Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our last day in Todi

I'm hardly able to believe that I'm writing this so soon, but we just finished our last day here.  I finally purchased a painting that I admired on the way up and down the hill every day for three months.  The painter is Albanian, as it happens.  As we were chatting, he mentioned his collaborations with Daniele, the intarsia artist.  It turns out that they're pretty good friends -- convenient, since their shops are 20 m apart. 
Eleanor, Simonetta, Ugo, my dad

Signor Ivano, the banker
Our violinmaker was called out of town, but we met his daughter and granddaughter -- and they promised to say goodbye for us.  I couldn't hold the tears back when we came across our Cinzia's dad.  He was just so so sweet and warm. 
Angelo in his alimentari

In the afternoon, we had a recital for the kids.  The usual combination of music interspersed with poorly tuned violins and piano mishaps.  But Jeremy did well, particularly considering that it's his first recital!  Eleanor also sang, both in a solo and as part of her women's quintet. 

Eleanor in her choir
Alessandra of La Scuola di Musica

Carlo, the choir director and manager of the Scuola
Elizabet called and wanted to wish us "buon viaggio", so we'll see her in the morning before Mass. 

A view of Todi from the distance (a humid day!)
A farewell to Vinca, and various other neighbors.  And then on to our restaurant with Simone (our favorite waiter).    Way too much food, of course, but it was hard to choose!  We went ahead to Piannegianni for a last gelato while my parents finished their wine.  And then when my dad went in to get coffee, we ended up having another last gelato!  And this time, they were overfilled.

Simone, our waiter at Cavour

A quiet, meditative walk through the town, talking about our time here.  Our summing up came to the conclusion that, while it is true that you can have community anywhere, Todi is has its own very special aspects that have appealed to us.  These include the high concentration of artists and artisans, the international component, the strong sense of community that permeates the town, incredible views, the charm of the unexpected twists and turns that the roads take, the depth of history, the small size (and concomitant accessibility to everything), the safety (see "strong sense of community"), excellent theatre and other performances, and a relatively low cost of living.  While individually, each of these could be found in various locales throughout the world, it is rare to find all of them together. 

Staying for three months, we have had the opportunity to experience daily life.  This includes ups and downs, as you have anywhere:  kids who misbehave, laundry that needs to be washed, dirty dishes, and schoolwork.  These are pretty much the same as anywhere else, of course.  However, not spending multiple hours a day  in the car has freed up my time (and patience), which increases my strength for the rougher times.  Let's face it:  five kids in a moldy house don't sound like a formula for a great time.  But, at the end of our stay here, we are unanimous about how wonderful this experience has been.

That said -- don't give up on the blog!  We still have a week in Italy.  Tomorrow, we're off to Sorrento!



A view from our window

Another day, another view from the same window!

Corpus Museum

The day we left Holland, Nina and Wisse took a break on school and pretended to be homeschooled so they could stay with us until we had to leave to the airport.
We had three choices that day. We could go to the Corpus Museum, the Nemo Museum, or the Rijksmuseum.  We were also going to go to Anne Frank's house if the tickets weren't sold out, so we could only choose one museum. We had a family meeting and chose the Corpus museum.
We got up late that morning and ate breakfast together. We usually didn't eat breakfast together because Nina and Wisse had to go to school before we ate breakfast.
Anyway, we were dropped off at the Corpus museum and when we got into the building, it was not crowded .
We got audios to listen to and then we went up the stairs. We first walked into a room and the audios started. It talked about how great the body is and about the cells and sperm.
We walked into the next room and there was a loud noise and I jumped while a green long and pointy thing shot out of the fake skin on the wall. It started to bleed and then the audio started again. It was only talking about germs and vitamin K that closes up cuts and the white blood cells that fight germs.
The next room was a small platform with seats. An assistant handed us 3D glasses and we sat down to watch the first show. It was about how the sperm get to the eggs and how it was a race.
When the show was over, the platform rose to the next level. We got off and walked into a room where there was a soft, rubbery floor to give a similar texture of the tongue. The audios told us about taste buds.
The next room was about the senses and then the brain. It told us about the the two different sides of the brain.

After that part, we followed a red line to different rooms that had games and puzzles of different sorts.
It was a fun experience and I wouldn't say no to coming back!

A Crazy Day

This morning we woke up late. It was about 9:00 when we got out of bed and ate breakfast. James, Jeremy, Florence, and I took luggage down to the bottom of the stairs and put it into Vovo and Grandfather’s large van.
After that, James, Vovo, and Grandfather drove off to Orvieto for the day and that is where they are now. They will be back at about three o’clock.
The house is now sad and almost empty because we have been working on cleaning and packing the last few things that we haven’t already packed.
Mummy, Eleanor, and Florence went out to get Mummy’s painting that she fell in love with and they will also be back shortly.
Jeremy and I are just relaxing. Jeremy is working on the computer and his cross stitch and I am also working on my knitting as well as the computer. It has been a while since I have picked up my knitting because of how busy we have been with our packing.
We will be eating dinner at Cavour where we have been many times. We will say some more goodbyes to the waitresses and waiters who are now our friends and head back to the house for a last night.
Tomorrow we will go to church in the morning and the girls will be singing in the choir. We know most of the people in the choir and it will be sad to say goodbye to them too. I wish today would last for more than 24 hours! I have really enjoyed being here in Todi.  
I hope everyone is doing well and I can’t wait to see you!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Goodbye, Leonardo...

...and Orietta...and Cinzia...and the merceria ladies....

Today we were overwhelmed with gifts from Orietta; Ashley posted on that so I won't duplicate.  But I was overcome by her generosity.  Later we had Leonardo stop by so we could give him his little present (a copy of the Chronicles of Narnia).  He had tears in his eyes as he read our inscriptions.  The story is that Narni is a town in the area, and during one of our road trips, Leonardo mentioned that this town is the provenance of Narnia's name.  Apparently C.S. Lewis really liked the name during one of his trips to Italy, and appropriated it for his mythical land.  I asked Leonardo if he'd ever read the books, and he said no.  Since he's a practicing Catholic, I explained some of the symbolism and the portrayal of heaven and hell in The Last Battle.  Anyway, I thought he'd enjoy the books, so we got the compendium.  I hope he likes them!

Benedetta came by for a drink.  She's always so sweet, and a real breath of fresh air.  She's been a treasure.

Tomorrow, my parents want to go to Orvieto.  James is going with them, and the rest of us will be eking out every last drop of being here in our sweet town.  I'm going to go to purchase a painting that I've looked at every time I have gone up and down the hill.  There's an exhibition in town, too, so I'll take a look. 

It will also be a musical day.  Eleanor has her last piano lesson with Francesco, and then we have a recital in the afternoon.  Eleanor will be singing and Jeremy will be playing a duet with his teacher.  We'll also go by the violin maker in the morning in the hopes of catching him at his work.

Then dinner at Cavour to say goodbye to Fr Jimguin, and the last full day will be over.



A Day of Goodbyes.

 This morning we went out to meet Vovo and Grandfather at the glass elevator and we also went to fetch Simonetta and Ugo (Grandfather’s friends) at the parking lot.

The friends live in Italy, and we gave them a tour around Todi as well as Vovo and Grandfather.  We went over to San Fortunato first and looked around. Then, we walked around to one of the sides of the church and walked down all the steps on the way to the Coop.
Near the Coop there are two churches. There was the church with two green doors and we peeked inside. It was dark and plain inside, but I was glad I finally got to see inside. Next, we went over to the other church that we had seen before and refreshed our memory on what it looked like. 

We slowly ventured down to the Coop, stopping by the bank. Vovo, Grandfather, Simonetta, and Ugo all stopped for coffee while Mummy and the kids went to Angelo's fruit shop to say goodbye to Angelo and to go to the Coop. 

We had lunch at Massimo's, and Simonetta agreed that it was the best pizza in Italy.  Then we went to see some views.

On the way back, we dropped off Simonetta and Ugo and said another goodbye. They were very sweet and I really enjoyed being with them. 

Later, all the kids and the grandparents went to Orietta's to say a very sad goodbye and for Mummy to collect her mug that she asked her to make. 

When we got there, Orietta had presents for all of us. We opened them one by one and found the most gorgeous necklaces and mugs that I have ever seen! 

We gave hugs and many kisses to Orietta and took an few pictures. I bought some necklaces and everyone almost burst out crying. Even Orietta had tears in her eyes. 

She is one out of the many of my best friends in Todi. I don't see how our family will be able to part. 
Mummy's new necklace with swirls and circles. Can you imagine making something like that by yourself? 
Eleanor's amazing butterfly

And the back...

My necklace with pretty purple wings and background.

The A mug elaborately decorated in blue. 

Mummy had tears in her eyes when she received this.

James was shy, but gave Orietta a small hug and a big smile when he got this.

And this is the back.
 I can't believe how lucky we have been to come to this wonderful town with so many wonderful people and I can't think of how much better my Italian is. I love Todi! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Things are tough right now because our time in Todi has (I know you haven't figured this out by now) drawing to a close.  It's wonderful to see my parents, but we all feel pulled in different directions.  They want to see certain things, but the kids want to SHOW them everything that's special to them.  We certainly have a full schedule for the next few days!

Today, we dragged my poor parents to see Massimo (and have lunch, yum!), to the pasticceria lady's (whose name I still don't know), to the square, then to the post office (for the view), down to Daniele's, the Coop (via the bank, which was chiusa), and back for gelato with Giuseppe.  We said our final goodbyes to Giuseppe and Fiorella (the gelateria lady), which was really hard.  Then we walked (the long way, it turns out) to the parcheggio so my tired-out parents could go to the hotel and catch a nap.  On the way, we took a quick peek into Sta. Maria della Consolazione.

Later, we went to dinner at "John's place."  It has another name, but I've never heard anyone refer to it by that name -- and I don't know what it is, myself.  Benedetta called for me to make the reservation (she had his number in speed dial).  When she said we were the Americans who lived up the road from him, he said something to the effect of, "Oh, finally-- I'll get to see them in the restaurant!"  After dinner (which was delicious), John came to speak with us.  He's a Scot ex-pat who's been here for five years.  He laughed about having seen us go by so many times, and seeing the boys run up & down the street.

Tomorrow, we'll be going to the bank (to close my account), Angelo's (to take a picture and pick up some fruit), the butcher (for tomorrow night's dinner), Orietta's (to pick up my mug), Cinzia's (for some ingredients), the tabachi (for a journal for my mother), and I'm sure a few other spots along the way for sightseeing.  At some point, my dad's business friend Simonetta is coming to see us.  She's been trying hard to get down here the entire time (and she was so supportive during the episode of "la muffa"!), and will finally be able to take some time to see us.  And Benedetta's coming for drinks.  Eleanor's cooking her signature beef dish...mmm....

Saturday, we're going to find out if our favorite waiter will be serving at lunchtime.  If so, we'll go there for lunch.  My parents found what looks like an adorable spot near their B&B, so they want to go to dinner there.  Once again, all these hard choices!  The kids (and I!) HAVE to say goodbye to Simone!  But that doesn't mean we aren't interested in new experiences, either.  Then Jeremy & Eleanor are performing in a concert (which will probably be more like a recital -- I hope it's not too deadly), and then dinner!  At that point, we'll have Leonardo pick us up and take us back home. 

And Sunday?  Meeting La Cleaning Lady for the last time to settle up accounts, and then Mass, a quick to-go bite, and then we're off...



The End Results

 We worked on cleaning up the odds and ends this morning. After a couple of hours, we were done and Mummy went to the school supply shop. Mummy says I would really love the shop because I love any school supplies.
Anyway, Vovo and Grandfather arrived at about 1:30 and we went out for pizza at Massimo's. For once, he helped serve the pizza and Vovo and Grandfather could see and meet him.
Vovo and Grandfather went around the town with us and we stopped at the gelateria to have gelato with Giuseppe. We said goodbye to Giuseppe and Mummy had tears in her eyes. I was sad too!
We went into the Duomo on the way back to the parking lot. Now Vovo and Grandfather are at their hotel in another town and we are in our house relaxing.
Tonight, we will be going out to dinner at a new restaurant right at the bottom of the stairs that lead to our house. I can't wait to see what this new place will be like. It is usually very crowded and we had to reserve a place in the restaurant.

Here are some pics:

A window view

Vinca's garden

Jeremy lookiing down at his rope invention

And pulling it up.

James and Eleanor studying some Italian books Mummy got today

Aren't they sweet?

One of the rose bushes in our garden

Part of our garden

The clean laundry
The clean living room. We had to do a serious vacuuming and dusting.
We're leaving TOO soon!


We bleached the counters and now they are white!

When we came the sinks were BROWN and now, they are squeaky clean!

Florence arranged the fruit in a cute way.

Jeremy has hit his head many times on the ceiling. 

The single room

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More photos of Todi

It's so hard to think that we'll be leaving soon.  We had to go to the grocery store to purchase a few items.  On the way down the hill, Leonardo stopped (in the middle of the main road) to say hello to us.  We saw him a few minutes later in a parking lot and asked what he'd been up to.  Just getting a cup of coffee.  He asked about our plans, and we explained...he then offered to "accompany" us (and specified that there would be no charge)!  How sweet he is.  One of the many things we'll miss -- there are so many sweet people here.

We also saw a little scooter loaded down with about 36 one-liter bottles of water.  It was so silly that we had to take a quick picture. 
This was the scooter.  It had a double load of water in the front.

The road we took back home looks like a busy, winding road on the map of Todi.  It's called "Via della Serpentina" -- and is actually a woodland path.  However, there are what appear to be road signs at the bottom of it.  Do they really expect people to drive up it?  From our experience here, anything's possible.

The biodegradable bags they use here are not tremendously strong, and they minimize their use.  However, the kids forgot their backpacks today, and we had to use a few.  Well, we had a blowout, so Ashley decided to put the milk in her pockets...

Ashley the silly milkmaid
We had a wonderful dinner with Benedetta, and had the opportunity to meet her sister (who is also extremely sweet).  Benedetta treated us to some scrumptious Roman artichokes, an amazing stew, and delicious mashed potatoes.  Plus strawberries in her wonderful way. 

Jeremy, meanwhile, went out to a dinner for the altar servers.  He said he had a pretty good time, even though he didn't understand a lot of what was being said.  But he understood some of it!  Hurray!

And now?  Bed.



The glimpses are just magical to me

A common pose for Jeremy -- he's always taking photos!

The poppies are blooming!

The medieval wall

Sta. Maria della Consolazione

Via della Serpentina

It doubles back on itself.  And is steep in places.

We also have lilacs in bloom...

We'll miss the steps!

They go up and up and up!