Monthly Archives: April 2020

Day 57 – Covid-19

203,591 positives in Italy. Up 1%- 27,682 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.
There are 1,391 positive cases in Umbria. 66 total deaths. I am moderately worried about these numbers. The number of cases went up 9 yesterday and 11 today. This is NOT good people!

1,030,487 cases in the US – 60,207 deaths. Over a million cases 😢
Day 4️⃣ of our countdown to May 4 – phase 2 begins. Today begins our third month…yes THIRD month, of total lockdown and self isolation.

US news…
I read there was an executive order issued to get people back to work and out buying stuff, like before…But I am thankful to read this…

“Plans for a swift reopening of malls, factories and other businesses accelerated Tuesday, but they quickly collided with the reality that persuading workers and consumers to overlook their coronavirus fears and resume their roles in powering the U.S. economy may prove difficult.”

People need to listen to their heads and hearts speaking to them. If you are afraid to go back out, then you feel that way for a reason. Don’t let anyone pressure you. It affects not only you, but anyone you come in contact with to include your friends and loved ones. And it can be life or death. It’s no small thing!

I for one, who have been tightly, much more tightly than the US, locked-down for over 2 months, will be exercising real caution if I go out.. And when they say I can freely roam, I will be very wary. I will be extremely careful. I still will not go out unless I, one, feel safe, and two, feel there’s a good reason.  Make no mistake. This virus is coming back. And when it does they say it will be worse than the first time.
Our House Martins returned in March to begin raising their families. They have expanded their condominium above our office window. I believe the previous year offspring build their houses next to Mom and Dad. I love to watch them swoop in, in a graceful arc, and then, almost immediately swoop away. They are a little messy, but I love them. And they are super beneficial. They eat tons of insects and there are thousands of them. These old building have deep eaves and beams that stick out, perfect house sites for them 🙂

Two nests made from mud.

A friend posted this English lesson. “All the faith he had had had had no affect on the outcome of his life.” Try to explain that to a non-English speaker. I note, it is important to inflect for meaning and also pause in the right place. And I thought Italian was bad! Hah!

Big news! I glanced out our window to the Piazza today and noticed they have marked off areas in white paint. Corners are marked off for six spaces. Each has a number. There are two large spaces and four smaller ones with what look like about 2 meter aisles between. It can only mean that next week we will have a reduced market. Happy days! It will be very different from the vibrant, crowded market we used to have 😢 But it is a baby step forward. I told Luther, I don’t care so much for the Wednesday market to return. I’m more interested in the Saturday local one. I fervently hope they will return Saturday after next. 🤞

Market coming back maybe….

More beauty from Jill’s giardino. 😍

Stay safe everyone! Don’t jump the gun and negate all your hard work! 🌈

Day 56 – Covid-19

201,505 positives in Italy. Up 1.1%- 27,359 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak. These numbers are so encouraging!
There are 1,379 positive cases in Umbria. 65 total deaths.

1,004,908 cases in the US – 57,812 deaths. Over a million cases 😢
For dinner yesterday we had a lovely farro salad with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes with a pesto drizzle. Very good…and…I forgot to take a picture again!

A mundane post since not much is happening…today is day 5️⃣ of the countdown to May 4 and some few more freedoms. It also a rainy day but we have a few patches of blue sky. It is chilly enough that we are using the stufa to warm the living room. It’s cozy. 

We also did some cleaning around here. We are accumulating an enormous pile of trash so we will need to deal with that. Also I talked to our friend Vera. She is missing us, and we, her. She’s tired of being cooped up with her family! She had an anniversary and made a big seafood dinner for the whole family. She said it had been two months since she’d had fish! It looked scrumptious. For lack of any photo of my own, here is her dinner.

She also “said” she is coming on May 6 to see us and clean our house. Yay if she can. Technically she can’t come here because she lives in Tuscany. There is this small piece of Tuscany that sticks out into Umbria in the Niccone valley. It would be hard for them to stay in their own Comune (Cortona) because they are separated by rugged mountains. It is far more reasonable for them to come here. Now, if she can convince the police she has to come for work…maybe. But I’m doubtful. I hope she’s careful!

Jill says the white antirrhinum is a favorite of hers and it flowers ALL summer, what a bonus.
The peonies going from strength to strength …so showy.

5️⃣ days…have a nice day and stay safe…and home! 🌈

Day 55 – Covid-19

199,414 positives in Italy. Up 0.9% – 26,977 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak. These numbers are so encouraging!
There are 1,370 positive cases in Umbria. 65 total deaths.

980,008 cases in the US – 55,637 deaths.
Last night we enjoyed a vegetable curry with rice, naan, and yogurt sauce. It was one of my favorites from Ely at Calagrana. I forgot to take a picture!

It is a gray, dreary day today. We are doing some needed house cleaning. Ugh. I forgot to say I cleaned the very top shelves of all the upper cabinets yesterday. Next the bottom shelves.
We are fairly sure we have figured out the actual new rules from the proclamation that Conte gave on Sunday, to take effect on May 4. We had hoped we would be free to travel around the whole region of Umbria freely. Hold your horses. Not yet. Turns out we still can only travel for one of four reasons. Work, emergency, medical, or visit close relatives. The last one is new. There are only a couple of other things new. One, and most important to Luther, he can again jog. Two, I can again walk and we can walk with two people with distancing. Three, we can shop together again. Four, the restaurants can do carry-out, not just delivery as before. Four, people can visit, but not stay in, second homes. Presumably to check on them.

We have a long way to go to freedom. But it is something. I read Conte had wanted to loosen up more but the Scientists said it would be a big mistake (wow, listening to experts! How unusual!) And, after how bad Italy has had it I understand erring on the side of caution. I wouldn’t want to squander all the hard work we’ve done (and believe me, sheltering in place is not easy!) so we will soldier on with no complaints.

Not much more going on on this gray Tuesday. Here are a couple of Jill’s pretty flowers. They brighten my day if only in a photo!

Stay safe everyone…🌈

Day 54 – Covid-19

197,675 positives in Italy. Up 1.2% – 26,644 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.
There are 1,368 positive cases in Umbria. 64 total deaths.

961,983 cases in the US – 54,400 deaths. 
Sunday night dinner, prawn salad with Harissa dip. Thank you Calagrana! So good. Luthers favorite.


US news…
”The resumption of public life is poised to accelerate across wide areas of the country in the coming days and weeks — mostly in Republican-governed states and despite warnings from health experts as Covid-19 cases in the United States near 1 million. You’ll be able to eat out at a restaurant in Tennessee starting tomorrow, potentially congregate in an Idaho church next week and go shopping in Missouri next week”
Face palm.
I also read the epidemic has begun to move outside of the major Metropolitan areas where it has been prevalent until now, into small towns, small cities, and rural areas. Places where there will be more difficulty dealing with due to lack of facilities.
Such a perfect day here today. Here are a few of my own flowers and herbs on my terrace. Also one of the view. It has gotten so green!

Sage in the upper left survived the winter. Just below it is the regrowing tarragon my friend Joanne brought me from Germany. Tarragon is not a “thing” here. Happy it’s coming back. And that’s mint on the right.
My new oregano is happy! Old rosemary behind. It will probably renew but I am considering replanting.
Chives. Cipollina.
I don’t know what this is but it is so pretty, and very purple. My friend Rosemarie will like my terrace this year. Much purple.
This is rhododendron. It is never blue. How do I help it be blue?
Is this GREEN or what?! Since just a week or so ago. I adore it.

Today is day 7️⃣ until the loosening for us prisoners here. We are all looking forward to a small bit of freedom. At least to walk and jog. If not much else. 🌈

Day 53 – Covid-19

195,351 positives in Italy. Up 1.2% – 26,384 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.
There are 1,366 positive cases in Umbria. 62 total deaths.

926,442 cases in the US – 53,184 deaths. These numbers are really climbing…
Yesterday marked the anniversary of the 1945 fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy. 


April 25 is a national holiday in Italy commemorating the liberation of Italy from Nazi occupation and the fascist regime in 1945, accomplished largely by Italian organized insurrections in major cities and the advancing American and British armies. 

It’s a public holiday across Italy, with government offices and schools closed and lots of festivities, flags and parades!  ……

……But not in 2020. 😢
I made a blueberry cake today. I have to admit, it’s pretty ugly! But it tastes good!

Last night we had a low hanging crescent moon, evening star, and the dusky sunset over the river. Not the best photo.

Sunday. Beautiful Sunday. It was my turn to go pick up our delivery from Calagrana. We’ve got this down to a science now. We carry the trash down to the bottom of the steps for throw away after drop off of food in car. Drive trash to parking lot and park. Dispose of trash. Return home on foot. But first, I had to do the pickup. I had my Autodeclarazione. My sunglasses, my mask…off I went. I came around the corner to the road that crosses the Tiber river. On the bridge sat a police car in the middle of the road. He had his window open and was talking to the person in another car that was stopped. I hesitated. Figured I couldn’t wait so went on ahead. The other car left and the police car stayed in the center so I moved over to the to pass to the right. I opened my window and his was open. Quickly I pulled up my mask. He said “salve” I said “Buongiorno”. He said “come stai?” I said “bene, bene”. I asked if he needed to see my Autodeclarazione. He nodded. He read my name out loud…Nancy Gilmer Hampton…pronouncing my middle name with a soft G like George. I volunteered I was American and lived in Umbertide. He asked what I was doing in Umbertide? It is the question we always get. I didn’t laugh…I explained I was retired and liked Italy. He smiled and let me go on my way. Ely, from Calagrana had watched the whole thing from the other end of the bridge where she was waiting. Well, it wasn’t so bad. I understood everything he said, and I replied in Italian. He seemed a little amused, but that was OK. 

So I picked up our boxes and returned, disposed of the trash, and washed all my items scrupulously. To include my hands! Mission accomplished for this week.

The upcoming week should be our last of the full lockdown we’ve endured for nearly  8 weeks. May 4, one week from tomorrow we will have the rules loosened. Jogging, walking with Luther along the river will be allowed. Leaving our Comune for another part of Umbria will be allowed. Luther is happily counting down the days.☺️. The US has farther to go since we here in Italy started much sooner than you did. We here in Italy have stayed the course and slowed the plague. Stay safe wherever you are! and hang in.  I know it is hard. 🌈 

Day 52 – Covid-19

192,994 positives in Italy. Up 1.6% – 25,969 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.
There are 1,363 positive cases in Umbria.  62 total deaths.

889,661 cases in the US – 50,890 deaths.
It is a beautiful day here. The temperatures are set to warm in the next few days. Always a lifter of spirits.

Friday is the day we have the dreaded Italian lesson. I hate it. But I feel I should be doing at least this little bit. Sigh.
I  took some pictures of things I like in my apartment. Here are a few of my favorite things… 🎶

Hallway from living room to the rest of the (older) apartment. Deruta lamp in white ceramic. Doubles as a nightlight because of the treacherous steps.
Etruscan pottery replicas I have collected from a shop in Gubbio which specializes in this. I like to arrange them asymmetrically. I also think of the two taller pieces as an aristocratic man and a woman. And the squat round one is a peasant. What I really love is the clean, almost modern lines of this pottery from pre-Roman times.
A recasting of a frieze. Also created by an artisanal shop in a Gubbio.

Gubbio is an amazing medieval city near us. A little difficult to get to so it is not heavily touristed. We love this city and many of our guests have gone there with us. The artisans of the above art, and also amazing ceramics are top-notch.

Such pretty weather lured me out for my round the block walk. It takes 8 minutes for a loop at a brisk walk and I did three. Plus a little carrying of trash to put me at about half an hour. I want to increase it over time. Between the knee replacement and the pandemic limiting exercise, I am not very fit anymore, sad to say. No excuses, I can work back to it. And I will.

The Tiber and Monte Acuto. The trees are shedding this white fluff which floats in the water.
Lots of fluff down river in this one.

I realize there is a lot of confusion in the US right now. At a time like this it’s the last thing anyone needs. No matter what our state and federal leadership says, we get to decide for our personal selves, what to do.  I hope all of you are very careful and stay home as much as possible. It is the best way to stay safe. 💕 

Jill’s garden.

Day 51 – Covid-19

189,973 positives in Italy. Up 1.4% – 25,549 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.
There are 1,362 positive cases in Umbria.  61 total deaths.

856,209 cases in the US – 47,242 deaths.
I finally got through the grocery ordeal. The only good thing was the weather. First I visited the pet store for cat food and litter. The store is much nicer now that it has been expanded.

Then I headed for the shopping “mall” here in Umbertide. It is a far cry from a mall in the American sense, but it has two hallways of shops culminating in the Coop grocery, the biggest food store in town. Most of the other shops are closed now.

The first hurdle was getting a carrello. Shopping cart. Since the lockdown the store took away over half of the shopping carts. So you have to wait around outside until someone returns one. I think it’s to slow people entering the mall.

Once inside I joined the queue down the hall. I was amazed to see someone had opened a new shop inside, it sells coffee and coffee makers. I thought to myself, who the heck opens a shop in the middle of a pandemic!? An optimist, Luther said. Hookay. They DO have a captive audience snaking past the shop waiting to get into the supermarket.

I am in the queue.
New shop!

Once inside I did my shopping. People must wear masks. They have sanitizer and free gloves at the entrance. Plenty of food. Plenty of everything. I was in the market for mostly dry goods. Also staple items like dried legumes, pasta, canned tomatoes, chicken broth. I got some salad greens, and spinach. And some blueberries. A friend made a blueberry cake that has my mouth watering so I’m making one too!

Anyway, that chore is done and I am glad my turn is finished. Luther goes next. I stopped at the ATM. I greeted Angelo downstairs as he stood outside of his alimentari. He was more cheerful than he usually is lately. Probably the weather. I saw Josepina, she is an older woman who lives alone next door. I had worried some about her. She seems good. And there was a black cat meowing to get into the Commercialista office next to our door. Josepina said he wanted though the office to get to the orto (vegetable garden) in the back. Hah!

My amazing, wonderful, heroic niece Rachel, who is a front-line nurse during this horrible pandemic, recommended a book to me when we last spoke. Rachel and I go way back cooking together so I trust her recommendations implicitly. I right away put in an order at Blackwells bookshops in Oxford England for “Six Seasons” by Joshua McFadden. It won the James Beard Book Award. It arrived today and I am over the moon with excitement about trying some of the recipes. Seasonal. Vegetable focused but not totally vegetarian. I’m sure any of them could be totally vegetarian. But Luther will like them too. I will share with you as I try them.

Dinner was a quiche. I had a TON of eggs from my veggie boxes from Calagrana. Also used some of the potatoes. It was bacon (pancetta), potato, onion and Emmental cheese. I am a very bad pastry maker, it tasted good but was butt-ugly. 🙂

Picture from my friend Joanne looking through her pergola at the very blue sky through the blooming wisteria. Wish I could see it!


Stay home and stay safe everyone…  🌈 Andrà tutto bene…

Day 50 – Covid-19

187,327 positives in Italy. Up 1.8% – 25,085 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.
There are 1,357 positive cases in Umbria.  61 total deaths.

842,319 cases in the US – 46,399 deaths.
Look at the title of this post. Can you believe it’s been 50 days?! FIFTY. I for one cannot wait to hear how Italy will handle the ending, or lessening, of the lockdown. I know everyone is being really careful here, almost to a fault. I, for one, appreciate it.

Today is a brilliant day. Not a cloud in the sky. All washed clean from 2+ days of rain. So, so green! I am going to finally get to the grocery store today. I don’t mind going so much if the weather is nice.
I am appalled at the actions being taken by some of the Governors in the US.  I heard Georgia is going to change it’s name from the Peachtree state, to the Petri  state. It would be funny, but it’s too real to laugh at. Scared for them. Governor Kemp is doing this even though the state ranks near last in testing, even though it’s not clear that covid-19 cases are declining there, and even knowing “we’re probably going to have to see our cases continue to go up,” as Kemp himself said.

He (Kemp) is opening gyms, barbershops, hairdressers, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys (bowling alleys!?), among other businesses on Friday…and theaters and dine-in restaurants can resume operations April 27.        But wait….it gets more sinister….A GA local, George Chidi, just wrote an op-Ed that proffers an explanation for why Kemp is reopening the state for such bizarre businesses as massage parlors, tattoo parlors, hair dressers and restaurants. His argument is pretty stark. The quote is this:

”If there’s no state order calling for businesses to be closed, the people who are unemployed can no longer claim that their unemployment is involuntary, even if it would be utter idiocy for them to return to work. A hair dresser or a massage therapist cannot maintain social distance. But they can certainly file for relief … unless the law says they can work.”

Do you think this is true? Do you think they could have devised a way to screw workers out of some relief? On purpose?! If it is, it is despicable. 😡
Dinner last night. Duck confit with beans and potatoes. Courtesy of Agriturismo Calagrana!

Iris – so beautiful. When I was little I picked one on my way home from school. My mother made me go back and apologize. Still love them!

Stay home and stay safe everyone…  🌈 Andrà tutto bene…

Day 49 – Covid-19

183,957 positives in Italy. Up 1.5% – 24,648 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.
There are 1,353 positive cases in Umbria.  60 total deaths.

814,587 cases in the US – 43,796 deaths.
Yesterday we began our seventh week of complete, countrywide, lockdown. What can I say?

Today I venture out. It is my turn to be the hunter gatherer. Also we need cat litter.  And I finished Luthers mask yesterday, so now we both have masks. I may look for some suitable cloth from which to sew another set. It would be good to have two each.

I love Jill’s picture of her tulips with the amazingly wild backdrop of the mountains and valley. Kind of a cultivated and wild look mixed together.

Stay home and stay safe everyone…  🌈 Andrà tutto bene…

Day 48 – Covid-19

18,228 positives in Italy. Up 1.3% – 24,114 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak. The percentage is the lowest yet for rise in cases throughout Italy.
There are 1,349 positive cases in Umbria. 

776,513 cases in the US – 41,313 deaths.

I read an article in website. Italian news in English. Talking about the different regions and dates where the virus infections are expected to reach zero, and when.

The first regions to halt infections will be Basilicata in the south and Umbria in central Italy, according to a new report by the National Observatory on Health Status in the Italian Regions. (Yay Umbria!!)

By analyzing Italy’s official Covid-19 figures over the past month, the observatory predicts that if current trends continue both regions could reach zero new cases by Tuesday, April 21st.

Here, in order, is when they project new cases could end in each of Italy’s 20 regions:

  • Basilicata: April 21st
  • Umbria: April 21st
  • Molise: April 26th
  • Sardinia: April 29th
  • Sicily: April 30th
  • Calabria: May 1st
  • Puglia: May 7th
  • Abruzzo: May 7th
  • Campania: May 9th
  • Lazio: May 12th
  • Valle d’Aosta: May 13th
  • Liguria: May 14th
  • Province of Trento (Alto Adige/South Tyrol): May 16th
  • Friuli Venezia Giulia: May 19th
  • Veneto: May 21st
  • Piedmont: May 21st
  • Province of Bolzano (Alto Adige/South Tyrol): May 26th
  • Emilia Romagna: May 29th
  • Tuscany: May 30th
  • Marche: June 27th
  • Lombardy: June 28th


Luther is reading Corriere della Sera. They are talking about all the things that will be loosened in the next phase. Conte will announce this week so people will have time to get ready. They say fashion, building, and automobile sectors will be loosened next week. The date is the 27th. Then the actual main loosening will be May 4. Looks like restaurants will be able to do takeout and not just delivery. But restaurants and bars are far from being able to open yet. Sad for our friends who own and are struggling. And sad for the sure to be new face of our small towns and familiar places. I guess we will know more later this week. For my own wish, I’d like to be able to go to Citta di Castello to buy my pepper plants.😕

OK…all of you who have been waiting with baited breath to see when I finally made a mask….drum roll…here it is! Not too bad for a first try. It fits me but I don’t think it would fit Luther and it is the Man pattern. It has a handy pocket for a nose shaping wire, and an interior pocket for filters. My Italian teacher told me Carta di Forno (parchment paper) makes a good filter. 

Dinner tonight. Courtesy of Calagrana. Octopus salad. Mmmmm.

Stay home and stay safe everyone…  🌈 Andrà tutto bene…