Category Archives: Corona virus

The Americans are coming!

I am amazed at the numbers of Americans arriving here in Italy right now. I guess many people waited until fall to come on the much wanted trip after the lockouts and lockdowns. I heard Florence is back to the teeming crowds of tourists, so long gone. I’ve seen pictures of other tourist destinations which are also very crowded. It is all good for the Italian merchants, restaurants and all the tourist oriented industries who have all suffered so much from this pandemic. They are all very happy to hear American voices again.

We have been meeting some of them. For a meal or a drink. Some are virtual-friends through my blog. Some already have places to live here and have returned after a long time of not being able to come. Many are looking for a property here. It looks like the property market is finally heating up somewhat.

We had a nice dinner with a couple who own an apartment in one of the many reconstructed borgos around here. Purpose built from old farms or small abandoned villages into vacation home enclaves. For my foodie friends, this was my Primi course last night. Pasta with a duck ragu, figs and nuts. Unusual and very good!

We just noticed there is a cannon in the Piazza outside! Along with the Italian banner. It is time for Otto Cento! For those who don’t know, Fratta ‘800 or Otto Cento has always been our town’s biggest and most fun festival. It was always held about this time of year and lasted for four days. A quasi recreation of the beginning of the Italian republic in 1861.

People dressed in period costume, re-enactments abounded, the cannons boomed, the horse Calvary were here, the briganti hid in their lair along with the ladies of the night in the brothel until Saturday night when they overtook the town. Garibaldi turned the tables and order was restored on Sunday. Four days of mayhem. 15 or more popup restaurants serving period food. Entertainment in keeping with the 1800s. Alas, since Covid it has been a shadow of its former self. But some people are keeping it going with restrictions. Hopefully in 2022 we can get back to our normal one.

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Today a decree will be signed to mandate vaccination to all workers in Italy.

From TheLocal
“Italy is expected to become the first European country to make its Covid-19 health certificate mandatory for all workers in both the public and private sector from October, as the government tries to speed up vaccinations and keep the infection rate down.”

Hot, hot, hot

Big heat spell here right now. Temps near 100F. No rain for months. I hope Italy doesn’t have any fires. We are pretty much managing the shutters and attempting to keep the heat out in the daytime and letting the cool (if there is any!) into the house at night. We have even been using our AC during parts of the day, and at night. I dream of a cool front coming through, or a nice thunderstorm. No sign of one 👀 Sigh.

We have no trips planned for the rest of this year after our fun trip to Sardinia. It may have been a risk. But we suffered no harm. And good memories. Luther is talking of a trip to Milano in September. We shall see.

Umbria is doing very well. We haven‘t had a death in weeks. Crossing my fingers it stays like this. We have hardly any UK visitors which is very unusual, and not many US visitors either. We seem to have German, Belgian, Holland, and the Scandinavian countries.

We are now in Agosto, August, which is the big vacation month here. Businesses and government agencies shut down. Don’t even think of getting anything done in August in Italy.

Dinners and lunches are cool affairs. No baking, no roasting. If I use heat it will be to make something ahead to use in a salad at night. Or I will quick sear a thin cut of meat. Chicken cutlets are a popular choice. Or a thin steak. Last night we had a Greek salad. Tonight we had left over Greek salad in pasta served cold and chicken cutlets in pesto from my basil. We are out of charcoal but when I get more, grilling will be an option.

Hot time! Summer in the city…

Traveling to Italy – Updates
Italy began its Green Pass mandates this week. People will be required to show the pass for access to museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas, sports stadiums, theme parks, indoor swimming pools, spas, gyms, and indoor seating areas at bars and restaurants. US residents can show their CDC card and it will be accepted in lieu of the Green Pass. A person can also show a negative test within 48 hours of entering one of these venues, or proof you had Covid and have recovered. As of September 1st, the Pass will be required to travel in planes, ferries, busses and long distance trains.
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Since things have gotten so bad in the US, there is talk of the EU closing travel to US travelers. Again. They say within the next two weeks they will make a decision. Today The Local, our “go to” English language online paper, had an article with the latest. I cut and pasted since there is a pay wall. (By the way, it is not at all expensive to subscribe and it is a wealth of information.)
Here is the article:
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At the moment Italy allows arrivals from the US for any reason, including tourism. But as coronavirus infection rates rise in both countries, readers have asked if and when the rules could change.
Question: We are traveling to Italy soon and are hearing rumors concerning Italy or the EU imposing new restrictions on US travelers. Do you know if and when this is likely to happen?

As the coronavirus infection rate in the United States has now risen well above the threshold for removal from Europe’s travel ‘safe list’, there has been media speculation in recent days about whether a change to the rules is imminent.

The European Commission regularly reviews its ‘safe list’ of countries from which non-essential travel is allowed, and news reports from Reuters and Bloomberg this week have cited EU officials saying rules for those arriving from the United States could be reconsidered under the next review.

After initially saying the ‘safe list’ review could come as soon as next week, the same officials have now reportedly stated that it will happen in two weeks, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The rate of new coronavirus cases in the US has risen to 270 per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The EU’s ‘safe list’ limit is 75 new cases.

The seven-day average of Covid-19 cases in the US now stands at around 100,000 per day, up from under 20,000 in June.
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Stay safe and wear your mask. Andrà tutto bene
🌈

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.
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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. 😶
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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.
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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.
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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!

New “zone” designations in Italy

The Local has just published the new destinations for the regions so I thought I would pass it along and also the restrictions or lack thereof within the regions.

Three Italian regions – Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Molise and Sardinia – are under ‘white zone’ rules from Monday 31st May, following the latest ordinance signed by the health minister on Friday. Abruzzo, Veneto, Liguria and Umbria will turn white the week after, the government has said. These regions are being downgraded from ‘yellow zone’ risk status to white as planned, as the health data continues to improve across the country.

Under ‘white zone’ restrictions, regions can drop most of the restrictions currently in place in yellow zones, including the evening curfew and the restrictions on opening hours for businesses, including restaurants.

The regions moving into white zones will be able to drop the last remaining restrictions, and reopen indoor restaurants and bars, fairs, theme parks, conferences and indoor swimming pools and hold weddings earlier than planned under the national roadmap for reopening.

So far, only mask-wearing and social distancing rules must remain in place in white zones, the health minister has said.

For now, nightclubs and discos are still suspended and it is not known if or when Italy May relax the rules in wearing masks outdoors.

And the final set of rules in each region depends on the local authority, as each is free to impose stricter restrictions than those set by the national government.

The regions moving into the low-restriction white zone have registered fewer than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three weeks consecutively – the threshold for determining white zone eligibility.

The regions moving into white zones will be able to drop the last remaining restrictions, and reopen indoor restaurants and bars, fairs, theme parks, conferences and indoor swimming pools and hold weddings earlier than planned under the national roadmap for reopening. 

So far, only mask-wearing and social distancing rules must remain in place in white zones, the health minister has said.

For now, nightclubs and discos are still suspended and it is not known if or when Italy may relax the rules on wearing masks outdoors.

And the final set of rules in each region depends on the local authority, as each is free to impose stricter restrictions than those set by the national government.

Yay for us here in Umbria….I hope we keep up the good work! 🇮🇹

What a haul!

Today we finally made our trip to the Asian market in Perugia. There are a couple of markets there. One we had known of, but the one we went to today was new to us.

It is near the train station which tends to have a lot of immigrants and ethnic places to serve them. As you can see…it has a very catchy name — “ASIA MARKET”. I have to say, I hate the traffic in Perugia… a maniac designed their roads.

So, anyway, we found it fairly easily. It is, as advertised, cleaner than the other market, and the people are friendlier. I was disappointed in the selection, however. In the fresh produce there was no okra or sugar snap peas, nor was there any cilantro. I did get bok choy. I guess that’s something. I found most of the other stuff I wanted, even though the selection was smaller. I got fish sauce, oyster sauce, wide rice noodles, Korean BBQ sauce (trying for the first time), sesame oil, rice vinegar, sweet piquante sauce for sticky chicken. Lots of coconut milk and evaporated milk. Even some kimchi, which I love! Here is a picture!

I see Thai and Korean in my future.
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Its funny. I read the Facebook groups for people who live in Italy (from other countries). There also tend to be a lot of wannabes as well who still live in their native country. Someone posted a question about where to find Jalapeños in Italy. Fresh in the store, canned, or even plants. There were plenty of helpful answers as usual. But also there were the idiots who insist they know best and if you come to Italy to live you should “embrace the culture 🎶“ and only eat Italian food. Well, that’s fine and all, I love Italian food and I generally let the Italians cook it for me when I go out. But there is the inevitable pull of “Home”. The foods you grew up with. Comfort foods. If that happens to be spaghetti and meatballs, so be it. It’s not an Italian dish, it’s an Italian-American dish but if you miss it, you miss it. Same for ethnic foods, plentiful and embraced in the US, but seldom seen here. So – we cook the spicy stuff…and the different flavors. It surely doesn’t mean we don’t love Italian food!
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Along our drive to the store we passed a Vaccination center…it was teeming with people waiting for shots. What a great thing to see! Italy is finally making real progress.
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Italiano phrase for today, “loro erano molto amici” — in English “they were very close friends”. Pronounced, lore-oh err-ah-noh mole-toe am-ee-chi.
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Ciao, i miei amici! 🌈

I’m sorry…more info

I’m sorry this is so confusing. It seems things are changing and new information comes out. I’ve just heard my information from this morning was not correct. I think we have it right this time. Anyone can fly here now on any flight. The only issue you need to understand is that if you fly a non-Covid-tested flight you’ll have to quarantine for ten days. For a person with a vacation home here that’s not a big deal. But for a tourist to have to spend 10 days under house arrest it would be difficult.

I see there are going to be more Covid-tested routes. Not just into Rome but also into Venice and Naples. Not right away, but it is planned. I also read more cities in the US will have them and more airlines will get the go ahead to fly them. So flying a Covid-tested flight shouldn’t be a big hardship for anyone.

A little more information for those planning a trip. This is from The Local, the English language Italian news website.

How do Covid-tested flights work?

Travelers must undergo a series of coronavirus tests to be allowed to enter Italy on the special flights.

Testing protocol varies by airline. Delta says it requires passengers to provide proof of a negative PCR test result, taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

Passengers must then test negative in a rapid antigen test at the airport before boarding and they must get tested again immediately on arrival at their destination

All travelers must also fill in a digital location form before boarding: the Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF).

Passengers will then receive an email with a QR code, which must be given at the check-in desk in order to be allowed on the flight.

Also during check-in, you must provide a completed self declaration form, which is specific to these Covid-tested flights.

If all the tests come back negative, you’ll be able to enter Italy and enjoy a quarantine-free trip. If you test positive on arrival, you will need to quarantine in Italy.

A pre-travel Covid-19 test is also required before returning to the US regardless of vaccination status.

Stay safe everyone…safe travels!

It’s official!

Looks like as of today, May 16 Italy is open for normal travelers. No essential reason needed. There are rules still in place that everyone should know about.

  • If you fly one of the “Covid-tested” flights which require testing before and after your flight you do not have to quarantine upon arrival in Italy. Right now Delta is the airline with the most “Covid-tested” flights. From JFK to Rome or Milan. And from Atlanta to Rome. AlItalia has a daily JFK to Rome flight.
  • If you don’t fly a “Covid-tested” flight you will have to quarantine for 10 days and test again. Any non-direct flight not mentioned above is not a “Covid-tested” flight and quarantine rules apply.
  • Italy has restrictions which all tourists will have to abide by just as residents do.
  • As of this writing, most of the country is a Yellow Zone. Except Val d’Osta which is Orange. Yellow zone rules are:
    • Masks mandatory inside and out unless exercising alone.
    • Curfew from 10PM to 5 AM.
    • Restaurants open for lunch and dinner outside only.
    • Museums are only at 50% capacity and tickets are mandatory. Tickets must be purchased at least one day ahead for weekends.
    • Theaters and event spaces have seating limitations.
  • Orange Zone. Same as yellow, plus:
    • No travel into or out of an Orange zone from any other zone.
    • Shops closed.
    • Museums closed.
    • Restaurants are take out only.

One thing to keep in mind. The zones are fluid. The color-coded system means there’s no guarantee that if you book to visit a yellow zone, it’ll be yellow by the time you get there—just look at Sardinia which went from a White Zone (totally open) to a Red Zone (totally closed) in just three weeks.

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Buona domenica a tutti!

Long term Permesso

Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (ex carta di soggiorno) – elective residence

Today, we applied for this long coveted permit. The Polizia di Stato website states after five years continuous residence a person can apply for this permit, which is permanent (!). Like gold to me. But living in this backward region of Umbria we shall see what sort of road blocks are thrown up in front of us.

It took a long time for me to even find people who had gotten this permit so I could glean their information. It seems, either people don’t stay here more than five years, or they can’t comply in some other way, so they just continue to apply for their Permesso di Soggiorno every year or two.

Last year I finally found a few people who had managed to get this. I gathered much very useful information. I combined all the info I got into a big list to include the requirements of the Polizia site. It took a while to gather all of the needed documents and we even did overkill with a few things. The last and most difficult thing was the Certificato di Agibilità. We enlisted the help of our Geometra and got this document just this week. We are a little late applying. But…we went to the Post this morning with our pile of documents…

It was a pretty normal experience since the Poste just takes your documents and fees (Cost more €130,46) and gives you an appointment with the Questura. In the past this could take many months…but strangely ours is May 18, just 18 days away. So in 18 days we go to the Umbria Citta di Castello Questura..notorious for not giving anything more than a one year permit…this is a brand new experience. Let’s see what happens!
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As I mentioned, we had our vaccines on Tuesday. I was wondering if we would have any side affects. All was well all day on Wednesday. But on Thursday I got hit with the major fatigue which is a possible side affect. I could not, for the life of me, keep my eyes open. All afternoon it was happening. I went for a nap, couldn’t sleep, so I got up but I couldn’t stay awake. I didn’t associate it with the vaccine until it hit me again after dinner. I went to bed early and am much better today. I’ve never had anything remotely like that in my life. Very strange.
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Today was a pretty day. Around 75 F. Not all that sunny but still nice. We had a beer at Bar Mary after our trip to the Poste. And then we went back in the evening for a spritz with two new friends who’ve moved here from South Africa. The piazza was abuzz, just like old times. So nice. Here’s Luther!

Take care all! 🌈