Thursday, July 28, 2011

Have we found a house?

Maybe.  I think so.  I don't want to commit to it yet... but we're this close.

Yesterday and today have been a whirlwind of house tours, Italian towns and countryside, and trying to keep a howling baby happy in a hot van.  We saw two places yesterday that we had carefully selected after scanning hundreds of listings and thousands of photos on the Housing Department website.  We loved both of them, and one of them will be our home.

They are so different, though.  One is in the heart of town... and that's saying a lot when you're talking about a little Italian town.  The other is in the country... and in Italy that means down a dirt road with the music of distant farm equipment and nearby birdsong.  How does one decide what kind of Italian life one wants?

Both have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, air conditioning, hookups for washers and dryers, include a working fireplace, and are a 10-minute drive to the base.

There the similarities end.

House #1 is yellow on the outside, has an incredible view, is in the old historical quarter of Motta (literally right under a castle from the 12th century), boasts a phenomenal kitchen with a view of Mt Etna and a fabulous farmhouse table with long wooden benches, is a 5-minute walk to a fabulous gelateria.

But House #1 has hardly any storage, is somewhat isolated on the end of a cul-de-sac (can you call it that in Italy?) that consists entirely of garages, has no garden, and is pretty difficult to get to up winding streets... and a tough parking situation for friends.

House #2 is on a peaceful half-acre a small orange tree orchard, has a couple of porches for outdoor living 8 months of the year, includes plenty of space to garden and keep chickens and a dog, possesses plenty of storage indoors and outdoors, has larger bedrooms, and is more of the country life in Italy that we envisioned for ourselves.

However, House #2 is also seriously isolated (for me alone with Lena during the day), is a little off the beaten track for people coming to visit, would tie us down from traveling around Europe due to a garden and animals,  and lacks the gorgeous historic touches of House #1.

So how do you decide?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Welcome to Sicily!

Hard to believe we've been here a week!  A whirlwind of:

-flights (Detroit > Paris > Rome > Catania, Sicily, at last)

-INDOC (stands for "indoctrination," a 10-day crash course on life in Sicily as well as a loooong to-do list to start our lives in Italy)

-looking for housing (more house tours today!)

-church (spent a lot of Sunday at Calvary Baptist Church; there will be more church visits in the weeks ahead)

-life in temporary lodging (a sparkling clean little unit with a tiny kitchen; we're very grateful)

-and life in Italy.  We have so much more to see and do.  We've only eaten out once, and it was for Asian food, if you'll believe it!  Elliott's veterinary office staff took us out to eat and they wanted Asian, not Italian, so that's what we ate.  For now the priority is not food or travel, but heart and home.  The former two will become additional priorities as soon as we are settled, we have no doubt.

In the midst of this our baby girl has been an absolute jewel.  Jet lag took a few days for us all to get over, but Lena only had one sleepless hour in one relatively restful night.  We've been able to take her with us each day into a classroom for 5-8 hours a day during INDOC; I've only had to take her out because she's too tired/fussy twice.  She's napping beside me on the couch right now in Midtown on base:

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