Today we went to our health department to see about the new Tessere Sanitaria we need to get every January. The new fees are quite a lot higher. €2,000 flat fee per person plus an income based extra amount. It is quite a lot more than we were paying in all the previous years. But we had read that we’re eligible for the health care for free now that we have our PdS Lungo Periodo – or permanent residence. Thing is not many of us immigrants have gotten this long term card yet. You’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops to get it and only after 5 years continuous residence. Also, we were on the early edge of retirees moving here. So, that meant our health department had never seen one before. As you can imagine, many phone calls were made. Much ass covering was done. But in the end we walked out with cards good for five years, AND for FREE! It is a very good day. This card will also give us coverage in all of the EU. Very handy.
Last night I decided to make risotto in the instant pot. I had read it was a great and labor saving way to do it. I had some left over shrimp stock and some shrimp so I adapted the recipe for that. The recipe is here – instant pot risotto. I cut the recipe in half and used shrimp stock instead of chicken. Pretend you see shrimp on top of this…we ate them before I could take a photo! 😋
i went for a little walk today. The weather is pretty nice, the cold is gone and highs are in the 50s in the daytime. Here are a couple pictures. One is the park near us called le pinette. And the other is a cute preschool they built last year. I love the little buildings with big windows and high ceilings and bright colors! Really attractive.
Finally, here is my wonky lemon tree. She’s inside for the winter, or until construction starts. She gave us lots of lemons as always.
I heard about the deep freeze dipping far south — state al caldo!
Hi everyone! I know it has been a while. Once we got back from England and got through the Christmas activities things slowed down — and so did I!
The week after Christmas was quiet. The 26th is a holiday here so that was a four day weekend. Our neighbors across the hall brought us some delicious brownies. Hand decorated by Celeste and Chiara. Really sweet of them and sweet to taste too! My birthday is the 28th but I never really do anything. Having a birthday in the week after Christmas is stinky. No one feels like doing anything…including me! So that day passed quietly.
I stayed up until midnight watching the new year come in all over the world on CNN, every hour. There were some pretty amazing displays. I also wanted to see the crazy fireworks in Umbertide from our roof. I can see the town fireworks from here easily down by La Rocca, which I couldn’t see from our old apartment. And then all the Italians are mad for their own shows and boy did they ever. Our next door neighbor, with a roof terrace too, shot off some pretty big and sophisticated fireworks. I took a video which I tried to edit but it didn’t work – sorry. The fireworks farther away are the city fireworks. The ones right above me are from our next door neighbor.
New Year’s Day we went to the New Year brunch (yes a brunch!!) at Calagrana. Brunch isn’t a “thing” here. I haven’t been to one since being in the US. Great menu. It was very hard to choose. We both decided to have the Acciughe which is anchovies. Not just any anchovies but Cantabrico from Spain. With toasted bread and butter. Mmmm. Then I had the Mac and cheese 😁 But Wait! Not just your run-of-the-mill Mac n cheese…it was truffled Mac n cheese! It was good!
We had dinner at C’Era una Volta with the folks who bought Joseph and Paul’s house. Their daughter who lives in Rome came as well. It was nice to meet her. And we had dinner with Susan and Gary.
Susan was an important part of why we moved to a Umbertide in particular. She had a blog about her little vacation apartment on the piazza and I found it. Back in 2013 there weren’t as many blogs about Italy as now. I reached out to her a bit before we came. We also found another tiny blog by a (now) friend in Montone and he put us in touch with Jim our real estate agent. Jim found us a little apartment to rent for three weeks. So we came on a house hunting trip. We looked all over Umbria but by then, we found we quite liked this little town, so we bought our first apartment and flew back home to move permanently here. Thanks to Susan and Gary. The bittersweet is that they moved to Florence a couple years ago and we saw them less frequently but they still had their pretty place here. This dinner last week was our last super together here. They had come to move their belongings because they had sold their house. The end of an era. We will stay friends. I am sure.
Saturday was Epifania, Epiphany. The twelfth day of Christmas. The day the Magi came with gifts for the baby Jesus. The day before was when Befana, the Christmas witch came to visit all the children and leave gifts (or coal if you were bad) in their stockings. Remember the all Santa Claus band recently? Well this night we had an all Witch band!
Waaaay back before Christmas, you may remember the trip report of our short trip to England. Remember the lost backpack that Luther left in the rental car? Well ever since then Luther has been working to get the thing shipped back. We had the help of one of the nicest people ever to work for a rental car company, Victoria. She kindly packed the backpack in a box and affixed the label. It was ready for shipping. The first courier he chose used another company to pick things up and twice they claimed they couldn’t find the Enterprise Rent-a-car desk at the airport. Now seriously…who among us has not been able to find a rental car place in a strange airport? None of us of course! But these dolts couldn’t. So Luther regrouped and tried UPS. He got a message the package had been picked up! Yay! Then nothing. So Luther contacted UPS and they said the package had never arrived to them. They said he should check the shipper. Luther reminded them that THEY are the shipper! Hmmm. So they said they could try to track it but Luther couldn’t ask for that since he didn’t send it. He would have to ask Victoria to do it, which he did. Even though she was on vacation she said she would. Yesterday a courier dropped off a package for us and I went down to get it. It was a small box but it was from the UK! And it was from Victoria! And delivered by UPS. So the long lost backpack is back. The important item was Luther’s hearing aids. €3,500 that we didn’t want to lose. The champagne flowed last night. So relieved!
The cold weather is upon us. I find myself staying in mostly, but I am getting much done. I’m packing our smaller things, books, pottery, etc in preparation for the kitchen to try to keep the dust off. We also are trying to renew our health coverage which expires each year in December 31st. The problem. Italy passed a new budget and they changed the amount that we stranieri have to pay. But no one knows how to implement it since it just was passed December 29th but went into affect on January 1. They are just telling people here in Umbria to come back. It could put us all in limbo for a long time. But I’m hoping we will get resolution soon.
We also are doing jigsaw puzzles. We have always done this in the winter, since I was small. Luther loves them. This one is coming along. Only the really hard-to-do part is left.
I have many wishes for this year. I won’t list them all but I hope we can work together more and there will be more kindness and caring for our fellow humans.
Hi everyone! I guess I have some catching up to do. It has been a busy couple of weeks. I have had a spot of trouble with my website so I held off posting until I could do some cleanup and fix a few problems with the help of a friend (thanks Roger!)
We had a very cold snap which pretty much killed off the remaining plants on the terrace. I built the first fire in the upstairs fireplace and after about four hours it finally warmed up that floor which at present has no heat. I also grilled a whole branzino for our dinner so as not to waste the heat in any way.
Speaking of upstairs things are moving along with the kitchen. I met with Irma, our architect, and we have nailed down all the colors. We also went and met with Nicoletti who will make the cabinets, order the appliances and install everything once the preparation is done. The builder who will do the demolition came to see how we could move the heavy flooring upstairs and the countertops. I have insisted that the counters not have any seams. Both the kitchens I’ve put in here have had seams and this time I was determined they be in one piece. There are two and they will be heavy. So they will use an elevator truck to bring these things up.
We had a lovely pre-season lunch with three of our friends in Spello. We each brought something and it was great fun. We all get along well and the conversation flows. Here is one of the arches in Spello. It is a lovely hill town.
The Christmas tree was delivered to the piazza but this year I didn’t see it delivered as I have done in every other year. So I decided I would put up my own tree which at least brings some festiveness to our house.
We had some company for a couple nights and we did a bit of sightseeing. We picked them up in Foligno and we went so DiFilipo a bio winery near Bevagna. This is our first visit to them since pre-Covid. They have upped their game. They have many more wines now and they have created a nice outside space with tables and chairs — not that we could use it in this weather but they did build a nice fire for us to enjoy inside.
This winery does not use any pesticides. It also doesn’t use any machinery in the vineyards. They use horses to plow and cut the grass between the vines. And they use geese to control the insects. Before going in we went to visit the animals.
We had reserved a tasting and they brought us goodies to enjoy along with 7 wines.
After the tasting we didn’t want lunch so we paid a short visit to Bevagna. They had a small Christmas market. This was L’Immacolata. The immaculate conception. It is a national holiday and the official beginning of the Christmas season. After we returned home we walked into town. It was very cold. We had a drink in Bar Mary and waited for them to light the tree. Right on time – there it was!
Next day was Saturday and we did have a tough time doing anything I had planned. We headed to Assisi. We got there around 10:30 and were turned away by the police as there was no parking left. I had to cancel our lunch reservation. So we decided to visit Perugia. Our guests had not been to either city. Well, we headed to the MiniMetro and found the big Saturday market was there. But we still went to the metro station where we found the place a mob scene. So we decided to just walk through the market and go over to Lago Trasimeno for a walk and lunch.
It was one of the prettiest days ever. Not as cold, in fact it got into the 60s, and it was crystal clear with bright blue skies. Perfect to visit the lake.
We chose Ristorante Il Molo. Known for creative food and a good wine selection. The food was quite creative for sure.
These next are my table mates food and I cannot remember what they all were but everyone like theirs.
Here we are and we had a nice view.
Afterwards we went for a walk around the town. There were quite a few people there but not crowded. Just folks out enjoying a rare warmish sunny day.
Upcoming for us. We planned a trip to England. First one since before Covid. We are glad we got our boosters (first in two years) last week. We leave on Friday and will spend five nights in a National Trust Cottage in a town called Corfe Castle in Devon. We look forward to pub lunches, touring the towns within reach and maybe a walk on the cliffs for which the area is known. We hope there will be some Christmas merry olde England style too! Of course there will be a trip report. 🙂
Mundane things we got done this week. Some good, some not-so-good. ~~~~~~~~ I forgot to mention that we had a call from our Polizia Municipale on Saturday. They had a citation for us and had to deliver it. We said we were home so he came by to our house with it. (So weird that they do this.) Turns out we were on vacation on our cruise when this infraction occurred so that meant it was our house sitters. They did tell me they went to the Adriatic coast and that is where they got this speeding ticket. Luckily it wasn’t too much over the limit so no need to ask for their drivers license info so we can say who was driving. No points involved. We paid the fine and will wait to see if we get any more to decide whether we will bother with asking them to repay us. Sometimes it’s not worth it. ~~~~~~~~ Monday we spent 3 hours at the ginormous Perugia hospital waiting — and 15 minutes of that time was for procedures. Ugh. I’m getting an orthoscopia of my sinuses and had to do pre-op tests and an interview with the anesthetist because I will be asleep for the procedure. So that’s done. Now I wait to find out the date for the procedure. I just hope it’s not on Thanksgiving or just before since we are going to Thanksgiving lunch at Calagrana with friends. Here is the waiting room…tick…tick..tick. ⏰
~~~~~~~~ Tuesday I drove to Sansepolcro in nearby Tuscany for my, much needed, haircut. I love that little city. It’s in the upper Tiber Valley just like we are. They are right up at the end of the valley where the big mountains start. The town has just over 15,000 people so just slightly smaller than Umbertide. It was a gray day and I had a little time so walked a little into town from the gate and took a few pictures. None are very good. The town has all their Christmas lights up already.
I may be wrong but it seems like the people in Sansepolcro dress more stylishly than in Umbertide. I think I’m right though. Umbertide is a working class town for the most part and Umbrian to boot. Tuscany is, well, you know, Tuscany, so it is a little more posh. 😁 ~~~~~~~ Wednesday brought a meeting with my architect, Irma. I think all the details are nailed down now. She and I will go to the Falegname (cabinet maker) Nicoletti here in town who will custom build our cabinets. I will pick the color then. I’ve already chosen the countertop color and the color for the floor. Still must chose appliances, sink, faucet but that should be it. Today we decided to replace one narrow cabinet with a wine rack. The work won’t start until January which is pretty perfect actually. We will be here. We won’t have any guests. Hopefully it will be done before we go home to the US for the first time in four years in March. Here’s the plan before. Today we decided on cabinets that lift up rather than open normally. And the narrow cabinet on the left will become a wine rack.
~~~~~~~~~ Thursday, I worked in the gardens in the morning. I cleaned out and cut back the lavender and a big pink flowering plant that got huge, also the hostas and the ornamental grass I planted. There is still more to do but it’s better now. I also planted all the bulbs that my friend Jill gifted to me. Lots of flowers this spring! Won’t that be something to look forward to?
At a little after eleven I left to meet my bestie, Jen, in Passignano sul Trasimeno for lunch. It’s a pretty lakefront town. I think there are about 8,000 people and it is on the main train line. My friend lives in Foligno and doesn’t like to drive so this worked for us both and I love the lake. Here are some pictures from around town.
We ate at Trattoria Pescatore. This place, like most restaurants around the lake, specializes in lake fish. Some of it is regional and specialized like they catch and eat eels, usually made into stew. I’ve had it and it’s actually pretty good. The food is very good. I had risotto with zucca and scamorza. That’s risotto with puréed winter squash and the smoked cheese they make here. Very good and perfect for a one course meal – rich. Jen had the Tuscan soup. It was a bit chilly so the food was quite warming. Here is the restaurant interior, very snug and cozy, and my risotto.
In summer they have a pretty shady garden area. It’s right in the Centro Storico. This photo is the walkway outside covered in vines.
Lago Trasimeno is the fourth largest lake in Italy and the largest on the peninsula. In summer it’s very busy and all along the shores are camp grounds and discos which close in winter. Pretty tacky. In winter the area is quiet and tranquil.
Tomorrow, Friday concludes the week with my Italiano class. It was a productive week!
I don’t think I posted about my recurrent sinus infection? I think not. I had an infection back in June. I started at the dentist because I thought the pain was from a tooth. She said I needed to see an Otorinolaringoiatra, or in plain terms a ENT doc. In June he gave me an antibiotic and it made it go away. It came back just before our cruise. It made that a bit difficult and when I came back I started to try to find treatment. I got more antibiotics and a prescription for a CT scan. The antibiotics didn’t work this time. I made an appointment at a diagnostic center in Città di Castello north of us. I got the CT scan (€120). Back to the doc yesterday. He wants yet ANOTHER scan. So tomorrow I go back for a different scan. Then he thinks I need an endoscopy of my nose. Ugh. But I feel really crummy. I want this fixed, if possible.
For those interested in how this works here, all this has been private pay until yesterday. The ENT doc charges €100 for a consult. Fine. That’s not bad. The scans are not expensive. But yesterday, the appointment when I returned with the scan was free. And the endoscopy will also be free under the Italian health system. The way Luther and I do it is pay for the first appointment then normally we get into the system so the treatment is free. This isn’t true for tests like an MRI, radiograph or CT scan. Those you do at a private diagnostic center. But they are cheap compared to US costs. ~~~~~~~~ One pet peeve I have is the ridiculous waste they have here for medicines. These, in the picture below, are for one month of blood pressure meds for me. I take 2 pills a day. Unlike in the US, where they come in a plastic bottle, here they come in bubble packs and boxes. This seems like an inordinate amount of waste. I don’t know why it is this way.
We had a nice lunch on the weekend. Here are a couple of pictures. First one is on the way. I tried to lighten it but if I did I lost that dramatic sky. So, it is what it is!
Today is a good day. I am finished with my procedure and I am fine! A relief. I seem to think the worst will happen and at the worst possible time! Like now. In the middle of the big move. I went to the hospital in Città di Castello. They have a very nice new hospital with all modern facilities. People around here call the town just Castello. It is about 20 kilometers and takes around 25 minutes using the good, old E45 super strada that runs north and south through our valley. Once it was part of the Via Flammina. An old Roman road. But I digress. They were super efficient and fast. Even mindful of my modesty…many are not here. And the doctor and nurse were friendly. So, now I am done with that…I am dusting myself off and going back to the business of living here.
You all must know of my little lemon tree. I had always wanted to be able to have a lemon tree. One of the first things I bought was a small one from a local vivaio or nursery. I wrote a post about this little tree way back in 2020 when we were in the strictest lockdown because of Covid. It was titled Day 46 Covid 19 and I had a bit of fun with my lemon tree. At that time I was trying to keep myself entertained while being locked down. This post was just one day…I blogged for 83 straight days. You, my reader friends, helped me keep sane. This blog helped keep me sane. What a time it was. Anyway. If you’d like to read that post, here is a link — Day 46 Covid 19.
My tree is still flourishing. I am still pinching off all the leaves on the one side. And this year I got 19 —yes! — 19 lemons. She is doing very well and she is coming on our move. I will take off all the lemons to make her easier to move and take the weight off. She will love our new terrazzo and she will be getting a bigger pot. 🙂
As for news of the move, we are making forward progress. I’m making copious lists. Lists of things to leave here for Jane and Christie, things I need to keep away from the packers that I many need first at the new place, cat stuff (of which there is a lot), some clothes, our computers, wires, chargers, remote controls…on and on. We are using up all the food in our freezer. Sadly I’m going to have to throw away most of my frozen peppers. But I’ll just grow more! And we have a meeting with our sellers this coming Friday. We are bringing our agent friend Jim along. We have many questions and much measuring to do.
We got the new year off with a bang! We are only five days in, four of those were working days, and already I have received my renewed drivers license and our new Tessere di Sanitaria, health care cards. I think getting the later this fast must be a record!
I also have an upcoming unpleasant test to prepare for. I think most can figure out what it is 😏. For this I had to get blood work done and buy meds which my doctor said were over the counter. Got both of those things done yesterday.
We did a pleasant task today as well. Thank goodness sometimes we get to do fun things! We ordered two beds for our new house. We have only one mattress that we are bringing so we also bought a new mattress. We visited our old friend Sr. Tiziano. We bought a lot of things from him back when we moved into this apartment. He has a showroom with some furniture. But he also has books full of products to order. I leafed through the copious pages and chose two pretty iron beds. I really like their look. Clean and spare. We asked if he could deliver the same day as we move into our new place and he can. That’s good because I want to move in as soon as we can. A bed to sleep in is essential.
Tomorrow is Epifania, Epiphany. It is a holiday here. The end of the Advent-Christmas season. I wrote a post about this and the beloved witch Befana who comes the eve of Epifania. It is an interesting story — check this link for the legend. All the Italian children wait for her to come and bring them gifts. Much like Santa. Anyway. I heard the town band playing and went to the window to see. They were coming down the street all dressed as witches! And one of them was dressed as Befana herself. She is the one in the scarf and checked apron.
We are nearing our move. I am doing some packing of things that I would rather not have the movers packing for me. Our guest room is piled with boxes. I have been purchasing some odds and ends that I think will come in handy. Like a hand truck. I love hand trucks. I used to manage all of the trade shows for my employer, back when I worked. I accompanied our big display booth, making sure it got to the show and back safely. I used a hand truck all the time. I decided it was just what I need now to move boxes around. I think Amazon knows how much I love hand trucks because they sent me two!
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.
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!
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. ~~~~~~ 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!
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.
~~~~~~ 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 🌈