Friday, November 11, 2016

2,000 Steps Around My Italian Village

on a bridge in Venice
It's time to get back to writing about life in Italy.  We have a pathway in our village that goes behind it, circles around  clockwise, and then cuts through the middle.  I decided on my last late afternoon walk to take some photos and post them with a bit of discussion.
My village is small, you can drive through it in 3 minutes or less.  City Hall has a board that says we have 8,000 inhabitants but I think they are counting the people who live outside on their farms, and maybe a few deceased. This gives you an idea of the size.  If you plan on moving to Italy I would suggest finding a village outside a large town, one with public transportation.  That was our choice, and it was a good one.

Those hills in the back are ancient volcanos.  The wine from
these hills is above average and worth investigating if you are here looking for wine.
We walk north down a street and come out on a small park where the mayor has provided a small field for soccer players,  You can see the high fence to stop balls from going onto the farm.  This farm just had a crop of soybeans harvested.  Last year it was corn.  This corn  was for animals, as Italian do not eat corn much.  Corn on the cob?  Ha, never seen that here.

A foot and a half deep
The Veneto, the area around Venice, is criss-crossed with canals.  They do not have a water shortage here, and the farmers pump the water out and use it on their crops.  We have seen large fish in the canals, but one would never eat them as they are probably loaded with chemicals from the farms.
Persimmon tree in back

At the far end of my village a farmer has a plot of grapes.  He makes enough wine for his family.  There are other grape fields nearby, and the wine that comes from these grapes is exceptional.  I took this shot as I was thinking most people have never seen a grape field in the Fall.
Turning the corner one can see the main north/south street into town with the big church in the center.  You are viewing from the end of the village, so you can see it is not very far to the center.

shoe repair
Along the way you pass a small shop where a friendly fellow repairs shoes.  I stop and practice my Italian with him.  He doesn't mind my mistakes, which is nice.  
I like to see this kind of shop still making a go of it.  I worry about this man when all the older people who wear only leather shoes die off and we are left with people who buy throw away shoes that are not of leather.

Further down the road is the meat shop where I buy most of my meat.  This shop also has eggs, butter, milk, wine and olive oil.  Nothing here is prepackaged.   You can see that the meat is displayed nicely and you get take it home freshly packaged.  Cuts like brisket, can be a problem as you have to explain what you want.  They will go in the back and cut it and bring it to you.  Brisket is not a favorite cut for Italians.

I took several shots to give you a better idea of how we shop in Italy.  The owner knows how to choose his beef.  I have never received a chewy steak, for instance.
The workers wear red hats, and red aprons.  They are paid a good salary that is not minimum wage, and the state of Italy  has a wonderful health plan.  The lady is always smiling (not fake) to see me and listen to me order in Italian.
Dried Cod

Those dried fish you see are cod, caught near Norway.   Italians make a dish called baccala, which can be served cold or hot.  They eat a lot of this in the winter.  I don't think that Italians understand about the over fishing of cod. I feel there is a need to be aware of this.
My Bank

Walking in the center of the village you will find 4 bankomats.  This is my "bank" that talks to my bank in America.  It is difficult to have a bank account here and also is costly. They charge for the service.  Forget about  your money making interest in an account here.  That interest would be sucked into the coffers of the banks!
To give you an idea of money exchange, right now a euro is worth $1.09 American, which is much better than what it was some months ago, at $1.39!   Now that we will have a new president, I am sure this will change for the worse.  People here do not have much faith in the future for America.

Gelato Heaven
But only in Summer
This is the local gelato shop, which also sells coffee and munchies throughout the day.  Italian gelato is really good, but to Italians it is not such a big deal.  Two weeks ago this shop stopped selling gelato as it is winter and no one seems to want it.  Imagine if all the ice cream shops in America shutdown on November 1 until April 15.  I don't know about you, but winter does not stop me from enjoying some ice cream.
Next door is the real estate shop, and on the left is a flower shop.  I skipped the pharmacy a bit further back.  That's it for the shops around the piazza.

Rounding the corner you see the furniture store.  I think they have the weirdest furniture in that store.   Actually, I think that Italian furniture styles are totally strange.   Couches are inches off the floor and look uncomfortable.  Chairs are small and look like they were designed for looks rather than comfort.  Some of the stuff they have remind me of Danish furniture of the 50's.

I have never seen anyone in this store to buy anything in the past 6 years.  I walk by  this store everyday, never seeing a customer.  I don't know how they stay in business!  Maybe it is tax write off.  BTW a HUGE majority of Italians but their furniture from IKEA.  I think IKEA would be a good stock to buy if you are looking for an investment.  Sunday we were there and parking places were full, people drove around for ten minutes to find a spot.  (The parking lot is HUGE!)
Italian style furniture

Another window of the furniture shop shows this turquoise lamp.  To me, this is hilarious, and might fit in with a southwest decor, but no one here knows what that is, unless the local American Hamburger joint needs to pick up a few more display items.  I wrote about this place some time back.

Next we get to my vegetable shop.  This guy is a hard worker, from 9:00 until 9:00 he is there providing fresh produce.  He also sells several types of wine pumped from a  barrel, nuts, and this month he is pushing chestnuts, which he roasts outside in a fancy roaster.
I stop here almost daily, make a purchase and work on my Italian. Frequently Denis, the owner,  does not understand what I have said.  (That happens a lot with my accent not being perfect)
Denis, my veggie guy

Denis gets a little help from his family  in running his shop.  His mother comes quite often, and even his nephew was working their during the summer.  You can see different dried beans behind Denis, and bags of potatoes.  They call sweet potatoes, American potatoes, in Italy.
Denis also sells dried fruit, and lots of different kinds of nuts.  Because of me he sometimes stocks avocados which we use to make guacamole.  Avocados are kind of a new thing for Italians.  I bet that 98 percent of all Italians have never tasted guacamole.

He also sells pinto beans and tomatoes in a can.  Pinto beans in Italy are called Barlotti, while the small black beans are called  Mexican beans.
take home vino
Denis has his vino set up from this wall.  He has several choices, and the prices are displayed.  This is strictly table wine which you bring your jug and fill it yourself.   Strange to me... a produce shop selling wine.   It's funny to see the local police in uniform stopping to fill their jug to take home.
Hot item, roasted chestnuts

On the right you see bags of chestnuts.  These are ready to roast and is a favorite of northern Italians.  Chestnuts are roasted in the center of the city of Padova, and eaten like a snack food while you walk.  BTW Italians don't usually eat and walk, but this is excusable.
During WWII food was scarce  and chestnuts were gathered and made into  flour.  You can buy chestnut flour here, and I have brought some to some kind friends in America.

That is a trip around my quiet village.  For some of my readers who are considering moving to Italy, this is how it is.  Quiet, calm and crime free.  Thank you all for taking the time to read the blog posts.

Missing the great beer in Prague

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