Thursday, June 23, 2005


JUNE 23, 2005

Just odds and ends to report. Summer seems to have begun…Art killed the first (small) scorpion of the summer just inside the front door. I also killed a small one up in our bedroom....that’s a little scary!

We had guests for lunch yesterday….Anna and Ramon, who found our blog and were excited to know that average people CAN retire to Italy! Like us they were afraid that this was a dream only rich people could ever hope to achieve. Anna is half Italian and is working on getting her citizenship, which will certainly be an advantage once they’re living here.

They’re using this trip to scout out areas and towns just like we did, trying to decide what size town is best, what services they need, and in general just to get a better feel for the area. Like us, they absolutely love the beauty of Umbria, and hope to be living here fulltime within the year.

We had lunch at our house, and as usual, I tried a new recipe. I was still trying to use up the ricotta that Wendy and Giuseppe had brought on Sunday. Wendy told us that there’s a Sardinian family who has a farm not far from her house and of course they produce lots of typical Sardinian products. Since Giuseppe is from Sardinia, this must be a nice taste of home!

The recipe I made was a ricotta/tomato “pie”. The emphasis was on the sweet tastes….the crust was a typical crostata crust made with flour, sugar, lemon zest, butter and eggs. The ricotta was mixed with a little sugar and an egg, then spread over the crust. Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise were then arranged on top of that and drizzled with honey! Although it was interesting, it was just too sweet for a main course…maybe it’s actually intended to be a dessert.

The weather was perfect…again….so we ate outside. Ramon and Anna had plenty of questions about making the move. Anna seems to be in like me in that she has lots of questions and likes to know the answers before she embarks on something new. We talked for along time, sharing our stories, asking and answering questions.
I know that just because other people love Umbria as much as we do doesn’t mean we’ll have anything else in common, but so far, we’ve liked everyone who has contacted us. In April we enjoyed meeting Marguerite when she was here house-hunting, and then a few weeks ago Leslie, Brent and Riley were so much fun to spend the day with.

In addition to these passers-by, we also now have new friends in Bob and Rosemary who made the move to Perugia in April, and in Paul and Patty who’ll be here on and off for the next several years before they settle here permanently. And we also have friends in Todi, Terry and Isabella who are also here on and off. Seems that this area is becoming quite the hotspot of Americans! Normally Italians guess that we’re German or British because there are many more of them in this area, and not too many Americans.

Maybe it’s because all of these people have a sense of adventure and an open mind to other cultures. Maybe we’re just lucky to have met really nice people who also share our love of Italy. Whatever the reasons, we really liked Ramon and Anna and look forward to following their progress and to eventually welcoming them to the next chapter of their lives.

After lunch we took a short walk around San Venanzo, then drove around a little. We took the road towards Fratta Todina because of its incredible views, then we drove up to Monte Castello di Vibio, a charming medieval walled city. We walked through the town, marveling at the beautiful wooden doors, the stonework, and the beautiful flowers everywhere. We looked at houses trying to decide which ones we’d like to live in.

We asked a woman who was passing by if there was a restaurant in town, and she told us yes, but that it was small and we’d probably need to make reservations. When I asked if it was located close to the theater, she said “no, follow me”. As we followed her past a group of women sitting on a bench, they laughed and asked her if she was now a tour guide! She told us that she loved her town…not a surprise. We’re always surprised at the kindness of strangers, and at how people go out of their way to help us. It’s always done with such cheerfulness and generosity, and always makes us feel so welcome.

She led us down the stairs and out of the city to a large house. Towards the back of the house was a large canopy with six or eight tables. The woman called out for someone, but got no answer. Beyond the tables we could see some amusement rides set up, and she told us that the festa was getting ready to begin. Hopefully we can stop by one evening to check it out. I’m sure the restaurant will be wonderful…it looks like going to Nonna’s house for dinner!

When we left Monte Castello di Vibio we headed back to Marsciano, passing several fields of sunflowers that were just about ready to open. We had a surprise for Anna and Ramon, because we knew of one field that was already in bloom. The intensity of the color was hard to believe! I plan to go back and take some pictures later this week.

Once in Marsciano we walked through the old centro and found lots of banners hung for the weeklong celebration of St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Marsciano. We stopped at TecnoCasa to say hello to Donatella, but she was out of the office. We told Giovanni to give her our regards, then went into the shop next door where our friend Yvette has just opened a really cool home décor shop. She has all sorts of interesting things…decorative accessories like candles and pictures and ceramics. It’s just a cool mix of stuff, and she said the shop is doing well. She also told us that they had finally moved into their new home where they plan to open a bed and breakfast. For whatever reasons, the sale had taken a long time to be completed.

After all this sightseeing it was definitely time to get something to eat, and as requested, we took Anna and Ramon to Ternana’s. I think they understood what we told them about feeling so welcome there and about how we always feel so energized after we leave. The pizza was fantastic as usual and we had a nice leisurely dinner complete with a carafe of wine.

Even though the pizza was filling, we still had room for gelato. Stefania’s is one of the best we’ve ever had, and the price just can’t be beat. I think our friends were impressed.

We drove back up to San Venanzo just as the sun was setting, turning the sky beautiful shades of pink. Ramon and Anna said goodbye and headed back to their agriturismo near Bevagna. They said they really like the place, and have found their hosts to be very helpful. In a few days Ramon and Anna will head up to the Veneto region to visit with the Anna’s Italian relatives. We’re so glad they contacted us, and are really looking forward to welcoming them as neighbors in the very near future.


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