Thursday, December 29, 2011

la bicicletta e la collina

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),
I must admit that I really enjoy living out in the country, even if I prefer easy access to the city. It is so beautiful living in the hills, with views of distant snow-capped mountains. This is Tuscany. However, I have not yet made friends with my local collina (hill). I do love her when I leave the house. The way to go anywhere is basically … down. But after a long day or a fun evening out, she presents the opposite side of her coin and I find it difficult to ride my bike UP her lovely lines.

When I was a child of about 12, I think, I remember the very first day that I ate an entire Big Mac burger. I also remember another day in which I finished the entire can of pop (‘Soda’ or ‘Coke’ to some people). I felt SO proud! We often remember our “firsts.” And so I am looking forward to my new challenge of this collina. Unlike a Big Mac or a soda pop, this hill will make me a stronger and healthier person for tackling her!

The first image here is one of the lovely scenes I get to view on my way home. The second is a picture of my bike -- a gift from a friend. I took the image of my bike on Christmas morning and you may see one bag of artwork going with me on the ground beside the bike rack. I parked there and rode the Tramvia to get to the train station since I went to visit a friend in another city for the holiday.

And on another topic. I am fairly convinced that today was the second time I was way overcharged for something because I am not yet a savvy foreigner. In a small mercato, I bought two lemons (well, actually, one lemon and one small citron [cedra in Italian], a lemon-like fruit that is used to make the famous limoncello liquor down on the Amalfi Coast of Italy). I was charged 1.50 euros! [That is currently about $1.93.] I thought the price high, especially after he asked me if the price was ok (and I was remembering one half of that illustration by Norman Rockwell in which the merchant has one finger pushing down on the scale, see below). All doubt was removed when a woman nearby remarked, “Buon prezzo!” (A good price!) I was pretty sure that was sarcasm and a joke between them. None of the other customers heard this sort of comment.

The other time I thought I overpaid was when I purchased a new bike pump recently for 20 euros. I felt that was way too much, but since I had previously tried the two pumps that were in my current home without success; the woman at the bike shop had just put air on both tires for free; and I wanted no problems during the holidays when I suspected that the stores might be more difficult to access, I paid it. Besides, I am not in a habit of arguing about something when I really do not know the facts. And in a free market, there is the reality that something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Enjoy the Rockwell!


Pier Luigi said...

The question about the cost of those 2 limoni and the bike pump. I called my father and one of my sisters to ask for their opinion. The answer is mixed. For the limoni, my sister Maria says: "Price definitely too high" while my father says "Mayve a bit too high, but it depends on size and quality of limoni." The fairness of the pump's cost is more difficult to ascertain because it depends a lot on the technical complexity and quality of the device. For the simplest of the models, my father payed 8 Euros.

Two pieces of advice when buying groceries: 1) Look at the price/weight (kilo or etto), it should be posted clearly on the merchandise; if not, ask for it before buying; 2) those small family-run shops ('negozietti') may be charming, but they're much more expensive than supermarkets. I know you're leaving in the country so you may not have easy access to supermarkets.
How's the weather? It must be pretty cold. You have guts pedaling around in the middle of winter in Tuscany.
Ciao. PL

Kelly Borsheim said...

Certamente, ho pagato TROPPO per la fruita! The dimensions for the citron was not large. His price looked high to me (I have always noticed the price per kilo at these stands, but I have little concept of what a kilo is...note to self to get a grasp of that!). Yes, I also agree on the pump. You can buy one here for 1 euro (at the 1Euro Stores), but I am sure the quality is less than the two I had already).

I had just left the Coop minimercato, but forgot to note the lemons. I did note that several items that I normally buy were priced plenty higher than at the main Coop, but that is convenience, everywhere. I was upset that I could not apply for the Coop card there - I must go to the main one. I will no doubt shop here once the cold really arrives.
Now, it is 30 degrees F in the mattina, but warms to 50 degrees. I expect gennaio to be much worse.
I am not sure if it takes guts to choose the lesser of two evils! haha. a piedi, it takes me 45 minutes to arrive at the Tramvia!

a dopo e grazie per le lezione!

Kelly Borsheim said...

More about the citron and other citrus fruits. Fun timing for this to arrive in my "In" box today...