Monday, December 29, 2008

Carla Capucci

I met Carla Capucci seven years ago, when Andrea's mother, Dina, came from Italy to visit us in New Jersey and we took her to see this friend whom she had not seen in 35 years, since Carla moved from Lugo to New York City. Carla is retired now and has been battling a series of serious health problems over the past years, but getting to know this spirited, generous, crankerous woman has been a real pleasure for me and I smile as I write about her.

This is Carla's story: When Carla was 11, it was Liberation Day, April 25, 1945, here in Italy and the American soldiers were marching through Lugo (which is very close to the Gothic Line, the last major line of defense held by the Germans in the Apennine Mountains at the end of WWII). Carla lived on via Mazzini and as the the soldiers marched down this main street of Lugo, her young, earnest face caught the eye of a young soldier and he approached her with a smile and a number of food items: coffee, tea, flour, bread, chocolates, etc., putting it all into her arms. Carla, shocked, turned and went into her house to deposit these items to her mother who suspiciously questioned her on how and why she received them. Carla, still in awe, explained the non-verbal exchange with the soldier and then exclaimed to her mother how she though America was the most wonderful country and one day she was going to move there.

Carla was in her 30s when, shortly after both her parents had passed away, she bought herself a ticket to New York City and once there, found a job as an accountant and eventually worked for many notable companies and personalities. After our visit to her with Andrea's mother, Carla regularly invited us to Manhattan, taking Andrea and I to the Broadway show of Phantom of the Opera, getting us backstage to meet the cast and then after the show, to an apartment of one of the actors where the leading actress joined in for tea and cookies. When my mother and Lee came to visit, she took us to a Turkish restaurant where she knew the owner and we were treated especially well. My niece Sophia and I caught up with Carla at a designers shop she was working in that day, and so on - it was obvious Carla knew a lot of people and they all loved her snappy (and snappish) personality.

Carla never married, never had a family of her own during her long life in America, but in the short time I have known her I feel as though I have found a kindred spirit (but perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part). This courageous woman serves as an Aunt who doesn't hesitate to tell me to how lucky I am in many ways, who reminds me that the glass is always half full, who always makes me feel she is thinking of me and consoles me when I suffer from the cultural differences while living here in Italy. I know I can call her anytime. Though Carla frequently contemplates returning to Italy to spend her final years, economics has not made this probability and so I look forward to seeing her this summer in New York.

Here are some of Carla's writings that she recently sent.


For America, this limitless notion in which
in spite of human contradictions, everything smells
of "Promised Land", three things seem
to be sacred: Jobs, Family, and Business!

In America, this unequaled Country where,
on every street, Man is flanked by Good and Evil,
thus finding or losing himself it's his constant
choice, three things seem to be inviolable: Privacy, Freedom, and Law!

America, this young world rich
of superfluousness and solitude,
that still confuses arrogance with
freedom, lacks three things: Humbleness, Tolerance, and Wisdom!


From a far gone past
memories are calling me back.

Their muddled stillness
would poison my freedom.

I must ignore them,
and keep on walking
toward every new morning.

Perhaps, one winter evening,
from the cozy warmths
of a fireplace, my mind
will pay a visit to the ones
that did not fade away.

New York City

In the dark, millions of windows are
sparkling, and they are burning,
by day, playing with the sun.

A rigidy, quiet troop of gigantic rectangles
and cubes in concrete is standing
by the side of intertwinable roads.

The stylish, even if geometrical transparency
of the U.N. Palace is telling
Le Corbusier's secret dream: a rough but limpid world!

Then, after the magical forest of buildings;
the subway's dim and grime;
the Bohemien memories of Greenwich Village;
the party-colored crowd;
the omnipresence of gangs, drugs, and violence;
the harmonious elegance of the most high Empire State Building;
the homeless' human degradation;
the vibrant luminousity of Times Square;
there is the resting, greeen immensity of Central Park.

It's hell and heaven on Earth: it's New York City.

My Creed

If our small private worlds
would abolish their frontiers;

If our hands would stretch out,
the palms open, clean to feel
the warmth of others' hands;

If our eyes would gaze
into others without boredom,
then Babel's world would vanish
into the sun and the strengths
of Unity would smooth even
the thorns of sorrow.

The Family of Man

I wake up every morning
happy for I belong
to the Family of Man,
sad because I belong
to the Family of Man:
this indestructible
yet vulnerable race;
yet coward;
the sweetest
yet cruel;
rich of dreams
yet full of nothingness;
lover of Justice
yet unjust;
constantly searching for Truth
yet enslaved by hypocrisy
and, looking at my daily life,
I fall asleep, every night,
happy and sad together.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Holidays

One of the best things about becoming an "advanced-age" mother is that in my mellow state of mind (or rather, a tired state of brain), at the age of 47 I can truly relish the delights of a three year-old on Christmas morning. We left our little plate of cookies under the tree the evening before and lo and behold, in the morning there was a note to Ray from Santa and the cookies were gone. Ray claims to have heard Santa come in during the night, and even saw him in the living room bringing all the presents he promised and that Ray worked so hard for. Lunch consisted of an Italian mother-in-law eating American-style stuffed turkey and apple pie with vanilla ice cream. A visit with some relatives in Lugo capped the day of obligations, and the day after we just chilled out by staying home all day.

Andrea's birthday two days later passed uneventfully - one more step before the big 5-0. We will celebrate more with a dinner here tomorrow night with two of Andrea's friends from childhood and their wives. I bought some filet mignons to cook with mushrooms and scalloped potatoes - an American menu - since one of them owns a restaurant and I am too intimidated to cook Italian (though it is hard to go wrong with all the great ingredients here).

No plans for the New Year - just how I want it. Hope you all have a safe and happy one. May all your resolutions be reasonable.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas, Darling

So it comes, and Ray is ready. I am done with the shopping, will hit the food markets tomorrow for the necessities for Christmas lunch, and in between help Andrea pack and unpack his office. He is moving the program to a larger space in a much more active part of town - off the main roads that leads from the train station to Piazza Maggiore on an old street called "via Malcontente" or "street of discontent" which may allude to it being very close to the old Jewish Ghetto (which goes back centuries - you can go on an underground tour of old Bologna and see the original canals (still with water), a Roman bridge and carved out stones where the knees of the washing women wore them smooth. It is odd to think that a city is so old that original parts of it are buried ten feet underground. But that is what happens when you keep adding on top of roads and buildings. There have also been attempts to build a subway system but there are so many Roman ruins around that it is impossible to excavate without destroying some, and so it hasn't happened yet.).

Anyway, I have recovered from a very active party we threw last Friday - in part to celebrate the beginning of an almost 3 week break for me. We wished a Very Merry to almost 30 friends and fortunately for me, Ray spent his first overnight with James and Philippa's three girls so I didn't have to worry about noise level or him blowing out all my candles. It was great fun and I hope this becomes a Ricci tradition.

Just a couple of photos to to post today - the one of Ray at top from the Thanksgiving dinner with the students. He really looks like my little ragazzo italiano, eh? And here we are at the Christmas party with the students, Ray's first "white-elephant" gift exchange experience. I am glad no one tried to wrestle his gift from him.

Wishing you the best for happy holidays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

December Updates

Christmas is arriving so quickly - I put my tree up over Thanksgiving weekend only because Ray was so exicted to get into Santa's spirit and I was happy to oblige, but still with all my international friends taking off for the holidays in the next week, it feels like a real rush all of the sudden to get in a lot of celebrating. I invited about 40 of them to come toast with us on next Friday at what will be a very tight space here at home. Andrea is moving his office across town on the 29th, so we will spend the holidays preparing the new space by hanging curtains and then arranging furniture in time for the 40 new students arriving in January. School will be closed for two and a half weeks so Ray will get a lethal dose of mom and dad. And of course I can't close without saying I hope we can make Christmas mass at the church next to "the house".

I have learned that Italians don't go for the lights and decorations on their homes and this is something I miss. There are lots of lights over streets in Bologna, but nothing that compares to home. On one hand, it is nice not to feel pressured to decorate our meager exterior, though I do miss driving around to see the lavish decorations that the Americans love so much.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

House Continued...

So, with this posting, all three of my loyal readers will no longer be waiting in suspense for more news on the ruin (or, Il Paradiso is what I call it in my head, or, The (difficult) Second Child). I apologize for keeping you on the edge, ha. We have been to see the Deacon (I think he is) of the church of Faenza (a lovely town to visit when you come see me in Bologna - famous for ceramics) and he was very pleasant and happy to give me copies of photos and floorplans of the house and property. We went to see the house again as he told us to go ahead and break in so we climbed through the window and took some photos. I admit, afterwards, I was completely discouraged as I looked at it from a different prospective, and those huge cracks running on the interior and exterior walls really threw me for a rude awakening. But I got over that in a day or two and so we returned there again this past weekend and I fell in love with the surroundings, the views from the windows and even the rough beams in the ceilings all over again. So if we can rustle up enough cash, I hope we can make an offer after Christmas. Though we won't offer the "non-negotiable" price, I pray that in this economy they will look favorably on anything that comes almost close to it.

By the way, we ate lunch at the agriturismo down the street from the house that I wrote about before, I must say, the meats grilled at the outdoor smoke house were pretty fantastic, as was the bottle of house wine. We plan to stay there with the Hooks when they come to visit in May.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

sign from pigeon

So my funny sister sent me this photo with my face cut and pasted in. I kind of like the haircut...
Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends - you have all been so good to me and I appreciate every little thing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Dream House Revisited

I had a restless night last night - you know how life-thoughts seem more sinister and dire in the wee hours of the night and I wonder how we ever take on some challenges in the light of day without thinking twice about it? Well, the dark thoughts didn't invade on the crazy idea of the house in the country-

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day so we decided in the late afternoon to take the hour and a half drive to "our" house in the country that I wrote about last month. When a house like this is listed with an agency, it is called a "ruin" because it needs so much work and when we saw it yesterday, the railing of the rickety deck had fallen off so it appeared to be even more so in that category. However, the views surrounding it were even more beautiful with all the leaves off the tree, and I felt so peaceful and as I sat on a rock, the warm, setting sun so healing. (These photos are from our visit during the summer.)

There just so happened to be some people who drove up to the church parking area next door who turned out to be locals who came to enjoy the air and the views. Andrea found out from them that two weeks ago the house had been on the auction block for a ridiculously low price that we would have jumped at (Paula, your comment was right on last posting) and we don't know if it had been sold or not. These folks even broke into the cantina and gave us a tour of the ground floor that included a large fireplace (a perfect study and music room, and storage for wine). I told Andrea he had to call the priest today to inquire. Interesting myth: there is evidence that there was once a castle built under the house and church which makes sense as it sits on the very top of a hill.

So, last night I was restless and kept thinking how crazy we would be to take on such a huge project - it would be an ongoing thing that perhaps we wouldn't even begin for another year or two and could go on for the next twenty. But the challenge felt only positive and exciting, so if it turns out that the timing is right and the house is still available and we can convince the church to pick us to sell this little ruin to, life will be much more interesting in the coming years. I will keep you posted.

Update: the house indeed is for sale, but for about 25% more than we expected. With the current exchange rate, add another 25% and there you have a price that is just too high. However, it does include five acres of land - more than we expected. But we will meet with the person in charge this week and see what he has to say - he did say the price was not negotiable but this is Italy, after all (maybe I need a sign from a pigeon like Diane Lane got in "Under the Tuscan Sun"...).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Summer plans

I have my tickets in hand (well, since they are ticketless tickets, I should say that I have tickets sitting in my e-mail box) to return to the US for 6 weeks this summer. I am soooo excited. Yesterday, I also booked the Montana leg of the visit. So the deal is Ray and I will be in NY/NJ from July 1 to 16th, then to Montana for the next three weeks, then back to NY/NJ from August 6 to 16th unless we decide to throw in some time in Florida before heading back to Bologna. Andrea will join us at some point if he can.

I know it is ridiculously far off but as it has been almost two years since I last visited and by the time July arrives I will really be jonsing for all those things I miss about the US: family, friends, ethnic foods, competitive consumer shopping (Marshalls), a truly wild landscape (Italy is a small country that has been settled for so long there is no real wilderness even though there are lots of landscapes), beer at Triumph (with a couple of my favorite PU economists among others), 20 ozs. of take-out coffee and attending the theater and movies in ENGLISH. And seeing my mother after the death of my stepfather and my dearest aunt this spring is long overdue. Also can't wait for Ray to experience a lot of things Americana: bbqs, cousins, the NJ shore, NYC, Sesame Place, fly fishing, cowboys, and on and on.

So now with these plans in place, I can concentrate on Christmas and the short wish list of one little boy that is starting to grow a bit longer - it is quite simple, really - anything that has to do with Spiderman, Batman, and Gormitis. Oh yes, if he is a really good boy, perhaps a pint-sized guitar and (more) Legos.
Here is one of my favorite holiday photos - Seb and Evan bringing home the Christmas tree in Montana a few years back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I wasn't going to post this article I wrote that was published last week in a local newsletter (the theme was people and their pets), but I just received an email from my friend, Susan, at Princeton who is going through a difficult health spell with her lab, Chelsea. I know that a pet becomes a valued family member and I am sorry, Susan, that you are going through this. Thinking of you.

Grace, Love, Speed (A spoof on the title of the popular book that is circulating around the book clubs: Eat, Pray, Love)

He appeared to be an elderly dog at the tender age of three. His racing name was “Spuds”. I was told that I could find his identification number tattooed on the underside of his floppy right ear. His eyes were unfocused and panicked, his ribs stuck out and his long tail represented a snake skeleton covered with paper-thin skin. Only his back was covered in thin fur flecked with scars, and the muscles on his bald, upper hind legs swelled enormously under its bright red skin, reminding me of ham loins. His mouth with its pale, heavy tongue hung open and his brown, tartered fangs were visible. He was the ugliest dog I had ever laid my eyes on, and he had just been shipped in the belly of a plane from a racetrack in Florida to be delivered to his first-ever home in New Jersey. I had waited two weeks for him and it was love at first sight.

He was renamed “Shiro” which translates to “white” in Japanese, a name I had chosen when I received the call from the adoption program that this “sweetheart of the kennel” was available in Florida and was I interested? Though I was told he was pure white, in reality he turned out to be white with freckles and a brindled face and back (hence the name Spuds - the little Budweiser beer dog that was the fad-of-the-day). He was on the taller side for a greyhound, and had a successful racing career of more than two years. The plight of retired (or non-qualifying) greyhounds had just begun to make the news and the day the adoption program was featured on TV was the day I called for an application.

The National Greyhound Adoption Program was founded in 1989 by a man named Dave, who gave up his construction company to focus full-time on greyhound rescue efforts. I recall Shiro being one of the first 100 dogs adopted through this program, and now, almost twenty years later, thousands of dogs have been placed in loving homes by their efforts ( On the Humane Society’s web site, it is stated that “in the 10th century, King Howel of Wales declared that the penalty for killing a greyhound was the same as that of killing a person—death. In the days of the Egyptians, greyhounds were valued by the pharaohs for their grace, beauty and mild temperament. But in the 21st century greyhounds in the racing world are prized for only one thing—speed. In 2003 alone, an estimated 7,500 to 20,000 greyhounds were euthanized simply because they couldn't run fast enough.” Shiro was unique in that he had a racing career of two years, a very long and successful one in the world of greyhound racing. Most of the dogs never see their first race as they are euthanized when failing to display superior speed in the trail runs.

Life with Shiro was remarkable, to say the least. This zombie of a dog that came off the plane that day went through his puppyhood at the age of three. With a healthy diet, he began to fill out and thicker fur covered even the track scars. He had to learn to play with his toys, how to go up and down the stairs, to not be alarmed at the sound of the doorbell and telephone, even how to go for a walk. Shiro perfected sleeping on the sofa with all four legs straight in the air (in this case, the name Spuds would have been appropriate in that he became a real couch potato). As he had never bonded with a human before, he suffered from a tragic case of separation anxiety whenever left alone at home, and I had to resort to sedatives and even introduce canine prozac for a period. (One day I left him outside and he jumped through the upper sash of a window to get into the house - through the screen. Another time, left indoors, he was so frantic he knocked framed paintings off the wall.) I will never forget those afternoons when the garden gate was left open and I had to sprint off after Shiro down the sidewalk in whatever I was or was not wearing - the neighbors gleefully shouting “there she goes again!” and even the township police telling me where he would eventually be sighted (greyhounds can run up to 72 kph). I have to admit that we even bought a new home on a large tract of land to give him more running space (he always ran in wide circles throughout his life - never able to break the habit of the track). We were rewarded with pointy-nosed kisses and that ever wagging snake of a tail.

I had the pleasure of Shiro’s grace and companionship for almost ten years. The day he was scheduled to be euthanized, I returned home early from work to lie on the bed with him in my arms, a block of sunshine through the window settling over us like a warm blanket. Shiro had bone cancer, and a prior hind-leg amputation - unfortunate for an animal that is prized for his speed - had failed to stop the progress. I have had a number of adopted dogs throughout my life, but watching Shiro’s metamorphosis from a gambling commodity to a sweet, gentle, soulful companion has touched me to the core. I won’t ever stop missing him.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November Various

We are finally completely immersed in our routine for the school year. Ray wakes just before I have to leave for school at 8.15 (it takes me less than two minutes to get there via Vespa), and Andrea is left to make certain he has breakfast, change him into his clothes, and drive him to school by 9. I then leave my job at the International School by 4, scooter home to drown a quick cup of hot tea then take the car to pick up Ray at school as soon as possible before 5. Ray has completely changed this past week - he kisses me good-bye in the mornings whereas even ten days ago he clung to my leg, weeping, as I tried to escape through the door in the mornings. My friend Sogand told me that every 6 months he will exhibit some major transformation in behavior, and it is strange how predicable this has been as Ray will be 3 and a half next week.

The day after the U.S. elections, the 5th and 6th graders invited me to their classroom for a 5 minute skit - there were two t.v. commentators who discussed the Presidential election, and then a line of students each read a few lines of President-Elect Obama's speech. I was really touched as none of them were Americans, and again illustrated how much the international community has a vested interest in this election (the students pictured are from Australia, France, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Italy). Rachel, the vice-principal here, is a good friend (and she hired me) who hails from England.

Here is a photo of me in the classroom, trying to explain to the first graders how we can determine when a toy is old or modern. I am enjoying my job, I am happy to admit.

It has been pouring rain these past few days. Tomorrow's forecast doesn't call for any improvement so the damp, moldy days of the autumn are definitely here. Bologna's old buildings are famous for mold and everyday I can hear at least one conversation on how to get rid of it in one's home (it grows even behind the sofas and drapes). This afternoon I did my annual bleach spray on the walls - it is really amazing how fast the stuff grows.

Here is a view of the fall colors from our balcony. It can't be compared to the amazing spectacle of the American northeast, but it will have to do (it is rather sad, eh?).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama

I am the sole American employed at school and today I was surprised to receive hugs and congratulations from my international friends and colleagues, making this presidential election feel quite personal. There is a lot of excitement in the air. A big party is planned tonight in the centro. It's all good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Morandi: Bologna to New York

One of Bologna's native sons. There is a decent Morandi Museum in Piazza Maggiore. It seems one either loves or hates his work. I quite like his view.

Monday, November 3, 2008

All Soul's Day

So I recently had another “religious” experience here in Italia. Not in the “church” type (as when the priest knocks on the door every spring to bless the apartment) but in a more “spiritual” one, I suppose. November 1st is “All Saint’s Day” and the day after is “All Soul’s Day.” The first is treated as a national holiday and when my sisters and I were growing up, our father explained to us this was when we honor the saints and then on the following day, our deceased loved ones. Well, okay, to us in America that didn’t mean a whole lot. Well, for those here in Italy, it does.

We went to visit Andrea’s mother in Lugo this past weekend, and on a balmy Saturday morning, accompanied her along with her sister-in-law and her daughter, and her daughter (three generations of daughters) to the cemetery to honor those deceased. Dina (Andrea’s mom) brought a short stack of Mass cards with little strings attached and a bouquet of mums and a potted plant. (Remember the 50 mums we used to plant in the yard around the house every fall? No one plants mums here as they are used in the cemeteries.)

So, the Italians take this weekend to honor the souls by visiting the cemetery, which, unlike those in the US, is a walled in and gated labyrinth full of monuments, small temples, walkways through mausoleums, and row upon row of marble, granite, and concrete tombs. Many of them have glass doors and alters, some with huge, life-size photos of the deceased (usually those who have died young) and smaller, modest ones from the early 20th c. Almost every person buried has a photo of him or herself that is encased in durable glass or plastic. I had visited here in the summer on Andrea’s father’s death anniversary, but on this particular weekend, every single tomb had flowers: in vases, potted, hanging, bouquets, planted, every possible type (orchids, carnations, birds of paradise, MUMS). The cemetery was full of families cutting, pruning, watering (even scrubbing) and praying. It was fascinating to walk through the different sections and to see the faces in the photos; the ones from the turn of the century are stern – the non-smiling women (in what I always thought of as the traditionally Italian black headscarves) and the men in bowler hats. The modern photos are full of smiling faces, some with cigars or a motorcycle, a favorite pet or just walking down the street. Until I viewed the photos, I didn’t realize just how many people die young. Andrea’s father tomb (above right) is in the “highly desirable” area, under some evergreen trees where it is mossy underfoot. Raimondo Ricci has a big smile on his face – his photo sits above the one of his mother, who is buried beneath him. Here is where Andrea’s mother put the fresh mums in two vases attached to the tomb, and then read through the cluster of Mass cards that hung there. Andrea’s mother’s family tomb consists of the four aunts who raised her (four are buried here together - can you see Ray in the photo below?), as well as her mother, Sara, who died giving birth to her brother when Dina was four years old. When I asked about the coincidence of the mother dying the same year as her father (Andrea’s great-grandfather), Dina told us that he was already ill when he learned that his daughter died in childbirth, he then had a heart attack and died the same day.

The Mass cards: one can buy them from the church or one of the local stands outside the cemetery. On the card, you write your name as well as the name of the deceased, and then hang it on the tomb to show the family that you remembered their loved one. I asked Andrea if this was really to memorialize the one deceased, or was it more to gain recognition (and good standing) with living family members? He said it was probably a little of both. Dina hung about 5 cards on various tombs (and put the remaining potted plant in another) but still had a dozen or so remaining. To save her a return trip and a long stroll, Andrea and I returned to the cemetery the next morning to finish distributing her cards so that the living friends and relatives wouldn’t think she shunned their loved ones. We had to call her a few times on the mobile phone when we couldn’t find a particular tomb, but we were successful in the end (“….towards the tall trees, to the left, look for the red marble columns; or, on the wall facing the road, it’s on the upper right corner with one of those eternal candles…”). It felt as though we were on a treasure hunt, and Andrea always had an interesting story to tell me about each person we visited so I feel that we were on target about what “All Soul’s Day” is about.

Andrea's maternal grandfather and grandmother.

All in all, I like the idea of devoting one day a year to celebrate the dead. It must be reassuring to the living to know that one day a year your tombstone and photo will be spiffed up and your loved ones will visit to again celebrate your life. For myself, I anticipate being scattered over a green field to serve as my final resting place so that won’t be in my cards, but for those in Lugo, it is pretty much a sure thing.

A very elaborate family tomb. Beautiful mosaics.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Scenes from a chestnut festival

Autumn brings a slew of chestnut festivals to Italy. We stumbled upon one in the Apennine mountains recently, and there was a riding competition as part of the program. Some men were dressed with cowboy hats and there was a bbq and American country music playing. The guy with the gray horse has a Harley patch, along with his buttons and Pink Floyd one (oh wait, that band is English, right?). Anyway, sometimes it is really obvious to see the influence from North America here, even in the most obscure places.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke was my boss for many years when I worked in the Economics Department at Princeton University. His chairman's office was across the hall from mine, and we could talk to each other from our desks. He was a very quiet, kind, family man - one might even say shy. I am glad to see that in his often criticized role as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, he is now getting some credit.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Europeans and the Election

This article gives you an idea what Europeans feel about the election this year - it is no surprise they are hoping Obama is elected (even though the artist is American - from NJ). No doubt Berlusconi will be best friends with whoever holds the seat.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Election Time

The Democrats Abroad are holding an election night vigil at a local jazz club on November 4th from 10pm top 3am. There is no organized Republicans Abroad. (I'm not in the photo.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

House in the Country

As I mentioned in my summer notes below, staying at James' and Philippa's stone house in the Marche this summer really got me missing the country life - a place to garden, hang out the laundry, sunbathe, and Andrea can play music really loudly. So, between feeling completely frustrated with our Bologna neighbors (we were accused of being Bush empirialists over a painted gate - long story) we decided to chase a pipe dream and searched for our in-our-dreams country house. We found one while we were on a motorbike ride in the Apennine mountains, an hour and a half from Bologna - a stone cottage that once housed the priest of the church next to it (the photos on the left of are the church; the house and property and views on the right) . It eventually was used as a school house, then left vacant and recently the roof that had collapsed was replaced. It needs a LOT of work, but the views are just gorgeous, there are no neighbors except for the church and an agriturismo down the dirt road ( It would be heaven for us, but we need to win the lottery first. We inquired at the church about houses for sale in the area, and they told us about this one. We climbed though the window off an upside-down bucket -there are two bathrooms, a great room with wood beams, a kitchen in the same space with a fireplace. Three sunny bedrooms and a loft, as well as a large space downstairs we couldn't break in to. We were told to talk to the priest about the price, but we haven't taken that step (what is the point...) but James and Philippa went down to look at it and stay at the agriturismo, and they said they would have bought it if they had seen it before their Marche paradise (I still think they have the Italian dream house). So we spend imaginary weekends there and perhaps one day we can call it our "nido". (Ok, M&G, is this your potential retirement home all the way from NJ?)