Monthly Archives: September 2016

Our third Otto Cento

It was a success! There were fire eaters, dancers, music, burlesque, beautiful stilt dancers, costumes. We had some friends come and have dinner with us Friday night. We joined in the merriment and were serenaded by the Briganti. Speaking of which, they got up to their usual antics on Saturday when they took over the town. This year they had a “christmas” theme. If you look back over my previous Otto Cento posts you will see they are very naughty boys.

An antique cycle. It was a cycle inside a big wheel with what looked like training wheels.

The decorated town.

The “christmas” tree. Look closely.

Victory flag.

Umbertide doings…

A couple of things going on here. First is the week-long Pitulum music festival. Everynight we are serinaded by an orchestra or band. All are different. Thursday was the Madonna del Rega holiday, which is an Umbertide holiday. They had a procession through town on Wednesday night and church services on Thursday. On this day, since it is a special Umbertide day, the orchestra is the local Umbertide one. It draws quite a crowd!

Then, yesterday, I kept hearing applause and went to investigate. Looking out the window I see it is a wedding. But I could not find the bride. Then I realized it was two men. Our first same sex union here in Umbertide! It was just legalized here in Italy a few months ago. Handsome couple. And congratulations to them!

Starting this coming Thursday is our Otto Cento festival. It will be my third. I will not be here to photograph the antics of the Briganti as I have the last two years. My sister is arriving early Sunday morning and we will pick her and her husband in Rome.


Another trip report so skip if you are not interested.

Portugal. We arrived at about 7PM in Lisbon where we rented a tiny Fiat 500 and drove about 80 kilometers to the town of Obidos. We had rented a room in a B&B there. We arrived at about 9:15 and went right out to dinner as we were famished. Our innkeeper, Carlos, recommended a place very nearby called Restaurante O Caldeirao. We had their fresh fish which was OK. At least we weren’t hungry anymore and it was good that the Portuguese eat late. But not as late as in Spain.

The next morning we got on the road and drove the more than 200 km to the town of Tabuado. It was pretty hard to find. We had Google maps directions but the road that we turned on was unmarked. We turned right on the only road of any size we saw and found the Villa. It was called Quinta da Varzea de Cima. We met up with two Australian couples Jeff and Kaye and Steve and Shiromi. Both couples had visited us in Italy. We also met their friends Rhonda and Rob, also Australian. The villa had 6 bedrooms but we only used 4 of them. They were all comfortable and the villa itself was quite beautiful.

It had it’s own chapel.


Our room was to the right at the top of the stairs.

There were several outside tables and chairs.

They had a spring.

This was the amazing chimney. See all the holes at the top?

Below was the old cooking area with three things, a hearth, and what looks like two different types of oven.

If you look at the hill across from me you can see one of the many scorched areas from fires. Apparently it is normal. It was parched!

Big barrel made into a bar.

As soon as we arrived we all piled into the cars and went to the town of Amarante, which was about 30 minutes, by tortuous road, away. We had lunch in a beautiful restaurant on the Tamega river. Here are some views.




On Wednesday we drove down to the Douro river. This is the main area where the port wines are grown. We were headed for the town of Peso da Regua. Due to operator error we ended up WAY up in the hills in the little villages all through the vineyards. It was a bit nerve wracking since we were two cars following each other and the roads were very narrow. But Shiromi and I were very happily lost as we got some stunning pictures we never would have gotten. Take a look!



The town way down there is where we were trying to reach.

Here we all were trying to figure out where the hell we were!

Peso da Regua was a bustling town. Very hot and we had quite a bit of walking to do. I took a few pictures of the interesting doors and buildings. In Portugal you see tiles everywhere! This was a bar.

Interesting door with tiles above.dsc06030

Derelict building with tiles.

Pretty garden in town with beautiful tiles on the building.dsc06017

In this town we had trouble finding a place with room for 8 to have lunch. We finally did but it turned out to be a pretty amusing lunch. We were kind of late so they had run out of much food. The waitress was visibly annoyed when none of us wanted salad. Then when asked for things she said all gone. She pointed to what was left. It was very Monte Python-esque. We did finally get fed.

Thursday we spent just enjoying the villa and relaxing. Lunch was lovely cold cuts and cheese alla casa. We had what they call Mortadella but it would never past muster in Italy, the birthplace of mortadella bolognese. It had olives embedded in the meat and when sliced, there were slices of olives rather than the squares of fat mandated in Italy. Nice day.

Friday we headed back to Lisbon for three nights. The city was nice…I guess. Very crowded. We couldn’t get into many sights due to the crowds. Good food. Nice hotel in a very good location.

Traditional tile-covered building.

In main square by the port.dsc06127

Loved the goslings and turtledsc06119

A parade we happened upon.dsc06123

How did they do that to the horses rumps?dsc06121

The monastery. Very ornate.

The city is built on two hills. The middle is flat. They have streetcars going up.dsc06104

A neighborhood near the castle.
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Old tiledsc06086

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The sidewalks and plazzas are intricately tiled. These make the plazza look like waves.

Brilliant fountain in the sun.dsc06061

I got pick pocketed on our last night They are Good! Unzipped my purse as I walked and took my wallet. I realized it quickly and called the CC companies but they had already charged thousands. And all in Central America. Who knows how it all works. Do they sell the numbers? Anyway, the good thing at the time was that I had used the ATM earlier and had not replaced the card or cash in the wallet so he didn’t get that. I was not carrying our passports but my wallet had my codice fiscale, Permesso, health card and VA drivers license. Rats. Next day I filed a police report. Apparently this is common there. The best news is someone found my documents! The police brought them to my hotel just before we were leaving. The other good news is I needed a new wallet anyway. I guess I’d gotten complacent and my guard was down. Lessons learned…do not carry all my stuff with me and split the credit cards between us. Also hold the purse with my hand and keep it in front of me.

Oh I forgot to mention we got ripped off by a cab driver upon arrival.

We had a 7:30 PM flight which arrived in Rome at 11.:30PM.  So we got home at 3am. Ugh! I think I I’ll lobby not to arrive at midnight in Rome.

Final thoughts. We loved seeing Steve, Shiromi, Kay and Jeff. We enjoyed meeting the third couple, Rob and Rhonda. It was fun to cook together for dinners and tour around with them. So that part was nice. Lisbon…not so much. When we return we will stay in the Duoro valley which was green, vine filled and beautiful. It was incredibly hot everywhere we went. I think I’ll forgo summer travel to cities. Crowded and too hot. Portuguese is one weird language. Supposed to be a Romance language but they way it is pronounced makes it sound almost Russian. We could read quite a bit of it. Lots of accents and pronunciation a mystery to us.