A brainstorm rewarded us with a great new idea for the garden: a “perch,” built into the slope behind the house, overlooking the grape arbor, the studio, and of course the valley. Besides many heavy stones, we needed some gravel. So, we went to one of our favorite ferramente, hardware stores, Guidotti in Pontassieve. Since we hadn’t been there for a while, we were glad to see our old friends Roberto and Francesco, who had been so helpful in the past with a number of knotty problems. They informed us that the gravel yard had closed promptly at noon, so we’d have to return at 13:30. In the meantime, they suggested a rosticceria, a roasting restaurant in Sieci, where we could eat. Nice idea! (more…)

Duct tape. The miracle material was invented in 1942.

Since then, it has been acclaimed as the perfect solution to fix just about anything, from a broken pipe to aircraft. More recently, its versatility has brought it to the forefront of fashion design, bizarre costumes, competitions, and even sitcoms. We thought we’d seen it all with the complete construction of a sailboat and the functional cannon, but we were wrong. There was more questionable “creativity” in store for that ever-popular item we either call duct tape, or duck tape—you choose. (more…)

Ah, the ever popular stuzzicadenti, toothpick. Yes, they are readily available the world over. In any grocery store, a hundred can be had for a few coins. But the picking of one’s teeth shouldn’t be limited to processed slivers of wood. Oh, no! For those of you who are already a bit confused by the title, we’re not suggesting that istrici, porcupines have discovered the secret to perfect teeth. Certainly not! Most of them have nasty overbites. But, we are saying that the curious gift of the porcupine can make a difference in our dental hygiene, while making the world a better, tidier place. All we have to do is start using quills instead of toothpicks when the judicious picking of i denti, teeth becomes necessary. Let us lay out the argument and then you can decide for yourself. (more…)

My Italian lawnmower and I have a long and rich history together. But, I have to admit that I was ready to part ways when it’s tattered grass-catcher-bag snagged the top of the sprinkler head, shearing it off and subsequently chopping it into hundreds of tiny unrecognizable pieces scattered across the lawn. I was really angry with my favorite little IBEA push-mower and was forced to take a “time-out” to cool down a little. (more…)

As you know from an earlier post, I’ve had my share of problems with Italian flyswatters. If you didn’t already read it, you might want to check out the April story called “Fly Me to the Moon—Please,” as a suggested prerequisite to this follow-up story. Since many of you felt my pain in trying to use the wimpy traditional Italian swatters, I thought it was only fair to share some good news as well. Our luck in the domain of flies took a turn for the better on Tuesday morning when we went to Molin del Piano. Let me explain. (more…)