Category Archives: Health care

Trip preparation

I want to explain the mystery of the inexplicable fine from my last post. Turns out, it was taxes due. Plus a fine. I could ask my Commercialista why, but it’s not that much money and I’m not going to bother. Anyway, mystery solved.

We have been very busy getting ready for our trip. We got our health cards extended so we would have coverage on our trip. We have had several people come and look at the apartment. I got my hair cut. We have met some good friends for some nice lunches. Yesterday we finally received our taxes from our Commercialista for the first part of the year. This payment is for half of last year, and we also pay ”in anticipo” for estimated tax for the first half of this year. This is the second document required by the Questura for our application for the EU long term Permesso di Soggiorno. Unfortunately we got it yesterday. Too late for us to get it in to them before we leave. So it will be first on our to-do list when we return.

We attended an art exhibit featuring three Umbrian artists last evening in a small village called Lugnano. Very nice show in Palazzo Luna and our friend was one of the artists. The town is miniscule.

Vicola in Lugnano

I am madly packing and getting ready for our House/cat sitters arrival tomorrow. We will pick them up at the train station. I want to make them some special pasta dishes. I went to the local Saturday Mercato this morning. We are drowning in cherries now! Look at the varied colors. I didn’t realize there were so many. From almost black, to deep red, to cherry red!

My next post will most likely be about our trip. Travel is so fraught with uncertainty nowadays. I just hope all is uneventful. Ciao for now!

Up early today

Since I retired I never get up early if I can help it. I normally rise at a respectable 8 am. But I needed to take a sample to be tested at the hospital. They require you to drop it off between 7:30 am and 8. It is inhuman! I had been putting it off for two weeks. Finally I told myself, today is the day, and I roused myself by 7:15. The hospital is about 10 minutes on foot from our house. I looked at the temperature…-1C…ouch! I almost jumped back into bed. Dressed warmly, I headed out. Just outside of our door across the road, is a little tunnel that goes through to a small piazzetta. We use it a lot as it leads to some bins for recycling cardboard. Today, at that hour, the rising sun was aligned to shine right down the tunnel.

I arrived at the hospital drop off place which is the same place as you go to get blood drawn for testing. The way it works here, people get a prescription from their primary doctor. Then they take it to the pharmacy and get an appointment. This particular test doesn’t require an appointment. But most of the people there are getting blood drawn and that *does* require an appointment. So I queued up with all the other early risers. We all are required to fill out a form for future contact tracing in case someone has Covid. I dropped off the sample and he gave me a paper with a PIN. In a week when the results are ready, I can download my results. Works well. Some people go to private clinics for this but I see no reason.

When I got back the weekly market was slowly opening, so I did a little shopping and headed home.
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Last Sunday we had lunch at Calagrana. They have just reopened after a month and a half. There has been some new decorating and it looks really nice. I love the chocolate accent wall. Very dramatic.

My antipasto was a new dish. Called Cipolla al forno, melanzana arrosto, formaggio di capra, salsa verde e pinoli. Which translates as baked onions with goat cheese fondue on top of roasted eggplant with pine nuts and green sauce. It was brilliant!

Ho hum

Beginning of the year. After Epifania in January 6 all festivities stop. Then we all hunker down for the doldrums of winter. And we have to do some mandatory chores of everyday life.

In January every year we have to renew our Tessera Sanitaria. Our access to the Italian Health care system. We have to visit our ASL – Azienda Sanitaria Locale. We are required to bring copies of our “certified by the American Embassy in Rome”, Social Security statements. Only Umbria requires this, as far as we know. Then we pay 7.5% of that amount at the post and return to the ASL for our new cards. But first, we needed appointments, which we have for next week. An annual ritual.

Now is also the time to pay our auto Bollo, or our tax on the Volkswagen. And also, this year, the inspection which is bi-annual. The Bollo can be paid online but only after you get a SPID which is a secure email address. It took Luther a good deal of time to get that all worked out. The inspection will be week after next.

The poor old Volkswagen gets very little love. She hardly ever gets washed, and gets the minimum of maintenance. She is our workhorse, a really a decent, everyday car. So anyway, we took her to Happy Car for a much needed bath.

It was our first time here. There were maybe six workers? All hustling like their lives depended on it. Maybe they did? First, you park outside and they vacuum the car. Then, they drive into the building for the wash, two guys. High powered spray but wash all by hand. Then outside for drying and interior washing, floor mats are returned, wheels are cleaned, tires blacked. I don’t know how the money is split. The rent on the building and the water etc must be paid. Maybe the rest is split? Or maybe they are just hired by some Fat Cat who runs the show? Don’t know. The workers aren’t Italians, but they hustle like they get a piece of the action. Bottom line. This hand wash, interior vac and cleaning cost €10 or about $11. A bargain.

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Covid cases are up here, like everywhere. I read a tip about the self tests. The instructions say swab inside your nose. But i heard Omacron starts in the throat so it doesn’t show up in just a nasal swab. So, do your throat first, then your nose. Because it doesn’t show up in nasal swabs, a person is contagious for around 3 days even if testing negative (in the nose). Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene 🌈

Boring things. We all have to do them…

Like everyone on this earth, we all have errands to run to keep our lives ticking along on track. We are happy all the shops are still open and, although we have to stay in our Comune, we have everything we need here.

Our list for today was extensive. First stop. As everyone does, we are preparing for winter. We have a heated mattress pad for our bed. And we have a summer one. So that summer one went to the dry cleaner to be cleaned for next summer…SUMMER ☀️ which I see as a shining light ahead of us! Maybe a new beginning after this pandemic. Spero di si.

Second issue we had been dealing with. Our old printer had died and we ordered a new one from Amazon, after trying to find one locally. We got that on Friday and have semi-set it up. (Don’t get me going on how hard it was!) Of course, as these things go, I had JUST ordered new toner for our previous printer when it died. €80 worth. So I needed to return it. But, without a printer, I was unable to print the mailing labels to do so. So I waited. Today we took the toner to the DHL pickup location to return. Check.

Last week we also had to go to the ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – Local Health Unit) because our E01 had expired. Our Dottoressa had noticed when we visited her. This is the code that is used here to determine how much you must pay for prescriptions and some tests…according to your income. If it expires, you automatically pay the most. So we got that updated but we didn’t have all of the copies of our cards they needed (of COURSE they need copies!!). At home, we had no copier…so we waited and once we got the new printer – we made the copies and we took them there to drop off. Check.

A trip to the EuroSpin supermarket to order a turkey for thanksgiving was next. This part I liked best. This year I decided to do Thanksgiving dinner, even if it is just for us. Our friend Susan offered to make a pie and I think Gary is making a vegetable. No matter. I will take a pan of turkey, maybe dressing, gravy, and of course, mashed potatoes to them. We will eat alone, alas, but at least we will share the bounty with some friends.

After that we visited the Coop supermercato. I had not been since we went to Code Orange and they are again taking things seriously. We had our temperatures taken before we could go into the mall, of course masks are mandatory everywhere now, both inside and outside, and the spacing between people is being enforced. We bought a bunch of the staples we needed. And also some cat food for our friend who is in isolation. She feeds a mamma cat and her litter from this year and was running low on food. I dropped it by her house so she should be good for a while. She told me they are coming to her house to give her the Covid test rather than making her go to Citta di Castello. One of the few benefits of age 🙂.
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I took a walk Sunday evening. By the time I got back to the Centro the sun was just setting and the sky was pretty. Here are two pictures.

The Rocca, our fortress.
The entrance to the Centro Storico. We have a pedestrian bridge which crosses over from the road.

Stay safe all….andrà tutto bene 🌈

Pronto soccorso (emergency room)

Today I visited the Pronto Soccorso for the first time. It is a weekend and I am unable to see my doctor. Yesterday we decided to give our two cats their yearly bath. Simba objected. And at one point he went totally nuts and while struggling with him he bit down on my thumb, right through it and for a moment I wondered how I was going to get him to let go. And it hurt! A lot!

I know a cat bite is one of the dirtiest bites you can get. I’ve also heard horror stories. I asked a friend of mine who used to work with animals and she said a veterinarian she knew lost her thumb due to a cat bite. That kind of lit a fire under me. I am never anxious to go to a doctor or a hospital, or worse, an emergency room. But we live in Umbertide. We have a hospital and we can even walk there. So we walked over to the Pronto Soccorso.

We rang the bell and explained why we were there. I had to fill out a form about how I was feeling today (Covid related) and they took my temperature. Then I got to go in. I had to go alone as they won’t let more than one at a time. I was pleased I understood everything they asked me and could answer all the questions. My Italian has improved quite a lot I’m happy to say.

The doctors were nice, interested because I am American. One even looked up Virginia on his phone and started listing the states all around Virginia. I showed them my Tessera Sanitaria, my health card enrolling me in the system here. They were surprised but I explained I live here and am in the health system.

There was no discussion about the cat bite. It seemed almost a given that one must get treated for a bite from a cat. They examined my thumb and redressed it. Then they gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics and dressed my wound. I have to return in 6 weeks for a booster tetanus shot. The visit cost nothing. I do love the Italian health care system 💕.

Afterwards we walked back and I drove to a farmacia to get my prescription filled. All in all a painless (mostly 🙂) visit. I’m glad I broke down and went. I won’t be so reticent in the future.

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Yesterday and today I made pesto. The Basil is going wild. I harvested these two. They aren’t so pretty and bushy now. If you want to keep your basil producing you must cut it back as it starts to flower down to just above the juncture with two small leaves at the intersection of the stem. These small lives will grow into new, robust basil branches. I have regular basil and violeta.

Here is the jar of regular pesto I made.

This one is an experiment. Thai basil pesto. It has a dark color because of the purple leaves, and it has Thai flavors like fish sauce, sesame oil, etc. I haven’t eaten it yet. I will report back.

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I have more to report as today was a busy day, but I will save it for tomorrow 🙂

It is still ungodly hot but supposed to break on Tuesday I think. Stay safe y’all. 🌈

Corona Virus

Since this all over the news I thought I’d do a quick update. There have been 60 new cases in the past 24 hours in Lombardia. Also two cases in Florence and one in Palermo. These are the first in Tuscany and Sicily.  Total cases nearing 300. Seven people have died, all of them elderly or with compromised immune systems. The provinces affected are closing schools and canceling events. They are advising people with symptoms to not go to the emergency room but call their doctor or the health department.

People here in Umbria seem calm and nothing has changed. We have had no reported cases. But that could change. Some areas are reporting runs on food and water. We went shopping today and it was quiet and the store was fully stocked. So all is well in our region for now.

Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo – part 2

So yesterday we went to the polizia here in Umbertide to enquire about how to get the certificates we need. Sadly we have to go to Perugia. We have vague directions. Sigh.

Then we met with our avvocato. Sr. Rossi seems nice and speaks good English which helps some. He explained we should just apply on our own as normal and if we are turned down we will file in the Administrative Court Of Umbria (TAR UMBRIA) to contest the decision. It will cost around €1500 plus court costs and take around 1 1/2 years or so. Sigh.

On the bright side we managed to get our health care renewed. Always problematic as we must wait for the US Embassy to send our stamped social security statements before we can pay the fee to renew. All done. And we chose a new doctor. Dottoressa Lorenza Medici. Good name!
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To catch up with a few things from the last week or two…

Lunch at Calagrana with a bunch of friends. Picture of little Pelegrino, a twin whose mother rejected him. He is being bottle fed and is cute as can be.

And today is February 1! We got past the long cold month of January. Look what I saw on my trip to the grocery store!

Doctors, and wineries, and la cena – Oh my!

Yesterday was a Very Busy day and I want to share it with you.

It started out pretty early. We had an appointment with my knee surgeon at the hospital for X-rays. It was the standard 45 day post op checkup. I’m happy to say I’m fit as a fiddle. I’m now cleared to walk normally up and down the steps, which I did with very little problem. I’m very happy!

It was a pretty day (mostly) with a lot of fall colors and watery blue skies. Not too cold. To go from our house to the hospital in the city of Perugia we can take the SuperStrada around the city (faster but busier), the road that goes through the middle of town (tiny one way streets) or the pretty 2 lane road through the mountains. So, on the way to the hospital Luther took us through the city. On the way home I chose the mountains.

The road goes by a winery and agriturismo we like so we stopped to buy some wine. They also raise pigs which become prosciutto. Here’s the big ole sow. The piglets had run inside. The pens are super clean, and have inside and outside parts.

We also stopped at a place we’ve been passing all the years we’ve been here. It is an enormous castle and a beautiful golf course. We were looking for the restaurant that was supposed to be there. We drove up to the castle which is shuttered. Word has been it was supposed to be an upscale hotel, they also advertise condos for sale. For a long time it was covered with scaffolding but it had been removed a year or so ago. Yet still it is not open. Somebody put a lot of money into this property with the 18 hole Trent Jones golf course.

Castle

Old olive groves surround the castle

The golf course. We don’t have many golf courses in Umbria, or Italy, for that matter. It had a number of people playing. The sign at the entrance says welcome in Italian, English, German, and…Russian. Tells you who they are hoping to attract.

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We had been invited to la cena (dinner) by our friend Vera. She is such a gem. Her suocera (mother-in-law) was having a big dinner for friends and family. No special occasion that I could discern. I was a little reticent but decided I need to mix more so we said we’d come. Vera said not to expect much. It was a down-home feast with the contadini (contadino means farmer) so local folks – working people, farmers.

I will tell about it in pictures 🙂 Here is Vera and her suocera.

The meal was going to be in the garage. As garages go, it was a nice one. Here is the cinghiale who watches over the scene.

I asked what the wires across the ceiling were for. I was told they were to hang the grapes that they dry to make Vin Santo. It is for personal consumption. The grapes are allowed to raisin to get sweet before they make it. They don’t make it every year so no grapes were hanging.

What garage do you know that has a crackling fire? It was for warmth but also for roasting chestnuts at the end of the meal.

Beside the fireplace inside sat Silvester, the ancient Tom Cat. He’s 13 years old and never been to the vet. Not castrated…Italian men don’t allow “cutting”… he didn’t want to be bothered or touched. When he moved it was the slowest I’ve ever seen a cat move. He must be hurting 🙁 But he did seem to be enjoying the fire’s warmth.

Just outside is their big forno (wood oven). And the outside fireplace. Both were roaring hot.

Here is the pork liver (I am fairly certain I’ve never had pork liver before) that had been cooked for both the crostini and the secondo, much to Luthers dismay. Not really, there was plenty of food and he tasted it. We were surprised Italians love liver so much!

The meal begins with crostini. One, liberally dosed with the new olive oil, the other, fegato (liver). Very, very rich!

Beginning the polenta. Two kinds of corn meal…Add to the boiling water,  bring to a boil again and continuing adding hot water,  “til it is right”, cook, stir.

Takes a LOT of stirring to make polenta

The polenta is pronounced ready.

To go on top, a luscious ragu. It had simmered for hours and hours in the biggest pot I’ve seen in a home kitchen! It was pork bits. All sorts with bones and all. Plus lots of sausage. By now the meat was off the bones. They scooped the meats out and put them on a separate plate.  Then they took the tomatoes, which the meat had simmered in and scooped it into a separate dish. Rich and mouthwatering.

To serve, the polenta goes in a plate, add meat and sausages, and top with rich tomato sauce.

Two long tables. All men at one, all women at the other – hah! (Kids were upstairs) Very typical. After a while Vera and I moved over to the men’s table. There is no rule or prohibition to sit together. But the men and women prefer to talk of men’s and women’s things so why sit together?

I had fun. It had been a long day and I was pretty tired so we had the dolce (dessert) and headed home before the chestnuts were roasted. A very traditional, home cooked meal that couldn’t be beat! And a unique experience.

First Prosperious therapy session and…

So, Monday was my first scheduled PT session at our nearby rehab facility, Prosperious. Super highly thought of here in Italy, with both in-patient and out-patient facilities. I can walk there from our house but this is, in and of itself, a workout. First I descend 56 steps…piano, piano. Then I walk about 10-15 minutes. This is all good IMO. Walking is good. Steps, maybe not so much but once I can use both legs then good. Repeat…

Once I reached my destination I was directed to Lorenzo for my therapy. The facility is nice. Big and spacious with lots of folks, of varying ages, in various stages of therapy for various joints. Oh, we fragile humans!

Prosperious from outside

Mostly it is non-weight bearing exercise now with some massage. And afterward, electron therapy. Luther and I laughed at my auto-correct which changed electrode to electron. So they place electrons (-trodes) on my thigh to stimulate the muscles. Luther said it up-ended his quantum physics learning!

And afterwards I walked home. I didn’t pay, I didn’t get my patient card back. I’m sure they will inform the idiot American of her error eventually.😑
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It is not all about medical issues, thankfully! Last night we decided to walk over to FOXX, our new pizzeria just across the river. Short walk for us. We wanted to try their Apericena. This is an interesting mash-up of two Italian words by the way. Aperi is short for Aperitivo, or pre-dinner drink, and Cena is the word for dinner. So you get a drink and bar food. It’s like a happy hour thing. It starts at 6PM. Here are some pictures of the posh new space and the looooonnnggg buffet of food. Order a drink and it’s all you can eat…cost? 8 Euro. Not bad.

My plate

Outside space – it is still nicely warm so many people were outside.

Spiffy bar

Since it was on our way we stopped to check out the 3 pomegranate trees I found earlier this year. I picked a few to see if they are ripe. I know NOTHING about pomegranates. I had to look up how to know if they are ripe, whether they will ripen more once picked, and how to open them up. The one I opened is one of the bigger ones and the seeds are yummy but a little sour. Maybe a bit too early. Pictures…

I’m home!!!

Well, I am home. Up in my casa in the sky. Happy happy.

This past week went as I imagined. The routine is fixed. And I just went with it. The worst was the afternoon and evening which stretched on forEVER. I did my PT everyday. I worked hard and made the most of it. I’m doing very well. I saw my doctor this morning and he said I had to come back in a week to have my punti removed. (Staples)

Time is weird. Although the days stretched on and on, when I looked back it didn’t really feel like two weeks. Of course it was an alternate reality so maybe that was it. And I thank my visitors for helping break up the monotony. My husband, who went above and beyond, Jen, mia amica in Perugia who came many evenings, my Italian teacher Marilena, and our friend Vera.

I arrived home about noon today, Friday. I managed the 56 steps to our apartment. It wasn’t hard per se but I need to be careful of my “good” knee, which is not so good really. It has to do all the heavy lifting for a while. So I’ll limit myself to one up and down a day, allowing myself to go places and do thing without a lot of stress.