Saturday, July 15, 2006


Summers always seem to be so busy, and the time goes fast, even though we have more of it, given the longer days and daylight savings time. Even if we don’t do that much, our days seem to be filled with so many different activities. Maybe it’s just that we can stay inside, go outside, take a walk, read on the patio, water the plants, work in the garden, whatever….even if we only go a few feet from the house, we can at least get up and go, as opposed to the winter when we feel bound to the house and I stay close to the radiators to keep warm.

The vegetable garden, or orto as it’s known in Italy, is so much happier than it was last year. Sure I’ve made adjustments, and I gave up on those plants which require a lot of water like peppers and eggplant, preferring to concentrate my energies on my two favorite summer crops: tomatoes and basil.

Although I’ve made several batches of pesto, I’m still waiting for that first ripe tomato! Yes, I realize that we had a very slow start to the summer, and that the temperatures during the first part of June were nothing short of frigid, but still….it’s the middle of July! I want my own tomatoes! I want to see the difference between the San Marzano that’s for sauce versus the San Marzano that’s for salads!

The vines are heavy with fruit, but so far, nothing is getting ripe! So much for my great plan to put out a few plants in mid-March before we left for the states. Yes, they survived and look great, but they STILL haven’t produced a ripe tomato…..yet.

I think I have about ten basil plants in the orto, and another five or six in the backyard. The ones in the backyard are growing in pots, and although they’re doing fine, they still don’t grow and produce like the ones in the orto, even with the poor soil.

Today I added another five basil plants to the orto. The original ten plants will probably start to poop out around the end of August, and these new plants will help keep me in enough basil to continue making pesto. Now that I have the freezer, I can load up!


Paul and Patty, our friends who have that spectacular house in San Terenziano ( click here for the link to IL MULINO ) were here for a few weeks. They’ve just finished their first year at the international school in Morocco and they both said they were surprised at how much they really like it there. Since they plan to be there for another four years, we’re hoping that we’ll get a chance to visit them.

We had dinner with Paul and Patty one evening, and they also invited another expat couple, John and Vera. John and Vera live here for six months, then return to the Poconos in Pennsylvania for the winter. While we were talking, several interesting things happened, all of which support my theory that us expats are really a very incestuous little group.

I don’t even remember how it came up, but something was said about Kentucky. John got the strangest look on his face and said “I know you! I’ve read your blog!!” Turns out that he’d found the blog a while back and was absolutely amazed that we’d decided to make the move then just DID it. I think the phrase “ignorance is bliss” wasn’t far from his thoughts, but he was much too kind to say it out loud.

Because John lived all over the world not only as an adult, but also as a child, and because Vera is originally from Germany, moving to Italy wasn’t really such a big deal for them. I don’t know how many languages Vera speaks (German and English obviously), but I do know that John is fluent is English, German and Spanish, and once you speak three languages, the probability that you speak four, five or more is certainly greater.

In addition to the fact that John knew our story (and loved us already because we come from the home of bourbon!), we also discovered that their house faces the castle that we had toured way back when, back when our (former) friends had just moved here and were looking for a house to buy.

We learned that Fabio, the retired Alitalia pilot was NOT restoring an ancient ruin as we had been led to believe, but had actually built the entire castle himself, and that the work was still continuing….not a surprise, given its size.

We’ve been invited to a picnic at John and Vera’s home on Saturday, and I think that Fabio will be there too. I don’t know if he’ll remember us, but at least now we have a way to keep up with the progress of the castle.


Paul took us and John on a small tour of a few of the new wineries he’s discovered in his area. Living so close to Montefalco means that they’re surrounded by hundreds of acres of vineyards, and by many, many wineries, both large and small. One winery we visited was just a small mom and pop place, practically operating out of their garage. The other had sprung up almost overnight, although they must have an established reputation because we saw an Italian wine magazine that featured an extensive article about the winery and its products.


Larry and Shelly are also here, but they’ve been so inundated with guests that I’m afraid they may just want to rest and recuperate once everyone has gone home. Now that Shelly’s retired she’ll be here more often, and once the plans for their house are approved (a very frustrating process!), I’m sure she’ll be here on a regular basis.

I hope they’re here in August to enjoy some of the festivities that are scheduled….or course Massa Martana will host their annual Sagra di Gelato, and there are a number of musical events we’d like to attend….a “Big Band” concert and a blues/soul/R&B performer we’ve never heard of…

Gioberto told us that his daughter’s group will perform in San Venanzo on the 22nd of July, and they’ll also be performing in Marsciano on the 28th….sounds like the perfect place to take Art to celebrate his big 6-0 later this month.


We walked down to our favorite little grocery store in town the other day…I needed a few more eggs to make brownies for John and Vera’s picnic, and I also needed another pepper for a dish I was making for a dinner with Giacomo and Belinda. While there we also picked up a bottle of Brunello….a 375 ml bottle, just right for two people! Additionally it was a 1997 vintage, supposedly the best year, and increasingly difficult to find.

Whenever we find a ‘97 we pick it up for my son and his wife….it makes a great “thank you” gift when we stay at their house. I don’t know how this particular winery, Col d’Orcia is rated, but I’m hoping the wine is good enough for people like us who aren’t connoisseurs, but still appreciate a good wine.


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