Thursday, October 09, 2003



For now, this day is representative of the way we spend our days in our new home.

I wake up first, as usual. It’s about 7 am. We only set the alarm if we need to be somewhere at a specific time. Art usually sleeps later because he has spent half the night dreaming that he is late for work. After 34 years of working two jobs, it’s hard to let go. I wake him up around 8, we have breakfast, which is usually real food for me and just coffee for Art. I start a load of laundry so that it can be drying while we are gone for the day. Although we will eventually have a dryer, for now everything is line dried. We dress and head to the post office…boxes of books are still arriving. We learned after the first two boxes arrived…always take the car to the post office. The hill gets a lot longer and a lot steeper when you are carrying 40 pounds of dead weight.

We’re in luck today…two more boxes of books. We are starting the packing process in reverse. Before we left for Italy, we were surrounded by half-packed suitcases and boxes of stuff waiting to be shipped. Now, since the new kitchen isn’t ready, and the rest of the house is just waiting to be re-done, we have nowhere to put the books that are arriving. Two of the boxes stack up to make a nice end table for a lamp we just bought. If our shipped goods arrive before the kitchen is complete, I’m not sure WHAT we’ll do with 32 large cardboard boxes, two large Rubbermaid tubs and a large box containing the TotalGym. I’m not sure where we’re going to put them even if the kitchen IS done!

After the Post Office, we head down to the newspaper/stationary/gift shop. We buy some envelopes to mail letters back to the US. We don’t have time to stop at the bakery because Wendy is coming at 10 so that we can go to the Commune to apply for Art’s Italian Handicapped parking permit. We were told that all we had to do was take his US issued permit to the local vigile, and an Italian one would be issued in its place.

Once we get back home and unload the books, I hang up the laundry. Wendy is running late, and won’t be here until after 11. Once she arrives we are off and running to the commune. Somebody forgot to tell the guy in San Venanzo about how easy it’s supposed to be to get an Italian handicapped parking permit. He says he can approve it for San Venanzo, but if we were to try to use it in Perugia, for example, they would not recognize it and would issue us a fine. Wendy just gives him lots of long, silent stares, and he finally agrees to make a photocopy of the permit and make some inquiries. He also tells us that Art would have to be certified by a local doctor in Marsciano. I’m glad that Art’s back is getting better, because is he was truly in need of special consideration, he would be out of luck. We are very sweet and thank him profusely for his time and help.

We head down the hall to another office…how people know WHICH office to go into for WHAT service, is an amazement to me. Wendy presents a document she has prepared over the past week. She picked it up during our last visit. It is the application for our RESIDENZA, which is applied for AFTER we receive the Permesso di Sigiorno, not before. Wendy shows them that we have applied for the PdiS, and are scheduled to have the completed documents on October 27. After many long, silent stares (again), they finally agree to complete the paperwork, accept our application, photocopy ALL our documents, and GIVE US A RECEIPT FOR OUR APPLICATION FOR RESIDENCY!!!!! YEAH!!! We think we might be able to buy a car, and we now have all the necessary documents to mail to the moving agency in Naples. Our documents have to be there no later than 5 days after the goods arrive in the port, otherwise we will be assessed storage fees. We need copies of our passport, our codice fiscale, a signed inventory, in Italian, and the ORIGINAL receipt for residency! Yikes!!! In Italy, a receipt is as good as the document itself! I plan to double-check with Cristina or SOMEONE! Okay, think positive! At least the wheels are turning. Maybe we can see about checking out a few cars. After all, we want a car that is one or two years old, so it might take a while. I’ll hold off on changing the date for the AutoEurope return…right now it’s set for November first. We’ll probably have to extend, but who knows?

Okay, now to the bank. We had opened an account at Wendy’s bank in Ponte San Giovanni. We needed a place to send the down payment for our house closing when the company that had been representing us refused to accept the money into their account, saying it would get them in trouble. Wendy, along with the bank manager, allowed us to send the money to the bank and have it parked in a special, “non-account”. It just sat there and waited for us to sign the papers and officially open the account when we arrived for the closing. I wanted to open an account with Banca Dell’ Umbria, but we discover that their small office in San Venanzo is only open three hours a day for three days a week and they don’t have a bancomat, so what’s the point? We decide to look at the other bank in town, Cassa di Risparmio di Orvieto. Turns out they are a sister bank to our bank, Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze. Not much point in switching. We can use their bancomat with no fee, we can bank online, and the fees are the same. We just wanted an opportunity to patronize a local business. I know this bank is regional, but it’s still a place where you get to stand in line with your neighbors and let them look over the new Americans who just bought Gino Farnessi’s house. But it’s not worth the trouble for new PIN numbers and changing autopay information.

As we leave the bank, Wendy says, “You know what? I think I want to check out one more place. Let’s go to the Post Office…a lot of people are switching because of the lower fees.” So we go to the Post Office again, and after listening to the services and fees, decide to open an account at the Postal Bank. Of course we tell the manager that we are both retired form the Post Office, and that Art worked 34 years. Art tells him that for the first 15 years he sorted mail, the manager nods and says (in Italian), “That’s where everyone started!” Some things are universal. We thank the manager and leave the Post Office. It’s now nearly two o’ clock, and we want to buy lunch for Wendy, but she has to hurry off to an appointment. We decide to make quick sandwiches with the salami I bought yesterday. We have a long list of places to visit this afternoon, and I am determined to be at Mobili Paolo when they re-open at 3:30.

We almost make it… between the traffic and the construction, the E45 is a mess, and it ALWAYS takes longer that we anticipate. We had been to the larger Mobili Paolo in Grutti, but didn’t see much we liked, and what we did like was very expensive. We are now going to look at the store in Magione. We make a quick tour of the store, and still don’t see anything we fall in love with. We go down the street to Gran Casa and still can’t find anything we like. We look for a television cable, which we find. What we can’t find is a bracket and a rod to add another hanging rod to the armadio in the bedroom.

Next stop, House of Lamps. I have seen it from the expressway, and we find our way to the store quite easily. They have lots and lots of fantastic Murano glass chandeliers, but we are looking for something a little less formal. Maybe some bedside lamps. We end up with two lamps that can be mounted on the wall, freeing up the table space.

On to Ponte San Giovanni for a quick stop at the Bancomat, then we run into the hardware store, la ferramenta, to have some keys made and look for some new brackets for the clothesline. No luck with the brackets. Wendy thinks they may be difficult to find…so far, she is right. Of course, we’re not entirely sure that we are asking for the right thing!

Our next stop is an antiques place that we have been driving by every day. After we saw the prices at Mobili Paolo, Art says he would rather look at some antiques. When we see the prices on some of the pieces, we know that what we are looking for is “used furniture”, not antiques! Six thousand euro for a chest of drawers is not in the budget.
We drive down the street to another furniture store, Chateau D’ax, to see how our bedspread will look with a couple of carpets we saw the day before. We really like one of them, and would like to get a larger one for the foot of the bed and 2 smaller ones for beside the bed. Unfortunately, they only have the one size. After some discussion, we decide to go ahead and get the larger one, and later we will look for solid color rugs to coordinate. Since this is only the third check I have written, the saleswoman helps me to complete the check. I have mastered the month and day being reversed, but using commas instead of periods and periods instead of commas for the numbers is still confusing. $9,000.00 is written in Italy as 9.000,00, with the euro symbol in front, of course. My laptop won’t allow me to make the euro symbol!
Since we are in the neighborhood, we decide to check on the leather sofa we have ordered. We put a deposit down on Monday, and they said it would be about four days. Art squeezes into a narrow parking spot and goes into the store by himself to check. When he returns, he is shaking his head and muttering. He thought they said FOUR days. What they really said was FORTY days, which makes a lot more sense. You really have to listen HARD, and think about every word that is spoken. Our language classes will be time and money well spent.

We are finally ready to head back towards Marsciano! The traffic is heavy, partly because it is eight o’clock on Friday evening, and also because of the construction on the E45. When we finally arrive, finding a parking space is a real challenge. Since we got our first parking ticket just 2 days ago, we are determined to be more careful. Finally we find a spot in front of the hardware store, and look once again for the clothesline bracket, but still no luck. We also are having no luck in finding some nicer handles for the bathroom cabinets we bought. Maybe we’ll have to bring the ugly ones back to the US with us and head for Home Depot.

Our next stop is a daily one…to Pizzeria Ternanna for dinner. We stumbled upon this great family-run place last Sunday during the power outage, and have been regulars ever since. Since we are usually out late shopping, it’s easier to grab a quick pizza from here than to have to fix dinner once we get home. Ternanna is run by a great family, mom and dad, son Marco and his wife. They have pizza by the slice, or will make you one in the wood-burning oven. We found out from our friend Donatella (who admitted that she ate dinner there every night for TWO YEARS) that Marco placed second in a nationwide pizza competition. We believe it! His pizza is fantastic! Tonight we have roasted chicken, eggplant Parmigiano, mushrooms and a small carafe of red wine. Total cost? About $14.

In keeping with our routine, we head next door to the internet café. I find the internet instructions that Cristina has emailed to me. We check our mail, look at the news, check SlowTalk and then head for San Venanzo. Once we are home, we unload the car and I head for the back yard to take the clothes down from the line. They aren’t quite dry, since we don’t get much direct sun, so I hang them up inside to dry overnight. Art hooks up the new cable to the television that Wendy has loaned us. It works, but we only get one channel! Art watches soccer while I play on the computer. We finally head to bed around eleven, which is really late for us. Art has turned on the heated mattress pad, so the bed is nice and toasty! And tomorrow, we’ll do more of the same! Wendy has offered to lend me her printer, so that I can print out instructions in English for the washer and phone/answering machine. I can’t go online yet because I didn’t bring any phone cords! I thought they would be different in Italy, but now I find that I need the same type of cord to connect my modem. Looks like a stop at MediaWorld will be on the list for tomorrow!


Cristina has just told me about a great mall (I Gli) located near Florence, with a store called Leroy Merlin. She says it is a Home Depot clone…that they have PAINT, and ready made curtains, and everything you could ever want for the house, all at reasonable prices! We are going to check it out next week, and I will take every measurement of every room in my house with me. Watch this space for the report!


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