Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Someone recently posted a comment that I should stop writing about my problems because no one cared. They also said I seemed unhappy and isolated, only waiting for the next English-speaking guests to arrive! Well maybe it’s true that no one cares about my problems, but to say that we’re unhappy, isolated or dependent on other English-speakers is so far off the mark as to be laughable! (I rejected the comment, so you won’t find it posted on the blog. It’s good to be queen!)

Geeks that we are, I think the only reason we enjoy meeting others who speak English is a) to compare notes with other expats, or b) to ‘show off’ to people who don’t live here just how wonderful our little piece of Italy is ! Art’s much worse about the ‘showing off’ aspect than I am, but we’re still both very happy with where we live and with our life in general.

Yesterday was one of those days where we did nothing, but it took us all day to do it! Armando brought us the last tomatoes from his garden. With them we made our favorite pasta dish, the one with fresh tomatoes, basil and Pecorino cheese. If you’ve been keeping up, you know that there’s no shortage of Pecorino OR Parmesan in this house!

We drove down to Marsciano to the weekly market, hoping to find a long runner for in front of the sink. The one we have now probably won’t survive another spin in the washer, and if we can find one here it’s one less thing we have to haul back from the states. Of course here the problems is not just finding a carpet we like, but finding one at a price I’m willing to pay. Since the stores selling such items are spread out all over the place, starting at the market where there are several trucks selling linens and carpets seemed like our best bet.

Naturally we didn’t find anything we liked, so price never even became an issue. The few carpets we saw that were the right size cost about €13, which seemed reasonable to me, so at least I have hope.

On the way down to the market we stopped by the apartment our friend Nedra is considering to get the phone number for the agency. Our friend Giacomo is going to call them to discuss a few questions that she has. As usual, it’s so much easier to have an Italian deal with Italians. He knows how things work, how to ask questions, and what questions to ask. The money that Nedra will pay Giacomo will be nothing compared to what he’ll save her, not just in euro/dollars, but also in time and worry.

After lunch we decided to drive in San Sisto, home of Perugina. My daughter has requested Baci to give to her co-workers at Christmas, and a few other types of chocolate for her husband and others. Because the
EUROCHOCOLATE festival begins this weekend, we knew we’d better go this week or risk not being able to go at all. I know the plant won’t operate next week, and I’m not sure about the store, so better safe than sorry, especially where chocolate is concerned.

I suggested that we stop at Geniale on the way. It’s another home improvement type store like Obi and Self, and they have a large selection of household goods, including area rugs and runners.

Geniale was still closed when we drove by, but of course we knew they would be. One of the things we keep having to remind our guests is that most stores close at 1:00 and don’t reopen until 4:00. If you want to maximize your shopping time, start early in the morning, take a looong lunch, the start back at 4:00. Most stores close by 8:00 in the evening.

We drove to Perugina and were lucky enough to find our friend Tony working outside the market, unloading a shipment. Tony is Barbra Steisand’s biggest fan in Italy, and he told me more about her current tour that I could have learned on the internet.

We found the Baci and the other items for my daughter, picked up a few things for ourselves, then walked over to the museum to say hello to Corinna. I’m sorry to report that she still looks like death warmed over, and worse yet, she knows it.

She told us that today was Maurizio’s birthday and that she’d try to call him to wish him a happy birthday, but either the phone was off or he wasn’t answering because he knew it was her. This break-up has really taken its toll on her, and we’re hoping that she’s finished with the worst of it. Her spirits seem good and hopefully once the house is sold she’ll have the ability to buy or rent something else. Right now she continues to share the house payment with Maurizio, making it difficult to find a new place.

Adding to her stress is the looming presence of Eurochocolate when she’ll be entertaining many executives and their important friends who’ll be in Perugia for the ten day event. We’re supposed to go to Perugia on Saturday the 21st with our friends from Atlanta, and to be honest, I’m NOT looking forward to it. I’m hopeful that Friday will be better than Saturday or Sunday, but I still have my doubts.

As usual we left Perugina loaded down with samples from Corinna in addition to the chocolate we'd bought! Regardless of her situation, Corinna always takes the time to visit with us, and we always try to get her to come to dinner so we can fatten her up!

After Perugina we decided to head even further out, towards Gran Casa and Mercatone Uno. Gran Casa was a bust as far as the carpet was concerned, but Art did pick up some grout for the bathroom, so at least it wasn’t a wasted stop.

I wasn’t really in favor of driving to Mercatone Uno, located close to Magione, but figuring I’d better maximize my possibilities, I agreed. It’s probably been many months since we’ve been to Mercatone Uno, and boy, have things changed! Generally speaking, I used to describe Gran Casa as the Target (without clothes) and Mercatone Uno as the Kmart, just step below.

Although that may still be true, Mercatone Uno has now added a HUGE section of “ethnic” goods, and it was fabulous! Most of the items were of Indian/Indonesian/Oriental influence, but there were also gadgets and household “things” that were just cute and interesting. We even ended up buying a few Christmas gifts for family in the states!

Whoever set up this new “World Market”-style area knew what they were doing, because in order to get to the furniture and other items upstairs, you have to walk through this new section.

Eventually we found our way to the carpet area, and found not only a runner that we both liked for a price I was willing to pay, we also found a new carpet that might look good under the kitchen table. I wrote down the measurements so that I could check once we got back home.

On the way back in we stopped at the ICM gas station in Corciano, always the cheapest in the area. After we filled up we needed to turn left, but our view was blocked by a semi parked on the side of the road.

As we waited, trying to see if the road was clear, the driver got out of his truck and walked towards us. He had a piece of paper with him, and asked us, pointing to the paper, “Nestlé?” “San Sisto?”

Boy! Of all the people in the area, did he ever pick the right people to ask about how to get to Nestlé! We told him to go left, less than five minutes, etc, but he didn’t understand us….he told us he was Spanish!

Art was able to get the drive to understand that he should just follow us, after al, we were going the same way! He followed us to the Perugina plant, and then we headed back towards San Venanzo. By this time it was getting dark even though it wasn’t even seven o’clock. It’s hard to believe that only a short time ago it was light until after nine p.m.!

Okay, our day had been a success: a carpet runner AND chocolate! To celebrate we stopped in at Nestor’s for a pizza and I shared some of the chocolate that Corinna had given us with Mara and Giuseppe. They were very appreciative, and Mara was thrilled.

We enjoyed our pizza, and because it was early, and also a Monday, we were able to chat a bit with Giuseppe and Mara. The television was on to our favorite Italian game show, L’Ereditá. The host is someone new, and we inquired about the former host. Apparently there was a scandal because the former host had left his wife to be with one of the dancers from the show, and now they’re both gone. I wish we knew the scoop about this, but I’d need an English translation of the Italian equivalent of People magazine!

When Giuseppe served our pizza he brought a small bowl of hot oil for Art, knowing that he likes it hot and spicy! We find that so many times our Italian friends make these small gestures of friendship that mean so much to us. Whether it’s a basket of vegetables from the garden, some spicy oil, some chocolate samples, a ride to the train station or just the use of a garden space, we feel truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends here in Italy.

So yes, we are happy here….and to those of you who don’t enjoy reading about the bad times as well as the good times, all you have to do is ‘click’ to close the page to our blog. We won’t miss you at all!

(BTW, for the anonymous poster, we can't get a job in Italy....it's not legal....we're here on an Elective Residency visas. The good news is we don't have WalMarts in Italy!

FYI, anonymous and/or negative posts will continue to be rejected. And yes, my writing ability may be lacking in some repects, but once again, for those who don't care for it, there are thousands of other blogs to read. Read some of them, or maybe just get a life.)


At 10/10/2006 11:42:00 AM , Blogger dmarie said...

Again, I love reading your blog :)

At 10/10/2006 12:46:00 PM , Anonymous linda said...

I've said it once and I'm saying it again, I read your blog everyday even though I don't comment everyday. I enjoy seeing how other people live and don't care for those blogs that read like life is always rosy and fun.

At 10/10/2006 01:10:00 PM , Blogger Jane said...

Barb, I think I had the same unhappy person leave a comment on my blog--basically saying that no one cares about Casey so I should stop boring people. Of course, I deleted that one because he certainly isn't boring to nonna. So-IMHO--we have a sad person out there. Of course,the question is "Why is whomever it is, reading us?"

Your day sounds strikingly familiar!

At 10/10/2006 01:25:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/10/2006 01:32:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Yes Jane, I too wonder why someone would bother reading something they don't enjoy, somethin they find boring, something written by untalented, unintersting people! Then I realize that these people obviously have nothing better to do with their time, and that hurting others is their pathetic attemp to ease their own pain. Sad, really.

And yes, I write just like I talk....unedited, uncensored, never glossing over the difficulties or problems, and always expressing MY point of view. I keep encouraging these negative anonymous whiners to get their own blogs, but of course it's much easier to critisize others than to actually DO something.

We care about Casey, and find your blog interesting. Being able to reject/delete those negative posts (from someone too cowardly to even post their name!) is kind of nice, isn't it?

At 10/10/2006 04:35:00 PM , Anonymous Art said...

Earlier an "anonymous" poster asked Barbara why she didn't get a job at someplace like Walmart, then snidely remarked "That's right, you don't speak Italian".

Barbara DOES speak some Italian...not as well as I do, but neither of us are fluent. She can carry on a conversation with our neighbors, with the Postmaster, or while shopping. Quando qualcuno parla lentamente e semplice, noi capiamo!

We specifically chose our town because there were no other English-speaking people here! But yes, we do LOVE showing off our little piece of Italian paradise....apparently you don't understand what it's like to love the place you live. Our life is ANYTHING but boring!

Comments like yours illustrate how uninformed you really are. Please just go away....far away.

At 10/10/2006 04:51:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

And the comments on the particular blog entry have now come to and end. Those who don't care for this blog, my style of writing or our choice of lifestyel should find other ways to fill their time.

As always this is written by us, for us. Abastanza bene!

At 10/10/2006 08:02:00 PM , Blogger gentle spirit said...

To Barbara, Art and Jane--I only read three blogs and two of them are yours! I rarely comment, and apologize for not letting you know sooner how much enjoyment I receive from sharing daily happenings in Italy. All the details have been worked out and we will be moving to Italy in June and living there from June until December of each year--and I'm very excited! Having lived there from 1984-1996, there are so many things whch have changed, new stores added, etc. that I find myself making little notes from each of your blogs. So, continue on with your blogging. They bring much joy--and I love hearing about Casey!

At 10/11/2006 06:39:00 AM , Anonymous Annie M said...

Barb, I love reading your blog - I check every day to see if you've added something new.

I find your life and your adventures very interesting and you write about it in a way that keeps me coming back for more.

Of course, you and Art are happy, it shows in every word you write.

Of course, not every moment of your lives is carefree - none of us have carefree lives. But you and Art deal so well with each obstacle you encounter and overcome with grace.

Cheers to you both!

At 10/11/2006 02:17:00 PM , Anonymous Shirley said...

I like your blog. I have always wanted to live in Italy. Your and inspiration an I like Casey too.

At 10/16/2006 03:18:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Queen Barb,
You've got the best blog out there. I check in with you once a week and read every thing that's new and just die with envy. I usually don't comment here because I sometimes email you direct! You and Art are awesome and you totally have it made. I'm glad Jane and her family finally made it. Now I'll start checking in on her blog too.
Your writing style is easy to read and keeps the reader captivated. It's balanced. You don't sugar-coat anything. I love the way you tell it like it is. Though it's not always good news, in some way I sort of like to read the bad news because I always know there's a turn around your bend. Your life is for real.
You and Art will always be better than fine as long as you have each other.

At 10/22/2006 03:33:00 AM , Blogger Bob and Rosemary said...

Dear Barbara,
I just had to add my two-cents worth and to say "bravi" to both you and Art for all that you do. Your generosity of spirit and openness to people and things that come along in your life are truly an inspiration. We are thrilled and honored to have met you and appreciate your friendship so very much. It is SO obvious that you and Art are happy and I also love the way you write with such honesty and directness.
Have a great trip home and we hope to see you both before we (sadly!) head home to the states in April!

At 11/05/2006 09:35:00 PM , Anonymous rob said...

this is my first time reading your blog. one line hit me especially well...

Yesterday was one of those days where we did nothing, but it took us all day to do it!

imho, one of the greatest lines in literary history. also one of my favorite ways to pass a day :)


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