Like the swallows, we have found our way back to springtime in Umbria

I found the photos I’d taken of the hookup tech genius Maurizio did in 2006, and put everything EXACTLY as per those photos and bingo! his system still worked and messages started pouring in.

PANICALE, Umbria, Italy–Yes, we are here. I think.

Bit dazed and dislocated from the typical overnight flight. And so happy to find out we’re not only here, but we’re wired. Was just iChatting and IM’ing with our office in the states. Airport/wireless thing continues to amaze as we walk in and fire it up and the messages they do pour in. Tiny glitch this time. Our friend Elida that came to visit from Panicale recently said she had checked our house for us and our broadband didn’t work. So I came in the living room a bit on tiptoes, edging up to our snakepile of wires and devises. And I could see there were loose wires. But. What goes where? Uuuugggh. Not a big thing for say, the proto typical fifth grader, but for old dog, this is a new trick. No earthly idea what any of it could be doing as it sits there sullenly hmmming to itself and flashing its many tiny green eyes. I can only do my few computer oriented things by rote. But I can take digi photos. And do. And I found the photos I’d taken of the hookup tech genius Maurizio did in 2006, and put everything EXACTLY as per those photos and bingo! his system still worked and messages started pouring in. Highly recommend that method of cheating for the low tech among us.

And our poor un-used Italian cell phone. Been languishing about lost and useless in my sock drawer since last June. Almost forgot to bring it. Charged it up and we were back in the game without missing a beat. How does that even work?
autogrill the place for road food in italy and especially coffee

Easiest best flight ever. Boston to Rome no changes, nowhere. Ugly food on ALITALIA but the many post touchdown coffees along the autostrada (so few miles per gallon of cappucchino) were even better than I remembered. I can still remember the first time I ever braved my way into one of those Agip “Autogrill” cafes and tried to figure how the heck to order anything. Decades later, it almost makes a modicum of sense or we’ve just quit thinking about it in the American part of our brain. Hmmm good. Cooooffffee. It is slowly dawning on me: WE MUST BE IN ITALY. When out of the blue this thought occurred to my barely awake self: WAS THAT A FERARRI? Cars passing us, trucks, trucks, trucks passing us. Voomm, voomm, vooom, they all sound alike. Except for that SNNAP, SNARL, GRRReat sounding silver coupe. Yike. What a voice. We sooo heard it before we saw it. And then we saw it no more. Solid gone.

We actually landed early due to big old tail winds and were in Panicale before noon and off to the races. Cool temps here but all is lush green and everything is in full flower. Which is good. Earlier they were complaining drought almost. Seems good now. Cherry trees, wisteria, lilacs, iris, stuff I don’t know what is, etc.
sign of spring in italy too - liliacs

Our garden has had a major prune/whack. How did that happen? And all the shutters have been redone. I mean I can guess which good friend did it but wow. Took the bulk of the old fig out. The main trunk is gone, stump about 10 inches across. Bruno and I had talked about taking that out and letting the good big side shoot that are major tree like items themselves, let them take over. Everything in the house is polished to within an inch of its life. So good to have good friends that will do this. I know we pay them for their work, but it is really so much better than I would ever expect that it really feels like there was a large helping of love mixed in with the work. Really an attitude fixer that is. I have to do (but want to and like to) do some heavy weeding but even the remaining weeds aren’t like disgusting or anything at all, I know they are weeds but when viewed from the street above, as most people see the garden, they are just green stuff. They even masquerade as fairly organized weeds. But their days are numbered.

Kind of an on-going shock to get here so relatively easy and to be so organized. Where ARE we?

More low impact fun in Italy

low impact fun in Italy
PANICALE, Umbria, Italy–It may LOOK like I am just standing absentmindedly in the piazza. See shady character in center photo. That could be me. Spending quality time gazing pensively at my reflection in the back window of an allegedly Smart, but very dusty car. And photodocumenting the moment for all posterity. It may not seem like a productive way to do business. But don’t be fooled. This is power networking I am doing here.

I am, at some level, just waiting. For a miracle. Named Maurizio. Katia says if anyone can unscramble my bushel basket of computer wires and modems and routers and random equipment and make their sum total equal me being on broadband, it just might be her Maurizio aka “Bel Genio”. So, I’ve left the olive harvest celebration lunch and am pacing myself back and forth around the edges of Piazza Regina Margherita. No Maurizio so far.

Ah, but what is this? It is our dear Swedish friend Gun (pronounced goon, not gun) sliding into the piazza in her battleship gray Fiat Panda. This car works for a living. And looks it. Gun uses it like it is a two ton diesel dump truck. She has her cheery Dutch friend with her. We air kiss through the open car window and banter a bit. You have to catch a moment of Gun’s time when and where you can. She says, in a long suffering way, that she has thirty Swedes working for her, picking olives for their room and board. She says feeding them is a full time job; so, she isn’t certain Who is working for Whom. “And Some of them are So Old”, she cries. “They can hardly pick. But they eat like starved people”.

Gun is a bit over 70, but doesn’t look it or act it; you have to know she means typical old people. NOT like her. Well, they couldn’t be like her. No one in their right mind works as hard as she does. I know, I know! Ask me! I have an idea Gun – Why not feed these lollygagging old people according to how well they pick, and see if they pick up the pace? There is the “woosh” of air brakes and our whole field of vision is filled with one apartment-sized tour bus. It is Her Swedes coming back from their olive oil pressing. Gun’s son, the Swedish priest, is in the front window – tour guide microphone in hand. They spill out of the bus and swarm around us, covering her in bright, perky Swedish. She gives me a wistful look, and I’ve lost her.

But look over there. Isn’t that Giancarlo in his shiny acid green Fiat? He’s pulled up to the Stop sign, he rolls down his window, takes a furtive last drag, and kicks a butt out on the street and makes an appointment to for us to get together the next day. We’ve both got cell phones, land lines, emails. But he acts like he totally expected to see me right there, right then. Ok, there he goes. See you tomorrow.

A young guy goes by in a car. Is that our Maurizio? Nope. Guess not. Like I said, I have a cell phone and, just to prove it, it is ringing away. Oh. Hi. It is Maurizio. I hear laughing and see him, waving, a few feet behind me. That WAS him in the car. All the planets aligned in under five minutes of piazza standing. And a couple hours later, Bravo Maurizio had us wired. Life as we know it can go on.

Some of my finest work.

See you in Italy (I’ll be the one in the piazza)

Stew Vreeland