We’ve been in Italy for two weeks and it’s been mostly wonderful. Living in a foreign language does have its challenges, but we’ve accomplished a lot in these first weeks.
We arrived in Giove on Thursday afternoon, jet-lagged and exhausted. We had been warned that the house might be difficult to find, but both Nick and I had studied it many times on Google Maps. It would be easy for us to navigate to it.
But, when Nick turned up a small gravel path I protested. There was no way this was a road! We were going down someone’s driveway! Thank goodness he didn’t listen to me, because we soon recognized Casa Bandita and turned into the driveway of our new home.
The house looked a bit more rustic in person than it had in the photos. Nick found the key and unlocked the door. There were three levels, connected by a metal circular staircase. On the first floor we found a dining room, small kitchen and a huge bathroom. The second floor had a living room and two bedrooms, including the master bedroom. The third floor had another bedroom and a terrace. The house felt cold and the rooms seemed small and dark.
In a note, our landlady (Lorraine) left us instruction on how to turn on the heat. She had left us some food in the fridge, since the local grocery store would be closed when we arrived. And, she had left a bottle of white wine! Thank you, Lorraine!
We drank the bottle of white wine in the fridge and went to bed about 6 PM in the evening. Bella, who has slept in a crate since she was a puppy, curled up at the bottom of the king size bed to sleep with us.
About midnight we all woke up hungry. The bed was nice and warm, but the house was cold! Nick unpacked his things while Bella and I watched from the bed. When he was done, he went to the kitchen to see what he could find for us to eat while I unpacked most of my things. We called my Mom, happy to report that the trip had gone well and that we had arrived safely. Nick made a delicious salad with the food Lorraine had left for us, and all three of us climbed back into the big bed again.
In the morning, we were happy to find that Lorraine had left us some coffee! We made two little pots and felt much better. Nick looked at the heating system again, and got it working. The house was warming up and we were fully caffeinated. The sun was shining, and although the morning was chilly, it was going to warm up to be a beautiful spring day. We climbed in the car and headed to the local grocery store to stock up on essentials.
We drove through Giove to get the lay of the land, and easily found the grocery store. The Coop in Giove is pretty small, but they had everything on our list and then some. I managed to order some prosciutto and a loaf of bread at the Deli. We forgot to weigh and label our produce before we got to the checkout, so I had to hustle back to the scale while the grocery clerk waited to finish our order. Everyone was genuinely helpful and kind to us, but we were embarrassed at our inability to speak the language.
With the fridge and cupboards full, the house felt more like home. We jumped back in the car to explore the nearby town of Amelia and open an Italian bank account at the Banco Monte dei Paschi, located in the historical part of town. The road to Amelia is a typical local Umbrian road, narrow with hairpin turns, cliffs and steep hills. The narrow road into the historical center of Amelia was so steep our tires spun as the car climbed it. Nick found a parking spot right in front of the bank and went in to open the account while I took Bella for a walk.
Nick came out of the bank a few minutes later, but without a bank account. The bank officer had taken all of his information and indicated that they would review his documents and do a background check before approving the account. Nick would receive an email in a few days to let him know if the account was approved.
The Coop in Amelia was much bigger than the one in Giove. We walked up and down the aisles and picked up a few more grocery items. This time, we properly weighed and labeled our produce. And we purchased reusable grocery bags, since you have to pay for the flimsy plastic ones and nobody really uses them. We felt pretty good about our first day in Italy.
Nick cooked our first dinner in our new home that night. I opened a bottle of wine. The house filled with the smell of roast chicken and the sound of classical guitar from our portable speaker. The house was warm and our wine glasses were full. The rooms no longer felt small, but instead felt cozy and just the right size for the three of us. The house felt charming and comfortable.
Casa Bandita feels more like home every day. We’ve been puttering in the gardens and cleaning the terrace. Even though it’s too early to plant them, we bought some herbs that we faithfully place outside in the sun every day and bring in from the chill every night. We found our favorite stations in English on the satellite TV (CNBC and Bloomberg). Nick hooked up an internet-connected phone to make and receive calls from our kids and my parents. We converted our iphones to an Italian Vodafone plan. The bank approve our request for a joint bank account. It’s nice to know that we can call Casa Bandita home for the next six months.