Monday, March 21, 2005


We had a farewell dinner for Jill and Larry, and invited Wendy and Giuseppe, and Enrico and Wilma. The dinner was scheduled foe eight, and Enrico had stopped by earlier to drop off some cinghiale sausage. Cinghiale is the wild boar that’s very common in this area.

He brought enough sausage for a banquet, and would later bring several bottles of wine when he arrived for dinner. This custom is more than common over here. To say that it’s common would indicate that it’s something that happens from time to time. Bringing a gift when you go to someone’s house for a meal is something that is an absolute must. Wine seems to be the most common gift, followed by flowers, then candy or some sort of sweet.

When Jill and Larry arrived, they too came bearing gifts. The presented us with a beautiful potted hydrangea with blue flowers. Although I don’t think the guests of honor should have to bring a gift to their own dinner, this plant will be a permanent reminder of them Just as I now have “Paul” in the backyard, now Jill and Larry are on our front porch.

Jill and Larry arrived a little earlier than the other guests so that we could have a chance to talk. We knew we would see them again in a few days for the last time, but this evening was close enough to the last time to make it special and sad. And maybe sad isn’t even the right word…disbelief might be more like it. Although we all knew they were going back to the states, it was just hard to imagine that they wouldn’t live here anymore. Their trip to the states seems like a vacation, and I guess the reality of their move won’t hit all of us until much later.
Wendy arrived without Giuseppe, who had a fever. Enrico arrived shortly thereafter, without Wilma, who was also sick. In her place he brought a young man, about twenty years old, who he introduced as his son. Needless to say, we were all confused. Not only had we never heard about a son before, but this boy was obviously not the child of Enrico and Wilma. His hair and eyes were as black as coal, and his skin was a deep dark sienna brown. He spoke no English, and throughout the evening barely spoke at all.

Enrico later explained to us that this boy, Luis, was his adopted son. His mother was a Cherokee Indian and his father was from Chile. Luis favored the Cherokee side of his family much more than the Chilean side, and was a very attractive young man. We have no idea where the mother or father is, or how long he’s been adopted. When I asked Enrico where Luis lived, he said “Here”, as if that were the dumbest question in the world.

Enrico was, as usual, the star of the dinner. We all felt as if we were his students, or subjects, and that he was holding court. His outgoing personality and strong opinions always guarantee lively dinner conversation, although he might have gone too far at one point.

When Enrico told us that Luis’ father was Chilean, Wendy of course told him that her mother was from Chile. Enrico then asked why Wendy didn’t look more like Luis. Wendy was probably several inches taller than Luis, and has fair skin and blond hair. Apparently Enrico doesn’t realize that TWO parents are involved, and that the laws of genetics take over.

Wendy was a little insulted by his question, and by his attitude, and explained to him that just as all Italians don’t look alike, neither do all Chileans. Add to that mix the fact that Luis strongly resembled his mother’s side, and that Wendy must resemble the fair-skinned side of her family, and it’s not hard to understand.

I don’t know if Wendy was being overly sensitive, but I doubt it. She’s usually the most easy-going person n the world, so I think it must have been the way in which he asked the question that must have been the problem. Although we’re understanding more and more spoken Italian, sometimes the details get lost, or we fail to understand the significance and/or context.

After dinner, around 10:30, Luis went out to the car for some reason. When he opened the door we were all shocked…it was snowing…HARD… and apparently had been doing so for some time! AT 8:15, there had been no sign of snow, but boy, was there snow now!

Wendy had quite a long drive home and was by herself, and Jill and Larry had an even longer drive. Everyone practically jumped into their coats and prepared to leave. The guys cleaned off the cars, and Enrico offered to escort the group done the hill to Marsciano, just to make sure everyone made it safely. With hurried goodbyes, the night was over!

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A few days later we had lunch with the American couple we met in the grocery store. They own a gorgeous house with spectacular views in the small town of San Terenziano. The drive there was spectacular, and we hadn’t been to San Terenziano since we had looked at a house there in November of 2002. Paul and Patty had told us that a Dutch couple had bought the house we had looked at and were in the process of restoring it. This house was inside the city walls, in the corner, and came complete with its own medieval tower. Although the tower was an interesting feature, the house just wasn’t for us.

The house Paul and Patty own was once an olive mill, as reflected in its name, Il Mulino….the mill. Geeky as it sound, that’s what I’ve always wanted…, a house with a name! A house has to have a certain presence, or maybe a spectacular setting or some really interesting history to have a name, and our house doesn’t have any of those. Oh well.

When Paul and Patty stumbled upon this house about five years ago, it had just been put up for sale. The building was in the process of being converted into three apartments, and the first one had been completed. Paul and Patty realized immediately that the remaining space would make one large, fantastic home, and they were right.

Just as they had been in the right place at the right time, their luck continued with the man renovating the place. He needed a place to live, and since Paul and Patty didn’t need the house for several months, he was able to live in the completed apartment while finishing the other.

Paul and Patty introduced him to the American concept of an open kitchen, and once they explained that a full wall would block the beautiful views, both outside and in, he understood. The house is finished beautifully, a credit to all three of their efforts I’m sure. It has old world charm with all the modern conveniences. This house definitely has the WOW! factor.

We had a great lunch and enjoyable conversation, and plan to have them for lunch next week. We did discover a few interesting facts about them, such as the fact that they’re teachers/administrators for schools in foreign countries that teach English speaking students. Most recently they had been in Jakarta, and this fall they’ll begin a two year stay in Morocco.

This past year has been a sabbatical for them, and they initially traveled a bit around Europe, then settled in San Terenziano to enjoy their house. Because they have the other apartment, which they also rent out, and because their own apartment has four bedrooms, they’re also able to have guests without a problem. What a great year this must have been for them! If you want to see a few pictures of their place, you can find them  HERE, but don’t think for a minute that these pictures can capture the panorama and beauty of this location!


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