Monthly Archives: November 2016

Our Comune is getting a renovation

For the last month preparations were being made for our Comune, or City Hall, to be renovated. First they built fences for all the equipment and daily I hear the crash of the debris being wheelbarrowed to the shoot into the dumpster. It is a big building, once a beautiful Palazzo, and still has the frescoes inside and a magnificent staircase.

The last four or five days they’ve been erecting the scaffold on the entire front of the building. Since we are across a narrow street from the Comune we have a birds eye view of all these proceedings. Now that the scaffolding is up I cannot see the equipment down below. I can, however, see at eye level the guys working on the building who will use the scaffolding. A little disconcerting on the fourth floor! Used to my privacy. This we can look forward to for a minimum of two years, and being in Italy if it progresses as usual, it will probably be twice that.

img_0441

I will miss the weddings I used to watch from my window. And the weekly markets are squeezed onto one side of the Piazza. I feel for the businesses on our little street who are not nearly as accessible or visible as before. And it remains to be seen if there is room for the Christmas tree. Which, by the way, is due any day now!

Festa di San Martino

Today, for the first time that I know of, Umbertide is celebrating the Festa di San Martino. It is celebrated with roasted chestnuts, new wine, sweets, prosciutto, and bruschetta. Lovely and one of my favorites. I took a couple of pictures, bought some chestnuts (which I love), and we engaged in the passagiata on the chilly evening.

Canaiola wine.
dsc06506

Roasting chestnuts.
dsc06508

The band.
dsc06505

Yesterday was a good day. We got lots accomplished. First and foremost was the everlasting issue of our immigration agreement. If you’ve been reading, it is recurring theme. As you may remember, we signed an agreement when we got our first Permessi di Sigorno to fulfill certain criteria. Well, since we had not fulfilled these, not because we hadn’t tried mind you, we got a letter in the mail telling us our two year period was over and we were on probation for another year after which we’d be deported. So, we decided to pay a visit to the immigration office in Perugia. We finally managed to find a person who knew what was what and could help us. Wow! Very friendly, nice, and helpful. We had, of course, pretty much complied. All we need to do is bring our proof of passing the A2 level Italian proficiency test, our deed that we purchased our house, our health cards showing we have gotten health insurance. They said that would be sufficient. Yay! Happy days.

Thoughts on my recent visit to the US

I’ve been reflecting on my trip to the US. I must confess, I do not miss living there. The random things that I noticed:

  1. The restaurant servers all want to not only serve me my food, they want to be my best friend!
  2. Prices have either really gone up a LOT, or I am too used to Umbria prices. Gasp!
  3. Sales people are very helpful and friendly.
  4. There were a TON of rats in DC.
  5. I knew there were a lot of commercials for pharmaceuticals but it has gotten MUCH worse. I read only two countries allow this, the US and New Zealand. It was relentless.
  6. There was nothing on the news except for the election.
  7. There is a building boom like nowhere else in the world going on, at least in the DC area.
  8. Virginia is The most beautiful state ­čÖé
  9. Autumn is as pretty as I remembered it to be.
  10. I still love Chesapeake Bay oysters better than any others!
  11. Coffee is still really bad there…compared to Italy that is!

happy to be back in Umbria!

US wedding, addendum

I forgot a big part of my trip. I forgot to say I got to visit my sister…twice! Once for dinner and the second an overnight and dinner at their house in Wintergreen.

It was a pretty easy and very beautiful drive from Hot Springs to Wintergreen. We went up the Maury River gorge. Gorgeous! But the prettiest part was Route 56 up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. That road has many hickory trees and maples. They were at their peak color and it was breathtaking. Brilliant golds, yellows, and reds. The parkway was pretty too and surprisingly nearly empty on a Sunday.

We had lunch at Devil’s Backbone, a brewery we all like and she made a delicious chili for dinner. When we left the next morning I had packed up the numerous things I had ordered and had sent to her house. Thank you Cindy! We stopped on the way to the airport and bought some hard to impossible to find items from the grocery store…zip-locks and Aluminum foil (natch), cranberries for Thanksgiving, brown sugar, cocoa powder, oh and Grape Nuts (I had been craving them). Our suitcases overflowed.

A US wedding trip

We are just back from our trip to the US to help celebrate our nephew’s wedding. A good time was had by all.

We arrived in DC on a Sunday and crashed. Then we did a couple of days sightseeing and a day of shopping. We visited the newly re-opened Smithsonian Gallery of Art – East Wing. The building is in itself a work of art designed by I.M. Pei.

3000It’s only flaw was a limited amount of exhibit space. With this redesign it now has much expanded space and they opened two of the three towers. On the roof terrace is a big blue chicken sculpture by German artist Katharina Fritsch.dsc06475

We also got to see the recently de-scaffolded US Capital building. When we moved away it was completely covered. Now it gleams in the sun. It has never looked this good.

dsc06481

We dined on some ethnic food to include Oyamel, a great Mexican place, and Rappahannock Oyster bar which has world class farmed oysters. We’ve missed them! The big splurge was Komi which many said should have received a Michelin star in the recently published guide. I will say it was mighty fine. There is no menu. They bring about 12 courses, starting small and getting bigger as they go along. So good. And we elected to get the wine pairing. We never do this but we were glad we did. The sommelier is excellent and all the wait staff made us feel very special. Recommend it.

On Thursday we rented a car and drove to The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA – about a 3 1/2 hour drive. We attended the beautiful wedding of our nephew, Dave and his bride Shira. It was a Jewish ceremony although our nephew is Christian. It was lovely. I did not take pictures. It was outside and the weather was fine. We partied into the night. I wish this young couple all the best in life.

While there we strolled the grounds and played a rousing game of mini-golf with Luther’s brothers family who were there from California. Again, the weather was perfect. The trees were beautiful.

dsc06489 dsc06486 dsc06484 dsc06487

We are back home and I am happy to say we have finished our travels for this year. I am glad to be home in tranquil Umbertide. Long trip back. While we were gone there were three (!) earthquakes of 5.6, 6.1 and 6.6 on the Richter scale. No damage in Umbertide but in the mountains just 40 miles away is devastation. So much lost. One of my favorite cathedrals collapsed in the town of Norcia. Here is the picture I took about 2 years ago. Sadly it is almost totally destroyed. My heart goes out to the people. The one good bit of news is, no one was killed.

image

On our way home we stopped for provisions. I spied, of all things(!) corn on the cob! Now, if you’ve been reading this you know I have searched for decent sweet corn since our first summer here. I found some inedible this past summer. So I slyly put my finger nail into a kernel and lo and behold! it squirted juice. This meant it wasn’t totally gone to starch. I notice they are grown in Umbria so are local. I bought two cobs and cooked them last night. They were decent! Sweet. Not as good a fresh summer corn but, good. The only thing that puzzles me is…it’s November! I mean who heard of corn in November?dsc06501

Coincidentaly, I had ordered corn to be sent to my sister. I picked it up on our trip so next year I will have corn! I hope to find someone with garden space to lend or rent. But one of these packets has “Container Corn”. It can be grown in pots! So next year my terrace will be farm-like. I am pretty excited about this!
dsc06503