God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Every-Day Day in Greve

A month ago today we entered our new home in Italy; since then time seems to have both collapsed and expanded--as time seems to do. We have had longer "trips" in Bella Italia but this is different--perspective has changed as now this is home--not just a short term destination.

Daily we answer the question that would fill our minds each time we boarded a home bound plane--"What would it be like not to leave--to continue under the spell of this old-yet-new country of musical language, vibrant relationships, aromatic, sensual, beautiful to behold, delicious foods, history reaching back into time forgotten, art by which all other art is measured and--the land of gelati and vineyards and bouganvilla draped villas--what would it be like to live here?"

To be fair, it should be added that this is also a land saddled with overwhelming beauracracy; not just a little corruption and an aversion to changing what has always been--even when "what has been" doesn't work very well in the twenty-first century. Sweat and toil have often not been replaced by the machines that can work faster and harder--and make life easier with more time to laugh and play.

Speaking of which--as shameful as this is to admit--I don't remember ever having a clothesline in my grown up days; although, I must have since I do remember plastic clothespins replacing the wooden ones of my youth. Anyway, Italy is a land of clotheslines--rain or shine. So, each day we do a load or two of wash. Since it takes almost 2 1/2 hours for the cycle to complete, we start this first thing in the morning so that we can hang the clothes amidst the vineyard in time to dry. Truth be told--I enjoy this routine as the air is fresh and the landscape surrounding me is picture perfect--but, when the cold weather comes, I know I will dream of the dryer tucked away in the garage in the United States.

I did have one small problem which I will share--one born from my neophyte language skills. For some reason, when a friend took me shopping--she who speaks Italiano perfectly--,I ended up buying two different brands of fabric softener--thinking one of the bottles was liquid detergent. So--------for the first several washes, our clothes were washed in two cycles of softener and no sapone (soap). I wondered why a couple of the items just didn't seen to lose their spots but decided that it was just an inferior brand of detergent. On the other hand, we were very impressed with how soft our clothes were after being hung out to dry.

Then one day I asked a friend a question about detergent amounts. She looked at the bottle, read the label and proceded to laugh--after which she informed me of my somewhat colossal mistake. At this point I had a choice, either be embarassed and humiliated or join the laughter. Having long ago--as part of the maturing process--learned that it is to one's advantage to be able to laugh at yourself, she and I laughed together--and I am still chuckling each time I do laundry (daily.) And--it is no longer quite so soft and snuggly.

After laundry--or between cycles--a trip into the village is usually undertaken. This can be for a variety of reasons--or no reason at all except to check things out, make a few rounds of "ciao" and, perhaps, take in a gelato. The market in town is a small COOP--an Italian chain which ranges from quite small to enormous. Our is in the "almost small" category.

For the most part, I like going to one of the green grocers for frutta e verdure (fruits and vegetables)--a green grocers is a little store with fresh produce from local growers

--then, I go to the forno for pane (bread). Sometimes I go to the macelleria for meat

but often go to the COOP for that, milk and other basic supplies such as the mundane but necessary carta igienica.

And then there is my favorite place, the one where Bruno presides--the gastronomia with its salamis, cheeses and hodge-podge of other goodies.

There is one little store that I love and quickly browse often. It has beautiful linens and other handmade items--aprons, night gowns, hand towels, bathrobes and more. But!--they are quite costly--€45 ($58) for an apron! So--I look, appreciate, say grazie and reluctantly leave. Maybe, before we return to the US, I will buy a table cloth for our dining table. It will be like bringing a little bit of our home here in Greve to our home in San Diego.

Some days I stop in the flower shop

or the little housegoods store that in its tiny quarters seems to have anything one might want or need for the kitchen--stacked in piles on and under shelves, along the floor, in the window, flowing out the door--every nook and cranny is put to use. Tomorrow I think I will invest in a new pasta pan and maybe an oil cruet.

Nearby is the town park. This is where the children congregate to trade cards, kick the calcio palla (soccer ball), and do whatever kids do when they get together. Sometimes Ken takes Casey down there so that he can begin friendships and maybe meet some boys from his class. These forays meet with varying degrees of success. But,he is making himself known and so won't be a stranger at school. He also is getting much better at handling the soccer ball. In September the soccer season starts and so he will be on a team and his skills will be important. Boys in Italy seem to be born to love calcio.

Today I stopped by the lavanderia to introduce myself and drop off a couple of things I didn't want to entrust to the washing machine.

Right across from this is a little shop that sells eco-friendly toiletries--bath gels, creams, soaps, etc. It smelled so good that resistence was impossible--I will enjoy the new shower gel that came home with me.

No day is complete without Casey having fun in the pool, followed by a few hands of a family game--Old Maid, anyone? There is also UNO, Go Fish, Rummy, Yahtse, Battleship and Scrabble. This is after he works on his matematica and lingua summer workbooks which must be completed when school starts in two weeks. And--how could I forget Camilla? Casey has waited all day, checking the car port every 10 minutes to see if she has returned from the shores of Egypt.

So--now you have a glimpse of a typical day--with much left out, I'm afraid. Then--how many days are typical? Deviations are sure to occur on a regular basis--some that just happen and others we plan. For instance, yesterday we returned from 4 days in the Maremma region of Tuscany and next week we will go to Firenze for two nights so that Casey can "feel" the city rather than just go in for the day. Actually, the truth is that Ken and I want to pamper ourselves with a couple days and nights in one of our favorite cities of the world and, where we go, Casey goes--lucky child that he is.

Reporting next from Firenze--or maybe a little bit about the Maremma.

A Maremma Village Street


Chiocciola said...

Jane, Thanks for another great post! I think we were all waiting to hear what a typical day is like for you and your family so this was really neat.

Speaking of fabric softeners: I just had a friend visit from Norway and her sister had requested that she bring back Snuggles fabric softener... After going several places to make sure we had the correct smell, she carefully packed it in plastic bags and put it in her luggage. As you know, bottles like that are really big here in the US so it was taking up quite some space.

When she arrived in Norway the bottle had broken and fabric softener was everywhere... So I guess the morale of the story is to do what you do and buy your fabric softener wherever you are living! (Even though that might entail buying two instead of one the first time around.

Chiocciola, who reads the blog religiously!

Barbara said...

Check to see if your washing macnie has a rapid cycle. Our does, and according to the brochure, this cycle is all that's really needed for "average" dirt....and it saves a lot of time!

Sheila said...

Did you like Maremma? It's a wonderful place in my opinion, but hey I live there!

Jane said...

Sheila, we really liked it--found it beautiful but----since it was still August it was really crowded in the water area. Can't wait to go back when everyone has left! Guess I'll do an entry with pictures.

Barb--I will check the manual today but I don't see any symbol that indicates fast except for the prewash cycle.

Ring Stafford said...

Hi Jane, and thanks for this wonderful window on Italia. I am so enjoying your grand adventure as it unfolds, and can hardly wait for school to start.

And now you are headed to Firenze, my favorite place on earth! I will be glued to the screen awaiting your report. If you can, make time for a meal at Osteria da Giovanni, Via del Moro 22 ... it was divine in every aspect.



Ring Stafford said...

Hi Jane, and thanks for this wonderful window on Italia. I am so enjoying your grand adventure as it unfolds, and can hardly wait for school to start.

And now you are headed to Firenze, my favorite place on earth! I will be glued to the screen awaiting your report. If you can, make time for a meal at Osteria da Giovanni, Via del Moro 22 ... it was divine in every aspect.



Jane said...

I just pulled up the restaurant and it does look divine--but, is it too divine to take Casey there? I suspect it is very expensive. The site has a menu but no prices. Thanks for liking the blog.