Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tivere in flood

We have endured torrential rains around here for the last 3 days. Finally today it is brilliantly sunny and pretty warm. Nice! After the first day of rain the Tiber river went wild. Normally it is such a placid river but it jumped it’s banks in a big way.

This view is from our pantry where I always take my photos of the river. Notice the tree on the left. It is in  a park. The other side it is completely over the lower path and part of the upper one.

Here are the town walls. Normally the path runs along the base. You can see the path diving under the raised water.

Slightly upriver from town. Pretty sun on the water.

See the trash can? It is normally on the bank of the river.

Here is a shot of the river racing towards Umbertide.

And in this one you can see the row of trees in the water. The path is just next to them. They are on the bank.

Yesterday we went shopping in Corciano. Someone asked a question in a newsgroup I follow “is there any store in Italy like Crate and Barrel?” One answer was Maisons du Monde. I took a look and found one pretty nearby. I got on their website and it had a lot of nice things. I was still working on my guest room and needed a few things for the house so we went there for a look. It is a French chain and it sure shows. I was surprised, although I shouldn’t have been I guess, that the styles in France are so radically different from Italian styles. Italian has been described as your Grandmothers living room, or the super sleek modern look; never anything in between. French styles are softer, not stogy and refreshing to see. I bought a number of things and am happy with them.

We drove, in the rain to San Feliciano for lunch at Da Settimio on Lago di Trasimeno. We sat inside and enjoyed the view. The lake is very high as expected after all that rain. And we were warm and dry inside as the rain pelted down just past the window. The restaurant has been in the same family for over 100 years and it’s speciality is lake seafood from Trasimeno. Not the best food but nice atmosphere and enjoyable with beautiful views.


I got a Collins Bird Guide to Britain and Europe so I could identify the birds I have been seeing. While we were in England I saw a beautiful pheasant and managed to get his picture. Sadly there were many of these pretty birds killed along the roads. They are very common.


And I saw these very fat pigeons all around so snapped a picture of one. It is a Wood Pigeon according to my book.


Trip to England

I know that this blog is supposed to be about our move to Italy so some of you may not be interested in our travels. Others may be and I know some of my friends and my sister will probably like to hear about them so I am posting this first long-ish trip report. You can skip it if you are not interested of course!!

We decided to try out RyanAir, the low cost European airline and see how it is. It flies on a limited basis in and out of Perugia near us. We flew from there into Stansted (near London) Monday, March 16. And home on the following Sunday. All in all it made a good impression. Left on time, returned on time. Packed flights though so not very comfortable but for only two hours not a real problem.

I had an odd reaction to our return. Somehow, it seemed very strange to be flying back to Italy from England. It was a foreign vacation after all, and all my life our return was to Virginia. It was all wrong somehow. But now that I’m back all is back to normal. Italy is again home.

In England we had rented a National Trust cottage in East Anglea not far from the airport. It has been twelve years since we visited England! We had never been to this part of The country before. We drove from Stansted to Stoke by Nayland in Suffolk. We stopped in Great Dunmow for lunch. Then we shopped for wine and food and headed onward. We arrived about 3:30.

First pub. Fish and chips for Luther, burger for me. Good.



The cottage is called Thorington Lodge. It was very well appointed with everything one would wish for. Two bedrooms, nice bath and kitchen, living room with wood stove and TV. The cottage was attached to Thoringron Hall, the much larger big house. It was set in grounds that included a meadow full of daffodils. So pretty. The weather was cold and gray all week until Friday when it finally got sunny and warmer. Here are notes I took, what we did, where we ate, and some pictures.

Thorington Hall and the daffodils…


Tuesday 3/17 we drove to Norwich about 60 miles away to see the Cathedral. We took a lovely tour with a nice man who was very knowledgable and interesting. We ate lunch at The Murderer’s pub. We shopped in Waitrose Supermarket for some things I wanted to take back with me that I can’t get in Italy. Then we drove to Bury St Edmund where we visited the Cathedral there (it was a cathedral kind of day!). Found an IPA festival at the Corn Market pub. They were featuring Devils Backbone IPA from Virginia. Had to have one! Dinner was at the Crown in Stoke by Nayland near the cottage. It was only OK.

Norwich cathedral.




Norwich cathedral green man.

Norwich cloister.

Murderers pub.


Bury St. Edmund cathedral and gardens.




Devils Backbone beer in Bury St. Edmund in the Corn Market pub.





Wednesday 3/18 we vsited Ickworth house grounds. Not much open before Easter around here. We took a nice walk. The sheep were lambing. Boy were they cute. Toured the Italian Garden around the house. Then we drove to Lavenham for lunch at the recommended Angel hotel. It was our best meal of the trip. We toured the Guildhall built in the 1300s. It is a beautiful town with more listed houses than anywhere else in the Norfolk and Suffolk area. We also visited the Airmen’s bar for a beer. This is where the British and American airmen hung during the war. This part of England is chock full of airfields from the war because it’s pretty flat and near continental Europe. We ate dinner in.

Ickworth house and grounds.



Luther by the squint; a window in the church on the Ickworth grounds.

Lambs. This one had twins. One was trying to stand, the second was being licked by the ewe.







Thursday 3/19 we drove to Snape. It is said by Wikipedia that JK Rawlings named Severus Snape from this town name. Near it was Snape Maltings. I guess it was a malting factory but they are making it into an arts center, with shopping, and condos. We took about a 3 mile walk. It was cold! Afterwards we looked in the shops. There was one housewares shop where I could have gone wild had I a way to bring stuff back. Next we drove to the seashore town of Aldeburgh with lunch at the recommended Lighthouse restaurant which was good. After lunch we drove to see Sutton Hoo. It is an ancient angles and Saxon settlement and burial mounds. We ate dinner in.

Snape and our walk with Snape Malting in the distance.



Friday 3/20 we drove to Ely to see the cathedral. The drive along pretty country lanes to Clare which was written up in our book was beautiful. I should mention there are more thatch-roofed houses here than anywhere I’ve been in England. I didn’t get a picture but they had really pretty decoratively carved crowns at the roof peeks. Lunch was at the Bell in Clare. We visited the 700 year old village church which Henry VIII attended with Catherine of Aragone. Dinner was at the Angel at Stoke by Nayland. Only OK.

Ely cathedral.




Ely town. Our only sunny day.

Saturday 3/21 left Thorington Lodge and headed for Stansted for early return flight home on Sunday. Nice trip. Missed my cats!

Spring is coming!

The early blooming trees are out! I think they must be cherry trees. Pale pink blossoms. Very delicate.

It has not been the most interesting week but some progress was made as well as some non-progress but not for lack of trying.

First, we got our zanzariere installed on all of our windows so we are ready for the warm breezes. Boys, enjoying the view though the screened door.


Second, Signore Tizziano delivered our guest bedroom furniture. I decided to go with a color to liven up the room. Now I am having second thoughts. Oh well.




OK so that was the progress. The two steps back was trying to find out about the Lifestyle class we are supposed to take. The problems all started way back in November when the Questura called us to come sign a form. At that time it was already past the date for our assigned class. We think we were supposed to sign that form when we put our papers in and got fingerprinted but they forgot to do it. Thus, we were too late. So, unable to get anyone on the phone to ask because the phone number on the form is wrong (!) we decided to pay a visit to the office in charge which is in Perugia. We did this. They didn’t know what to do and told us to come back.

The good news is that we were meeting friends in Perugia for lunch so we combined the trips. So at least we had some fun. The weather was spectacular. We met old friends Linda and Ron along with two of their friends who are living in Florence for a year. These friends don’t want to go back but their house in the US has not sold yet. They are also not sure they want to buy in Italy. Now would be the time to do it though! The Euro has dropped around 30% since we came. This is both good and bad news for us. The good news is that our dollars go a lot farther for everyday expenses now. The bad news is that since we bought our house last spring we were at the peak strength for the Euro and it has lost that value, at least in dollars, making our house investment lose in value. All complicated. Luckily most of our assets are in dollars. But if any of you want to buy here, now would be the time!!

Storms! And a trip

They call this Mimosa and it is everywhere right now. I guess a very early bloomer. The leaves look like the mimosa I know from the states but the flowers DEFINATELY not. They are like little yellow puffballs.


We also visited an old church in a town called San Guistino. We had aimed to visit the castle there but it is open only on weekends. It purportedly has a gorgeous garden which would be better visited in the spring. We will return. Meanwhile I took a picture in the Church crypt. It was built in the 7th century and completely unlit except for candles.


I just finished reading a book called “The Consul” written by Walter Orebaugh. He was a diplomat in France in WWII and was captured by the Facists in Monaco and spent 2 years in Italy, first as a prisoner and then fighting with the Partisans in the mountains very near where we now live. He had a harrowing escape down the coast. The first house he mentioned in the book where the partisan group he was with were headquartered was called San Faustino. I googled and found that it is now a resort. I found it on a map and we went on an exciting trip trying to find it. We were on all sorts of roads. Mostly gravel through very mountainous terrain. We did in the end find it. The resort is closed for the winter but it is unmistakably the same house as there is a picture in the book and the bell tower is the same. I could easily imagine the Partisani in these remote, forbiding mountains. Here is a picture. We will have to go back in the summer.


On Thursday we headed out to class in Citta di Castello. We got almost to our exit and came to a stop on the superstrada. It was closed and everyone was detoured off. It was a stormy morning with really strong, gale force winds and rain or snow depending on where you were. We ended up only five minutes late but the roaring wind blew around the building. There was a lot of damage and a number of people killed and injured throughout central and northern italy. Hence the closing of the road.

On Friday we had a planned trip to a town called Forli (accent on the i so emphasis on the last syllable). It was about 100 kilometers north near the Adriatic coast. Along the way we saw numerous trees down and the big highway signs either blown down or folded in half by the winds. I guess that was the reason for the closing. The reason for the trip was an art exhibit at the Musei San Domnico. [website] The museum was in a former convent and lovely in it’s own right. The show was the art of Giovanni Boldini. He was an artist during the Belle Epoche in the late 1800s and early 1900s which was a dynamic period. He started out in Florence Italy but eventually moved to Paris where it was all happening. He had money so was not a starving artist. He had epic skills and his works are captivating. He mostly did portraits of beautiful women in the most amazing dresses. All of the women were so beautiful! Hard to imagine. He is not well known but should be. I could stand looking at some of the pictures for hours. He painted in impressionistic and realistic regimens and conveyed the magnificence of the gowns the women wore with amazing brush-work. Minimalist but when you stood back the dresses shimmered with gold, sequins, lace and satin. Amazing!


After the show we went to lunch at Salumé which was recommended in our Slow Food book. It was on a nice Piazza not too far away. It was very small. In summer there would be outside tables. The wait staff and chef were very nice. Both very young and enthusiastic. We had a stuffed cuttlefish antipasti with a pea purée to start. Then assorted pastas. Mine had squid with big rigatoni type pasta. Luther got classic ragu. Susan and Gary got pork cheeks with roasted cauliflower in an unusual green, leaf shaped pasta from Liguria actually called Olive Leaves. Very yummy. The chef and waiter stayed and talked to us for quite a while. They are very proud of their place. And they should be. Not that most tourists will go to Forli but if you do, try Salumé.

After lunch we visited Eataly. It is a store that celebrates Italian Food and Wine with branches worldwide and it just opened a store in…Forli(!) in February. It is right on the main piazza. It is four floors of all Italian goods, mostly food. A lot of fun and we made a few purchases.

Forli is definitely not a tourist destination but it was actually much nicer than I had imagined. Very walkable, lots of trees so summer must be lovely there. It was heavily bombed in the war by the Germans. Some of the city was able to be restored. We stayed at the Hotel Michaelangelo which was nice enough. Walkable to most sights. If there is another good show at the gallery I would go back for sure.





Off to the Questura

Yesterday we went to the Questura in Citta di Castello to finalize our application for our Permessi renewals. I remember how scared I was last year doing all this. Now it has become routine. I guess that’s good. That said, you may remember that I went for a two year renewal. After all there is a box to check for a two year Permesso. They wouldn’t put it there if we couldn’t get one would they? NOPE! We can only get a one year Permesso. We paid 20.00 Euro (each) extra for the two year as opposed to a one year. Seemed like a good idea to me.

We arrived at the Questura and the officer who came to let us in the door knew our name! He is a very nice guy. He told us we had overpaid. And gave us a letter saying so. Also he gave us a form to fill out to get a refund. Good so far but wait for it. In order to get the refund we had to buy a Marco da Bollo or stamp to affix to the form. The stamp cost 16.00 Euro (each)… So to get the 20 euro refund we have to go to the trouble to fill out the form, buy the stamp, and go to the post office, wait in line, for our essentially 4 Euro refund. Another learning experience and out 50 bucks!

Renovating the Commune building

We were warned that the Commune building was being worked on right across the narrow street from us. So on Monday morning when I walked into the living room I was met with this sight.


We are essentially on the fourth floor and are unaccustomed to seeing anyone outside our windows. We also cannot figure out why they are doing this work. They are taking off the stucco in long strips from the ground to the roof. Under the stucco is old crumbly brick. To me it seems to be decorative work. Who knows!

Rocky wants out
Here is Rocky hoping he can go outside. Poor boy. We want to get what they call rabbit fence to go on the railing of the terrace. Until then he only gets to go out wearing his harness with me on the other end of the leash.


As I put on my Facebook page, I walked onto the terrace yesterday afternoon and found this pot of succulents that the former owner left here. I had no idea there were tiny daffodils in there. Signs of spring!


Finally, I wanted to share this beautiful picture of our view and the sunset over the river. Lovely.