Thursday, July 14, 2005

New Neighbors & 4th of July in the Country 7/5/5

Our neighbor Catherine, who lived in the apartment next door moved out on the 2nd of July. Many people left at the beginning of July, including our friends Helena and Eva and also our neighbors from Richmond, Virginia who lived upstairs for the month of June. Lorenza, who was born in Italy, teaches at the University of Virginia in Richmond. Her friend Maria Theresa was born in Ecuador but now lives in Richmond also, along with their friend Rosa, from Spain, who has been living in the states and now is back in her home country after this visit to Italy. Lovely women, we also met Lorenza's partner Jeff who stayed here in Perugia while Maria Theresa and Rosa took trips around Italy together.

We met them all one day when Bob was out reading in the yard and Maria Theresa accidentally dropped some of her laundry down into the yard. He heard a gasp and looked up to see her with her hands over her mouth trying to figure out which language to use to communicate with this strange man in the yard below. After they both struggled with a few words in Italian, it was evident this was not either of their native tongues and of course resorted to English and we discovered the coincidence of their living in Richmond, where our son and granddaughter live! We hit it off immediately and got together a few times during the month, promising to keep in touch and visit when we are back home and living in Delaware.

Since so many people come to Perugia to study Italian at the Università per Stranieri, the length of time they stay is typically anywhere from one month to three. This brings about a changing of the faces around you every month or so. We have had many different neighbors in the upstairs apartment but most have been young students who could care less about getting to know us and we hardly saw them most of the time as our entrance into the building is through a private gate on the side and not through the main door by which the rest of the building comes and goes.

We very much liked our neighbor Catherine who was very respectful of our privacy and was quiet but friendly. She gave us excellent advice and was always willing to help us whenever she could as we found our way around Perugia. In her place now we have Giuseppe, who is a colonel in the Italian Air Force. He was with the Italian version of the Blue Angels and is currently here in Perugia studying Arabic because he is being deployed to Syria shortly. He is a handsome man (he looks so young, we were shocked to learn that he has a 25 year old son!) He speaks very good English as well so it's very easy to converse with him.

We were having dinner with Anne, our young German friend, the day he moved in. I was serving a light pasta dish when our landlords Sergio and Rita stopped by to introduce us to Giuseppe and to ask if we would like to go to their other country house (not the one outside Spoleto) the next day for a swim. This house is just outside Perugia and is a vacation rental home where tourists can stay in the beautiful hills outside the city, in a quiet and peaceful setting and still have access to Perugia and the cities of Umbria. Sergio and Rita left and we invited Giuseppe to join us for dinner. He was very charming and interesting and even shared some pastries from Naples (where he is from, although he now lives with his wife and family near Verona) and a bottle of Sicilian wine. It was a most interesting evening of stimulating conversation with far reaching topics.

The next day we gathered up our swim suits and towels, my watercolors and Bob's cameras and Sergio picked us up for the short drive to the country house. It is called Borgo Casale dell'Angelo (they have a website if you want to check it out). It has 5 apartments that can accommodate from 2 to 6 people, a beautiful swimming pool, solarium, barbecue area, gazebo and a stone piazzetta (a small square) and has the most incredible views. We went for a swim and sat by the pool talking with Rita and Sergio and their friends, another Italian couple and Giuseppe, who also came for a swim and joined us for a light supper out on the "piazzetta" the little square with a rounded amphitheatre and a view of the setting sun. We tried our best to follow the conversations, getting lost most of the time and being helped out by Sergio now and then as he tried to explain what was being talked about, sometimes in simpler Italian words, sometimes in his limited English. It was fun anyway.

The light supper consisted of a pasta - like the pasta salad my mother used to make - but with a penne pasta, olive oil and seasonings and tuna, plates of different kinds of meats, a caprese salad, thin slices of zucchini drizzled with olive oil and spices and another salad with (if I remember correctly) cucumbers and tomatoes and cheese, tossed in a light vinaigrette dressing. Wine flowed freely and the meal was topped off with a bowl of ice cream accompanied by the plate of pastries we had brought along as a little token of thanks for being invited.

I even had some time for some sketching in my journal and showed them my little paintings. I am now close to the end of this particular journal, which I began on the back patio of my friend Sally's house in Phoenix with a painting of a bowl of lemons just days before our departure. I can't imagine how many memories we will have by the time we are done. These people and this day will be among the ones I treasure.

Buona notte,

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