Places to go

Early start again to get the house opened for our carpenter Diego.  He needed to make the final measurements for the internal and external doors and the windows and their shutters.  Now that we have to stick to the traditional ‘brown’ for the shutters, it does not specify a shade, other than ‘burnt brown’ or ‘marrone brucciato’.  So, in my book this means a darker colour than some of the parrot-poop shades around.  We are going for a shade like 80% cocoa solids, or a rather ‘bitter chocolate’.  We are still awaiting notification of acceptance for our new balcony railings proposal.  If they turn this down then we are going to ask for the same design as they have on their Town Hall!

We discovered a new plumber’s supply shop today thanks to a recommendation from Marco’s father.  We were having breakfast at Caffe Marconi and mentioned we needed a couple of things and were sent there.  It must be the best place for locals as Eugenia from the garden centre was also there buying bits.  We were hunting down a timer for an irrigation system that we bought yesterday, and info on a possible water softener as we have particularly hard water in Citta della Pieve. It was the birthday of one of the assistants (he was 55) and so we were all treated to pieces of pizza and cakes and fizzy drinks.

By the time we got back, the floor people had finished bleaching and washing and now the whole house is a no-go area.  We have to take off our shoes at the front door and put on really thick socks. They have levelled off the uneven corners (a characteristic of the tiles being hand-made), washed everything with dilute acid to remove any marks and then rinsed it all through once more.  Great tubs of liquid filled the garden and then vanished into strange dalek-looking machines and, hey presto, beautiful terracotta tiles. Our drains should be sparkling clean too, with the amount of water that went through. 

We are very precious about our lovely floor and have taken the front door key away now so no-one can get in. Poor Diego, the carpenter, had to keep taking off his trainers and putting plastic bags on his feet, as he went around measuring up.  Of course, after a week or so of living there, with dog, coming in and out of the garden and the street, it will all be forgotten, but for now the house needs to dry out completely and then the team will re-appear for the final treatment and polishing.  Another set of choices too – do we go for natural water-based wax or beeswax, which exact shade of terracotta do we prefer, and should it be matt or gloss?  We just thought wax was just …… wax. It appears that is not the case.  Some floors are ‘antiqued’ with a darker wax and then polished back to give a lived in, slightly grubby effect.  I am sure that will happen naturally enough in ours and so, while it all looks ‘glowing’, we will go with the simple waxing.  This takes 10-15 days and so kitchen delivery has been put back yet another week. Aargh! This is exactly why we wanted the floors done whilst we were away in May. But at least the balcony is done.

Went to Poggiani’s bathrooms to order shower cubicles and bathroom mirrors. We still have our bedroom basin and lights to choose but only so many decisions can be made in one go.  On the way home we stopped at Lake Chiusi for a walk with Daisy and a Magnum (the ice cream, not wine!).  They have a brand new double raspberry, dark chocolate one which is delicious.

We drove back to old Chiusi and wandered through the narrow streets to the piazza.  Another open air restaurant here called the ‘Grillo Buoncantore’ or ‘Singing Cricket’.  We looked at the menu and it looked interesting. Not many other eateries were open either and so we sat on the terrace ringed with jasmine and had dinner.  We were welcomed with a glass of prosecco, and an interesting appetiser of red onion falafel on a parmesan cream. Starters were wonderful; my salt cod salad on a broad bean puree with slivers of matured ricotta was great and Jamie chose the soft boiled egg wrapped in pancetta and served on a puree of asparagus with bottarga crumble.  Unfortunately my choice of main courses was a disappointment (nettle gnocchi with a fish roe sauce). I should have had the duck breast with tarragon and courgettes, but thought this sounded more interesting.  It was surprisingly lacking in flavour and after a while gnocchi, even small ones, are a bit stodgy. Jamie’s courgette and saffron risotto was very good, though. The restaurant is a member of the slow-food movement so you can be sure that everything is freshly and individually prepared.  No room for pud and they did look tempting.  At the back of the menu were two pages listing all their local specialist suppliers which was really interesting. It was a great find and we would definitely visit again.


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