Final thoughts on moving, some pics and costs

I know it’s April and you’d think I be over moving by now.  Well, at least it has stopped occupying my every waking thought but it is still a big part of my life.  In thinking about it, I have come to realize that because we didn’t really see the property until we started moving, we didn’t realize what a ‘fixer-upper’ it was and how much of those ‘fixing up costs’ we were going to have to pay for.   That and the fact that many of our friends who possibly could have helped were away, all contributed to making it a pretty awful move. 


I know it is the lower floor of the house that we already lived in but the lay out is different and I swear it is about 150 square feet smaller.  The owners of the property are nice enough to allow us to move some of the furniture from  upstairs to  downstairs and we (or rather I, with a little help) did move some down.  I didn’t think it was right to move the big  china cabinet down.  So the 2 kitchen cabinets which came with the place were filled with all the china that we had stored in that piece of furniture upstairs.


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This is the cabinet over the sink which had flimsy metal ‘drying racks’ in it and it was open to the sink below.  The idea being that you wash dishes, rinse and put them in the racks above so they could drip dry out of site.  Flimsy is the operative word.  More than 2 or 3 plates and they started to bow.  And I have a dishwasher.   So I didn’t need that feature,  I needed shelves and storage space.  The clever Enzo helped me put up these sturdy shelves and I added the bottom one for dish towels. 


After those were filled up with essentially china we only use to entertain with, I was left with not a lot of room for everyday stuff.   I know, I could have put my everyday stuff in them but since I can only comfortably reach the bottom shelf of each cabinet, the thought of having to use step stool all the time was not appealing.  Better to use the space for things we don’t need everyday. 



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There is a lot of wall space so I started hanging stuff on the walls.  And the benefit is that instead of being hidden away, I can see and enjoy it and  take it down and use it.  Everyday, we  use the mugs and have a nice ‘breakfast’ area all set up underneath them with the electric hot water kettle, tea bags and whatever Ben needs to make breakfast for himself each morning.  It certainly saves on those pitiful little whines that I would hear at 6:30 in the morning, ‘I can’t find the jelly….’  


There is a large wooden rack that Richard helped me move down to a level that I could reach which now has all the pots and pans on it.


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It is not as attractive as I would like, but it is functional.  I can get the pan I need without having to lift any others off of it.  Plus, finally, the lids are tamed! 


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The metal racks from IKEA are spread here and there and crammed packed.  Here is one of them in the lower right, topped with wood to give more counter space.  When we can afford it I would like to buy nice containers to store all the food in.  You know, matching sets with turquoise lids.  They would look nice but I will have to wait for that.   We are also waiting to buy a new fridge.  Maybe one with the fridge on top and freezer on the bottom so that a few things might be closer to Ben’s eye level.  The one we have picked out is probably about $550 with delivery and if we catch it on sale.  So we are waiting on that.  Until that happens I am reluctant to spend any more or do anything else to the kitchen until I see where everything is going to end up for sure. 


You can see I have had fun decorating.  I plan to make the two turquoise lanterns into lights and since very little repainting was done I don’t feel bad about painting what I want on the walls.


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Richard gave me these two panels that I nailed to the doors.   I was planning to try to open these doors but no one can find the key.  Now I am thinking that the new fridge may go in front of these doors. 


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The whoop de doo hood, the most eye catching feature of the kitchen, is the most useless thing ever.  It is not centered over the cooktop.  So the feeble light that it gave off fell on to the ridged drainboard of the sink.  Not a flat surface that could be used as work space, noooo ridged.  Good for draining but not much else.  The exhaust fan which didn’t work vents to nowhere.  And both of those items took up the only plug on that side of the room.  I unplugged those suckers right fast.  I am currently looking for under counter lights that I can afford and trying to figure out how to get electricity  to them.   I have since moved the clock and will eventually glue the tile that fell off back up. 


The other furniture that I didn’t want to move down was the armoires.  There are no closets here.  The armoires upstairs were not that great so I didn’t really want to bother with the huge hassle of moving them down. 


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You might remember this picture of our bedroom  from late February.  Well it is pretty much the same except the kitchen has moved out.  But clothes remain on open racks.  I just really have not figured out what to do that we can afford.  The least expensive closed armoires from IKEA are about $100 each.  We would need 5 or 6.   So that is a continuing problem that I guess we will have to keep working on.


For now I have beaten the living room into shape. 

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We are enjoying having a fireplace.   Pictures and things are hung. 


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I have a very comfortable nest, my big wicker chair, a place to put my glass of wine, a light so I can read, a table to put my computer on for the times when we are watching something on TV through my computer.   Ben and Nerone are still using the bed that substitutes as a sofa.   It is big, awkward and not comfortable.  It is hard to have folks over since there really is no where for anyone to sit.  So I guess we will have to break down and buy a couple of chairs.  We did find a coffee table that matches our dining room table so we went ahead and bought that. 


The bathroom will deserve a whole post by itself.  You really have to see the size 0 shower to believe it. 


Ben’s office is  probably as done as it will be.  It still does not have a door to it.  Not the end of the world now, but maybe next winter we might want to close it off….


My office came with …


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painting on the window.  Oh yes.  Of course it just doesn’t wash off.  I started emailing art supply places in the US and one of them gave me suggestions that worked.  I have gotten all the panes cleaned except the top two.  I’ll have to move furniture and drag the ladder in to be able to work on those two.   I have been working on storage in there for art supplies and things.  With another $100 or so I can probably be finished in there. 



I think most of my frustration and difficulty  with the move was from everyday things that didn’t work. 

In the middle of moving our internet security expired.  We had bought a new copy of it before leaving the US.  No problem I thought, I’ll just install it.  Oh noooo, it is region specific.  It would not let us install it because we are in Italy now.  That took days to resolve.  In the process of installing that my email got screwed up.  I am still working on fixing that. 


I was a little concerned that wine was disappearing so fast in the fridge.  The fridge,  which does not have a shelf tall enough for a wine bottle to stand upright in seemed to have  developed a drinking problem.   I was  even more concerned when I discovered the carrots floating in 3 inches of wine.  It had just been trickling down….  


And then there was the day that I had to mop the kitchen and bathroom floors 3 times in the same day.  It was the day that little plumber boy came to install our appliances.  He dripped water from the appliances all over, which of course, I had to mop up.  As soon as he left I started doing laundry because there were 6 loads waiting to be done.  In between loads, I discovered water on the kitchen floor again.  Out came the mop and  I persuaded little plumber boy to come back.  Nooo, all his connections were fine.  ‘It’s your washing machine that is leaking.’  So I pulled it out and cleaned the intake valve of little stones.  I had just done this a few weeks before but probably moving had shaken more of them loose in the intake hose so it clogged the valve again.  (Note:  Little plumber boy couldn’t do that, I had to)  Finally, that day, Ben took a shower.  Nothing wrong with that, we just had not figured out how to control the shower so that the whole bathroom doesn’t get wet.  (I’ll write more about our extra small shower suitably designed for a 12 year old girl)  Water everywhere!  So out came the mop yet again. 


And there is the almost total lack of prepared or frozen food in this country.  If I could have just had a freezer full of Lean Cuisines we would have been fine.  I would get up, move things, stop, make lunch, clean up from lunch, move things, stop, make dinner, clean up from dinner, pass out from exhaustion and do it all over again for what seemed like an eternity  but was only 14 days or so.  I had been freezing leftovers just so we would have them but the shoebox freezer is only so big and after 4 meals they were all used up.  And you can only eat so many pizzas….


And finally, the icing on the cake was the day two weeks ago when the mail man delivered bills.  Bills totaling over 1000 Euros, all at once, all the same day.  And little plumber boy came demanding 150 Euros for installing the overhead light fixtures, cutting the hole for the stuffa and the appliances.  (Dag, it wasn’t enough for us to buy the light fixtures, we had to pay to install them too)  Electric bills are for every two months so we had one for part of the time for upstairs and another one for part of the time downstairs.  Fine.  It was the gas bill.  That last time we had a gas bill was right before we left in late October.  It would have been nice if the gas company had come and read the meter and billed us again but they didn’t until we ran out of gas.  So when we ran out of gas and they finally came to fill it up and read the meter it was for all the gas that we had used since mid-October to mid-February upstairs and another one  for mid-February to mid-March downstairs.  That was a whole lot of gas. 


After all of that I have come to the conclusion that we were spoiled by Richard and John and the move into their house 7 years ago.  We had nothing to do other than unpack.  This move has been different.  Besides paying little plumber boy 150 Euros, there was the internet guy 90 Euros, the TV guy 75 Euros, the light fixtures cost 200 Euros, 115 Euros for pipes for the stuffa (50 of which was necessitated by little plumber boy not cutting the correct size hole),  we bought mattresses 300 Euros, hanging racks for clothing 60 Euros, a coffee table 70 Euros, assorted hooks, nails, lumber, paint 200 Euros.  We have pretty much been Euroed out.  So now I have decided that we will just live with things as they are and slowly work on each room.  So it might be next year before I figure out something to do about the clothing or before we have decent chairs for guests to sit in but eventually we will get there. 


And I realize that there are so many folks would give anything just to have these problems and not the ones that they have and I shouldn’t be whining.  But,  if you come visit, bring a comfy chair. 


  1. I do so love reading your trials and tribulations of life in Italy! I am always pleased when I see I have a new post of yours. We visit Cortona as often as we can and would love to be able to live part of the year over there. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us! It looks like you are well on your way to creating a lovely cozy little nest there on the first floor!

  2. Mike

    Whatever happened to the apt. in Civitella that those friends we met were using for parts of the year? Was there ever an option for you to “get” it after they decided not to continue with their arrangement?

  3. You must not remember the set of fairly steep stairs….

  4. Well eventually the place above us will be for rent.

  5. philippinewanderer

    Sorry to hear of the many woes. I will be moving to a new country, but one where I had lived for five years previously. As I do not have the money to buy a home, daughter and I will be renters and so will avoid many of your pitfalls…thank you for writing so honestly.

  6. philippinewanderer

    And good luck!

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