Sometimes it is difficult to know what to write as the options are many--so think this will be a little bit of a bunch of stuff.
School in Italy: Casey starts next Thursday--the 14th, a little later than San Diego. The first two days will be for just 3 hours which is probably good as the trauma of school in a language that is the proverbial Greek to me will be emotional, I'm sure. After that he goes from 8:30 to 4:30--long days.
We are finding some differences here. Although school is free, there are many out-of-pocket costs. Yesterday was €33 for required notebooks and covers. Registration was €40. Lunch is €4 a day--always fresh and good but costly. There is not the option to bring lunch from home. Previously we spent close to €50 on other requirements such as a ream of copy paper, glue sticks, two pencil cases, colored pencils, pens, liquid soap, kleenex, a daily diary, a plastic glass and stuff I now forget. And--remember every euro is $1.30 in the US weakened currency.
Permisso di Soggiorno: This was our good news this week. You might think that the visa which caused so much aggrevation in the getting allows us to live in Italy long term--since it is called an elective residency visa. But, you would be wrong--logical but wrong. All the visa does is allow a person to enter Italy for an extended time. Then once here, you need to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno (Permission to Stay.) This is done at the Questura (police station) in Florence. We applied last month and were told to return yesterday to pick them up--each of us needed to get one, including Casey. We were happy that after our 40 minute bus trip into Florence our PdiS were ready; it is not uncommon to be told to return again and again and again. Friends of ours who applied in May still do not have theirs. God is being very good to us.
Now tomorrow we will go to the Comune in Greve and apply for residency and our Carta d'Identita--and then we will be as official as we can be without actual citizenship.
Shopping: Well, today we drove into Florence to go to the very large COOP Supermarket there. We wanted to stock up on many items as the selection is considerably better and the price better at the big stores than at our little one. So--we piled our basket high with toilet paper, paper towels, pasta, water, cereals, plastic ware and much more and rolled up to the check out counter with our trusty credit card in hand (if you have the right kind of credit card it is the best type of money transaction--better than ATM even.) Were we surprised to find that the store does not take credit cards or debit cards with less than a 5 digit pin!--even our little place here in Greve takes them. So--there we were with over €150 worth of stuff, not enough money and speaking inglese to a checker who naturally spoke italiano--after all, we are in Italy. Fortuanately there was an ATM machine right in the mall and it worked!--which is not always the case here.
In Italy, when you shop, you must bag your own groceries plus, if you do not bring bags with you, you are charged for as many as you use--which is OK with us as it is one of the way's Italy is being eco-conscious--the country is seriously into recycling and other eco-friendly processes. But the problem with bagging is that it is impossible to bag as fast as the checker checks and so the race is on to try to bag your stuff before the next person's order starts coming down the chute. I haven't yet learned how to do this; consequently, by the time we get home, the bottles of water have crushed the potato chips and the fruit has big gashes in it.
Maremma: The Maremma area of Tuscany is lovely--it includes beaches, beautiful incredibly blue waters, typical beach cities, wonderful natural parklands with hiking and camping, charming medieval villages, vineyards, remnants of the pre-Roman Etruscan civilization, and farm lands. We saw little of it in our three days and so plan on returning. This time we were only in a small portion of the Livorno province. Our hope is that in the future we can explore more of that area and the parks and villages of the Grosetto area.
We did wander three charming, well-perserved medieval hill villages: Campiglia Marritima, Massa Marritima, and Castagneto Carducci. Of the three, I enjoyed Campiglia Marritima the most--although each of them was unique and interesting and well worth saving time to visit. We did have memorable pizza in Castegneto Carducci. Well seeking out is Il Cappellaccio at Via Vitt. Emanuele. The pizzas are beyond huge, the selection extensive and the quality outstanding. The menu includes pastas and other offerings but I can't imagine going there for anything other than pizza.
The easiest way to help you see this area is to offer you some pictures. Now--you only need to pretend you are in each scene and you'll be here.
One more thing: Today one of our computers crashed! What a royal pain computers are!! Fortunately, I religiously back up on external drives (3 of them to be sure--one of them safely tucked away in San Diego) so no data will be lost but, the thought of reloading programs borders on nightmarish. The computer and Windows opens in safe mode and so I am hoping the guy working on it can save it all. I think if I were home with Geoff, my computer guru, there would be no problem. But--it's a long way back.
The very worse that can happen is that our connection to the TV and router at home through the Sling box will be ruined--which means Ken can not keep up with local news (no real problem for me.) And--it is good that we travel with two computers so this little work horse I am on now can keep us connected.
Ciao until next time.
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.