Wednesday, April 13, 2005


We woke up to sunshine this morning! What a pleasant surprise after three days of nonstop rain. It’s still very cool, and supposedly more rain is coming, but for now at least, we have a short reprieve.

We can never figure out how people around here always seem to know what the weather will be. The forecasts we’ve seen on Italian television are always so general…..for example, the weather map will show a rain cloud over Umbria. While it’s certainly possible for rain to cover the entire region, more often than not we’ll be having clouds when Perugia is having sun, or vice versa.

I have several weather forecasting websites saved on the computer. I decided that because Orvieto was on the other side of Mt. Peglia, their forecast would be very different from ours. Perugia, although the largest city in our area, usually gets the same weather we’ve had, but maybe a few hours later. Additionally, I’m never sure how the fact that we’re up in the hills might affect us differently. In the end I decided that the forecast for Todi might reflect the forecast for San Venanzo most accurately, but then I noticed that all of the data…temperature, wind speed, etc., was gathered from the Perugia airport…which is in between Perugia and Assisi. In the end, I wasn’t sure which of these cities might best reflect the forecast for San Venanzo.

The locals all seem to know exactly what the weather will be from day to day, and I guess I really need to ask someone where they get their information. Yesterday we had lunch with Belinda and Giacomo, and Giacomo told us that we would get a break today but that the rain would return later in the week. As we found out this morning, so far he’s been right about the sun today.

I bought some begonias at the garden show on Saturday that I’d like to get in the ground. I’ve decided to try these instead of impatiens in the backyard behind the patio. This area gets a little morning sun, then mostly shade until later in the afternoon when a few rays of the hottest sun seem to find their way into this area. I spent most of last summer trying to keep this area well watered, and trying to revive the drooping impatiens after the sun had moved. I hope that begonias, which do well in sun or shade, are the right choice.

I’m hoping the begonias will receive enough sun to thrive, but won’t burn up. I bought white and pink begonias with bright green leaves, and we’ll see how they do. I hate those reddish-bronze leafed begonias….I think I got burned out on them a few years back when every builder in town used them to landscape their Homearama houses.

I also bought two coreopsis to plant under the rose bush. Again, I have no idea how they’ll do, but it’s fun to experiment. If they like their location, they should fill in this area nicely, and since they’re perennials, I won’t have to worry about this area next year. The ajuga that I had hoped would fill in that area struggled all last year, and the creeping thyme that I planted later in the summer didn’t survive the winter. I’m a little confused by that…I never had any problem with it in Louisville, and we certainly had much colder winters there.

For the orto (vegetable garden) I bought five eggplants…the round kind. Since I’ve never grown eggplant before, I certainly hope that they pretty much take care of themselves. Supposedly the round and the elongated varieties taste the same, and we’ll (hopefully!) find out later in the summer.

I’m still not sure if the basil is germinating or not. The seeds are teeny tiny, and I’m seeing what might be a few sprouts in the area where I planted them, but again, only time will tell. I figured it was safe to put out the seeds because the plants won’t be very big by the time we get back from the states. I don’t think there’s much point in putting out basil plants before we go…six weeks is a long time, and I’m afraid they’ll go to seed.

As in the past, I plan to make and freeze lots of pesto. Although some people have warned me that the cheese might go bad if it’s frozen for a long time, I’ve never had a problem, but I think this year I’ll freeze it differently just to save freezer space. I think I’ll just process the basil, garlic and oil, and then I can add the pine nuts and parmesan when I need it.

I’d love to be able to have a small freezer in the garage for strawberries, pesto, tomatoes, whatever, but I don’t think we can afford one this year. Additionally, I haven’t seen a freezer yet that was frost free. Like I have time to defrost a freezer! Please! When we bought our refrigerator for the kitchen, there were only one or two models that had frost free freezers. Most of the refrigerated sections were frost free, but apparently frost free freezers aren’t in big demand…although I can’t imagine why. Maybe the additional cost to install and run this feature makes it undesirable for the average person. For me, the thought of defrosting is completely undesirable!

The biggest news in my garden is that my rose seems to be doing okay. My fingers are crossed on this one, although I have to say that roses in Italy seem to thrive even in the shade. The dry summers certainly help to control the blackspot, something that was always a problem in the humid Louisville summers.

I ran into Rosalba, Adamo’s sister today when I was down at the orto. She greeted me warmly and said that we’d get together soon to study English and Italian. She and Adamo have been telling us that for months now, and of course we’d love to help them with their English and get help with our Italian. We just can’t figure out why it never moves beyond the planning stage. For them it’s just fun…for us, it’s a necessity!

We have a big dinner planned for this Saturday night. When we were at Belinda and Giacomo’s yesterday, I told them that I’d love to introduce them to Corinna and Maurizio. They’re all about the same age, and I think the two women will have a lot in common since they both deal with the public so much. I’m planning to make a yellow pepper soup, rosemary chicken breasts, balsamic gazed pasta, and a warm spinach salad. Oh, and some grilled eggplant. I still haven’t decided on the most important course….dessert!

I had an email from Bob and Rosemary, a couple from the states who have just moved to Perugia. They asked if we could get together on Sunday, but after this Italian style dinner, which won’t begin until eight o’clock, I’m not sure that Sunday will find us at our best! And when I say eight o’ clock, that’s when they’ll arrive, so I’m sure we won’t actually sit down to eat until close to nine.

Two, three, even four hour meals are the norm here. And of course after dinner, after dessert, coffee is almost a certainty. For those who are really ambitious, you can then go on to limoncello, or Vin Santo, or some other after dinner liqueur. We might have Prosecco before the meal, but rarely have the after dinner drinks. The fact that people have to drive long distances late at night on curvy hilly roads might also have something to do with that decision. At least these two couples won’t have far to go.


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