UMBRIA, TUSCANY, Italy — Our lucky friend Kiki is in Italy for the holidays. Three weeks this time. (Dec 6-28th) She owns the house there with us and it is a joy to have that in common with her. We like to say that it is her fault we own the house, in the first place. Midge and I were happily renting there in Panicale and Kiki came to visit and after about two days said “Have you seen that house up the street?” Pause, skip a beat, she continues “Lets buy it together”. And we were off to the races and happy ever after. Now she’s deliriously happy with the new wireless broadband in the house and she and her trusty laptop are dropping us a lovely stream of notes, the fun light moments that fill a trip with memories. I feel like we are there when I read her emails and thought I could spread that happy feeling around.
Buon giorno styooo
I’m sorry about your phone. None of the TIM guy’s ideas made sense. I told him you were here a lot and always charging it with credit. By the way, your telefonini still receives incoming calls; I tested it. Rather like the land line: A telemarketer called the other day (incredible) even though we can’t call out.
The weather has been lovely. Some rain, but mostly unseasonably warm and sunny. We’re trying to hit as many activities as we can. Your Umbria online link (on our Italy Links page, under “Umbria”) has been great.
Let’s see, what’s new in Panicale : Lights on at the Contessa’s … No Gun yet – get some recording that doesn’t sound like her … The bancomat ate my card Friday, perhaps because of that being gone a year and a half thing again. Tried to talk to them today, they said come back tomorrow. Got caught in another Catholic holiday Friday, Feast of the Annunciation. You’d think I’d know. It’s a big one, the official kick off for Christmas, which is really nice (as opposed to pre-Halloween, like us.) Todd and I went to the first ‘Soul Christmas’ event that night. A group from New Orleans rocked the church in Paciano. Very Aretha.
Wednesday we go to Rome for lunch with Massimo and Anna. Then we’re trying to decide about Venice for Christmas. There was a nice write-up in the Sunday Times travel section just before we left with things to see and do. I emailed the two hotels they recommended — and there’s room at the inn! The Chiusi train guy told me there’s a four-hour InterCity from here. Sounds good to me. What do you think? Should we go there before Christmas, and spend the holidays here? Or should we spend the holidays there? I’m concerned that so many places close down starting December 24 at noon — and will be closed the 26th, too.
No motorcycles to rent, thank God. And Todd’s too much of a downeaster for a scooter.
Love to all — and thank you again for giving me the top floor. I love hanging out the window!
The spys who love you
I am hooked, hooked, hooked on wireless. Todd is upstairs preparing to grill, yes grill, chicken from the cute butcher’s (Giugliana) over an open fire. Here I am downstairs loving your emails.
We would be thrilled to house spy for you. Will definitely see what we can find out.
Heard from Gun today. She said she’d try emailing you to see if that works.
Oh the Italian words I’ve learned today. Mostly when I walk away from someone and realized all the things I just said, wrong.
More (don’t you just know it?) later.
We visited today, disposable camera in hand. Gate was locked, but signs of fresh tracks in the wet clay. Todd got in and took pix inside and out. What a spectacular location! On the way out, we met a truck. Hailed the guy and it turns out he’s a worker there. As you instructed, I said we were ‘amici di padrona,’ and told him it was beautiful work (at least that’s what I think I said … I’m so discouraged with my painful Italian.) Asked him if he’s working alone; he said no, there are two or three. Asked him if he’s working on the house, and he said outside — I guess where the new foundation is. Anyway, lots and lots of equipment. The much-envied ‘gru,’ (the construction cranes you see everywhere in Italy) cement mixer and palettes of brick and stone. Something’s clearly happening there.
There are pomegranates drying here in the kitchen. What kind of a report shall I give you?
Definitely feel free to use any words. Did you know that foreign correspondent was my childhood ambition? That and scuba diver, like Lloyd Bridges on ‘Sea Hunt.’
Saluti a tutti,
Oh Stew, I’m so sorry: You could have used my pomegranate update for that gorgeous blog page about pomegranates! It’s beautiful, and I love the writing. I’ll post a comment when I can. Do I really need a password? The pomegranates are burnishing nicely. Mostly golden very firm to the touch. They’re not light as air yet. Does that come later?
Went to Rome yesterday for lunch with Anna and Massimo. How cool is that? It’s been lovely here. The dawns are especially beautiful, soft and misty. Today I have to make reservations. Wish me luck that Masolino’s has room for us Christmas Eve lunch … and Patrizia Christmas Day lunch. The only urgency I have ever heard in Panicale is about booking for Christmas. Very cute. Shows where their priorities are.
Do you know what’s going on with the restauro at the Podesta? Public offices?
Hotels, hotels, hotels
No room at the Orto(Hotel Orto di Medici, Florence). Panicking, I ran upstairs and snagged your ‘See You In Italy!’ book for hotel picks in Florence. We’re now booked at the Pensione Annalena, which Bon Appetit recommended in May 05 as a ‘best value.’ I’ll give you a true foreign correspondent report on it when I return. 126E, near Boboli Gardens … so a completely new location. I’ve barely been on that side of the river.
Now to see if Antico Noe is aperto dicembre 27.
Finally got ‘the man’ at Antico Noe. (Called earlier and was told to call back.) He says he may or may not be open on the 27th, our one and only night in Florence and last night in Italy.
In any case, he won’t take a reservation. Artistes. We’ll give it a shot. If that doesn’t work we’ll try one of the restaurants in your fabulous ‘See You In Italy!’ book. Of course, there’s always one of the restaurants in the Cibreo constellation. I ate at the Cibreo trattoria two years ago with Molly and Frank … Steve Siegelman recommended Cibreo recently when I emailed him about his sound system (and oh by the way, Mr. Food Expert, where should we eat in Florence?) … and Massimo did yesterday. Can’t miss, if any of them are open that day …
I have a new telefonino number. I’m not even going to memorize it. Still heartbroken I lost the old one. Those digits made sense to me.
Know the best thing about going to Rome? Coming back to Panicale. I loved walking through the gate last night after a ‘veloce’ trip on the InterCity. The street lamps were on … soft American jazz sifted
through the loud speakers (Is that a holiday thing? I don’t remember the sound of music here before.) … and endless sparkling darkness off our garden.
Tomorrow night we’re going to Jane Parker’s for drinks, then Boldrino’s. Looks very cute and the couple seem sweet.
They’ve been working in the garden below us. Very structured.
Just had a coffee with Bruno at the ‘club.’ I’m waiting for the farmacia to open. Todd a il rafreddore. Have to get something for sore throat and earache. Jane says the Umbrian cure for earache is warm olive oil and onion … poured into the ear!
Thanks for the heads up on that home cure Kiki. I’m never going to complain of an earache around an Umbrian bearing Onions. Happy Holidays to all!
See you in Italy,