Tuesday, August 15, 2006


People often ask us what we do all day. We usually look at each other, shrug our shoulders and say “Well, nothing really, but we’re busy all the time!” I thought it might be interesting for me to describe from time to time, a typical day, be it boring or busy. Today was pretty standard:

We wanted to get up early, but because we’d ridden up to Ospedaletto with Virgil and Jean the night before, we slept until about 8:15. We were really snuggled in good because it’s been so COLD at night….I mean cold, like 60º, maybe even colder up here in San Venanzo!! Cold as in pull up the bedspread and snuggle!

Art got a cup of coffee, and I got dressed and checked our email. Since we have unlimited time on the internet now, we’re really geeks about it. After checking the email and the Expats message board, I went downstairs to take a shower, and I wished I’d used the step ladder to close the window…it was really cold, especially after taking a hot shower.

We left for the market in Marsciano, knowing that it would be one of the most crowded market days ever. Tomorrow is ferogosto, a big, big holiday. It sort of celebrates the height of summer, the time when the Italians are all on vacation, visiting with their friends and family at the beach, or often in the small towns they came from. The population of small towns like San Venanzo must double or triple during August. Feragosto is also a religious holiday, the Assumption of Mary into heaven, I think, but even here in Italy, the religious significance takes a back seat.

We stopped to get gas at the regular station we go to, but they were closed. You can’t use a credit card with the automated pumps, you have to use a €5, €10 or €20 note. We like to charge as much as we can because we get the best exchange rate, so we drove on down towards the E45, to another station. The gas was actually cheaper there! (€1.20 per liter, or about $5.80 per gallon)

We drove to the roadside stand we go to, and this is what I bought:

· Garlic, 34¢
· A cantaloupe…, which cost €1 ($1.29) per kilo (2.2 lbs), and the one I bought cost €1.55
· 4 zucchini, which cost 56¢ ($.71)
· 3.28 kilos of green beans (7.2 lbs) for €11.48 ($14.81). I totally freaked out when I saw how much these cost! Isn’t that a little high? I mean, that’s like $2/lb. What? Needless to say I didn’t realize this until we were in the car, on our way back to town.
· 1.75 kilos (3.8 lbs) for €1.23, or 70¢ per kilo, or $.40 per pound.

Next we drove into Marsciano, crawling slowly through the streets because of all the people walking everywhere. Art dropped me off before driving to the parking garage located underneath the small shopping center where our local Coop, a chain grocery store, is located.

At the outdoor market I picked up more fruits and veggies…carrots, celery, and 3 bananas that I didn’t get! Meaning I paid €3.00 for celery and carrots! Just not my day!

I bought some romaine lettuce, 2 nice sized heads for €1.50. By this time Art had (amazingly!) found a parking spot and was in the market. We headed inside to the Coop. Art went back downstairs on the magnetized “moving carpet” that transports the shopping cars up and down. Every shopping cart in Italy, at least every one I’ve ever seen, require a €1 or €2 coin in them before they will be released from their locked rack.

At the Coop we bought a few things, not a lot…some wine in a five liter jug for €4.50, bottled water at 17¢ for a two liter bottle, milk, yogurt, and a few odds and ends.

Once we got back home I dumped the green beans in to the sink and began rinsing them. I then washed off all the other veggies, put the rest of the groceries away, then it was time to go to Giacomo’s for lunch.

Giacomo is going to Sicily for a few days to be with his children. The kids live in Amsterdam with their (Dutch) mother, but will be visiting Sicily and their Italian family. Belinda is still in Australia, so we’ve volunteered to water the plants and feed the kittens.

We had a wonderful lunch with Giacomo: remember, he worked as a chef on a yacht last summer, and was so successful that not only did the yacht owners invite him back, they also recommended him to a restaurant in Milan. The lunch was simple but delicious: melon wedges wrapped in prosciutto to start, then chicken breasts stuffed with bresaola (cured beef slices) and cheese. He’s also made a type of ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini, capers, tomatoes and oil that was delicious.

After lunch we sat out on the covered porch, enjoying the view, playing with the kittens, and throwing the ball for the sweet little dog, Mina, that Belinda often ‘borrows’ from her friend who lives in Rome. Mina loves to be out in the country, and even more loves being around people. In Rome she’s often alone all day while her owner works, so any time Belinda is at home for any length of time she brings Mina with her.

After a wonderful lunch and two bottles of red wine, I was ready for nap but knew I had to snap all those beans I’d bought! We drove the short distance back home, during which time I decided that a nap was definitely more important than the beans.

I went to the backyard to take down the clothes that had been hung the night before, and then I was in bed. While I snoozed Art read the Louisville paper online, probably the Washington Post as well.

I woke up from my nap but stayed in bed for another 45 minutes…time’s easy to calculate using the church bells. I just couldn’t make myself get up, and when you’re retired, you really have to tell yourself that it’s okay. Today it was more than okay…it was heaven!

Once I got up I thought that Art was outside, so I checked a few things on the computer. Eventually Art came upstairs (to wake me up) and I found out that he’d been downstairs the whole time, snapping the beans! What a guy!

I joined him in the kitchen, and while he snapped I prepared a large kettle of water for blanching and fixed us a quick dinner. Once we’d eaten (a BLT salad, made with, what else, bacon. lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise), I helped Art finish snapping the beans. I had to blanch the beans in about four batches, and one they were all done I put them into quart size freezer bags. Tomorrow when they’re frozen I’ll take them all out to the garage freezer.

While we were sitting at the table we put on one of the Pimsleur CD’s and listened to a lesson. This particular lesson was a repeat, and is likely to be repeated a few more times before I feel confident enough to move to the next one. By the time the CD was finished, both our brains were tired.

It was nearly nine o’clock, so we cleaned up the kitchen together and went to the living room to watch television. Naturally there wasn’t’ much on, so I started writing on the computer while Art watched the news channels and studied his Italian.

I think we went to bed around eleven…Art was afraid that my nap might have altered my sleep pattern, but I didn’t have any trouble at all falling asleep. As usual the air was cool….great for another night of snuggling, especially knowing that the heat of summer is due back by the end of the week! So that’s it….another day in paradise!

Some days we read, some days we take a walk around town, go to the post office, have a coffee at the local bar, or sit and talk with our neighbors. Some days I work in the garden, usually carrying water in buckets when it’s needed. I might pick fresh basil in the early morning then spend the rest of the morning making fresh pesto. If the guys are working in the park I might make a snack for them or maybe just walk back there to check on their progress. Every day is different, and every day is a surprise.


At 10/06/2006 05:50:00 AM , Anonymous Hans said...

Hi Barb. Been reading bits of your blog here and there. Found your blog when I was searching for information on getting a permit of stay.

You guys will be fine. Just remember, you are living in Italy!!!! A good day in the states doesn't even begin to equal a bad day in Italy.

Anyhow, I'm sure you know this, but just in case, just wanted to point out that you do get your Euro back from the shopping cart when you return it and link it back to another shopping cart.

They do this obviously to encourage people to return the carts to their proper location.


At 10/06/2006 08:28:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

"Anyhow, I'm sure you know this, but just in case, just wanted to point out that you do get your Euro back from the shopping cart when you return it and link it back to another shopping cart.

They do this obviously to encourage people to return the carts to their proper location."

I still can't figure out why you think we didn't know this, but yes, we do......


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home