Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To TV or not to TV

For us, this question has always been easy at Villa Cappelli. I mean, have you seen Italian TV? Everything I’ve ever seen is consists of a lot people sitting around talking, which Italians do love to do, so it makes sense, but it’s not something I’d really sit down and want to watch, especially at my stage of Italian language. Without action, how the heck do I even know what the talking heads are talking about?

But this week we had our first group of Italian guests. And apparently, they wanted to visit a beautiful, ancient villa and watch TV. So…cut to a day into their stay and we had to install a TV antenna, and I’m sick to my stomach. It’s like painting a moustache of a Mona Lisa. My apologies to out guests, but it’s disgusting.

So, as soon as the guests’ cars leave tomorrow, that antenna is coming down. And if you come visit the villa, we’ll entertain you with great food, some fun card games, amazing laughs, great friends and sorry, but no TV.

Monday, February 13, 2012


It snowed. I moved away from NYC and didn’t think I’d see the stuff for a bit. But there it was. A white blanket covering our ancient courtyard. Who was going to shovel this? Where are the building maintenance guys? Oh yeah, that’s me. Darn it.

Luckily the rain came the next day and washed it all away. We are so much luckier than the rest of the country or the continent. And I’m especially lucky. A south Texan is not used to dealing with snow. Heck, we shut down every major highway and overpass in Texas when it just drops below freezing.

But the cold has given me chance to get into a rhythm. Now I can now listen to my Italian lessons while doing chores, mostly cleaning and making lots of orange marmalade. I’m pretty sure now I can ask someone in Italian if they want something to drink. And with all this cold weather keeping us inside, that’s a VERY important thing to know how to ask.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Major" snow storm

Just experienced our first major snow storm here. Snow is quite rare but this winter has been very harsh throughout Europe. We were spared until yesterday while the rest of Europe got pummeled with snow and freezing temperatures. Over 150 people dead throughout europe.
Since we come from NYC and Boston, this is hardly a major snowstorm - maybe 2 inches max. But it's enough to create havoc. In fact, we haven't gone out of the villa since it started and already beginning to feel a bit of cabin fever.
Had to fix the makeshift covers we had on the citrus trees. The snow was too heavy and they came crashing down. Ruined some of the branches but I think generally they'll be ok. The temperature is staying just ever so slightly above freezing. The cats are huddled up next to each other. Our dogs are pretty sturdy so they'll be ok - especially Pony who sleeps in our room. Yes, he's spoiled.
With the cold the rain and the snow, we've been spending most afternoons making orange marmalade. The oranges are in season so they are fragrant, sweet and inexpensive. We're making about 35 jars a day.
Next up: more Tropea red onion jam. Then we'll have to fumigate our clothes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

South Texan in Southern Italy

First, let me explain that from now on Paul and I will be “dual-blogging” about our experiences here in Italy. We are not allowed to read each other’s postings. The hope is you get two unique accounts of the same life. One from a south Texan far away from home and one from a southern Italian returning home.

So on that note, I really wanted to bring over my cowboy hat for the final trip. After all, I’ll be doing a lot of work outside now, so it’s bound to come in handy. Knowing it might get crushed in transit, I decided to wear it. If a 6’3” guy didn’t get noticed before in Italy, I think the cowboy hat was like waving a giant US flag. But this being Italy, instead of riding in on my horse, we just had it for lunch.

The first few days, to be honest, were a little rough. It’s not easy moving away from anywhere after 15 years, much less to a foreign country. So I was a little worn out I think from the stress of the move. That, plus, I learned a horrible new Italian word: sciopero. The first day here, and all the truckers were on strike. Now we might not be able to fill a big order for Williams Sonoma for our products. Ugh.

Then there’s the list of stuff that I still have to do. Buy this. Organize that. Talk to this agency about that thing. It’s enough to stress out even the most organized German boy.

Luckily, as I was enjoying a wonderful sunny day last week, I quickly realized something. The same Puglia sun that has a way of melting your delicious gelato also has a melting away all your worries.

I think things are going to be just fine.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day #1 of Life #5

Well, we finally did it. We moved here permanently. Packed up everything in NYC and moved to "the farm". It's kinda like "Green Acres" for modern times. The opposite of the Beverly Hillbillies.

I've come back to my roots and Steven has followed me - and his dream - will all his heart. I've made many darts and turns in my life. This is just another one.

I've lived as an immigrant who couldn't speak English. I joined a monastery without being religious. I married and have 3 amazing kids. I succeeded at the American Dream at the center of the storm: New York City.

Now, I have a new life; another dream come true: the dream of returning home.

It wasn't and won't be easy. It's Italy, after all.

There's a truckers' strike, so we're having trouble filling our first-ever order for Williams-Sonoma. We thought we'd be excited, proud, bragging. But not yet.

We're waiting for the rest of our belongings to arrive but, yes, there's a truckers' strike.

It will be beautiful, though. It's Italy, after all.