Concinnate winery

I am sure some of you wine lovers will recognize the name Heitz. Back in the US we drank good California wine and Heitz was a well known producer. I read an article recently, published by Wine Spectator about the couple who had sold up in California and relocated here to Umbria…to make wine, of course! They purchased their property of about 50 acres… but only just over two of them were planted in vines.

Today Rollie and Sally Heitz were kind enough to allow us to visit them and try their first vintage. We tried four. Starting with a lovely Rose. I am a big Rose fan, especially in the summer. And it was the perfect summer wine! Crisp and dry.

Then we tried a Sangiovese, a Cabernet, and a Merlot. Sally provided a plate of tasty things to eat during the tasting. We very much enjoyed the wines. My favorites were the Rose and the Sangiovese, which was soft and round and lovely. They told Luther their production for the 2019 vintage (their first) was 12,000 bottles. Pretty good for just one hectare.

Our conversation was far ranging but centered around our mutual love of Umbria and our separate relocations from the US. And wine of course! I hope they come up to visit us in the far north when they can get away. Right now, understandably they are busy getting their new business on its way. We stopped to admire their view of Todi.

Todi is dead center in the distance on its hilltop.

It was really broiling out. We tried to put the top down but it was just too hot. On the scenic route back home I snapped a couple photos. Near Bevagna and Montefalco.

Despite the intense heat the fishing contest on the Tiber in Umbertide went on as scheduled. These people were out in this heat for hours! At least they had their umbrellas.

Buona domenica! Stay cool!

We have reached agreement!

Big news! We got a call from the immobiliare that he had a response to our offer. We walked over (it is in walking distance). To our surprise, the selling couple, were in the office. I don’t think I have ever met the seller of a property we bought in the US. The first you see of them is when you go to closing. Walter and Marcella. They are super nice folks. And cat lovers!

Anyway, they agreed on the price we offered. The only changes they asked for, were for closing to be two months later and that they keep the big wood stove. That was fine with us and I know the buyers of our apartment are OK with us staying after we close. This will give us the money from the sale here to use on the apartment. I was a bit sad about the wood stove. I guess we will have to buy a new one.

It is a relief. But we still have the move ahead of us! This is uncharted territory, a move! A moving company! And I will definitely want to do some work. I have already decided I want a new kitchen upstairs. There is an itty bitty one in the same place where I’d put the new one so the water and all is there already. It will be open plan to the family room. But I guess I have to wait until we get there to get started. Otherwise I think I will want to have it painted, probably.

Anyway, I wanted to tell all those who read this journal. We now have a hiatus. We remain in our beloved house in Centro through two more seasons. I will enjoy another Christmas here. I will enjoy another Autumn. And then, it will be time for change!

Andrà tutto va bene! 🌈

It’s Saturday night in the Big City!

We went out for Campari Spritzes. It was cooler (yay) and we wanted to check out the scene. Irene was working her shift at Bar Mary. She is so sweet. Today is Angelo’s birthday… We made a point to stop in his shop to wish him a buon compleanno.

We chose a table. The passeggiato was under way. Plenty of people watching. I said to Luther that the tables at Bar Mary really feel like an extension of our living room. It is an odd feeling but it is apt. We walk out our door. Ten steps, order our drinks and enjoy the evening with all the cittadine of Umbertide. The fashion show is interesting. I can’t say Umbertide is the fashion capital of Italy! Some very strange outfits were on display.

Tonights band was setting up. Sound checks. Drummer testing his sticks. Singer (if you can call him that) stretching his vocal cords. Here is a short clip.

Later — Right now I am listening to the band in our living room. The window is open. I could close it and not hear it, but, well, it’s fun to listen. They play all Italian music. I have gotten used to it. To be honest, it has no real beat, you can’t dance to it, the singers emote big time. It is Italian. What can I say?!

We will definitely miss this scene right outside our door. The good news is, if we get our offer accepted on the new house it is only a ten minute walk away. No, not quite the same…sadly, but we can still borrow the ”living room”.

Offerto

Amazing weather the last few days. Blessed rain! We have enjoyed it. So have the flowers, crops, animals and birds. It cools things off but it also humidifies things. We had a misty morning with clouds hanging low over the fields.

We have finished looking at the houses we found that were in any way suitable. We have tried new cities. We have pondered. This house will likely be our last house. We are looking at the long term suitability. And, wonder of wonders, we both seem to have decided that Umbertide is our town. For better or for worse. We like the size, we know the ropes, we have friends here. So we gave it one more try to find places in Umbertide to see. Alas, to no avail. We have decided to make an offer on the first apartment we saw. After all that it seems to suit us. It is not perfect. But I can make it my own. A new challenge. If…and only if…we can negotiate a sale. Stay tuned…

House hunting part 3

Off we went to meet our agent Martine who helped facilitate the showings today. The other agent involved was Simona. Foligno is a sweet city. Super lively. Tons of restaurants and bars. Picture of just one small street across from where we parked.

We were seeing three properties today. The first one a magnificent Palazzo. The top two floors plus roof terrace. It was incredible but sadly, not for us. I really enjoyed seeing it though. The owners renovated it keeping many old things but it is in a modern style. I had seen the floor plan before we went and it was …odd. Here are pictures.

Ground floor entrance.
Apartment door
Dining area
Living room

But just LOOK at these views!

Floor plan. Note the odd curvy bit. It is the hallway which goes between the baths and the bedrooms.

This is the curvy bit. It felt a bit like winding along path through the forest.
Amazing shower.

I neglected to take pictures of the industrial kitchen. Truly a restaurant kitchen. Suitable for catering. Also I did not take pictures of the stairs. There was a lift to the bottom of three floors. If I wanted to stay all the time on that floor it wouldn’t be bad. But the top two floors were pretty amazing with terraces and views. The stairs were stone and twisting. For the long view, this one wouldn’t work. It was right in the middle of the action in town. It had two secure parking places.

Onward to the second apartment. It is owned by a famous football player…thats soccer to Americans. It was on a super busy highway with a LOT of road noise. That pretty much nixed it for me. It did have a nice open plan kitchen — really unusual for Italians (see below)….which was not included in the house. Italians take their kitchens with them. If you are buying a house in Europe always be sure to specify what stays in the house. It is common in all of Europe for people to take kitchens (to include sink, appliances, cabinets and counter), and light fixtures and any appliances. This apartment was just outside the Centro and walking distance to the train station. Also just across from the Army base.

Open plan kitchen which doesn’t convey. Murano chandelier…not my style! It doesn’t convey either.
Another chandelier. Murano glass.
And another!

Moving on to number three. It was further away from the Centro. In a residential neighborhood. It was quiet with lovely views. There were three terraces. There was nothing commercial nearby. Our agent said there was a bakery not far. The building with twelve apartments was nicely kept. The finishes were good. The apartment was spacious. The kitchen, in typical unfathomable Italian fashion was minuscule and closed off from the house. For people who love to eat they are incredibly weird about their kitchens. It is not the heart of the house as we, Americans like. They are tiny and hidden and there is always a door so you can enclose the cooking smells, which are somehow offensive. They also ALWAYS have a zone di notte…night zone…they are incredibly anal about the sleeping quarters being closed, literally by a door, from the living area. Ostensibly to keep those offensive smells out of the bedrooms. It is Italy. It is what they do. 🤷‍♀️ 🙄

View
Living room. Dining room.
Dining room

Finito for today. I have to admit I am discouraged. Both Luther and I are wanting to stay in Umbertide. But there is just very little here that works for us. We plan to visit a realtor tomorrow or Wednesday to see about the new apartments near us. We aren’t sure if they are all sold. There is also a big house Luther likes. It seems a little TOO big for me with a yard and grass…I am not into yard work. Gardening, yes, mowing lawns, weeding and edging — no. Anyway. The beat goes on…

Sunday dinner – mmmm

The weekend was REALLY hot. We made it through it. Sunday dinner was a salad medley. I bought borlotti beans yesterday at the market and cooked them this morning while it was still cool. I also cook hard boiled eggs in the morning. Always good for protein. I bought a sweet cantaloupe which are just coming into season. Luther had gotten prosciutto crudo to put with it. I got some mozzarella, and of COURSE tons of tomatoes. That was our dinner. All cool and delicious. Perfect on a hot summer night!

Tomorrow house hunting resumes…

It is HOT 🥵

Thats 102.2 in Fahrenheit. We are hunkered down. To make it worse there are fires. Most in Umbria are small (so far) but there are big ones in Tuscany, Lazio, and Trieste. The ones in Tuscany are said to be arson. I don’t get why someone would do that! It has made it so hazy you can’t see very far. Yesterday when we were driving back from Spoleto the mountains were just shadows.

Tonight we had a salad for dinner. I cooked the eggs, beans and potatoes in the morning while it was relatively cool. It was a perfect dinner. New potatoes, amazing tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, pickled onion (a new thing I tried), hard boiled eggs, avocado, olives and feta cheese. To finish it was drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sherry vinegar and torn basil leaves from my plants. My idea of a perfect summer dinner.

We eat outside and then stay out and watch a movie. Once the sun sets it starts to cool. Every evening massive flocks of rooks fly over us to roost for the night like clockwork at nine pm.

I hope everyone is staying cool. We have no plans for the upcoming weekend, other than the Saturday market. Ciao for now!

House hunting continues…

We are just home from our trip to Spoleto to see two houses. Spoleto is a nice hill town. It takes an hour to drive there from Umbertide.

The first place we saw was a top floor apartment (with lift). It has a large living dining area and a big terrace. The roof/ceiling is pretty unique, it is curved wood. It’s a very nice space. Just my type of house. 2 car garage with storage. Place for my pantry. Needs a new kitchen and a wall removed which is obviously just a glass divider. Easily removed. The master bedroom has a nice ensuite bath with gigantic soaking tub for Luther and its own nice terrace. The only issue is, we don’t like the location. It is a residential neighborhood, which is fine. It has well kept houses and leafy yards but there is nothing walkable nearby. Far from the Centro Storico of Spoleto. Not really what we wanted. But I still like the house. I could make it my own. I will not take this one off my list. Asking price €298K.

Living room with funky fireplace…but a nice great room. Good space.
Big terrace.
Kitchen needs replacing and wall removed, then it would be open to the living area. Out that door is a nice pantry space.
Second terrace off of the master bedroom.

The second house was amazing and I always knew in my heart, it would not be our future home. But I just plain old wanted to see it! It was out in the country (about 12 km from Spoleto so not too far) and no way it would work for us. Small. A nice country getaway place. And spectacular reno of a 13th century building. Yes, that would be built in the 1200s. 😳 So cozy, three fireplaces. We met Fabio, the owner, who was super proud of his renovation. And he should be — it was spectacular. It also had a really nice walled garden. Just the right size.

A little piece of info the realtor gave us. The house is on the ancient Roman road through the Appenino mountains. Hannibal and his army went through here to get to the Adriatic coast way back in the 200s BC. I thought this was very cool. Here are pictures of the house. This one has the asking price of €230K.

View of the house. The round part was a former oven, used by the entire community to bake the bread. Now a bathroom.
Living area.
Kitchen. It had a grill and a wood fired small fireplace. To cook in.
Inside the old forno – oven
Inside the oven, now a bath.
Stairs to the bedroom and bath. Kind of let this one out for me.
The original old Roman road. The house is just on the left. It is a hamlet

I have to admit, the Umbertide penthouse is still in the running for us both. Next up we have an appointment on Monday to see three apartments in Foligno. 🤞🤞🤞

New week!

This will be a little newsy post. This and that. It has been hellishly hot. There is a heat dome over Europe and all countries are suffering. Since air conditioning is not the norm throughout Europe it is even worse than the US. We have two units, one in the living room, and one in our bedroom. In a normal summer, we use these units seldom. This year has been different. It is not a normal summer. We used the bedroom one only once so far. The living room tends to get hot in late afternoon, it has a big roof and the wall with the picture window faces west. So they both catch the full sun all day. The unit is small for the size of the room, but now I turn it on around 1 pm and it keeps the room comfortable. This means we mostly stay inside. We go out early for errands and exercise and then close up the shutters and encave ourselves for the day. I don’t cook a lot in this heat either. We eat a lot of vegetables and salads. If we have fish or meat, it is quickly sautéed. I sometimes prepare cooked things in the early morning which we eat later at room temperature. Caprese salads, gazpacho, and panzanella are my friends!

Today we had errands to do. We had to get cat food and groceries. We had been putting this off as long as we could. We normally go to the Coop in our town for major shopping. It is the biggest store in Umbertide. But it isn’t a super-store. Monday morning would normally be a good day to shop. But today! It was chock full of vacationers who arrived here and need to stock up their homes or vacation rentals with food. This usually happens right around now or in August. The two big months to travel. But I had never seen so many. It must be that pent up desire to travel this year after all the Covid lockdowns. I saw two Belgian cars, five UK cars, four Netherlands cars, one German, and one from France. Wow!
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All has not been chores. We were invited to lunch on Friday by good friends who live in the mountains between here and Gubbio. You might remember during my lock-down postings here Jill kept me cheerful by sending pictures of her beautiful gardens. Lunch was lovely as always. The food was yummy and the conversation ranged far and wide. We also met a new friend, Jane. The gardens and the views are beautiful.

On Saturday our friend Doug, who just arrived here to live full time, came up and I helped him fill out his packet and make copious copies of documents needed to apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno or Permit to Stay. A new resident here has just 8 days to fill out and apply for this permit. When a non-EU citizen moves to Italy they must first get a Visa to come here. A good analogy is the Visa is like the taxi that takes you to your house. The PdS is what allows you to LIVE in your house. So the Visa gets you into the country, the PdS allows you to live here. It must be renewed annually and it takes the place of the Visa which never needs to be renewed. Doug has now embarked on the merry-go-round which is Italian bureaucracy. 🙂
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House hunting — This coming Thursday we have an appointment to view three more houses. These are in Spoleto. I have high hopes for one of them. The other two depend more on the location than anything else. Watch for a house hunting post later this week!

House hunting

As soon as we sold our apartment, we began to look on-line, not that I hadn’t been, you understand, but now we would want to visit them. This is easier said than done in Italy. It is so hard to get across the different mindsets and work ethics in Italy to my fellow Americans. My Italian friends will understand 😁. They never return emails. If you don’t speak Italian well you can’t really call.

You find a house you like on one of the big three consolidator websites (idealista.it, immobiliare.it, and casa.it) who list houses for many realtors. They have a link to send a message. So you do, expecting an answer. Hah! I have found the best way to get them to reply is to go directly to their website or facebook page and find a phone number that you can use on WhatsApp. Italians have fully embraced WhatsApp. This doesn’t always work. So, I enlisted the help of our agent who had listed our apartment.

I now have appointments! Or I have received replies, at least. Today we saw the only one I have found in Umbertide that fits our requirements. [Later on this.] We also have three, maybe four to see in Foligno, two weeks from now. I bet most haven’t heard of this town. It’s a good town. Right on the main rail line. It is flat with a nice Centro Storico and a lots of events, no torusits. And I FINALLY heard from the realtor in Spoleto. He has two I want to see. In the next three weeks we should have a good number to think about.
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As for today, our first viewing. We do love Umbertide, and we would stay with the right place. This one is outside centro but only about a 10 minute walk, so I could still enjoy the Umbertide markets, if not quite as conveniently. But it IS very convenient to other things. An easy walk to the Coop big grocery. Near the Egyptian food stand (see previous posts), a great butcher, and pasticceria (fresh pasta shop) and a rosticceria (prepared foods). Above our favorite pet shop! 😂 It really has all we would want. It is big, and has an amazing terrace that is completely cat-proofed (the owners have cats), so they can’t get away. Also screens in all the windows. It is the top two floors with elevator and is very private. 190 square meters or about 2,100 square feet (considered very large here). Two gigantic garages, with storage, wine cellar, etc. The kitchen, which is important to me, could use a little something. Otherwise it is move-in ready. The kitchen is well equipped but small and divided with a wall from the little eating area. The refrigerator is in the eating area. If the wall were not there (why a wall!?) then the room would be nicer with room for a nice frig. That would be my one change. Here are a few pictures. There are more but this is good enough for now.

The kitchen should be joined with this room. Why divide it? There would be room for an American size frig. And it would open the space..
The best part of the house. The terrace. There is even an outside kitchen and…wait for it…a wood burning pizza oven!
The owners are lucky we were here during the blooming of the Hydrangeas. So pretty and match the sofa!

It is a first class property with security systems and irrigation of the plants. Cat friendly would be great for our boys.
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But I must reserve this one so I can see the rest. I am not so sure Luther liked it as much as I did. Stay tuned. I am hoping to see the next two in Spoleto next week. 🤞