Buon Anno!!!

The holidays came and went in a blur.  One week I was baking banana bread and sugar cookies and the following I was shuttling to and from the bathroom with a vile stomach flu that knocked me off my feet for a few days.  On the plus side, it’s nice to start the year feeling a little thinner!

I started work at a nearby hotel.  It’s called Il Borghetto and the owner Elena is lovely– smokes a bit too much, but is sweet and attentive to everyone.  I was predisposed to like her as she rang my bell one night in early December and told me she’d been looking for the Americana.  She said she’d asked all over town for me since someone had mentioned that I might be perfect for the work she needed.  As much as I grumble about the lack of privacy in a small town, this was an example of it working in my favor!   Anyway, after three or four meetings and an understanding that I can still work at the winery, we decided to give it a go.  The hotel is right in Centro Storico.  It’s a medieval building so the architecture is phenomenal and the rooms have all been beautifully restored.  Here’s the link if anyone is coming to visit and wants a place close to me to stay:  www.ilborghetto.it/ospitalita.en.php

My job is basically reception; helping the guests; responding to reservation requests etc.  Putting my english into action!  We had a full house over the New Year’s weekend, so I got a good glimpse of what the upcoming season will be like.  Anyway, Elena needs help only in the evenings, so during the summer I hope to be working at Poliziano through lunch time and then for her in the evenings.  I spoke with Federico before Christmas and while he can guarantee me full time work for three months in the summer, my work schedule for spring is still not clear since the office is undergoing some shifting around.  I am waiting patiently.

I spent Christmas Eve with Anna and Federico again this year and it was a lovely night.  Happily no baccala this year, just a yummy homemade pasta with salmon. The eating frenzy continued throughout the weekend with Marinella inviting me for Christmas Day.  The food was fantastic, everything from crostini, and pasta al forno, to a stuffed turkey breast and all types of roasted meats, chicken, rabbit.  Of course there was tons of wine and then desserts.  Both she and Anna put out the cookies I’d brought along, so that made me feel good to contribute something to the feasting.  The Day after Christmas my friend Francesca and her husband (who is also my newest student for English lessons and I can tell quite motivated) invited me for lunch at their house.  The highlight was a beef fondue.  Really after the feasting that weekend, it’s no wonder my stomach came under attack last week.

I worked New Year’s Eve at the hotel and then went over to Bonnie’s house and spent the evening with her gang and our friends Gill and Adrian (of olive harvesting fame).  We drank some lovely wine, ate Adrian’s homemade chili, and played a “Friends” trivia game.  I was hopeless–the rest of them were devotees of the show and could quote even the obscurest lines.  Our plan was to go up to the Piazza for the bonfire and fireworks at midnight, but two of the kids fell asleep so we settled for watching fireworks from Bonnie’s rooftop terrace. We could see fireworks not only from the towns around us but as far away as Cortona.

The weather here is mild this week.  I actually sat outside the other day and did some writing.  The sunshine was a welcome break from the gray fog that seems to bring a sadness of spirit along with its suffocating damp.  My kitchen has been suffering from the wet and has mold along one wall.  Massimo gave me a dehumidifier to help and it was completely full after running it one night!

I heard from Signe the other day, the editor who is working on the revisions of my manuscript and she says she will have the book to me by the end of February.  This was a welcome piece of news.  With limited work, it’s a great time to get the memoir whipped into shape.

I heard from my Dad this week that my grandmother was in the hospital with some bleeding from her bladder.  They’ve sent her home now, but she will have to go back for some more tests.  I’m grateful that my Aunts–Krissy and Esther–are there with her and making sure she is well taken care of.  Please send some positive energy her way.

Tomorrow I head up to Piazza Grande and get my re-application for my permesso underway.  Seems like only a few months ago that I received it…Erm that’s because it was.  Pazienza. I’ve never been a patient person but if I’m learning anything in Italy, it’s essential for survival.

The hotel where I'm working part time

Elena in her holiday finery

Bonnie setting New Year's Eve table

Mark, Adrian and Tamara

Mark and Zack lighting fireworks while we countdown to the New Year!