A breathe of fresh air…A most entertaining conversation…A hurried road trip…


The chaos at the grocery store in Pescia inspired us to avoid shopping again on a Friday, obviously a busy day. It was surprising that these little villages have enough population to attract this crowd.  The cashiers sit while checking out customers and there’s a charge for carts (Euro $1.00) and for each plastic grocery bag (Euro $.05).

Yesterday afternoon, as we watched the movie, Zero Dark Thirty on my laptop I was startled when I heard the door buzzer. A funny thought entered my mind, “Gee, it’s a holiday! Who’d be at the door unannounced on a holiday?” Yeah, right! No 4th of July holiday here in Tuscany!

Tom, who is hard of hearing after 42 years on the railroad, doesn’t hear the buzzer. Together, we dashed down the stone steps to the door, surprised to find Lisa’s parents, Cicci and Dano, and another woman at the door, none of whom speak English.

Knowing we were in for a challenge with the language barrier we were in a quandary as to their visit. As it turned out, Luca had sent me an email while we were watching the movie to tell me they were planning to stop by to visit which I had failed to read.

On our way back through Collodi from shopping in Pescia, maneuvering two roundabouts, we began the steep climb back up the mountain to Boveglio, a 30- minute drive with many hairpin turns and guardrail free narrow roads. From what we can determine online this mansion is the Villa Garzoni.

A few days ago, I’d asked Luca if they had a feather duster so we could clean the house. Instead, they brought Santina, the local cleaning lady! OK. We can deal with this.

A half-hour of convoluted conversation commenced, discussing the days of the week she’ll come clean, the number of hours she’ll clean each week, the tasks she’ll complete, and the pay in Euros. 

After lots of arms waving around, my fumbled attempt at the translation of Italian, more head-nodding, we came to an “understanding.” (By the way, Tom went back upstairs after the first 15 minutes, bored and confused). 

Santina started cleaning today continuing to do so every Friday morning for our remaining eight weeks in Boveglio. For two hours, she’ll clean the entire house, (excluding the laundry) for a price of Euro $16, US $20.85, per week. We couldn’t be more delighted to have been able to arrange for her help.

Again, nodding and many “grazie(s)” later they finally left. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, grateful for the freedom of not having to wash the stone floors and dust the zillions of shelves, ledges, windowsills, bookcases, and tabletops that are everywhere in this 300-year-old house. The price? Couldn’t be better! The conversation?  Priceless! I had the time of my life.

Next, our challenge was to clean up before the cleaning lady comes, a habit I had acquired years ago, preferring that the cleaning lady wouldn’t have the responsibility of dealing with our clutter.

After watching the remainder of the movie, we ran around de-cluttering, a task Tom found pointless which I thoroughly enjoyed, knowing the unpleasant cleaning part would soon be done by Santina.

One might think…”They’re spoiled. Two retired people that won’t clean.” The reality, for years I had a medical condition that made heavy cleaning impossible and now feeling well, we still each have to deal with our bad right shoulders which we tend to favor for fear of worsening the condition. 

Having help is well worth the Euro $16, US $20.85, for the sake of saving the wear and tear on the shoulders from scrubbing stone floors. Before we know it, we’ll be packing, once again on the move hauling the heavy luggage.

Using Google Translate, I typed a note to Santina when she arrived promptly at 10:00 am, explaining that we were leaving to get change and groceries and would be back before she’d be finished at noon. Also, I made a list of what we’d like cleaned in general terms: floors, dusting, make the bed, clean bathrooms, etc.

The closest bank is in Collodi, next door to the smaller of the two grocery stores where we’ve shopped. With the half-hour drive on the zigzag mountain road, we’d have an hour to do our shopping and return. 

Tom dropped me at the grocery store while he ran into the bank, getting stuck in the tiny revolving electronic security tube. If it had been me, I’d have panicked in the tiny tube. Tom merely became frustrated while he figured out a means of getting out with no instructions in English. 

Apparently, his RFID wallet set off the metal detector in the tube. Finally, he figured out how to get out. Then, the non-English speaker banker handed him large bills rather than the smaller bills he needed.

By the time he found me in the grocery store, his patience was worn thin. Unable to find a few grocery items, he insisted we go to the larger store in Pescia and leave what I’d already placed in the tiny basket. 

Time was marching on. The store in Pescia was another 10 minutes away. I suggested we pay for the items already in the cart and then head to Pescia, reducing our time finding these same items again. He agreed. Then we were stuck in line behind a woman whose credit card wouldn’t go through. Another seven or eight minutes ticked away.

It was important for us to be back in time to pay Santina. Tom and I are both sensitive to being on time and in keeping our word.  There was no way in the world we’d fail to return in time if we could help it.

By the time we reached the grocery store in Pescia, it was 11:08. When Tom couldn’t find a parking spot he dropped me off at the door. Not wanting to take time to pay a Euro for a grocery cart, I entered the store looking for the handheld baskets provided at no charge.  Not a one was in sight. I decided to carry what we needed until Tom showed. 

My arms filled with grocery items and still no basket in sight, Tom appeared immediately cognizant of my dilemma, taking off to find a basket. Running helter-skelter around the store, we gathered up the items we needed to begin a 10-minute wait in line. We’d never make it back on time. 

On the road again, he was determined to maneuver the winding hairpin turns as fast as possible. Gripping the sides of my seat, I held on for dear life desperately trying to keep my mouth shut. He’s a good driver. I only commented a few times, reminding him that our lives were more important than an impatient car behind us or being five minutes late to get back to Santina with the Euros.

At precisely, noon, we pulled into the parking spot near our house, grabbed the grocery bags to find Santina coming down the steps, her hands filled with her load of cleaning supplies and equipment. It was obvious she was excited to show us what she’d done.

The stone floors were still wet when we returned.  We were grateful for Santina’s commitment to clean every Friday.

Walking from room to room, me at her side, she rattled on in Italian on what she’d done, obviously proud of her work. Over and over I said, “molto bello” (very nice) and grazie (thank you). She was pleased. I was more than pleased. 

The stone floors, some still wet from her vigorous washing, looked better than we’d imagined they could. The shelves were now dust free and a freshness permeated the air. What a relief to know that we don’t have this stone cleaning task facing us each week!

The floor in the long hallway had already dried but looked perfect.  We couldn’t have been more pleased with Santina’s hard work.

Rushing around today we had little time for photos. We’ll be back tomorrow with more photos and the story of our Friday night “out on the town” at a new location.

It’s time to get out of my bathing suit to dress for the evening. Clouds rolled in over what had been started out as a clear sky only minutes after we’d attempted our one hour of sunning in our new chaise lounges on the patio. Tomorrow’s another day.


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