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Autumn 1994: my rented apartment in Todi

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The main room.

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The same room from the entrance to the bedroom; the front door is off-camera, to the right of the windows. Mentally, I viewed this space mostly as a dining room, but the floor came in handy for spreading maps out and planning my hiking; and the dining table was useful for hooking my feet under when doing situps, which also explains the folded blanket on the floor.

In this vertical shot, the kitchen is towards the back on the left. The television on the counter kept me abreast of the news: the evening news programs were much more thorough and less parochial than in the U.S. Otherwise, sad to say, the shows were about as dumb: but they did help me add to my Italian.

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Now somehow I neglected to take a picture of the compact kitchen, which would have been interesting: it had a sink and drainboard, a stove (3 gas burners and 1 electric), a small refrigerator, and ample storage space, including a couple of utensils for which I never did figure out the use, although I have a feeling they had something to do with pasta.

Instead, I took only this ; now, if only someone can tell me why? Maybe I was homesick for my chicken. . . .

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My bedroom, the only room in the apartment to have any kind of view. If the weather was clear and you looked carefully, you could see Montecastello di Vibio several miles away. Otherwise, a very urban sort of plunging view on a back street, which in Todi means staircases of course.

I slept comfortably until early November with the windows open and no heat.

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As much of the bathroom as I could get in the field of view of a camera with no wide-angle lens. A water heater, toilet, bidet and washing machine are off-camera left, behind a projecting wall; some of the deep, old-fashioned bathtub can be seen against the back wall; the door frame on the right hides most of the sink.

What you do see is the drying rack with some of my skating gear and a large towel I used to sop up water from the hand-held shower head.

Washing machines are smaller in Europe and take longer than American ones, plus I was crisscrossing the area on foot, often by warm weather, and carousing about on an ice rink twice a week; so laundry was rather of an ongoing process and this was the way the bathroom usually looked.

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The courtyard. The vines were the perching place of hundreds upon hundreds of little birds; and every time I would walk in, the courtyard would rustle and flutter, chirping, twittering: and in a few seconds, silence as they all swooped up and out. If you stood real still for a minute or two, they'd come back. . . . Then towards the end of my stay, in a few hours, all the leaves had fallen, the vines were bare, and there were no more birds. . . .

That, of course — no birds — is what you see here on the left.

I paid 800,000£, or about $500 a month: in Italy that abbreviation means lire, not pounds of course! My grocer and the waiters at the Umbria thought this was a square deal, and so did I.

I had a terrific landlady, and my little apartment was spic-and‑span, comfortable and warm. I was very happy here.

The view from my window (a sort of surprise) 
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Page updated: 4 Jun 01