasqua or Easter is a big deal here in Italy. They start on Palm Sunday with a Mass held outside with olive branches in lieu of palm fronds. Then on Good Friday they have a procession through town. They have a body representing Christ that they carry behind all the priests with big torches burning. The band plays a dirge and the faithful follow behind with candles. It is pretty moving to watch. I took a film which is below. It is from our third floor window down into the street below as the procession passed by. On Easter Sunday they have the traditional big lunch after Mass. Lamb is the tradition. Tomorrow is Pasquetta (also a holiday) and traditionally all the Italians go for a picnic but sometimes to a restaurant for ANOTHER big lunch! Their reward after Lent I guess.

We have been trying to get out and about more lately now that the weather is improving. We took a trip to Cortona (of Under the Tuscan Sun fame). We had been once before on a vacation and in all this time here we had not returned. It was a blustery day and the parking lots, normally full, were empty. The front of the theater has this cool lantern on it
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We went to the Osteria del Teatre for lunch. It is a very old fashioned Tuscan place with friendly service and was pretty popular. Note the projector and retracted screen for presentations on the beamed ceiling.
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I had the baccalĂ , or salt cod. It has to be soaked for days to go from it’s totally dried out state to something edible. It was good.
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I don’t normally have dessert but my interest was piqued by this odd looking thing below. It had a handle inserted into the center which they turned and a blade shaved it into curls. It is made of white chocolate and ground pistachio nuts. I had it on homemade gelato and it was divine!
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Our wine had the same name as the house from Under the Tuscan Sun. I don’t think they are related, but maybe?
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View from the town. See Lago di Trasemeno in the distance? Also the town, named Terontola, on the flatlands has the main Rome to Florence rail line. You can see the straight arrow of the tracks. This is the station we use to go to either place. It has safe, free parking.
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Then on Friday we drove down to DiFillipo winery in the Montefalco area to taste and buy some wine. They don’t call this the “Green heart of Italy” for nothing!
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And continuing my food theme. Another of the odd differences between Italy and the US. This time of year there is a lot of lamb for sale. Not other times very much. It is hard to find. So I indulged in the lamb shoulder roast as I had a recipe. As I unwrapped it I noticed that it had the actual leg attached to the shoulder. And on the leg there was what looked like the hoof! Or what was left of the hoof. Note below. I am here to report the lamb was very good. I just ignored the hoof!
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Goings On…

Spring has sprung when the Monk’s Beard shows up and here it is!
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I also decided to ask our butcher for flank steak. I know it exists and I wanted to make fajitas. One of the butchers speaks some english so I asked him if he was familiar with them. He said yes and trotted off into the back. He brought out what is the most enormous flank steak I’ve ever seen. He held his knife on it to see how much I wanted. So what I ended up with was this.
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As you can see it is a very thick steak and I got a chunk of it. I grilled it in the fireplace without marinating it or anything else. It was a tasty bit of meat and worked fine in the fajitas. Always something new!

Our weather has been unrelentingly gray and wet but not particularly cold. The Tiber overflowed its banks again but not as bad as last year. All the little rivers were roaring torrents! And we’ve had some storms. This one loomed up over the mountains with the sun still shining in the foreground.
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This week we finally saw some relief…So when we saw the sun was going to be out we planned a trip to a winery in the Montefalco area. We head for one in particular but as often happens ended up at another because we couldn’t find the first one. We ended up at Antonelli. This is a very big operation for that area. They were very nice and poured generously for the tasting.

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Nina the dog liked attention.
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Packing up the purchases.
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The tasting room.
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They also produce olive oil and were pruning the trees back. See the piles of branches?
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After the tasting we went into the town of Montefalco and tried to visit the museum but it was closed on Tuesdays. One of these days we’ll get to see the purportedly beautiful frescoes of the life of St. Francis. We chose a little enotecca with restaurant and had a pleasant lunch. There were even two brave tables of folks sitting outside in the sun.

Montefalco piazza.
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View from Montefalco across the valley to Monte Subasio.
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An artist paints stylized pictures of local scenes. Here is one that was hanging in the restaurant. I want to buy one of his paintings sometime. I’ve seen them in a shop in Assisi.DSC05301

Finally, I wanted to address something that I have been hearing over and over in the US press. And this is not a political opinion at all but it does have to do with the presidential election. It is the fact that many people are looking for so called “exit strategies” if Trump gets elected. Wanting to immigrate to Canada, or Mexico, or wherever to get away. Well, as an expat who has already exited let me tell you…you can run but you can’t hide.

As a US citizen anything that happens in the US affects all of us no matter where we live. We, as Americans, still have to file and pay US taxes every year. I was surprised to get a letter with an additional tax form I have to file this year to prove I have enough health insurance over and above my Medicare. This is a new one for me. It will be amusing to see how my accountant handles it! As most of you know we are in the Italian health care system.

We also have to comply with a lot of regulations that Uncle Sam creates just to keep tabs on us and on all our financial dealings. For instance, FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) and FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). Depending on our situation we must file these before June or face fines and possible criminal charges.

Yep, the long arm of Uncle Sam will always find you. You might as well forget that “exit strategy”.