We arrived in Indiana on a Monday afternoon. After a wonderful dinner at Piper’s on the southside, we drove to beautiful Brown County, where we settled in for a good night’s rest. The next morning a brisk walk seemed in order. In less than a minute, Harold single-handedly assembled the “motorcycle” from its pieces, which were casually scattered about the living room floor. (more…)

Sometimes Mondays are all about Tuesday.

What?! Are you confused? Don’t be. Tuesday is the name of our daughter’s chocolate lab. No, Iris does not work in research at Hershey headquarters in Pennsylvania. No, she didn’t adopt her sweet puppy on a Tuesday afternoon, but we do celebrate Tuesdays as double days. They become Tuesday’s Tuesday. So here we are on Monday, and my grand-dogger and I went to the beach. What’s so special about that? Well, nothing really . . . yet everything! (more…)

We just finished our first year of this blog and had a blast writing for you! We thought it might be fun to share the most popular stories as voted by clicks from our readers around the world. Of course, writing daily, we never really know what will strike a chord with anyone, but remain committed to write from the heart about what naturally happens in this life of two Americans “trying to live as Italians.” We hope the experiences and lessons learned are both amusing and also thought provoking, as we all learn and grow together through shared experiences. Well . . . blah, blah, blah—let’s get on with the results! (more…)

On a winter day in 2006, the old oak tree in the back yard came down with a devastating crash. It had faithfully stood there shading the entire house and yard for over a century, stretching its incredibly strong arms in all directions creating an intricate canopy of jagged dark lines covered in lacy green leaves. (more…)

I looked up and saw something incredible.

There on the hill across the valley was the star that I had all but forgotten about. It’s actually a deep woods surrounded by olive groves and old farm houses, where the edges of the woods are delineated be different plants so that it resembles a three-dimensional star gently laying on the hillside. I first saw it about 6 years ago when my mother (then in her early 80s) and her husband, Harold, were visiting for several weeks. I’ll never forget it. (more…)

How strange!

Italy in November with literally millions of olive trees, yet no one is picking the olives—and no one ever will! Instead, they will raccolgono, gather them, or prendono, take them. Just try to use the word “pick” on Italians and note the puzzled looks on their faces. They probably can’t imagine what you are even talking about. But, if you say gather or take at just the right time, not only would you be well understood, but might even find yourself up on a ladder in the middle of an olive grove for a few days. (more…)

Simone and Alessia arrived around mezzogiorno, noon the other day for lunch with us in the country. The sun was bright and the air was clear with that unmistakable fall crispness. We hadn’t seen them for over a year, so it was especially fun for us to have that time together to sit and talk awhile. And even though we enjoyed our conversation, there was a bit of a distraction that occupied most of our attention. As you might have guessed from their pictures, they were not alone! (more…)

Three brothers ran the local restaurant in Monteloro, called da Orlando, named after the most vivacious of the three. The ristorante occupies the entire “downtown” with a surprising quasi-Art Deco interior behind the traditional Tuscan facade. The site boasts a delightful valley view from the vine-covered dining terrace in the back. We had many meals in that favorite local haunt during the years while finishing our place on the hill. Orlando, being the most talkative of the three brothers, often stood by our table telling us jokes, stories and neighborhood gossip as he deemed necessary. He was so engaging and funny, it always felt like we should pay extra for the live entertainment. (more…)

Wild animals are one of the most interesting aspects of living in the Italian countryside. When we first arrived here 10 years ago, we were mostly alone up on this hill. Surrounded by nature, we saw and heard it all: cinghiali, wild boar; fagiani, pheasant; lupi, wolves; volpi, fox; caprioli, deer; cornigli, rabbits; istrici, porcupines; lucertoli, lizards and many serpenti, snakes. Of course, the ucelli, birds are everywhere—a constant chorus of canzoni del bosco, wood-songs. (more…)

It has been raining continuously for 6 weeks—well not really, it just seems like it. Every day for this past week we have had steady rain and a few booming thunderstorms, which is unusual for mid-May. However, the local wisdom (our friend, Giacomo) says that it can rain until the 20th of May, so it looks like he is right once again. It follows then, that the rains will come to a screeching halt this coming Friday. Right? (more…)