Monday, February 19, 2007


We live about 45 minutes away from Collestrada, home of the only mall I know of in Umbria. Collestrada is home to the IperCoop, the big brother of the Coop, our regular grocery store. The IperCoop is like a Sam’s…on one side is food, on the other side a discount store with everything from clothes to appliances, housewares to hardware.

We usually visit the IperCoop once very four to six weeks to stock up on things our smaller Coop doesn’t carry, and to have a big day out, often including a stop at McDonalds for a fountain diet Coke!

Quite a while back we stopped at the service desk to ask if we could start receiving their sale flyers. Months went by and nothing happened. Sometimes we lucked into a great sale, other times ignorance was bliss.

And then one day, all of San Venanzo started receiving ads from the IperCoop! I don’t know if they simply expanded their advertising, or if our request had anything to do with it, but now we’re able to plan our shopping trips a little better. Last summer we found an outdoor umbrella on sale that was perfect for our patio.

So, if you’ve been following along, you know how surprised and delighted I was to find pine bark mulch last summer. And if you’ll remember, after finding it at one nursery, I found it as several others. Apparently someone must realize the benefits of mulching besides me. You may also remember how happy I was when I was able to negotiate the price for a bag of mulch down from €7.90 to €7.40! I saved 50¢ on every bag I bought!

Imagine how excited I was when I read the latest IperCoop ad with pine bark mulch on sale for €3.60 per bag starting today!!! Not wanting to risk losing out on this deal, we headed off this morning to the IperCoop.

It’s not as if I expected there to big a stampede for the mulch, but perhaps they’d only have a few bags, who knows? Anyway, I wanted to make sure that I got some mulch…I could use four, maybe five bags this year, just to fill in the bare spots and refresh the old mulch.

And once we arrived at Collestrada we debated whether or not to get two grocery carts instead of one, thinking that the mulch would fill one, leaving no room for groceries. Art thought maybe the mulch would be available for pick-up at the warehouse door, so we decided to start with just one cart.

As we walked towards the back of the store where the plants are, we noticed a large display in the middle of the store. There were small trees for sale, rosebushes, bags of potting soil and all kinds of things for the garden….except the mulch.

I went to the service counter to ask a clerk. Maybe you just paid for it and picked it up outside, but with the large bags of potting soil sitting there, I didn’t think so. And yes, you’ve guessed by now…they didn’t have the mulch! The girl said it would be there on Wednesday, but I’m wondering if a phone call in advance might not be a good idea.

Although we didn’t need much from the grocery, I did want to pick up a few things. As luck would have it, where last week there had only been a large display of Perugina chocolate, today there were samples!! At least the trip was now worthwhile!

A young woman was offering samples of the new Sottile con le Sfoglie, wafer thin pieces of dark chocolate, plain or orange-flavored. Additionally, a chef from the Perugina School of Chocolate ( was melting chocolate in the microwave.

At first I thought he was going to fill molds with the melted chocolate…there were
several plastic molds sitting on the table, but that wasn’t the plan. I shopped for some pecorino cheese and returned a few minutes later to see that the chef was filling cups with the melted chocolate.

Now I remember reading on someone else’s blog that they didn’t like the thick, Italian-style hot chocolate. It’s WAY thicker than anything I’ve ever had in the states, and it really is like my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, where Calvin tells Hobbes “…I don’t use milk. I just heat the syrup.” What’s not to like? Well, you DO have to use your finger to wipe the last bits of chocolate off the sides of the cup, but that’s not too bad. Somehow people forgive you for forgetting your manners when it comes to chocolate.

As an added treat I also got to see the (apparent) Guinness record-holding Mortadella. Although we’d say the equivalent in the states is bologna, that’s just not true…mortadella is so much better than anything Oscar Mayer ever thought about!


At 2/20/2007 01:39:00 AM , Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

Well, am I a disappointed neighbor! From the title I thought you were going to say you'd found cocoa shell mulch!
What happens to all those shells from chocolate making? It is such a wonderful, light mulch. (but it does attract dogs)

At 2/20/2007 01:28:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Barb!
That's one HUGE mortadella!
It would have been fun to have a slice off of that....

At 2/20/2007 08:14:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Ooooh! I remember having cocoa shell mulch one year...what a treat to open those bags! I didn't have problems with dogs, but thought it got yucky when it was wet.

At 2/27/2007 02:38:00 AM , Anonymous Valerie said...

There are people who don't like the Italian hot chocolate? Really?? But it's soooo good! It's almost like warm pudding with whipped cream!


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