Sunday, September 11, 2011

A hot September night

It is strange to be in Italy on 9/11. They talk about it on the Italian radio stations but it is more about the Americans' reactions, and how sad we are.  My deepest sympathy to anyone reading this whose family or friends were affected.  

We are back in Umbertide.  The Stoic One woke me up around 10:00 this morning checking to make sure I was still alive.  I had been sleeping for 12 hours straight and could have slept for a few more. Maybe I slept right through my jet lag this time!

The flight was uneventful until we got to Rome.  We spent one hour standing in line to get our rental car, mama mia! After 13 hours in flight, the wait is excruciating. An irate Englishman, went to the counter and demanded,"How much longer will this take?" The Italian calmly responded, "What number are you?"  The English man answered, "130".  "Well, then"the Italian responded, "It will take nine more numbers since we are on 121."  Remember when I asked Luca how many tiles he could set in one day, and then he called in sick the next day because my question stressed him out?  Hurray, we are back in Italy, where deadlines are non existent and time can't ever be measured.

Hopefully, this will be the last time we wait in line for a rental car, as we hope to pick up our own car on Thursday.  We do not have our "residenza" permit as we are waiting for citizenship papers.  This could be a problem because you are supposed to be a resident before you buy a car. However, we have been told that the law changed and it is now possible to buy a car in Italy without the residenza, but the people in the car dealership seem unaware of this change in the law, and so....More on this Thursday when a male entourage will accompany the Stoic One to the car dealership.

Leaving Rome we were stuck on the autostrada, going nowhere fast.  There was an overhead electronic sign that informed us there was a "ribaltata" 1 km. ahead.  Ribaltata, hmmm.  Isn't that some kind of Tuscan soup? I told the Stoic One that the road was a little soupy up ahead.  He gave me a look and suggested I look up the word.  The Google translator said ribaltata meant reversed, so I told the Stoic One not to worry that there was road work ahead and one way traffic.  Then we noticed several Italians started reversing themselves backward on the autorstrada to get off at the passed exit. "I think maybe the sign says we are supposed to reverse ourselves and go backwards." The Stoic One looked at me as if I had gone totally daft.  "How can I reverse when there are 100 cars behind me?"  "Well maybe you should get in the right lane and reverse yourself once you are over there." He didn't respond to my driving suggestion.  No news there. The next sign said "auto ribaltata"  I look this up and Google informs me it means "overturned car".  Uh oh.  One hour later, the Stoic One is still calm.  We had moved about 100 meters.  The Roman drivers are not honking their horns but have their hands out the window with their lit cigarettes keeping time to their music.  Has no one here heard about lung cancer?  We inch our way to the accident which had closed down 3 of 4 lanes.

Eventually, we arrive home.  Coming into the Niccone valley, is liking falling into a beloved recurring dream.  The sweet green hills surround us on either side, the farms appear as hand drawn little plots of land, with a few hot cows taking refuge under the shade of the trees.  Did you notice I said hot?  It is "hot unto death" here as the Italians say.

So remember when the Stoic One insisted on air conditioning, and Mani and all the Italians insisted no one in the town has a.c. and it was a waste of money, but my darling insisted?  Ha, ha. We are the only ones in the town who are cool.  Even the old men have stopped their card playing.  The black and white little dog is too hot to bark at the motorcycle that roars by, and the languid young Italian man who always sits to the right of our door, is now in the shade. Things are not normal in the Piazza of Umbertide,

When last I left you, we were in the airport having decided to buy apartment number 2.  As you may recall, apartment number 2 was owned by a 92 year old grandmother and her evil grandson Max.  Max was not only ugly in looks, way over weight with greasy brown hair, but ugly in behavior.  He told me that all Italians were thieves and liars and could not be trusted to tell you the correct time of day.  I took this as a summary of his character.  It did not endear him to me.  I told Matteo and Mani I didn't like him, and I wouldn't deal with him, so Matteo represented us in the purchase of the apartment.  We completed the Compromesso, through Matteo, wired in our deposit, and then we flew home.

Last month I get an urgent email titled "Max e' morto."  Uh oh.  Max, it seems is indeed dead.  He died in Rome mid June.  These are the following reasons we have been given as to what happened to him.  The grandmother said he died of a heart attack.  Totally believable given his weight and life style. The attorney said he died after a crisis of depression, and killed himself in the apartment in Rome. This, I must say is not believable given his personality, his need for cash and drive to sell the apartment.  His apartment in Rome has been sequestered by the police for 2 months.  Mani and I looked at each other and both said, someone killed him.  More on this later.

For lunch today, we went down to our favorite restaurant in town and were greeted by the owner Laura and her mother who does the cooking.  I had potato ravioli with salted ricotta filling and tiny bits of zucchini and pancetta in the sauce.  It was delicious.

Tomorrow we drive to Terontola to pick up some friends who are visiting from California.  I hope it is cooler weather for them.  This week there will be a grand festa in town celebrating the reunification of Italy.  It is called Otto Cento which means 800 but it is really 1800.  It should be a spectacle in the piazza.  Let's hope for cooler weather.  I think even the Italians may be grumpy wearing soldier uniforms from the 1800's if the heat is near 100 degrees.

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