Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hot Enough for You?

Dr. C. and I are living in a rented apartment in a palazzo at the top of the hill in Spello.  It is beautiful, with a gorgeous terrace, and yard, frescoes on the ceilings, and huge bedroom.  At the beginning of October, it is legal to turn on the heat here in Italy...don't ask.  So our landlord who is a heck of a nice guy came over, and programmed the thermostat.  But that night, no heat.

So we told our rental agent, and she told the landlord, he came back again, but this time with a hammer, and he hammered on the furnace (I couldn't look) and we got heat that night, but the next morning, nothing.
This little dance has gone on for about 2 weeks, with our landlord coming over, hammering on the furnace, and saying, speriamo, meaning, "we hope".  So far nothing had worked, we'd get heat immediately after the hammering, but then nothing in the morning.  Dr. C. decided it was the pump in the furnace that was bad, but that got lost in translation.

On Monday we were promised we'd have heat, a technician was coming, and he had the magic solution (hammer).  I wasn't home when they came, but Dr. C. said there was a lot of hammering, and there was heat when I got home that evening, and the next morning it was so hot in the house, I had to open up the windows.  The thermostat was set at 24 degrees C, that's about 78 degrees F.
So, we have heat, and now we have to figure out how to tell the landlord, we don't need that much heat!  Every day here is a new adventure, with interesting predicaments, and solutions.
During our no heat phase the landlord said he'd send over the gardener to mow the lawn.  So a guy came and pushed the lawnmower through OUR LIVING ROOM, and out to the yard.  And, yes, he pushed it out through the living room again, since there is no other access to the yard.  This is life here, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Ciao for now. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Of Birthdays, Love and Surprises

For almost a year, our children and I were trying to figure out a way to surprise Dr. C. for his birthday this year.  Since we are usually here in Spello for our birthdays, our daughter and son decided that the celebration had to be here, since, who better than our Italian family to celebrate with?  Ryan and Carrie flew in on Friday, with Carrie and her daughter Poppy arriving early, and surprising Nonno at our apartment.  We all headed down to the enoteca, and while we were sitting having an aperitivo, Ryan walked up the hill to surprise his dad.  Dr. C. was stunned and it was a great day to be with our family here in Spello to celebrate that we were together.  We definitely missed Carrie's partner, Eric and the rest of the tribe.
On Saturday morning we headed to Gubbio, the town where my grandparents came from and where our Italian citizenship was born.  Gubbio is a beautiful walled medieval city and we had fun exploring the upper part of the town, then driving up to the top of the mountain to the basilica of St. Ubaldo.
Poppy and Uncle Ry-Ry

Palazzo dei consoli

Everyone in the same room---my favorite place!
After that it was off to lunch at Il Panaro, where everything is made fresh including the pappardelle that we had for lunch. 
Saturday night we were having a party at the enoteca catered by 1 star Michelin chef Marco Gubbiotti from CucinaA in Foligno.  Of course, the wines were some of the most delicious we've ever had,'s Enoteca Properzio and Roberto indulged us with the best.
Poppy is ready for the dinner

Chef Marco, un grande chef

Roberto, the birthday boy, Irene and Andrea

Poppy with Chef Marco

risotto con funghi and white truffles

slow cooked pork, Jerusalem artichoke puree, and radishes

Wagu beef

Gelato cake--amazing!

they roll up the sidewalks here at 10 p.m.
Friends from Deruta, and Perugia joined us, and it was an incredible night with us falling into bed at 1 a.m.

46 years later, and many hair colors later (for me!)
Which brings me to love; I have known Dr. C. since 1969, we were married in 1971 and that means I've been with him for 2/3 of my life. He's been the constant in our lives, the glue that holds us together, and the man that our children look to for guidance. Our kids friends are also our kids, we are blessed by their presence in our lives. 
I could not be prouder of Dr. C, and when we got married,  this life we have together was not what I'd pictured at all---we make plans and God laughs!  As we age, we realize that spending time with the ones you love, and not wasting time is more precious than ever.  It's a privilege to share this life with this guy---they threw away the mold when he was born, and I've been blessed to share my life with the extraordinary man.  Happy birthday Dr. C., and many more especially if there is wine involved!
Ciao for now.

Monday, October 9, 2017

In Search of the Stelvio Pass

Waking up early on Sunday morning in Bormio, making sure we hadn't left anything in our hotel room, we took off for the Stelvio Pass.  This road links Bormio with Merano, and 2 weeks ago when we rented the Alfa we'd thought we'd be driving it but the weather wasn't cooperative.  This time we are in the rented Audi A-4, with seat belts! 
We drove out of Bormio, and began the climb to 9,000+ feet.  As we climbed I realized that I'd driven half of this side of the pass, and pulled over for Dr. C. to take over, after all this was his bucket list we were checking off. 

We pulled off for some photos and then Dr. C. took off to the top.  At each hairpin (and there are more than 60) there is a marker telling you which one you've passed. 

As we climbed the mountain, it began to snow, and the higher we got the snowier it was.  Although we grew up in snowy conditions, we hadn't been in them in a long time. 

This is the end of the Bormio to summit side, then we had to go down the other side to reach Merano.

The road has been described as lengths of spaghetti.  We saw bicyclists, motorcycle riders, and some antique cars while on the road.

Reaching the top, we made a pit stop, I looked for non-existent souvenirs (it was too early for anyone to be open) and then we got back in the car, hoping the snow would stop the farther down the mountain we went. 
I thought this was the last turn on the way down, but we had several more, before the road evened out.

This road cuts through some of the most majestic scenery, we felt blessed to be here. 
This is just a sample of the drive, and this was 1/2 way down the mountain.  We think that at this point we were in Switzerland, as you do pass into it and then out again to Italy.  So Dr. C. got to check this one off his list, and if truth be told when we mistakenly drove the Gavia Pass, it was worse, the Stelvio at least is a 2-lane road, with side barriers for most of the drive, the Gavia is a straight shot off the cliff, never to be heard from again.  I also got to cross off another UNESCO World Heritage sight with our ride on the Bernina Express.  It was a great weekend.  We are now back home in Spello enjoying gorgeous fall weather.  Ciao for now. 

Searching for Our Laundry

Two weeks ago, Dr. C. and I left Bormio in the Alfa and drove back to Lake Garda to drop it off. About the time we were unloading the Alfa I remembered that we'd left our laundry at the hotel in Bormio.  After a few frustrating e-mails with the hotel, and no help from FEDEX, we decided to take the weekend, drive up to Tirano, board the UNESCO World Heritage Bernina Express train to St. Moritz, and then head to Bormio to retrieve our laundry.  The Stelvio Pass still awaits us, and this time we're in the Audi, so at least there are seat belts!

The Bernina Express is a railway that goes from Tirano to Davos or Chur, or you can opt to get off at any of the places in between.  Day-trippers tend to get off in St. Moritz, and then head back to Tirano.  The track is an amazing piece of engineering, and the scenery is spectacular.

The cars on the train have huge windows, giving you ample room to take photos and if you are so inclined, during nicer weather there are open air cars that are attached to the back of the train. 

At this time of year, there is snow in the higher elevations, the trees are turning colors, and the tiny towns along the route look like something out of Disney's storybook land.

The famous circular aqueduct

Mira Lago

Cheese on the hoof

I took this photo of the ice, then this happened

This kid appeared bored with his parents, so he broke off a piece of the ice

He found a dagger, and walked off

St. Moritz is beautiful, with a lovely lake at the bottom of the hill, hotels, restaurants and plenty of designer shops in the center of town.   We stopped for lunch and then peeked into shops and bought a few souvenirs, just to say we'd been there.

When in Switzerland, you have a bratwurst and roesti --I describe them as hash browns made in heaven

Amazing chocolate shop

On our ride back to Tirano, I took more photos.  Altogether I took over 250 photos, the scenery was just that spectacular.

We retrieved our car, headed to Bormio, this time on the right route, not the Gavia Pass that has given me nightmares since we were on it.  And, we have our laundry! Tomorrow, if the weather is right, we are heading to the Stelvio Pass, and this time we'll get to experience what the guys on The Grand Tour describe as the best driving road in the world.  Film at 11.  Ciao for now.