Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Citta di Castello

Citta di Castello is a town that is about 10 minutes from here.

We go there fairly often.  It has a large piazza, many restaurants, and museums, which we have't seen.  It is one of the walled cities and I love how I feel against the towering walls and buildings.  The Stoic One thinks that they were designed to intimidate people and keep them in line, reminding us that we are only a speck in the universe. I, on the other hand, think they were built to give us a feeling of reassurance that the walls will keep out the bad guys and that the church will last forever. We have different world views.

The doors and door handles in these old cities have always fasciated me.  The doors are huge so that a man riding a horse could get through the doors and then the doors get slammed shut just in case someone was chasing them. Of course if didn't make sense to open those huge doors if just normal short Italians were going in and out, so they cut a little doorway for exits and entrances.  (BTW, my friend Simone, who is Milanese keeps reminding me that it is not "Italians" but Umbrians that I am talking about. I'll try to remember.)

Here is the Stoic One in front of the door.  Look how huge this door is. Can you imagine the dudes dressed in armor clattering up those stone pavement roads?  It must have been quite a racket. I wonder how far from the ground it is for a man to be on a horse in full armor with a helmet and a fuzzy thing on top.  I'm sure someone has researched this.
Clearly the Umbrians were short.  Gary is about 6'1".  We figure the door is probably about 5 feet tall.  They must have been pretty skinny too. I wonder if any of the women suited up and came in on horse back.....

This graffiti is for my friend Doug...There is something both disturbing, infuriating and thought provoking about it for me.  Kind of like our experience here. Every time I walk past it I think I should take a picture, but then am unsure what to say about it, so make of it what you will.

Of course while visiting we had a lovely lunch.  I had an unusual dish for Umbria, turkey, and couscous with eggplant, peppers and zucchini.  

I ate half of it before I remembered to take the picture.  Umbria is very beautiful this time of year in spite of the on again off again rain.  I would recommend April for those who don't want crowds and want decent prices.  Speaking of good prices, Umbria has now adopted a "Combinazione' lunch dinner.  Here is an example of a menu.

The sign says, Menu for 11 Euros, about $14.50
Taglitelle and ragu,  basically pasta and sauce
roast chicken
1/2 liter of water and 1/4 litre of red or white wine.

The food and wine all excellent.

As we were leaving town, I noticed a shop window with an unusual covering. Remember when they used to have plastic strips over the windows to keep the flies away, well they have gone a bit upscale.

The material looks like a fuzzy chenille.  It covers the door of a plain office building.  This is one of the reasons I love this crazy country.  Who would think of something like this AND have it look good?

Okay now on the continuing saga of buying apartment number 2.  This is a true soap opera.  When you last tuned in:
1.  Susan decided she wanted to buy the apartment next door, combine it with the little apartment that was restored to have a spacious apartment.
2.  Stoic One agrees
3.  Manuele agrees (no small task on my part)
4. Max, a rather large, overweight man who seemed to have an aversion to shampoo, owned the connected apartment with his 82 year old grandmother.  After some negotiations, we settled on a price and we all signed a compromesso, which in Italy is a binding contract.

One week after we had the signing, the following occurred.
Max, riding his motorcycle drives down to another apartment that he had in Rome, had a "crisis of depression" as the Italians say.  He then committed suicide by hanging himself.  This was all very unexpected and very unfortunate.

After much travail, we find out that Max had not only a grandmother but also a mother, but the mother and the grandmother have been arguing and have not had a conversation in 14 they could argue and not have a conversation is very believable if you lived here.

The grandmother and the mother, through the office of a very patient female attorney,  both agree, it would be best to sell the apartment to us, particularly since we have a contract, and no one wants to live in the apartment, which is now and has been for all of this time EMPTY.

So now we have to wait as the Italian go through a laborious process of a finding and listing all of the assets of Max.  It turns out Max had quite a few assets (at least 14 apartments and lord knows how many bank accounts) and so it has taken time to track them all down, and get them properly listed, and stamped.  Remember the importance of the stamp.

So we thought that perhaps we would be able to have the close while we were here, or at least make some progress.  We have made progress, but we can't have the close, because.....
All of the said documents, which were finally found, listed, stamped,  have to be posted in Rome, where the death occurred, for 3 days. As luck would have it even though the documents are complete, the posting has not occurred.  Since we are leaving Saturday, I am sorry to say that we will not have the close in person....but not to worry....Manuele has told me, we can hire someone to sit in for us and sign the paper work.

Sigh....there is a third apartment up here, but I will not get into those Machiavellian details with you until we see if we can buy the second apartment.  The Italians are hopeful.  Susan is annoyed.  It is only days we are talking about they say.  Don't be discouraged Susan.  Patience.   Had I not heard this in October, I would be a tad more optimistic, but I do believe there is movement, which in Italy is worth something.

For those of you who are still with me and not bored out of your mind, I want to go on a small rant one more time about time.  So in English, you know how we say "how much time does it take to get this done?" I want you to focus on the verb "to take"...What do we know about this verb?  It is a transitive verb meaning that it takes an object, meaning implies an action...something is going to actually happen with time.  How much time does it take?  A very simple, beautiful English construction. I now turn your attention to how Italians say how much time does it take
"Quanto tempo ci vuole"
This is an interesting sentence that Americans often get wrong.  We foolishly use the verb "to take" to convey our meaning.  In Italian, this is incorrect.  The verb that is used is intransitive, meaning it can not take an object such as time, and is reflexive which means it comes back on itself. The verb that is used means to want to not to take....In other words, how much time, do we want to?  It is an emotional feeling. I am beginning to understand. 

Think of the frame of reference in just the verb that is used to speak about time..

Do you see why I have not been able to buy the second apartment?

We are leaving will take forever to get to California!

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