Category Archives: Uncategorized

Catching up…

It’s been a while…so to do some recap. We have been working on the Certificato d’abilita’ and I will report back once we have gotten it. I visited the Saturday mercado which was pretty sparse. The vendors who came had very limited produce because we are at the changing seasons. One vendor, who wasn’t there yesterday, had sweet radishes last week (I know, an oxymoron but it this case true ) and also local asparagus, so I was hoping for that. I was sorry he wasn’t there.. I settled for local potatoes, onions, lettuce and spring onions.

After my shopping we had a meet up with friends who live in Foligno. We hadn’t seen each other since pre-Covid…about four years. We met up at Ristorante UNE for lunch. I posted about this restaurant recently. It did not disappoint. Here are pictures of our lunch.

Gifts from the chef
Pancake stuffed with cheese and topped with grape jelly
Trumpet mushroom with white truffles and sour cream
Local artisanal beans with smoked eel from Trasimeno lake – amazing
Lamb with cauliflower two ways
Dessert – pain perdu with gelato.

Today I made a soup. It is cold and very windy outside. It feels like soup weather. Soon, it won’t be soup weather anymore. The soup is made from a legume native to central Italy, so it is not something a person can make elsewhere. The legume is Cicercchie. I posted about it previously. It must be soaked and rinsed for 24 hours because it has neurotoxins. They are not dangerous if not eaten everyday. If you visit Italy keep an eye out for some.They are delicious. Here is the previous post.

My soup today is super easy. Cook a chopped onion until soft. Add water or stock and soaked and drained (several times) Cicercchie legumes plus 3 peeled and cut into chunks potatoes, salt and a sprig of rosemary. Cook 1+ hours until the soup is thickened. Adjust salt, add plenty of ground pepper. Serve with parsley, good olive oil and cheese if desired. So good, and healthy too.

Buona domenica a tutti!

Long term Permesso – the saga continues

In Italy, there is a word they use often, ”Lo stress”. Yes, it means exactly what it sounds like – The Stress. Today, we are dealing with lo stress of dealing with the Italian bureaucracy once again.

If you’ve been reading this journal for a while you know of what I speak. For those who don’t know — a short recap. When you move to Italy, after you get your Visa, the first thing you need to do is apply for your Permesso di Soggiorno (Permit to Stay – PdS). It should be done within eight days of your arrival. I won’t go into details of how you get one but suffice it to say it takes time, several appointments, and money. In Umbria, one must apply to renew it every year before it expires. The process can take a year and then you begin again. The light at the end of the tunnel is the possibility, after five years continual residence, of getting the Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (ex carta di soggiorno) – elective residence. This is a permanent long term permit to stay. Need I say this is a coveted thing?

We will have lived here eight years in June. We are past due for this card. Covid interfered with us pursuing this. We tried last year but two documents were expired. So this year, we try again. Today was our appointment at the Questura. We expected to find out if we would be getting the Card. I bet, no matter how thorough you try to be when you apply, they will find something that you missed. Today, we found out the two things that we are missing.

One item is a document from our Comune which attests to the fact that our house meets the standards for two people to live here. We had our Geometra do the assessment and we included this in the packet, apparently, they need this other form. We visited the Ufficio Technico where we found out what to bring to get this document. Fifteen minutes later we returned with said papers and the office was locked. We checked the hours. They were supposed to be open. Sigh. Happens all the time. We will try again tomorrow. Comically, I can look right into this office from my Living Room window!

The second item is a 2022 tax form certifying our income from 2021. We contacted our commercialista – she said the form does not exist until June. And that the 2021 form is in force. Sigh. I think we should just take the email we got and the form for last year back to the Questura. Luther says he will call them.

To be honest, I think this is not too bad. It looks like we will, eventually, have these two items. The only issue is when…and whether, in the meantime, those two time sensitive forms will expire — again. It is always something!
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Let’s talk about something more fun. I am a notoriously poor baker. But I threw caution to the wind and decided to make a quiche for dinner last night. First hurdle was making the crust. I tried a recipe I had and miracle of miracles, it came out perfect! Then I used another recipe for quiche I but substituted the vegetables, using some things I got at the market yesterday. I used leeks, mushrooms and broccoli rabe. It called for cheddar cheese but that’s very hard to come by around here. So I used the cheese most common here, pecorino fresca. I added an extra egg and a little more cream because the eggs here are not graded by size. No such thing as extra large eggs. These were fresh eggs from local chickens. Anyway, the quiche came out perfect and it tasted great. I served it with a green salad…a perfect dinner.

Castiglion Fiorentina

We decided to take a little drive today to explore just over the mountains from here in Tuscany. The town is Castiglion Fiorentina, a town if 17,000 just south of Arezzo. It is about the size town we like and it is on the main rail line. Arezzo is a beautiful, and pretty large city, which is definitely off the beaten track and well worth a visit. They have a famous antiques market held the first weekend of every month.

We had the bad luck to arrive right in the middle of an enormous motorcycle rally and off-road competition. The town is a hill town but somehow they managed to accomodate hundreds of large campers and trailers, caravans and motorcycles in its parking lots up near the old town. We managed to wend our way through all the ruckus and come out the other side. We visited the more modern lower town and explored the railway area. I was not terribly enamored. We are scoping out places we may want to move someday.

When we returned home I did a little research. I had taken this picture of a statue in a traffic circle. Now I understand the motorcycle event. Fabrizio Meoni was a famous motorcycle racer who came from this town. He died in a crash in 2005.

It was time for Pranzo. We decided to have lunch in Enoteca Meucci. An enoteca and restaurant in the small town just beneath Cortona. The restaurant is just one year old. The enotecca has tastings and tours and has been open 2 years. I liked it. I didn’t love it. But I will go back if I am in the neighborhood. Pictures…

Buona domenica!

Visitors

We have had visitors the past few days. They arrived in Malpensa in Milano and made their way to us on the train. They have a house in Basilicata, in the south. They will head off to Rome tomorrow and from there, onward to their wee house. Unfortunately the weather was pretty awful so we didn’t do too much. We did manage a nice lunch on Sunday at Calagrana.

Delizioso risotto!
My friend

Finally today, Monday was a nicer day. Blue skies and warm if you’re in the sun. We had decided to visit a house that a friend of ours is buying on Monte Subasio between Assisi and Spello. The house has spectacular views. It has it’s own olive grove. It is springtime so everything is green and flowery.

Home to be…
What a view!

We decided to stop into Santa Maria degli Angeli. It is the town just beneath Assisi, which sits on the mountain above it. It is an important catholic center. The basilica was constructed between 1569 and 1679, enclosing the 9th-century little church, the Porziuncola, the most sacred place for the Franciscans. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor, and thus started the Franciscan movement. St. Francis died in the Porziuncola in 1226.

This is the Porziuncola inside the enormous space that is the Basilica.
The fresco inside the little church.

We walked around the little town a bit then we went to a small restaurant and had a nice lunch. A nice day with friends…at last ☀️

It was a near thing!

I think everyone reading this knows our apartment is for sale here in Umbria. [Listing] Not that this is new. We listed it about 3 years ago. Things move slowly here during normal times, but two years of this listing time has been severely Covid affected. We essentially lost two years of any possible activity. Now that things are loosening up and people are again out and about and traveling, we are seeing an uptick in interest. I feel certain we will sell this year.

So, anyway, last week we had some folks come look. British expats, they had just sold their big country house here where they had lived for 28 years. I could tell it was hard for them to have given it up. They wanted a smaller ”bolt-hole” as the Brits call it. A place where they could still return to their beloved Umbria, but without the upkeep. A place they could lock and leave. I could tell they really liked our casa. They wasted no time, we got an offer on Sunday. It was a bit low so we countered with what we thought was a reasonable price. Then silence. Finally I wrote the agent to enquire. Turns out, in the meantime, they had had second thoughts. They had wanted to replace their beloved Casa Anna. Buying our apartment would have been like getting married on the rebound. I totally get it. It was probably too soon.

At any rate, the possibility of it happening kind of lit a fire under us for a couple of days, contemplating where we would go – with some panic on my part, I don’t mind saying. The nice thing about the offer was the people were very flexible on the closing date. It would have given us the time we need to find someplace. Anyway, we did some looking during those two days and have a few possibilities. We will definitely start recon in earnest of places we might like to move.

Lunch with Archie yesterday at Calagrana to celebrate the birthday of a friend.

Trip report – short trip to Milano

If you don’t like Trip Reports you can skip this one.
WARNING: this post includes a LOT of food pictures 😁
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We left home Tuesday morning at 9:30 to catch a train from the Terontola/Cortona station. This is around a 30-40 minute drive from our house. It is on the main Rome Florence line and has free parking.

The local train from Terontola to Florence was 15 minutes late. Our transfer time in Florence from our train to the Frecciarossa to Milano was….15 minutes! 😳 We went as fast as possible. The train was a little late so we managed to get on. Whew. I adore the Frecciarossa trains. They reach speeds of 300 kph and have four classes of seats. We always go in the Area Silenzio. The quiet car. Business class. Super comfy seats.

We arrived in Milano and grabbed a taxi. All of the taxis we took here had very garrulous drivers. We got to our hotel, the Spadari al Duomo which is really nice. We stayed here on our one and only other visit to Milano. It is very close to the Duomo. Our room was nice with a balcony and a bathtub, which Luther loves. The only odd thing was our artwork in the room. A bit unsettling. Slug women. 😳

We immediately set out for a giro around the neighborhood. We found and visited the famous Galleria Vitoria Emanuele II. A shopping *mall* under high glass domes. Very fancy. I took a bunch of photos of the fancy wares…and some not-so-fancy wares.

The hat below. It looks like a hat I’d wear fishing. Prada. €460.00. Uh huh, right.

Surprisingly I didn’t buy anything. But Luther bought a book and some Cuban cigars. Afterwards, on the advice of one of the nice folks who read this journal and leave comments, we went to Aperol Terrazza. It is up on the 3rd floor and has outside space just next to the famous Duomo. They are known for the ubiquitous drink, the Aperol Spritz. I chose something different but we sat outside and it was a fun thing to do. They had nice heaters that keep people warm-ish.

View from the bar.

Walking through the enormous space in front of the Duomo we noticed some young men. I was taken by the outfit of one of them!

We returned to check out the shop next to our hotel. It is like a very, very upscale gourmet market. It has a big basement area with wines. Upstairs there is a produce area, candy area, all kinds of prepared foods, veggies, meats, seafoods, salads, the biggest cheese selection I’ve ever seen, bread and some cured meats.  Cool place where you can drop big bucks.

Back in our room and while waiting for dinner we ordered a bottle of wine and had a glass before we took a taxi to our restaurant which was chosen by Luther, the Ristorante Niko Romito in the Hotel Bulgari.

Just before we arrived we came to a gate. No one is getting in if they are not expected or a taxi. I realized this was a super high roller enclave. Then we went down a short street which dead ended into a botanical garden. The hotel was secluded and quiet. There was a circle in front of the hotel and all around they had crammed in cars. Parking is scarce in Milano and there aren’t many hotels which offer it. And let me tell you, these were not your everyday Chevy. There was a gorgeous Lamborghini next to a Bentley. And a very odd car which was a two seater with a huge whale tail and air scoops you could put a small child into. It was right hand drive with British plates.

Anyway, I digress. Inside the people were friendly. The restaurant was beautiful. And the service perfect. It was a very good dinner. One of the best I’ve had. Here are pictures of the dining room. The wine we had and the gifts from the chef. Lots of good breads and a good strong olive oil. Bread sticks and crackers. They brought a bowl of broth they were very proud of. The list of what went into it was long and interesting. The actual product tasted a lot like Swanson chicken broth…🙂 Sorry Niko! My antipasto was a raw shrimp dish under shaved citrusy lettuce. The sauce was sublime. Then a sea bass which also was wonderful. Finally I had the marscapone ice cream with sour cherries. Perfect ending. Pictures! (Captions at the bottom)

Interior from our table. Reminded me of a cruise ship.
The broth they seemed so proud of…and the breads
My shrimp…sooooo good.
Veal Milanese…Luther couldn’t resist
My sea bass. I also ordered turnip greens sautéed in olive oil and garlic as a side.
Gelato with sour cherries

Wednesday March 16
Today we had many plans and reservations for tours. We skipped breakfast and headed out for our appointment to see the Duomo. We had ordered an audio tour. Things did not go as planned. We went into the cathedral, which I must say was pretty darned magnificent. The columns supporting the roof and separating the nave were like looking through a forest of giant redwoods. They are each 50 yards tall. Half a football field! We realized we couldn’t get the audio tour inside and each had to go out to get it. The guard would only let one of us go at a time. I went first, managed to get the guide and return but then the *outside* guard didn’t want to let me back in. After a long argument he let me in. Then Luther got his and returned. By that time a funeral had begun and all the interesting parts of the Duomo were closed off. Bad luck. But we used the audio tour the best we could and explored inside and out.

Like a forest
On the way past the Duomo I loved this hopeful sign of spring in front of the glorious cathedral.

Afterward we headed to Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa, a church with an ossuary of hundreds of bones. Interesting to see. 

Then we circled back and tried to visit another church but it was closed. We bought some sandwiches for lunch because we wanted to save ourselves for dinner.

Along the way

At 3:45 we had reservations at Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Michelangelo’s Last Supper. We have all seen prints of the fresco of course, but to see it in person — it was pretty amazing.

On our way back I passed a store with beautiful jewelry. All hand made, one-of-a-kind pieces. I decided to buy a pendant. I love it!

My pendant.

Dinner at a Michelin one star Restaurant – IYO. The only one star Michelin Japanese restaurant in Italy. My choice and we decided to both go for the nine course “let them just feed us” menu. We really aren’t terribly savvy at Japanese food. Except Sushi.

OK, here come the food pictures…they are works of art really. I can remember the taste of every one of them when I look at these. I hope you enjoy looking at them if only for the artistry!

Oysters tempura in a bernaise sauce a bit of cooked celery and a tiny cup of gin.
Squid that was sliced to look like spaghetti twirled in a circle topped by a quail egg yoke topped with fish eggs in a fish sauce broth.
Sushi from scallops sea bass and other fish whose names I didn’t catch.
Tuna on rice with wasabi in a crisp seaweed wrap.
Crispy seaweed wrap topped with raw chopped fish with caramelized sugar underneath.
Stracciatella cheese on raw tuna
Linguini with fish eggs and baby clams. It had a very buttery taste.
An entire hen’s egg rolled in panko and fried. Served in a salty sauce. It came to the table in an enormous egg!
Hen’s egg after I broke it open. Amazing how good an egg can be!
Crispy pork belly.
Japanese BBQ beef (wow). My first time to have Kobe beef.
An airy ball of white — like eating air
Dessert

By this time I was stuffed even though the courses were small. We tried a bottle of Saki which was not much to my liking. It wasn’t very robust in flavor, rather kind of bland. I read that out of the three beverages – beer, wine, saki – it has the highest alcohol content. Odd.

It was an incredibly amazing dinner.  It was great to try new things.

Thursday March 17
I wonder if they celebrate St Pats today 🙂 🍀 It dawned gray and dreary today. A bit chilly. This hotel has an excellent breakfast. About anything you could wish for. We had ours and headed out to see two churches.

First was Chiesa di San Mauricio Al Monastero Maggiore known for its frescoes. It did not disappoint.

Interior
I really liked this one. Click to enlarge and see all the animals…even Unicorns!
Another Last Supper
I just loved this little detail

And next was Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. Rather austere. It was very old dating to Roman times and it was just next to the Roman city that Milan was back then. There are a lot of archeological relics that have been dug up in the area which are now in the Basilica.

We walked back to our hotel so I could change clothes for our lunch. Today, we decided to have lunch instead of dinner. We went to another Japanese place called Wicky’s. Also excellent food. We had two starters which we split – Sashimi and Mare Spicy. Raw seafood but the Spicy had a lot of different spices and herbs. The we split the Angus Spicy, and the Magica which is Sea bass.

Friday March 18
We bought a few things in Milan, it was hard not to! There are amazing amounts of luxury goods on offer every time you turn your head. Little shops that specialize in one or two things. Like the glove and sock shop. Or the sea sponges and back scrubbers shop. Tailors and shoemakers who will make anything to order — just for you. There were the most beautiful linens, sumptuous bedding. I saw a shop that only sold pajamas. For example of the style here…this is an upholstery and bespoke clothing shop. Isn’t this amazing?

When we checked out of our very nice hotel, the very friendly and enthusiastic front desk clerk asked the perennial and every popular “perché Umbertide?!” I cannot tell you how many people have asked us that since we moved here.

We took the Frecciarossa fast train to Florence. It arrived around 15 minutes late. Late enough that we missed our connection. Oh well. There is a train every hour so not terrible.

It was an excellent trip. The weather was not bad, it was just gray and chilly. I don’t think Milano gets alot of sun. We loved our hotel and the location, and we loved the food. The people were all very nice. I don’t think I will go back because there are many more places still to see. But it wouldn’t be because I didn’t enjoy my stay there.

Upcoming trip, Permesso di soggiorno lungo periodo

We are having beautiful weather. Yesterday, Luther and I went for a walk. It was the first day of warmish weather after a long cold spell. It seemed like everyone in town was out for the evening passeggiata. We chose the river walk. The Tiber river and Umbertide, behind its walls.

Today, we finally turned in our paperwork for the Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo – elective residence…second try. We will see if we’re missing anything this time. Last time 2 of our documents were expired. Our Questura appointments are April 14. Once, in the past this first appointment was six months out. That meant it took almost a year to get our new Permessi from application to receiving the card. By then we had to start the renewal process for the next one! We are glad that was a one time thing. We have no idea why. 75 pages of documentation…And €176 each in stamps and fees…EACH.

UPCOMING TRIP REPORT!!
Tomorrow we are going on our first trip since last summer. Long time. Short time and distance. We will take the train to Milano for three nights and explore the city.

Ciao for now!

Bambini per Ukraine

Today I had my weekly Italian lesson. I use my office computer in the room with the window into the piazza. I heard voices and cheers so I rose to look. A couple hundred kids outside. I took a picture. Not so good because it was shot through the screen. The children from the local elementary school all had Ukrainian flags. Warmed my ♥️. It was the first demonstration I have seen here in Umbertide.

Drivers license and buying a car

It seems I have confused some people with my post earlier today. I will endeavor to clarify.

To put it simply:

  1. Anyone (no matter citizenship) who comes to live in Italy full time becomes a resident. Anyone who becomes a resident must OBTAIN AN ITALIAN DRIVERS LICENSE.
  2. Anyone who only comes to italy to visit for vacations (no matter cotizenship) are not residents and do NOT HAVE TO GET AN ITALIAN DIVERS LICENSE.

In my previous post I mentioned my friends. They do NOT live here. So they do not need a drivers license from here. They just happen to be dual citizens. Italian citizens have rights here that non-citizens do not have. Only Italian citizens may buy and register a car here even if they are not residents and do not live here.

This confused the police. They assumed they lived here since they owned a car. So therein was the problem. They didn’t understand that my friends could buy a car and still not be residents…

To explain AIRE. If an Italian citizen moves out of Italy they must register with AIRE. In effect they tell their Comune they are leaving and they register their new, foreign, address. An American who obtains their Italian citizenship because they are of Italian heritage, they ALSO must register with AIRE. Even if they never lived here. Our friends live in Florida. They own a home here and visit it a few times a year. They are registered with AIRE. This allows them to go to the Comune here where they own a home and the Comune gives them a document allowing them to buy a car.

I hope this clarifies it. Please send any questions to nancy22314 at yahoo dot com. Sorry for the confusion.