Friday, March 29, 2013

Leaving and finding home

Our house in California sold in 15 days for 45% over the price we were asking.  Such is the real estate market these days in the Bay Area of California. Crazy. We got all of the offers while we were here in Italy.  Some of them were clever...(you could live in your house 2 weeks at Christmas if you sell to us) and some of them all business.  We are pleased that the buyer appreciates the house and the neighborhood.  Another chapter closed.

I have been sick with laryngitis, which is one of the reasons I haven't posted. I was sure it was an Italian form of the plague.  Il medico (aka Antoinette's doctor came) to see me (yes they do house calls in Umbertide) and said I would live.  A relief.  He gave me some penicillin and said I would be better in 5-6 days.  I said I need to be better in 2 days. He shrugged. Basically I have been asleep, and feel like a bear that just woke up from a winter's nap.

The Stoic One and house guests, Michael and Donna are off to Perugia while I am still hacking and sneezing.  We leave for Le Marche tomorrow and I don't want to miss it.

Before I got sick, we had many adventures.  We met up with Donna and Michael at JFK and flew to Milano, incidents...and then "lo sciopero" the most dreaded word for any traveler, STRIKE!  Sigh, welcome to Italy.  We had to take a train from Malpensa to Milano Centrale to take a train to Florence.  We got half way to Milano and we were all told to exit the train. The good news was our train to Florence was not on strike.  Ok, we only had to take a cab to the train station...we needed two cabs, one for Donna and Michael and the other for us. We got Donna and Michael off and then we waited, and waited, but eventually got there.  Remember we had flown all the way from California so we were more than tired.

We had rooms at the Antica Torre, our favorite hotel, and walked around Florence.  The next day we met up with my childhood friend, Alessandra, who is now a tour guide in Florence.  Her family has lived there for 3 generations and she went to school in London.  The perfect guide.

Michael, Donna and the Stoic One on the back terrace of our hotel in Florence.

We told Alessandra we wanted to see local Florentine Artisans.  She took us to a small shop where the man does stone inlay.  Think of wood inlaid cabinets that you have seen except this is made with all natural stone.  Astonishing.

What you have to realize is that this is all natural stone cut to fit the design.  The stone that is cut must be beveled in order to make a precise fit with the next stone, so that it appears seamless. The stones hold the other stones together. He said the hardest part was finding the stone.

It is hard to tell, but there is a stone vise that is holding a piece of stone.  Note all of the other pieces of stone in the background of the photo.  He is cutting the stone with a hand saw. He learned the trade from his father.

This is not a painting, this is another inlaid stone piece.  Incredible!

Tomorrow we make our way to Umbertide to check out our new apartment.  Any bets on whether or not it will be finished?

Friday, March 15, 2013

A slow move to Umbria

I am living in a hotel room with a small dog, and the Stoic One.  Things could be worse. We decided to put our house up for sale immediately even though we are not moving to Italy until the first of October.  The market is red hot right now, and our realtor convinced us to strike while the iron was hot.  It has been chaotic.  If it weren't for my neighbor Gina I think I would be living in my garage.

We first had to sort through what was worth shipping to Italy.  The Stoic One kept saying, "but we bought this in Italy, why are we paying to ship it back to Italy?" Grrrrrr.
This is a look of what made the Italian cut.
Dishes, art, books, clothes, linens...

Then we had to decide what we needed to keep to survive for the next six months.  We have winter, summer, work clothes, play clothes, Queen Mary fancy clothes.  This is when I hit my limit and Gina stepped in.  She has a gene for organizing and told me to go upstairs and take a nap and she would finish.  An angel.  I love naps.  At this point I didn't care what went where.

Luca, the ever lovable dog was unamused with the mess.

At some point the Stoic One and I were in an honest debate as to whose lousy idea it was to move to Italy.  I assured him it was his.  Finally the movers came and started crating things and preparing them for the sea voyage. They were very efficient and had the Italian stuff, all 2600 pounds of it, ready to load on the truck in four hours. Everything is now waiting in a warehouse until I can prove residency, a whole 'nother bureaucratic nightmare.

Luca was not amused with all of this.  He really thinks it is his job to keep people out of the house and bark at each arrival.  He was not used to be "shushed" every 2 minutes.  He finally found a place out of the way and he stayed there the rest of the day.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, other wise known as Umbertide, Manuele and the boys have been busy.  The marbalist thought he could make 2 sinks our of one lovely chunk of marble.  I loved the idea and said pretty please when Manuele scowled.  I didn't ask about the weight of this object.

Our apartment is only up 20 stairs, not the 65 of the other apartment, so I don't see why they couldn't carry it, but apparently was easier on their backs!

The slab of marble passes carefully through the window.

THe marble looks quite beautiful.

I asked the Stoic One what was going to hold up those heavy sinks?  I don't want us all to crash into the apartment below.  He told me to think about repacking.

We will be in Italy next week to check out the progress.  Will post pictures of the progress.