Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Where DOES the time go? Maybe being retired is boring for some people, but certainly not for us. We never seem to be able to find the time to do everything we want to do. Everyday begins with some sort of plan, even if the plan is to do nothing. Rarely does the plan work out. Days when we hope to accomplish a lot we usually accomplish nothing, and days when we plan to stay at home reading or studying somehow get filled up with projects.

Now this isn’t a complaint, mind you. What a wonderful way to live! Knowing that if it doesn’t get done today no one’s going to care. No one’s going to yell at you or fire you or make you stay late. You don’t have to get up early (most of the time) and if you’re lucky you might even be able to take a nap!

This past week has been crazy! Of course all day Monday was spent with the stupid Ford…..we try not to think how badly we got ripped off…….

Tuesday was spent checking out some houses for our friend Marguerite who lives in Jakarta. She was here in the spring on a house-hunting expedition and hopes to return next month. She’s searching intently on the internet, but of course every house for sale isn’t listed on the internet, and it’s hard to know if a house sits three miles down a white road or right next to the local bar. We’re trying to answer some of those questions for her so that she can eliminate the houses that don’t really meet her criteria.

And talk about the unexpected! While looking at a few houses on Tuesday we spotted other houses for sale in other realtor’s windows, met people who knew of something for sale, and ended up driving right past the house we were trying to find.

We found a great house in a tiny little medieval gem just south of Todi that we both fell in love with.  This town has about 500 people but looks like something Disney designed. It’s beautifully maintained, and I think living there would be like a fairy tale. There must be hundreds of these little jewels scattered throughout Umbria, and we need to start seeking them out.

Wednesday we started out in the morning headed for Le Marche, near the ocean. Wendy’s friend Nicola, the neurologist, had scheduled tests for Art’s back and leg. The nerve pain in his leg has increased and the medication his doctor had him on just wasn’t effective. Although Art just had an MRI in May with no cause found, he figured he’d might as well give Nicola a shot. 

It took us forever to get to the right road on the other side of Foligno. We printed out directions based on leaving from Perugia, but we thought there was no sense to drive all the way around Perugia so we just cut straight over to Foligno. Unfortunately the road we need to pick up had to be accessed quite north of Foligno…….

We saw one sign for the road we needed, then no follow-up signs! Eventually we asked a couple who were getting out of their car and they pointed us in the right direction. Just as we found the right road the phone rang….it was Wendy…..Nicola’s father had just died and Nicola was on his way to Naples. Did we want to cancel on continue?

We decided to cancel and wait for Nicola to return. Additionally Art was hoping to try a new medication that Belinda had read about in the London paper. It’s a fairly new drug called Lyrica and is for nerve pain. One of its uses is for epilepsy, so I’m wondering if our family doctor will approve.

We were able to stop and look at a house for Marguerite on the way back home. This was the house we’d driven right past the day before, and boy did we feel stupid when we saw it! It’s a new construction, faced with stone and complete with beamed ceilings and a 300º view. From the house you could see Assisi, Gualdo Cattaneo, Collazone, fields filled with olive trees and vineyards, and the realtor told us that when the fog rolls in it’s like sitting on an island, surrounded by a sea of clouds.

On Thursday we took our most ambitious house-hunting trip yet, up into Tuscany. We ended up seeing not only the house we had come for, but also two others that were in town. Well, maybe I should make that one and a HALF houses. For some reason the realtor hadn’t heard us say what Marguerite’s budget was and the first house he took us to see was WAY over her budget….but of course it was magnificent! If I’d resisted asking how much the house cost until later I could have seen the entire house, not just the first floor! What was I thinking? The problem was that I couldn’t believe this house was within the budget price….and of course I was right.

Anyway, it took us two hours to drive to the town and two hours to drive back. I knew when Art scheduled the appointment for six p.m. that we’d be driving home in the dark. He still doesn’t realize how much extra TIME you always need. No matter what you plan for, somehow it ends up taking twice as long to get anything accomplished.

On Friday we went to look at yet another house for Marguerite. From the pictures I thought the house was really quaint and rustic, but it turns out this house was practically new!  Although it was a great house with lots of room and a great view, Marguerite wants charm and typical Umbrian features like beamed ceiling and terra cotta floors. She wants that Umbrian dream!  Well anyway the house was nice, and before we left we decided to call Isabella to see if she was free for lunch. She was, so we met with her for pizza and a nice chat. I think she’s as busy as we are…living in a city like Todi you see the same people every day and make new friends quickly.

On Saturday we went to a garden tour that I had read about online. Unfortunately I hadn’t known about the other gardens that had been open throughout out the summer. This was the last of the season and was in a small town north of Perugia, San Giustino.  We picked up Bob, Rosemary and Nedra at ten and drove the sixty five kilometers to the small town of San Giustino, at the Umbrian/Tuscany border. The town was cute….nothing special, but it could be a nice place to live.

The garden tour was somewhat disappointing because we were only able to walk the perimeter of the garden….all the “rooms” were closed off, including the maze. What’s the point of having a garden tour if you can’t really tour the garden? Anyway it was an okay tour, and we did get to see the inside of the fortress, even though most of the rooms were sparsely furnished at best.

We decided to drive the short distance over the border into Tuscany and to the small town of San Sepolcro. This town reminded both of us of a miniature Florence, and the Medici influence was obvious. After a great lunch  we walked around town and eventually wandered into a church. An old man eagerly offered to show us around. He unlocked a small chapel and told us the story of a dead baby who’d been found buried in the wall….decapitated!

He then asked us if we’d liked to see the bell tower, and of course I said yes!  All five of us climbed the steep stairs….some more like a leaning ladder than a flight of stairs. And when we got to the top…….the trap door in the roof was closed!   It wasn’t until we were all back on the ground floor that we realized we may have been able to open that door and to see the bells! At the time we assumed this wasn’t allowed, but the caretaker seemed surprised that the door had been closed, so maybe we could have/should have pushed the door open with our shoulders and gone through the opening.

Back on the ground we continued our exploration of San Sepolcro with Art also checking out the real estate options. He asked our waiter if he knew of anything for sale. He asked in the bar, he asked the old lady sitting in the piazza, he asked the guys at the meat shop and the men who were working at the church. Unfortunately the real estate office was closed and no one else seemed to know of anything for sale.

The town was cute…lots of people were riding their bicycles around town; kids were running through the piazza, the shops were opening back up for the afternoon.  We wandered for a few minutes before heading back to the car. I guess it was about five when we left for the drive back.

We almost had a problem at the gas station, when Art realized that he had inadvertently shut the gas pump off…..with only €4 of the prepaid €20 in the car! Luckily he found his receipt sticking out of the machine….the receipt showing that we still had a €16 credit at any AGIP station! Yeah!

We had a good rain on Saturday night but with the rain came cooler temperatures! Boy it really feels like fall when it’s cold and damp and cloudy. Sunday morning started out with the sun trying to break through the clouds, but in the end the clouds and rain and fog won out, and I was glad I dressed warmly for our trip to Todi, this time for lunch with Shelly, who had just flown in for a few days to close up their house, and also with Isabella.

Isabella and Shelly had both eaten at the Pane e Vino restaurant and recommended it, so that’s where we went. If you take the funicular up into Todi from the Orvietano parking lot, it’s just up the hill on your right.  Everything we had was very, very good and we’ll definitely return to this restaurant.

After lunch we walked to Isabella’s apartment so that Shelly could see it, then we sat and talked until SIX o’clock! Of course it was a cold rainy yucky day, so sitting inside chatting with friends was a great way to pass the time and keep from noticing how dreary it was!

Today we welcomed Giacomo and Belinda’s friends from Norway. The two couples are staying at Giacomo and Belinda’s house while they complete the purchase of their house in Rotecastello. Needless to say we’re as happy for the buyers as we are for the city of Rotecastello. I baked a crostata for them so that they’d have something to nibble on in case they hadn’t bought groceries.

Amazingly when we introduced ourselves one of the guys said “oh yes, I know you, I read your blog!” When you Google for Rotecastello or San Venanzo, usually our blog pops up simply because there’s so little written about either place. It’s kind of cool to think that people we don't even know from Norway, from California, from Australia, are reading the blog!

Art’s cousin Bernice said she never reads blogs because they’re written by people with big egos. Most of the people I know, including me, write our blogs as a way to keep our friends and family updated, and as a great way to document our lives for the future….for our grandchildren or great grandchildren. I’m constantly amazed that so many people have the time OR the interest to read ANY blog on a regular basis! I can barely keep up with the writing!

Tomorrow we may try to drive into Ellera to the Ford dealership, stopping at the Toyota dealership on the way, and possible going to the other Mazda dealership near Chiusi to see where we can get the best deal. The 3% financing offer from Mazda ends the 30th of September, and it may take us a few days to get all our paperwork completed.

Adamo brought us a plate of figs….due to all the rain the ones that are still on the trees are all about to burst because they’re so ripe and so full of juice. Armando complained to Art that the specialist wouldn’t see him without a prescription from his (our) family doctor. The work to clean up the park behind our house still hasn’t begun. Life in San Venanzo continues.


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