Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I made a delicious cherry syrup yesterday….beautiful, really. Unfortunately it was supposed to be cherry jam. I think I know where I went wrong….the directions called for three pounds of fruit, so that’s what I used. Later, I noticed that in another column, it called for 4 to 5 cups of fruit. So, now I guess I was supposed to start out with three pounds of fruit, then once the cherries had been pitted, I should have measured out four cups. Oh well. Art says it’ll make a great pancake syrup.

More confusion among the Italians concerning my gardening style. Once I laid out the black landscape fabric, I then covered it with straw to hold in the moisture. The Italians all afraid the straw will all blow away, which hasn’t happened yet. And miracle of miracles, I actually have teeny tiny tomatoes on the plants I set out in March before we left for the states! Woohoo! At this rate, I should have ripe tomatoes before the first frost.


What a difference a few months can make. In December eight of us gathered of our first annual Christmas celebration. Six months later one of the eight is dead, her spouse having deserted her to run back to the states when the going got tough. Two of the others have apparently also decided that Italy isn’t for them, although I’ve only heard this through the grapevine. Whatever goodwill there was between us seems to have disappeared somewhere along the way. So now we’re only four, and I’m wondering what will happen to us between now and next Christmas.


Our neighbor knocked on our door last Sunday to ask us if we knew anyone who’d be interested in buying a small house she owns not far from here. I’m writing up a separate post just for that, complete with pictures. The place is tiny, as in munchkin sized…three rooms in all, one on the ground floor, and two above….and they’re not even connected! And two of the rooms are kitchens. No land, no garage, no storage. Who would buy such a place, and how would they live?


I’ve just asked my sister to mail us a small package and will be waiting nervously to see if it arrives intact. I’ve heard that theft at the Italian post office is on the rise, so I asked her to tape the stuff TO the inside of the box to hopefully discourage a quick theft. The package contains a clock/radio that’s also a sound machine….Art’s old one died after many years so I ordered a new one from Amazon. I had to instruct my sister to label it a “sound machine” not a clock, since clocks aren’t allowed to be mailed to Italy from the states. Maybe Italy thinks it’s Switzerland, or maybe Italy is more well-known for clocks than I realized.


Yesterday the church bells were ringing furiously yet again. This seems to be quite a busy time as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, or at least it is in San Venanzo. We asked if it was a feast day while we were walking and were told yes, it’s the feast day of St. Anthony.

I think St. Anthony is the one you’re supposed to pray to when you’ve lost something. Why his feast day was celebrated so lavishly we don’t know, but the bells rang throughout the day, the banners were hung from the windows, and around seven we heard the procession coming down the street.

First came the priest,  then the men of the town. As usual, the people walk down the street single file in two lines, one on each side of the street. After the men came more priests, someone carrying the loudspeaker, altar boys, the statue of St. Anthony, the town band, then all the women and children completed the procession.

Last year we walked down to the church following the procession. Once the services inside the church were finished, everyone was invited in to receive bread….nice crusty rolls that were, of course, delicious. We didn’t go down to the church this year since we were in the middle of dinner at the time of the procession, and we could hear the bank playing from the house. Of course I still don’t know what the special connection to St. Anthony is, or why the bread is given out.


Last Sunday Armando caught me as I was going down to the garage and told me about some function that would be occurring later in the day. As usual he talked really fast, so all I was able to understand was that at 5:30, on the road to Marsciano, at the chapel of the Madonna there would be biscotti!

I sent Art down to the bar to talk further with Armando to make sure I had understood correctly, and to get more specifics. As it turned out, I got the gist of it, so just after five we jumped in the car and headed to the small roadside chapel that’s on the road to Marsciano.

Quite a few people walked from San Venanzo, but for the most people had driven, and the road was lined with cars on both sides of the road.  A crowd was gathered around the outside of the chapel, which only holds about ten people. We could hear the priest saying mass, and the crowd was participating.

Our friend Frank was there and he told us that one local family pays for the maintenance of the chapel. I remember seeing this ceremony last year…we happened to be on the way back to San Venanzo from a day out.

After mass everyone headed for the tables that had been set up with drinks, bread and crostata. The bread was delicious….filled with asiago cheese! Once again, we don’t know the whole story, but we participated and enjoyed.


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