Again hello from Italy...Ciao di Italia,
I am gradually learning. Ci in Italian gives you the sound ch as in Church. Hence ciao gives us the sound chah-oh. Chi gives the sound kee, hence Cianti.
When you sell a house or apartment in Italy you take the kitchen away with you. I have been cooking on an electic hot plate plugged into an outlet on the patio. With Roberto's help we have been going the rounds of the kitchen shops looking for a suitable display kitchen and in a few days time our chosen one should be installed.
My paintings this week include two Fourth of July paintings and a painting in progress of the church that is on the hillside below us. I find the light here excellent and I've gone back to work with relative ease. While I have been painting, Malcolm has been clearing weeds and digging the garden that had been let go. After a visit to the local garden center with Roberto, we planted tomatoes, basil, cilantro, lettuce, parsley, rosemary and all kinds of flowers. The red geraniums look their best against the stone walls and the blue irises compliment the spring weather.
My visits to Cortona are going to be good for my health. To get a license to drive any car, other than a rental car, you have to take a test in Italian that includes questions on the workings of a car. This is one challenge I think I can do without. Instead I will walk and use the excellent public transport. To walk to town takes fifteen minutes and is up the steep hillside. Walking back, even when loaded with shopping, takes ten minutes. A week ago my legs ached long before reaching town. Now I can get there without pain and with only the minimum of puffing.
Sofie was six this past week and on Saturday she had her party at the house of her other nonna (grandmother), Enza. An Italian child's birthday spread includes a variety of delicious home cooked foods, but I noticed it was the potato chips that disappeared first.
I have hardly seen Becky who is in the midst of a month of running a program for international school children from Rome. They come to Cortona to study art history and to hike in the mountainous countryside. Becky is also teaching them the elements of book binding. Her day starts at 7:30 and ends at 10:00 at night. You can imagine how tired she is.
I will be here for another three weeks and then back to Waynesboro for a meeting of the board of the P Buckely Moss Foundation for Children's Education and then on June 13, I will be at the Society's dinner in Ames, Iowa. I will have a lot to tell my Iowan friends and I am greatly looking forward to what will be a memorable and fun evening.
Ciao, (Yes! Ciao works both for hello and goodbye).
PS. I am adding this information about the church I am painting because I think it is interesting. I am keeping it seperate from the main letter so you do not feel obliged to read it. When I began my weekly newsletter, I promised I would keep it short and I am conscious that sometimes I ramble on.
The church was built between 1485 and 1514 to a Latin-cross plan and has an octagonal cupola. It is one of the more famous Renaissance churches and in the evening light it's stone turns pinkish gold. It's name is Santa Maria del Calcinaio. I asked what was the significance of Calcinaio and was told that the word calce means lime and that the church is built on the site of an ancient tannery and lime was used in the tanning process.
I am continally concious of the history of this town and it's surroundings. Below me is this wonderful church, in which people have worshipped for centuries and above me are the towering city walls built of massive stones by the Etruscans four hundred years before the birth of Christ and before the start of the Roman Empire.