Category Archives: everyday life in Umbria

Tuesday – Day of the Republic

Today is a national Holiday — Festa della Repubblica. June 2nd. In 1946, it was the day Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, and the Republic of Italy was born. So it’s called Republic Day.

After an 85 year monarchy, which had for the most part been very popular with the people, a referendum resulted in the end.  All male members and future heirs of the ruling House of Savoy were deposed and exiled.

The monarchy had ruled since Italy’s Unification in 1861. Its final monarch, Umberto II only got to be king for a month, earning him the nickname ‘Re di Maggio’ or ‘the May King’.

Umberto had actually been acting as head of state since 1944; after Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime – to which the monarchy had been allied – collapsed, King Victor Emmanuel III transferred his powers to his only son in the hope it would give the monarchy a popularity boost. It didn’t work.

The constitution now forbids a monarchy. In 2002, The House of Savoy family formally renounced their claim to the throne so they could return from exile. Umberto refused the right to return to his homeland, dying in Geneva in 1983.

There you go! Your Italian history lesson for today 🙂
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Last night I made a new recipe from “Six Seasons” cookbook. It was a faro salad with salami, cheese, and fave.  I added new peas, arugula and basil to the mint called for. Lots of good Umbrian olive oil. Very yummy. Luther loved it. 

Buona domenica!

Sunday in Umbertide. Hard to stop posting when it has become part of my life! But at least I don’t feel like I must, which takes the pressure off. 🙂

I went up to Calagrana to pick up the food I ordered. It is kind of gray but I’ve never seen so many motorcycles and bicycles out as I saw today! On my way I saw this cool little car. It was in perfect condition and I love it’s drop top.

Calagrana was all set up for its first lunch since the shut down. It looked beautiful. Ely was very nervous and hoped all the guests would abide by the rules.

When I got back to town they were having the mass. But it was outside. Excellent idea.

Hope everyone is staying safe. With the loosening of everything it feels dangerous to me. I am just waiting for the spike. 😢

Sabato!

Today, Saturday, dawned gray but cleared by midday after rain all night. Last night the young people partied into the night at Cafe Centrale. The rain made them pack into the cafe. Maskless. I guess we wait a week or two to see if we get spikes in the virus.

I had errands. First, we visited the market where I bought fave beans, tiny zucchini, the crisp cucumbers, rucola, and fresh eggs! The last five uova! I also took some pictures. Then we paid a bill for my friend. On the way back we visited the newly opened, Carrefour supermarket for the first time. There were far too many people in there. All masked but still… I didn’t feel very comfortable. The store itself is OK. Better than the old Conad but still nothing much different than all small Italian supermarkets. It does stay open all day, unlike the old Conad. We recognized all the checkout women from the old store 🙂. Finally to the farmacia. So much for our errands.

The last thing was to see if the Porsche would start after it’s dead battery issues. We had received our battery charger a couple days ago and it had been hooked up and charging for a couple days. Crossing our fingers we started her up. Vroom! We took a spin. Luther added air to the tires. All is well. It is due for a servicing so that’s next.

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We went to Bar Mary for Aperitivo. I complemented Irene on her pretty flowered mask. She said she got it at the Tabacchi. Next thing I know she had bought me a mask…just like hers! She is so sweet. We are gemelli! Twins.
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Tonight we are having a pasta primavera. Sautéed pancetta, peas, asparagus, fave. Mmm perfect for this time of year.

Covid 19 – Phase 2.1 – Day 9

230,158 positives in Italy. Up JUST 0.1% – 32,877 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,430 positive cases in Umbria. 75 total deaths. Same as yesterday.

1,654,683 cases in the US – 97,974 deaths.
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martedì –  Today I am announcing that I will stop my daily posts. It was quite the marathon! I posted everyday for 83 days. I want to say, it was a huge benefit for me to write this account. It kept me busy, and grounded, and mostly upbeat. It made me very aware of what was happening around me and in our world. I have a foot in two countries and I care deeply about what is happening in both. To be able to keep a journal of sorts was a privilege, especially during the worst of the crisis here in Italy, an early epicenter. I wanted to give my friends in other countries, who were behind Italy in the curve of the disease, an insight into life under complete and very strict lockdown. It was an unprecedented event — 60 million people, locked down tight, but then, a global pandemic is an event that, thankfully doesn’t happen often.

I am extremely proud of what we, in Italy, have achieved. By hanging together we have flattened the curve and have controlled this virus as best as it can be controlled. We have had two stages of loosening and life is returning to, not normal, but a new normal. I feel this journal has run its course and done what I had hoped it would do. I appreciate all the comments and kind words from those who followed along on my journey.  It was super gratifying to me to know that you found it useful.

Stay tuned for future posts…just not every day! We all have to live with this pandemic for a long time. I hope things continue to improve for Italy, or at least stay steady. For the US, I am still very worried. I don’t feel the virus is under control whatsoever.  I urge everyone to use your judgement when going about your lives. You know what that means. 🌈
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Someone asked me what is Feriano after I posted the photos yesterday. I should have explained that. It is the name of a property owned by friends of ours. It is high on a mountain with magnificent views. It has an ancient chapel as part of the house. The Church / house is named for the locality/crossroad, Feriano. Originally, the Church was called Chiesa di San Lorenzo di Feriano. Here are two more pictures.

Covid 19 – Phase 2.1 – Day 8

229,858 positives in Italy. Up 0.2% – 32,785 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,430 positive cases in Umbria. 75 total deaths.

1,643,499 cases in the US – 97,722 deaths.
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Lunedì –  Memorial Day in the USA. It is a beautiful day here in Umbria. No clouds in sight. A bit cool but I like that. 
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In honor of today, here is a picture of the Florence American Cemetery. Covering 70 acres on the outskirts of Florence, there are 4,401 military dead buried on the grounds. Most of them died in the fighting after the capture of Rome in June 1944. According to the Cemetery and Memorial’s website, those buried here make up an astonishing 39 percent of the fallen Fifth Army members originally buried between Rome and the Alps. In addition to the tombstones, visitors can also contemplate the 1,409 names inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing. Whenever a solider is recovered or identified, a bronze rosette is added to their name. I must add this to my list of “must visit” in Italy.

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Last night I decided on a real American springtime dinner. I fried chicken (!) and I had some beautiful small new potatoes and our first spring peas. Simple and perfect. The potatoes had hardly any skin, it was so thin as to be non existent. Luther shelled the peas. I just made both the potatoes and the peas simply served with butter. I love spring with these super fresh local veggies .
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From my “cousin” Tom and Carole’s beautiful Feriano.

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Enjoy Memorial Day. Remembering today.🌈

Covid 29 – Phase 2.1 – Day 7

229,327 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 32,735 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,430 positive cases in Umbria. 74 total deaths.

1,613,476 cases in the US – 96,662 deaths.
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Domenica – pretty-ish day today. A little overcast. We will drive out to Calagrana In a few minutes to pick up our meals. 
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While out and about yesterday it felt like old times. Only real difference is the masks. At least everyone wears them. And the one-at-a-time rule for stores and businesses. We are happy to see the businesses back. Last night the youngsters were partying like there was no tomorrow. Hope this doesn’t cause too big of a spike. 

As of June 3 Italy is open again to cross border travel from other EU countries. Not the US though. We, who are here, can travel freely within Italy. There is plenty to see that we haven’t yet seen.  I was talking to a friend who mentioned she hadn’t realized how much of her time was spent traveling, researching and planning travel, anticipating travel, etc. For myself, I am trying to make some day trip plans. But I am having trouble getting started. Why? This is my question…I don’t know. I just can’t seem to take that first step. Luther has a significant birthday in July I need to plan something for that. He wants to go to the beach town with 2 really good restaurants. Not sure I’m up for that yet.

We had our big trip planned for Germany end of July and first part of August. We had found pet/house sitters for this trip from Nova Scotia. They had taken a year off and were traveling Europe. A mix of Airbnbs, working holidays, house sitting etc. Started in Portugal. Then went to, and through Spain. Got locked down in the Dordogne in France. Finally just got loose. They are supposed to head to another part of France and then Italy. I don’t know whether our trip will happen so we will have to let them know as soon as we do. I’m sure they can find a place to stay in Italy cheaply. But they had also hinted they wouldn’t be coming anyway, so we will see.
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As promised yesterday…photos…Here is Rocky. Studying the water…

Rocky. Toe in the water.

Finally, drinking the water.

The olives are amazing this year! This means a huge harvest may be coming this November. I will be ready to go the distance and help. Look at the flowers! Now, I’m told only 3 or 4 olives come from each cluster, but this still means a LOT of olives.

Poppies along the road to Calagrana. 🥰

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Buona domenica a tutti! 🌈 Stay safe!

Covid 19 – Phase 2.1 – Day 6

228,658 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 32,616 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,429 positive cases in Umbria. 74 total deaths.

1,590,349 cases in the US – 95,495 deaths.
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Sabato – Another bright sunny day. And it’s market day!

But I get ahead of myself. We got out for our first Spritz yesterday at Bar Mary. They have big new tables. Really big. Lots of space between people. The piazza was hopping. Almost like old times except for the masks. After our drinks we had our Friday night pizzas and later in the evening I took a picture outside. I could hear a babble of voices. Many young people. Some staying apart, most (but not all) wore masks.

So, back to Market day. I made a point of getting out at about 8:30, after the vendors 8am set up. Specifically to get eggs. Rats. Missed out. Only one stand has them. I guess I need to go out even earlier! But I did buy fresh asparagus, the first new peas!! And some pretty red onions, some new carrots and a cucumber, also the first of summer. It cost 7€. 

After my early morning foray we had errands to run. First the, ever needed, cat liter. Seems we need it more than we should but we have this one cat, Rocky, who has fixated on the bathroom sink. We have to run the water for him and he sits very still and studies it until it stills. He is completely engrossed by it. After a bit, he steps in it, it is shallow. And swishes it around. Then drinks copiously. Which in turn, makes him pee…copiously…which in turn means we need a LOT of litter. A day in the life! I will have to get a photo of him at the sink.

After the pet store we went to the Green Thumb…Pollice Verde…which has all manner of stuff. We were looking for plants. A tip from my friend Angela told me they had an array of hot pepper plants. And sure enough! They did! So we don’t have to drive all the way to Citta di Castello anymore. We got two, a jalapeño, and a habanero.  We improbably ran into friends from Montone there, buying big terracotta planter boxes. 

We passed by the Eurospin market and were amazed that the line went across the parking lot. Hoping against hope our Coop grocery wouldn’t have a line, we stopped. We saw parking places, and even two carts! So we went in. No line. First time we’ve shopped together in almost 3 months. I will say, they are definitely NOT social distancing in there. They are letting too many in at a time. Everyone had to wear a mask though, thank goodness. We saw Gary, and our Montone friends again! Hah! So, we managed to get the shopping done and headed home. 

While out we drove past the new Carrefour market. We are all so excited about it opening…on Wednesday! They are stocking it now. Sign is up outside. Can’t wait to check it out. 
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One pretty picture for you…

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Happy Memorial Day weekend. Please observe it safely. We have a holiday on (a week from this Tuesday) too, Day of the Republic, June 2. 🌈

Covid 19 – Phase 2.1 – Day 5

228,006 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 32,486 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,429 positive cases in Umbria. 74 total deaths.

1,562,714 cases in the US – 93,863 deaths.
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Friday – Another bright sunny day. We just finished our Italian lessons. Last night we didn’t go for Aperitivo. I would have said Aperitivi (plural of Aperitivo) but I was corrected by my teacher. If four people go out for drinks, it is Aperitivo. As in we go out for lunch (Pranzo). Not lunches. Or dinner (cena). Not dinners. I just automatically assumed four drinks are plural…duh…what do I know. So tonight for sure!🍹🍹
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From The GuardianNine top scientists who advised Barack Obama in the White House are warning that the US has just three months to rebuild its national stockpile of emergency medical supplies or risk further drastic shortages of testing kits and protective gear should coronavirus strike again in the fall.

OK then. Plenty of time if people get on it right away. It would be very good to avoid the mistakes made previously at the beginning of the Pandemic. No excuses.
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I have had a pepper plant fatality. It must have happened during the rain storm. Broke right off at the base. Now I need two more since I had not gotten my Jalapeño yet. Let’s turn our attention to the upcoming weekend. It is supposed to be beautiful. We have errands to do. Groceries and cat litter. Maybe peppers to buy. And two new small pots. Oh, and dirt! 
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Todays soup. Chicken with pozole and cilantro. 

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Be safe everyone and have a nice weekend! 🌈

Covid 19 – Phase 2.1 – Day 4

227,364 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 32,330 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,427 positive cases in Umbria. 74 total deaths.

1,541,110 cases in the US – 92,712 deaths.
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Thursday – Brilliant, blue sky after the cleansing rain of yesterday.  Cool and breezy. Vera is here cleaning our apartment. I made a pot of duck stock this morning. I will use it to make a soup. I have just noticed the cilantro is trying to bloom. I need to use it or lose it, and since it is so rare here I don’t want to waste it. So I think a chicken and lime with hominy soup would be tasty. Nice and spicy! I have one last bag of hominy left.😢

Not a lot going on, we got an email for our (maybe) upcoming cruise in late November. They say it is going to happen. I will wait until the last minute to commit to it. Which will be in August.

This evening I think we will go down for our first spritz. How fun! I will take a picture.

Everywhere the poppies are blooming. They are one of my favorite flowers and there is nothing prettier than Umbria in May when whole fields are abloom with red.

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Stay safe ! 🌈

Covid 19 – Phase 2.1 – Day 3

225,435 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 31,908 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,424 positive cases in Umbria. 73 total deaths. Two new cases, zero additional deaths.

1,528,661 cases in the US – 91,938 deaths.
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Wednesday, Market day — pouring rain all night and all day. I didn’t need any produce or fish so I didn’t brave the nasty weather. I suppose this rain is good for all the crops. On Sunday, on our way to Calagrana, we observed workers planting the tiny tobacco seedlings. They are maybe an inch tall. And it has to be completely hand done. So labor intensive. I guess this rain is good for the baby tobaccos.

Otherwise all is tranquile in Umbertide. We missed out on the first spritz outing with friends on Monday. It was my choice. Too many of us. Made me uncomfortable. And truth be told, I am loyal to my good friends at Bar Mary so going to the “other” bar would have been strange. Especially our first time. Not that I have any issue with the “other” bar, just a loyalty thing… We plan to go out as soon as the weather gets nicer. And we will invite our friends to join us. I know they feel kind of the way we do about “their” Cafe Centrale. It is a funny little phenom. 
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Roses continue in Jill’s garden…💕 With notes from Jill beneath the pictures.

Rosa Complicata ( a simple flower very uncomplicata in my opinion)
Molineux
Roseria d’Hay – not only spectacular, the scent is fabulous

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Signing off for now… as always, be careful. 🌈