Tuesday, March 13, 2007


There’s been a lot of work going on at the hotel, the Villa Valentini. Rumor has it that a Roman millionaire has bought the place! We’re not well enough connected to get more than gossip at this point, but I’m going to ask around to see if anyone has more concrete information.

I’ve cleaned up the garden (the orto) and it’s ready for planting! Now if I could just get something in the ground! To satisfy my need to dig and plant, I started on the back yard last week. I’ve decided to do a bit of rearranging since we have more sun this year.

Where there used to be impatiens, I’ve decided to put my basil. I know that if it gets enough sun it’ll grow so much better in the ground than in pots. I’ve turned the dirt over, and was so impatient that I couldn’t do more when it dawned on me…..why not plant some lettuce there for now, then when it gets warmer I can put in the basil? Ooh, good idea!

This morning we went to the weekly market in Marsciano. After walking through the market to see who had what, I waited my turn to by some lettuce plants. The couple in front of me where selecting their lettuce as well, and after selecting the variety, asked the vendor for half the tray.

When the vendor tried to break the Styrofoam tray in half he didn’t quite succeed. He ended up with 36 plants and 24 plants. The couple selected the 36 plant section, then the vendor turned to me. Fine, I told him, I’ll take the other 24! As he handed me the plants, another man asked me if I was going to plant these outside. Sure! I told him, why not? Well, he said, what will you do if it gets cold? I told him I’d make a cover out of plastic and this seemed to satisfy him. “An experiment!” he said, nodding and smiling! I just love it that now I can have these little conversations in Italian!

There 24 lettuce plants cost me all of €2, so even if the experiment fails I’m not out too much! But really, lettuce is a cool weather plant, and if there’s a chance of freezing I do have some heavy plastic I can use for protection.

I feel that finally, after 4 years, I’ve finally gotten the garden right! Anyone who’s a gardener will know that it’s always a crap-shoot, and that things are always changing, but at least I’ve figured out some of my problems, like using the laterite for mulch. I’ve put down the soaker hose and covered it with a thick layer of pine bark mulch. Armando was quite interested in the soaker hose, never having seen one before.

Today, after planting the lettuce, I called Armando over to ask his advice. Did he think I should cover the plants? He and I discussed it, although with his dialect and rapid speech I’m always straining to make sure I understand him!

He agreed with me that no, a cover wasn’t really necessary unless a frost was predicted. He also told me I’d planted them too close together, something I was worried about. For now I’m going to leave them as is since everything is muddy. Maybe in a few days, I’ll try to space them out a little more.

Armando asked me to take a look at the two rosemary bushes he has planted behind my fence. One plant looks great, the other plant looks terrible! I told him I didn’t know what could be wrong, but that maybe they needed more sun.

He’s still waiting for the commune to build the fence they promised him to separate the area behind his building from the park. Once this fence is built he can move the rosemary and maybe it will perk up.

He also convinced me that I should move my rosemary and salvia out of their pots and into the ground. I know they’ll grow so much better in the ground, but I’ve always hesitated because I’m afraid they’ll just take over. Heavy pruning will be in order.

Oh, other gossip….we’ve heard that San Venanzo is getting ready to initiate door to door garbage pick-up!!! I forgot to ask Armando about that, but supposedly it’s coming soon! Last week when we visited our friends Greg and Marguerite’s new place in Panicale I made a comment about the garbage containers, and learned that Panicale has garbage pick-up at the door. Of course they pay a LOT more in garbage tax than we do, so now the question will be: How much will this new and improved garbage collection cost us???

Work has finally started on our friends’ bed and breakfast! A new roadway was created to access the two new apartments that will be built on the other side of the existing house. Several olive trees were relocated before the digging began, so hopefully next year we’ll be harvesting at least as many olives as we did this past fall.

Also at the weekly market I bought more artichokes, although these look slightly different than the ones I bought before. A friend told us there are over 40 different varieties of artichokes, so that’s not a big surprise.

A young guy was doing nothing buy chopping the stems off the artichokes and selling them as fast as he could trim. Of course I had to snap a few pics, and as I did, he told the customers that tourists always wanted to take pictures.

Hey! I’m not a tourist!, I told him in Italian. I live here, in San Venanzo with my husband! He seemed a little surprised, and all of a sudden had nothing to say! He’d spoken a few words of English to me earlier, but now he seemed to be at a loss for words. We told him that we’d already paid for our six artichokes when we got our other vegetables, so he quickly hacked away at six more stems and gave us our artichokes.

We treated ourselves to porchetta sandwiches from our favorite porchetta truck, then ate them in the car, American-style!, as we drove through the car wash! We seem to be the only ones who stay IN the car as it goes through the wash...everyone else gets out and stands around watching their car. We finished up our morning in Marsciano by taking our usual walk around the bicycle track, then drove back up the hill to our little piece of heaven, San Venanzo.


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