I don’t know if I mentioned my ”pond” which I am building? I had an itty bitty pond back in our home in Virginia, here is a picture.
It is in shade but the itty bitty pond is just under the rocks and there is a trickle of water you can see in the sun.
So, I am going to try to recreate my small water feature here. I have already dug the hole and lined it and filled it with water. Now I need to do the prettifying of the outside edges with rocks. And then I have a pump for a small trickle of water over the rocks. So now you know my plan.
Today I went out for my first foray to find rocks. I had remembered a loose shale hillside on a road to friends of ours house so decided to go and find it. I did find it, and I found a good amount of rocks. Not enough for the project but a start.
This particular road is incredibly beautiful. But so many are here. This road runs through the mountains to our east between here and Gubbio. These mountains were the home of the partisani during WWII. The road runs right along the top of the ridge-line with views both ways. Never tire of it. Here are some pictures.
The last picture is of one of the beautiful Chianina cattle. A gentle, docile beast who was integrale to Italian life for centuries. For pulling the plow, for giving milk, for birthing calves, and for meat.
So back to the rock gathering, here is the shale hillside I remembered.
Here are some pictures of the wildflowers growing on the slope. So pretty!
In my last post I forgot to mention a funny thing. There had really been quite a downpour as we were eating with our friends in Calagrana, so when we left, during a lull in the storm, everything was soaked and dripping. We drove down the strada bianca what the IItalians call the unpaved roads – white roads) slowly. Lots of potholes and puddles. Then we saw them, toads crawling across the road, then small frogs leaping and hopping across. It’s been so dry here that I am sure they were all rejoicing in the new water. It’s their breeding season and they need the water to breed. Let the orgy begin!
Speaking of rain, night before last we had some of the heaviest rain we’ve ever seen. It was like the heavens opened and buckets of water came down. When we have heavy rain here, this new house has a nearly flat roof and, BOY, is it loud! It roars. In the morning all the plants survived. All looks as though nothing happened. Yay! ~~~~~~ House news. We met again with Irma, our architect. She brought a plumber with her so he could look at the caldaia issue. His idea is to move it onto the outside wall just next to the window in the kitchen. This would be ideal in my mind. I don’t like them in spaces that are used, like a kitchen, anyway. They aren’t the prettiest appliance and take up space. In our previous house it was in the attic and reachable by a pull down stairway. Optimal solution IMO. Now I guess we wait. I hope Irma will give us some drawings to look at soon. We still have to wait until fall to get the work done. And I would still like to get a refrigerator for up there. She needs to let me know the dimensions.
Most exciting of all! At long last our Deruta table has been finished. It’s been about two months. This is a game changer for the terrazzo. A table and chairs is a big step to livability. Here are highlights of the delivery (those slabs of stone are HEAVY) and of the table in its new forever home. Note, there are hummingbirds, and butterflies!
Now to order some cushions for the chairs. I’m thinking yellow! It was that or blue but I couldn’t find this cerulean blue anywhere. The table and chairs make the top floor much more livable and inviting. And soon, it will be even more inviting since we just heard the sofa we ordered will be delivered next week. Things are shaping up.
It’s a little cool today for sitting outside…but soon! Ciao a tutti!
Buona domenica a tutti! It’s a pretty day here. And this is a holiday weekend. Tomorrow is Mayday. Equivalent to our Labor Day. There will be marching and protests across Europe. For us, we, spur of the moment decided to go out to lunch beside the big lake Trasimeno. No such luck, Sunday and a holiday weekend, everything was booked. So we are staying home. Fine by me, I can continue to work in the garden.
As for recent news, I was pretty psyched to have a meeting with my architect, Irma. She is a friend of friends and I had met her a few times at get togethers. She dropped by and like most people, was stunned at the apartment. It is very unexpected being in an ugly suburban building. She was quite enthusiastic about my idea of an open plan kitchen on the top floor. I’m happy she can see my vision. And for the first time I think it may be possible. 🙂 Of course, work can’t even begin until fall but it’s okay, I will figure out a way to cook outside. I mentioned I wanted to buy a refrigerator. She asked me to wait for her drawings. She said she will bring a plumber (idraulico) to look and see if the caldaia can be moved and the wall taken out. If so, we are off to the races!
In other news, I have gotten my herbs and planted them.
I also bought a few other plants. I am so completely out of my depth here. I don’t know anything about the plants. Their heights, and flowering times, and all that. I need to enlist my gardening friends, and find a good nursery. So far I have not found a good one. Piano, piano.
I noticed my little gifted olive tree is blooming! Will they become olives? Time will tell. If I can “harvest” the little tree, I will cure them. It will be a new experiment!
The lemon tree is also extremely happy. It is flowering and forming fruit all over the place. I will take a picture soon. Finally, I went to the hospital here in town for a procedure and I had to take a picture of the Madonna, who is always watching over us. I am sure you won’t see this in any US hospital…but here she is always there for us.
Since our last momentous news I thought I would update about our comings and goings and doings 🙂.
The day we got our PdS lungo periodo we had already planned a celebration of sorts with friends who live in or near Spello. It was a quiche potluck. The participants were Steve and Roselyne, our hosts, and our good friend Doug who is in the midst of a major renovation of his house on the mountainside nearby. We had three quiches. The celebration was of Steve’s passing of the written exam for his Italian drivers license – Patente. This is probably THE most difficult hurdle of all to moving and living in Italy. All in archaic Italian with “trick” questions. But he did it! First try! So a real cause to celebrate. And we also celebrated our long term PdS and Doug’s house getting a floor. That is also a BIG thing. Anyway, it was a very fun day. Steve and Roselyn’s apartment has two lovely terrazzi and a balcony overlooking the main street in Spello. After lunch we sat on their grande terrazzo. The rooftops of Spello spread out and the views of the mountains were lovely. A special place.
I did a lot of work on Sunday. I had been putting it off but the day was fine. I had ordered new, stick-on rugs for our stairway. The old ones were awful. Dirty and rough and the cats fur stuck to them.
I also shifted about ten bags if soil and transplanted my two herb plants. This is just one planter of five. They all need dirt to be added so it will be a slow process.
Below are the roses that managed to escape the “purge” by our sellers. I transplanted two which may or may not survive. It will be interesting to see what colors they are. The other bed has a rogue hydrangea on the right side. I will let it grow. This will also be my spring garden. I have some hyacinths to transplant and some tulip bulbs and the two primroses gifted to me by my friend Jill. I “think” there may be one more hyacinth coming up too, in a different bed.
I bought two pretty little side tables if ever we get an outside sofa! I plan to order a sofa soon. They are mosaic tiles on wrought iron stands.
I also obtained two amazing Thailandese cat statues from my friend Paul. They are heavy as all get out but I love them on the terrace. They are near the pizza oven.
Finally, today we had an appointment at the Anagrafe in our Comune to change our abode from Via Grilli to Via Fratta. Easy to do since they are both in the same Comune but nonetheless an experience. The people in our Comune couldn’t be nicer. Whenever we’ve had dealings there they are always super helpful. So we did all the paperwork. Went from office to office and got it all done. They are a bit old fashioned here. Everything is done on paper. Here are some pictures I snapped inside the Comune. It used to be a grand palazzo. A single family home. It is enormous. The grand room pictured below has the seal of Umbertide. It looks like a hanging but it is not. It is a fresco on plaster. It is where the official dealings of the Comune all happen.
On the wall in the office we were in they had this great photo of Umbertide Centro Storico.
Below is the second office we visited. The tax office — ufficio tributi. We only pay trash tax, no property tax, here since our apartment is our prima casa or primary home. But they need to know we moved. I was amused that all their records are on paper in all these file boxes. Wow.
Big stuff done. We still must visit the vigili or the local police and tell them we have moved. We’ll probably do that Friday or next week. Always makes me happy when we get things done!
Our weather has turned fine, finally! It’s low 70s and sunny. My big focus will be on the terrace as time goes by. Stay tuned for updates!
It is so lovely to be able to see where you’re going! 🙂 Pino, the elettricista, came right on time Monday morning. Luca (our painter) had recommended him to us and even called and arranged for him to come. He was an older man, a smoker (from his aroma) and he huffed and puffed through the work. He also talked constantly to himself. He definitely knew what he was doing. It still took most of the day to install the thirteen fixtures we had purchased, with a break for Pranzo of course. I also learned a word I think is amusing. Dimmerabile. It means dimmable — like, you can use a dimmer switch on the light. It is good to know a good elettricista. All that work and he only charged us €150 or about $165.
Another thing checked off of our list! Here are some pictures.
We also took a trip to Deruta, famous for its ceramics. I think everyone in town works in some capacity to make ceramics. In Umbertide there is a shop that sells ceramics. It is called CeramicArte. I am friends with Laura Tomassini. She offered to meet me in the big CeramicArte factory in Deruta of which she and her shop are a part. We took a tour of the factory. The first room was a large warehouse type room, very high ceilings and big windows. Very bright. Throughout the room were six stations at which artists were working. All on tables. It was an attractive place to work. The tables are each custom made and painted. In any size and any style. At least the artists don’t paint the same thing over and over. Anyway, we ordered our table for on the terrace. It is big enough to seat six. Here is a picture of one similar. It has markings on it to indicate changes. We will change out some of the flowers for fruits, grapes and pomegranates.
We also visited the Emu outlet store nearby. It is a French owned chain with beautiful things. We saw some outdoor furniture we liked but the price was really high. I am going to look around a bit more and see what else I can find. I don’t want to go too cheap. I do want it to last. So we shall see.
A bit more good news, we are getting our kitchen next week! At long last! This being without a kitchen has been very difficult. It will be so nice to be able to cook properly again. And to wash dishes in something other than a laundry sink! There will be pictures!
It has been nearly three solid weeks of painting and 50 gallons of paint. That’s €5,000 for just the paint we figure. Luca has become our prodigal son. He brought me fresh lettuce from his garden twice and a bag of walnuts. 🙂 The paint job looks terrific and has significantly brightened up the apartment. Particularly happy to lose the peach accent walls. They clashed with the wood I think. Before and after pictures.
For the downstairs we just need curtains, art, and, of course, the kitchen. Speaking of which, they came last week and moved the gas pipe so it was ready for the installation. They can’t give us ETA for the kitchen though. 😕
Today we picked up all our lights that we ordered. 13 fixtures in all. We have an elettricista coming on Monday to install. Big step! Photos upcoming.
We had lunch at C’era Una Volta with our dear friends Susan and Gary. It’s been a long time. They are only passing through town so I am glad we got to see them. They return to Florence tomorrow.
Today is Friday. We have had Luca with us all week. He finished the bedrooms and bath and next week he will move on to the big living area, hall, bathroom and kitchen. This next week will be more disruptive. We will need to figure out how to keep ourselves and the cats out of the way. Here are the finished bedrooms and the hall outside. We still need something on the walls and eventually curtains. The first is the guest room. The next is our room and the last is the hall outside. The walls look so clean and new!
We had a call from the kitchen people yesterday, they are coming next week! First on Monday to do the gas. Then later in the week to install the kitchen. Very excited! You don’t know how tired I am of washing dishes in the bathroom!
Yesterday was very exciting. At 4:05 in the afternoon, we had a terremoto…an earthquake! It was 4.4 on the Richter scale and the epicenter was only 5km from Umbertide Centro, about 3 miles. Because we were so close, we were really rockin’ and rollin’. Luca came out of the bedroom area, I had been walking across the living room. I had to hold on to steady myself. It was immediately recognizable as an earthquake. Several things fell. It didn’t last too long. Luca’s wife called him immediately. Everyone I know was checking in with everyone else.
Luther has always seemed to miss the earthquakes we have. We had a big one in Virginia and he missed it because he was driving. This time, he was jogging. He came back and exclaimed that people were all outside of the buildings all along the streets. I told him what had happened. He was disappointed he hadn’t felt it.
Then at 8:05 and again at 8:15 we had two more. One 4.6 and the other 4.3. Again, the whole building was swaying back and forth and there was a persistent deep rumbling. The glasses in the cupboard were clinking, the TV bouncing up and down. The cats were scurrying. THIS time he felt them. They again we’re short. They say you should get under a table. I didn’t even have time to think about getting under a table. There was no damage in Umbertide. The town just south of us, Pierantonio had four houses condemned due to damage. There were no injuries that I have heard of. Since last night it has been quiet.
The upcoming weekend we plan to visit the Saturday market. I’m pretty excited about the kitchen and I hope week after this I can resume buying veggies again. Saturday we think we will go out for dinner at the Enoteca which we have never tried. We have heard it is good. The weather should be superb on Sunday and I have a friend coming (maybe) so we can go for a walk and she can see our new place.
I just put up a page, accessible from the top navigation, with a summary of information about moving and living in Italy. It is called “So you’ve decided to move to Italy”. I will constantly update it with things I learn that I think will be useful. Go to the page here.
At long last we are in our own home. December 8. It is soooo wonderful! We had a house cleaner in. Her name is Vera. She cleans for Susan and Gary too. She spent two full days cleaning and it looks good. Here are pictures.
Hall from in front of back bedroom and office.
Next two are the pantry.
Next three are the kitchen.
View out really clean picture window.
Luther in the living room.
Space age dishwasher.
I even put up our itty bitty Christmas tree.
Here are a few pictures from the office window of the town Christmas tree and the Wednesday market.
A funny thing that would never happen in the US. We bought a 48 inch smart TV from Formica. He set it all up and left. We have not paid for it. €849. I guess we’ll have to walk over and pay them sometime. Strange.
It’s Tuesday – Veterans day in the US. Our kitchen arrived yesterday at 10AM. There are a LOT of pieces. I have not been bothering the workmen but they are supposed to be finished by 6PM today. It’s 4:30 and I’m dieing to go and see!
This morning we went furniture shopping. First we went to Chateau d’Ax which has some nice furniture and I had not visited it yet. I saw some nice kitchen tables and one coffee table I liked. But not that much. I also still have to see the finished kitchen to get an idea what size kitchen table we can accommodate. We headed over to Divani & Divani which is the Natuzzi store where we got our sofa. I just love their stuff. It’s a bit pricy but Oh well! Luther found a TV stand he liked and then we found a coffee table that went with it. I didn’t take pictures. Here are a couple but they are small.
The TV stand is two pieces of a bunch of modules that you can get which gives us the flexibility to add on more later should we want to. The coffee table matches the wood and the black part swivels so you can make it crooked shaped, or long or squarish. We get the coffee table right away as it was on sale. The other won’t come for 3 months (!)
A side note. After all these years of cooking I learned something new. You may already know this so just call me ignorant if you do! You know how recipes say keep a cup of the hot pasta water to put in the sauce? Well I found out you need to put the water into the sauce and get it simmering. Take the pasta off the heat BEFORE it is cooked al dente. Then drain and put into the sauce and cook it the rest of the way in the sauce. It allows the pasta to soak some of the sauce into it as it finishes cooking. I found it to make the pasta much better. Doesn’t work so well with creamy sauces.
It is dark and 7PM and they are not done yet so I will wait until tomorrow to see it.
The Kitchen !!
OK, now it is Wednesday morning and I couldn’t sleep for wanting to see the kitchen. I went over before Luther even got up. It is beautiful, or I think so. Very sleek Italian styling. They are not quite done I think because the counter top bits that go around the edges are loose. And since there is no electricity yet nothing can be tested. Here are some pictures.
Notice the “back splash”. It has shelves and sliding glass doors for bottles etc.