Six Weeks In Italy!

So it was pointed out to me the other day that we have been in Italy for about 6 weeks now and I wanted to do a quick check-in. Things are generally good. Italy certainly feels like a fresh start, which is nice, and the lifestyle pace is much more relaxed, which is good and bad. I’m still a little frustrated by siesta, particularly because, at least around here, it seems to last from 12 until 5, which makes it very annoying if I don’t run to the store first thing in the morning. Additionally, now that it’s the off season, all of the restaurants, one supermercato, two produce vendors, one hardware store, and most of the delis have shut down, and the five remaining stores are mostly open when they feel like it. We had some light rain one evening – no one re-opened after siesta! Just…nope. There is one small mercato that is open all day every day, but it’s about the size of a gas station. That’s not true – it’s about half the size of a gas station. They are very friendly there and helpful, but we are definitely limited on what we can get.

Another note on the business schedule here: Italians don’t mess with siesta, not even a little, so we figured everything was going to be shut down on Sunday. Wrong again! Places that aren’t even open during the week are open on Sunday. The church here is just a block away, so we use the church bells as a clue for when stuff is happening. Everything opens right about the time of Mass in the morning, and siesta ends just 30 minutes before evening Mass. The church is cool – it has the indoor area of course, but in nice weather, which around here is pretty often, they actually hold Mass outside in the courtyard of the church. And then the priest goes and drinks with the guy who owns the tourist shop/general store and the chef of our favorite restaurant. The three of them sit outside the general store and drink and talk smack to each other. It’s hilarious.

With the town mostly shut down, while our Italian is improving, it’s slower than I had hoped, because I don’t get to practice it as much. I can order coffee pretty fluently, and do grocery shopping, but that’s about it. So I study at home, and once the citizenship goes through, we will be moving to a more populated area, maybe Lecce or Ostuni.

M wants me to tell everyone about the adventures of trying to keep the litterboxes clean in a town where nobody sells litter. So when we got here, we had a small bag of litter we had picked up in France, and we intended to pick up a bigger bag in Torre Dell’Orso. Within a few hours, we realized it wasn’t that easy. Nobody, and I mean nobody, sells cat litter here. We would have to go into another town, except the buses have mostly stopped running and we have been stranded in Lecce twice, catching a very expensive cab back. However, you want to know what we did have? Sand. It’s right there at the beach, just two blocks away, so us being creative problem-solvers, we figured we would steal some sand while we figured out the litter situation. I didn’t want to be the weird American though, so I went at about ten at night, sneaking under the cover of darkness, with a giant mop bucket in my backpack.

FYI, it’s not super safe to be out, as a single woman alone, in the US after dark, and that is still true over here. I got Si Weeks home safe, but I ran into a couple of guys who I honestly should have hit with my sand-filled, very heavy backpack. We have since worked out the litter situation (thank you, but if I’m stealing more sand, Dakota gets to go with me. I have zero faith that he would actually hurt someone, but hopefully when he jumps towards them for their daily mugging…ahem, loving…they would run away in fear. His love is just a bit painful.

In the meantime, we’ve worked out our stove and can cook, so we are no longer starving. I’m going to order the ingredients, but I’m thinking of making some super spicy chili this week. Cost-wise, it is RIDICULOUS over here. A bottle of wine is like three or four bucks. I can feed both of us for a couple of days on two euros. There are obviously some things that are more expensive here than in America, but our tastes already skew Italian, so the stuff we buy is all local anyway. At some point, I have to brave out the macelleria, which seems to be the meat store, but I haven’t yet. It took a week for me to go into the salumeria, and that was the deli, so I’m pretty sure the macelleria is the butcher shop. Maybe tomorrow.

We are hoping to take a boat trip soon, maybe find a way into the next city over, Melendugno, for a day. My animals hate their current foods, so I’d like to find a pet store, and look around. Next weekend, we are going to hit the little flea market they have every Saturday down the street from us. At the end of the day, everything is great, because we’re in Italy! We actually did it!

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