October through December, 2012

To read the CURRENT month, go to ITALY JOURNAL

We post to the journal several times a month, so if you'd like to be notified each time we post, send us an email: evanne@lavventuraitalia.com

October 1
Beads of water linger here and there like diamonds on wisteria leaves hanging from the terrace pergola. The somewhat colorless sky appears white edged with the contrast of gloomy night where clouds form, floating, floating...

We have breakfast of caffé and slices of crostada mirtillo (blueberry tart), while watching the coverage of The Ryder Cup win by Europe over the United States. Poor Tiger Woods misses an easy put, and he's damned again and again by those who love to judge him. I'm worried about him, wondering how his psyche has endured his celebrity spotlight.

There is plenty of sun on this morning here while I catch up with you, with Sofi resting in her wicker bed nearby; two happy stuffed animals next to her on the floor, a pale blue cow and a red and white doggie with short legs like her.

Dino wants to groom the giant olive tree, but I comment that there are olives upon it, so shouldn't he wait until after the harvest? It's just a thought.

Hi, Fifi! She smiles at me from her photo.

Dino sadly tells me that the grand photo of Felice and Marsilia that we have is not clear enough. He will not enter it into the local photo competition. Taken one year on their wedding anniversary, Felice holds a bunch of lavender, his flat soft hat and the bag holding a gift from us in his right hand, although what we're most moved by is his left arm, curved around the back of her neck with his hand facing down toward the ground, his nose and chin nuzzling her cheek as she smiles toward us, her hands modestly touching each other on the top curve of her cane, which is pointed toward the landing below their feet.

Oh, how we miss them!

I'm sure Dino will find another photo to enter in the competition. We have so many!

It's time to paint a bit, before driving to the vet in Viterbo. The best time to visit there is just before pranzo; otherwise the wait is long. That means we'll have pranzo at the nearby MacDonald's. It's another reason to love American things and to look forward to our late fall trip to San Francisco.

But first, there's a call and firewood arrives, dumped in the parcheggio by a furgone (small truck) and left in a heap to give Dino something to do for the next month or so. He will bring it up bit-by-bit and stack it precisely until it is needed. What a guy!

I look online for ideas regarding pruning olive trees, and am surprised to find that if one does not have many, pruning every other year is an option.. Thanks to: http://www.oliveoilsource.com

Under most circumstances, olive trees are pruned each year. Annual pruning is strictly recommended when a rigid frame and a specific shape must be achieved. It is indispensable in table cultivars or when shoot growth is limited by external constraints, such as low soil fertility, long summer drought, short growing season, or old age of plants. In these cases, annual pruning renews the fruiting shoots and stimulates vegetative growth.

Pruning should be performed between the end of winter and flowering. Cutting stimulates metabolism and growth, which makes the plant tissue more susceptible to plant injury. In mild climates, with no spring frosts, pruning can be started in winter. Pruning before bud break is risky in cold climates, however, because of the high probability of frost that may damage the remaining tissue and delay wound repair. An advantage of pruning after bud break is that even the inexperienced grower is able to assess the number of flowers and the potential crop removed by pruning, whereas flower buds cannot be distinguished macroscopically from vegetative buds at or before bud break.

Waiting to prune until emergence of inflorescences is feasible in small orchards, but may be difficult to manage in large ones, where a longer period for pruning is necessary. Pruning should not be delayed until after full bloom, since it will remove tissues towards which nutrients and carbon reserves have already been remobilized, resulting in a net loss for the plant. Late pruning does not damage the plant but can reduce seasonal vegetative growth substantially.

Summer pruning is done during the growing season when the plant is actively growing. It is not common in cultivars used for oil and it is usually limited to the elimination of suckers and water sprouts.

The timing of pruning also influences the plant response. Removing shoots at bud break results in much more vigorous growth of the remaining shoots than if the same operation is performed at the beginning of the summer.

Perhaps Dino will read the above before getting to the olive trees! It does not really matter.

Ha! When the fellow with the firewood arrives, it takes less than one minute (!) for the little truck to raise its bed and dump its load into the entry of the parcheggio. I'm hoping Dino will make sure the gate closes before the fellow leaves, or we'll be helping to supply the neighborhood for the winter!

But in typical Italian fashion, the fellow leaves and Dino dons his sweatband, moving the pieces that lay beyond the gate back. Perhaps for at least a day, Pandina will be parked outside. That depends on Dino's energy, for he does not want my help.

It's time to stop painting for this morning. The angel's wings need to dry a bit before applying more coats of different colored paint anyway. I laugh to myself, wondering if my efforts will produce a better painting than the original. Magari! (If only it were so!) That's me: the dreamer...

We drive to Viterbo for a visit to the vet for Sofi, and she is fine, although there is a spot on her rear that we are to watch in case it grows. With an injection for Leischmania she's in great shape.

Right down the street is MacDonald's, so Dino orders a chicken burger for him and a wrap for me. It's getting us ready for a later trip to San Francisco. It makes me happy that I don't have to prepare a meal, either.

I paint in the afternoon while Dino naps, but the more layers I add to the first and largest angel, the more I want to work on her. It's all dreamy.

Terence calls, and Dino is so happy to speak with his son and to hear the latest news from the states. I take a minute to check in with you, with dear Sofi by my side, then we return to the kitchen to watch "The Adventures of Tin Tin" and it's adorable. Wonder if the nipotini have seen it, at least once.

I do miss those girls quite a bit, and have an idea for a wonderful skirt to make for each of them; that is, if we can find some beautiful colored corduroy. Fall is here, and I'd love to make them some winter garb, especially since I have a gathering foot here for the sewing machine.

While Dino is on the phone, I walk outside to see a beautiful sun setting in the West and a pink and blue sky. We so love this little house and its terrace and garden. Dino calls it a "compound" and I suppose it is. He's just finished stacking firewood and moving the car back into the parcheggio so that he can lock the gate. Va bene.

October 2
I've a pedicure this morning with Giusy, so that about does it for the morning. Sometimes I have to wait an hour or more for her to take me, although I have an appointment for a specific time. It's that old tempo Italiano again!

If I have the energy, I'll get up early and put in an hour or so of painting before leaving the house...We'll see.

I don't paint before we leave, but Giusy is ready for me when I arrive at her area of the nail and hair salon, so the morning is a happy one, and I leave with cobalt blue toenails. Subconsciously, perhaps I don't think my Italian citizenship is at hand, or they would be painted red and green and white, the colors of the Italian flag!

Dino purchases wonderful rolls from a local panificio known as rosettes so that I make our beloved tuna salad as well as potato salad so that we can eat sandwiches and salad while we watch one of our favorite ongoing TV programs.

There is no rain on this day. The sky is a bright blue, with many white clouds shaded here and there with gray. There is also no wind, so it's just another beautiful day in our little paradise, with fog having clearing earlier by 10 A M.

After a nap, Sofi watches me paint while Dino stacks the firewood stored in the parcheggio in the little shed he built just for it. What a guy! Luigina walks by to feed her chicks and calls over to him as he tells her he's getting our house ready for the winter. Yes, this is the season.

In what appears to be grossly unfair to womankind in two situations, French prosecutors have dropped the investigation into Dominique Strauss-Kahn's gang rape probe. And in Tunisia, two policemen raped a woman in their police car; then charged her with indecency when she filed a complaint after her fiancé was taken to a bank machine by a third and extorted money from him. It's easy to read the stories online; that is, if you do not see them on the news. How long will these injustices continue?

October 3
It's another beautiful morning, and after toast and espresso, Dino cuts and moves the rest of the loquat treetop outside our bedroom window to the place where he will burn it, next to San Rocco. He also stacks firewood in the little shed in the parcheggio, "just so".

Meanwhile, I work on painting the larger of the two angels' hands and wings in the studio, and it appears I am not close to being finished with her after all.

Earlier, I looked over the September posting and noticed a number of headaches for me...Now I feel one creep up from my shoulders, and could it be the stress of concentrating too intensely while I paint? This is my first headache of the month. There were many in September, perhaps partially caused by the change in weather conditions, and now I take Tachiprina 1000mg. and Difmetre to help stave another one off.

Pranzo is mellow, made more so by the arrival of Sofi's Thundershirt, which fits her perfectly and she loves it right away. It is meant to keep her feeling snug and comforted and less stressed.

I take a nap and read while Dino picks up Stein and Helga in Orte. It will be great to see them again and to have them around. After they settle in, we'll surely see them almost every day.

I'm feeling strangely insecure this afternoon, and when Dino returns, he asks me what's wrong. When I tell him, he tells me that my feelings of not fitting in are fine; I am a dreamer and often disappear into my dreams. I should take that as a complement and embrace the person I am. It seems to work. Or perhaps I need a Thundershirt! Ha!

When growing up and living in the United States, perhaps the dreamer in me had me dreaming of living in a place of my dreams. Then, I never really felt that I "fit in" with the mainstream, and that's why being a "straniera" is fine with me here in our village; at least until I gain my Italian citizenship. Do you remember that years ago the astrologer Ruby Holladay told me that I would feel more comfortable living in a country other than my own? She is so spot on! I am confident that will change when I am an Italian citizen, but no matter...for now.

When we travel to San Francisco for Thanksgiving I never quite feel that I fit in there, either, although friends and relatives are so very kind to me. As long as I "fit in" with Dino, what else is important? He and I love each other dearly. Thanks to Dino's comments and support, I am enjoying being a dreamer and a painter and no longer worried about fitting in. I'm actually beginning to embrace the idea, without judging others along the way, as long as gatherings are cordial, which they are.

It's no wonder I love to paint, for I am such a dreamer. It's the human form I love to paint, especially capturing that "certain something" that defines that person, or in the case of my current painting, the angel. Not to worry. There. Sharing that with you has me feeling better already, my headache all but gone.

Darkness descends, the sound of a dog barking somewhere below and the drone of a vespa the only sounds, other than that of leaves dancing in the breeze. Life is mellow.

October 4
In the United States, the slang, "10-4" means "message understood". As you read on under today's heading, you'll understand why the date is important to me...All I can say is..."Finalmente!

Dino wants to drive to Viterbo to pick up dry dog food for Sofi, and I would love a piece of corduroy or two to make skirts for the nipotini. But what's really on the agenda is a Pap test in Amelia, or is it in Terni? Somehow we have two receipts for the same test, in two places on the same day.

Since Amelia is closer, we drive there, and although the location is obscure, we find the place and a lovely dottoressa, who takes me not long after we arrive. While waiting, there is a painting of old pal, Rita, who painted with me at Marco's. There is also a notice that Rita oversees this practice. Wish she were in Lazio, for she's probably a great gynecologist and I'd love to have her as mine. No matter.

Dino was afraid that because we had two prescriptions for the same test in two different places, that the later one cancelled out the earlier one. But which one was first? We happily picked the correct one.

The test is not pleasant, but the kind dottoressa makes it more bearable by her manner, and we: leave there, greet little Sofi waiting in the car and drive on to Il Pallone, for it is opening day of their grand new location.

On this opening day of their new location, by spending €50 on groceries, they'll give us a coupon for €10 to spend at any Total brand gas station. Our receipt comes to €49, and so the young cashier we've seen often and likes us, gathers up new garbage bags at 5 cents each to bring us up to the proper total. How silly this life is here! We leave with plenty of groceries and a coupon, and the best is yet to come...

Upon arriving home, the notice we have been waiting for is in our mailbox, addressed to me, that my Italian citizenship has been approved!!! Finalmente! Tomorrow we'll drive first to the Viterbo Prefettura, and then to Signor Ivo at the Comune in Bomarzo to make it official and for me to be sworn in.

Dino will invite a few friends to join us for pranzo, but I leave it up to him to deal with. Today is the final day that I will exist as Dino's appendage! For the past two years my permit has been dependent upon his citizenship, hence the appendage moniker. Hooray!

Meanwhile, to help celebrate my Italian citizenship, Dino hangs the Italian flag in our parcheggio!

Here at home, after pranzo and a nap, I return to painting the angel, and she looks happy for me, for us, for everyone. Even Fifi seems content.

The weather a bit cool, Dino calls around and we've decided to make the celebration on Tuesday, October 9th at NonnaPappa. That way, everyone we've invited can attend.

We watch a few movies and have a quiet evening. Tomorrow we'll leave early for the Prefettura in Viterbo to begin the citizenship process. It's taken so long, I don't feel any particular excitement about it; it's as though the excitement has worn off. No matter. I'm happy to be able to vote here, when the situation arises.

October 5
Today is my red letter day, but what's that?

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary tells us: "Red Letter" is an adjective meaning "of special significance." So a "Red Letter Day" would be a day of special significance. I suppose I should be wearing something red...or should I wear red, white and green (the colors of the Italian flag?)

I wear all the colors, and we drive first to the Prefettura in Viterbo to see Signora Altissimi, who is even shorter than me. Her name is so funny, for the word alta means tall, so it means she's the tiniest of tall, because issimi at the end of a word means it's the smallest version. As dear friend Penny Weiss would say, "How funny is THAT!"

Signora Altissimi reviews all my documents and puts her stamp on them. We thank her, shake her hand and leave the building, walking up the street, where Dino buys me a pair of earrings that are little strawberries, with red and green sparkles on them. Of course, I don them subito (right away).

We return to the Comune (our city hall) in Bomarzo, and wait for Signor Ivo. Inside his office, he goes over the documents, but until he has received notice from the Prefettura, he cannot swear me in.

Perhaps if he has not called Dino by early Tuesday morning we'll return then. We've planned a celebratory pranzo on that day. Dino thinks we should have the pranzo with friends as planned, even if I am not yet sworn in, as the decree has already been issued and I have it. Va bene.

We return home and feed Sofi. "What a beautiful day!" Dino exclaims as he looks out the window of the studio to blue skies. At the computer while I catch up with you, I am nursing a headache, having taken a migraine cocktail and waiting for it to settle down. I don't feel like fixing anything, but will rally in a bit, after I lie down for a short rest.

What I love about my pending citizenship is that the State of Italy accepts me as a citizen, and although I beat to a different drummer in my dream-state, it's wonderful to be accepted. I'm not used to being accepted, nor was I during my early years. It's a long story; one that I won't share here. Ask me when we are together and I will explain if you want to know.

I'm not feeling all that well, I think as a result from the Pap Test, so after making a simple pasta for pranzo I catch up with you and Sofi and then lie down for a while.

Somewhat later, Torbjorn and Annika come by for a brindisi (toast) and will join us for the celebratory pranzo on Tuesday, whether or not the notice has been sent from the Prefettura in Viterbo to Signor Ivo at our Comune in Bomarzo. The formal notice has been signed, and I have six months to show up to take my oath.

Back at home, I'm still not feeling much better, but Torbjorn tells me to wait a couple of days, for the pain and discomfort should subside. Good advice and thanks, dear friend.

Sofi likes her Thundershirt, and Torbjorn tucked her stuffed bear into the top Velcro closing, so that its head sticks out. She's now like a kangaroo with her baby in her cloak. But before turning in, I take the coat off her, and she seems happy.

A domani.

October 6
With nothing in today's appointment book, I hope to paint. But I don't. Instead, Dino calls Patrick and Joan and invites them for pranzo on their way up from the airport. There's time to fry slices of the two beautiful large purple eggplants in girasole oil after they are dipped in egg and then the French breadcrumbs.

Once both eggplants have been completely cooked and rest on a platter over paper towels, I take out the large rectangular ceramic oven dish I painted some years ago, and layer tomato sauce from our larder, then the eggplant slices, then slices of buffala mozzarella and finely chopped fresh sage, all in two layers, topped with plenty of grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of good quality olive oil. It's put into a preheated oven for thirty minutes or so, and by that time we're ready to sit down to eat.

Our friends arrive, and it's great to see them again. Dino opens bottles of both red and white local wines, and we sit on the terrace enjoying the beautiful day while we eat and talk and drink the afternoon away.

There's some talk about a priest named Michael in the nearby town of Baschi, and a Saturday night service at 6 P.M. We decide to drive there, for we'll be driving to Rome tomorrow morning to pick up Don and dear Mary from Ciampino Airport, so will miss the regular Sunday morning mass in Mugnano.

With no phone call yet from Signor Ivo, we surmise we'll call him on Tuesday morning to see if it's time for me to take my oath of Italian citizenship. Magari! (If only that were so!)

The mass early this evening is excellent, and we love the town of Baschi and the church. Its apse is bare of ornament, and I'd surely love to paint a scene there one day. The priest speaks excellent English; Patrick and Joan introduce us to him in the sacristy after the mass. I think we'll see him at their house next Thursday.

Something about Padre Michael intrigues me, and I do want to get to know more about him. His homily, however, is extremely strict, almost to the point of appearing homophobic. But since I do not judge my fellow man/woman, I'll leave it at that.

What's fascinating about him visually is that he has white hair and a fairly long beard of the same white and he's the mirror image of the beautiful stained glass window in the apse above the altar of St. Nichola. More about him, I think, later in the week.

A pain moves up the back of my neck, and by the time I'm ready for bed, a migraine strikes. I take a difmetre but no tachiprina to go with it, and let's see if it works. Earlier in the day, I took the tachipirina by itself.

This is my first migraine of the month. Let's go to bed with an ice pack under my head, resting against my neck. I love to feel coldness against my body, which is quite hot temperature-wise tonight, or whenever I have a migraine. Sorry. I do need to document each migraine somewhere, and the journal is the handiest place, since I catch up with you to bring you up to date almost every day.

More tomorrow...

October 7
There's toast to have for colazione before leaving to drive to Fiumicino Airport to pick up Don and Mary. With Sofi in tow, wearing her Thundershirt, we watch a bit of a baseball game on TV that we've recorded, not knowing the outcome.

Dino checks the timing of the plane's arrival from Newcastle, and we decide to leave right away, for there is new information that the plane will arrive in an hour. Back and forth, back and forth, for the next couple of hours the arrival time changes. Just when we think we have time to look around Parco Leonardo shopping center, Dino learns that the plane has landed. So we hot-foot it over to the terminal, where we wait for two hours for our friends.

Having settled in well to the Italian lifestyle, we don't fret about waiting, and it's a good thing. We later learn that although the plane is on the ground, there is no one to unload the luggage. Boh!

Finally, all is settled, and in the meantime Sofi wags her tail wildly as she watches people greet each other joyously. She loves airports for this very reason. It is like going to a happy celebration. What she does not realize is that many people are left to wait...and wait...and wait. No matter. We're together and are so happy to see our dear friends. I'm especially happy to be with Mary, who I love dearly.

"It's been the worst trip ever!" Don exclaims when we finally see them. But since that is now in the past, we can enjoy each other's company. While we stop at an Autogrill on the GRA (Gran Raccordo Annulare) for panini (sandwiches) Mary and Sofi and I sit in the back seat and laugh at the men and their stories. We love them, but oh, the talk!

Mary nods off on the way home a couple of times, and I'm not surprised, as they were awakened at 3:30 A.M. to make their flight here. They'll have ten days to rest up, and we'll surely see them a lot while they're here. Va bene!

Back at home, Dino rests up while I catch up with you and then take a nap for an hour. We have been invited for cena at Pietro Cittabella's (aka Stein) at 7 P.M. Of course Sofi will be with us, along with a bottle of wine for our hosts.

I'm certainly ready for the (swearing in), and since the approval has been granted, have six months to do that. In the meantime, let's begin the celebration!

The cena is wonderful, and Annika and Torbjorn join Pietro and Helga in Pietro's special lower cantina / dining room. It's so wonderful to see them all together again. Sofi spends most of the evening below the table, getting treats from me now and then. When we leave I hate the thought that Stein and Helga will be doing a tour for Norwegian friends this next week and won't attend our special pranzo on Tuesday. No matter.

We have no idea if the swearing in will take place on Tuesday, and Dino awaits a phone call from Signor Ivo from the Comune to make it official.

No matter. I know it will happen soon, and we'll celebrate on Tuesday anyway.

Tonight Dino watches a taped SF Giants game, now that they are in the playoffs. Sofi and I catch up with you and go to bed. A domani!

October 8
I wake early on another beautiful morning, the fog already clearing...or was there any here this morning?

Ready to paint, after a bit of toast with dear Dino I surely will. I do paint for a couple of hours, stopping to catch up with you and look at online news.

There is a story in the NYT about Ad Week, and I read with sadness that many agencies are cutting staff for financial reasons; where they cut is any area not directly related to the creative product. What?

For many years I worked, several at the highest levels of management, for San Francisco Advertising and Public Relations Agencies. My area was always Human Resources, formerly known as Personnel, where it was my role to hire the best and the brightest and also to supervise services for all employees. Unfortunately, this work on the non-creative side of the business was hardly treated with respect.

In one sad cutback, it was my job to fire many employees, a number of whom I was earlier responsible for recruiting and hiring; after the job was done, I was fired myself! No wonder I am a dreamer...how else could I survive?

For the last two years before moving full time to Italy, I opened my own shop, called Internal Brands, in which I consulted with agencies to build their internal brands, based on hiring and maintaining the best people. I suppose that has something to do with my name...I tried to be an evangelist of sorts, making lives of the people around me rewarding and enjoyable.

Dare to live your dream! has been my mantra for many years. It helped a number of great people find out what was that certain something within them that brought out the best of them and helped them to find a place where they could do their best inspiring and inspired work. It was a great way for me to end my working years.

Now I dream and paint in oils on canvas and enjoy this dream of a life at the edge of a medieval Italian village with my little dog Sofi and a wonderful husband. Yes, our lives here are a dream.

I do paint, for two hours in the morning and two hours in the late afternoon, working on the larger angel's right hand and the tiny angel right at its side. Wanting to make the figures realistic, I admit I alter them a bit here and there from the original, but I am aware that they will be viewed from a distance below their home on the ceiling of the church, so am mindful to make the colors vivid; more that I would paint them ordinarily. It's a joy to do this work, and I seem to be learning something new at each step of the way.

In an email from dear friend Peggy, I'm assured we'll get together on the trip to Northern California later this fall. What fun it will be to spend even a few hours with her, whether we paint together or not. We do miss our dear friends, and Peggy is surely one!

October 9
Will this be the day I will take my oath? We don't know yet, for the call from Signor Ivo has not arrived. In true stile Italiana, we need to be patient. Dino calls him at 10 A.M. and is unable to reach him.

The morning continues foggy and overcast; will we have rain today? At this stage in my life, I've learned to live life as Tom Maxwell advised many years ago: "Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff!"

Rome might be one of the world's best destinations for foodies, but thanks to a new city council ordinance tourists will have to keep their delicious slices of pizza away from certain historical monuments.

According to

Italian newspaper La Repubblica, anyone caught snacking around key locations in the city's historic center will face fines of up to €500 (US$645).

The move follows similar bans in Venice and Florence.

Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno said the order was issued as part of urgent measures to ensure the protection of the historic center. Because we all know the harmful impact panini crumbs can have on ancient architecture.

Snack-free zones include the marble fountains of Piazza Navona, the stone walls around the Pantheon and Via dei Fori Imperiali near the Colosseum.

More on CNN:

Insider Guide -- Best of Rome And just in case you were planning to spend the night, bear in mind that camping for the night at any of these sites is now forbidden too.

Leave your padlocks in the bedroom, lovebirds

Last month authorities took bolt cutters to Rome's famed Ponte Milvio on the river Tiber to slice off thousands of padlocks placed there by couples inspired by novelist Federico Moccia's "Ho voglia di te" (I Want You), in which two lovers place a bicycle lock around a lamppost and throw the key into the Tiber, symbolizing the eternal locking of their hearts.

The city council, which officially banned the practice in 2007, said the rusting locks were damaging the ancient bridge.

Maybe smart preservation. Or maybe the Eternal City is fast becoming the killjoy city.

Dino places a call to Signor Ivo, but he's not in his office. Groan. There's that small stuff again. No matter. When it's time, it's time. We'll celebrate anyway when we drive to NonnaPapa for pranzo.

In the meantime, there's a bit of time to paint, and I'm not happy with the larger angel's right hand. The hand in the painting looks weird, but perhaps it's that painterly thing: the hand will look different from a distance.

I study a couple of art books about the anatomy and will make a few changes, beginning right after I take a look at sweet Fifi the giraffe, her image looking back at me from the left of the computer screen. Michelle Berry took this photo on a recent trip to Africa. I miss her!

There are nine of us for pranzo, and although it seems a bit weird, Dino is finally able to reach Signor Ivo on the phone and we can visit him for my swearing in ceremony after 4 P.M. Perhaps our celebration will continue on until the ceremony itself. We'll see.

Sofi has not seen her pals at NonnaPappa for a long time, but we hope that Fidelia and the dogs which look a lot like Sofi will be there. We'll all fare una festa (make a party), which is what Sofi does any time she waits for us at home and we arrive. Today, she'll be right with us, but will the other dogs party along with us? Come no?

Afterward, we'll drive to Bomarzo to the Comune (City Hall) for the actual ceremony.

A few drops fall on us when we stand on the terrace at noon, and the sky is overcast, with sun trying to peek through. We're not worried. I'm dressed in the colors of Italy which are red and green and white: a flowered red jacket bought years ago in Mill Valley has all the colors in it, plus soft green pants and top and red shoes.

Come along with us! We're happy to share photos of the afternoon with all of you:

Fidelia and the dogs are not at the restaurant after all, but her sister treats us kindly and expertly and Sofi is treated with joy.

We all arrive at around l'ora di pranzo and I wish I could recall what we were served as an appetizer. It had something to do with fish, and is delicious, but I can't begin to describe all the things we were served for this first part of the meal. I do know that the food just kept on coming. Afterward we ate their famous saccotini con pere e formaggio little pockets of pasta stuffed with pears, Parmesan cheese and walnuts. It's truly a divine dish.

There is so much to eat that we do not order secondi (a main course); instead we each order dessert. Red wine is served, and there is plenty of that as well.

Don and Mary and Annika and Torbjorn leave us, but Peppi, Candace and Frank join in to meet with Signor Ivo Cialdea in the Comune of Bomarzo as the skies clear. We have to wait a little while, but when he shows up he opens the doors for us and is so very hospitable.

After a bit of putting information into the computer, with me sitting on the other side of the desk praying and the others standing back at the door watching, he prints out two huge documents, and asks me to read a few lines. I promise to uphold the Italian Constitution and I'm not sure what else.

I read the document out loud while Dino plays the Italian National Anthem on his iPhone. It is as if we are at a Formula-1 race, and I am the only participant, happy to dance along with the music.


Afterward Frank and Candace drive home by themselves, and Peppi comes home with us for a visit. I consider it a marvelous experience and am so thrilled that people whose friendship I cherish were there with me, for at least the celebration.

Back at home it's too dark to paint, so while I'm not really a citizen (until the documents have been prepared and my identity card is issued, which will take a day or two) I'll hold up here and paint, with dearest Sofi by my side.

So what's with that pain in my shoulders, running up the back left side of my neck? I take a medicine cocktail, Dino rubs my shoulders a bit, and I relax with my pals in front of the T V, realizing I'll take an ice pack to bed with me to put on top of the pillow under my head while I try to sleep.

Was it the change in weather/season or the emotion of it all that brought on this pain? I surely did not drink or eat to excess. Fa niente! as dear Mary would say. It's nothing. Well, I hope it is nothing. Hope all is well with you.

October 10
Dino tells me I'll need to sign for the documents at the Comune, so he'll drive me there and now I know what floor to get off at when taking the elevator: Two!

But the documents won't be ready until tomorrow, although today I am officially an Italian citizen. Funny, but I don't feel differently.

Here's proof that I am an Italian citizen. I'd like to sing the national anthem of Italy, so why not sing along with me? Here's the link again:


After prima colazione, Sofi and I return to the studio, for me to paint and for her to lie in her wicker bed nearby and sleep, which she does so well.

The weather is humid; the sky colorless. No matter. We'll spend the day quietly, speriamo.

Here's some news:

Reggio Calabria government dissolved for mafia connections

First provincial capital dissolved in Italian history
(ANSA) - Rome, October 9
The Italian government on Tuesday decided to dissolve the local government in Reggio Calabria for mafia connections, Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri announced.

"This is the first time in Italian history that the city council of a provincial capital has been dissolved," she said. "We have the will to restore lawfulness to the city".

Reggio Calabria is the biggest city in the southern Calabria region.

The Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta is now the most powerful mafia in Italy thanks to its hold on the European cocaine trade.

Sicily Mafia ring busted for gambling-tax fraud

Police officers among suspects

(ANSA) - Caltanissetta, October 9
Police on Tuesday arrested 21 people, including five law-enforcement agents, on various charges in connection with the use of mafia-controlled gambling equipment that had been specially modified to cheat the taxman. The suspects included a police chief, a high-ranking prison guard, two finance police officers and a municipal police officer, as well as three brothers from the local Allegro Mafia family thought to be at the center of the ring. The latter are accused of illegal competition with violence, aggravated threats, computer fraud, embezzlement and aiding and abetting the Mafia by monopolizing the local gambling sector with their own fraudulent gaming devices. Some five million euros worth of assets belonging to the Allegro family have also been seized, including companies, properties, vehicles and bank accounts.

The local preliminary-investigations judge also ordered the temporary suspension of business in 21 bars and recreation centers implicated in the probe. In addition, other finance police officers, bank employees and civilians working for the interior ministry have also been placed under investigation.

Anti-corruption commissioner 'a possibility' in Italy

Justice minister calls on parliament to forge anti-sleaze law -
(ANSA) - Rome, October 8
Italian Justice Minister Paola Severino said Monday that appointing an anti-corruption commissioner is "a possibility".

A raft of regional corruption cases have recently come to a head in Italy, culminating last week's arrest of former Lazio caucus leader Franco Fiorito from former premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Severino stressed Monday that political parties must still forge an effective anti-corruption law, currently bogged down amid partisan sparring in parliament.

ANSA.it > ANSA English > News

Alzheimer's, headaches findings presented in Italy

Researcher claims to have found early test for Alzheimer's
(ANSA) - Rimini, October 8
Studies presented Monday at a neurological conference in the northern Italian coastal city of Rimini promise insight into Alzheimers, Parkinsons Disease and headaches.

Speaking at the Congress of the Italian Neurological Society, one researcher claimed to have discovered a way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease very early - at its onset or even years before symptoms begin to show. Alessandro Padovani, director of the neurological department of Brescia's Riuniti Hospital, says the method of identifying "at risk" individuals can help doctors identify treatments for them to prevent the onset of dementia.

Another study presented at the conference found that women suffer 70% of all headaches, but that slightly more males suffer the so-called "weekend headache" - a headache experienced in a moment of relaxation after a period of stress. Research led by Carlo Lissotto, head of the head-pain department of the Santa Maria deli Angeli hospital in the northeastern Italian city of Pordenone found that 52.6% of those who suffer the weekend headache are men.

So I wonder if yesterday's looming headache was caused "in a moment of relaxation after a period of stress....." It makes a great deal of sense to me. Does it to you?

ANSA.it > Cronaca > News

Caravaggio, 100 discovered works revealed

Scholars say that 100 extremely early works attributed to one of the most iconoclastic artists ever, Michelango Merisi known as Caravaggio, have been discovered and identified after arduous research. The findings will be revealed on Friday with the worldwide release of a 600-page, two-part e-book published in four languages. Researchers and historians who have searched for undiscovered traces of Caravaggio now have a dossier packed with early sketches and several paintings from the workshop of mannerist painter Simone Peterzano, Caravaggi˜s master from 1584 to 1588.

"We always felt it was impossible that Caravaggio left no record, no studies in the workshop of a painter as famous as his mentor," Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz Guerrieri, artistic director for the Brescia Museum Foundation, told ANSA in an exclusive interview. Bernardelli along with co-researcher Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli were given access to over 1,000 pieces found in Peterzano's workshop collection in the Castello Sforzesco in the northern city of Milan. For two years they examined Caravaggio's works in churches and museums to develop a rigorous survey methodology for identifying underlying geometric patterns from the artist's career, focusing especially on his early Roman period.

"Every artist has a matrix style, unique to them that is distinguishable through the postures and body types in their sketches. They memorize them as students, learning by force of repetition, and carry them into maturity for their later works," emphasized Bernardelli. Boy Bitten by a Lizard, an important work in the artist's early oeuvre and Roman period, is one of the works in which scholars have found strikingly repetitive patterns. "Caravaggio left the region of Lombardy with a rich collection of figures that he used throughout his career, but especially in his early years working in Rome. These works are proof," says Bernardelli.

ANSA.it > ANSA English > News
Rome's famous gelato finds new ways to tease the tastebuds

Italian capital is heaven for ice-cream lovers 17 April, 16:00

(ANSA) - Rome - Dripping with chocolate, covered with strawberries or laden with cream, there is a gelato to tease the taste buds of every ice-cream lover. It's no surprise to learn that thousands of foreign tourists who come to Rome take time out to scour the cobbled streets of the Italian capital in search of the perfect gelato.

Historians seem to be divided about whether it was the Greeks or the Egyptians who pioneered the icy delight. Some even claim that Alexander the Great had holes dug along his ancient battle routes that were then filled with snow and fruity flavors, while the Chinese are rumored to have had their own version of flavored ice.

But most experts agree that the Italians have perfected the art of gelato making and have exported their expertise around the world. Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40, near the Pantheon) was established in 1890 by Giuseppe and Bernadina Giolitti and is a Rome institution. After three generations it still delivers the same authentic flavors today and attracts thousands of children and adults.

Among the gelateria's legendary ice creams is the Coppa Giolitti, a sinful blend of chocolate ice-cream, custard and chilled zabaglione, all topped off with cream and hazelnut shavings. The more eclectic customers can be seen mixing classical flavors such as rich stracciatella with a scoop of lemon or chocolate combined with strawberry.

Across town exhausted tourists leave the Vatican Museum and line up outside The Old Bridge (Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo 5, just off Piazza Risorgimento). This tiny gelateria makes truly delicious ice cream, dishes out generous, creamy portions of caramel, nutella, coffee, pine nuts and refreshing fruit - all for less than two euros. And, since it's made with cream and not milk, it won't even drip.

The highly recommended La Gelateria dei Gracchi (in Via dei Gracchi 272), offers luscious combinations such as peach and fig, apple and cinnamon as well as pear and ricotta cheese. An alternative to the traditional aperitivo is their popular Cubano, made with rum and chocolate ice cream. The popular Italian food guide, Gambero Rosso, recommends La Gelateria del Gracchi as well as Il Gelato (Viale dell'Aeronautica 105) in the EUR district in the south of Rome.

The latter offers over 100 flavors, even catering for those with more exotic taste, offering eccentric tastes such as celery and peperoni or an espresso and sambuca ice cream. In the trendy San Crispino (Via della Panetteria 42) back in Rome's historic center tourists will find no cones as the ice cream is always served in coppe, or cups. Service isn't always with a smile and it's a little more expensive, but it is a still a legend and prides itself on its quality and homemade ingredients. Established in the 1800s, it is said that the preparation of the ice cream still follows the secret traditions of an ancient recipe once popular with the 16th-century Italian noblewoman and French Queen consort, Catherine de Medici.

Al Settimo Gelo (Via Vodice 21, close to Piazza Mazzini) produces a range of exceptional ice creams and sorbets. Sorbet flavors include: chestnut, date, mandarin and even hibiscus flavors. Apart from their popular tiramisu and a Sicilian cream gelati, this gelateria creates chili chocolate, bergamot, ginger and cardamom flavors and an unusual Iranian ice-cream, made with saffron and rose water. The Gelateria Artigianale Corona (Largo Arenula 27, Piazza Argentina) is also regarded as an ice-cream innovator serving refreshing scoops of lemon and basil and even biscuit flavors.

For a taste of Brazil, you can try their Pitanga, made from bittersweet Brazilian fruits or their dark chocolate gelato, made from Amazon nuts.

Other popular gelaterie include: Vice (Via Gregorio VII 385) specializing in ricotta, orange and chocolate mixes and Fata Morgana (Via Lago di Lesina 9) with its irresistible Muller Thurgau wild strawberry and Kentucky chocolate (sprinkled with coffee, liquorice and tobacco) flavors. According to the Istituto del Gelato, a staggering 95% of Italians have a soft spot for their national dessert, and 56% confess they eat it at least once a week in summer.

In 2010 some 589 million portions of take-away cups and cones were sold throughout Italy (an average of around 4 kilos of ice cream for every Italian), with more ice cream sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.

ANSA.it > ANSA English > News
EU pressures Italy to make Catholic Church pay property tax

Competition commissioner keeps infraction open against Italy -
(ANSA) - Brussels, October 8
The EU is holding Italy's feet to the fire to make the Catholic Church pay property tax. Sources serving EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Monday that an infraction case remains open against Italy for failing to address property-tax exemptions enjoyed by the Church.

The EU made its position known after Italy's highest administrative court, the Council of State, scuppered a decree by the Italian government intended to resolve the issue of the Church not having to pay the tax, which earlier this year reappeared in a new form called IMU.

In February, Italy's technical government, led by Premier Mario Monti, formulated an amendment to Italian property-tax law that would terminate the Catholic Church's historic exemption.

The amendment was intended to close an inquiry made by EU anti-trust authorities dating back to 2007, and reopened in 2010 after complaints filed by Maurizio Turco, a representative of Italy's civil liberties-oriented Radical Party, and the tax expert Carlo Pontesilli, who turned to the European Court to prevent the case from being archived. The EU holds that tax breaks received by the Catholic Church could be considered illegal state financial aid.

The EU's antitrust authority had praised the February decree - now blocked - as "significant progress".

Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli, however, responded to Monday's Council of State ruling by saying that the government was determined "to subject all subjects" to IMU.

ANSA.it > ANSA English > News
'Two years needed' to fix botched Leonardo restoration

Adoration of the Magi marred by debris
(ANSA) - Florence, October 8
Restorers say they will need two years to undo botched efforts of the past on Leonardo da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi at Florence's Uffizi Gallery. But when their work is finished, the painting will be luminous, they say.

The first step for the restoration team from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure - a public institute for art restoration - is to eliminate the debris left by numerous earlier attempts to restore the famous work that Leonardo began in 1481 but never finished.

Eventually the figures in the painting will again have the three-dimensional appearance of so many of the famous painter's figures, while colors will be much more vibrant, promises Marco Ciatti, superintendent of the Opificio.

Restoration began last November on a serious problem related to its wooden supports. Since then, a wide range of diagnostic tests has been conducted to verify conditions and problems, and now the actual restoration work can begin.

As you can see, some things here in Italy that we once thought would never change are doing just that. Or will they? Let's wait and see...

The saddest story appears in the NYT about a Pakistani girl on the edge of death after speaking out against her passion for education. She was shot in the head and neck by Taliban, who called her crusade for educational rights an obscenity. Her name is Malala Yousafzai. Follow her story online when you can. She has been the focus of documentaries on the BBC, New York Times and other outlets. Don't you agree that we all must help her?

According to dear GB of Italiannotebook.com, this year's Italian grape harvest will produce wines that are:

Poco ma buono
Umbria - ...that's what the wine experts unanimously declare for the 2012 vintage. The lack of rain and intense summer heat hampered the proper maturation of the grapes, resulting in a drastic drop in grape production, though the quality of the wines should be excellent. Claudio Riponi, head of the Dipartimento di Viticoltura ed Enologia dell'Universitˆ di Bologna, assures qualita' buona, explaining that this summer's hot and dry temperatures protected the grapes from disease.

The 2012 harvest will be the most meager since 1950 with grape yield down 5-6 % compared to last year but down 10% against the 50-year average. Here in the hills around Assisi - where the climate is milder - most of our farm neighbors are pleased with a good yield, though l'uva e' piu' piccola, Peppe reports. (The grapes are small.)

Thanks for this, GB. So if any of you are able to buy Umbrian wines from this year, do so. If they're red wines, put them away in a cool dark place, where they'll age and become richer and tastier. If they're white wines, they won't keep for more than a year or two, so enjoy them while you can.

October 11
Today is the 54th wedding anniversary of Roy's sister, Adrian, and her husband, Jed. Auguri!We look forward to seeing them in person later this fall. Now that we're both Italian citizens, in addition to being American citizens, we're happy to wish them continued happiness in two languages!

Under cool, colorless skies, we finish the crostada for prima colazione (breakfast) and look forward to clearing skies and a lovely day.

I return to painting while Sofi huddles in her bed. By now she's so used to wearing her Thundershirt that she does not seem happy or secure without it. Yes, she is getting older, although exhibits the pep of a puppy when she's happy.

Dino takes me to the Comune to sign and pick up my Italian identity papers. We have lived what feels like such long lives that this is but another chapter, albeit an important one. We do love living here, and do miss our American friends and relatives when we are not with them.

Hi, Fifi!

This very unfair notice comes in from Care2 Action Alerts:

No matter what right-wing crazies say, I think rape is pretty cut-and-dry. If you don't say "yes," your partner doesn't get to do anything, period. Apparently I'm at odds with Connecticut's State Supreme Court, which overturned the conviction of a man who raped a girl with cerebral palsy because she didn't "effectively communicate" NO. ??According to the Court, the only way to "effectively" say you don't want to have sex with someone is by "biting, kicking, scratching, screeching, groaning or gesturing." Did it matter to the Court that the victim, because she suffers from cerebral palsy, has the mental capability of a 3-year-old, no verbal communication ability and movement restricted to her right index finger? Not. One. Iota. ??It's unbelievable that the Court would blow a hole through rape laws so big that a man who raped someone with a mental disability could walk free. I don't want one more person who sexually assaults someone with a disability to get away with it because some old guys in robes think the only way to say no is with fanfare. ??Tell Connecticut Gov. Dan Molloy and the legislature to close the State Supreme Court's loophole and protect rape victims.

It doesn't seem necessary to comment about this insanity, but if you choose to, as I have, do make your voice heard to prevent this from happening again. Thanks for reading.

Here's a bit of trivia for you:

In an old Irish tale, a man named Stingy Jack was unable to enter heaven because of his stingy ways. Also turned away by the Devil, Stingy Jack was doomed to wander the world searching for a resting place. To light his way, he used a hollowed out turnip with a piece of burning coal.

Today we use pumpkins, but the first "jack-o-lanterns" were actually carved out of turnips.

Because today is International Day of the Girl, it's also timely that we pick up my Italian Identity Card and photo from Signor Ivo at the Bomarzo Comune. Although we live in tiny Mugnano in Teverina, this village is actually the only frazione (neighborhood) of Bomarzo, so we are technically Bomarzese. Yes, you can call all us Bomartians! Ha!

Although the Bomarzo Comune does not have the new technology to create credit card sized identity cards, I'm happy to be given the old style; it makes the process feel more characteristic for me. For now, this style is perfect. Actually, any style would be perfect, as long as it vouches that I am an Italian Citizen. In Italian style, it does not recognize Dino's last name, only my maiden family name. That feels fine, too! Come no?

I'm not feeling too well; it's something to do with the results of the exam I had the other day. So I fix a frittata for pranzo and then we'll all rest this afternoon. Perhaps it has something to do with the calm after all the adventure and pressure of gaining my citizenship. Life is so mellow now...finalmente (finally)!

Around the world, it's a reason to celebrate the female. Perhaps one day there will be no sex discrimination. Magari! (If only that were so!) We're not there yet, although I'd be willing to give my life if I could make it so. I do want to make a difference in other people's lives. It's very important to me. I'm hoping, though, that I won't be taken just yet. There are more things to do, more paintings to paint, more loving to give.

Are you brave enough to read the following from CNN online?


I will read it myself later, but its strong stuff. Once you read it through, I'd be surprised if you did not want to do something about it. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Later, in the early evening, we leave Sofi at home and drive to Patrick and Joan's house where we're invited for cena.

There's rain on the way, but no rain at their wonderful house and property outside Montecchio. With new friends and old friends gathered, about ten of us sit around a long table and eat Joan and Patrick's feast of freshly baked salmon and of course some Irish roast potatoes, string beans and drink local wine. The marvelous dessert is a lemon drizzle cake with sliced fresh peaches and whipped cream over the top.

Patrick and Joan are the most wonderful hosts, and their property is finally finished. It's a wonder and truly beautifully built. What a wonderful evening!

We're home just before midnight to a happy Sofi and relieved to hear that back in North America, the Giants have clenched the Divisional series. Now they're on to an even tougher series with the other Divisional winner of tonight's game between St. Louis and Washington DC. But then, you know all about that, don't you?

We're all happy to turn in under rainy skies, and look forward to a very mellow tomorrow.

October 12
As you know, today celebrated as Columbus Day in America? Although I thought he was surely an Italian, there's nary a mention of him here. But he was born in Genoa, Italy after all. His discovery of the "New World" took place in 1492, and of course you all remember the date!

Thanks to Wikipedia, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas on October 12, 1492, and many countries in the New World celebrate this anniversary.

Here in little Mugnano in Teverina, it's just another lovely day. Yes, there was plenty of rain this morning, but now it's beautifully clear, with only a cloud or two passing by.

Time to paint!

Dino shops for pranzo while Sofi and I remain in the studio, and in the afternoon there is time for a nap, followed by a recipe search for the lemon cake we were served last night. We'll make the recipe, and if it's as good as last night's, we'll be sure to share it with you.

Skies remain clear as we watch a movie or two on TV, then go up to bed, with Sofi by our side.

October 13
Thank goodness today is Saturday, for it's the 13th. Following is the tentative schedule for this coming Winter and Spring in the U S for important cooking lectures and lessons in your area given by acclaimed Italian chef Ann Robichard. You can read all about her and the tours on:


Here's a preliminary schedule from Anne's blog:

Anne's Italy 2013 U.S. Tour - In the Making!

My 2012 U.S. cooking classes/lectures tour was unforgettable!
Can the U.S. 2012 tour be topped? Well, it will at least be matched!

Many 2012 hosts have already re-booked for 2013 and requests are in from areas I could not include in 2012 U.S. tour itinerary.

Here is a provisional, approximate itinerary - and no, it is NOT too early to book!

This itinerary is based on requests already in. Other destinations are not to be excluded.

In 2013, I will ONLY be able to cook and/or lecture in locations with absolute minimum of three events.

**Precedence will go the areas with the most requests.

This is a tentative itinerary - but not definite, by any means. Please do feel free to contact me if you have any questions and might wish to host or attend an event.

Feb 6 - Fly to Los Angeles, CA 6 to 28 - in California, Oregon, Washington Mar 1 to 4 - in Arizona 5 to 15 - in Colorado 10 to15 - in Texas 15 to20 - in Illinois, Wisconsin - or maybe even Kansas City, MO! 20 to25 - in New York 25 to28 - in Boston 28 to ? - in Washington, DC

Challenges: Atlanta, Georgia will be on the route, too. I will have to do some juggling to fit it in!

We recommend Anne's classes highly and have read many happy comments from former participants. If we would be in the U.S. next February we'd certainly take one. Perhaps we'll have to do one...in Italy! Ha!

Back here at home, foggy skies clear and gossamer clouds float under a lovely blue sky. Across the street, four men in a truck park at an un-manicured property and begin to burn and hack away at the mess. I believe the owner wants to sell, but don't know if the land is buildable.

In other words, although this is a lovely countryside outside a beautiful medieval village, even if you meet the man's price, don't know if you could ever build something on it. In other words, beware! If we hear anything to the contrary, we'll surely let you know.

I paint the faces of two tiny angels who appeared so dark in the original that they were almost indistinguishable. I give them a bit of character, but they need a bit more. Perhaps later I'll work on the large tree flanking the right side of the painting as well.

It's nap time, then a huge rain storm with plenty of thunder. Thankfully, Sofi wears her Thundershirt and does not seem traumatized.

She is fine in her new gabbia (cage) when we leave for mass in Bomarzo, where we run into dear friends Duccio and Giovanna. Afterward, there is time to shop for groceries at the new Il Pallone and pick up a prepared meatloaf to cook tomorrow for the next couple of days. Yes, cool weather is here, and it's almost time to begin thinking about fires in the fireplace. But Dino tells me not to hold my breath.

Later, we watch movies and have a mellow evening. I feel so settled in here, especially since I am now an Italian citizen. There's no angst in my heart, no worries. So we end the evening watching an old James Bond movie and laughing often at its silly tricks. I did not remember that Sean Connery could look so greasy headed!

October 14
Dino set his alarm to get up early to watch the latest Formula-1 race, while Sofi and I stay in bed. Since we went to church last night, I don't know if I'll walk up to mass this morning. It depends on the weather and whether I am feeling good.

Weather is foggy, so we sleep in until the race is almost over, then have colazione while watching the end of the race.

There is a train strike in Italy, so Helga calls to ask if we'll take her to Rome; she's leaving the tour in Orvieto. Of course we will! She wants to celebrate King St. Olav's (Norway) Day in Rome and visit with a friend for a few days, so we pick her up and drive to Rome. It's an excuse not to paint, although I don't like the way the tiny angel faces have come out...at all! Perhaps later I'll rework them to resemble the larger one.

We all take Helga to Rome and enjoy the scenery and of course, Rome. On the way home, we cross Rome to Ponte Milvio and have a wonderful meal at Dulcamara, where they specialize (!) in stuffed baked potatoes! Of course we have them, then cross the street to a famous gelatera for more devine treats.

It's time to go home, so we do. After a short nap, there's TV to watch, including the San Francisco Niners playing the New York Giants and the game is such a sad surprise that I catch up with you and then turn in during the third quarter. Dino stays up to see what happens...or does he give up? We'll find out in the morning what happened. Very sad for a truly great San Francisco team.

October 15
How sad. Last night's 49er football game was a rout, and not to our benefit. Let's move on...

With fog clearing and plenty of sun and wind, we enjoy the morning together while I make a lemon drizzle cake based on the BBC recipe. Its taste is quite divine, although I'm not sure I used the correct flour. Here in Italy, there is "00" flour, or "0", and I don't think either one is self-rising. So I'll do some research on the net and continue to replace many ingredients in the things I fix based on recipes in the U S that are not available here.

May Elin is here with a friend, and drops by to congratulate me on my Italian citizenship. How sweet of her! She'll return here for tea and cake later this afternoon.

I'm not happy with the tablecloth I sewed for her, and would like to take out the trim and re-sew it for her. But drat. I can't find my tiny scissors. They are around here somewhere...

I work on the faces of the little putti angels a bit, but they look like old women. AARGH! It's a good thing it's possible to paint over something when using oil paints. Time for a nap and perhaps Dino can find the scissors. He's a master at finding things.

While fixing the cake and meatloaf and vegetables for pranzo, Dino and I also watch the NY Giants demolish the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park...in San Francisco! The San Francisco Giants (baseball) have also lost their first League playoff baseball game, so what's with the San Francisco malaise? I am sure it's only temporary - speriamo!

Skies turn windy and dark clouds rumble across the sky. Fall is making sure its footprint is unmistakable, and it surely is. Although Dino wants to hold off making fires in the fireplace until December, I think he'll give in soon. No matter...

October 16
On this beautiful sunny morning, Sofi and I take the giro below the house, and it's a joyous one. I'm wearing my Italian earrings, and come no (why not?)

Dino plays the Inno di Mameli (Italian National Anthem) to get ready to post, and I'm wearing the earrings he gave me last week to celebrate my Italian citizenship. They are strawberries, in case you have not seen them in a photo above (see October 5), in green and white and red.

I'm feeling quite good after the giro with Sofi, and since she loves it so, I will try to do it each morning with her unless we are going out for some reason.

I have more time to paint, so do just that, working on the tiny angel faces to make them look more realistic. It's a good thing I'm not in a hurry...

There's time to make packaged gravy, which is surprisingly good and was brought from the U.S., sauté fresh mushrooms and put them over the top of the meatloaf. I fix fresh carrots, adding a bit of butter and brown sugar and chopped presemelo (parsley) from the garden.

After a delicious pranzo and a long nap, I review the journal that Dino has posted for the first half of the month and especially enjoy the photos and playing the Italian National Anthem. You can do that too...click above the photomontage and sing along with the words as it plays. What fun!

Sofi just won't leave my side. After a couple of hours of napping and reading, it's time to feed her, for she'll not join us later when we meet dear friends Don and Mary at Ristorante I Gelsi tonight. I'll certainly order Pizza Margherita!

Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added.

In 1889, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.

About the name: The word "pie" does not refer to the crust, or even to the shape or position of the crust. The Oxford English, the Webster's unabridged, and lexicographer Charles Earl Funk, all agree that the elemental word "pie" relates to the Magpie, a bird with feathers splotched in two colors, a bird called "Pica" by the Romans, whence the English "Pie" and the alteration of "Pica" to "Pizza". The name relates to the bird's double color and its habit of gathering odds and ends as does a Pizza, or Pie, gathering, and consisting of, varied ingredients.

We drive to Il Gelsi to meet Don and Mary for cena, and although I'm seated next to Mary, I miss her so! The evening is lovely and we enjoy the company so much. Soon we'll be picking them up and taking them to the airport in Rome. I'm about ready to get on a plane to London to be with her, for it will be a long time before they're here again. But that's not practical. Perhaps her daughters will show her how to SKYPE; right now, it's difficult for her.

Back at home, Sofi is full of life; so much so that she latches onto a little red dog and throws it around and around. It has a "Rock a bye baby, on the tree tops..." song that it plays, and the more she throws it in the air and then gives it a chew, the more it plays. She is so full of energy for so late at night. Perhaps she's been doing a lot of sleeping.

We're ready to turn in. A domani.

October 17
The day arises with a bit of fog, with sun trying to break through. We have a small breakfast, while watching the second U S Presidential Debate and it appears that Obama comes out on top. With another three weeks or so to go, anything can happen.

Dino wants to drive to Orte for some reason. My memory failing me again, sigh, I don't know why, but Sofi surely wants to take the giro and it is also so very good for me. So we do.

I love this walk, and use Sofi's harness and the special lead that hooks so that I keep her right by my side instead of having her lead the way and pull the lead forward. It's a good thing.

After a short while, she's happy to stay right by my side. I walk faster and she slows down, so we're in synch. Ever mindful of possible snakes or vipers, we never see any; instead there are roses here and there, for Italians love roses, and lots of grass and erbacia (weeds). No matter.

What we also see are a number of large tree trunks; trunks that look similar to elephant's feet. They are huge and of a greyish cast, with indentations similar to age lines. Flanking the white road, I'm mindful of the enormity of Nature as well as how much we love the simple things here in this sweet country village.

Then, there are: Terzo on his motorino wearing his helmet and driving into the garage he shares with his nephew Donato, Nando going into his house with a young man who may be his son, Rosina and another woman coming down from the borgo but too far to really see who the other woman is, Carlo and Germano at the bend, making repairs to a front entryway for a house, Italo in his orto, and they all wave or greet me with the customary "Buon giorno!" or "Ciao!", in Italo's case. He is so joyful!

Sofi takes it all in stride, and by the time we reach Italo we're on the flat section of Via Mameli, the more difficult hill behind us. Yes, this is a wonderful twenty minutes or so; one we hope to repeat as often as possible as long as the good weather continues. I feel particularly well afterward.

Dino has waited for our return; then drives off. We'll eat May Elin's salmon for pranzo along with the basmati rice that Dino loves. There's plenty of time now to fix her tablecloth, for she returns to Norway tomorrow. Dino is such a great searcher that he'll surely find the tiny scissors I'll need to take out the hem and redo it; this time perfectly.

In the event you did not see the lyrics to the Italian National Anthem and their English translation, check back on this journal on October 10th and follow the u-tube link. Why not learn along with me?

Note: If I haven't already told you, Mameli was Goffredo Mameli. He was an Italian patriot, poet, and writer was a notable figure in the Italian Risorgimento. He is also the author of the lyrics of the current Italian national anthem. If that were not enough, our street is also named after him.


There's time to paint, for it's not even noon. So let's do a bit; perhaps this time working on the huge tree flanking the right side of the canvas. I like painting trees, especially with their shadows and light.

Thanks to Whole Foods, Inc. we try the easiest Salmon recipe, baked in parchment paper. Try it and you'll never forget it!

Parchment Baked Salmon with Lemon and Basil

In this easy recipe, the salmon is cooked simply in a parchment paper packet with slices of lemon and fresh basil. Use any leftovers to make an out-of-this-world sandwich by layering the salmon with vegetable cream cheese and cucumber slices on slices of toasted sourdough bread.

* 6 salmon fillets
* Salt and pepper to taste
* 6 (15-square inch) pieces parchment paper
* 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 lemons, thinly sliced
* Kitchen twine

Place a large baking sheet on bottom rack of oven. Preheat oven to 400¡F.

Season salmon with salt and pepper. Cut two half inch slices into flesh of each piece of salmon; roll basil leaves and stuff into slits in salmon.

Place a salmon fillet in the center of each piece of parchment paper. Drizzle each fillet with 1 teaspoon of the oil, then place lemon slices on top. Gather sides of parchment up over salmon to form a pouch, leaving no openings, and tie tightly with kitchen twine. Place packages directly on hot baking sheet in oven and cook for 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and carefully open packages to release steam before serving.

It's easy to fix...so easy that I serve one half of the two fillets to us for pranzo with crispy potatoes that were left over from the boiled potatoes made the day before. I put them in oval individual dishes with dabs of butter and grated cheese while cooking them alongside the salmon.

I do not bring the parchment packages to the table. Instead, I carefully open one at a time and slide the salmon onto warmed plates. I don't understand making a mess at the table with parchment paper and lemon juice all over everything. But that's me. Try what you like and you'll figure out what works for you. Either way, it's divine, just make sure you don't overcook the salmon.

Thrown against the blue sky like spoonful's of mashed potatoes here and there, clouds seem to play outside while the breeze dances with the tree outside the studio window in the sunlight.

The meal is wonderful, and so is the rest of the day, with Dino fiddling a bit in the garden and Sofi and I in the studio. I paint a bit, happier with the tiny angel faces and Sofi is content, sleeping by my side in her little wicker bed.

Afterward, we snack a bit and watch a movie or two on TV before turning in. Tomorrow will be a busy day.

October 18
Up early, we're out in the fog, but it's clear and sunny when we reach Tenaglie and Don's house to pick up Don and Mary and take them to Fimucino Airport in Rome.

Mary is a trooper, not complaining about how difficult it is for her to get around. Don is a saint, never complaining about the attention Mary needs to move her safely in and out of cars or anything else. We love them both!

The traffic is not bad at all on the way to Rome, and with such beautiful weather the men sit in front and tell stories while Mary and I sit in the back with dear Sofi and giggle here and there about how silly they are. We do love them and their silly stories, too!

Once we say goodbye to our dear friends, Dino takes me to Dottore Chiantini to have him look at a chipped tooth. When we do get in to see him, he realizes the chip is so tiny he can't do anything for it, so sends us on our way. We're happy, it cost nothing, and celebrate with a chicken wrap and a big burger at MacDonald's, not far from there.

We're on our way home and ready for a nap by 3 P M, so might as well laze the rest of the day away...except for a bit of painting later, which never happens.

The New York Times writes about Italian Politics:

Twenty years after Italy's postwar political order collapsed in a scandal, accusations are again flying in new scandals that are eroding Italians' trust in their politicians.

Great news...just when I'm finally eligible to vote here! What do you think, Sofi?

October 19
I love these beautiful fall days with clearing fog in the morning and plenty of sun. Having lost all our tans, I'd love to hang out in the sun, but don't know what today will bring.

Looking back over the tasty salmon recipe of two days ago, I'd like to use the leftover salmon fillet that rests in the frigo to make an out-of-this-world sandwich by layering the salmon with vegetable cream cheese and cucumber slices on slices of toasted bread. Wish we had some fresh dill!

Fog met us when we arose around 9 A M, but the weather is for a clear day, so perhaps later Sofi and I will take our giro. Dino is glued to the Detroit/San Francisco baseball game on T V. With Sofi content in her basket nearby, might as well take out the paintbrushes.

Before we do, let's talk about the importance of not judging one's fellow man/woman. In my youth I did much of that, for I so wanted to fit in, and it seemed a thing to do in the family while watching T V and in other activities. I took it too far: in college I even exhibited a few mean qualities to sorority pledges as if I finally had a bit of power. How sad!

In later years, I've realized that by not fitting in I've been able to explore and exhibit my creative talents and painting and creating and sewing costumes for those I love has made all the difference. How good it feels now not to fit in! And living in a country other than that of my birth has helped me to develop strengths on the creative side that I never fully realized until quite recently. So not fitting in has become a wonderful characteristic of mine, one that I now fully embrace.

I've been reading the writings of St. Augustine, and they have inspired me to recall that which was, and is, within me. I do love my fellow man/woman and choose to not judge them. For it makes no sense; I do not know why others do what they do, and my heart and mind are in my dreams, so I have a good reason to let others live their lives the way they choose. I hope others are kind, and pray for worldly kindness and strength to endure the difficult things in life as well as make the world a better place for those who suffer under those who are unkind.

Fifi, ever the philosopher, stares right at me from her photo. She's kind and gentle, and I hope I am as well. She is a good mentor, for her dear expression is all I need to continue to have gentle thoughts. Did you know Fifi is a giraffe?

I continue to have pain in my stomach, more so when lying down, but it's probably just a sign of aging. The Pap Test results are negative, so let's not worry.

Time to paint. Still foggy after 10 A M, we put on the painting smock and do just that! For the next couple of hours, the main angel takes on more depth, and for that I am pleased. Painting layer upon layer on a canvas makes me feel as if I am delving into the heart of the story I am working to tell. It is this marriage between writing in words and painting with brush that has me soaring.

The fog lifted, I'd take Sofi for a giro, except that Dino is expected back any minute and wants pasta for pranzo: perhaps later...

Dino mentioned that we have not fixed the fresh pasta we purchased a couple of days ago and would love to have a pasta with salmon. That's fine with me, too! So I fix a salmon topping with cream, cream cheese and other fresh herbs and things. It's divine, Dino tells me.

There are two games to watch on TV: first, baseball with the Giants, where they lose, and then football with the San Francisco 49ers, where they win.

Snacking on Cheese and crackers, we watch an old Orson Wells movie where Edward G. Robinson stars, and doesn't he look a lot like my father did? I do miss you, Dad, so just watching a man who looks like you brings a smile to my face. I hope all is well up there in heaven for you and Mom.

There's another movie to watch, this time a children's movie set in Ireland, and it's funny and sad, but completely enjoyable. Living in Europe is like living in another world after growing up in the United States. We do love this one, although enjoy seeing family and friends during our annual short jaunt to the San Francisco Bay Area.

October 20
What a lovely day! Don't buy Kindle singles...I had no idea until too late, but they're short; too short to provide any depth and consist of generally speech-length tomes. For some, that's just right. I'd prefer more depth, but the fault was truly mine in choosing them. No matter.

It's a lazy and laundry day, with sun outside and neighbors taking their walks. Sofi and I decide to take the giro again late in the morning, and it feels so good! Neighbors greet us and are happy when I tell them I'm a new citizen. I could not be happier.

With the rest of the salmon pasta heated for pranzo, we watch a bit of T V and then have a dolce fa niente(afternoon nap) with windows wide open and the air sweet and fresh.

Unfortunately, after Dino gets up and works behind the house on some firewood, there are a dozen or so scattered gunshots from hunters in the valley. Oh, how I hate that sound! What would they be shooting other than birds? Do we have any cinghiale (wild boar) here in the valley? Some of the gunshots are very loud and must come from powerful rifles. I suppose that's life in the country. Sigh.

Giovanna and Luigina are in this year's Festaroli committee, so they come to collect and wish me an auguri! to congratulate me on my citizenship. We are so very content here, especially now that all that bureaucratic wrangling has finished.

I do wish to paint, but it is 7:30 PM and dark outside; there is not enough natural light to satisfy me. Let's make up for it by painting tomorrow after church. Good idea!

It's time to read a bit of Italian news! October 21

(ANSA) - Rome, October 19 - A Rome military court on Friday indicted an 89-year-old former German officer for alleged involvement in the massacre of thousands of Italian soldiers on the Greek island of Cephalonia in World War II. Alfred Stork 'ordered execution of 117 Italian officers'.

The suspect, ex-corporal Alfred Stork, should be called to trial for ordering the execution of 'at least 117 Italian officers' after they surrendered, said Rome Prosecutor Marco De Paolis, who claimed to have material evidence for his case. Among his evidence is an alleged 2005 confession in which he told German prosecutors he was a member of one of the two execution platoons.

The incident was just one episode amid a much larger massacre which came after the 1943 armistice between Italy and the Allies that instructed Italian troops to switch sides.

After news of the September 8 armistice filtered across to the island on September 14, 1943, General Antonio Gandin told each of his men in the Acqui division to follow his own conscience and choose between three alternatives: fight on alongside the Germans, surrender his weapons, or keep them and resist German attacks.

Over the next eight days, 1,300 men died in battle, 5,155 were shot after being taken prisoner, and 3,000 drowned when a ship carrying them to Nazi concentration camps sank.

The bodies of 200 men were tossed down a well, from which they were only recovered and sent back home a few months before former Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi's visit in 2001.

To the outrage of Italy, a German court cleared then 86-year-old former lieutenant Otmar Muhlhauser of war-crime charges in 2006.

Deceased in 2009, he was believed to be the last survivor of the Werhmacht regiment that carried out the massacre, and he reportedly admitted he had personally ordered the execution of hundreds of soldiers including General Gandin.

The incident forms the backdrop to the best-selling 1994 novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which became a film in 2001 starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Monti relaunches Rome summit against Eurosceptics - Extraordinary meeting to combat rising anti-euro feeling

19 October (ANSA) - Brussels, October 19 - Italian Premier Mario Monti on Friday relaunched the idea of an extraordinary European Union summit in Rome to fight growing Euroskepticism fueled by the euro debt crisis.

Monti repeated the need for such an event, amid mounting anti-euro sentiment in several crisis-affected countries, on the second and last day of an EU summit in Brussels.

The premier first floated the idea at a symposium last month at Cernobbio, a northern Italian venue for international political and business discussions, and was immediately backed by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. Monti would like to hold the summit on Rome's Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio), the ancient and modern seat of Roman government, where the EU's founding Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.

ANSA English Percorso:ANSA.it > ANSA English > News Italy has not decided on use for Tobin tax funds, Monti says Monti says Merkel's EU solidarity fund idea is 'interesting' 19 October

(ANSA) - Rome, October 19 - The Italian government has not yet made any specific decision on how it plans to use funds raised by the Tobin tax, Italian Premier Mario Monti said on Friday in Brussels.

Monti was commenting on a recent request made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for Tobin Tax funds to be transferred into a European solidarity fund. "Chancellor Merkel's suggestion is an interesting one", Monti said at a press conference. "The Italian government has not yet deliberated specific uses for the resources raised by the Tobin Tax", Monti said. "I believe future Italian governments will be sensitive to decisions that are made at a European Union level", he added.

The meeting with journalists took place after the Italian leader participated at a European Union summit. Bank recapitalization when EU vigilance exists, Monti says Italian prime minister speaking after Brussels summit

19 October Rome, October 19 – The direct recapitalization of banks will take place as soon as a single vigilance mechanism is instituted, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said in Brussels Friday following a European Union summit. ANSA.it > ANSA English > News Barroso says EU pact needs to be put in action Europe must speed up progress

19 October
(ANSA) - Brussels, October 19 - European Commission President Jose' Manuel Barroso said on the second and last day of an EU summit in Brussels on Friday that the European Union had a plan for growth, but that it must now be put into action.

"We have a pact on paper. Now we need something concrete, tangible," the EU commission president said.

Europe must make progress in creating the single market and work on taxation, energy needs and commerce, Barroso said. EU budget supervisor 'not needed', Monti says Italian PM eases Franco-German row

19 October (ANSA) - Brussels, October 19 - A supervisor for the budgets of European Union members is not needed, Italian Premier Mario Monti said Thursday night, easing an EU summit row between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

The summit agreed to set aside the issue of a veto-wielding supervisor, advocated by Merkel to France's chagrin, and instead push forward with a supervisor for banking union, to be set up by the end of the year.

Germany and other northern European countries still want more time than that to organise a banking union. ANSA English Percorso: ANSA English > News European Union summit concentrated on growth Focus on structural reform, not budgetary discipline

19 October (ANSA) - Brussels, October 19 - Italian Premier Mario Monti said leaders at the European Union summit in Brussels on Friday concentrated on measures to encourage growth.

"Instead of getting bogged down in budgetary discipline, we decided to focus on encouraging structural reform," Monti said following the second and last day of the summit.

Protest group pickets in front of Dolce & Gabbana in Rome

Demonstrators call for ban on dangerous jean-treatment process

Berlusconi defends self in Ruby sex trial

Ex-premier denies having 'intimate relations of any kind'

(ANSA) - Milan, October 19 - Ex-Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday defended himself before a Milan court against charges of allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute called Ruby and using his influence to cover it up while claiming she was the niece of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

''I never had intimate relations of any kind,'' he said in a spontaneous declaration, adding he had been ''convinced'' the Moroccan ex-runaway and former belly dancer, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, had been 24 and not 17 at the time.

He said he had been led to believe Ruby was related to the ex-Egyptian president during an official meeting of the two leaders and had simply wanted to avert a diplomatic incident by having her sprung from a Milan police station in May 2010.

He added that he had never put pressure on police officials in Milan.

Berlusconi told the court that when he found out that Ruby was Moroccan and underage he was ''left speechless'', realising that she had created a false identity possibly to cover up economic difficulties. Prosecutors believe Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at his villa in Arcore near Milan over the course of several months.

''I can rule out with absolute certainty that there have never been scenes of a sexual nature'' at Arcore, said the ex-premier. ''Many fantastic tales have been told about the evenings at my private residence,'' he continued, saying they were just ''dinners in a large dining hall where I monopolized the attention by singing, talking about sport, politics, gossip'' and that he had never paid for sex with his female guests. He described the charges as a ''monstrous act of defamation towards me and my guests''.

Berlusconi also told the court that he would have preferred to be questioned rather than to make a spontaneous declaration but that 20 years of accusations by Milan judges had ''prevented me from doing so''.

The ex-premier, who has been convicted in a number of graft cases but always seen them overturned either on appeal or because of law changes, has consistently said he is the victim of a witch hunt by some left-leaning magistrates.

22 Camorra arrests in Naples

Criminal clan members accused of extortion and loan-sharking

(ANSA) - Naples, October 19 - Italian police on Friday arrested 22 people in Naples suspected of being high-ranking members of the southern Italian city's most powerful Camorra mafia clans.

They are accused of extortion and loan-sharking, police said.

ANSA.it News

Italian financial markets tread water while Europe rallies - Spread between Italian, German bonds remains stable

18 October (ANSA) - Milan, October 18 - Italian financial markets remained in a holding pattern Thursday while most other European markets enjoyed a rally.

Milan's main index slipped by just 0.30% to close trading at 16,185 points while the FTSE Italia All-Share index slid by 0.32% to close at 17.085 points.

Italian bank stock investors were rattled by a sharp downgrade to junk status by Moody's on shares of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), Italy's third largest and the world's oldest bank.

The rating agency justified the downgrade by saying the bank needed more aid after requesting 1.5 billion euros in state loans to ease a capital shortfall.

But the rest of Europe enjoyed a rally as investors anticipated good news coming out of a two-day summit of European leaders, including more information on how Eurozone heads will handle financial woes in Spain and Greece.

Many are especially anxious to learn if Athens can reach an agreement with its international lenders on Greece's next tranche of financial aid.

Meanwhile, the Italian Treasury marked something of a record Thursday, selling almost 18 billion euros' worth of bonds - the most ever in a single operation.

In Thursday's session, the treasury sold 7.84 billion euros in inflation-indexed bonds that will mature in four years.

The new bonds, aimed at retail customers, were sold in four sessions over the week, beginning with 2.5 billion on Monday. Still, the spread between Italy's 10-year benchmark bond and the German Bund remained stable, holding at Wednesday's closing levels of 313 basis points and a yield on Italian bonds of 4.76%.

The spread indicates investor confidence in the future of the Italian economy.

In Frankfurt, the DAX index rose by 0.58% to close Thursday at 7,437.23 points, while Paris's Cac 40 index gained 0.22% to close at 3,535.18 points, and London's FTSE100 index rose by 0.10% to 5, 9217.05 points.

In Madrid, the Ibex index lost 0.34% to close at 8,100.30 points.

ANSA English Percorso: ANSA English > News

Farm jobs for educated youth, women resist crisis

More than third of farms female-run 18 October

(ANSA) - Rome, October 18 - Italy's farming sector is offering jobs to educated young people and women unable to find other work in the recession, farming association Cia said Thursday.

The number of workers on farms rose by 6.2% this year, even as Italian unemployment surged amid the euro debt crisis, it said.

One in three new workers have "high education qualifications," Cia said.

Some 40% of the work force is now female and more than a third of farms are run by women.

Italian wine production down in 2012

Harvest figures show low yields, higher prices expected 18 October

Guarda la foto 1 di 1 (ANSA) - Rome, October 18 - Wine production dropped in 2012 throughout Italy, the winemakers' association Assoenologi said on Thursday.

An annual report based on harvest figures said that production in Italy amounted to 39.3 million hectoliters for 2012, an 8% decrease compared to 2011. The lower yields however will fetch prices up to 50% higher, said Assoenologi.

"The increase in prices could be damaging to Italian winemakers' overseas sales, especially in the Canadian and US markets," Giuseppe Martelli, director of Assoenologi said.

Top Italian appeals court links cell-phone use to cancer

Employee suffered 'very serious' ear problems

18 October (ANSA) - Rome, October 18 - Heavy use of mobile phones - several hours daily over several years - could play a role in the beginnings of some cancers in the head, Italy's top appeals court said Thursday. The Cassation Court ruled against the Italian Workers' Compensation Authority (Inail) which was arguing against providing benefits for employees claiming injury by cellphone. The court stressed it was not warning against using mobile phones.

But it said it recognized that reliable studies have confirmed the risks, striking down Inail's arguments.

The case came from the Court of Appeals in Brescia, where a business manager said that his use of mobile phones for up to six hours daily over 12 years contributed to a serious problem with his left ear.

Despite surgery and therapy, the man said he had suffered "very severe outcomes" and claimed occupational health benefits.

ANSA English > News

Kidney tissue successfully grown in Italian laboratory - Could open path to growing artificial organs

18 October (ANSA) - Rome, October 18 - Kidney tissue has been successfully grown in a laboratory for the very first time. Nephrons, the primary structure of kidneys, were grown in an Italian laboratory from the embryonic cells of mice, opening a path toward the creation artificial organs.

The study was conducted by the Anna Maria Astori Center at the Mario Negri Insitute of Bergamo, and was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Researchers led by Christodoulos Xinaris implanted the laboratory-grown nephrons into mice and found they began to function like normal kidney cells.

ANSA English > News

Cardinal Ruini says press went awry reporting Vatileaks case

Pope's butler case 'mainly about bad journalism'

18 October (ANSA) - Vatican City, October 18 - The former president of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said Thursday the press went awry in its depiction of the so-called 'VatiLeaks' case of leaked sensitive Church documents. "Much was emphasized well beyond what actually happened," Cardinal Camillo Ruini told RAI radio.

"Very little (happened) in the way that newspapers presented it," Ruini said.

According to his account, that is why the trial of the pope's ex-butler Paolo Gabriele, who was convicted of stealing and leaking Popoe Benedict XVI's confidential papers to the press, was done in a public manner. "To give a more realistic idea of what truly occurred," he said. Ruini downplayed the importance of the leaks themselves and emphasized the "disrespectful" way the information was obtained.

"There's no need to have fear" of journalistic inquiries into the Vatican and the Catholic Church, he said, but "one can ask those who do it to go about it correctly. "If they do it correctly there's no harm done". Ruini is also pope's former vicar for the Roman diocese. The pope's former butler was sentenced to 18 months in jail earlier this month. Vatican watchers say he is likely to be pardoned by the pope.

Italian beer getting just desserts at home and abroad

Big brands winning fans overseas, craft-beer scene thriving

(ANSA) - Rome - Italians are not famed for being a nation of great beer makers or drinkers.

But Italy's brewers have developed a proud tradition of producing fine beers over the last 200 years which is finally getting its just desserts at home and abroad. If you had asked people what their favourite Italian drink was a few years ago, for example, the most popular tipples would have been a drop of Chianti or Barolo, or perhaps a tot of a spirit like grappa or amaretto.

Nowadays, the answer is increasingly likely to be an ice-cold glass of a beer such as Peroni, Nastro Azzurro or Moretti. On the home front, Italy's rich variety of crisp, refreshing pale lagers is even starting to rival wine as the nation's most popular accompaniment when Italians dine out.

Indeed, beer is neck-and-neck with wine as the favorite choice to go with dinner at weekends, according to Italian beer-producers' association Assobirra.

And around two-thirds of that beer is made in Italy, says Assobirra, whose members produce 98% of the nation's brews. The international success story is impressive too.

Spearheaded by Peroni, which was taken over by London-based brewing giant SABMiller in 2005, Italian beer exports have doubled over the last five years.

''For over a century our light lager with a relatively low alcoholic content has accompanied the Italians and this type of beer continues to be the most popular with them,'' said Assobirra Director Filippo Terzaghi.

''But we are pleased to see that Italian beer is increasingly becoming synonymous with lager abroad too. ''Our companies export over 1.7 million hectolitres a year, twice as much as five years ago, and it's being appreciated more and more in nations with great beer traditions - Great Britain, France and the Netherlands in Europe and countries like the United States, Australia and South Africa further afield.

''We hope this trend can continue''. Foreigners are probably most familiar with brands such as Peroni and Nastro Azzurro, which belong to the same group, and Moretti with its distinctive label featuring a mustachioed Alpine gent in a hat.

They are all smooth, well-balanced drinks, but there are plenty of other fine ones to enjoy. Menabrea, produced at the northern town of Biella in Piedmont, is one of the best with its distinctive, slightly sour aftertaste that has helped win it a host of international prizes.

Another top northern beer is Forst Premium, a zestful brew that its producers from the mostly German-speaking South Tyrol near Austria promise ''offers a sense of freshness and joie de vivre''.

Other great lagers include Trieste's Theresianer Premium, Sardinian brew Ichnusa and Friuli-Venezia Giulia's Castello. All the aforementioned beers are pale lagers, but Italy also produces a big range of dark 'red' lagers that have a stronger, more bitter flavor and higher alcoholic content.

Examples include Moretti's La Rossa, which has a caramelised flavour and the aroma of roasted malt, and Forst's Sixtus. Italy has a thriving microbrewery scene for those seeking something different too.

Good Italian craft beers include Almond 22, whose flavor is enriched by honey and spices, the Baladin company's Isaac and its punch-packing Elixir, and the herb-hinted Admiral, one of the highlights of the range served by the 32 Via dei Birra brewery.

Views of beer are changing so much that some Italian chefs are encouraging Italians to drink it with more dishes than its traditional food partner here - pizza.

''I often recommend a lager for cold, more delicate dishes, especially when it's hot,'' said Sandra Salerno, a personal chef and food blogger. ''It can stand up to being paired with salami, Parmesan and other rich cheeses.

''I tell the skeptics to try it with artichokes, squid and shrimp and then see what they think''.

Mafia pet rejects become special guests at new Tuscan zoo.

Confiscated exotic animals get a second chance at WWF center

ANSA) - Grosseto, October 18 - A wildlife reserve in southern Tuscany hosting exotic animals that once belonged to mafia owners will soon be opening its gates to the public.

Tigers once pampered as cubs but dumped as adults, unruly monkeys, lions and more are guests at the Center for Rescued Wild and Exotic Animals run by the international environmental organization WWF.

The center includes a 24-hour clinic and provides support for the State Forestry Corps' rescue operations of traded or illegally held animals. Animals recovered include herons, storks, hundreds of rare parrots, turtles and porcupines.

There are also poaching victims such as peregrine falcons, eagles, foxes, wolves and other wild species found injured or abandoned.

Guided tours at the new park will focus on education and respect for nature. All animals will be observed in a natural setting from behind a glass wall.

ANSA English > News

'Big drugs ring' busted Based in Frosinone, ranged from southern to northern Italy

19 October (ANSA) - Rome, October 19 - Italian police on Friday broke up an alleged drugs ring based in the city of Frosinone between Rome and Naples.

The international drug-trafficking gang operated in Rome, the nearby city of Latina and the southern cities of Naples and Cosenza, as well as in the northern cities of Ancona and Ferrara, police said. Police served 21 arrest warrants and placed 34 people under investigation on 46 possible charges.

(ANSA) - Rome, October 19 - An animal rights group in Rome demonstrated in front of the Dolce & Gabbana boutique on Piazza di Spagna Friday, protesting methods used in the production of jeans sold by the fashion house.

Joining with the Clean Clothes Campaign, the animal rights group Animalisti Italiani protested the designer house's use of leather, fur and especially the practice of sand-blasting jeans that is dangerous for workers producing the garments. Protesters had written on their nude torsos "Hundreds of children die to lighten your jeans" and "Your clothing is soaked in blood".

Dressed as workers, the activists simulated death by suffocation, a side effect of illnesses due to silicon inhalation by factory employees.

The process, banned in Europe since 1966, is still used in developing countries such as China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Animalisti Italiani said that "despite an international petition, Dolce & Gabbanna continues to ignore the deadly effects of this technique".

Eurochocolate cake cut to mark kick-off of Perugia festival

Over 100 stands for lovers of all forms of cocoa

ANSA) - Perugia, October 19 - The hugely popular Eurochocolate festival kicked off in Perugia on Friday with the cutting of a giant iPhone-shaped cake in keeping with the event's theme Applichiamoci ('Apply Ourselves').

The 2012 edition of the 10-day chocolate hedonists' festival, which attracts over a million visitors to the Umbrian town each year, focuses on digital applications for tablets and smartphones.

"Applichiamoci is more than just a play on words," said Eurochocolate President Eugenio Guarducci. "It's an invitation to apply yourself with passion to everything you do, to help you reach your goals and aspirations".

Eurochocolate launched on online campaign across social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where its 'Faceciock' page has amassed over 27,000 fans - up 50% in just one year. While the event is free, visitors may want to purchase a five-euro ChocoCard pass for discounts at participating stores, restaurants and stands.

Over 100 Italian and international chocolate companies have booths throughout the city's historic center with samples of well-known brands, as well as hand-crafted pralines and cups of hot chocolate.

Other attractions include the Chocolate Sculptures exhibit, when artists take four-meter blocks of dark chocolate and transform them into works of art.

This year's theme is devoted to the 90th anniversary of Baci ('kisses') chocolates by local chocolate maker Perugina, whose popularity has soared world-wide in recent years.

The event is also dedicated to promoting sustainable chocolate production and looks at sustainable cocoa development in countries that grow beans such as Ghana, Peru, Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Anti-corruption law passes Senate, to move to Lower House - Justice minister expresses 'great satisfaction

18 October

(ANSA) - Rome, October 17 - A proposed anti-corruption legislation that was approved in the Italian Senate on Wednesday must now pass to the country's Lower House.

Following the approval of the legislation, Justice Minister Paola Severino said that she felt great "satisfaction for the government who believed in the bill and also for a senate that has understood its value".

October 21
It's going to be a lovely day, but I awake with a headache strong enough to take an entire "cocktail" of medicine. We're up in plenty of time to go to church, so I sit here for a minute or two while Sofi stares at me so intensely she could explode me into smithereens. Putting her in her gabbia is not fun for her, nor is it for us.

Let's see if her Thundercoat helps calm her down. She loves it, and once it is on, she is a bit quieter. Once in the gabbia she seems to take it in stride. Va bene.

We drive up to church, and once inside I feel as if I'm embraced by it, especially after sitting in the second row next to MarieAdelaide. Don Daniele arrives, and as he gives the programs to MarieAdelaide to pass around the Coro, I thank him for his help in gaining my citizenship here. He nods, telling me he did little to help me to gain my Italian citizenship, but va bene.

I so love this place, this church, our neighbors...I am truly content, and hope that Dino feels the same. He seems to...The mass is gentle and sweet, and we're able to sing familiar and lovely hymns; how I love to sing in church! A number of neighbors speak to me about my new citizenship, and I'm hoping they'll embrace me as one who truly belongs here.

Afterward we drive to Il Pallone, have caffé across the little side street then shop for groceries at Superconti. I look for little Italian signature gifts for the girls' talk at their school about Italy, but find none. Perhaps we'll drive to Orvieto or Viterbo to see what we can find there. Dino thinks we may even need to drive to Rome and will certainly look there. If all else fails, there are always the shops at the airport!

So why can't I recall a couple of things I noticed this morning and was determined to remember to tell you? Perhaps they will come to me...Patienza (patience)...

Back at the house, Dino continues to move firewood and to stack it behind the house for the winter. I help him to hold up the structure so that he can screw it in one area, and now it's strong. When I remind him about a few things to clean up before his friend arrives on Saturday, he's a bit grumpy about it, but agrees. I don't think he wants to be reminded. Sorry.

What a glorious day! I weed a tiny bit on the terrace, but return to the house to begin to fix pranzo. When I sit, I feel stomach pains again, but let's not worry about them. Since this is the only place I use to document medical issues, please ignore this. Thanks.

It's time for pranzo and a bit of T V, then I'd like to paint, although I may take a nap, too. There is nothing special we must do this afternoon, so come no?

All is well, the weather continues to be beautiful this afternoon, and there's plenty of time for both a nap and to paint. All the while, Sofi stays by my side. What a wonderful doggie!

Dino continues to work on the structure behind the house to cover the extra firewood after a nap, and Sofi and I move to the studio where I paint after ours. I'm a bit lazy today. In a bit, Dino drives off to pick up Stein at the train station. It will be lovely to see him again!

We end the evening watching movies, including another James Bond movie, since during October one television station is dedicated to them.

October 22
Today is another beautiful one, beginning cool but sunny after fog clears in the valley. The scene is worth a painting or two, although I'm up to my ears with the commission I'm working on right now. Sorry.

I read and see so much angry bickering and just plain loud mouthing from the U S. I'm saddened, but no matter. With sarcasm at a peak during post-season baseball games, I can only ignore what I hear on television. Thankfully, the broadcasts do not include the conversations of people in the stands. People will do what they will do. It's one of the reasons I'm happy to be an outsider. I live my life in dreams, anyway, and this little treasure of a village is more than I need. Dino seems content, too.

All through the day here, we hear neighbors greeting each other as they take their little giros (walk around the loop) and to their campos and ortos. I think just about everyone who lives here could not imagine living anywhere else...unless it is with more family members. Italians are great family lovers.

With a call from David the muratore, Dino walks over to May Elin's garden and we join him. Sofi loves the walk and loves being wiped dry from the morning dew on her coat with a big towel after we return. Dino keeps tabs on David and they work well together.

Dino was born for this kind of project management, but boy does he get angry when I mention a task he has promised to do here at home and has not gotten around to it. I think I'm giving him a gentle reminder, but he does not take it that way. It's his way, and that's that. So I deal with it and don't let it get under my skin. Nor should you. Va bene.

Earlier, I helped Dino behind the house beginning to put another little roof on additional wood storage. His left knee bothers him a lot, so it's difficult for him to climb up on the short roof, although he won't let me do it. His father Leo would be proud of him; he probably is laughing up there in heaven. Hi Leo and dear Iolanda! Miss you both! Don't fret; you are always with us in spirit and we think of you often, just as I think of my parents as well.

I paint in the morning and in the afternoon, while Dino takes a short nap. He checks in on David again in the afternoon after his nap while I catch up with you. Outside I can hear the sound of a tractor, but it's a sound of the country and I admit I am not bothered by it. There are also sounds of birds, and it's all a kind of cacophony that has me smiling. I so love it here!

I take a look around the studio and there are unfinished projects galore. They will be done, in time, but there's no rush for now.

One of the projects we're interested in is learning about places or people who might want to buy our special violin and case and 2 bows. When dearest Uncle Harry died, he was very generous to his niece and nephews. But in Roy's case, he was given a deduction from the same amount given to his siblings after an appraisal for the violin came in quite high. Instead, I was given the violin to play and enjoy. Sadly, although I adore the violin, I'm unable to play it due to problems with my shoulder. With no other relatives interested in playing it, it's time it went to a new owner who will cherish it.

We're currently researching people and places of possible interest in Italy, including Cremona and Rome, and if we don't have luck here we'll bring it to the U S and see if we can find a new owner there. Let us know if you play the violin and have a serious interest. Many thanks.

I read for a bit while Sofi sleeps beside me and Dino putters outside on another project. Then it's time for snacks and T V and enjoying each other's company for the evening.

October 23
We drive to Viterbo late in the morning and stop at KLIMT to pick up a special paper tablet to use when painting with oils. There are about fifty sheets, and it will be useful for the rest of this year, at least!

Since we're in Viterbo anyway, we park outside the shopping center and pick up a roast chicken at IPERCOOP. We eat it for pranzo with rice and will make risotto tomorrow with what is left of the chicken. If Stein is here, we'll invite him, too.

I paint in the afternoon and then take a short nap. Dino works outside after his nap on the roof of the wood storage. I help him when he needs it, but he has a great handle on how to put it together. Bravo, dear Dino!

There's Coro practice tonight, but I don't realize it until just after it's to begin. Dino drives me right up, and it's fine, for my pals have not begun to sing. Instead there is celebration of my new Italian citizenship and hugs, and a new song for me to learn. I can't remember what it is now, but no matter. I'll let you know when someone reminds me. Ha!

How they disagree! Federica stands before us and waves her arms, making sure we enunciate the correct syllables. Once some of the stronger members settle down, things go smoothly and the practice only lasts an hour. Va bene. I so like these early sessions. Since we'll turn the clocks back this weekend, practice should be at this time all through the winter. Speriamo!

I walk home with those women who live on the way toward our house on Via Mameli, and when I reach the side gate can see Sofi waiting on the front terrace right inside the little gate. How joyfully she greets me when I open it and give her a hug!

I've learned that people and their dogs spread germs back and forth, but Sofi and I seem to have done quite well...unless she's been giving me headaches! I can't imagine that's the case...can you?

October 24
Lovely weather continues, with blue skies and clearing fog. Stein is building a tour for Norwegian friends and asks for Dino's advice. Dino's busy building the roof for the wood storage, so tells him to come here to go over everything. It's always so good to see our dear friend.

While they sit around, I paint for an hour or two, then get ready to fix a chicken and lemon risotto. Stein and Dino sit around the table, so we invite him to join us and he agrees. I recall making a lemony risotto years ago, and since we have an opened bottle of Prosecco from a couple of nights ago, add the Prosecco and lemon juice right near the end.

Risotto is always fun to make with friends sitting around in the kitchen, and this is no exception. I suppose it is my signature dish, and this one is met with smiles all around. Even Sofi gets a bit at the end.

Stein is such an interesting friend, always happy with stories to tell. On this day, he talks about Norway and WWII and its borders with Russia and Denmark. I did not know that when Hitler was in power and demanded that all Jews in Denmark wear stars on their chests, that all Danes, being a very nationalistic sort, wore stars, so the idea of taking away all Jews in Denmark fell apart, for it was impossible to distinguish them from their fellow citizens.

After the risotto, we have salad and tiramisu and coffee. Stein returns home for a bit. Dino picks him up around 5 P M to drive to Castello Santa Maria to meet with Diego regarding meals and lodging for a tour that Stein is organizing. Sofi and I stay at home and relax and perhaps paint.

The weather is so mild that those dratted stinkbugs are still here. I find a couple lodged in the screen of the front studio window. I try to push them out the window gently, but they respond with tiny bursts of stinky gas. Or is it their auras that stink? I'm not sure, but don't care to find out. Do you have stinkbugs where you live? How about an antidote for them?

There is an Italian Notebook story today about the Macchina di Santa Rosa, and there is a reference to mine, written in 2008. Here it is today's story by Anne Robichaud:


and here's the similar story I wrote in Italian Notebook about it in 2008:


If you notice, the macchinas are not the same designs; they are made by the winners of competitions for them in their year and are quite different from one another. Which do you prefer of the two here?

October 25
It's cool and foggy, but in typical fall fashion, by mid morning there are blue skies and lovely temperature. We have recorded the SF Giants/Detroit Tigers baseball game, the first in the World Series of 2012, and watch the Giants win handily.

We love seeing the shots of San Francisco Bay in between pitches now and then. No wonder everyone loves San Francisco!

I paint in the morning for a couple of hours and return to paint again in the afternoon. I'm starting to see the top portion of the painting really take shape. By the end of the week, if I'm diligent, I may be able to slide the canvas up and begin the long process of painting on the bottom part.

My mind moves now and then to Marissa and Nicole, and I'd surely love to make some outfits to take to them. But I don't know if that will be possible. Since there is a machine at the house in San Francisco, I can also sew when we're there, especially during the day when the girls are at school, Angie is at work and Dino is usually with Terence. We'll see. Perhaps I will also get in some good walking in Golden Gate Park, which is close by.

Do you know that if we each take a second suitcase we're charged up to $100 for it? How insane! So that means we won't take much back and will wear some things a couple of times or more. Since one suitcase is almost full for things for Marissa and Nicole and Terence and Angie, that means we might buy a few things there and leave them there. It's a good thing we each have Kindles to read books with. What a crazy world we live in!

Sofi wears her Thundershirt for most of the day, lying in her wicker bed with her head hanging over the side while we listen to music and Dino works away constructing a roof to hold more firewood behind the house.

We go to bed really early (9PM) and read. We're both really tired. A domani!

October 26
We pick up several beautiful eggplants and I fix two baking dishes of them; one large for tomorrow's pranzo with David and his wife and one to keep aside for us, probably for Sunday. Eggplant Parmesan is a dish that takes time to make it correctly. We'll put a recipe on the site, for it's a wonderful fall and winter dish and is even better the second day!

I fix a lemon drizzle cake, and look forward to serving it tomorrow; hopefully there will be more left for us to have on another day or two. Yes, we'll put the recipe on the site, but if I forget, don't hesitate to remind me. Sigh. There's that memory thing again...

October 27
David Antisdale and his wife will join us for pranzo while they're taking a train from Florence to Rome before returning to the United States. This should be fun!

We drive up to Orvieto to pick them up from the train station, and Kathy and Sofi and I sit in back, while David sits in front with Dino, talking about old times.

But first, there's a walk around Orvieto, and I take them to visit Chiara in the square, where they buy a lot of ceramics and she'll ship them to them at home to arrive when they've returned. She presents both Kathy and me with tiny presents: wine bottle tops painted by hand and quite lovely. I take all our visiting friends to her, and she remembers.

Back at home, Dino and David and Kathy take a walk up to the borgo, while I preheat the oven and get the table ready and feed dear Sofi. It's good to have a few minutes to not have to rush.

When they return, we sit in the kitchen and open a bottle of Prosecco. After that, we switch to red wine to serve with the eggplant. The wine comes from David and Kathy...how dear of them!

Everything else is fine, including the lemon drizzle cake, and we take them to the train for their trip to Rome and then some. It's been a wonderful visit for us, and we hope for them as well. We'll see them alla prossima volta (next time), for they love Italy and we're sure they'll return.

As the evening unfolds, a headache appears, erupting into a migraine and I don't remember much else, other than the night is fitful, with an icepack and medicine cocktails not doing much good. My constitution is much weaker than I thought, but we did have a great time...

October 28
I wake early and take another medicine cocktail, returning to bed to hope it will work this time. Dino awakes and dresses and goes to church, while I return to normal and take a shower and dress. Back at home, under clear and cold but windy skies, we watch the Formula-1 race and then the Giants race, which we've recorded. Hooray, the Giants win! I catch up with you and remake the bed, but have no energy for much else.

The eggplant is surely delicious eaten the second day, and we'll surely make it for the family when we are in San Francisco. Time for a nap, after watching View to a Kill, the James Bond movie set in San Francisco.

October 29
With quite cool temperatures overnight, sleeping was cozy. This morning, however, sun appears with a few clouds and it will be a beautiful day.

We're up early to drive to the hospital outside Orvieto for an eye appointment for dear Dino, and Sofi will be with us, although will wait in the car. I ask Dino if she'll be too cold and he laughs at me, telling me she's never too cold with her natural thick coat. Va bene!

Dino is doing better, with less blood detected in one of his retinas. While I wait, the cacophony in the waiting room is so Italian: Italians love to laugh; love to greet one another, and on this morning there are chance encounters and lots of happiness, along with a bit of fear and or sadness now and then.

We stop at Superconti in Orvieto and pick up Swiss chard, aka bieta, and once home I fix Swiss chard and rice and chicken soup. It's a lovely meal on a cool day, and this is one. Dino slices good bread and we toast it with Parmesan cheese and drizzles of olive oil under the broiler to eat alongside the soup. Finally we finish the lemon drizzle cake, and I'll surely make it for our San Francisco relatives when we're there. Even better, the girls will make it with me. Come no?

We're so close to the wire financially these days that we've decided to live within our means, and that means no impulsive buying. With plenty of things purchased already for Terence and Angie and the girls, there's no need to. Va bene.

We've taped the Giants 4th game of the World Series and watch it at home. What a thrill to see our "home team" win it all!

October 30
The day begins with fog, and is much cooler. Dino visits with David on May Elin's project while I paint, with Sofi by my side.

It is a cool and lazy day, with not much done at home except for painting and a couple of movies watched on TV. The French girls and their mom visit and it takes a while for Sofi to calm down and the girls to lose their fear of her. We have to laugh; the smallest has no fear at all, but her older sister is quite frightened, that is, until she is right by Sofi's side and pets her while Sofi stays put. Sofi loves them, and one day they will all relax with her.

Osmanthus flowers when almost everything else has had their day, the sweet four-petaled white flowers dusting the tufa rocks like a bridal procession.

We are brought crepes from our French friends and fix them in the evening with jam. How delightful! I have forgotten that we used to make them and now can add that to our repertoire.Come no?

A different kind of bud appears inside the plant; this time the melograno (pomegranate). We have five on our little tree, and the seeds are delicious in a salad...try them with lettuce and blue cheese and even a sprinkling of walnuts! Add this tree on the list of things I want to paint and let us know if you enjoy the salad...Thanks!

October 31
There's been a lot of emailing and research on the violin and the two bows, for they are all for sale and we expect to at least obtain the amount of money that was deducted from Dino's inheritance for them. But then, it appears they are worth more than that today, each sold separately, so we continue to research, and perhaps will even take them to the U.S. with us. If you are interested, or knows of someone who is, do let us know...subito! Thanks so much.

The violin is a 1927 E.H. Roth in excellent condition. We also have a Gustav Prager (gold mounted) bow and a Leon Picque a Paris bow.

Dino leaves for a drive to Viterbo with Stein, including a stop at the doctor's office to make an appointment for our flu shots. Sadly, the medicine won't be in until the middle of next month.

Here at home, the French girls are expected to make a lemon drizzle cake with me, but since it is raining I begin without them, as they do not appear as planned, perhaps because of the rain. No matter. We will bring cake to them later.

In the rain a half hour after their expected arrival, their mother, Marie, and all the girls arrive, and I pack up half of the cake for them to take back with them. Their father arrives tonight, so they can enjoy it all together.

Today is Halloween, so I'm hoping Dino will pick up some goodies to distribute tonight. It is something of a tradition that Laura and Francesco and a bunch of kids from the village dress up and come down to "trick or treat" at our house in the early evening.

There has been no time to paint this morning; perhaps I'll return to it this afternoon, although it is quite wet and cold here. When Dino returns he'll surely make a fire in the fireplace, but otherwise all will be tranquil. I'm looking forward to snuggling this afternoon under the warm covers and that means probably no painting today. Hope it's lovely where you are...

This being All Hallow's Eve, aka Halloween, my story about the mummies of Ferentillo appears on italiannotebook.com. Here's a link:


I wrote the story a long time ago, and to this day can't imagine returning there, the images are so grotesque. If you're of a different mindset, it may be worth visiting the next time you're in Southern Umbria in the Valley of the Nera (river). A number of people comment on the post in italiannotebook.com, so I'm not alone in my thoughts of it.

It's so damp and rainy that after making another batch of Swiss chard and rice soup, I serve it this time with chicken pieces and plenty of fresh juice from a couple of lemons, which enhances the flavors and is so tasty on this cold afternoon. I can't wait to get into bed and snuggle under the covers. We'll surely have "trick or treat"-ers a bit later.

Well, the doorbell rang twice in the late afternoon and we slept through it. So sorry, pals, perhaps we'll see you tomorrow.

The rain continues, at a constant drip, and is somewhat heavy at times. We watch Goldeneye, an old James Bond film, as well as a few regular programs. I don't paint at all. What a way to end the month, snuggled under the covers, seemingly protected from any ghosts and goblins as the day and month come to an end!

November 1
Unexpectedly, skies clear after a lot of rain, and we're able to walk up to church on this "Tutti Santi" ("All Saints' Day") for mass, at the usual mass time of 9:30 AM. Sofi stays at home, wearing her Thundercoat, but not happy to be left in her gabbia (cage).

Dino finishes the copper pipe he pinches at one end to use as a blow horn to help a fire in a fireplace "catch" and burn. He drops it off at our French friends' home as a little gift for them to use when they make fires, while I walk in to the church and sit with my Coro buddies.

Don Angelo is our priest, and his friend Lucia invites us as well as the French family for a cena this Saturday. It will take place in Bomarzo, and we look forward to it. Although we're to bring nothing, perhaps I'll make another of those lemon cakes, for they're to be another signature of ours; that is, in addition to the budino di caki (persimmon pudding) for which we are known. It's a bit early for those, although there is an old one in the freezer from last year.

Conversations with neighbors take place about the Italian flag in our parcheggio, signifying that I am now an Italian citizen (finalmente!) and we will be here for eternita (eternity), since we have our Mugnano cemetery plot waiting for us. It feels so good to be accepted as more than just temporary visitors, for most people who buy property in Italy give up after a couple of years and return to the country with which they are more familiar.

The bureaucracy here is daunting; perhaps that is why Dino happily spends a lot of time with stranieri, helping them with related details, as well as supervising their construction projects. I spend almost all of my time painting, or creating costumes for those I love.

During mass this morning, I realize I am such a dreamer that it is interesting for me to learn that the word evanescent means: fleeting, ephemeral, vanishing like vapor - without a trace, the process of gradually disappearing from sight.

Although the derivation of my given name, Evanne, came from a grandmother named Eva and a recently deceased uncle Calvin, the dreamer in me likes the word evanescent as a description of my spirit, which is dreamlike and unlike those around me. No wonder I never really "fit in". Now I can embrace who I am, although while growing up I was quite sad, feeling I was just a shadow of my popular athletic older brother.

I love living at the edge of a medieval village in a country other than that of my birth, surrounded by a garden and my dreams. Dearest Dino loves me somehow; perhaps the fact that life with me is never boring helps.

Although today is somewhat of an Italian holiday, he drives off to pick up sausage meat for a pasta sauce that I will fix. It's a cool day, so hot pasta will hopefully be delicious. With dark and light clouds looming overhead, covering a bright blue sky, who knows what the afternoon will bring? What's more...who cares?

Yes, the sugo (sauce) for the pasta (this time small tubes of it cut on the diagonal) is delicious. There is so much of it that we forego a salad, but eat pieces of the lemon torta I made, heated a bit in the microwave oven. I've taken the casings off each sausage, breaking up the meat in a padella (frying pan) before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, including carrots, which are my favorite ingredient.

A nap is in order, and it's a long one, followed by research on possible buyers for the violin and bows. It appears that Butterfield and Butterfield in San Francisco has been sold, but we'll ask knowledgeable friends if the company they sold to is a good one to take the violin to. I think we need to know more about the violin, for estimates for its worth are quite varied. The adventure continues...

November 2
It's a sunny "All Souls' Day" here in little Mugnano in Teverina, and we're off to Viterbo. Wondering if shops are open or closed, we find that they are all open. Va bene!

I put Sofi's Thundershirt on her, and she waits in the car while we shop here and there, including buying fodera (lining) for something to wear in the U S as well as lining for the blue dress for one of my little French friends.

Back at home, I take out the pasta from yesterday and prepare it to bake for today's early pranzo, for there will be a special mass in the local cemetery at 2 P M, to celebrate those who have gone before us. I find myself less and less nervous about my final days, not knowing when they will be.

We will visit the spot where we will be buried one day, although it will take until the painting is finished for the money to come in to pay for our actual burial structure. Let's not worry.

Although there are more clouds in the sky, it is still lovely at noon. We eat and relax a bit; then walk up to the cemetery just before 2 PM. No one, absolutely no one, is there. What is that all about? Is the mass in the main church in the borgo?

Dear friend Stein, aka Pietro Cittabella, has made the same mistake, and arrives in his car. He drives us up to the borgo, but no one is there, either, in either church.

Dino has come to the appropriate conclusion. It is not enough for us both to be Italian citizens now; we must also breathe in l'aria parla (the air speaking, aka local gossip) to really be accepted as part of the village.

So when was the mass today? Well, it took place at 10:30 AM, we find out when passing Elizabetta on the road. Va male. Purtroppo(two ways of saying: "Too bad".)

Well, it is a lovely afternoon, just perfect for the walk. It was a bit stressful walking up the steep hill to the cemetery, but an easy walk down as well as home from the borgo. "Nap time!" Dino comments as we step through our gate. All is well.

I will say that I had silent thoughts of my own mortality on the walk to the cemetery just now. Seeing the place with new eyes, I'm more conscious that I must finish the painting for Don Francis before the money will come in for our burial structure in the cemetery.

Dino tells me that Stefano the muratore still has the plans for it. He's been asked for them before. If he cannot locate them soon, we'll have Roberto the geometra print out another set. At least we know the plans have been approved.

After a nap, the sky looks menacing, so I suppose that means that cold weather has come and we will be ready for it. With Dino building a fire in the kitchen fireplace, Sofi would rather sleep there than with me in the studio, where I paint just a bit.

November 3
Well, I wind up painting more than just a bit, and seem to enhance the original, which has some strange coloring in it and less detail. Come no? I so love to paint!

We watch a James Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan, and I like him quite a bit more than all but the original James Bond, that sexy smirking Sean Connery. It's time to turn in, but we can't seem to get our internet connection working. Sigh. Perhaps tomorrow.

In the meantime, Dino makes a contact in the Bay Area for symphony orchestras where we can post the violin and bows for sale. It's worth a try.

Kari and Lief arrive for breakfast mid morning and it's so good to see them again, here for a short while in their Pozzo Ciolino house. Mostly they live in Norway. Yes, with so many Norwegian friends, we surely must visit there some day...but not in wintertime.

I continue to paint, especially now that I have an idea to enhance the areas near the tree. Perhaps before the end of the year I'll be ready to slide the canvas up over the top structure to dry while I paint the death scene at the bottom.

There's plenty of time to sleep in the afternoon, and in this cool weather it's irresistible. Only later does Dino wake me up to get ready to go to Don Angelo and Lucia's for cena. Sorry, Sofi!

The meal is wonderful, as is the gathering of friends, and we do enjoy being able to speak the language a bit better each year, although quite a bit is spoken in English. After dinner the Mann family "sings" for their supper".

November 4
We wake to fog and cold weather, but no matter. We drive up to church while Sofi stays home, and Don Daniele is the priest, reminding us that of all the commandments, loving God is the most important. Each day of each year I learn a little more, but am thrilled that MarieAdelaide greets me as "La Italiana" with a smile and a hug. Grazie mille, dear one.

One of the wonderful things that happen when Paul and his family are here is that he brings his portable organ and it is the only time that we have real music to accompany our singing in church. Today's mass is especially delightful and reverent, although I see Leon walking up to take communion with a shoelace untied, and I worry about him tripping.

So I turn around to tell his mother and by the time I turn back around, communion has finished. I can't remember the last time I have not taken communion, but I will pray extra at home by myself later.

After Mass, there is the annual laying of the wreath for the caduti (the fallen), for November 4 is the day that Italy honors their fallen soldiers, Giornata dell'Unità Nazionale e delle Forze Armate (Day of National Unity and the Armed Forces). This year, Roy and Enzo are selected by the sindaco (mayor) to do the honor.

We have coffee and buy groceries at Il Pallone, including a meatloaf that I fix with roast potatoes and salad. Oh, I forgot roast carrots. Come no? There are carrots to fix and time to cook them while the meatloaf roasts in the oven, while Dino prepares the fried potato skins as an extra treat.

This is as good a time as any to talk to you about the importance of understanding when a mate has pains in their neck and shoulders. It is not difficult to give loving massages to ease their discomfort, and is a sign of a really loving and caring mate. This is the time of year when shoulder and neck pain can be especially painful, so please be mindful of this.

The relief provided by a pair of loving hands is a gift more precious than gold. So do take a few minutes to show those whom you love who are growing older how much you care for them by this completely unselfish act. Thank you so much as one who so appreciates the effort.

Today is a Formula One race, with Lewis Hamilton on pole in Abu Dhabi. While Dino watches, Sofi and I are up in the studio. I think I'll paint while Sofi dreams by my side, hanging her head over the top of her little wicker bed. She's a wonderful friend and shadow. But instead, we take a nap. Perhaps I'll have energy to paint later.

November 5
It's Monday, and because stores in Viterbo are closed this morning, Dino will take Stein to Viterbo tomorrow to pick up the blowups to hang on two walls of his cantina dining room located in the countryside below the village. Stein is one funny guy and has a contagious laugh.

One world away, what's not funny at all is how I'm treated by my brother lately, online. He's one sad man, lashing out toward me as unkindly as possible. He thinks I don't have a clue about the person he is inside. It takes all my inner strength not to judge him, but his words are so very hurtful.

Thankfully, Dino talks about completely other subjects with me, makes me laugh and is so loving and dear toward me that I realize my heart is here with the man I love and the doggie I love, so all else slowly begins to fade.

I fix a sauce and pasta and its taste is warm and delicious on this cold day. A bit later, a wild wind lashes at the persimmon tree in front of the studio while I write. It's as angry and unkind as my brother's sad rumblings, so let's light a fire in the fireplace and enjoy each other inside where it's warm and loving and cozy.

Painting in the studio won't happen until later, if at all today. Fifi's photo gives me strength, as does little Sofi, who wears her Thundercoat for hugging and stays right by my side. I do paint just a bit and then clean the brushes, as I do each day I paint. On this day, however, I spot a tiny mouse in the summer kitchen, so Dino sets a trap for it. I'm frightened just by the thought of it, but admit it is cute.

After a nap, there's an old Paul Newman movie to watch and later another old movie with Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift. I've been feeling stressed, take a medicine cocktail for a looming migraine, and now just want to veg out, not thinking of anything.

I admit this little piece of heaven means everything to me, and wonder how I'll fare when we travel to the San Francisco Bay Area for a couple of weeks later. Since Dino spends as much time as he can with our son Terence and the girls will be at school and Angie at work while we're there, I'll probably do a lot of walking and sewing costumes for the girls and Angie.

There will be friends to see, but each year the list gets shorter, and now we plan very few meals out so that we can spend more time with Terence and Angie and the girls. That probably means much more cooking, but that's fine. I'd like to make a lemon drizzle cake with Marissa and Nicole and try some other things, too.

Angie and Terence deserve time to relax after long days at work while we're there. How wonderful it will be to help them to relax, and still fit in some movies, include the new James Bond, which everyone wants to see.

We end the evening with Dino planning to take Stein to Viterbo tomorrow morning. If the weather is good, Sofi and I will take a walk around the loop below our house. I'll certainly paint. It will be a good day. Good night!

November 6
Sofi and I spend the morning together while I paint and also email questions to Don Francis about my interpretation of the original painting in Rome. His response has me moving in the direction I had intended with what sounds like his blessings. Va bene.

We watch an old American movie, "Airplane" and laugh and laugh, although we've seen it before. With heavy skies and lots of clouds above, we take a long nap, for tonight will be a long one as we watch the U.S. presidential election results. It probably won't even be resolved when we awake tomorrow morning, because of possible voter irregularities, as well as voting stations closed too early. How sad!

Regardless of the results, we're happy to be living here. There is a concern about the future of Social Security, but since we've paid into it all the years we've worked, the government certainly can't take away our own money that we've set aside. Let's wait and see. We're so happy to be living here; each argument we listen to makes us so convinced that our decision to live here was the correct one for us. Hope things are going your way wherever you are living.

November 7
One of those migraines attacks me overnight, but after a medicine cocktail this morning I'm feeling better. Sofi continues to be by my side, no matter where I am. One could not possibly have a more faithful friend.

It's a lovely morning, with plenty of blue sky, and just a bit of cloud to make the view interesting. Italo and his caretaker walk by below on Via Mameli, and they're always fun to greet. All is mellow.

Roy takes the mini frigo out on the terrace from the kitchen and defrosts the freezer, while I do a bit of cleanup on the terrace planters and weed, then catch up with you. I love not having to do anything these days. It's a joy.

President Obama has won reelection, and I watched a little of it this morning at 3:30 AM, when the decision was not yet final. Yes, we voted for him early, sending our ballots in by mail. It's an honor to be able to vote, so I hope you voted wherever you are able. No, I will not judge you; I just hope you agree.

I research rental homes in France for a week next fall along with Frank, but we have not decided yet. There is still time.

Dino has picked up pranzo in Attigliano to cook, and I'll fix potatoes in a few minutes as well as the cutlets, although food does not interest me today. Sleeping sweetly in a cool bedroom is what appeals to me most, and in an hour or so I plan to do just that.

Here in little Mugnano I can't imagine a lovelier day to be right here. We so bless the day and are thankful for being alive in this sweet place.

Happily we take a nap after watching a movie, and there's nothing we have to do this afternoon. What a blessing!

French neighbors arrive for a short visit and then we loll around inside, watching movies while the sun sets.

November 8
We do a few errands then drive to Amelia for a visit with Peppi and Steven. They are such warm and funny guys and we love being with them. Here is a haven for their dogs that have free range of the place and all seem to get along with Sofi. Steven takes special care of Sofi, having her sit on his lap while he treats her heavenly. She's soon a great admirer.

Dino fixes a brunch for us and it has been so long since we've had brunch! It's perfectly wonderful, and a taste of what's to come when we visit the U.S. this fall.

I have not been able to knock a migraine, and notice in the rearview mirror of the car how hot the color of my eyes is. At home, it's time with an ice pack and I'm so enjoying lying in bed while the day floats by. Sometime later I'm up and it appears the headache has left. For the rest of the evening I'm very careful what I eat and drink and all is mellow.

There are movies to watch and we so enjoy watching movies. Tonight, we watch a movie with bad reviews, called Cyrus, and it's a strange one. At least when it's over we know we won't ever have to watch it again!

November 9
We drive to Orvieto early to pick up special shirts for the grand daughters and visit with Candace and Frank, where we share some things for pranzo that we've picked up at a local gastronomia (deli); Frank makes a wonderful cauliflower soup and there is also roast chicken and a tasty dessert.

Frank and I have been doing research on places to stay in Southern France next fall, with lots of options. There's much to mull over. We'll like select an area in the Pyrenees near the Spanish border.

We're back home in time for a nap, but somehow Sofi has hurt her back. She has trouble moving and shakes. This has happened before to our sweet doggie, so the vet has told us the last time to keep her quiet for a couple of days. That's just what we'll do.

Sofi does not want to eat much at night, so we stay by her side while we watch movies on TV. I so ache for her.

November 10
Plenty of fog greets us, but with sun shining softly up above, we know the day will clear. Sofi remains very quiet, but after 10 AM she's somewhat better. Patience is what we'll need for the next few days until she's back to her old peppy self.

We'll take down the bamboo poles that we used for the nonexistent tomato plants this summer, and I'll paint. Otherwise things will be quiet here.

First, there is sewing to do, and I'll need to take out the sewing machine and set up the table. I cut the lining material for the black flowered coat and pin it on three sides, so let's sew those and see how I've done so far. So much for painting.

Finally the sewing machine is uncovered, and I sit at it to make a lining for a lightweight coat I will wear on our trip. Dino is on his way to Viterbo, I know not why, other that he'll pick up a great loaf of just-made bread. I'm not sure where the gathering attachment is that I want to use for Marissa and Nicole's outfits, but will continue to look for it.

Sofi seems a bit better, and is outside in the sun. I'm so relieved especially when she wags her tail.

I find the attachment for the sewing machine that I've been looking for. Now I just need to figure out how to use it! The lining is finished for the coat, and Dino tells me it looks great. Speriamo di si! (We hope so.)

Dino takes down most of the poles, and tells me not to worry. He'll take down more tomorrow. I'm somewhat sorry he did not ask me to help, although the sewing kept me busy all afternoon.

We're not planning to drive to lower France in the Spring, although I've decided I will not grow our tomatoes next year from seed. In France we can buy heirloom tomato plants, but not here that I know of. Now that we're older, we do without many things that we used to think were important.

Now we know that almost nothing is important, except our love for each other and our medical care. So unless something wonderful happens, no heirlooms for us next year.

A headache looms, sigh, so I take a cocktail of meds, and we watch a movie. The rest of the evening is mellow, although Sofi has come alive again, happy as ever. I'm so relieved. I've been reading How Angels Die on my Kindle, and surprisingly it's a WWII novel. I'll let you know when I've finished what I think about it, but it's interesting so far.

November 11
It's Sunday, and that means church and singing with my Coro pals. There is a forecast for rain, thunderstorms and wind, so when we walk up to church we wear our raincoats. Why don't we drive? I have no idea. Perhaps we are optimists. Skies are still clear.

Don Daniele drives up our hill and stops, asking if we'd like a ride. Passaggia? (Do you want a ride?) is what he asks us. No grazie, we respond, for although it is windy, there is no rain. But when the mass ends, everyone stands at the entryway to the church, shocked at the amount of rain fallen on the ground as well as the torrent of water descending in the last hour.

I have a hood on my rain jacket and hide under it as I follow Dino down the paved narrow streets toward home. Don Angelo sits in his car on Via Mameli and offers us a ride. Come no? (Why not?) We are so thankful to this kind man. Thundershirt, so happy to see us. We are so happy to see her as well!

Dino makes a sugo (sauce) for pasta, but it is still quite early. First, he made a lovely fire, and that's where we'll stay for most of the day, watching movies unless the power is turned off. If so, we'll read and nap.

After pranzo we take a nap, although it is early. Skies are dark and there is plenty of wind. In a few hours, we still have power. Rain pours down as we rest. All is well.

I research the gathering foot I bought last year for the sewing machine, and can't seem to figure it out. I look online, and perhaps when we're at Terence & Angie's we'll travel to a local Singer store for their help. Might as well watch TV...

November 12
Dino drives to Viterbo to sort out things with ENEL, the power company, and also to see if their rates are better than those of the independent company we have been using for a couple of years. It is so expensive to heat our homes here in Italy! He winds up negotiating a lower rate for the electricity, Yes!

Sofi and I stay home and after a quick cappuccino, I return to work on the painting, but stop to see the remnant of black lining on the floor that I have been looking for. I decide to see if I can figure out the gathering foot for the sewing machine, using the material in front of me.

I figure out what to do, after doing a bit of research on the internet. The attachment is a wonder, and before I stop, I've made three rows of ruffles on the black material and also two rows on the lavender material to use for the grand daughters. I think this will be a big hit with the girls. Speriamo.

There will be a 100th birthday party for Leo (Dino's papa) when we are back in the U.S. Yes, he passed away more than 21 years ago, but it will be the anniversary of his birth, so there will be a family celebration a couple of days before the actual date. We'll figure out on Thanksgiving what to bring.

Dino is so excited that he's putting together some memories of Leo's working years at his film lab and production studio. Leo was a moviemaker as well as the owner of a well known motion picture laboratory in San Francisco, so there's plenty to uncover.

We're of like minds, Dino and me, for we're always working on one project or another, usually alone, but sometimes together. It keeps our minds young, I hope.

With all the rain outside, there is plenty of time for a long nap, and then more movie watching. Sofi is back to her normal self, loving and sweet but full of pep when she's encouraged. I can't imagine a more wonderful shadow!

November 13
There's a pedicure with dear Giusy this morning, and do I ever need it! But first, the Tiber River has overflowed substantially; rising even higher than it did yesterday. Here are photos of what we have seen from Mugnano. Note the first photo of the river: the trees on either side are the normal confines of the river.

Many people we meet tell us they've never seen flooding like this, although older neighbors recall older times when rising water caused problems for the community. We have lived here for ten years, and have never seen anything like this, although we are not worried. Little Mugnano is a hill town, so those of us not in the Tiber Valley have nothing to fear...for now. A fellow from the Comune tells us to look up Tusciaweb.it for conditions in the area. I suppose we're having our own version of Hurricane Sandy!

The Tiber's source is high in the Apennine Mountains, about 300 km from Mugnano. At 406km (252 miles) it is the longest river in Italy. As most of you know it empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea at Ostia, just past the Roma Fiumicino Airport. (Fiume is Italian for River.) We are told that if you translated Fiumicino into English, it would mean "little river".

There are several dams along the river's route. Two of them are upriver from us a few km. When they are threatening to overflow, water is released which exacerbates the flooding on our area. But no matter, we consider ourselves just poor peasants!

Back at home, we face south, as birds sing under a sunny sky. I open windows for fresh air and put the pasta in the oven to bake for pranzo. Oh, how I love little Sofi, and how I will miss my little shadow, ever by my side, when we travel to the U.S.

In the light of day, the pale purple fabric on which I am sewing gathers looks almost magical. The gathering foot of the sewing machine does work wonders. Now if the grand daughters will only like wearing outfits so French in nature. How could they not?

Dino has put together a show for the family centering on his father, Leo and his mother, Iolanda, but mostly of his father, who would have turned 100 on December 1st, using scans of photos that we have here. I see some of the days leading up to our wedding, for Leo acted as Best Man and he and Iolanda were with us a great deal then. How tender and complicated those days were!

Life is so very un-commercial here in little Mugnano that I wonder if we'll suffer some kind of shock when facing the wild panoply of things on display when arriving in San Francisco. It will be fun just the same, and wonderful to see the relatives and good friends we've not seen for a year.

Let's eat!

Flooding in the area has reached dramatic proportions. It is not the rain that was so bad, but the drying out of it after it overflowed the Tiber River will take up to a couple of weeks. We're to drive to Orvieto tomorrow for an eye appointment at the hospital, but will we be able to get there? Let's check with Candace and Frank. Hope you're staying dry, wherever you are!

November 14
We wake to fog clearing and a really beautiful sunny day. Up early, we drive to Viterbo to our doctor's office for flu shots, and manage to be first in line when he appears, although there are plenty of people waiting in the waiting room who look even older than we do!

Despite stopping for prescriptions and a loaf of great bread, we're home by 11 AM and I'm catching up with you as Sofi meanders about outside, not realizing I'm not with her. Soon she joins me, wondering if it's time for pranzo, but is content nearby in her little bed as long as I remain at the desk.

Sometimes we have reactions to our flu shots, but for now we're both doing fine. We'll pack up Sofi's things and her beds in a couple of hours, driving to Candace and Frank's after Dino's eye exam at the hospital in Orvieto. Better keep her Thundershirt on.

Outside much of the flooding has abated, although it will take some time for roads to be usable again. We'll probably drive on the back road to Orte to get to Orvieto, although Orte is in the opposite direction. It's just one freeway stop below us, so is not a big diversion.

After an early and simple pranzo, Sofi and I meander outside, where the most beautiful leaves of the kaki (persimmon) tree lay haphazardly on the ground. Since these trees probably grow where you live, you know how their colors exemplify every shade of the fall season.

So why is the season called "fall"? Could it be the "falling leaves"? Do you remember jumping in mounds of them and playing in them when you were young? I certainly do. Here's a link to explain it all:


We leave for Dino's eye exam at the hospital in Orvieto, but since we need to drive south on the back road to Orte to reach the A-1 autostrada, we give ourselves an hour to reach it. Dino is right on time for his appointment, but waits for an hour just to have drops put in his eyes, and waits almost another hour before he is seen by anyone.

Meanwhile, Sofi and I wait patiently in the parking lot, with no contact from Dino. After two hours have passed, Sofi is calm but I am very worried. I give her a hug and leave her in the car, while I walk to the front of the hospital and find a kind of receptionist/telephone operator near the front entrance.

Telling her my story, she smiles and calls up to the floor where she thinks Dino is being seen. Voila! He'll be at my side in just a few minutes. Phew! I then turn around and see a brown plaid shirt and yes, it is my darling. He seems a bit stressed but otherwise fine, and waits in line to make a follow-up appointment.

What was the delay? Oh, it was the normal bureaucratic story. No one was seen for the first hour. He was given drops then, and waited another forty-five minutes or so to be seen. There is not much sign of any blood in his retina, but he needs a follow-up, so will return next month.

After the appointment we visit Candace and Frank, where Sofi gambols about and we leave her with her godparents. I miss her terribly right away.

Have I told you that I see life here in Italy in a completely new light? Well, since I've become an Italian citizen I feel as if this is truly my home. Do you recall that twenty or more years ago I went to an astrologist, Ruby Holladay, who told me that I would feel more comfortable living in a country other than my own? It's so true, with one exception: this is my own country now. So when we visit San Francisco soon, I wonder if it will seem strange to me. I'll be sure to let you know. No matter, life is good.

November 15
We drive to Viterbo and then to Rome later today. While we're sitting in the kitchen having toast and caffé, I'm thinking about the enormity of effect one's life can have on the world. I tell Dino I want to make a difference in the world before I die and he laughs, asking me if I want to be a war correspondent in the line of fire. Sigh. "You have made a difference! Look at Tracy Lash! (Tracy became my little sister when I was on the board of San Francisco Big Sisters in 1980.) I want to know how she's doing, so look her up online and hope to see her soon.

Sun appears in a dappled sky. I'm missing little Sofi so much, although I'm sure she's having fun with Candace and Frank, perhaps gamboling with them as they pick olives.

We leave for Rome, where we fly out to San Francisco, and for the rest of the month spend the time with our San Francisco family.

A photo montage of our November-December trip to San Francisco is at the beginning of the December 2012 Journal.

December 1
We're still in San Francisco, and on this day celebrate the 100th anniversary of Leo Diner's birth with Roy's family at sister Adrian's house in Dubin, CA. Leo was Roy's Dad, and quite a guy.

December 2
We leave for the airport and take a late flight to Munich, then to Rome. It's been a lovely visit. Here is a photo recap of our visit:

December 3
We stay at a hotel, the Golden Tulip Hotel, located near the Rome airport; then drive home to drop off our things and then to Orvieto to pick up dear little Sofi. Our dearest little doggie has been spending time with our dear friends, Candace and Frank, who are also her "Godparents".

We're somewhat jetlagged, so don't have much to say, other than the house looks great and the wisteria has turned golden and plenty of its leaves are still on the vine. It's good to be home, but temperatures seem so cold!

December 4
Have no idea what is happening, for we're continued to be jet lagged. Dino picks up our mail from dear neighbor Luigina, and there was not much.

Chicken piccata is on the menu for pranzo and is quite tasty, but otherwise the day is uneventful. Plenty of sleep is on the agenda, since we spent more than 24 hours without sleep on the trip here.

December 5
Sofi takes her time getting back to her old self, enjoying the "Thundercoat" we purchased for her to keep her warm whenever she need an extra hug. She seems to love it.

Dino slices and toasts panettone for colazione (breakfast), then drives to Viterbo to see if he can fix Sofi's little cage, which suffered under duress while we were gone. Sofi is one ferocious little dog when she thinks she needs to be, although she does not snap at me. She is my shadow, and wants to be by my side at all times. So I am never alone if she is around, no matter where Dino happens to be at any given moment.

Dino show his ferocious side as well, when he accuses me of asking the same question to him over and over. Yes, I am losing my short-term memory, although see no excuse for his impatience. I merely ask what transpired during his telephone conversation with Enzo, our idraulico (plumber), so that when he's not here I'll know where to direct Enzo. I guess that he already told me at least once, oh well.

Everything except for the termosifone (wall heater) in the bathroom works. It's certainly important that I know that, and raise my voice to Dino to tell him so. He calms down, gives me a kiss and then drives off while I wait for Enzo to appear. Perhaps Enzo has the same memory affliction that I seem to have - he never does show up!

Downstairs the fire in the fireplace continues, with more logs to keep it going. I sit at the computer to update our list of books and check messages; then we both return to the kitchen to keep warm. How cold it is here!

December 6
It's an uneventful day, except that Dino drives to Viterbo to check on a warning light for the car. I'm so cold that I don't return to painting. It's better taking a nap by the fireside in the kitchen with dear little Sofi right next to me on the couch.

December 7
There's nothing much to report these days, for it is so cold I'm spending my time trying to keep warm. Sofi bounds in and out, in and out, until I tell her to stay inside with me. She's a good dog.

Dino returns to Viterbo to the FIAT dealer because the warning light on the little yellow car has returned. He's the family shopper, so returns with lots of holiday goodies.

I fix a batter-fried chicken with fried eggs the way Dino likes them and a salad. The dessert made with prunes and cream and other good things is reheated and he loves it. I could not imagine such a dessert to be memorable, but I'll post it for you in the recipe section of the site. Hope you like it.

I'm so very cold...

December 8
There was Coro practice last night, but we forgot all about it. Even though there is a fire in the fireplace, the house remains cold throughout - except in front of the fireplace.

It's too cold for me to paint, and I'm hoping Don Francis is not anxious about me finishing the painting for his church. I will surely finish it by the beginning of June, unless something major happens to delay it.

The day consists mostly of huddling by the fire in the kitchen, under a big blanket on the couch and catching up with T V programs.

December 9
The property looks wonderful, even though there is not much growing at this time of year, especially the persimmons. We have none on either tree this year, so that means we'll need to buy a few to make our famous budini (persimmon puddings) for guests and for Christmas. That makes Dino happy, for they're a mess when falling to the ground in a splat(!) when ripe.

I'm wondering how our tulips are doing? We did not purchase any this year, and although I am crazy about those blowsy and rippled French tulips, Dino tells me that in France they just call them tulips.

He's happy and mostly healthy, although his eye problem has not disappeared completely. We'll be checking in about it soon.

December 10
Cold and sun meet us this morning, but there is a very big dark cloud overhead toward Bomarzo. Let's ignore it...for now.

Sofi had bad dreams last night. I remain worried about her, especially about her back, but it will be a couple of days before we can travel to the vet in Viterbo. So until then we'll give her lots of love and rest.

We're up in plenty of time to go to mass, and I wonder how my Coro buddies are doing? Is there any new music to learn...or concerts on the horizon this month or next? I'll surely find out in an hour or so.

Sofi remains mostly unmoving. It's sad here, with little Sofi in pain, so we'll take her to the vet in Viterbo if she does not improve.

The music is the same as before, so we sing along and enjoy the service, as we do each Sunday. It's good to be back.

December 11
Do enjoy this fun annual post available from Mensa International. Since my dear departed father was a genius with a 156 IQ, I always think of him as a member, although he did not officially join.

The Mensa Invitational

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one received extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

December 11
On this very cold day, we visit our good doctor, who tells me I have tennis elbow! So the pain running up and down from my right shoulder to the wrist is no big thing. He gives me a prescription of pills to take each night for a week. If the pain persists, I'm to return for a shot of cortisone. Sigh.

Back at home the skies are clear. Since we face mostly South, it's warm on the terrace, where Dino rakes leaves from the wisteria plants that have spread over the front of the house and pulls down any loose ones lingering on the structure above his head.

Sofi is quiet, but unable to move up or down even a stair at the front door. She stops patiently and looks up at me. I love her achingly so and pick her up. She must be in pain.

We spend the rest of the day inside sitting near a lovely fire in the kitchen; that is, when we're not taking a nap in the afternoon. Life surely is slowing down, especially for Sofi and me. Dino seems to have plenty of energy, and enjoys shopping. What a guy!

December 12
With temperatures below zero Celsius (32 degrees F), we have no interest spending much time outside, unless it's really necessary. The two pills I took before bed helped my shoulder and arm pain quite a bit, and I'm hoping the pain will drift away quietly.

We're sorry we're late posting for November. Perhaps we'll be slowing down even more. Unless we hear from you otherwise, our lavventuraitalia journal may wind down. Hope you've enjoyed the journal and the recipes so far. Email us anytime with questions or comments.

December 13
Cold and clear is the weather here, and we're not interested in doing much of anything. That is, except Dino's Confraternità meeting tonight, when nothing much changes. Dino continues as Vice Priori and he is fine with that.

While he is at the meeting, Sofi and I languish on the couch while I read on my Kindle and she lies by my side. It is so peaceful here!

December 14
There have been problems with our computer, primarily with Outlook, and Dino spends time with Microsoft on the telephone. They give him some good information, and we are able to continue to use the software we like. All is well.

I fix popovers, based on a magazine recipe, and they are quite tasty, especially with the added grated cheese not called for. I only burn one finger while taking them out of the oven. Later, since there is so much left, I make a number of mini-popovers, which Dino calls "peep-overs" and leave them in the oven a bit long. They look and taste good just the same.

This morning and this afternoon we've been sweet and silly with each other, and that's the way it should be. There is no reason for us to be anxious.

I still have the painting for dear Don Francis to work on, but it's not a good idea to do that today. The pain in my right arm is a bit better, because I took the first dose of medicine prescribed by our good doctor last night before going to bed. I need to take it for a week to see if it works. I'll not paint until after that.

We watch an old movie after a pranzo of steak and baked potatoes and profiteroles and glasses of red wine. Feeling quite mellow, we'll surely take a nap after the movie is over. Later, friends...

December 15
In a small town in the United States, a terrible shooting takes place in a primary school, where teachers and small children are shot and killed by a 20 year young man with suspected mental problems. By now you have heard of the tragedy, located in Newtown Connecticut. How sad for everyone touched by this terrible event!

There are some strange statistics about gun ownership and gun lobbies. It appears that more guns are owned and used by people in the United States by far than any other country in the world! In this case, we learn that the suspect's mother owned the guns! She was also one of the victims of the shooting. I'll leave it to you to ponder, as I am not a person who judges her fellow man/woman. It is so sad that so many lives were cut down at such an early age!

We spend a lot of the day watching the television coverage, which seems to grow sadder by the minute.

December 16
Sad news from Newtown continues on the television, but we try to get our lives back to normal. I wonder how our grand children are doing, and if they have been told about the tragedy.

We invite friends to join us on Christmas Day for our traditional midday meal, and begin to plan for Babbo's Christmas Eve festivities. Dino loves it, so there's no sign of stopping...

December 17
Sofi feels much better this morning, able to navigate the two stairs from the front door to the terrace, although she does not take either of the longer expanses of stairs inside the house without our help.

Sounds below of neighbors using buzz saws to cut down trees for firewood interrupt the calm inside our house. Earlier, we watched a recorded transmission of the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots football game. Since it's pre-recorded, we can skip the commercials and half time shows. Before we've finished watching it, Dino tells me he has to shop. We'll watch the end later, and I don't listen to any sports news that will telegraph the final scores before Dino returns.

Dino leaves for Viterbo to pick up his test results and do a bit of shopping. Sofi and I sit in the studio and catch up on the journal. I admit I'm a bit weary of keeping the journal up, but since so many people tell us they look forward to reading it, I bring it up to date.

I fix a beef stew, begun before ten AM, which takes two hours to cook in the oven before adding potatoes and carrots for the last bit. It should be finished as Dino returns, and we'll have the stew to eat for at least two days. It should be great, eaten with a fresh crusty loaf of bread from a panificio in Viterbo and on another day, with wide Paparadelle noodles.

All the while, Sofi stays by my side, even after I've fed her fresh chicken for pranzo, sautéed and cut into tiny pieces.

Franco calls to confirm our holiday meal here, and what they'll bring. He has a lot to say about the school tragedy, blaming President Obama for not moving forcefully ahead on gun legislation, no matter the strength of the gun lobbies. No matter my response, he's not a fan of the President.

Sun and clouds in a blue sky greet the day, and although the temperature is not particularly warm, Sofi spends a bit of it outside. Back inside, we're finished with our preparations for pranzo, and look forward to Dino's return.

The rest of the day is mellow, and almost warm.

December 18
Dino grouses about my bad memory for small things. If you have memory problems, try to think of this: "Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff!"

I think of this to give myself some reassurance, and we three get up to have colazione before putting up the holiday lights.

With Dino at the helm as usual, the flat Christmas tree on the terrace made of ferro (iron) is a frame inside which we string small white lights, including a star of more white lights framed in gold at the top. The tree can be seen by folks coming into the village as well as leaving it, so it provides a merry signature for us again this year.

I'm sorry we no longer have laurel trees, for I'd love some sprays of laurel on the windowsills. Perhaps we'll pick some up tomorrow morning in Viterbo, when we return to visit our doctor.

December 19
There is still more beef stew, and it's even better reheated for pranzo, this time with rice. Afterward, there's plenty of time for a long nap, although Sofi has no interest in running around. I think the part of her back nearest her neck is where she is hurting the most. Yes, she is growing older, as are we, but we three still have plenty of life left, and love our little home in this tiny village.

December 20
Although news stories tell us the world will end tomorrow, we're busy fixing things inside the house and I'm busy making more persimmon puddings to eat and to share as holiday gifts. I'm also making Christmas cookies, this time, the Toll House chocolate chip ones that are truly American, so why not? They'll be a novelty here.

The lights on the terrace, including the tree facing the village, are on display as the sun goes down, and greet our neighbors coming and going until late in the evening. They'll stay up until early January, and why not?

December 21
While we wait for the world to end, I fix more persimmon budinos as well as more cookies. But most of the morning and afternoon are spent making our homemade applesauce, from a recipe of my mother's. It's really a wonderful treat. There'll be plenty left to enjoy on Christmas Day with roast stuffed pork, which we've ordered from Pino the butcher and I will stuff and roast it on Christmas morning.

Dino rehangs a curtain rod backstage while I cut and roast potatoes to have at pranzo with applesauce and pork chops. First I take out a large frying pan, put in a chunk of butter, melt it, and quickly sauté the potatoes on each cut side before putting them all in a baking pan with sprigs of rosemary and cooking them in the oven. Oh, my!

It takes most of the afternoon to finish making the second round of applesauce on top of the stove, and now it's time to catch up with you and take a rest, with Sofi by my side. She's lost most of her energy, but I think time and lots of hugs will make her feel better.

Giovanna comes by to tell me about a Coro practice tonight, but I'm really not interested. It's not a problem, she tells me, for we all know all the hymns, and it appears we'll be singing them at a Christmas Eve mass, hopefully early in the evening.

That's Babbo's big night, so I'll have to follow him around as his elf as he distributes gifts to the children, although we hear not many children will be around this Christmas Eve. But we don't want to miss the mass.

December 22
The days meld into one another as we make batches of holiday cookies before a lovely fire in the kitchen.

Sofi remains quiet, although she does manage to get around outside on the terrace. All is quiet here, and cold.

December 23
It's Sunday, but Sofi is unable to move much, so after attempting to take her with us to church, we turn around and take her home.

After a lovely mass, Dino takes me home and starts a fire, then drives off for a bit of holiday shopping. Skies are grey and cloudy, but no matter.

I have tried to connect with my brother, without much luck. He seems remote these days, not wanting to. So I must let him be, and just hope that he will come around.

Here in little Mugnano, I'm surrounded with love from dearest Dino/Roy and little Sofi, who is my shadow. I prepare for a holiday feast here with two couples joining us whom we care for a great deal. Sofi loves them, too!

Dino fixes the stereo so that we can hear our recorded holiday music. I admit that after he leaves I dance around the house to "All I want for Christmas is You!" by Mariah Carey. I play it several times while holding Sofi in my arms and dancing around, then find a copy of it and print it to use when the time is right.

December 24
I'm mightily tired, so sleep in just a bit.

By mid morning, we're gearing up for tonight's events, but can't seem to find the things we've brought back from our trip to San Francisco. Sigh!

After an exhausting day of fixing up the house and cooking and wrapping presents and making holiday gifts, I realize we have no mushrooms for stuffing for tomorrow's roast, so Dino drives off to find some. In another two hours, we'll be out doing our Babbo Natale rounds.

Thankfully, he returns with mushrooms, and tomorrow I'll make a stuffing a bit differently than before. We have a jar of dried apricots in brandy, and I'll use them along with celery, onion, mushrooms, bread and perhaps even a bit of Panettone. Come no? This will be a stuffing on the sweet side, to complement the pork, and will be cooked in a pan beside the roast, using a bit of the juice from the roast near the end...but will also have fresh thyme and rosemary and sage. Wish you were here?

Yesterday I fixed a pasta for pranzo that was so abundant that we feast on it today as well, and oh, my! After downing most of a bottle of good red wine, we're more than ready for a nap. And since we purchased a special pillow cover for Sofi while in the U S, we cover a pillow with it and she's in heaven.

Surely she feels better, especially since she can bound off her perch on the couch whenever we have something quite tasty for her to eat. Yes, she is getting better. But since it is a back thing, it will take a while for her to repair completely. She is also quite an actress, so let's us know if she feels any discomfort in a high pitched way.

Outside we hear gunshots from several contadini (farmers) in the valley below our house, or is it just one, wanting to shoot? Gun laws in Italy have no resemblance to those in the U.S., but no matter. There must be wild pigs and ducks and other game near us, but not enough to bother us. Thankfully!

With skies turning pink as the afternoon wanes, we're getting ready to take a late nap as more gunshots ring out. Let's stay inside and hope none are aimed in our direction!

We're ready for Babbo's rounds early, so watch some television, to be sure he's not too early. There are fewer children to greet, but he has the list and the gifts under control. Bravo, Babbo dear!

We take the little car to do some of Babbo Natale's gift giving, and at each house we visit he is greeted with joy. It is enough to have a photo with Babbo Natale...the gifts are secondary. Here's a glimpse of what happens...Enjoy!

December 25
We're up very early to get ready to host two couples that are great friends: Candace and Frank and Joan and Patrick. Today's holiday pranzo should be a lot of fun. Speriamo! The table looks great set up in the salone. Sorry we've been so busy we did not take photos. So use your imagination. Thank you. We're sure your Christmas is loving, just like you!

I've tried to contact my brother, with no luck. He moves at his own speed, and when he wants to, but I do send him holiday wishes. I wonder what side of the family his fearless determination came from, and how far back. I am as opposite as one could imagine to him, wanting to do all I can to further peace in the world among all mankind.

His two daughters are in touch with us in only a casual way, but I love them dearly, and am so happy that each of them has a family that loves them. Unfortunately their father does not fit into the picture with either of them. Perhaps one day...

I do receive an email from him, and it saddens me all day. Thankfully, our friends arrive and I keep my emotions in check.

The celebration is wonderful, beginning with glasses of prosecco and Joan's very tasty smoked salmon appetizer, eaten in the kitchen while we stand around and chat in front of a crackling fire in the fireplace.

From there we move to the next room, where we have set up and decorated a long table with a holiday tablecloth, a candelabra and plenty of lit candles.

Candace and Frank have brought lots of fresh greens, which we use to decorate the windowsills, adding more lights and ornaments. Did we realize this room is perfect for a meal for six or eight people? I suppose we have most of our gatherings in warmer weather when we eat outside. Now we know we'll have a second place to share with friends in colder weather.

Little as it is, we love this house. We love this village, our neighbors, and our lives here, although miss family members Terence and Angie and Marissa and Nicole a great deal. They are spending Christmas with Angie's parents in Southern California, and later we'll call them there to wish them all the best for the holidays.

Back to Mugnano: for the next few hours with our wonderful guests we enjoy pork roast, stuffing, homemade applesauce, roasted potatoes and Frank's Jerusalem Artichokes, while drinking plenty of excellent red wine. For dessert we have our traditional persimmon pudding with whipped cream and Joan's Christmas pudding, served side by side.

It is clear that my brother's email received earlier this morning has placed what feels like a lead weight upon my heart. Without saying anything about it, I can't help but be sad. Why oh why, I ask myself, do some people insist on being so emotionally destructive, even to those they love?

Thankfully, while others are laughing and enjoying each other's company during the meal, I quietly move to the nearby kitchen, where I clean up at the sink bit-by-bit, feeling a need to be alone. Every so often, I return to the table to pretend that everything is fine with me. I do cherish these dear friends and my husband, not wanting to add a drop of sadness to dampen the afternoon.

Somewhat later, we say goodbye to our guests, and for the rest of the night we sit and try to relax. It has been a tiring couple of days, and sadly especially emotional for me. Dear Dino seems fine, except for some stiffness in one leg, and I am thankful that his spirits remain high. He is so very dear to me.

December 26
After a terrible night fraught with anxiety attacks, I embrace the dawn, deciding finally: "enough is enough". From now on, my brother will exist only as a memory. There's no reason to shed a tear, never mind any emotional trauma regarding his actions. So, as if he is a feather on my outstretched hand, I blow any thoughts of him away with a kiss.

Let's choose to embrace the day.

The good thing about having hosted a big meal, is that there are usually terrific things to eat the next day. For today's pranzo, we feast on leftovers that taste even better than they did yesterday. Is that possible?

I don't feel well, but with nothing on the agenda and nowhere we have to go, we sit and watch recorded U.S. football games on television.

December 27
Today is the anniversary of my father's birth, 107 years ago! Loving thoughts to you in heaven, dearest Dad.

There are still more leftovers, and I make a tomato sauce thick with small cut pieces of the leftover pork roast, button mushrooms, sautéed celery, onion, fresh herbs and other good stuff. I boil potatoes and use the ricer with them to make a mashed potato base. Over that, the sugo is the star. We forego red wine, having had so much during the past week.

December 28
We're up at 5 A.M., for Candace and Frank will arrive in an hour or so with their big car, and we'll drive them to the airport in Rome for their U.S. winter trip, then keep the car for them in Mugnano. Yes, we're tired.

Our pals arrive right on time, and as the skies turn pale blue and clear, Sofi and I sit in the back seat with Candace, while Dino drives and Frank keeps up a running dialogue on the drive to the Fiumicino (Rome) Airport.

We're back before noon, watch a movie or two, eat more leftovers; then try to take a nap. But I'm unable to sleep a bit. What's that all about? I'm really tired, aren't I? Dino seems to sleep well.

I get up at around 5 P.M. to catch up with you, but there's not much to write, except that I have been unable to sleep, with imaginary dancing dragons above my head. Outside, the weather is lovely but cold, cloudless and seemingly happy. Why shouldn't I be?

Well, I am not un-happy, just have to chase away those sad and insecure reminders of the past and realize how fortunate I am to have a man who loves me dearly and cherishes me each and every day. Then there's Sofi, my shadow, who is the best doggie I could ever wish for.

December 29
We spend quite a bit of the mid day outside on the front terrace, scooping up leaves and raking the gravel. Dino likes re-sculpting the wisteria branches so that they'll form a beautiful canopy in the spring. I clean up any pots, thinking of dear garden mentor Sarah, whom I have not heard from in years. Hope she is well.

Dino wants to take a nap after pranzo, but I'm unable to rest. In about an hour we'll walk up to the old school building, where there will be a festa for twins Rachele an Erina, Tiziano and Alessia's twins.

The girls are a bit like night and day...One has dark curly hair; the other very straight pale brown hair. What they share is the love from two very kind and sweet parents. How happy the family, and extended family, are these days, and come no(why not)? Here are a few photos of the festa


We stop and visit Maria Elina and Olav on the way home, for she arrived last night from Norway, and soon we'll all get together, including Stein, who arrives in a couple of days. Sofi can't wait to see her good friends. What a wonderful surprise it will be for her!

December 30
With little sleep last night, I'm somehow still wide-awake when we rise. I can't figure out why, but feel as if a dark cloud looms over my subconscious. What is that all about?

A strong headache fills my thoughts. It's surely a migraine. I take a medicine cocktail, but it does not seem to help much. So a lot of the day is spent sleeplessly in bed, or watching TV with dear Dino.

He is well, and that makes me happy. Our lives together have been wonderful. After 31 years of marriage, our devotion to each other continues, through good times and bad, and hopefully the rest will be calm and peaceful.

We have this little village to thank for some of that. Thank you dearly, vicini (neighbors), for making us feel a part of the village family.

December 31
It's a beautiful day, with cloudless blue skies. Let's spend this last day of the year quietly.

My headache has finally vanished. Could it be that I have found the Xeristar compresse (Xeristar pills)? I have not taken them for...I don't remember how many days. Today I begin to take them again with the rest of my morning pills. What does that mean?

Well, Dino looks them up and they are an anti-depressant. No wonder I've felt so depressed these past days, not knowing why. I take one and is it my imagination, or do I feel better already? Apparently the Xersitar is part of my anti-migrain therapy!

Sofi is fine, although moves slowly. I think this is a sign of the future, for she's getting older, as are we, and her back is just not as strong as it used to be. She seems happy, and when out on the terrace, meanders around in the sun.

Inside, Dino and I watch American football on TV. We do not know much about the Indianapolis Colts, but their coach has suffered from cancer and everyone rallies round him. His thankful expressions to those around him, even when greeting members of the opposing team after a decisive win, bring tears to my eyes, and the team, not expected to do all that well, gives him a resounding victory over the Houston team.

Today I'll fix one of Dino's favorite meals for pranzo: breaded chicken cutlets with poached eggs on top. It's sometimes the smallest thing that brings joy, and his face lights up when I mention it. I so love to bring him joy.

The Xeristar taken this morning helped me to sleep when we take our naps in the afternoon, and it feels great to be able to sleep, especially when I borrow Dino's eye mask. I guess I don't remember if I had one, but it's a great thing to have for afternoon naps when the skies are blue. It's lovely but cold outside, so we all take in some zzzzz's and later I realize that I should design sleep masks and make some for dear friends...and for me! What a fun artistic project!

Later we watch programs on TV and then decide to turn in an hour or so before the New Year. Hope you're having fun celebrating what's to come...Someone is bound to set off personal fireworks here on the street below. I'll let you know if I'm still awake. Hugs to all of you!

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