Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Umbertide?

This is the question that people from Umbertide ask me, not people from the U.S.  There are several things that trouble the people here about our impending move.  There are those people who can easily imagine moving, leaving everything behind and going on an adventure.  These people, however, yearn for an AMERICAN adventure.  The city that calls to them over and over is San Francisco.  They cannot imagine why any one in their right mind would exchange San Francisco for Umbertide.  Ask any Italian what city in the US they would like to live in and I would bet 90% say San Francisco. Don't you think you will be bored in Umbertide, they wonder.

Then there are those people who love Umbertide.  They can never imagine leaving here.  They do not want a foreign adventure. They can never imagine abandoning friends and family and leaving Umbertide, the place of their birth, for any where else. But what about your family, they ask?  

There are those who understand intellectually that living in a place is not the same as visiting and that maybe they wouldn't love living in San Francisco but then again maybe they would love it.  Then there are the Americans who are already here. Let me tell you about all of the problems in living here, they say.  Like what?  The bureaucracy, the inefficiency, the rigid social and institutional systems.  It is not like being on holiday to be here. Would you leave, and go back the U.S. I ask?  No...

To all groups, I say you are right.  Yes San Francisco is a vibrant and exciting place to be.  Yes, I may be bored in Umbertide.  Yes, I will miss my family and friends. Finally, yes I know that Umbertide will be different once we are married rather than when we are only having an affair of the heart.

We are fickle creatures.  Always in love with the fantasy of something other than what we have.  It is hard to explain what draws me to this place, this culture, this language.  The Stoic One could list his advantages, mainly financial and life style.  For me, it is harder to put into words.  Some deep longing from my youth.  A feeling of being loved and being special.  That is why Italy.

As for Umbertide, to me it is the most beautiful, unspoiled of places.  I love that my window looks out over the Tiber River and over the busy Piazza.  I can be in the city and in the deep country in footsteps.  The light here is remarkable.  It makes the colors of the trees stand out agains the horizon.  There is a sense of peace and mysticism that soothes my soul.

Why Umbertide?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Charity Event Italian style

The Stoic One said, "I don't know how you are even going to begin to describe what happened last night."  Here is my best shot:

In our town, there are 2 bars, Bar Mary and Bar Centrale. (Mani told me there have to be 2 bars otherwise it isn't a piazza!)  At the Bar Centrale, there is a very nice woman who welcomed us from the very first day.  She has long blond hair and, as far as I can tell, speaks no English.  She has been very good at speaking Italian with me and pretending that I make sense.  One day, she came up to me with an envelope with my name on it (how she knew my name I have no idea) and invited me to an event that would take place at the Teatro dei Riuniti on October 20th.  She said that the tickets were free, but it was very important to tell her if we could not make it as the seating was limited, and if we couldn't make it, she would invite other people.  We told her we would be delighted to attend, and we marked Thursday, Oct. 20th at 9:00 on the calendar.  That was last night.

A link to the theater

We walked down our 65 steps and went out into the lamp lit piazza and down one of the side streets. It was raining slightly and the pavers were wet and slippery.  I had on good solid boots, which I had just bought, and I wondered what the Italian women would wear.  The event was supposed to start at 9:00 so we got there at 8:45 not knowing exactly what we were supposed to do.  As we approached the open doors, there was a man in a suit who greeted us, but didn't ask us for anything so we said "buona sera" and entered.  Naturally, there was food just inside the entryway. The food was on cookie trays and was different types of cookies, and pastries. There was another couple there who were also waiting and some other people milling around in the back.

Clementine, (I found out that is her name) greeted us in a floor length red satin dress. She had a hairdo that the Stoic One said was a Betty Rubble/Wilma Flintstone, bone in the hair type of do.  I thought she looked lovely.  She told us we were "bravi" or good for showing up.  She gave me the cheek kiss and moved on. We later found out that she was the organizer of the event and plays a large role and the amateur theater.

At 9:00 I said to the Stoic One, let's go inside.  So we walked into the little theater.  There were private boxes on both sides two levels up and "orchestra seating" of about 12 rows.  The first 5 rows had extra padded seating, so we decided those were probably for "special guests."  Clementine said the theater sat 100 and that looked just about right. We sat in the first row of normal padded seats and looked around.

It was a good mixture of young adults and older people.  Thankfully, no children were in the audience. Most of the men had on jeans and fancy sweat shirts.  What does that mean?  OK, picture a zipped white sweat shirt, not a hoodie, with fancy English writing that makes no sense. The older men had on jackets, most of the men had on scarves artfully arranged around their necks.  The women did have on stilettos, but in boot form...mama mia how they walk in these is beyond me. All of the women seemed to have some kind of sparkles on, either in the form of jewelry, woven into the fabric of their clothes or in their hair.  They had on pants or jeans.  I had on my black sweater and slacks.  Next time I have to bring over my sweater with sparkles.

So we sat, and sat and sat.  The Stoic One remembered that when we attended an opera here they were still working on the set as we arrived.  The audience was calm, chatting, not expecting a 9:00 start to a 9:00 event.  I have talked to you before about the Italian sense of time and my sense of time.  As a consultant, I live in the space that "time is money".  I am sure this does not translate into Italian. I asked Mani about this and he said, "Yes we have this. It is called time and money." "No, I said, "the expression is time is equal to money."  "no, susannnn" he responded,  like I'm making it up.

To me time is something that is managed, controlled, predictable, then parceled off for planning purposes.  I don't know that I am that different from other Americans, maybe a little more compulsive, but not that much.  :)  Anyway, Italians and time.  They don't have any idea about controlling it, so they are very patient about it. (The Stoic One wants to point out that none of this is true when they are driving.)  Most Italians have no expectations of things being on time, so there are no frustrations. They stand in line, because they know that is what you do in the post office or grocery store or wherever.  They don't start clapping at an event to get something started because they don't expect it will start on time.  It is interesting to think about how culture has acclimated us to time.  60 minutes, one hour....what does it really mean, in Italy, not much.

I later told Mani that we went to an event that was supposed to start at 9:00 and we got there at 8:45.  He put his head down on the desk as if to say, why haven't you learned anything yet.  He asked me what time it actually started.  I said 9:35.  He put on a big smile and said this was excellent.  He would expect an 11:00 start for a 9:00 event.  He then launched into a long explanation as to why this was true.  To sum it up, according to him, it is all the fault of the women who take 2 hours to get dressed while it takes a man 20 minutes.  Add to this the fact that no woman wants to arrive first because that will look like she didn't take much time to get ready and if she arrives last, all eyes will be on her....could be.....

Back to the event. There were two older Italian men sitting behind me in the theater.  I started eavesdropping, to practice my Italian, right, and they were talking about food.  One told the other what he had eaten as a primi, first dish, the other one discussed the pork loin that his wife had fixed.  I asked the Stoic One if when American men were alone they discussed what they ate for dinner the night before, and he just looked at me.

At 9:30 we were hopeful because we heard some piano playing behind the crimson and gold curtain. People, including Clementine, were walking up front and back stage, passing nervously.  At 9:35 the curtain finally came up.  The back drop was black, the colors for the evening seemed to be black, white and red, except for the men on stage who wore whatever they wanted.  There was someone at the piano, who was later introduced as Beppe Carletti.  (He is a musician from the 60's and had a band called "Nomadi"; never heard of him.)  Anyway, Beppe was at the piano and a very beautiful blond was beside him.  She had on an overly tight black dress, a small red necklace, and red platform shoes. The shoes were a little weird with the black stockings and dress, but she probably couldn't manage stilettos on stage. Her dress in the back looked like it belonged in the front with an open v-shaped white collar and a zipper. Her platinum hair was up on one side and falling down in curls on the other. We waited expectantly, and then she started to sing.

To be kind, I remember Simon Cowel on American Idol saying that people sang "sharp" when they were nervous.  She was very nervous.  Beppe was extraordinary on the piano and as her pitch got higher, his playing got louder.  There was no program, so I can't tell you what she sang as it was one of the few songs in Italian.  They finished and then the announcer interviewed Beppe who seemed irritable, what with the blond singing off key and all.  They talked about how important the charity was, "Bringing smiles to children...a charity for dentistry".  He left, the curtain went down, and then the blond was back.  This time with a band.  There were 2 back up singers, percussionist, xylophone, guitar player and piano.  They were good and the blond was oh, so much better.  She got better and better as the night went on.

It turns out that the main star of the event wasn't the blond.  It was Fabrizio Vendramin, the winner of the program "Italy's Got Talent 2011." What hair Fabrizio had was graying and pulled back into a pony tail.  He was wearing a yellow painter jump suit and a matching yellow sweat band.  Having no idea who he was, I also did not know what he did.  After his introduction, he left the stage.

The blond came out again, this time accompanied only by an acoustical guitar player who was very good. Then Fabrizio came out.  First they put down a paint cloth across the stage.  Then they brought out a huge canvas about 6'x4' that was mounted on wood so it could be flipped over.  Suddenly the song "Angie" by the Rolling Stones comes blaring out of the speakers.  The Italians are all happy now moving to the beat of the music.  In the meantime Fabrizio is up front with large paint strokes painting something that looks like nothing...we are all squinting, listening to the music, trying to decide what the heck he is painting.  Suddenly I realize the painting is upside down.  I think the whole audience realizes it at the same time, except those who had watched the show and knew what he did.  He steps back, flips the painting over, and it was a caricature of Mick Jagger.  We all oohed and ahhed over this.  It was actually really amazing to see it. The painting was slowwwwwly auctioned off.

After the auction, the blond sang some more this time accompanied by young dancers from the town.  They dancers were around 12-14 and danced in a languid, modern style to the music of the blond and the guitar player.  Then the painter came back.  This time the music was "Imagine" by John Lennon and the painting was of him.  Painting auctioned off.  More singing, more dancing.  Bob Marley "Jamming for the Lord".   Painting of him auctioned off.  Then someone from the audience gets up and does an impersonation of Louis Armstrong singing "It's a Wonderful World".  This was my dad's favorite song.  I sat there thinking about my dad, and I started to laugh.  I thought if he could only see me in this small town in Umbria watching an overweight blond Italian do am imitation of Louis Armstrong, he wouldn't believe it. I barely could control myself.  Anyway the guy was actually pretty good, face contortions and seizure like gestures aside. Then the painter comes back and Ray Charles' "Georgia" came over the speakers. Painting of Ray Charles was auctioned off, and then you would think it would be over, but wait.....

OK, one of the things I have noticed about Italians is that they take forever to say good by.  They stand, you stand, they say good by, you say good by, they talk about how much fun they had, you say how much fun you had, they say....this goes on forever...Little did I know they would close a performance in the same way.  We clap, think they are done, no...they don't do encores, they keep talking, thanking people, lots of thank yous go on.  At midnight, as if by magic, it is over and we walk home, through the rain, up the 65 stairs.  Our apartment lights are on, we walk back into our little world and watch the ending of an episode of "Prime Suspect" the latest BBC series we have brought over.  It is with Helen Mirren and it is excellent.

Hope you enjoyed your night at the theater as much as I did.  Here are photos that we took of the paintings that were done. Apparently he won the contest with the Bob Marley painting. (Mani told me this and was most annoyed he wasn't invited to the show.) You can see how large they are.  You need to remember he did each painting in one song's worth of time, and upside down.  I can see why he won.

Me and my new best bud Clementine

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MiniMetro, Perugia and Chocolate


 For those of you who love chocolate, Dorothee, this post might just possibly drive you crazy.

We went to Perugia this week to visit the Eurochocolate exhibit.  Amanda Knox has left town, so what else is there to do but have a street party with every imaginable type of chocolate on display.

We took the Minimetro to arrive into the old center of town.

 For the first time we found the right parking lot and station. The MM has 6 or 7 stops and goes from the bottom of town up the hill to the middle of the centro storico in Perugia.

This is a wonderful invention for me because Perugia is the closest major city to us, about 30 min. drive, and the Stoic One hates to drive there because the traffic is a series of ever diminishing one way streets.  He gets stressed and grumpy, not a good combination.  So we were told to take the Minimetro, easy to drive to and easy to park and hop on.  It is a fully automated system, similar to our BART but the cars are tiny, 8 fold down seats and about room for 20.   The cars come by about every minute, turn around at the top and come back down.  To get to the minimetro you should exit on the Madonna Alta exit and follow signs.  It is farther off the road then you would expect, so keep going.

Once we arrived downtown, we were in a chocolate lovers' paradise.

This is where I bought chocolate. Ciocoloto del re

Chocolate and amore

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Alpaca farm

Me looking at alpaca fur  Notice my sweater.

Happy alpacas

One of the great things about living in Umbria is visiting various artisans.  I think Umbria is still this magical place because it has nothing the modern world can exploit.  People do things the old way here and the old way still works.  This has drawn other people who want to preserve the old way and so the cycle continues.  Umbria has no natural resources except beauty.  There is farming, a lot of tobacco, but there is no oil, no mining no manufacturing.  The farms are all small and family owned.  Most of the grapes are grown for individual use or small boutique wineries.

This alpaca farm is up the way from us.  When the weather turned cold, I decided I needed a new sweater. We drove back into the hills and discovered this charming man and his farm.  He used to be an economist in Rome, and wanted to get out of the rat race.  In the 80's he bought this property and tried many different ways to make the land produce.  He eventually found alpacas and has been in love with the animals.  I must say they are very sweet.  THey are in the camel family, cousins to llamas but according to him are smarter and sweeter.  They seemed very sweet to me.

If ever you are in the Niccone valley, you should stop in and see them.

Pienza with a confused GPS

I know I told you that rule number one of travel in Italy is to always have a paper map with you, but I never listen to myself.  So, the Stoic One and I decided to just hop in the car and program in Pienza and see the little town, have lunch, buy some cheese and return.  I think the GPS had other plans. (We didn't have a paper map in the car because Pienza is in Tuscany and we only had an Umbrian map).

We started off without problem.  Down E45 to Perugia and then to A1 to FLorence and then we got off, and decided to faithfully follow the GPS, without an additional map.   We were in the middle of nowhere, taking round abouts, small roads and worse, no signs to Pienza anywhere.  But we are learning to enjoy the journey as the destination, as they say,  and we remarked upon the beautiful Tuscan countryside and had no idea where we were. We eventually ended up on a dead end road.  So much for the directions from the GPS.  We reversed ourselves, and eventually found signs to Pienza and turned off the GPS.  I think she was having a bad day.

The problem with these machines is that they provide you with no contextual information.  The directions are at such a detailed level, that it is hard to see the bigger picture of not only where you are, but where you went wrong.  I think this is true about life in general.  Not only do we not get a map of our life but we have no idea where we are along the road.  Are we in the beginning, middle, or near the end?  When I look back over my life, I can see how one thing led to another but at the time it just seems like one more day of living, but enough metaphysical musings, on to Pienza.

So Pienza is known as the "touchstone of Renaissance urbanism"  if you want more information on that, look it up.  Basically, it is a town that was built in the 1400's. Pope Pius II was born here and had great plans for the town, but he died before it was finished. It has a beautiful piazza and Duomo.

It was designated a World Heritage site for being a seminal representation of "the humanist concept of urban design."  Seeing this was commissioned by a pope, I wonder about the "humanist" part, but whatever.  Needless to say, I was not here to see only the lovely piazza. I came also to see and taste the cheese.

That is pecorino cheese in the left window

Pecorino is made from sheep, and it is delicious.  If it is "new" it has a soft, fresh taste, which I prefer. It is is aged, it has a sharper, harder texture.  It is great with pears and honey or munching on as is.  

Pienza is a beautiful, if touristy, town.  The views of the valleys, where we were lost, are magnificent.  It is a beautiful town to walk around and imagine life 600 years ago.  How much have we changed?  How much have we all remained the same?

I love the modern and the old that you find on these streets.  Such a great shade of yellow!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cleaning the apartment

Not a very scintillating topic I know, but it is different here.  First of all, I realized how attached I am to the products I use at home.  I wanted plain old cleanser to clean the porcelain sinks in the bathroom, maybe not ecologically sound but that's what I wanted. Ajax and Comet, my products of choice, were not on the shelf.  Nothing looked familiar.  Finally I found a tall, oval shaped container that looked like cleanser.  Vim? Never heard of it.  That was literally all they had.  One type of cleanser?  How can that be in a country that has over 200 types of pasta?   Ok. As it turns out, Vim looks the same coming out of the can, probably cleans the same, but still I miss my product names.  How conditioned am I by product marketing and placement?  A lot!!

Next about cleaning these floors. As you may recall, the stones on the floors are about 300 years old to match the age of the apartment and the tiles on the ceiling.  They were cleaned with an acid wash then sealed and then a wax was put over them.  (they don't looked like my idea of waxed, but anyway). Since I am supposed to be writing, it now seems like it is time to clean the floors. There was an argument between Mani and Simone about whether or not to get a water vac.  Mani said "no, the best way is to use a mop." Unfortunately the Milanese and I gave in to him.  Mani is very proud of the floors and doesn't want us to do anything to mess them up.  So off I went to look for a mop and pail and detergent to do the floors myself.

 Remember in the old days when we cleaned the floors and we had two pails attached together, one for dirty water and one for clean water?  Whatever happened to those pails, and that system of washing floors?   Naturally, the two bucket system still lives in Umbria. Mani was over and I showed him the product I had to clean the floors.  It looked like the Spick and Span box so I was immediately drawn to it.  It is really weird, when I see a product that looks familiar, it is like greeting an old friend in the market.  I sweep it up and put it in the basket before the Stoic One can ask me what I am going to do with it.  Mani took one look at the Spick and Span box (I was showing off because he thinks I don't do anything since I don't cook or do the laundry)  and tells me to throw it away immediately.  I thought he was going to fall over into a dead heap.  Yikes!  Italians never throw anything away.  He told me to go find his wife immediately and she would take me to a store to buy the right product.  

So, I go to a store with Barbara, Manuele's wife.  The store is called Mark Color.  Have I mentioned that Italians use a lot of English that makes no sense? I told her I had the two bucket system with the drain thingy over one bucket.  She approved of that purchase.   Next, I started looking for a normal floor mop.  You know the kind with the sponge on the end, and the metal fastener that goes over the sponge and squeezes the water out?  Okay, I finally find this type of mop stuck back in a dusty corner, and Barbara shakes her head at me. "Per le finestre" she says...for the windows....(They use the floor mops for the windows?) She gently leads me over to an entire wall of mops, one of which you see below.  It is made up of strips of cleaning fabric. It looks like an octopus. Why is this better than the other mop, I ask knowing this type of question is futile.  Because, she replies, that mop is for the windows and this mop is for the floors.  She then shows me some product I never heard of and I buy it and we leave.

After all of that, I was exhausted and had to take my afternoon siesta.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Blogging has been an entirely new adventure for me.  Prior to coming to Italy, I had read several friends travel blogs, and I found them entertaining and a great way to keep track of their vacations.  This blog has primarily been written for my sister, Sarah, and friends as a way to tell them what I am doing and to easily post pictures. It has been astonishing to me that people in faraway places are reading this. It is both flattering and a little weird. People in Hungary, Turkey, India, are reading my blog.  Really?  Like who would care. The most popular blog by far is the one about the washing machine.  At first I thought it was because that was the funniest blog I wrote, but later I realized people were actually themselves trying to decipher how to work an Italian washing machine.  For those of you out there who wanted factual information, sorry.

Still it is odd to me to know that strangers are reading this. I remember long ago a software engineer told me that people had no idea how public their cell phones were.  (This is when cell phones first came out.  Yes, I am that old).  He said thinking your phone call was private was like taking a shower in public and closing your eyes and thinking that no one is there.  Writing a blog is a little bit like that.

I have had oodles of writing classes, moving me toward writing and finishing a book that is now half way done.  One of the first thing that is taught in the class is to be brutally honest, to scrape through the veneer of pretense and tell the truth.  In a travel blog there is a temptation to only write about how great things are, how happy the Italians are and how much fun we are having.  The thing is we are having fun, the Italians are hilarious to me and some of the things are great but some are not.  (Hearing the fools singing YMCA under my window at 1:30 AM is funny in retrospect but not funny at the time.  I really wanted to throw a bucket of water out my window but was restrained by you know who.)

So, I am aware that this blog is read by people I don't know and that is great.  What is the point of writing if  the only person who is going to read what you write is your sister?  The only way for me to handle this is to continue writing as if only my sister, and friends, Mary, Dorothee and Donna are reading this.  For those of you I don't know, welcome to my trip.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Villa Montegranelli, Gubbio

I have been off line because we have had company.  A couple from California came for a short visit. They wanted to look at real estate in order to buy a place and retire over here. It was a major adventure for all concerned, and took up our time and energy.  More about them and the process of real estate buying in a later post.

On Sunday after they left, we were missing them; so what else could we do but go and find another eating adventure.  

This is for all of you food fans out there.  We ate at this same villa about 10 years ago with friends and family.  There were 8 of us at the time.  At that time, we had a difficult time finding the villa.  It was listed as being in Gubbio, a small hill side town that is close to us, but it was quite a bit outside of the old town limits.  They told us to turn right at the stadio, I was thinking modern football stadium, they meant an ancient Roman ruin of a stadium.  We went around the round about 3 or 4 times with me hopping out to ask directions.  We finally found an old man who literally walked in front of our van to show us the cut off.  When we found it,  the owners were in the process of redoing the villa to make it a hotel, restaurant and site for weddings and other celebrations.

We found the villa this time by accident and memory.  When we saw it in a field up at the top of the hill, without the directions of the old man, and  we looked at each other and we both knew that was it.  We wondered if our memory of the food would match our present day experience.  We walked into the restaurant.  They had done a superb job on the restoration.

Once we pulled into the parking lot a torrential downpour over took us.  We dashed in through the door and were properly greeted and seated in the main dining room.  There was a large family of 8 at one table and at adjacent table 5 children sat and were having a grand old time.  We were seated in the room behind them.  The harried waiter came out and told us they did not have a menu, but would serve us what they had in the kitchen.  That was fine with us, we responded.  We had 4 courses and a wine that matched each course.  Because we are in truffle season, the meal had shaved truffles, (not chocolates but mushrooms) on top of each course.  Here are the photos from the Stoic One.

This first dish is an antipasto...It was a flaky crust, filled with melted cheese and white truffles on top

A type of pasta in parmesan basket filled with pasta ..these are black truffles.

The main course was a veal chop, 4 slices of boiled, sauteed potatoes, and a swirl of carrot.  Excellent.

The inside of the restaurant.

We were not disappointed.  The restaurant, service and food all lived up to a memory from 10 years ago.  I also finally found a white wine that I loved.  For those of you who are interested it is called Baldassarri and is an Umbrian Chardonnay.  It was a perfect match for the pasta.  We had our standard Montefalco red which was matched with the veal.

We came home and skipped dinner.  We re-watched "Michael Clayton" with comments from the director.  The comments were so interesting I might have to watch the movie again.

This week we should hear some news on apartment number 2.  We will be looking at flooring and other things on Wednesday.  The weather has changed here and gotten quite cold.  We discovered that there was more to switching the ac system to a heating system than we originally thought.  Simone came over to help and it seems as if we are now warm and cozy.  It should be heating up tomorrow, so I think this was just a dry run for the winter.

Several people have asked about the reactions of the Italians to the Amanda Knox trial.  Apparently there were some journalists who thought anti-Americanism played a part in some of the media.  I have to say I have no experience of that here.  Most people I know are a lot more interested in the soccer scores than the trial.  They were relieved to have the trial over and the media to go home.  The Italians that I know when asked about it, shrug their shoulders and say, "Qui sa" who knows.  They all agree that the justice system here is as screwed up as the American justice system.  And there you have it my friends.

La Dolce Vita

I love this expression.  The sweet life.  It reminds me of how young people use "sweet" to describe an experience. I have been thinking about my life here; now and in the future. It is a sweet life.  I wonder though, how my life will evolve and change.  Knowing that I will return to California in 3 weeks holds me in the tourist frame of mind, and it is a sweet place to be.

We have continued to have extraordinary eating adventures.  The last one was a lunch at a villa in the middle of a growing industrial section of Ponte Patolli, a small town close to us.  The villa and the family has been there for over 300 years. It is a brother and sister who now run it as a catering restaurant. They were lovely people, who spoke excellent English and were very kind to us.

We had been there last winter with our friend Matteo.  We walked in and there was no one about.  Not unusual for lunch.  Many places here serve only dinner.  As we walked into the lobby, lit only by the sunlight with an 8 foot tall fireplace facing us, a woman came rushing is with zucchini flowers in her hand. We asked if we could have lunch, and she said, "Come no?"  Why not.  They bustled about and set up a table for us in the garden.  They were clearly not set up for lunch, but they accommodated us none the less.

The villa would be a great set for an E.M. Forrester movie.

We had a very interesting discussion with them about their life.  The Stoic One thought their life must be hard, trying to eke out a living in this large, aging property.  The sister said, no, life wasn't hard at all.  She was doing what she loved, where she loved doing it and had her family all around her.  She had a garden where she grew the food that she prepared.  She said it would only be hard if you expected to make money, which she did not.

I must say this is such a foreign concept.  It made me realize how much of "American efficiency" is all about making money.  It is only being here in Italy that I realize there are people who are motivated by other things.  I mean I guess I have always known that, but I thought those people only said that because they couldn't make money.  Now, I see that there is a different passion for people than money, accumulation and achievement.  La Dolce Vita is not about making the money.  It is about enjoying the time, spending it the way you want regardless of your financial situation.  This brother and sister exemplified these values.  And yes, the zucchini flowers were sublime as was the rest of the food.