Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to become homeless when moving to Italy

My being homeless has all been caused by Luca, a small, 18 pound neurotic but happy little dog.

(Lovely photo by Barbara Hurtig)

Don't let that sweet face fool you. Although he is happy, the neurotic part makes him a little jittery. After reading about transporting dogs on airplanes, I decided that he could not make a 15 hour flight (from San Francisco to Rome) and we couldn't leave him in the US...so....we are taking him on the Queen Mary 2.  In 2012 we started making reservations for the trip, but the first date we could get passage for Luca was Sept. 22, 2013! I couldn't believe it.  There was plenty of room for humans, but they only have 12 kennels on board. The dogs or cats are kept on a special deck where they can be visited, but they are not allowed out of their area.  Fine with me.  The kennel master looks after them, feeds them, plays with them etc. We booked for September and thought we would back into that date.

 There are some of you that have asked questions about the Queen Mary trip. Here is some basic info.The "crossing" takes 6 nights and 7 days. We leave out of New York and will arrive in Southampton, England. We will then be picked up by a minivan and taken to Heathrow where we will board a plane and fly to Rome.  Luca will be picked up by a pet transporter and driven to Italy.  You can see this takes a lot more organizational skills than I have.

So how did we become homeless? We decided to put our house up for sale in June, which would have given us time to sell it, pack and move by September. A reasonable plan.  As luck would have it, our realtor had other plans.  She convinced us to list the house in April because there was no inventory. She said we would get multiple offers, which we did, and that we would sell it fast.  She was right, it sold in 14 days!

The man who bought it wanted a fast escrow, and we agreed.  Leaning heavily upon our neighbors, Mark and Gina, we emptied our house, sorted through years of accumulation, got our things moved out and then we were ready.  May 1 we were homeless.  That's right. The house was gone.  We had 2 apartments in italy that we couldn't live in because we couldn't take you know who!

 We have been homeless now for 90 days.  It has some advantages.  People ask me my address, but I DON"T HAVE ONE.  The P.O. box will be ended shortly. We have an address in Italy, but we aren't there yet.  Email and cell phones are the only way to find us.  For our younger friends no problem.  For my kookie sister Sarah, not so much.  She has called every phone number I have had for the past 10 years.  Sigh.

Although we don't own a home, we decided to try to treat this like a vacation and rent homes along the way. We currently are in a home in Sonoma, but we will pack out of here the end of July.  We then move to Ventura to a house we rented. We leave that and go....oh, never mind.  I will fill you in as we go along.  Just know that if I seem more disorganized than usual, I have a reason.


The Stoic One and I are so lucky.  We have the most fantastic friends.  Two of them, Joseph and Paul, are already living in Umbertide, waiting patiently for us to arrive.
In the mean time, Joseph, who is the best designer ever,  has been working on our apartment trying to get it together.
Here are photos of the family room. We are looking for rugs and then the room will be pretty much complete.  Hurray!

More photos

The living room still needs some work, but the book shelf got moved from the little apartment to the new one!

The weird thing about the book shelf is that it looks bigger in the big apartment...it's about the height of the ceiling so they say, although it doesn't make much sense to me.

Anyway, things are moving along in Italy.  Our household goods are now on a ship, god knows where, making its way across the ocean.

We are getting closer.....

Monday, July 1, 2013

Caffe Centrale, Umbertide

Our town has 2 bars in the piazza.  Bars in Italy are really like Caffes.  Anyway, we have a Bar Mary and Caffe' Centrale.

When the owner of the bar, Clementina, found our we were leaving on Friday, she asked us if we would come to dinner at the Caffe'.  Generally they only serve drinks and ice cream, but Clementina is trying to change things. The mother of one of the wait staff is a wonderful cook and has been cooking some things for the bar.

Anyway, we said yes we would love to have our last night there.  Now enters another misunderstanding.  We thought Clementina would join us for dinner, and we would pay for our meal.  Neither was true.  We had a wonderful home cooked meal, in the back of the restaurant, and Clementina waited on customers in the front.  When we went to pay, she said, no she wanted to pay for our last meal there.  What a sweet heart!

Here she is.
She is crocheting a bedspread when no one is in the bar!

If ever you are in Umbertide, please stop by and greet Clementina and have a toast to the Americans!


In our little town of Umbertide, the passaggiata, is a very calm, sedate affair.  People come home from work, the old men are sitting at their tables playing cards, and the younger people walk around the piazza with their baby strollers or boyfriends and girlfriends and greet one another.  In southern Italy things are more, how should I say, fluid.

Everyone is out.  There is no general direction people walk in.  They go diagonally across the piazza, counter clock wise, clock wise, it is general chaos.  Still it is one of the greatest pleasures in Italy to sit, have an appertivo, and watch the show.   I love watching the parents and little kids.

This little girl with her back to you was quite a character.  The kids were looking into a big metal egg that had an opening at their eye level.  The little girl wanted her turn next, so she pushed the little boy away.  This was the mother's reaction.

The right hand is gesturing up and down, in "What the heck is wrong with you?"  The other kids knew she was in trouble.  Look at their faces. Love the American flag on the little boy.

This is our friend Ben's favorite shoe look.  Mr. Red Shoes.

Market day is the same, no matter where you go in Italy.  Everyone turns out.

Italian style in the market place.  Love the fringe at the bottom of her dress.  He must think he's a Hollywood mogul, no socks, sun glasses, white shorts.....

Yellow dog, yellow outfit.  He looks grumpy.  Probably waiting for his wife who is late.

Little girls practicing to be big girls.

For those Soprano fans, it is Carmella in the original!

Remember we are in Southern Italy.  These guys are either bankers or...

How else to end but with a large bowl of Tiramisu!