Monthly Archives: August 2016

Our company has gone :-(

Well we had a terrific visit with Lenny and Mary. They arrived a bit late for lunch and we had Pasta Amitriciana for dinner. Little did we know then that the small town, Amitrice, where that pasta was invented was to be mostly destroyed by an earthquake just a few days later. We were awakened by our beds shaking in the night.

On Sunday we had been invited to a pre-wedding celebration lunch at Calagrana and we figured Lenny and Mary, being fun-loving folks wouldn’t mind going. The day was beautiful and we drove up to Citta di Castello beforehand for some photos. There must have been 25 people there and Tom and Carol, the honorees, were late. By the time they arrived the Prosecco had been freely flowing and most were buzzed a bit. That was OK, it was a celebration. The food was good and the people nice and there was even dancing.

On Monday we went to Gubbio. It is such a gorgeous medieval city. One of the best in Italy.


It is difficult to reach by public transportation so not as crowded as most towns around. Lenny snapped away. He is a big photographer. We also both bought lovely Etruscan style pottery. Mary and Lenny got a pitcher with pretty gold etching. Very elegant. I went with more austere – I was drawn to the shape of this one.


Afterwards we drove to Montone to Erbe Luna for lunch outside. It was very breezy all day and quite pleasant.

Tuesday we drove to Assisi. Of course it was very crowded, being August and such a sacred site. I tried to hurry us along to the Basilica because they now have a metal detector you have to go through. I knew the line could be long. We didn’t get there quite as fast as I tried to but it was only about a 20 minute wait. Next visit, if it’s in the summer, I will insist we walk quickly through town, see the Basilica and then shop and photo to our hearts content afterwards. That said, by the time we left the churches the line was amazing! It was probably at least an hour wait…and in the hot sun too. We had lunch at Piazetta del Erbe. We had been before and very much like it. They didn’t have our reservation for some reason, but were sweet and set up a table in the shade for us. Here is my food, grilled octopus in a lime mayo and seared tuna on a caviar base. The octopus was tender with the tips crunchy from the grill. Yum!



On Wednesday we visited our market and picked up stuff for dinner. Then headed to Tiberini for a wine tasting. We had to insert ourselves into a group of ten so it wasn’t as nice as usual. Then we headed to Montefalco for lunch at L’Alchemista. Good as always and sat outside in the Piazza. Next up shopping! We went to Deruta where we bought pottery. Here is my new bowl. I love the vibrant colors and the handles!

Alas, Thursday arrived and we took our guests to the train station to head down to Rome. It had been a fun trip which could have turned out badly as JUST before they came we decided to get the car all cleaned up. Nice of us huh? But it turned into a fateful encounter with the washing machine which pulled the entire nose piece of our car off. One side hung down onto the floor. GEEZ. Well we tied it up with a bit of string and went to our auto-body guy. He proceeded to put in bigger screws and managed to secure it. All you could see were a couple of scratches. We did order a new part but this worked for taking the four of us around. We have no idea what we would have done if not for this quick fix. Thank you Senore Auto Body guy!

On Monday we are off to Portugal – Rome to Lisbon RyanAir – to re-connect with our Australian friends. We will drive to the villa they rented and spend three nights and then drive to Lisbon for three nights. We have never been to Portugal and it’s been on our bucket list for a long time.

Wending our way through August

We are having spectacular weather. Highs in the 80s and cool at night. We have been enjoying it with the occasional Gelato or Aperol Spritz. Last weekend we had the local Vespa club arrive in all their thundering glory.


We also had a great time creating and attending a BBQ at an Agriturismo of friends, Simone and Simona. They are from Milan and now living rough, off the grid on the old family farm of Simone. It was abandoned for many years and they have spent years working mostly on their own to make it into holiday apartments. They first fixed up the old barn for themselves. And have spent a LOT of time just on the structure of the old buildings. It is in an earthquake zone so there are lots of rules for stabilizing and protecting everything. They are now getting ready to finish the first apartment inside. Here are some pictures.

This is the main building. Underneath are the large, airy barns where the animals used to live.DSC05939

The views are nothing short of spectacular. They are very high on a ridge. The electric grid stops before their property. They use mostly solar and batteries.DSC05945

The picturesque old chimneys. I love these. They are all over our part of Italy.

The BBQ grill with Fabio and Gary.

I had initially invited everyone to our house and was going to make the ribs. But Simona wanted us all to come there. So I got up early to prepare the ribs. I wanted it to be all American so I brought spicy guacamole, spicy salsa with the wonderful tomatoes we have now, and my moms potato salad. We found tortilla chips in the store! Everyone was open to the experience and had fun. We also had great, grilled vegetables, and one of their chickens. He was supposed to be grilled but he was deemed too tough so he was stewed. Dessert was a very light cheesecake and cool watermelon. What could be more perfect?

Random scenes. Here is the wind ruffled Tiber one afternoon.

I found CORN!! it is one of the things I miss most about the US. Summer, sweet corn. Alas, it was not to be. Tough as an old shoe. Horses probably wouldn’t touch it! BUT the good news is that I have started volunteering at the Books for Dogs booth at the market. It is run by mostly British women. They take donated books and DVDs and sell them to support several dog sanctuaries. Anyway, one of the ladies also bought corn. Later I asked her if we could plant a few rows next year in her garden. So MAYBE next year we will be able to taste that sweet summer corn!DSC05935

Impending storm.

Volunteer sunflower against a blue sky.

The placid river in morning.

Here is a spider who has caught a tasty fly on our pepper plants. If you click you can even see the spiders little face. It looks so much like a human face.
spider and fly

Finally, we are looking forward to welcoming our next guests, Mary and Lenny! Their first trip to Italy and great old friends of ours. They will be with us for five nights and we will do some lunches, markets, wine tastings and sightseeing. Stay tuned…

Fun stuff since we got home!

Last Wednesday we were invited to a dinner at the frontaio or olive mill where our friend Fabio gets his olives pressed. It is owned by Roberto who is a very sociable character with aspirations of having a restaurant in his mill. This turned out to be an eight course death by food extravaganza. I tried to pace myself, I really did! But I just couldn’t make it. I could not eat the last three courses. Everything was good and being in the midst of a bazillion chattering Italians was amusing as usual.

Last Saturday there was a free concert in the Piazza called Mozart on the Piazza. It was a pretty night and we enjoyed the music. They performed Concerto per clarinetto di Mozart. Finally on Sunday we went to Calagrana for their annual barbecue. They get real Maine lobsters and T-bones and grill them outside. There were a ton of people for this crowd-pleaser.

We have just entered augusto. That means everything stops for … Vacation! In Italy even government offices and utility companies close for the month. It is one reason we’ve been rushing to get the chores done this week! The actual holiday is kicked off on August 15 and is called Feragosto. But the whole month is pretty much shot for getting anything done.

Our weather is hot but not oppressive. Good summertime weather. We still do shutter and window management but the nights cool off nicely so good sleeping weather.

Chores since we got home

Since we got home from our excellent adventure to Poland we had a multitude of things to do piled up on our plate. So last week was again spent battling the Italian bureaucracy.

Our new bank account was not linking to our online user name and we had bills due. After visiting the bank several times we finally got that taken care of. It was a multi-step process but we feel good that we are no longer being charged exorbitant fees because we are stranieri. And I paid our overdue bills!

We picked up a package at the post office that was delivered while we were gone. And we mailed a box to the US.

Then we visited the Questura to pick up our third Permissi di Soggiorno. Hard to believe we are in our third year here. Our appointment fell during our trip but that worked out OK as they take walk ins from 12:00 to 1:00. I really like the officer who gives them to us. He is super nice and friendly. I am glad of this as I’ve heard some horror stories from other people especially in the big cities. I guess that’s a perk to living in the boondocks!

We then had to visit the Large Lady at the health department to get our coverage extended now that we have the new Permessi.

On Thursday we visited our accountant here to see about our Italian taxes. This has unexpectedly become very difficult. She obviously is not used to dealing with American taxes. We are working on it.

Enough of the chores! We had a great time on Saturday night a week ago watching Raucous Rossini. They did a cute little opera called Il Signor Bruschino. It was performed in Umbertide’s nice theater. Small but with three stories of box seats plus the orchestra seats. Pretty good for a small town like Umbertide.

Wildlife on the upper Tiber!

Today, walking across the bridge over the Tiber River, we were treated to an unexpected wildlife show. First we saw a water turtle swimming slowly near the bank. We were surprised as we had never before seen a turtle in the Tiber. Next we spotted a snowy white Little Egret and a Gray Heron fishing along the shore. We noticed several cormorants repeatedly diving for their dinner. And, surprise! A kingfisher darted to catch a small fish and landed on the log to eat. Brilliant blue feathers. After that a pretty moorhen with a bright red head patch swam along the edge near the shore. It was a surprising and very welcome display of diversity where I thought there was none.