For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Living in Italy is MORE than it's cracked up to be . . .

Our latest guest hails from ITALY part of each year. DEE MONTALBANO loves the lifestyle and friends she’s found there and, in addition to being an accomplished writer, she is a keen observer of unique details around her. Here is an excerpt from a recent letter, received just before Easter and shared with her permission— Rosemary


My time on the Web is limited to 25 hours a month in my apartment . . . I’m not sure what happens to me after 25 hours [since] I haven’t gotten that far in my language development with Stefano, my landlord. I have learned to tell Stefano, “Yes, I know there’s a dial tone on the kitchen phone, but I still can’t make or receive calls on that phone.” Also, I’ve learned how to say “band-aid” and “three way plug” in Italian, all things they didn’t teach me in my language classes.

My life here is simple. In a little while I will walk about four blocks to fill my empty water bottles at the public fountain. There’s a more interesting water fountain under a statue of a bare-breasted woman, but that’s another five blocks away and the filled bottles are heavy, especially when I have to carry them up the 44 stairs to my apartment.

Tomorrow I will take my shopping cart to Esselunga, the King Soopers of Lucca, and that’s about a two-mile walk outside the walls. The last time I did that I filled the shopping cart so much that I couldn’t carry it up the 44 stairs and had to make two runs. It keeps me in shape. Other than that, Lucca (probably any place in Italy) has the best take-out in the world: small shops that have their own freshly made eggplant parmigiana, lasagna, frittatas, amazingly prepared vegetables, ribollita, risottos—you name it. And then there is the foccaccia and the breads at Giusti, one of the best bakeries in town, where at least thirty people are lined up in front of the long counter and I finally gathered enough courage to push forward and speak my order with the best of them.

My first two weeks here I was house-sitting with Ugo, a split-personality border collie mix. It was great, except that the caldaia, the water heater, broke down three different days leaving me without hot water and heat on those days. Finding the language to get that fixed was another lesson they didn’t teach me.

Ugo was a demon out on the street; he lunged at male dogs while I shouted, “Questo cane e’ aggressivo. Meglia che girare.” This dog is aggressive. It’s better that you turn around. At home Ugo was a loving delight, so on balance, we had a great time.

Yesterday I went to Florence; today I took the local bus to visit a new friend who lives in a suburb; Sunday five women will be gathering at a friend’s house in a hill town for a vegetarian Easter feast. And I’m writing 4-5 days a week. In between I’m seeing what I can of the American elections on BBC World, and trying to stay calm while our country appears to be going down the drain economically and otherwise. It’s a little unnerving to have the decline of the dollar in your face each day, but I think it’s another lesson in giving up my fears. The latest poll that I saw showed McCain gaining, and if that’s the case, I may stay here indefinitely.

Buona Pasqua (Easter is very big here) and saluti affetuosi a tutti,

-- Dee

DEE MONTALBANO is a teacher, teacher of teachers, corporate consultant, grandma, quester, writer, and Tuscan housesitter. A resident of Boulder, Colorado, she has traveled annually to Lucca, Italy, since 2004, has found a community of friends there, and is now becoming part of the ‘hood where she rents an apartment and tries to write every day.


Anonymous said...

I have lived in Florence quite a bit on and off. I am currently in Boulder, teaching a course on the Florentine Renaissance for Boulder CU Continuing Ed. I am seriously wondering about moving back to Italy....it's just a matter of what I can do there to make a living. Anyway, I wanted to say that I agree with your comment about if McCain wins, you'll be tempted to stay abroad indefinitely.

I used to work for political change in the US. But I am so sick of the voters putting in people like Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. I am teaching US history at Front Range College and constantly re-visit the war in Vietnam and Bobby's assassination and Nixon winning the election.... AND THE NEXT ONE TOO, and I am flabbergasted each time I revisit it. What the Bleep were people thinking? And they did it again with Bush. I wish people in the US would study history more!!

And at this point, if the majority vote for McCain, I won't be surprised and I'll be even more fed-up and even more compelled to move abroad.

The thing I really cannot take any more in this country is the health care situation. After living in Italy and being taken care of, virtually for free, it's very hard to be back in the US. I don't have health care because I am an "adjunct professor" and I am really sick of not being able to afford basic health care....and that, as much as the idiotic voters in this country, will be the driving force if I move abroad.

Unknown said...

Dee - right now huge snowflakes are falling outside my office window here in Colorado and your talk Dee about Italian food is making me hungry.

Unknown said...

Hey Dina,

You're living the dream! This is what you wanted...to live part of the year in Lucca...and you made that happen. Brava! Brava!

Miss you,

Unknown said...

Oh, my Dee-Dina friend! I am with you in spirit - and not a day goes by without wondering what adventure you're having. You are my inspiration! I don't know if you can receive e-mail, so have been sending hugs across the ethers...hope you're getting them! I can't wait to hear your tales.

I'm writing, writing, writing every day. Blessings to you!


Unknown said...

Dee! Hey, it's me Sarah--Ha! I love this! Loved your blog! Ahhh, the life of a true world traveler---I cried in joy reading your story---Thank you! I know you're having a blast---go go go you beautiful woman! Peace out, Sarah