Category Archives: Moving


We have made a lot of progress. The shipment has been picked up. We dropped off a goodwill donation and something a friend wanted and finished the grocery shopping yesterday morning. The trash left was grabbed by the Junk pickup people today. This is a photo of what we are shipping to Italy. 16 boxes and one rocking chair.

Looks like junk, I know, but it is MY junk!

We have been here for ten days so far. We have shopped for food, interacted with lots of people, and eaten out several times. So far these are my impressions after being away for five years in no particular order.

Everything here is about speed and convenience. There is take out everywhere, or delivery services. Everything is fast and efficient. The groceries are full of already made food or dinner kits or ready to cook produce and marinated meats. The produce looks nice. The variety is pretty incredible. There is a much bigger emphasis on foods for people who have food intolerances. Whole aisles dedicated to them. The service is copious and friendly. The size of the stores is incredible. Italy is not about speed and convenience. Italy does have the Iper Mercati which are just about as big, and they also DO have prepared foods. Just not in the quantities as here. They do have some foods for people with intolerances but a LOT less and a lot smaller selection. The service in Italy is nearly nonexistent.

Going out to eat is eye-wateringly expensive. The servers are incredibly annoying. They are crazy cheerful and seem to want to be my best friend. At the beginning of every meal they seem to feel the need to recite the entire menu (like I can’t read) along with telling me their personal favorites (do I care?) trying to encourage me to buy many courses, and selling the expensive items. Wines are triple or quadruple the retail prices.

All prices are staggeringly high for everything. It is a stark difference between the U.S. and Italy. I do not notice a lot of inflation in Italy. Prices are very reasonable for food, wine, going out to eat.

The culture is much younger in the US.

Drug commercials! Argh!

We haven’t had a decent cup of coffee since we came. The rental house has only a drip coffee maker so the coffee tends to be very weak. Espresso is steamed as opposed to drip so there can be no real comparison. But here, even the espresso is wimpy.

The rental house was built in the 1800s and is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath right in Old Town. It even has parking! It is walkable to everything. This is not the norm for the US since most people live in the suburbs. We lived in Old town for 16 years and chose it for its walkability.

Forced air heat 😳. I had totally forgotten about this. The whirring of the fans all the time. Garbage disposal that grinds up food! And no recycling. All are differences from Italy.

Our rental car has automatic protections against car jacking. Hmmmm.

I have had some of my favorite things to eat while here. I had a crab cake sandwich (not great). I had a lobster roll (great). Seared scallops were also great. Luther and my sister had raw oysters. None of these are seen in our part of Italy. Seared scallops.

So a job well done by us. The unit is empty. My goal has been accomplished. Hooray! A big sigh of relief all around!

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!

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.

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!

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!

Some pictures

I took pictures a couple days ago of the place. We didn’t yet go to the kitchen place, but we made an appointment. Our firewood came and we are using the stove. Nice and toasty inside, and that’s good since it was -2C last night.

Our eating experiences have been interesting. After eating two nights from the rosticceria we decided to try the Indian take-out place. It is relatively new and we had waited to try it until we moved. I got the rice with chicken and Luther got a kebab. I opted for the picante (hot) sauce they had. It was a creamy sauce, light green. He said it was spicy and boy! Was he right! I think it was the hottest thing I’ve had since vindaloo. But good! We will be regulars. The kebab was huge and cost only €3. 😳 We also bought prepared food from our local supermarket. Luther had baccalla – salt cod. He liked it. I went veggie and had spinach and a fresh salad from the local “Egyptian” veggie market. Tonight we will try the sushi place in town. They deliver and have all sorts of options. Looks very good. We shall see!

Here are some pictures. Miraculously when Luther hooked up the TV, we had Sky TV again. I was happy

Living room
New frig
Kitchen that was removed downstairs.
Office in progress, upstairs.
New washer/dryer. Tested them yesterday. Excellent

Above, is the view. This picture doesn’t really look like it looks! If you get what I mean. Monte Acuto, our biggest mountain is in our view and it is very pretty. I will try to do better in the future.

Tomorrow is our appointment with the kitchen people – LUBE. And, while in Castello, I want to visit SIDEFORM to get the lighting started. Later I want to visit our shop with all the jumble of furniture for a couple more pieces. I keep telling myself I am not in a hurry, but somehow, that never sinks into my head! Andrà tutto bene 🌈.

Moving – finally here

Where to start! It has been a casino. One of my favorite Italian words. Means a mess. They say ‘che casino!” What a mess. And so it has been. And will be for a while. I am trying to be upbeat. It’s a bit hard though.

We spent our last night at the rental apartment. It was ok, not terribly comfortable. It is an odd property with lots of interesting organic gardening. Since it’s winter you can’t really appreciate the grounds. Alesandressa, the owner met us when we were leaving and she was very nice. It was a bit hectic because a number of items had not been moved by our movers and I had asked if they could move them. The said 8:30am the day we were leaving. I had also organized that Valeria, my cleaning person to come clean the apartment. So Luther and I split the duties, I met the movers, he met Valeria. But we also had a 10 am appointment with the caldaia people to fix the heat at the new house at 10am. It is really cold here. And the first thing we had encountered yesterday was no heat or hot water.

We managed to get the movers moving and Valeria cleaning and lickety split we grabbed all our suitcases and the cats, and the giant litter box and went to the new apartment. In time for the appointment. It was super cold. We were all bundled up. The guy came and much explaining of the Caldaia ensued. We also got the upstairs Caldaia reconnected to the thermostat so it began to work. When they pulled out the old kitchen they disconnected it. Well, all things don’t alway work so easily. The caldaia continued to quit and there was no hot water. Luther downloaded the manual and read some stuff. Changed a couple things and bingo, hot water. But no one knows why the hot water upstairs suddenly started working because the two systems are independent. It is still a mystery. If it keeps working it will be a miracle.

We went to Formica, our family owned appliance store. Super nice folks in there. We ordered a refrigerator and a washer and dryer. They were pretty quick and they were delivered today. I find it is hard to keep in my mind what has happened in any chronological order. Just too many moving parts. It is one reason why I am writing this now. It will help me remember.

The last three days we have both been unpacking. There are so many boxes everywhere. And no place to put the stuff. I decided I needed to start ordering stuff for delivery to get organized! The sellers took all the ceiling light fixtures and sconces. They even took the light bulbs from the light in the hall and in the master bath. I ordered more bulbs. Then I ordered lamps. A bunch of floor lights to scatter about and some table lamps. Next I ordered a bunch of furniture from IKEA. Places to store stuff mostly. A dresser for our room. Night stands for both ours and the guest room, an armadio (armoire) for the guest room. A hall cabinet and a big storage unit for the third bedroom. They will come February 8. I also ordered assembly. So that’s another step.

Today, I completed unpacking the office. I also organized all medicines. One thing that’s nice here are cabinets in the bath that will hold all our vitamins, meds, and supplies. So I got that organized. The kitchen is still a work in progress. Too much stuff. No place to stow it.

Tomorrow we will drive to Citta di castello to a kitchen design store. We need to get that started ASAP. And next week we will probably go to SIDEFORM which is a lighting store there. We got all our nice track lighting done by them at our old house. I counted seven overhead lights that were missing just upstairs! And in the living room we need a chandelier. There are also some built in fluorescent lights in the living room which I hate. They are those tubes you used to see in offices, ugh. I need to replace them with nice track lights. One bath also has no lights. Big job. I hope they will handle installation.

We are super lucky to have a rosticceria literally next to the main entrance to our apartment. The last two nights we have bought our dinners there. The food is pretty good. Now we have a frig we will do a shopping trip for some groceries. We do have a microwave.

Oh, and I ordered a load of firewood from my friend Quinto. He is bringing it tomorrow. We can use the ginormous wood stove in the living room. The thought of the utility bills here is scary. So maybe it will help if we use the stove. It belongs to the sellers but I figure, if they left it here we can use it.

Sorry I have no pictures for this post. I also have found out there is a glitch with my website host that has impacted my email notifications. I will look into that soon. It seems to be pretty random. Some folks are getting the posts, some are not. Ciao a tutti!

Step 3 — moving out…and in!

Today is the coldest day of our winter so far. -1C. Damn cold. But it will be sunny at least, no snow. Still, it is not a great time to be moving. 🥶

We walked to the apartment. The guys were already there. They had moved the elevator platform trailer into Via Grilli. Stomping their feet with cold they began to work. They filled the platform and lowered it un-filled it and sent it back. I think it will be a long process. The moving truck is in the middle of the Piazza. We decided to camp out in Bar Mary. Irene is sad we are leaving but she knows we will be back. I had a cappuccino and a cornetto, then later a macchiato. Jim showed up with additional papers and the keys and picked up our garage keys. He is taking over our garage.

Here are pictures of the truck and the “elevator” platform.

It was a super hectic and chaotic day. We had to go to the bank and cancel a check and then cut a new one because the selling agent gave us the wrong info for the check, and this is supposed to be a professional real estate agent! Then we returned the corrected check to the agency. We got a call and returned to our house on via Grilli for questions by the movers. Now that we had keys to the new place we decided to go there.

Even though we have been living here for almost 9 years we are still surprised by things. First thing we need to mention is that Italians take – EVERYTHING. We did stipulate they leave the downstairs kitchen and the ceiling fans and lights. Welll….turns out you have to be even more specific in the wording. We were surprised that they left part of the kitchen. The top cabinets, the built in hood, and the lights. But the bottom cabinets, sink, stove, and dishwasher were gone. Sigh. At first it was a shock. But now I realize we can get those cabinets replaced cheaply and (hopefully) easily and new appliances. We need to buy these and soon. Also a refrigerator from our local shop and a washer and dryer.

Even more of a surprise is that they dug up every single plant and bush from the terrazzo. Even a mature olive tree! I had like that tree. Who would have thought! But now I think of it, it is the Italian way. You need to spell out each and every thing you want left. Very specifically. To look on the bright side, I didn’t want all the plants that were there and now I don’t need to dig them out! It is a blank slate for me!

Surprisingly, the movers finished before Pranzo on Via Grilli and arrived at Via Fratta. Moving in was a chore. Our sellers were not completely out. They had a s*&$load of stuff in the cantina still to go and they wanted to keep one garage for 2 months. We want to stay on good terms with them since there is much to know about the house so we are trying to be agreeable. Oh well. It will all work out in the end. Piano, piano as they say.

Pictures. The elevator from above.

The next ones I’ll caption under the pictures.

Hall from front door to living room
Living room
Hall in the “zone di notte, or night area. Where the bedrooms are.
Guest room
Master bedroom
This will be a storage room and second office or studio. It is the third bedroom.

We have a little more to deal with than we thought because of the mistakes/misunderstandings…but it is not insurmountable at all. We have nice house and over the next year or so we will make it ours. Piano, piano…