Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Here we are!

I wrote this after our first week here, but couldn't post it because we weren't online yet. I thought it might be of interest.

We are home! It feels like home, and even though we don’t “get” a lot of things, we are here, in Italy, bella Italia! Art is still having a hard time getting used to being retired. After working 2 jobs for more than 30 years, it takes a while to decompress. The adjustment was much easier for me, for several reasons. First of all, even when I was working, I only worked part-time. And I hadn’t worked at all this summer…my last day was in early May, when my mom went into the hospital, and then I never went back. And then there is the fact that I have a hard time putting forth my best effort for someone else. If it is a project I am interested in, like renovating a house or even better, a garden, I can and will work from sun-up til sundown. And then of course, while working for the post office, there was that thing about getting up at 4 am…ugh!

Our sleep is still rather erratic at this point…we even overslept on Friday and almost missed the SlowTrav GTG! Wendy ordered a new mattress for the bed, and we are very comfortable, especially since we brought our pillows from home. We moved the bed, and the room feels much nicer…all we have to do now is have some plugs installed on that wall for the bedside lamps, clock/radio, etc. We broke down and bought an electric mattress pad, just to be ready for that first cold snap. Eventually we will have a carpet on the floor, but for now, all we have are 2 small area rugs on each side, to ease the shock of that cold tile floor.

When we arrived at the Rome airport, we had no problem finding our driver, and, miracle of miracles, all 9 pieces of checked luggage arrived, on time and unharmed! Once we arrived in San Venanzo, Wendy met us at the house and took us to Perugia to pick up our car. Once that was done, we were finished for the day, and went to bed around 8 pm.

Day two, Thursday, had us shopping at the grocery store in Marsciano, then to the larger shopping center near Perugia for such household items as wastebaskets, throw rugs and assorted kitchen goods.

Day three was the day we overslept…we had both fallen asleep quickly the night before, then woke up after 3 hours. Art took one of his prescriptions to help him sleep, but after tossing and turning for quite a while, I got up and did some organizing, before returning to bed around 4 am. When we woke up the next morning, it was 11 o’clock, which was the time we had planned to leave the house for our GTG in Chianti. We jumped out of bed, threw our clothes on and headed out the door, calling ahead to let them know NOT to wait for us. Once we arrived, we had a great time and a fabulous lunch with the SlowTrav group, headed up by our queen, Pauline. The lunch lasted 4 hours, then we stopped by to see Cristina, who had organized the whole thing but was unable to come because she had the flu. It was dark by the time we got back home, and we fell into bed, but not before setting our alarm for the GTG on Saturday!

On Saturday we went to the next SlowTrav GTG in San Quirico, a charming little town just outside of Pienza in Tuscany. Another great lunch, more great people, another full day. We went to see Joanna’s house, which was about 10 minutes away, and it was a charmer! She still has lots of work to do, but the possibilities are fabulous! Our day was capped off by a stop at the Mercatone Uno, a large, K-Mart type store. We found a heated mattress pad with dual controls and a few other necessities, but still no large pitcher for iced tea. I did find one plastic pitcher with a lid, 1.5 liters, for about $14, so I passed.

On Sunday, we woke up to discover that the electricity was out. Pauline called to tell us that there was a power outage in Italy, extending north from Rome and that France was suspected of cutting a major line. We later learned that after France denied responsibility, a major storm near the Alps was identified as the cause. We finally got the power back around 3:30, and the water pressure followed a short time later! I was glad that I had charged the phone before we went to bed! We decided to drive down to Marsciano to look for something to eat, but most places were just opening or just starting their food due to the outage. Luckily for us, we stumbled on a great little pizza place with a wood oven, and their first pizzas of the day were coming out of the oven. For about $8 we both had a large slice of mushroom pizza, sausage pizza, and about 3 large glasses of red wine! A great deal!

Monday was the day we were supposed to go to Terni to apply for our residency papers, but Wendy needs some house documents that she won’t have until Wednesday. We went to the market for more supplies …these trips seem to run about $100 per day, but we only bought stuff we needed, so what are you going to do? We then went back to San Venanzo and met with Wendy, the geometra, (a kind of general contractor), and the plumber. We had previously emailed Wendy a list of the things we wanted to do to the house, so we sat down and worked out the details. It seems that we need a new caldaio, a system to heat the water for our radiators and the hot water. The good news is that we will get rid of the electric water heater, which is 18 years old and surely completely crusted over with mineral deposits due to the hard water. We settled on a location for the new bathroom, where to put the washer, and other such mundane items as making sure there were plenty of plugs in the kitchen, where the water softener would go, and what the wrought iron for the railing would look like. With Wendy there to help us, we were able to both give and receive detailed information regarding these projects.

The bad news was that although Rosella is ready to start the kitchen next week, the geometra can’t complete his work until the end of October, so we will have to make do with the smaller kitchen upstairs for a few weeks longer! We are going to try to reschedule our Italian classes for earlier than our Oct 27 start date, so that we can be here when the remodeling is taking place. I would not let anyone remodel my house while I wasn’t there, and we plan to stay in Perugia during the week and return home on the weekends. We are hoping to maximize the “immersion” by living and eating with an Italian family…I know I will need all the help I can get, and even Art will benefit, although he is much more advanced than I am…at least in Italian!

So, after almost a full week here, we are alive and well, excited and overwhelmed, still in awe every time we go out for a drive. Thanks goodness we aren’t pinching ourselves, or we would be black and blue by now. Tomorrow we will open a new bank account at a bank in San Venanzo…our bank now is located about 20 minutes away and doesn’t have as many branches, plus we would like to have a relationship with the people and businesses in San Venanzo. Art tells everyone we meet that we have bought a house here. Those who live in San Venanzo are happy for us, and those who live elsewhere always comment on what a pretty town it is. We decide over and over again, that yes, this is home.

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