Monthly Archives: February 2023

Step by step…

We had a very nice weekend despite the weather. It has been pouring rain for a couple days. It wasn’t that cold but now it’s gotten colder. Italy REALLY needs rain, so, I’m not complaining.

We had a special invitation to a couple nice meals. Our friends in our old piazza had us over for a nice pasta and salad dinner. We always feel very comfortable with them. Good conversation. And yesterday, Sunday lunch with friends in our nearby hill town, Montone. Very nice meal almost German style with sausages and apples baked with onions, roasted potatoes. They had just been in Bolzano which is about 50/50 German/Italian. Before the main meal was a delicious platter of cheese and meat along with other treats like a special shortbread and…my favorite thing she made…pickled jerusalem artichokes. They were spicy and sour. Very yummy. I had not tried them before. I love our friends around here. They are so thoughtful and remember we have no cucina to cook in!

As of today we have a new roommate. Luca. Our house painter. He has begun painting upstairs and it looks so pristine what he as done so far. I can tell this will really brighten up our space. I think it’s going to take a couple of weeks to finish. But he isn’t committing to a finish date. Upstairs is fine and isolated from us. When he comes downstairs, that’s when it will get interesting. Trying to keep the cats out of the way is difficult. They are so curious! The paints they use have very little smell. That is nice since we have to live with it.

A big milestone. I finished putting away all the stuff that was scattered on the floor in the extra room. We call it the junk room. There are a few boxes with things I have no space for that will go upstairs and wait for the shelves we will have built. All that is left to put away is our summer clothes which are still in boxes but they can wait.

Today I made soup for lunches. I have to say, it turned out super good. I didn’t use a recipe because it was another instant pot experiment. I have a recipe for a “generic” soup which I kind of follow. I just add ingredients as I like. Todays started with the usual sautéed sofrito (celery, onion, carrot) then I added the two chopped parsnips I had left and one big chopped potato. I bought red Swiss chard at the Saturday market so that went in and about a cup of cannellini beans and a handful of soup grains that they sell here. Of course some herbs and a little peperoncini for spice and a couple of bay leaves. Pressure cooked it for 5 minutes. Really good.

Tonight I think we may try the new (to us) pizza craze from Rome called Pinsa. I guess it is an ancient pizza but has been rediscovered. Different yeasts and flour makes the dough different. A friend raves about these pies so I figured why not give them a try? If the pizzeria actually will deliver to us, I will report back!

Blessing of the house

So we found a flyer in our mailbox telling us the local priests will be blessing our home on March 1. Don Mario is our assigned Priest for this address. The other one is Don Gaetano. There is a supremely ugly Catholic Church for this part of town nearby. We figure they come from there. Back when we lived in Centro there was the 15th century Collegiata associated with the three churches in Piazza San Francesco. And there was another church also 15th century, not far from our old house whose bells serenaded us. Not being Catholic I think we will pass on the blessing…but given the problems of moving here…maybe we shouldn’t! 🤔

We tried another Rosticceria than the one downstairs. Luther, being unadventurous got another half chicken. I got a pasta and we got some veggies. It was pretty good. Better than the downstairs one. Next time I am getting the Torta al Testo. This is a specialty around here. A dense but soft flat bread. You slice it in half and make a sandwich with it. The traditional filling is sausage and cooked spinach.

Our painter, Luca, starts the job next week. He said it will take two weeks. It is just a one man show and this is a big house. He will begin upstairs. This week I also had a cabinetmaker come. He was nice and had some good ideas. I will call him next week to have him come measure and tell him our final decisions. Not much exciting to tell right now but I plan to finish unpacking the rest of our boxes this weekend. Ciao a tutti!

Lunch was lovely

As you know we went to the first lunch of the season at Calagrana on Sunday. We met friends who had not been yet. It is always good to get together with friends.

My friend Roselyne brought me tulips! My favorites and yellow is my favorite color. They have brightened my days ever since Sunday and I will be planting them on the terrace.

I am still trying to sort and unpack as best I can. I have reached out to a cabinetmaker because we would like some built in cabinets made as well as some shelving. He is supposed to come tomorrow. Our lighting is coming soon so we need an electrician. This will be a key improvement. Lights are good and I need to get rid of some lights and some loose wires here and there. I have a recommendation for an electrician so if we can get in contact… maybe!

We also ordered our sofa today for the top floor. It will be nice. But it will take about three months to get it. Piano piano…always! 🙄 This is similar to what we ordered. It will be taupe leather. It will also be reversed. Should be comfy for both me and Luther.

New stove delivered

Here’s a picture of the new stufa. A pellet burning stove. Should keep it nice and toasty inside. So far, four days in, it is super efficient. Much more efficient than our old stove, and it is completely silent. This was very important to me. Happy with it.

Even though we are dealing with all these details to get ourselves moved we still have to deal with other things we need to get done. One was to get our VeeDub serviced and the bi-annual inspection done. This we accomplished this week.

Our house has two garages but one is still in use by our sellers, until the end of March. It is the larger garage and easier to park in. Right now we have a smaller garage without a straight shot into it. But between me driving, and Luther directing we are getting the hang of it.

I also drove the 20 miles north to Sansepolcro to get my hair cut. I feel I have put myself on the back burner and my hair was a real mess. So I got it cut. It feels great to get it done.

Today, Saturday, is market day. We had a few things to get done, first we went to the stufa seller and paid for the stove. Then we drove to the Centro to get the two bags of pellets we had left there. I also got my cleaning supplies I had left. Then we parked. I had some things to donate to books for dogs which I dropped off. Next we went to see Angelo in his Alimentari. We bought a few necessities and went to the market in the piazza. I got ingredients for another soup. Finally I visited the farmacia and Luther went and got his haircut appointment. We got much done. But I really miss having all that within steps of my home. 😥

Once home I made a soup for my/our lunches. I got bietola at the market so I made the cannellini soup with bietola in the instant pot. (Recipe) Worked out fine.

At 2pm our potential house painter, Luca, was coming with a preventivo (estimate). It was eyewateringly expensive. But this house is really big so I guess it wasn’t unexpected. We are going with him and he will be our roommate for the foreseeable future I am sure. I like him and he came highly recommended by a good friend.

Tonight I tried pasta in the instant pot. I tell ya, we’d be toast without this pot. We went last night to the Indian takeaway and the Piadina we got was, to me, inedible. The food in the rosticcerie down stairs is much the same. Keeping us fed is up to the Instant pot. There are other rosticcerie so maybe we will try them next week.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we are going to the first Calagrana lunch of the 2023 season with three friends. Something to look forward to.

Big delivery day!

Yesterday was the day Bastianelli was going to deliver my furniture. And furniture for the buyers of our old apartment. I have been waiting for this so I could finally put away some stuff.

Here are my new table and chairs for upstairs. I think it is very pretty, rustic with a nice patina. It easily seats six. It has a drawer and is pegged. I don’t know it’s age. I picked out similar but different chairs. All have a rush seat. Then fate struck, someone offered up two chairs with rush seats free on the Umbrialiens Facebook group. She lives in Montone and kindly brought them to me. They will work fine with the others.

See Monte Acuto in the background. Pretty sunshine.
Rustic. Just what I like.
One of the free chairs.

Here are pictures of the other items I got.

A room divider with mirrors. I can use it lots of places. This placement allows the sofa bed to be a bedroom with bath.

The above cabinet is right outside the now, non-existent kitchen. They asked what color I wanted and after a little thought I said a wine red color. Well, this is slightly brighter but I do actually LOVE it. The top photo makes it look pink, but it is not. The bottom one is more representative. The inside is clean white. Ready for all the pots and pans.

Below is another wardrobe that I picked out. They asked me what color and I thought it would be a crime to paint it so I said – wood. I want it wood. And I do think it is lovely. It will hold all my Deruta ceramics and bowls, dishes and things I don’t use everyday.

Next, I am excited to order some rugs. For under the new table, in my office, in both bedrooms and a runner for the hall. That will make it feel more homey. We switched around the carpets in the living area because the big orange one was too close to where the stufa goes and also impeded a door to the balcony. What a job for two old people! But we did it! High fives!

The chimney sweep came today. Now we are ready for stufa delivery. The next big ticket items are a sofa for upstairs, a table and chairs for outside, and a sofa for outside. Maybe next week we will go on a buying spree! Except for the spending of the money, it will be fun!

Finally last night I made another pretty good instant pot dish. Chicken stew. Very yummy. No pictures. Sorry! I cannot WAIT to get my kitchen! The instant pot is helping us to eat in, but it is difficult in limited space with no sink no matter what.

Sunday lunch out

Luther and I decided to have Sunday lunch in a restaurant right next to us that we love. We lucked out and got the last table. Note to self: remember to reserve next time. C’era una Volta is the name of the restaurant. It means Once Upon a Time. It is a family run place with no menu. They just come and read what they’ve got. They are known for their antipasto platter so we got one to split. And then we each got a pasta. I got tagliatelle with cinghiale (boar) ragù bianco. Luther’s came with guanciale (pork cheeks) and potatoes. It was all good. First three pictures are the antipasto, next my pasta, then Luther’s.

It was good to get out for a bit without having to get something done!

On Saturday we picked out a stufa. We have a chimney sweep coming to clean and then they will come to install.

It is Monday. New week. New things to get done! Ciao for now!

Lots and lots of progress

It has been a cavalcade of people through here this week. I am not complaining.

Wednesday IKEA came. It is pronounced EEE-KAY-AH here. The two gents were super nice and brought everything up and placed it in its proper room. I had worried for nothing. Ibraim, the main guy, told me if I had any problems with Task Rabbit for the assembly to call him. I thought that was sweet.

Task Rabbit is out of Rome and a completely different entity from IKEA. Our guy drove 2+ hours to get here Thursday. His name is Valentino! I love that. It is almost Valentine’s Day. He arrived about 1pm and got right to work. I asked if he wanted a caffè but he declined showing me his banana and his sandwich and water bottle. I often wonder about folks like him. Just trying to get by in a big and expensive city like Rome. Must be tough. By seven pm, he was done — with a 2+ hour drive home. Here are a few ugly shots. I finally finished unpacking all the food.

Yesterday we also had Luca, our potential house painter come to measure everything. He will be giving us an estimate next week. It would be lovely to get a fresh coat of paint and all the messed up areas on the walls fixed. Brighten things up a bit. I am going with a warm white color. And white, white ceilings. Later I may do some decorating but that is WAY down on my list!

Manuele, our Geometra also came yesterday. He had been coming last week but he forgot! That’s Manu for you! So I reminded him this morning. We showed him the upstairs where we had hoped to put a nice kitchen. As opposed to the the one downstairs which will never be a really workable kitchen for me. We had had our architect friends come the first weekend we were here and they had noted the wall I had wanted to remove had the Caldaia mounted on it with all the associated piping to the bathroom and radiators for heating. We have two of these, one for each floor. They said it would be a bitch to move it and costly. I was pretty disappointed.

Manuele has a different idea. We have two in wall heating/cooling units upstairs. He said we can use those plus a third one to heat instead of the Caldaia. Then the wall can come out easy peasy. New floor and they can use the existing vent in the ceiling for the range. Water easily moved. And I will go with convection cooking upstairs to make it less costly. So it won’t cost too much. This was a worry of mine. I can go to a local kitchen designer and get what I want. So anyway, a bit of upbeat news. And perhaps less costly than I had thought.

Today, Friday, we had the stufa guy bless our space. He also told us how big the stove needs to be. And today, the Vodafone installers came a day earlier than we expected to hook up our internet. Yay! Last, but not least, the caldaia guy came and figured out why we only had warm water. I do so look forward to a hot shower! I am very tired of lukewarm water on freezing mornings!
I never reported on my Instant Pot adventures. I have made four things so far. First simple black beans. These would be an ingredient. Then I made chicken and rice and beans. It was pretty good and made a lot so we had leftovers. Wednesday, I made chili with black beans. It was easy and good on a winter night. Last I made soup, cabbage leek and faro. I like the pot. I will also use the slow cook feature someday. It is still hard to make dinners with no sink and not a lot of room to work. But it helps us not have to go out hunting and gathering every night.

Excellent progress if I do say so myself!

Supportive friends 💕

I had to write this to tell you how much you, my readers, help buck me up through tough times. I really appreciate you. I have had almost universally upbeat and encouraging comments during this stressful move. Oh sure, one or two told me I should fold up my tent and go home. But I’m not doing that. I have been here eight years — through an international move and an apartment renovation. We had eight beautiful years in our last beautiful, home. And I hope, with work, the new home will also be nice. You guys are the best! 💕💕 thank you.

Progress continues…

Let’s see…where did I leave off? Yes, we have the kitchen coming soon. The furniture from IKEA comes tomorrow and if all goes as planned, it will be assembled Thursday. All good. Yesterday we went back to our antique / junk store, Luigi Filippo di Bastiagnelli. They are scheduled to deliver next week so I wanted to get a couple more pieces from them so I can have everything sent at once. I got two armadio, or wardrobes. These will be all shelves and I will be able to use them for storage. Looking forward to getting my things organized!

Sweet friends brought us the gift of soup and flowers today. How nice is that? They have a beautiful garden. And they had a big crop of parsnips which they just harvested! They are almost non-existent here. All the UK people around here are always looking for them. Anyway, they made parsnip soup, which I have never had. I will be enjoying it tonight for dinner. They also brought me some tulips. They happen to be my favorite flower so I am so very pleased.

I took my friend through our house. She loved the terrace. She said she had everything I need in her own garden to plant and that she would help me with the planting and design. I may also invite my friend in Assisi who is also a plant expert to come and they can work together. I’ve been wanting to get them together for a while anyway.

It has been very cold here. Going down to minus 4 Centigrade this week. That’s about as cold as it gets here. Good for killing the pests of summer so I will deal with it. Speaking of cold, we visited our local stufe dealer. These are stoves that burn either wood or pellets. We are going with another pellet stove. They are scheduled to come check our space and make sure all is well for installation and use.

I also have a house painter recommendation. He came and looked at the space. Said he’d come back and measure and then give me a preventivo, or estimate. If it’s ok, he will paint in March. I hate the thought of painting while we are living here. I guess I’ll have him start upstairs. Perhaps we will do a short trip somewhere while he does the downstairs. We will have to take our cat hair factories along. It will be nice to have walls repaired and freshly painted.

Today we visited a vendor who had replaced screens for us to pay him. He had never billed us. Stupid maybe but we want to be on good terms since they do custom woodworking and all sorts of things. We paid them and asked them to come to see if they could do some custom built in shelving for us. And a cabinet in the kitchen.

We went to Centro after that and had a caffè at bar Mary and visited with our good friend Irene, then emptied our freezer in our apartment and got our ladder. It was our last task there. We also visited our friend Angelo in the alimentari downstairs. I miss having him so nearby. So convenient. He said we are now happy to have the elevator, but we will miss what he says is the best view in Umbertide. He is probably right and I do miss it. The views here in the new place will never be what we had in Centro. But we’ve had some pretty sunsets. Maybe in summer, where the upstairs terrace has good views we might enjoy the view of Monte Acuto, our big mountain.

There is an old tower on that hill there.

Our cats have amazingly settled in nicely. Here is Simba a-snooze on the sofa.

I think that is about it for our progress and news. We will get there. It does take time to change house. In fact it takes time no matter where you are so patience is key. And I have that. I am thinking that maybe this weekend we can go somewhere for a wine tasting. Maybe we can even go with some friends. It would be lovely to remember I live in this beautiful country and have beautiful things to do close by. I sometimes lose track of that. Andrà tutto bene!🌈

Some progress

Well folks, as always in Italy, progress is sketchy. We visited LUBE and he “said” he would come up with a plan. That was Tuesday, and today is Friday. We tried calling and have not gotten through. I am inclined to go elsewhere because I don’t feel he is being responsive. We had an appointment with our Geometra yesterday. But he never showed up. Sigh. So I emailed another Geometra who was recommended to us and am waiting for a reply.

We have managed to get most of the boxes unpacked. That’s not to say the stuff that was IN the boxes has anywhere to go other than the floor. But in another week we should have some places to put stuff if the IKEA delivery is good. I worry about that because they usually dump it at the bottom of the steps. That stuff is HEAVY. And I don’t want to have to get it up here. I’m going to ask them to bring it up with a €20 note in my hand.

Today, we went to a different kitchen store. Called Ronti. They got good reviews on Amazon. I was very impressed. We arrived without an appointment. They were very accommodating and we picked out everything, counters, cabinets, sink and appliances. I think it will be a nice kitchen. And the good news is, we can get it in 20 days! He has already paid a visit to our apartment and checked the space and done measurements. Whew. A load off of my mind. Although, it was an unnecessary expense which we had not counted on.

For the interim, I bought an instant pot. I thought I could make one-pot meals in it. It seems pretty complicated. I am going to try it out this weekend.

For next week, the big IKEA delivery and the next day Task Rabbit to assemble it. We want to buy a pellet stove. We need to pay a bill. It is ridiculous that here, you need to chase people down to pay them. If we ever get a Geometra then maybe we can see about painting the house and then talk about the upstairs kitchen. And I still need to order a table for outside and a sofa for inside the upstairs. It will all happen in time. As they say here, piano, piano. Sorry, no pictures today!