Our old friends sold their apartment in the Piazza to what are now our new friends. They are here for their first (short) stay. They are trying to equip the place with the necessities of living there. The furniture was part of the sale but much else must be bought.
We met them and we all went to lunch in Montone, our nearby hill town. We ate in Antica Osteria in the main square. Seems it may be under different ownership but we all enjoyed our lunch. They enjoyed visiting Montone, a town they had not yet seen. Here we are!
Today I finally finished unpacking the last boxes from the move. They were dishes I have no space for, and summer clothes which we didn’t need so I didn’t feel a big need to unpack! But I felt it was time. ~~~~~
We have a mourning dove nesting on our terrace. She doesn’t seem to mind us being out and about. My only worry is that we have engaged a carpenter to replace some old wood on the big canopy over the terrace. I want to warn him away from her nest. He won’t be here for a couple weeks but I don’t think her eggs have hatched yet. ~~~~~~ Today we got our sofa for upstairs, inside. I think it makes the space look much more inviting and lived-in. Homey. Next a rug.
Finally, tonight we went out for pizza with our friends and their guests. We went to Degusto. Very near our house. And just next to the public swimming pool. They have an excellent crust. It looks dense but it is, in fact, light as air. Here are some drool worthy pictures. 🙂
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!
As I mentioned recently, today is May Day all across Europe. Equivalent to our Labor Day. Umbertide has always been reliably Communist since WWII so it’s no surprise that they take the day seriously with parades honoring the unions and workers.
Being in a new part of town we were surprised to hear horns honking, getting louder as they approached. Out on the balcony we watched a cavalcade of tractors and trucks, all with flags waving as their horns blared. Here are some pictures I snapped.
After the Tractors came the trucks. The Molini Popolari Reuniti is our local mill. Seems each area mills all their own wheat. They have fleets of trucks to transport the grain.
We could clearly see into each truck and tractor from the balcony. Almost every one had dads with all their kids who were having a great time. What’s not to like, riding with Dad in a tractor or big truck, honking the horn and waving flags?
There was a short break and then more music. This time it was people marching. Most with Union flags. Unions are strong here. If you’re interested here’s the video.
OK maybe it wasn’t the most exciting thing, our May Day parade, but it was a little out of the ordinary anyway. Happy Labor Day.
Last night I got to make the first dinner in our new kitchen. It is so wonderful to have a sink! But I am so used to walking down the hallway to the bathroom for the sink it is proving hard to break the habit!
Dinner was two Orate, or sea breams. They were from the grocery but they were some of the freshest I have ever had. I decided asian flavors would be yummy for a change. I roasted the fish after rubbing with oil, salt and pepper, slashing the flesh and sprinkling with sesame seeds. While roasting I cooked soy sauce, a little vinegar, sugar and water and slivered ginger and slivered cayenne in a small pan until ginger and pepper were soft. Then all I did was pour it on the fish and sprinkled with spring onions and cilantro. Delicious if I do say so myself. I also had the first spring peas and rice.
Does anyone remember Green Stamps? Back when I was little you got them at the grocery and you saved them and filled books with them to redeem items when you had enough.
We are members of the Coop grocery chain here. It it a co-op and members get some benefits. One is inexpensive products which change every couple of months. They give you bollettini, or little sticky stamps when you check out. Then you can buy a product with a number of stamps and a little cash. I’ve never done this until now when they are selling nice knives.
I got one yesterday. It is really nice! 16 bollettini and €4.90 got me a chefs knife! ~~~~~ Our next big project is a second kitchen upstairs. You may remember I talked to our Geometra who did our former work. But he would never reply to my emails or WhatsApps since that first meeting. I tried a second one who also would never reply. The situation here is that all these people are just so busy. And the workers who do the work as well.
So I decided to message with our friend Irma who is an architect and has done work for many people that I know. She seemed happy to help design a kitchen but she is also busy until autumn. Having no other choice I said I would wait. So that means our summer living upstairs will be a little different than we thought. Since the terrace has an oven and a sink and counters I figure we can make an outside kitchen. I also have our Weber grill. And there is an outside barbecue. It will be camping! I’ll get a 2 burner induction cooktop. And we will need to buy a refrigerator. We would need that anyway. Anyway, that’s the plan for now!
They said they would come today to install the kitchen…and THEY DID! It is a bit different getting a new kitchen here from in the US. I remember renovating our kitchen in Virginia. Painful experience and it took eight weeks. Here, they come and measure the space carefully. Then go away and order it all from the factory. They build it in the factory, and then on the appointed day, they come and assemble it. They arrived at 9 am and finished by 7 pm. Some pictures during the assembly.
That’s Johnluca doing the installing. He doesn’t speak great English. But he keeps trying. He says he tries to speak to customers in English, French and Spanish. Good for him! We helped him learn new words and phrases throughout the day.
And … the final product! It still needs a few finishing touches. The baseboard is not there. The plumber needs to come and hook up the water and gas. And the backsplash has not been attached yet. It’s not my dream kitchen, but it will do for now.
~~~~~~~ Home for Sale in Umbertide Our friends are selling their beautiful home here in Umbertide. It is situated on the prettiest square in town, Piazza San Francesco. It also has beautiful, calm views of the Tiber river and is walking distance to all services. It was finished to a very high standard. I wanted to publicize it to my group of reader friends here, in case anyone is looking or if you know anyone who is looking. Here is the website: “Our Umbertide Property”. Please share! ~~~~~~ Yesterday we had a cold front move through with very high winds and thunderstorms. The temperature dropped precipitously. But after the storms we were treated to a beautiful sunset. I don’t have the view I used to have, but this is pretty nice.
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.
What a beautiful day it was today. A real taste of spring. A friend came up to visit from Perugia. She brought me gifts of food and a pretty yellow beret. I will wear it jauntily 🙂. We also took a walk. Very close to our new house is the public swimming pool (indoor and outdoor) plus tennis courts, the soccer stadium and a beautiful park. We headed for the park, Parco Pineta Ranieri e Bosco “del Macchione”.
We messed around on the fitness trail. The park is a pine forest. It is up on a hill with good views across Umbertide. There are lots of picnic tables. The park was empty save for a couple of runners. Surprising on such a beautiful day. Here are a couple pictures of the flowers along the way.
The Asian magnolias are blooming now. Here is one on our street.
I had made yet another instant pot soup in the morning and just left it sit. It stayed hot so when we returned from our walk we had a couple of bowls for our lunch.
On another note, we think we might have found the source of the bad luck in our house. In the (non-existent) kitchen we found a horseshoe hanging above the entrance. It was only visible if you went inside and looked up. And it was hung like this…
Does that bother anyone other than me, Luther and my friend? Well it SHOULD. So we took it down. No wonder we’ve had bad juju. It will be re-hung…like this…
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.
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!