Friends are moving away and had some plants that needed a new home. We had room so why not? Getting them from their fifth floor down, and into the car and then back up to our fourth floor terrace was not so easy, but it was worth the work. The olive barely fit in the elevators (or the car!). The pictures below are of the olive tree, the kumquat tree, and my lemon which I just moved outside for the summer.
Now we need to buy dirt so I can finish filling in around the olive rootball. We will need a LOT of dirt. After the olive is settled I want to fill in the garden we will use for the herbs. I miss all of my herbs from the other house. So nice to just walk out and pick what you need.
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.
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!
So, since we moved here I have had plenty of time to think. I have also had a couple people ask about this. I am going to share my thoughts with you, my friends.
I have decided there are two Italys. I guess I have just really realized this since moving. We used to live in one Italy, and now we are living in the other Italy. When Americans think of coming to Italy, they think of life in the small, ancient and quaint hill towns, or life in the bucolic countryside. The houses always have beams and archways and terra cotta tiles, with outside loggia to enjoy dinners in the open air. Yes, that is one Italy. Life in the Centro Storico, where we lived before, was this Italy.
The other Italy I have decided is the real Italy. It is where the middle class Italians live in apartments. Almost always in a city or town and usually in a newer neighborhood. By that I mean newer than the ancient centers. Our building has four apartments off of our common stairway and elevator. The neighbors we have met are super nice and very friendly but living busy lives with jobs, children, dogs and Nonni. There are shops on the ground floor. Street parking along the streets. A couple nice coffee shops nearby. Butcher, pasticcerie etc. nearby too. But it is NOT quaint.
Me, being American, miss that quaintness very much. But there are big disadvantages to it as well. The old buildings are drafty. They have thick stone walls and no insulation. They get cold in winter and stay cold. They have numerous stairs. They are generally vertical. Systems don’t always work like we would like. Unless you completely strip them to the walls and rafters and start anew. Our newer building (it’s about 50 years old) is warm. With actual insulation! What a concept. We have had a few Italians in, workmen, my housecleaner, and they love the apartment. It is an Italian’s dream but not necessarily an American’s.
I’m not sure what point I am trying to make. I guess I just wanted to put into words what I’ve been thinking about. My observations. ~~~~~~~ We just returned from a walk to the kilometer zero market. Not many stands right now. We are reaching the end of winter vegetables, and not quite to the spring vegetables. I bought more chard. We had a caffè at bar Mary and chatted with Irene. I took some donations to Books for Dogs. We checked the mail at our old apartment, went to the Carrefour and the butcher for spalla dì maiale, pork shoulder. I saw I can cook it in the instant pot. Buon fine di settimana a tutti!
So the “new to us” pizza craze never materialized. The pizzeria is not reachable by phone. Oh well.
Today is Friday. Our painter, Luca, has left for the weekend. He finished the upstairs and will start on the downstairs on Monday. This will be more painful to us since we live in the downstairs. I’m sure it will all work out. Here are a few pictures of the newly repaired and painted walls. They look nice. My blank slate!
Bodacious huh? I love it all clean and new. Much to do but as I said, a blank slate. My lemon tree is as happy as I have ever seen it. It is inside and has great sun. Look at all the new leaves and buds.
So things progress. Much left to do but I suppose I have plenty of time. Piano piano.
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!
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!