I’m a couple of days late here but I was up at 7AM Sunday I think it was, and noticed the beautiful moon getting ready to set. I read it was called the Hunter Moon. Pretty.
So… this week we did several things in pursuit of our Cartas.
Monday we visited the Agencia il Corriere. It is advertised as an auto and boat agency to facilitate all things legal, like titles and registration. It also helps with drivers licenses and we could have probably used them to convert ours had we known about them. We had thought we’d need to go to Perugia for this Police report. But the nice Policeman we visited last week told us about this agency and that they also do things like help get police reports! Who would’ve known that!? So we initiated that process. I’d pay just about anything to avoid going to the madhouse that is Perugia. We should get them next Monday.
Then Luther wrote to our Commercialista to get proof of our having paid our taxes since we’ve been here. That arrived in an email on Wednesday.
Since we were there we decided to convert our old style Carta d’Identite to the new electronic cards. This cost €27 each plus photos, fingerprints etc. We should get them in the mail.
So that’s three out of four things we need. The last thing is a Housing Certification or a certificate of habitability. We had thought this “could” be the long pole in the tent as they say. We noticed our deed mentions we do not have this certification. And it says, due to the age of the building. (!) Uh oh. So I decided to write our realtor, who knows just about everything real estate related, and ask him. Well, he replied that this is true, our house is in the Centro Storico, or historical center of town. This part of town is ancient and because of this it gets a pass. I guess we will highlight this passage on our deed and hope they accept it.
So yesterday we went to the polizia here in Umbertide to enquire about how to get the certificates we need. Sadly we have to go to Perugia. We have vague directions. Sigh.
Then we met with our avvocato. Sr. Rossi seems nice and speaks good English which helps some. He explained we should just apply on our own as normal and if we are turned down we will file in the Administrative Court Of Umbria (TAR UMBRIA) to contest the decision. It will cost around €1500 plus court costs and take around 1 1/2 years or so. Sigh.
On the bright side we managed to get our health care renewed. Always problematic as we must wait for the US Embassy to send our stamped social security statements before we can pay the fee to renew. All done. And we chose a new doctor. Dottoressa Lorenza Medici. Good name!
To catch up with a few things from the last week or two…
As some of you know, I always document the legal ins and outs of living here. We are just beginning to embark on our new adventure. Since 2014 we have been applying for, and waiting interminably to receive, our annual Permessi di Soggiorno. It is a lot of work and time and also money and not something we enjoy or look forward to doing. Our Permessi expire on the anniversary of the day we arrived in Italy…June 26. So in around February every year we have to gather up all the documents and photos for a new one. We also have to visit the Poste Italiene to pick up the Yellow Packet for Stranieri which is the module we fill out and send in.
This year is different. This year we have been living here for more than 5 years. We are on our 6th Permesso and we were official residents for a total of five years on December 31, 2019. This means we are allowed to apply for Permesso di Soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (ex carta di soggiorno) – elective residence. This is a PERMANENT permit to stay in Italy. And, as you imagine there are many more forms needed to apply for this as well. We have just begun the process today. I don’t know of what interest this will be to people reading this blog but if any of you are getting close to living here five years here is a list of what you need besides the normal renewal documents.
The above are items to be added to all the normal documents that you include. You fill out and submit the same yellow packet except this time you check “Carta di Soggiorno”.
I will keep you updated as we move through this new process. We will be a test case for all our fellow American Expats living here in Umbria on the Elective Residence Visa. We know no one here who has gotten this permanent permit. It is the law and I know of people elsewhere who have gotten it but lest you forget, the bureaucrats make up the rules arbitrarily. A quote from the person who shared all the above information with me (thanks Larry)….”After six years, we suspect your experience with the bureaucracy is probably like everyone else’s. It is idiosyncratic to use a polite term. Local officials seem to take pleasure in interpreting the stated requirements to their own delight. Following the packet instructions carefully and having everything lined up will get you to your first appointment at the Questura. That’s when you find out what they may additionally want in the way of documentation.”
Just in case, we’ve retained the services of an Avvocato (lawyer). Carlo Rossi. We hope, should we need him he will accompany us to appointments and represent us if we need to contest the decision. We meet him tomorrow.
A thing I struggle with here is my small Italian refrigerator. It stands tall but is narrow. And the freezer has three drawers which limit its capacity. The top is also small necessitating constant juggling. I’d guess it is about the size of half of a big French door frig in the US. I should also mention my refrigerator is considered a large one here 😳 !
Here is my frig.
But I now have a wonderful, very large refrigerator! I can fit just about anything I want in it. Very commodious. The only issue is, it is a temporary refrigerator. Sadly, I cannot use it all the time.
Buona domenica a tutti!
Very cold here. When we woke it was -3C. That’s about 26F. The fields were frosted white. The sky bright and sunny. I love winter days like this. We had planned a couple of mundane errands. We had to go pay our tax lady who is about 25 minutes away, a peaceful drive to the small town of Mercatale at the head of the beautiful Niccone valley, where the road splits. One fork goes over the mountains to Lago Trasimeno, the other goes over the mountains to Cortona. That chore done we headed back to another valley just north of that to where we buy our pellets for our stufa.
Back in Umbertide we unloaded half the pellets at our house and I parked. The Saturday Kilometer Zero market is going today. I really felt like buying some of that beautiful, locally grown winter produce. Since it is all from right around here, it is limited to the beautiful winter greens, root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, the big zucca or winter squash, etc. I bought 3 big leeks (I see potato leek soup in my future) 3 turnips, a big dark green cabbage, 2 heads of my favorite garlic (big heads with spaced out big cloves and very firm), carrots, a big head of cauliflower and some spring onions (don’t ask how that happened! I never see those here). All for €6. local and healthy. No pesticides. Gotta love it.
Take a look at the bounty!
The Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem when the Magi came bearing gifts for the Christ Child. This festival marks the end of the Christmas season.
We were invited to visit friends who live in Florence to see the Cavalcata dei Magi. Riders on horseback, knights, ladies, soldiers, peasants, drummers and flag throwers wind their way through the historical center of Florence. This Cavalcade has been celebrated since the 15th century. The costumes of beautiful silks and velvets are inspired by the famous fresco, “the Procession of the Magi” by Benozzo Gozzoli in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
It was a beautiful day. Cold and crisp. We walked to the Pitti Palace where the procession begins. We were there about 20 minutes early and got to stand right in the front but we had to defend our territory against many front row wantabes.
Of course I took a lot of pictures and these costumes are so amazing it was hard to narrow it down. So bear with me and scroll through, peruse as you like and try to picture this same parade happening 600 years ago!
First I will show the many banners that represent the Contrade, or neighborhoods of Florence.
And finally a couple of pictures from the beautiful property where our hosts live. it is south of the Arno but easy walking distance to all the sights. It must be 5 or more acres of lovely gardens. With a view of Florence from the top that is spectacular.
New Years Eve saw big celebrations and dancing into the wee hours in the piazza. I guess they had to dance to keep warm. Italians don’t really dance…they hop. Up and down, up and down. Really quite amusing to watch.
For New Years dinner we made a trek on New Years Eve to Bosco, a town south of us, to buy a good steak from Etrusco macellaio. They have the BEST beef. We always stock up while there. I built a fire and warmed myself waiting for it to get good and hot. Meanwhile I made Hoppin’ John for luck. I bring dried black-eyed peas from the US. Here in Italy the dish to serve is sausages and lentils. Lentils are shaped like coins and will make you rich in the new year.
Anyway you do it, Happy New Year to us all! Hoping for a transitional year ahead.
The whole world probably knows the Italian Christmas cake called Panettone. But, before I lived here I had only had poor, mass produced versions of the wonderful cakes. I bought them in specialty stores in the US and they were dry and stale.
After moving to Italy we saw that the cakes were just everywhere. They showed up as early as September. Talk about pushing the season! And by December entire supermarket aisles were dedicated to piles of the boxed cakes. All types. There are two traditional types of cakes…one has candied fruit. I’m not a fan of candied fruit myself. But there are other types. The second type of cake is pandoro. Plain cake with lots of butter in it and it is powdered with sugar when served. The Italians seem to be split in their preferences of these two holiday cakes. No Christmas dinner is complete in Italy without either panettone or pandoro, but often both. It is a real problem for many Italian families, because they are often split between panettone lovers and pandoro lovers. Some think pandoro to be too plain and buttery; the group usually don’t like raisins and candied fruits which are always in traditional panettone. So often, there are both types to please all people.
Pandora came from Verona. Pandora means “golden bread”. It is yellow in color and shaped like a star. It is dusted with powdered sugar before it’s served. It looks much like pound cake but since it is made with yeast, it is light and airy, rather than dense like pound cake.
Photo courtesy of Italian Gourmet
Panettone came from Milano originally. It is a yeasty cake filled with raisins and candied fruit and dome shaped. A legend shared with me by my friend says the name came from the fact there was a banquet in Milano and the original dessert got burned. A pastry chef, named Toni, made a quick cake from left over ingredients and it turned out to be a big hit. All the attendees asked what it was called, and the head chef said “pane di Toni” hence the name 🙂.
Photo courtesy of Gambero Rosso
We have bought cakes from the grocery store. And we’ve bought cakes from a specialty wine shop. We even brought them back to the US in our suitcase for gifts on trips home at Christmastime.
But this year I decided to order a fresh one from our local bakery. It is family run and produces delicious bread and pastries all year, but at Christmas they put their energies into artisanal cakes. They do have the two traditional ones but they also have some amazing other flavors and types, from chestnut to chocolate to pistacchio.
Oh my goodness! What a difference. The cake was amazing! I will never buy a mass produced cake again. Yes, it was a LOT more expensive but it is artisanal — baked right down the street from us in the family run forno. So you pay for that. There were all kinds of cakes to choose from lined up on the counter when I visited to order mine. There were the traditional ones, of course, but there was a magnificent chocolate one covered in chocolate icing and sprinkles! And one enormous one which looked like it would feed an entire extended family! The one I chose was pistacchio with a frosting studded with whole nuts. Inside were cherries juicy and whole, not candied. And it was filled with a pistacchio cream. Oh my! I ordered it for a dinner at our house and the six of us nearly ate the whole thing.
If you ever get the chance to eat one of these fresh bakery made cakes, jump at it!