Pescia, referred to as “Little Italy,” with video and photos…Hot today in Pescia…Over 100 degrees F (C38 degrees)…

The young helpful butcher as he was preparing our meat who easily understood when I asked him to cut the bacon thicker, stating “spesso, denso and grosso” all of which got the message across. Most deli meats and cheeses are cut paper thin in Italy with customers ordering small portions as compared to our 800 gram orders.

Stumbling across this well done video of Pescia. Italy prompted me to forgo my feeble efforts at video taking and “borrow” this video I discovered on YouTube this morning.

These peaches and nectarines were huge and all organic.

Feel free to fast forward through the gentleman who’s talking in Italian, unless of course, you’ll be able to understand him. I’ve noticed in our blog stats that we’ve had hundreds of visitors from Italy reading our posts, many of whom will listen all the way through. These scenes are better than any shots we could have taken.

Bagged vegetables are more expensive. The bulk, pick your own produce, require that the customer wear plastic disposable gloves, which are provided, prior to touching anything.  Also, once placing the items in a plastic bag, I had to weigh each bag, selecting a matching photo of the item on a display screen which prints a price tag to be attached to the plastic bag. I’d planned to take a photo of the screen, but the work area was lined up with shoppers waiting for their turns. The prices are excellent, for example, the bag of 8 large organic tomatoes I purchased today was Euro $.78 which is US $1.03.

This morning we took off for Pescia at 11:00 am, down the hairpin turns bouncing along in our “sold” Fiat rental car that they’ve (Budget Rental) yet to swap out with us for another car. At this point, we doubt that they’ll bother to swap it as the time nears for our returning it to Venice on September 1, 2013.

More pre-wrapped produce that although more costly than the “pick your own” still was very affordable, as you can see from the prices here.

A quiet weekend behind us, we were enthused to venture out enjoying the views along the way and to get groceries, change, and gas for the car. After today’s shopping trip, we’ll only need to grocery shop on one more occasion before leaving Boveglio. How the time has flown!

Grocery shopping in Pescia has been a pleasure for me with the freshest of ingredients, most of which are organic. There is less than a single aisle devoted to snacks, candy, cookies, and chips, basically junk foods. 

A bakery, deli, and specialty meat and seafood area offer the finest products.  It’s not easy to resist their made-on-site pastries and bread.  I breeze by the bakery trying not to look. 

Tom, on the other hand, could try some of the pastries without consequence (other than weight gain) but he too walks by without a glance. The only item I’ve seen him eyeball is the glazed doughnuts. 

Not a typical Italian item, they are pricey at US $12.00 a dozen.  “Mr. Frugal,” commented several weeks ago that there was “no way,” he’d spend $12.00 for a container of glazed doughnuts.  Good.  His pants will fit when we leave here. 

The plan, as always, is to use any food products we have on hand with the intent of not being wasteful.  Basic ingredients such as spices, oils, baking soda, etc will gladly be left behind for the next visitors, as has been the case when we’ve left with other properties we’d rented.

The cheeses we are expensive, but well worth their prices. The rounds in the center on the right are a soft cheese, along the line of a Brie that I’ve enjoyed every night for dessert.

It may seem odd to begin the process of ‘winding down” at this early date with almost four weeks to go.  But, as we’ve indicated on numerous posts, we’re the king and queen of “planning ahead” leaving us with little stress at the end of our stay, other than loading our bags and ourselves into the car on the day we depart.

Shopping today was a good reminder of how much cooler it is in Boveglio than Pescia, which is 30 minutes down the mountains.  With little interest in grocery shopping, Tom will read his book while waiting in the car. 

Here are some of the deli meats we’ve purchased. We’ve found the beef to be tough here, instead, eating mostly eating chicken, pork and fish. Notice the price on the rare roast beef on the right-center at Euro $34.90 which translates to US $46.31 per gram (less than a pound).  We skipped that item!

Not today.  With the temperature over 100 degrees in Pescia, he found a place to sit outdoors in a shaded area in the parking lot for the over hour-long wait while I shopped in air-conditioned comfort. When the hour ended, he came inside to find me as always while together we finished in the deli and meat department.

Luckily, the butcher in the deli understood my translation for cutting the bacon “thick” as opposed to the manner in which they cut most deli meats, ultra-thin. As soon as I uttered “denso, spesso and grosso” he knew exactly what I meant. Meat is old in grams, not pounds. One pound of bacon is 453 grams. As I order each item, I explain how many grams I want. Typically, I ask for anywhere from 400 grams (.88 pounds) to 800 (1.76 pounds) grams. 

Any one of these cheeses is fabulous, a little pricey but worth it!

Today, I ordered 800 grams of the thick-sliced bacon which I divide into several packages, keeping it frozen, taking it out only as needed. With no nitrates in their meats, bacon spoils in as little as three days. This morning as I was making breakfast, I took out a small package of the remaining frozen bacon, which defrosted in a matter of 5 minutes. 

Learning to freeze and defrost foods quickly and safely has been a learning experience, something I always took for granted using a microwave since the 1970s. 

We’ve avoided these pre-made items, except for the delicious olive, many containing gluten, starch, sugar, and carbs, although many shoppers purchased a combination of these items to complete lunch or dinner.

Many mornings we add Italian sausage to our breakfast, which is trickier to defrost. The easiest solution would seem to be defrosting it overnight in the refrigerator. This leads to spoilage when some mornings we don’t want sausage. If we’d defrosted the sausage we’d feel compelled to eat it. As an alternative, I also keep smaller portions of sausage in plastic bags in the freezer. (There are no Ziploc bags here, only the old fashioned hard to open bags on a roll with those green wire ties).

Taking out the small bags, I place the sausage in a skillet with a bit of water with a tight-fitting lid. In 8 minutes, the sausage is defrosted and I pour off the water, proceeding to cook the sausage in the same pan which results in nicely browned properly cooked sausage. 

These extra steps take extra time and effort, but then again, what else do we have to do with our time other than to enjoy each meal as if it were our last?  Who would have thought that a lifetime of cooking would change so radically in a country with different standards, many of which are better for one’s health?

Arriving back in Boveglio around 2:30 pm, we rushed to get the groceries indoors out of the heat and put away.  When we returned the temperature in Boveglio was 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) with a little breeze. With no air conditioning, I would have been dreading spending the afternoon and evening in the heat. 

But now, as we’ve become more resilient, seldom complaining, we marvel at how much we’ve adapted.  In essence, it’s been life-changing going from an over-sized Subzero refrigerator with a separate ice machine to a tiny refrigerator, requiring frequent defrosting and the making of our own ice in tiny trays. This is one of a litany of the inconveniences to which we’ve adapted.

Surely, more such inconveniences will follow as we move from location to location, striving to learn, to accept, and to grow in the process.  Although, today I’m having trouble adapting to the flies biting me which… I doubt will be less bothersome in Africa.

A trip to the barbiere (barber)…A new haircut plan in new place…More lessons learned…

Driving around, we yelled to two gentlemen sitting outside, “Uomo Barbiere?”  They kindly pointed us in the direction of this salon, serving the needs of women (donna) and men (uomo)

Yesterday, while driving around Pescia, Italy, searching for a barbershop, it dawned on us that most likely Tom will need a haircut in each country in which we’ll live for a period of two to three months.

Leaving the US last January, we’ve since lived in two countries for approximately three months, Belize and now Italy, (we were in the United Arab Emirates for only two weeks). By next July, we’ll have added four more countries in which we’ve lived, a mere pittance based on the number of countries in the world.

Prior to leaving Scottsdale, Arizona where we resided for two months, he’d had his final US haircut for a very long time.  So far, his favorite was the haircut in Belize with Joel McKenzie, under the tree on the plastic chair atop the cement blocks.  If you haven’t seen these photos, look for the post in the archives from March 13, 2013.

Most guys have a regular barber they see at certain intervals. For some, the quality of the cut is less important than others.  For Tom, with his full head of thick, almost white hair, it matters. It matters to me as well, more that he’s happy with it than my having to look at him all day and night.

Luckily, I am able to take care of my own hair, manicures, and pedicures.  I learned this years ago when I found myself squirming impatiently in a beauty salon, anxious for it to be over.  This is quite helpful now as we travel.  Plus, it saves tons of money better spent on other more important aspects of our daily lives.

Tom, relaxing and ready for his haircut with Barbara.

The Euro $20 (US $26.06) he paid for his haircut included a 30% tip, although he wasn’t thrilled with the cut, definitely no fault of the stylist.  Most certainly, it was a result of the language barrier.  We learned a valuable lesson yesterday:  translate what one would like done in advance, showing it to the barber or stylist before they begin cutting, if possible, including photos.

Fortunately, the upcoming haircuts he’ll need will be in Kenya and South Africa  where English is spoken freely.  In Morocco, we’ll have staff that will translate for us. 

After Morocco, we’ll be in Madeira, Portugal for almost three months where Portuguese is spoken. We’ll translate instructions at that time. So far, we know one Portuguese word, “obrigada” which translates to “thank you.”  We’d better start working on a few more words.

Smiling and hopeful for an easy summer “do” Tom was at ease.

Between us, we’ve learned enough hand signals and Italian words that enabled us to carry-on somewhat of a conversation with “Barbara” pronounced bar-ber-a) yesterday as she cut Tom’s hair.  She told us in Italian that she grew up in Pescia, has three children, 8, 13, and 16, a husband, and has been a stylist for both men and women for 20 years. While at the salon, we met her 13 years old “bambini” hoping she spoke English.  No such luck. 

Barbara asked us, about us, where we were from, where we were going. Dumbfounded, Tom and I looked at each other wondering how to explain. Somehow, we managed to convey that we are living in Boveglio for the summer, are traveling to Africa soon, have four adult children and six grandchildren. 

Hand signals conveyed the grandchildren’s part. I had yet to hear the word for grandchildren which I’ve since researched in Google Translate. It’s “nipoti.”  Some words make sense in translation, reminding us of a word in another language; English, French, or Spanish.  This one, I couldn’t get for the life of me.

Lots of Tom’s gray hair on the floor.

Apparently, our communication methods didn’t serve us well enough. As Barbara neared the end of Tom’s haircut, the top standing straight up, she asked if he’s like some “butch wax” while holding up the container. He cringed shaking his head an emphatic “no” all the while with a forced smile on his face. 

Later, in the car, he said, “I didn’t want to look like Bob’s Big Boy. She was going in that direction!”

I agreed that was true, based on the photo he’d shown her.  When packing for our flight from Dubai to Barcelona in June, we’d tossed an 8-ounce tube of hair gel. Bringing it along would have cost another $5 in excess luggage fees. Thus, we’d have had no way to maintain Bob, had he liked that look.

Here it is, the haircut. Maybe in a few days, it will take shape. I’ve offered to reduce the length of the top for him. He declined my offer.

“Give it a few days,” I said.

Having perused a substantial book of men’s haircuts while he sat in the chair, we observed all youngish chisel faced models in their 20’s. There was nary a cut befitting a mature adult male. The one he ultimately chose, had the sides cut as he’d prefer, but the top was definitely in the Bob category. Trying to explain this to Barbara was fruitless. We couldn’t come up with anything other than a “scissors snipping” hand signal to take more off of the top
We take full responsibility for the cut. Barbara is surely a very fine stylist. My well-intended interference and our lack of communication skills inspired the end result.  He’ll live with it and see what happens in three months from now in Kenya. 

Living in the world is a never-ending lesson. Some experienced travelers we’ve met over the years talk as if they have it all figured out. We’ll never figure it all out. Each area, each country has its own unique customs, modes of living, and nuances that one can only become privy to over a long period of time. 

Two to three months in any country will never be long enough to learn the language and those nuances, that in the end, for us, make it all the more enjoyable.