Monthly Archives: March 2021

Our new Prime Minister

After the collapse of our last government here, the president of Italy, Sergio Matarella, appointed Mario Draghi as our new PM. It was deplorable for a previous PM (Renzi) to upend the government in the middle of a pandemic, in my opinion, and I had liked our previous PM who got bumped (Conte). But I’m pleased with Mario Draghi. His name means Dragons in Italian. I think that’s perfect! We need dragons now to get us through this. He served as President of the European Central Bank during the Eurozone crisis, becoming famous throughout Europe for saying that he would be prepared to do “whatever it takes” to prevent the euro from failing. And he did. So I think he’s a fighter and we need that now.

The newest thing to happen, is that Draghi has blocked AstraZeneca from exporting the doses of the vaccine that they manufactured in the EU, out of the EU. They have not yet met their contractual obligations to the EU. I’m so glad we’ve got someone in our corner fighting for us right now. We have such a measly amount of vaccine here. And we all wait for our vaccinations while the disease surges. Here is the new map for Italy and it’s zones.

Stay safe everyone…andrà tutto bene…🌈

Regional meal — Umbria

Tonight is Regional meal night from Calagrana. This time from our very own Umbria. We opted in for the wine since it is a new one to us. I am especially looking forward to the Torta al Testo. Fatta in casa….home-made.

Torta al testo is very old and it originated in the Umbrian area. It began as an unleavened alternative to traditional bread. There are two variants: the original one with wheat flour, and later came one with corn flour, after corn arrived from the Americas. Normal ingredients are only water, flour, salt and baking soda. In the upper Tiber valley, where we live, I read there’s is a similar cake called ciacca (probably dialect), the recipe involves the addition of an egg. This, I have not yet verified.

The cooking surface, a disc about 3 cm thick, is called “testo” from the Latin testum, or the brick tile on which, in ancient Rome, focaccias were baked. Originally it was made at home by making large stones into a smooth surface and placing it into the fire to heat. Now it is possible to buy a special Torta al Testo pan made of cast iron or concrete.

Traditionally the Torta al Testo was split and eaten with any meats or foraged greens. But it is most often seen eaten with the pork products for which Umbria is famous. Our friend Vera invited us to lunch in the Before Times and she asked her mother-in-law (suocera) to make some. She does make the best I’ve ever had. They have a huge outdoor wood oven to make it authentically. It smelled so floury and bready, and it was very soft. I could’ve munched it all day. But this day I learned the traditional way to eat it, with halved sausages and cooked spinach. It was incredible. I had to borrow a picture. Photo credit to This is the traditional way. I may have to try my hand at making some myself!

I didn’t actually know Pollo all’arrabbiata (arrabbiata means angry and says it will be spicy) was an Umbrian dish. I must look it up. We finished our meal and it was scrumptious. Here are pictures.

plated and ready to eat
Torta al testo

Italiano phrase…”fare la scarpetta”. This needs some explanation. Literally it means “make the little shoe” but it is a saying. If you have sauce left on your plate you use the bread to sop up the sauce. Or you “make the little shoe”. Pronounced fah-ray lah scar-pet-ta.
Stay safe everyone, andrà tutto bene 🌈

Beautiful day for a walk

There was good news in the Corriere della Sera newspaper yesterday — Mario Draghi — our new Prime Minister — has installed his own people as the covid team and he’s calling up the civil defense and the army logistics command. The civil defense will be administering shots, and the logistical people will be making sure the vaccines keep coming and get to the right places. They want herd immunity by summer. Spero di si! It would be nice to have a “normal” summer. I am a sceptic so will wait and see.

I also read in the US news today that numerous states are reducing restrictions and opening businesses after the lowering of cases. Texas is even removing the mask mandate. I can see why they want businesses open. But why remove mask mandates? These moves will inevitably result in an upswing in cases again. Do they NEVER learn from the past? It is too soon and there have not been enough vaccines administered yet.
Last year our old Conad grocery store closed, as did the butcher next to it. The Conad was our nearest grocery of any size. A new store, Carrefour, took its place. A French chain. It is bigger, cleaner, and has more products. Yesterday I saw a sign outside advertising fresh made sushi. I was surprised and pleased. But today the sign is gone. So I assume this means that fresh sushi is not an everyday thing. Investigation is in order.
I went for a nice walk in the evening. The weather was very pleasant with temperatures in the 60s F and sunny. There is a park nearby. I had not visited it in some time so I went there and walked today. Here are some pictures.

When I took this next one I thought it would not come out. But I was pleasantly surprised. Tiny white flowers in the forest. Sweet!

I heard a rumor. A new restaurant will be opening in Centro of Umbertide. It makes my heart feel good that there are optimists still willing to fling themselves into creating something new in the chaos of the Pandemic times. And a restaurant to boot. I hope this rumor is true!
Italiano sentence for today. “Ho trovato un albero con piccoli fiori bianchi nel bosco.” English — “I found a tree with tiny white flowers in the forest.” Pronounced…oh trove-ah-toe une al-bear-roe con peek-co-lee fee-or-ee bee-ahn-key nell boss-co.
Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene!🌈