It is here! Christmas 2022 begins.

They kept us waiting this year. But today was the day the town Christmas tree arrived! My last tree while living in Centro so I savored the experience. I got a much appreciated phone call from Paul who could see the tree from his apartment as it was maneuvered into the Piazza. They don’t truss trees here so they are very bushy. They needed a crew and cherry picker to keep the street lights from being sheared off the buildings. As a friend said this morning, The Italian ability to get things through tight spaces should be the envy of the world. Anni have to agree. I had to wait…and so did everyone else…anticipation!

Finally the tree is in the piazza. It looks to be a beauty!

The tree hung in mid air for a while.

Then they settled it into position.

I shot two videos of the maneuvering.

The tree will be lit on Thursday December 8, L’Immacolata, a National holiday. I will post pictures.

Domenica pranzo with friends

On our ride south today to lunch with friends. Brilliant sunshine.

We met up with friends in a town called Bastia Umbra. Completely overlooked by everyone but we are told there are a lot of monied folks living there. I assume it was bombed during the war since much of it was new. But the old outline of the wall was still there. And some of the old gates remained. Inside was a clothing market along the streets. The second picture below is marking the border of one of the Rioni, or neighborhoods. Most towns have a number of neighborhoods and people living within them are fiercely loyal.

Our friend Doug found the restaurant we went to. It was just outside the old perimeter, called Perl d’Oro. Unpretentious outside but pretty inside. Good service. Delicious seafood.

Here are pictures of our food. Captions under photos.

This was called Gamberi tempura. Not like any tempura I have had. But very delicious.
Luther and I chose the red snapper. It was under potatoes and roasted tomatoes.
Jen got the Branzino in a salt crust.
Afterward they brought scoops of Gelato di Mele (apples) with pistachios. Very refreshing.
Finally we shared this chocolate dessert. Mmmm.

Originally we wanted to visit a huge fair on the fairgrounds there which was all kinds of vintage things, clothes, furniture etc. We didn’t allow enough time to make the entry fee worth it but I will go again in the future allowing more time…once I am in the buying mode for our new house. 😁

Rainbow Saturday!

My friends alerted me that I should check out the sky. An amazing full double rainbow. Got my socks wet going out and taking photos!

Off to do marketing at the Saturday local market. Wet day but not raining right now. Pretty blue sky! The autumn veggies are gorgeous.

Soon this market will be sharing space with the town Christmas tree. I am excited the season is beginning.

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Our new apartment is on Via Fratta. We still don’t have a firm closing date. We are still waiting for the estimate from the moving people. The way the apartment is set up we have the top two floors. Essentially all the necessary living space is on the 2nd floor. On this floor we will put all of our current furniture that we are bringing. This means we will have a living room, dining room, kitchen and office. The bedrooms will need new beds and one mattress which we will order once we have our dates. The top floor, which I want to make into a great room with open plan kitchen, will have almost no furniture. It will be unusable at first. I hope to hit the ground running to get a kitchen, appliances, and furniture. We will need some construction. A small wall needs removing and the services for the sink and stove will need to be relocated. That means we need to hire a Geometra to manage the construction and installation.

Today we took a trip to Divani & Divani to look at sofas for the great room. I am torn. I want to buy soon so we will have the furniture without having to wait too long in the new apartment. I also thought to take advantage of the Black Friday sales. Today was the last day. But, I don’t have any measurements of the new space. Reluctantly I decided to wait. Next week we will make an appointment with our sellers to go see them with a bunch of questions. Also we will be able to take measurements. I think it is best to wait. I do know what I want to get now, so the trip was not wasted.
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I forgot to mention we picked up our new olive oil Thursday from our friend Fabio who always comes to the Thanksgiving feast. He has around 250 trees and I always buy from him since he has consistently had great oil. I bought 15 liters, and 6 half liter bottles which will be gifts.

Buona Domenica a tutti!

Thanksgiving

We had a very good meal with nine others at our table in Calagrana yesterday. They started doing a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixins a few years ago for all the Americans in the area and a sprinkling of British and Italians. Originally Susan and Gary had them cater a dinner for us since a big turkey here is too large for the normal Italian home oven. After a couple years of making the gargantuan Tom turkeys, Ely decided there might be interest in a dinner from others. And the rest is history!

The Tom Turkey which we feasted on yesterday was a whopping 17 kilograms, or 38 lbs. Here he is!

And my dinner. The turkey was amazingly moist and tender. Jane and Christie had brought two bags of real cranberries on my request. So we had real cranberry sauce — my old standby Zinfandel cranberry sauce. I have to use Primativo here which is a relative of Zinfandel.

Besides the turkey we had antipasti of tiny shrimp and a primi of ravioli with zucca puree (sweet winter squash). Very sweet with a surprise of what I thought was wasabi. It turns out it is Senape Essense. She got it at the pharmacy. It added a nice kick. Her little bottle had a skull and crossbones on it. 😄 If you’ve ever had hot Chinese mustard and eaten just a little too much on your eggroll you’ll know what I mean. I looked it up and I think I’ll order some, could be fun to experiment with!

Although I am a day late, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a great day! I am thankful for all I have. I wish for peace in the Ukraine and the USA. I also wish for global accord to combat climate change. 🕊 Today is the day Against Violence to Women. There is a little demonstration in the piazza. I also wish violence of all kinds would stop. Andrà tutto bene 🌈

Celebratory lunch at Calagrana

What a day. It has turned sharply colder. Today was the day we celebrated with our buyers, Christie and Jane, and our former realtor Jim and his wife Jill. Jim was our original realtor in 2014. He knows the system and we just give him power of attorney and he handles the rest. So easy. We all went to Calagrana. The day was incredible the sky brilliant blue and the slanting autumnal sun made everything starkly clear.

Calagrana on it’s hillside.
View from in front Calagrana.

There was a new addition to the Calagrana family. Here is Tallula. She is 50 years old and is entirely original. She has only 60,000 kilometers on the clock. An original Fiat Centocinque.

Here is the group with Ely in the foreground.

It was a lovely afternoon. Lively conversation and great food. When we got back to Umbertide, the Castagne man had his fire going and the chestnuts were a-roasting. I love this! Every autumn this man and his family come and roast their chestnuts just next to the Piazza. This farmer is one of my favorites and comes to both of our weekly markets. He has the best tomatoes of anyone…but now is not tomato season…it is castagne season!!

So good. Sweet. I ate well today…Ho mangiato bene oggi! And it was lovely to spend our day with friends.

Carbonara

I am sure you all know I am taking one-on-one lessons in Italian every week. We are now using a book called L’italiano per la cucina. It is at the B1 level and focuses on the traditional cucine of Italy.

Today’s lesson was on the traditional recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara. The legend goes that the origin of the dish was from when the American soldiers during WWII were occupying Rome. They had rations provided but to make them more interesting the soldiers gave them to local restaurants and asked they make a pasta using the ingredients. The rations had powdered eggs, bacon and cream. Carbonara was the result. The traditional recipe now does not include cream. [there are other legends about the origin of the dish, but this one is the most accepted]

I got so hungry during the lesson I was nearly drooling. SO…tonight I just HAD to make the recipe. It is super easy. Only four ingredients. Guanciale or pancetta, egg yolks, pecorino cheese and spaghetti or rigatoni. I whipped it up and it was delicious.

😋

Furniture store name and location

Hi all. I thought I’d do this little addendum to my post today. I should have included the contact information for the store we went to. It is called Luigi Filippo Bastianelli . It is in the town of San Giustino. It is north of Città di Castello and south of Sansepolcro. I had several folks ask for this. Of course all y’all in far away places don’t need this but this is for those who live nearby.

Moving companies – traslochi

The electrician did come to install our lights on Friday, right on time. He came with the father, and owner of Sideform, the company that we dealt with to buy all our lights back when we had the house renovated. I think the older man just wanted to make sure all was well and the electrician knew what he needed to do. He installed the two lighting fixtures. I don’t think I will ever get used to how little these tradespeople charge. I am so used to paying through the nose in the US. I was prepared to pay this guy €80-100 euro. I asked him what we owed. He answered €30.

On Monday we had luck finding pellets for the stufa. It was where we used to buy pellets a couple years ago. The price of pellets has gone up 300% since last year. What cost €5 for a 15 kilo bag now costs €14. We were just glad to find some.

We are having the usual November rains now and I am happy to report the gutters are still draining well and consequently no drips inside. That fix cost more than I would have thought but it was very involved and dangerous too so we were glad to pay it. Especially since Fabio and Mario were so very responsive.

We now have an appointment with a Trasloco company in Perugia. They are coming Monday to give us an estimate for our move. They have the trucks and the equipment we will probably need to get out of this apartment, to include trucks with elevator cranes which go to the upstairs windows and move things out that way. Some of our furniture will not go down the stairs. This company is Traslocchi Zucconi. I am sure this will be quite the show for the old gent card players at Bar Mary when the Americani move house.

This morning I had a fun outing with our buyers to a furniture store. Mostly old furniture or repurposed old wood made into new furniture. The place is a huge jumble. It is really too much to take in. The eye bops from here to there and just cannot register everything.

We all loved this table. It is a pasta making or patisserie making table. It has a marble top and then there is a wooden top that slides out and was used to make pasta. It even has a place to store the rolling pin! Sophia, one of the family members told us her mom has one like it. She said that every kitchen used to have one.

Christie and Jane love the idea of a drop leaf so they can put it to the side in the dining room and save space. We loved this one but it was defective from birth we were told. Not sturdy… very wobbly, but so pretty.

I wasn’t intending to buy anything, but I loved this table. Narrow but long and versatile so it will work in our upstairs space. Very nice bones and pretty wood. It is the center table in the picture. The one with the rounded ends. It is even pegged rather than nailed. They will keep it for me until we move. I will buy chairs there as well. I want mismatched ones. They had some nice woven seat ones I liked.

Jane and Christie bought a beautiful console to hold their TV in the living room. It is a new piece made from recycled old wood. I wish I had taken a picture. It will be perfect in that space. I love these junk shops. I have my eye on some of the blanket chests. They are seating in a bedroom and great for storage of, well, blankets! There is also a nice white wood room divider I like. It would be nice on the top floor of our new house to divide the area where we will put a sofa bed to make it more private. But it can be folded, or used elsewhere. It is in the picture above next to the wobbly table.

It is always fun to shop for a new house. I need to wait to buy a lot more since I need to be there to get a real feel for it. I am a nester so I must nest. And nest I will! Ciao a tutti!

It is accomplished

It is official. We are now squatters in our former home. Jane and Christie came over, we had wine and toasted their new ownership. They did some measuring. It is definitely bittersweet for me, but I am very happy friends of mine will be enjoying this sweet space. Later Luther and I popped the champagne he bought. We toasted to our new adventure yet to come. 🙂

Excellent lunch with friends

Today, Saturday, was a bit gray, dreary and chilly. I went out to the market to do some shopping where I bought quite a lot of stuff for soups and salads. I noted we have a new bread kiosk which I must try. But today I visited our local forno for bread.

My haul.

Our friends from Spello, who moved here in July, were coming up for lunch at C’era una Volta, a restaurant near our new apartment. The name means Once Upon a Time. But first an aperitivo in the Piazza was in order. We sat at a table and Jane happened by so we invited her to join us. Then Jim (our realtor) and four other Brits sat at the table next to us. Bar Mary is always the place to meet and greet.

We headed down to the restaurant. We pointed out our new apartment on the way. I actually love C’era una Volta. It is only one block from our new apartment so I anticipate it will become our go-to place. The people are so friendly. I think they are Sardinian. Mom, dad, and daughter. We got the names of Mom, Laura, and Dad, Giuseppe. Next time, daughter. The food is quite good. They have a menu but the specials are recited. It is a real language and memory test! Here are pictures of our food.

Our shared antipasto plate. Amazing variety.
Delicious, made in the house, pasta with zucca (winter squash/pumpkin), prosciutto, and funghi (mushrooms).

We had such a nice time catching up with Roselyne and Steve. They are renovating their apartment right in the historic center of Spello. Excellent location with three terraces, one of which is right over the main drag up the hill so they can see what is happening all the time. Much like our view of our Piazza. It is ALL good! We will see them again soon!

When I got home I snapped yet another photo from our terrace…our last Autumn here. I want to always remember this view.

A little later I looked up and was greeted with an amazing sunset! It doesn’t get any better!

Buona domenica a tutti! 🌈