Green Pass

This has been a very productive week so far. The first good thing was we both managed to download our Green Passes onto our IPhones and now we should be able to show them if needed to prove we have both been vaccinated. Here is what it looks like. I blurred the QR code and personal information.

Among other things, we also managed to pick up our new Permessi di Soggiorno. As I posted earlier, it was the fastest we have ever gotten them and mine is actually good for eleven months! Amazing.

The other things I mentioned…We got our Italian taxes filed. We visited the Poste Italiene to pay a bill for a friend. Yesterday we got our hairs cut. Did you ever notice only English uses the word “hair” for plural. The word hair can mean a single hair, or all your hair. Not so in Italian, French and German. Those are the only other languages I know. So I’ve taken to saying, I am going to get my hairs cut. 😁

A special thing you can get only at this time of year is friggatelli (pronounced frig with a soft G like George) Little green peppers. They are prepared by frying in olive oil for a couple of minutes then adding minced garlic for a few seconds. Then you add a bit of water and close the pan to let the peppers steam for about ten minutes. You can eat the whole thing to include the seeds. A nice side dish with steak or chicken. I love them and eat them a lot while they are in season..

I’m not sure anyone wants to know the end of the pigeon story. But quickly I will say it wasn’t a happy ending and actually at this time, a full week and a half after the window got shut, there remain live pigeons inside. They will die eventually. I wish it would be soon. A man did come with the cherry picker truck on Monday and opened the window and retrieved 3 dead pigeons from near the window. The live pigeons, naturally wouldn’t try to fly out while he was in the window. So he closed it back up and left. I am glad that window is nailed shut now and I don’t have to go through this again. And neither do the pigeons. There are plenty pigeons left and they will find other nesting places.
~~~~~~~
Tonight I made a seared steak that was marinated in mango purée with habanero pepper and lime juice. I made a salsa of seared tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic and cilantro. I served with corn tortillas and sliced avocado. Most of the more “exotic” ingredients (mango, cilantro, avocado) I got from the “Egyptian” fruttivendolo. Truth be told only the cilantro must be bought there. The regular Coop carries avocado and mango. But almost nobody carries coriandolo…cilantro. I also think his avocado is way better than any other source. Every now and then I must break away from Italian food…I love it..but my taste buds need a boost now and then! 😎

ciao for now!

This and that

I guess you all know the Italians won the EuroCup football championship last Sunday? Duh, right? Interesting observations after the win:

We went to dinner with a friend last night at Patrick’s Enoteca. Patrick is Italian but he worked in London for a time and speaks good English. He also (normally) attracts a British clientele at his Enoteca. He said he hadn’t seen a single English person all week. Not since the Big Game (defeat for England!…) 🧐

We just read an article that said the Italian restaurants in England have had a huge decrease in revenue since the game… Are they sore losers? I think so! Sorry to my English friends…but it’s amusing to me, to observe these reactions. I know, I know, it hurts to lose…I’m sorry. 😶
~~~~~
In other news this week we received an SMS from our Questura telling us that our Permessi di Soggiorno are ready. You could have knocked me over with a feather! In the entire seven years, and seven Permessi we’ve gotten over that time, it has never taken less than 5 months to get this card. This time…just TWO! Normal situation is we apply for the new cards in about March. (The old cards expire in June.) Then we get the appointment at the Questura for fingerprints etc. After that, we normally wait 6 months for the card. It has been as long as ten months. During around six months of this waiting time, our old Permessi are expired. A big hassle for us to travel in Schengen. And to keep our Health care in force. But this year…A MIRACLE! Maybe there are less immigrants now? Not so many have been entering Italy. I’ve got no idea but I’m very happy. We will go next Wednesday to pick them up.
~~~~~~
I’m afraid this part is a downer. But it is part of my life and I wanted to speak of it. There is a window across from our living room into the Comune. It seems to be some sort of storeroom that no one ever goes into. The window has gotten tightly stuck shut and there are a lot of pigeons trapped inside. Also many outside trying to get in. I’m sure they are nesting in there.  It’s distressing to watch. I’m no fan of pigeons but watching them die a slow death I don’t care to do. So far I’ve asked Irene at Bar Mary to call her friend in the building. No luck. Then Luther called the Guardia (local police). They said they would come domani, tomorrow. The next morning they did indeed send a cherry picker truck which lifted a guy to the window but it remained stuck. That was on Tuesday. Luther called the Guardia again, a day later. The pigeons appear to be still lively but it’s been six days now. I finally went and rang the bell of the public works folks in the Comune. People all seem to know about it. She said Monday they’d come. I said that could be too late for the the birds. So that was my last gasp. I have exhausted all my options. I’ve covered my window now, so I can’t see them 😢 

We have a few chores and errands coming up next week. We are also planning a trip to Sardinia, leaving the 27th. One of the last two regions of Italy we have not yet visited. The whole Covid issue is getting worse here in Italy, just like it is in the US. Since we began planning our trip a couple of weeks ago they’ve begun new regulations to fly to Sardinia. It is a real hazard of traveling nowadays. Things change with lightening speed. A number of regions in Italy look to be set to go back into Yellow zones with restrictions on travel and on businesses and restaurants. What a mess. If any of you are planning travel, keep these things in mind. Things are by no means back to the old normal.

Enjoy your weekend!

2nd vaccination!

Finally, after a very long wait we got our second vaccination. AstraZenica works better with the second shot around 3 months later. So now we just wait two weeks and we can feel moderately protected. We have a paper copy of proof of vaccine, but with that we can get the EU Green Pass. Some countries (France) are now requiring the Green Pass to be able to go to a restaurant. I’m not sure how the CDC proof of vaccine will work for this. I would hope if one can get into Italy with it, one could dine in a restaurant. But that hasn’t been decided yet. And I did hear Italy will be implementing this.

The Delta variant is very prevalent in Italy. I read today the cases are really jumping here in Italy. 26% higher here in Umbria from last week, but 90% more in Lazio, 60% more in Tuscany, Lombardia and Liguria are soaring too. In the space of a week. Almost all cases are unvaccinated younger to middle age people. I knew this would happen with all this partying, no spacing, no masks. Sadly, all our hard work is going down the toilet.
~~~~~~~~
On a more cheerful note…a long time wish to make Ceviche tonight came true. A couple weeks ago I got two nice sea bass, sushi grade, from my friends at Calagrana. Tonight I made Ceviche. It was refreshing, cool, and totally yum.

Ciao for now!

L’estate ☀️

We have been having our typical summer weather. Hot but not oppressively so, not humid, cloudless skies, no rain. I’m really enjoying it.

Today was Saturday so our local market was in the piazza. All the summer veggies are here in abundance. Love it! I have been really into salads and things that don’t need a lot of cooking to keep the kitchen cool so I’ve got a picture of one of my salads below.

I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures at the market. Most of them came from one of my favorite stands called 3 Orti or 3 vegetable gardens, over by Montone. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

The first melanzane, eggplants…
The summer tomatoes are incredible as always.
Friggitelli – I love these fried!
The first borlotti beans!
German style bread – lots of seeds!

Luther’s birthday was this week so we went to dinner at Calagrana. To make your mouth water take a look at this, my appetizer, vitello tonno.

I also did some cooking with the rest of my fresh tuna. A salad with seared tuna. A la a Niçoise.

Some summertime pictures from our walk along the river to get pizza from a new pizzeria we wanted to try.

We also had a lovely lunch with two people who subscribe to my blog. He has the distinction to be the only person to have read the entire thing…TWICE! I should have some kind of award for him! We have corresponded and we met them today. They are on a house hunting trip. Always fun!

Tomorrow, Sunday, is the BIG GAME. Italy vs England for the European Championship. It will be chaos in all of Italy, to include… Every. Bar. In. Every. Town. They will all have big screen TVs set up in the squares. Madness. Forza Italia. Azzurri!
~~~~~~~
Enjoy the summer…or if not in the northern hemisphere, enjoy my summer vicariously through my pictures!

Poke bowl

I’m sorry. This is not an Italian dish. But it was so hard to accomplish here in Italy I decided to post a picture. I had not heard of a poke bowl until I saw a post about it. It looked so good and so summery and cool I knew I had to make it. Unlike in the US, you cannot just go and buy sushi quality tuna which is what is required. People don’t use raw fish here. I asked our sweet friends at Calagrana if they could get some for me from their supplier. The answer was yes! A kilo of the prettiest sushi quality tuna was my reward today.

I made my first poke salad tonight. It was delicious and cool. A bit spicy and full of vegetables. I understand it comes from Hawaii and has become popular in the US and the UK. Here is my dinner.

Beautiful Friday!

We had a free Friday for a change. Normally we have our Italian lessons but our teacher went on holiday to the beach. Where else? To Italians the beach is the only place to go in summer. I’m asked constantly by Italians in my town, “when are you going to the beach?” I usually say a date and they nod happily.

With our Friday freedom, we decided to go for a drive. From Umbertide we headed towards Montone and then took that road east towards Pietralunga. A nice town but we passed it by and headed into the big Apennine mountains. This is the spine of Italy. It runs all the way down the peninsula. They are a formidable border between the western parts of Italy and the Adriatic coast. Most of the roads through these mountains follow river valleys cut deeply into the earth. These roads are very old. They were used by the Umbras and the Romans for thousands of years. We didn’t stop along the way so I only got a couple car shots. Sorry.

Pianella

Our chosen end point, where we would turn south and head homeward was Cagli in the Marche region. Before today I didn’t know of it. It was just on the way. What a nice town it is. Walled and gated. Several churches and towers. Notable history since the sixth century. Once a woolen, silk and hide tanning city. Quite prosperous. But then the Papal state took it over and they had to adhere to the rules of Le Marche. They were told to grow cereals. But the soil was poor and the yield, low. So the town went into decline. Later they built a railroad from Fano to Fabriano to Rome. So the town again prospered. Then the Nazis destroyed the rail line. It took until nearly the present day for them to recover. They have and they have several very interesting sounding festivals annually. One is an international gathering of people celebrating charcuterie – the area is famous for it.

All together it was a couple hour drive and we have decided to go back to Cagli soon and this time stop and visit…and maybe lunch!

Once back home I started laundry. First the colors! Sorry, I just thought it was a pretty picture 🙂

~~~~~~~~
Let’s talk about Italy and what’s happening here. Almost all restrictions have been lifted. Only wearing of masks inside of buildings is still mandated. I note most people continue to wear them outside too. It has gotten to be uncomfortable to NOT have one on.

There are ominous rumblings however. Today I read that last week, for the first time in 10 weeks, the virus has increased – by 10% across Europe. Opening up wide so fast may be contributing to this…also the prevalence of the Delta variant. We must take into account the fact that 63% of Europeans are still waiting for their first dose. So the continent is not protected. I don’t know what this means for the future of travel here. Will they lockdown again? It is what makes travel in these times so difficult. One never knows what to expect or what new edict will come out, or when.

As of July 1st the EU has unveiled the “green pass”. It will allow travel across the regions. It is an app which has a QR code which has your vaccination, immunity or testing information. It will be mandatory for entry into sports venues, museums or to travel between countries. We still await our second shot so we don’t have one yet. We are scheduled to get the shots July 13. Then just two weeks wait for full immunity.

This all said, our region, Umbria, has very good numbers…and the daily new case numbers continue to drop. All good for us I guess.
~~~~~~~~~
Buon fine settimana a tutti!

Ligurian pasta – Trofie al pesto, patate e fagiolini

Tonight I decided to re-create the Ligurian pasta dish that I had while in Sestri Levante, as best I can. It is called Trofie al pesto, patate e fagiolini. It was very yummy, and very unusual. The only problem I have is I don’t have the special pasta shape called Trofie. If I had thought of it I would have bought some while I was there. But I didn’t 🙁. So I will have to improvise. Here is a picture I borrowed from https://lapenisoladelgusto.it So you can see what it should look like.

I looked through my pastas and picked penne since that’s close in size. The Trofie has many crooks and nooks to hold the sauce, so it would have been better. All regions have their own special pasta shapes and it is hard to get them in other regions.

I had already made pesto from my first basil of the season and it was in the refrigerator. This simplifies the recipe. You can use your own, or a quality one from the store. Genoa is the birthplace of Pesto alla Genovese. They use this sauce liberally in their local dishes.

Other than Pesto the ingredients are simple. Pic of all the ingredients except the pasta.

Here is the recipe:

TROFIE AL PESTO, PATATE E FAGIOLINI – serves 4

500 g trofie pasta (~1 pound)
300 g potatoes (~11 ounces)
100 g green beans (~4 ounces)
Pesto – I don’t think you can use too much

Prepare the vegetables: peel, wash and cut the potatoes into small pieces and trim the beans.

Bring water to a boil in a fairly large pot, salt it and immerse the green beans. Let them boil for about two minutes before adding the potatoes with a drizzle of oil. After another two or three minutes, when the vegetables are al dente, add the trofie.

Let pasta and vegetables cook until pasta is al dente, then drain everything, keeping some cooking water aside. Dilute a couple heaping of spoonsful of the pesto with two or three spoons of the water and mix into pasta and vegetables. Having made his once I think you can’t overdo the pesto and it should be quite soupy. Add more water, as needed, and stir to incorporate. Pour the trofie with the vegetables into a serving dish, season with more pesto and basil leaves (optional) and serve.

Trip Report – Sestri Levante and the Ligurian coast

FINALLY! A Trip Report! If you’re not interested just ignore.
~~~~~~~
For our anniversary we decided we needed a short trip to celebrate. First trip since last September. Long, long days of lockdowns and restrictions. We decided to go to the Mediterranean coast. North of the Cinque Terre and south of Genoa. We haven’t explored this area before.

We left Umbertide at eleven. It’s only around a three and a half hour drive. We stopped for a picnic. They don’t make that easy in Italy. They have rest stops but they seldom have a picnic area. I think we did see three places with a parcheggio and tables but two of them were too early and the one we thought was perfect was closed! So we kept going. Finally by 2PM we found a rest stop with a few picnic tables in front of a shop. We decided to just go for it. I’d brought some pasta pesto salad and some fried chicken. Can you say picnic? We also had some wine. So it all worked out.

We continued and arrived in Sestri around three. We were staying in the Hotel Vis a Vis. Way up high above the town. As always, the parking and access are ridiculous. The hotel assured us there was parking. And I guess technically there is. The drive up to the hotel was several very sharp hairpins and super steep. We negotiated it OK but, not having ever been here before we didn’t know what we were headed for. We were nearly at the top and a woman waved us back. So we backed up and got out of the way…two cars cannot possibly pass each other. The woman helped her husband to get out of his parking place…no easy feat. We figured we would continue on up and we took his parking place. Luther said he didn’t fancy taking the car back out so we will probably just hang around the ‘hood and see what’s to be seen. At least for tomorrow.

Reception checked us in and took us to our room which wasn’t quite finished so we went to the rooftop bar for a drink. Beautiful space. Views to die for. I forgot my big camera but this one is from my phone. It’s the view. And the bay is called the Bay of Silence. Isn’t that a pretty name?


After relaxing and getting cleaned up we enjoyed the bottle of champagne and strawberries we had in our room while watching the football match — Italy/Wales…Italy won 🙂. Then we headed for dinner. The restaurant in the hotel is Olimpio. On the fourth floor with glass walls all around. Good table spacing. It was my first time eating inside a restaurant since last fall. The sunset was gorgeous.

The meal was good. I had oysters again. And we split the Dorado catch of the day. It was baked in a salt crust and beautiful and tender.

Monday
Morning and it is our actual anniversary. First to breakfast. They have it in the dining room and there is a nice outside garden space. Typical Italian breakfast with many breads and pastries, yogurts, ham and cheese. Also available were hard boiled eggs and toast and cereal. For extra money, you could get eggs anyway or a whole list of omelets.

Today we planned to explore the town and do a walking tour. So by around 10am we were off. The hotel has this cool elevator that goes right down through the mountain to the street level below. Makes for easy access to the beach and the town. The first thing I noticed was the brightly painted houses. And many, many trompe l’oeil facades. This yellow house below has a flat wall. The 3-D affects are painted on. Very well done I say. If you click on the photo and look closely on the right side, I’m pretty sure that the house painter actually signed her work. There were many, many more in town painted like this.

We walked down to scope out our restaurant choice for tonight. It is on the Bay of Silence, named Portobello and owned by our hotel. The bay of silence has a breakwater and is quite small.

We did a lot of walking. It is pretty touristy with small streets. We stopped for refreshments. Here are some pictures.

We returned and rested and cleaned up and headed for dinner. Portabella was a nice place right on the beach with much to watch. Little kids were still out playing on the beach. Adults were swimming. Boats were returning.

Liguria has very different food from our part of Italy. It is almost completely seafood based, but what is the biggest surprise is the prominent place potatoes play in so many dishes. When we were here a couple years ago I had octopus which was served atop a pile of mashed potatoes. I was surprised. But now I see it was not unusual. My pasta dish was a thin twisted pasta served with a sauce of cooked diced potatoes, green beans and pesto. Of course, everyone knows pesto was invented in Genoa so I had to try it. It was a strange dish. But very good! Luther got stuffed anchovies. They also use a lot of olives and tomatoes in their dishes so it had that. For his main meal he had a seafood dish with a prawn, mussels, a scallop, and a little tower of fish, potatoes and other things. I had a filet of Ombrina. They called it Croaker in English but it sure wasn’t anything like the Croaker I’ve had in Virginia. Very dense and thick white fish. I finished with a scoop of sorbet. A nice anniversary dinner.

Tuesday
We have two nice balconies. One faces the town. One faces the water. Every morning and evening I spend a lot of time out there.

We decided to explore the coast north of Sestri this day. This meant we needed to move our car 😳. Just kidding, it wasn’t too bad. Our parking spot was better than most, believe me! It’s like sardines here. Once we got out , we held our breath that no one would be coming up the driveway. It is not big enough to pass.

We headed for Portofino so we could say we had been. It was a bit of an ordeal. Driving there is not recommended. Judging from the number of people we saw walking along the road I’d guess most people get there on foot. We did make it and as anticipated there was no parking. So we returned to Santa Margherita Ligure, the town just next to Portofino. I did manage to snap a nice picture of Portofino on our way out.

Turns out there was quite a lot of street parking in Santa Margherita. The Angelo Giallo.

Once parked we wandered the town. It’s very cute and has a lot of small streets and nice shops, restaurants and bars. We stopped for refreshments. I tried a spritz made of St Germain, Prosecco, ginger ale, ginger and mint. It was refreshing.

We found a lunch spot, Il Patio, and had a tasty lunch. I had spaghetti with vongole, spaghetti with clams. Luther had a fish Ligurian style.

While we were eating a blackbird found a treasure just across from us! A cherry. He had a good time pecking and chasing it and pecking it again. I got a pretty good shot.

Pictures of some of the streets.

They had a pretty and very baroque church.

We returned to Sestri and stopped in the supermarket to buy a picnic for dinner. It would be beautiful to sit on the balcony and watch the evening come. But first we wanted to go to the roof top bar one more time before we left. It is a beautiful place.

We had cocktails. I had a Mojito. Luther a spritz. They always bring a nice plate of munchies to go along with any drinks you order in Italy. It is not done to drink without eating.

We enjoyed our picnic of cold meats, cheeses and fresh sweet cherries. The weather was wonderful.

All in all it was a nice and relaxing trip. I would go back to this area again. It wasn’t my favorite beach but the town itself was nice. The hotel Vis a Vis was not quite the cruise ship it tried to be. It had lots of good things going for it. They just need to up their game on a few easily fixed items in the room.

We left at around 10:30AM and got home by 2PM. It is ungodly hot in Umbertide. Like a blast oven. It makes me want to go RIGHT back to Sestri!

Ciao for now!

Catch up

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. We have been doing a few things. Mostly mundane. We had a Calagrana lunch last week with two couples. Then we had a lovely invitation from Vera and family to their mountain house. It is three kilometers up a winding mostly gravel and dirt road. They are at the very end. So beautiful up there. It was just us and the family. A simple barbecue but so nice. Le regazze!

Some of the food.

The week was full of chores. We have to replace some of our zanzariere. Zanzara is the word for mosquito. Say it out loud. Doesn’t it make you think of the zzzzzzz noise a mosquito makes beside your ear? Two of the screens are ripped and several no longer hook down as they should. They said they’d come next week. And yet again we are trying to get our Tessere Sanitaria renewed. But we needed an appointment so we go next week.

Finally today we had a little fun. We met up with a friend who is buying a house here. He has been stuck in the US because of the travel restrictions but he finally got here this week to see his house. And we had lunch at Nonna Gelsa, a nearby restaurant. Ravioli with pistachio pesto.

Tomorrow I start packing for our little getaway. Leaving on Sunday. First trip since our lockdown from last fall. We are going to Sestri Levante on the Mediterranean. North of the Cinque Terre and south of Genoa. It is to celebrate our anniversary. I will do a trip report, of course!

Ciao! 🌈

Umbertide is back!

Eurocup. Italy versus Turkey. Back in the olden days. Before Covid. We had exciting gatherings in front of Bar Mary to watch sporting events. Mostly soccer, or football as they call it here. Since Covid things have been different, but tonight! Tonight! There’s a huge crowd outside. Bar Mary, as of old, has set up a big TV and the chairs are all pulled up to watch the game. Cheering erupts at intervals. I can hear it well up here. See the fun…

Makes me happy.