April 29, 2006


I jumped in Perugia again.
Three Arches

April 28, 2006


Spent a day in Orvieto and two days in Florence; a sweet break from small town life in my medieval village. When I returned from Florence to my train station, one of the local taxi drivers, whom I've talked to several times when I've been at the station, told me that the bus drivers were on strike. Since people are extraordinarily kind to me -- all the time -- he gave me a lift home, gratis.

April 23, 2006

Two Year Anniversary

It's been two years to the day since I quit my last "real" job. Back then I worked in a windowless green room with four others in gray-green cubicles surrounded by storage boxes, binders, and fluorescent lighting.

Two years later, I have traveled over fifty thousand miles, set foot on three continents, and today, eaten my way through a lovely dessert festival in my medieval village in Umbria. I wake up to a stunning view, and every evening, enjoy a stunning sunset. Friends come and go, and this place changes their lives too.

Lots of people wonder how I do what I'm doing. To my amusement, many assume I have independent wealth (the answer is, I have none in my pocket, a plethora in my life). Last year, I made a fraction of what I made two years ago (all right, so I only worked three months). But it's all I needed to take five months to live in a foreign village. If you think about it, it likely costs me less to live here than it does for you to live there. I eat local produce, frugally use the natural resources available to me, and I take public transportation.

Life is made up of choices. You choose where you go or you choose where you stay. You choose to work in a place or to leave it, to listen to your heart or to follow the bank. You see my mantra on the column to the right? Life is what you make of it. I know I'm in charge and so are you. We just have to act like it.

La Festa del Dolce

Dessert Festival - birdThis is the sweet life: we had a two-day dessert festival in town this weekend with stands from small villages all over Umbria with free samples of all their local desserts and wine. Our town got decked out with flags, and a horse parade this morning followed by a marching band this evening. My first stop was our own pro loco and the sweet woman there, Giuseppina gave me a plate full of cakes, cookies, and biscotti. Then she heard I had a friend in town and she filled up a second plate for me to bring home (he's out of town). I wandered the rest of the stands and tasted donuts, cookies, biscotti, and a delicious torta di fiori which had custard, chunks of chocolate, and liquor in a yellow cake base. Yum.

April 21, 2006

More on housing

Adam sent me an email with the following link, and two simple words: "come back!"

Sounds tempting, Adam, but even with the subsidies, living on a teachers' salary in NYC is just asking for a lot of suffering. And then you'll have to take me to dinner at Blue Ribbon to make up for it. But wait, you guys are leaving for MUMBAI!

Then I got this email from the NYC.gov site. I'm on their housing list and get excellent updates about new "affordable" buildings and units for sale and rent in the city.

[...] Park West Condos LLC is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for three three-family homes at 533 West 147th, 537 West 152nd, 450 West 153rd Streets and for five condominium apartments located at 539 W. 144th Street. These properties are being offered through the Homeworks/203K Program and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

For more information, go to The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Are the signs pointing to New York?

April 20, 2006

Listing Square: No Fee Apartments

If you're looking for an apartment in NYC, go to Listing Square: "Listing Square will help you find a 'no fee' apartment in New York for FREE. Our listings include all the information you will need and are posted only by Landlords. We also provide rental tips and links to other web resources that you'll find useful in the process of creating a new home in Manhattan."

They give you exact addresses for apartments for rent directly by landlords and building managers, they fill you in on whether or not you can have pets, tell you everything you have to bring with you, and when you can see the apartments. Save yourself the broker's fee!

more adventures

Fontana Maggiore and the Palazzo dei PrioriAfter gawking at Perugino's Adoration of the Magi and a few small churches, Craig and I stopped in an eyeglass store in Citta della Pieve. We asked about Craig's prescription and the guy working there quickly shuffled us into his back examination room. He gave Craig a quick exam (free, after all, this is Italy), measured his prescription, and cleaned off his glasses. Then, he swept me towards the seat so he could check my eyes when I mentioned not being able to read the charts. He insisted, and sat me down and tested a few lenses on me. "Raise your prescription," he commanded. No reason to walk around unable to see.

Next day, we visited the Palazzo dei Priori and Etruscan museum in Perugia. This time, my new friends Antonio & Laura met us for drinks, and with Spring, all the cafe's had plenty of outdoor seating. We managed not to get sick on the speeding bus on windy roads all the way home.

Tomorrow he's off on his own adventure while I sleep in... or maybe do some work.

April 17, 2006

Buona Pasqua

sausage standEaster is not a holiday to be spent alone. So my sweet friends Marco and Vanessa invited me to their house for a family lunch, then out for a walk in the country, and back to the house to watch "Meet the Parents" in Italian. We didn't get very far with that until they were interrupted, and I left to go to a special market with Marco's mom Barbara and our friend (and my landlady) Daria. I skipped on buying delicious sausages and wheels of cheese, but did purchase a beautiful cutting board made of olive wood.

April 16, 2006

Name that Tune.

This is just one of those really cool things I have to share. SONGTAPPER lets you tap out a song using your space bar (say for example, you had one stuck in your head and couldn't figure out the name of it)... and it works! You can also teach it songs if it doesn't know yours.

I tried Zip-a-dee-doo-dah and it came up (along with a few others like Clocks by Coldplay).

Then I tried Puff the Magic Dragon. Also worked, but more interesting is that the beats match the William Tell Overture, Yellow Submarine, and Zelda by Nintendo among others. Very interesting!

Good Friday

Crosses for the Holy Friday ProcessionMy little medieval town is well known for the Catholic holiday events they hold, like the live nativity scene at Christmas. For Good Friday, there's a procession with three enormous crosses, Jesus, and Madonna. The town band is out to play, and the entire village walks through the town with candlelit torches.

April 12, 2006

Hitting a plateau

My caro amico in New York, who taught me Italian for a few weeks -- six years ago -- sent me an email warning me:

"I'm sure you are picking it up rapidly. I bet each day it gets better and better. Be prepared for plateaus. Watching TV helps. Listening to the radio helps too. A boyfriend is probably even better."

And he's right: I've leveled off with what I've been able to pick up talking to the locals. Now I'll start borrowing movies and listening to my lesson tapes. Maybe try to read my cooking magazine I picked up, or Cerami's Fantasmi that I brought along; a gift from my friend Peter in NY who is as much of an Italophile as I. I've never been much of a TV watcher, the radio is actually rather annoying, and well, the boyfriend prospect is in Rome!

Almost in New York

Giancarlo Savino Art OpeningDoing things here that I often did in my beloved NYC helps bring a bit of the big apple to life to my sleepy medieval village. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by some friends to go to an art opening in nearby Orvieto. Vanessa, my architect friend, had designed the space for Giancarlo Savino's solo exhibition, Mal di Terra. There was plenty of prosecco, wine, and good eats, including a plate of chocolate chunks to be eaten with pastries. Oh, but there was a dog allowed in the gallery. Do you supposed they'd do that in NYC?

April 08, 2006

Say Yes.

Sleeping ShepherdPositano's black sand beachPositano at nightPositanoold man fixing his boatAmalfi CoastAmalfi CoastJump Matt and Hani Positano
Would you like to spend three unexpected days with family friends in Roma, Positano, and Pompei?

I went down to Rome planning to spend an afternoon there... then Sandy and Lori convinced me to stay overnight with them [note: it's never difficult to ask me to change my plans]. That led to a morning spent in brilliant sunshine on the Spanish Steps while they toured the Vatican, until I received a call at noon.

"We're heading to Positano this afternoon, leaving the next day for Pompei, and we booked a room for you."

Uh, yes. Amalfi coast? Yes, yes.
So there I was, a room with a view.

April 02, 2006

San Quirico

ruins in Horti-Leonini Parkgrowth detail on the wellJump San Quirico - Horti Leonini
Last week I jumped in San Quirico. I also made Gianni pull over on the side of the road so we could get some Tuscany jumps in... Cute little town with a wall built in the 12th century, and the lovely Horti Leonini Garden.