Sunday, August 08, 2004


AUGUST 6, 2004

Yesterday we finally met the rest of our neighbors. The sister of the man we bought the house from has been here since last week, along with her husband, Egno. We still don’t know her name, but she is a sweetheart. (Update: we now know that her name is Iris)

Previously I had corrected our first report that the house was owned by two brothers once we had met the sister. Now we realize that there are THREE siblings…two bothers and one sister. We DID buy our house from the other brother, Gino. We found out that the reason Gino sold his house was because his wife didn’t like the house/San Venanzo/traveling…not quite sure which.

Anyway, the other brother, Sandro, has arrived, along with his wife Josepinna. They also live in Bologna…apparently at some point this family moved en masse to Bologna.

The sister, who shall be referred to as Signora Farnesi, had greeted us warmly when we first met. She had already placed a call to her brother Sandro, to tell him what wonderful people we were. Signora Farnesi’s husband is quiet, but still friendly and welcoming.

Sandro is the baby of the family, and his sister is the oldest. She’s 72, and Sandro is 62. Sandro is by far the most out-going, and his wife is also very friendly. They’ve set up a cushioned swing in the park across the street from our house, and this is more or less their living room. They sit in the park and talk, play cards, and greet everyone who goes by. Not only do the know everyone, they’re also related to most of them, one way or another. Typical small town.

The other day we were invited to sit in the park with them. Signora Farnesi patted the spot next to her on the swing and motioned for me to sit next to her. She hugged me and said once again what a wonderful person I was! We discovered that Signora Farnesi and Josepinna had known each other first, and that’s how Josepinna met her husband, Sandro!

We were invited in to their house…something that we were most anxious to see. We knew that this half of the house was divided into two apartments, but that’s about all we knew. Oh, except that we did get a peek into the window that opens onto our garden when Signora Farnesi was getting the room ready for her brother and his wife. Art was upset to see that this room has the beams on the ceiling still exposed, although they are painted white. Art would LOVE to have exposed beams, but all our ceilings are flat. I don't know if the beams have been covered or what.

We got the grand tour, and now see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Since this house is built on a hill, there are many different levels. We have four levels in our house, and although I didn’t keep count, I think the other half has even more. The room that’s behind our bedroom and hall walls is a bedroom that is accessed via a spiral staircase! Of course once the tour was finished we sat down for a cold drink, then returned to the park.

The men asked Art what color he used to paint our garage door because they want to paint their garage door to match! They also asked who did the stone work in front of our garage because they would like to have theirs redone in the same way. This area is made of stone similar to what we used to make our patio. This stone must be supplied by the commune, and it forms the gutter that carries the rainwater down the street.

The very next day the two men were outside painting their garage door dark brown to match ours! And when Art talked to them about cleaning out the gutters on the house, they were very receptive. The gutters on the front of the house must be clogged, because last winter water backed up in them, causing mold in our white bathroom, and also causing some of the stucco to break loose from the eaves. We were really glad we weren’t staking there when it fell!

Sandro told Art that he would have the gutters cleaned and that he would pay for it and that we wouldn’t have to pay for anything! They also told us that the house had just been completely re-stuccoed just a few years ago.

The next day we had the opportunity to show our house to them and to another San Venanzo resident who was visiting. The visitor hesitated at first, but hey! We spent so much time and money on this, we love to show off the finished product. Also, I’m sure that there’s a great deal of curiosity about the changes we’ve made.

Once the Farnesi’s entered the house, they gasped with surprise and began saying “compliment!” and “bravi!” and “que bella!” They genuinely seemed to like the changes we had made both inside and outside. The new door to the garden was a hit, as was the garden itself. Their house is much simpler, just as this house was when we bought it. Since it’s just a summer house, there’s no reason to invest a lot of money in furnishings or decorations.

Sandro, seeing that I liked to garden, told me that I was free to do whatever I liked with not only the three planters in front of our house, but also with the two that are in front of their house. He doesn’t like the plants that are there now, and encouraged me to replace them. I told him that I didn’t like them either, but for now they can stay because at least the stay green no matter what. Eventually I’ll replace them when I can some up with a good alternative! I definitely don’t want annuals there…way too much trouble, but I’m not really sure what my choice are at this point.

Our neighbors will be here for the month of August, then the house will be quiet again. Other than a long weekend at Easter when one of the children came with some friends for a long weekend, the house is empty. It’s been very strange for us to hear someone talking next door, but they certainly haven’t bothered us. Their hospitality and friendliness has really made us wish that they were here more often!


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