Ferragosto – The Great August Return

rientro [ri-én-tro] s.m. 1 Ritorno: il r. dalle vacanze; r. in squadra dopo una lunga assenza; restituzione, in campo monetario: favorire il r. dei capitali dall’estero “A return from vacation, or to your team, following a long absence…” Italians are once again feeling that peculiar pang of “reentry” from summer vacation. For most of us,…

Your morning routine

I used to commute by train in between Spoleto and Rome. Some of the track’s twists and turns were through ivy-covered ancient walls, punctuated with stone towers. They said that medieval communities could relay messages in just minutes, passing signals from tower to tower. On those bends in the tracks, there were no billboards, no buildings….

Your car is not a closet

Might be a little strange to talk about car decluttering in the home-organization series, but here’s my thought. A reader commented in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine that she thought of her car as another room in her house. That’s the root of the problem. Car is car and house is house. (And moped is moped…

Have (clean) car, will travel…

Ah, the Fiat. Holding the honors as tiniest car in the world, until lo Smart came along. Tiny enough to park by placing it nose-out between two parallel-parked cars.  Now that’s small.On a side note, I remember Steve Urkel’s gag on Family Matters where he built a ridiculous tiny car, which once the smoke cleared looked exactly like a Fiat 500*…

Sculpt your Closet

Italians are meticulous closet organizers. You can be, too. The rule is simple: have stuff you need every day easily accessible, and the stuff you don’t need as often stored away. The devil is in the details. The first step to an organized morning is viewing closet space like a small room, and then carefully and…

Italians don’t have closets

They have armoires – floor to ceiling, maximizing every inch of space. The key to healthy clothes-closet organization is il cambio di stagione, changing seasons. Winter clothes need to hibernate in summer and vice versa. I recommend a dedicated space in your storage closet, preferably in a freestanding closet. Keep clothes protected from sunlight and dust, but don’t…

Let’s Talk Fridges

Refrigerators in America are cavernous. Like store a side of beef-big. When my little sister laid eyes on my modest fridge in Italy, she promptly informed me that her friend had a bigger one in her dorm room for snacks. And that was before I moved to a more rustic home with a fridge that could…

Clearing the Air

One really easy way to make a house seem bigger and more open is to let fresh air in. “Cambiare l’aria in casa,” literally: changing out the house’s air, is a daily ritual in Italy. Ladies fling open their shutters, pull the linens off the bed, smack the pillows together outside the window (no screens makes…

Small v. Tiny

HGTV’s latest installation of House Hunters (my guilty pleasure) is “Tiny House Hunters,” promoting the new trend of less-is-more living. Big is good (McMansions / log cabins / million-dollar rooms) and tiny might even be better, but what about just…small? It got me thinking about apartments I’ve lived in Italy, where small is the name…