Wherefore art thou, Valentino?

Ciao everyone! We arrived in Italy two days ago and are settling in. The only drawback is that we have no gas in the apartment, which means no stovetop and no showers. The landlord lives in Dublin and is appropriately beside herself with the inconvenience to us, but still can’t get the gas people to come hook it up until Monday. Today, though, she texted to say she’s decided to have an electric shower installed and that Valentino, a wonderful and reliable plumber, will be here at 12:30. Does this interfere with my schedule, she asked. Ha, what could get in the way of the promise of a hot shower after three days? Nothing. But it’s 3:00 and no sign of Valentino. 

Enough of that. Fred and Owen are at class, which started today. And Henry will go off to his class (in Art History) at 5:30.  


The apartment has great, consistent Wifi. Better than Comcast. We are blessed! Gone are the days of driving around Viterbo and pulling over when an unlocked signal pops up!  Always in the sun, those things would pop up. Never on the shady side of the street.

Speaking of weather, it’s not been hot at all. And it’s even supposed to rain today. My favorite : )

The apartment is in the oldest part of town (I’ll take and post pics), and has three levels. The two bathrooms are huge, as are the sinks. We have a TV that we found Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life on yesterday. Hilarious because it was all in Italian except for the songs—the Penis song, for example. Insane movie.

The boys’ bedroom is in a loft space that they like, accessed by a spiral staircase. We keep bashing our heads on the stairs and on the beam at the top of the stairs. Kind of a drag. Mostly Henry and I. Actually, only Henry and I. What does that say about us???

The living space consists of a kitchen area, a couch and a kitchen table against a half-wall, behind which are the stairs down to Fred’s and my bedroom. It’s big and cool, but sadly a little mildewy. Maybe it’ll air out, but for now, we’re wondering if the reason Fred’s throat keeps feeling like it’s closing up is an allergic reaction. Trying not to freak out about that.

We have no outdoor space, so the cocktail hour is in the kitchen. We might figure out an alternative, like a picnic or something.

It’s Caffeina time here, which is a week-long annual cultural festival. Very festive. Very cultural. It’s got a lot of intellectuals like book authors and talk show guys sitting on couches on stages outside discussing God knows what. My Italian is less good than it was last year, which is depressing. I’m speechless and have a deer in the headlights look half the time which makes me nuts. I hope it gets better. I can’t seem to find the words, and it happens often enough in my native language, that I don’t see much reason for optimism.

I’m trying to write like a talk or write an email, fast, easy, not over-thought, but I’m feeling a little like the Partridge family at their first concert. A little stiff and stilted.

I got the car this morning. Love that place, but sadly my favorite woman wasn’t there, and the car is dirty inside and out, and has several dents! I saw five Mini Coopers within one minute on a walk to dinner last night. That’s more than usual. Glad to see they’re doing well. image

We have stray cats living in an abandoned house next door. Three ginger-colored, and a tabby that actually might have a home. The woman who feeds them came along yesterday and pulled out several cans, emptied them onto newspapers, and gently placed the newspaper “plates” behind the plastic tarp covering the entrance to the abandoned buidling next door. Fred is not pleased. He was out there drawing yesterday with cats all around. They come up to our landing, too, because the woman in the apartment on the other side of ours has a cat bed and a bunch of bowls out there. 


Our two dinners so far have been out with the large group. Very nice students this year so far, but sometimes it’s misleading at first and the rambunctious ones act up after they get a little more comfortable. We’ll see. Our new contact here in Italy who arranges things for us ahead of time is a native. This is a first for us. He’s adorable and wears shorts (very unusual for an Italian man) and has a new girl with him every time we see him. But he says one is his sister and one is just a student at the Accademia where our students go. Another thing we’ll have to monitor!

Fred’s TA is Karen Sung, one of his favorite ex-students who’s been on this trip before. The kids love her. She’s fun.

I might post this now and go take a few shots to upload. I didn’t even proof read this…..but I just don’t feel like it, and that’s how I roll in Italy!