Category Archives: house renovations

My “pond”

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!

No pictures yet of my “pond”. But stay tuned!

The table is here!

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!

Luca’s gift

So, I forgot to mention that on Thursday, when Luca returned from his pranzo, he had a bag of fresh lettuce and radicchio for us. He is so sweet. How many people have had their house painter bring them fresh garden veggies from their orto? I saw a crisp salad in my future.

Luca is a very typical Italian. They are super regimented people. In the morning, he greets me with how are you? Come stai? I always say “bene, bene, è tu?” Then we get along with the observations of the day’s weather. Later, when he leaves for lunch it is always buon pranzo! And at night there’s the obligatory buona serata. On Friday it is always buona domenica. They always have a coffee and a cornetto (pastry) for breakfast at a bar. Pranzo is mandatory and an hour and a half to two hours long. I ask Luca what he had for Pranzo and it is always pasta. This is what all traditional Italians have for lunch – everyday. But the fresh vegetables he brought made my heart happy. 🙂💕 Today, I had a big salad with the lettuce and I added a hard boiled egg and a ripe avocado. I whipped up a homemade ranch dressing. It was delicious. Luca came out while I was eating it and he seemed pleased I was enjoying his produce. But the amusing thing is, when he left for the evening, he mentioned bringing more veggies tomorrow and asked if I had something other than the salad. I said no. He was incredulous. How can someone have pranzo without pasta?! Amusing, but so typical.

We called the kitchen designers Friday to see when we can expect the kitchen. 2-3 MORE WEEKS! Argh! I hate, hate, hate not having a kitchen. 😡 They lied to us. Big surprise, 🫤

We are hanging close to the apartment until Luca gets done. It is mainly herding the cats. Keeping them in a part of the house where they can’t get into paint. He is painting the bedrooms now. The guest room and the “junk” room are in progress, then our room the hall and the bath are next. The big part is the living room and kitchen. That will take time. Looks like it will go into next week.

The weather is changing. The highs in the day are between 15 and 21 Celsius. Nice. Nights are still cold. I am itching to go somewhere, like to taste wine. Or, I saw a frantoio (olive mill) with tours that looks great. Ciao for now!

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!

We have reached agreement!

Big news! We got a call from the immobiliare that he had a response to our offer. We walked over (it is in walking distance). To our surprise, the selling couple, were in the office. I don’t think I have ever met the seller of a property we bought in the US. The first you see of them is when you go to closing. Walter and Marcella. They are super nice folks. And cat lovers!

Anyway, they agreed on the price we offered. The only changes they asked for, were for closing to be two months later and that they keep the big wood stove. That was fine with us and I know the buyers of our apartment are OK with us staying after we close. This will give us the money from the sale here to use on the apartment. I was a bit sad about the wood stove. I guess we will have to buy a new one.

It is a relief. But we still have the move ahead of us! This is uncharted territory, a move! A moving company! And I will definitely want to do some work. I have already decided I want a new kitchen upstairs. There is an itty bitty one in the same place where I’d put the new one so the water and all is there already. It will be open plan to the family room. But I guess I have to wait until we get there to get started. Otherwise I think I will want to have it painted, probably.

Anyway, I wanted to tell all those who read this journal. We now have a hiatus. We remain in our beloved house in Centro through two more seasons. I will enjoy another Christmas here. I will enjoy another Autumn. And then, it will be time for change!

Andrà tutto va bene! 🌈

So, you decided to move to Italy…

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.

A few more pictures

I went for a walk this evening. It is really warm here. Very much indian summer if that’s possible here.


I explored a couple of roads near the river and found an amazing feral cat shelter and feeding station. They have built little houses for them and hung tarps over them and the feeding station to keep them dry. So cute. I am guessing they are not being neutered unfortunately.


On the way back I ran into Manuele. I forgot to mention I decided to go ahead and buy my living room carpets didn’t I? I ordered them online last Friday. I had found them a month or so ago and really loved them. Then when I went back one of them was sold. These are hand made in Iran so one of a kind. I was sorry to lose the one yellow one I had picked out so thought I should go ahead and buy them. I chose brightly colored ones with a good nap because the sofa is beige and the walls will be white so I wanted some bright colors. Here are a couple of pictures of similar carpets from the website. The rectangular one is for under the dining room table and the square one will go in front of the sofa.



Shopping online here is not quite the same as in the US. I have used both and The one in the UK is more like ours in the states. But I have used both. Using the Italian one has the advantage to be a language lesson as well 🙂

Anyway, Manuele told me two big boxes had arrived – Yay! I don’t know if I mentioned we have all our packages sent to his address. Someone is always there to receive them. He told me that Jimmy (the animal) would bring them over tomorrow. He is called that because he is very strong. So I am excited to get them.

I headed over to the apartment next to see what has been done. After two days there weren’t many more changes. It looks like they are working mainly on the electricity. They are moving and adding outlets and running wires up to the ceiling through the walls for the overhead lights. I didn’t bother to take pictures of that. Boring.

This is the finished hallway ceiling that was uncovered at the end of which is the finished new stairway moved from the kitchen.


This is from inside the pantry looking toward the door to the kitchen. I am very happy with this new space. I also ordered some wine racks to install in it. Should get them in the next 3 days from Amazon.


Kitchen floor.


I went out on the terrace for the first time. I love it.


Ordering the kitchen

Last night I phoned USAA, our bank in the US to have them wire €10,000 to the kitchen people. This is a 50% deposit. We signed the contract and emailed it back. Turns out the contract had been sent to Emanuele a whole week ago and we never got a copy! Too bad but I hope the delay is not going to affect things too much.

Kitchens in Italy, and all of Europe for that matter, are kind of like kits. You buy the whole thing, they assemble it and get all the appliances and then the whole thing comes and is installed in one day. Really! Of course the prep work has to be done beforehand. This explains why Europeans generally take their kitchens with them when they move. When you look at an Italian apartment most of the time there are just pipes sticking out of the tiled walls and outlets along where the cabinets were/will be.

Emanuele will be doing the electrical and plumbing work to include moving the gas, water and drainage. The old kitchen will be removed. Then he will prep and tile the floors in the kitchen and the pantry. They will then do the tiling on the patio and the built-in seating and the new gutters and repainting the railings. This should all get done before the kitchen comes.

On a more fun note, it is Saturday today and we planned a trip to Pietralunga which is a hill town up in the mountains past Montone which is the close hill town to us. They are having an exhibition of paintings from the artists in residence at Civitella Ranieri near us. After that we will have lunch either in town or out at an agriturismo I found. We invited Susan and Gary to join us.

I will report back after our adventure.

What Emanuele found out from Elisabetta

Emanuele talked to Elisabetta today. Here is what he found out:

  • The leak in the living room, she knew about but never did anything about because it only happens when it rains a lot.
  • The leak in the bedroom from the shower next door. She only knew about when she moved the bed to move out and thinks it only happens because her son takes long showers (!)
  • The leak in the hall happened when she was at her summer place from the hot water heater. She fixed the heater but not the damage from the leak.
  • There are 2 attics. One has the furnace and water heater. The other is a very large space but Elisabetta had never, ever in all the time she lived there gone up there. Even when her son told her there were pigeons walking on his ceiling! Well yes we did find out there had been a LOT of pigeons up there and the window had been left open for who knows how many years! Maybe she thought if she didn’t go up there it wasn’t happening?
  • She never used the fireplace but said the person she bought the place from said it worked. She said we may want to have the flue cleaned.
  • So there we have it. Emanuele will bring his contractor friend over to take a look and we’ll know more then.

    Meeting the Geometra

    Since we arrived we dined at our basic but very Umbrian hotel restaurant on our first night. On the second day we dined on Proscuitto and melone for lunch – so sweet and salty. Yum. Thank you Susan! Susan left our frig nicely stocked and we are so grateful. That evening we dined on yet another amazing gift from Susan and Gary – an enormous truffle! I made fettuccine and we grated it on along with a mozzarella salad with very sweet tomatoes. So good! we had taken a run to the wine store we like and had some fine wines and then Luther went out into the Piazza which was buzzing with activity to smoke his cigar. The men playing cards and all around tables of things for sale, kind of a flea market.

    Rocky and Simba are getting used to all the noises of the apartment. Here is Rocky keeping watch on the Piazza which he seems to enjoy. The second picture is Rocky with the ornate bell in the background.



    Today, Friday June 27 – two days since we arrived we met the geometra (kind of a cross between a general contractor and architect) of Susan and Gary. He and they had already visited the apartment. His name is Emanuele and he noted many things that we did not. The conversations were kind of a mish-mash of English and Italian. Luther and Susan were pretty good with the understanding of it all, I also understood a good bit of the Italian happily. There was a lot of back and forth about all the logistics of moving the kitchen. Also water damage which could have been from before the roof was repaired but must be looked into. There is also a bit of structural work that needs to be done to stabilize the roof. Emanuele says that cost should be shared between the owners of the apartments in the building but I am guessing that will not happen. There are no condominium fees here it is rather an informal agreement among the owners. In our building there is nothing set up to take care of issues like this. So we shall see how that all shakes out.

    We discussed the moving of the kitchen. Emanuele wanted it to be in a different room than I wanted it to be in for logistical reasons like running the gas and drains. I am pretty hard over that I want it to be moved to the room with the fireplace next to the current kitchen. We are going forward with that. The fireplace needs to be checked to see if it will draw. Evidently it has not been used in years. Our Geometra will check with our previous owner about water damage in the house and when it happened. They repaired the roof nine years ago so the damage could have been prior to then.

    There is also a concept I learned about today called Zona di Notte or night zone. Our geometra is very concerned about us not having one. Evidently the Italians don’t want cooking smells getting into the sleeping area so install a door to separate the spaces. Well that never would have occurred to an American! But I think I am OK with a door being installed in the hallway but only because it would be handy to separate the cats from the kitchen/living room area should we need work done. Of course I will not tell Emanuele that!

    I feel pretty positive about the progress we have made. We have a couple of “action items” that we need to do for Emanuele. He in turn has some as well like talking to Elisabetta about when the water damage happened and what they did about it. We will probably stay in this apartment until all the work is done. We will proceed with purchasing what we need to live there and having it delivered.