Thursday, March 25, 2004


MARCH 25, 2004

Not a lot to report. After three false starts, Art FINALLY got the TV/VCR/DVD/satellite hooked up correctly, programmed correctly and set correctly! This morning he watched the NBC nightly news from last night! It was a struggle each day trying to figure out what went wrong, but that situation is certainly not unique to Italy. We’ve had the same challenges in the states whenever we added a new piece of equipment!

Today we went to Marsciano…I had an appointment for a haircut at 10…we found out that Corrina at the chocolate factory also gets her hair cut by Walter! He must be the man! Anyway, while I was getting my hair cut, Art filled up the car, exchanged a terra cotta saucer for one of the planters, and refilled our five liter jug of wine. When he picked me up, we stopped by the fresh pasta store…YES! There is one in Marsciano!!! We had been complaining about not having a fresh pasta store ever since we stumbled across the one in Orvieto, and it was here all the time! It’s near the Coop, but tucked back on a side street and is difficult to see. By chance, I just happened to notice it last week, and today was our third visit. I wanted to get some fresh lasagna, and thought that it had to be ordered.

Yesterday I stopped in to place my order, and the girl kept asking me what I wanted with the lasagna, and I kept saying, no, I only want lasagna! I finally figured out that the stuff you have to order in advance is a complete, oven-ready lasagna, not just the pasta. Nice to know for future reference! I bought a half kilo of lasagna noodles, which is enough to make two batches in the pan I put it in. Lasagna may become my “company” dinner since it’s easy to prepare ahead of time.

I made my first batch of “Italian style” lasagna last week. This means that there was no ricotta cheese in sight, and instead used a béchamel sauce. I also used a meat sauce that was made with béchamel. This, and the meat, are what make a Bolognese sauce different from marinara sauce, I think. I cheated and used a pre-made béchamel…I wonder how much better it would be with a homemade sauce? Maybe next time. Anyway, other than being too runny, the lasagna tasted great! I hope to perfect my technique so that I get those nice, neat layered pieces when it’s cut.

Today is a beautiful day. Yesterday and Tuesday were cold, windy, and rainy. We saw some fierce lightning on Tuesday night, and yesterday we had bits of ice frozen to the windshield! Since the girl came from the garden center yesterday, I hope that her plans and the nice weather arrive at about the same time. I can’t believe my geraniums survived this cold snap…they are sitting in the windowsill, protected from the worst of the weather, though, and the alyssum seeds I sprinkled in there are actually sprouting!

We’re anxious to get the garden planted because in four weeks we will return to the states for a four week visit. I’m hoping to find someone to water them at least once while we’re gone…I’d hate to come back and find out that everything had died! We did find a nice place very close to us to buy some terra cotta planters. It’s in Ripabianca, and was recommended to us by the man In Deruta from whom we bought our dishes.

We had to return one of our plates that had cracked, and Massimo was very gracious about it. He told us that often, when it’s quiet in the shop, he’ll hear a “CRACK!”, and all you can do is look around and wonder which piece it was! Now I understand why he “tested” each piece when we bought our dishes by balancing each piece on his fingertips and pinging the edge. The “ring” you hear lets you know the piece it good…as compared to the dull “thunk” we heard when our cracked piece was tapped!

As we walked into the ceramic shop, there were several Americans who were just finishing up their shopping. The tourist season has begun! We’re starting to see the tour buses on the road, and as we get closer to Easter, they will increase every week. This will be our first summer here, and will be interesting in many respects. We’ll feel the heat of the summer, and see just how much cooler San Venanzo is than the towns down below. We’ll see the difference on the roads…bicyclists will be out, especially on the weekends, and can really slow down traffic on the windy, hilly roads. We’ll also see the difference on the larger roads, as tourists and tour buses join with the residents. Since we know first-hand how little patience the Italian drivers have with those who are driving too slowly, it will be interesting to see how they handle the tourists and buses. We’ll also see the difference in the towns themselves…as the restaurants and streets and shops become more crowded. And since our ears are tuned to English, we’ll hear the tourists often before we actually see them. And then, should we strike up a conversation, we’ll get to add, at some point, and of course very casually, yes, we live here now. How cool is that?!


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