Category Archives: everyday life in Umbria

Activities on the weekend

Summer weekends have always been a very busy and active time here and it has become so again. Friday and Saturday nights the young people come to the bars which oftentimes host rock bands. Last night the band set up on a narrow walkway, or maybe you could call it a balcony above San Giorgio, the best restaurant in town. The band was one of the better ones I’ve heard here. My picture didn’t come out too well but you can get the idea.

Here are a couple of the crowds. Not a lot of masks to be seen and little distancing. Luckily Umbria has very few cases. Unless someone from outside comes in I suppose the danger is minimal.

The band quit at midnight but the partying went on until nearly three. Luckily, our bedroom is in the back and we can’t hear the noise.
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Saturday, kilometer zero market. Today for our added entertainment we had a visit from the Briganti. They are the bad boys from our annual festival. Don’t know why they decided to serenade us but they stayed for most of the market. This video is a little slow I hope you can see it. Just click the arrow…

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Please stay safe everyone! 🌈 Wear your mask.

July 5 — Luther’s birthday

Special day for Luther. We were invited to a BBQ up in the mountains. Our Italian friends who are our Italian famiglia invited us. It was a beautiful, breezy day. Not at all hot. We were nine people. The family of four, two young girls and their parents, who own the lovely property, and her father from Slovenia. Me and Luther, and another couple with a house in Umbria. They are Polish and live in Colorado and also in Puerto Rico.

The meal was wonderful. We started with a guacamole dip and a tomato salsa and chips. Wine flowed right from the start. I brought chocolate chip biscotti, the Poles brought a hunters stew. This property has a great pizza oven and BBQ in it’s own stone structure. We had grilled sausages, pork, beefsteaks. Also a very spicy eggplant dish which took me by surprise by its spice 😳 and also salad.

After a short time frozen vodka flowed as well as lemoncello. There was a cake for Luther to cut. My cookies and chocolate we brought rounded out the desserts.

View of had
View of the yard and oven.
Picnic Pavillion
Pizza oven.
The group
Outside dining
Vera and Luther
Dessert. Luthers cake, my biscotti, and a chocolate bell.
Birthday boy.
Me, Luther and Vera.

Home, and enjoying summer weather!

What lovely, hot weather we are having. It is in the 33-34C range or around 93F. I went out yesterday morning and enjoyed a coffee with a friend at Bar Mary. I’d call her a new friend except we’ve known “about” one another but never had a face to face chiacchierare (chat). Her name is Elizabeth. She wrote a book called Sustenance which I really enjoyed. She just managed to return to Umbria from San Francisco where she has been trapped for months due to Covid. What an ordeal. 22 hour flight with two changes! Only because she has a Permesso di Soggiorno and a medical reason was she able to return. And then she had to quarantine for two weeks. She is just freed. She said she would never leave Italy again! She used her quarantina to plant her garden, which is going gangbusters already, she reported. Anyway, it was lovely to get to know her and I’m sure we will meet again soon.

I went out to the Saturday local market today. Pretty day, a bit cooler with a nice breeze. The early summer produce is abundant now. I got beans, fennel bulbs, zucchini and zucchini blossoms, and lots of tomatoes which I “hope” will be good since it is coming onto the best time for them. I also took a few pictures 🙂

Bar Mary is always busy on market days.
Cafe Centrale too.
There is always this man with his Prosciutto. He cuts it so thin it’s almost transparent.
Market
One of the streets in Centro.

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A friend posted these two graphs from Worldometer. Excellent way to see the differences. Pretty scary.

So, there is danger out there, everyone be careful. Safe Fourth of July to you all. I miss that here! 💥 🧨

Road trip!

So, tomorrow we are off on our first excellent adventure since total lockdown here in Italia. A heady time! Also, a little nervous-making. 😳  But you have to put your toe in the water sometime as I say.

Today was all about packing, ironing, doing last minute errands, and buying picnic stuff. All of which we have finished. We also went out for an apperitivo at Bar Mary. Almost all the tables were taken. We sat at a table next to a guy alone at another table. Heard him talking, British. But I recognized him….then I finally got it. Ralph Fiennes. I knew he had a place here in Umbertide but never I had actually seen him. Wow. I had a drink next to Lord Voldemort! 😳
 
I have friends who are avid bikers. They took this picture on their recent ride. One million happy Umbrians – thanks James and Virginia Lupori!

Permesso di Soggiorno #7

June 25 is an auspicious day for us. On this day, we flew from the US to Italia to begin our excellent adventure! Here is my post from the day of our flight — June 25, 2014 —  Our journey is Accomplished. 

Picture  from our first summer here…

Since we had to get our Elective Residency visa to start on the day we planned to go to Italy, it expires on the June 25 date every year. It just so happened that our appointment at the Questura was today. This is the appointment where we get ourselves fingerprinted and turn in more paperwork and our photos.

The experience was a little different. The former waiting room was devoid of chairs and the old disused windows in that room were now open and functional. So we didn’t ever enter the building. Our old favorite police officer, Latizia, whom I had missed for the last two appointments was back. She’s super nice and after seven Permessi, she knows us. Only the two people at the two windows were allowed inside. We waited outside until our turn. The horrible fingerprint experience ensued. I hate that part the most. But we always get through it. Piano, piano as Latizia said. Another bureaucratic hoop has been jumped through. Maybe next year we can again try for the long term permit. Sigh. I hope so. It’s not terribly hard to renew yearly but it’s just a lot of time and tedious work. Plus, now that our Permessi are officially expired we can’t travel within Schengen. People think they can with the postal receipt, but it is not true as that is not an official EU document. If we get the long term permit we won’t have this issue. 
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Dinner tonight was something new. Pizza from the wood oven at Calagrana. The downside, I had to drive there to pickup. The upside, the pizza was excellent!

Excellent pizza! Mmmm.
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I am so sorry to be watching the numbers in the US on TV. It is frightening to me. Everything seems so out of control. Anyway, please, all my friends, keep yourselves safe…stay home, if you must go out wear your mask. It is a no brainer…it saves lives. 🌈

Market day – ho comprato i pantaloni!

Hi all, beautiful day. We are having near perfect weather and long summer days. What’s not to like.

I have been anxious to have our market back since last week I bought a pair of casual pants that it turned out I loved. They are nicely made. Not cheap.  I liked them so much and hoped she had more. Turns out, she had tons and I couldn’t decide amongst the colors and patterns so I bought 3. 🤪 they are cotton and nicely made with drawstrings, elastic and a nice inner sleeving of beige cotton canvas to hold the drawstring. The inside of the bottom of the leg has pretty eyelet lining and can be turned up. Nice and summery and casual. Right up my alley.

Tell me, does the pair on the left closest to us look like it’s got marijuana leaves on it? Haha haha! Brings back memories!

Governor Andrew Cuomo is on CNN right now. He’s talking about a quarantine plan for NY, NJ and Connecticut. They will require a 2 week quarantine for people coming from States with high virus infections. This is kind of amazing to me! 😳

From the Washington Post…

Even as Florida hospitals are rapidly filling up with a spiraling number of new infections, authorities have changed how they measure the number of beds being used in intensive care units that will likely lower the figure. The move comes as the state eyes the next phase of reopening in July.

I have decided not to weigh myself anymore. That way, I will never gain any weight. Well, true, right? If I don’t look, I don’t know, so it isn’t real. Sorta like testing for the virus. Or counting the beds differently to show lower numbers. Right?
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News from the EU today is that the US will not be among the countries they will allow to come in on July 1. Any future date to reconsider is TBD. This is a baseline decree. Each country has their own last word.  The EU ruling is for all member states. I think a country can set a more stringent plan if they want. This will change when the US gets their virus house in order.
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Stay safe everyone! 🌈

Great numbers!

I read that there were just 224 cases and 24 deaths for the ENTIRE COUNTRY OF ITALY on Saturday! Amazing. And happy-making.💕

In the Guardian…
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control — modeled on the U.S. CDC — has given European countries a pat on the back last week.

“Decreasing trends in disease incidence are observed and sustained” in almost all EU countries, the European health agency’s latest threat assessment declared. While no one knows exactly which types of social distancing measures are best, or just how intense they need to be, the ECDC said, “such measures appear to have been associated, at least temporarily, with decreases in the number of newly reported cases.”

All good news for Europe. 👍
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I busied myself this morning with repairing and washing our mask collection. The blue ones had horrible elastic which frayed and broke. I ordered new elastic on amazon and I finally received it. I replaced all the straps with the new elastic. And I replaced the shoestring ties I had on the ones I made a while ago. I also finally found some material from which I can make a few new masks. This I will attempt this afternoon 🙂

A sign of our times!

Anniversary

Today was our anniversary. It started as a lovely day. We had reservations for Pranzo at San Giorgio. It is just across the piazza from our house…maybe 50 meters. Gosh. I sure wish I had had my camera. They have been here since before we moved here and they have been getting a lot of recognition from Michelin and Gambero Rosso (Italian food and wine publication). We haven’t gone often for a couple years because I had a problem with the fact they never had a seasonal menu, any specials, nor did their offerings change. I got a bit bored with them. So we stopped going. Today, we decided to try them again.

They have maybe 6 tables outside. Very small. Their offerings are different from the last time we went but that was long ago. I am so sorry I didn’t take photos! I ordered fried sweetbreads with cherries and a small salad with almonds to start, and a ravioli with shrimp. Luther got paccheri (pasta) to start, and tagliata (steak) as a main.

After we ordered they brought plates of different breads. All sorts. Cheesy muffin. An anchovy one, a tomato one, a couple seeded ones. And really good breadsticks. Then they brought the gifts from the chef. Pretty amazing. There were two tastes of each one. One was a sort of jello that I believe was made from Campari and lemon peel. Very bitter but very good. It came on a little spoon. Then two peanuts, well they were shaped like peanuts in the shell. They weren’t peanuts though. But filled with a creamy peanuty filling. Essence of peanuts. There was a tuna lollipop with a red casing of tomato. And finally parmesan crisps on a stick. They were all very amazing. So sorry no pics. We will have to go back! 🙂😋

While we were there a thunderstorm messed up the pretty day. We had wind and some sprinkles but we stuck it out and it didn’t get worse. All in all a nice Pranzo for our anniversary.
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Last night – sunset.

Last evening we had aperitivo with Joseph and Paul at Bar Mary. They have begun serving nice little pastries and prosciutto wrapped bread sticks with their drinks. I guess it is the competition with Cafe Centrale across from them. They have very nice appetizers to go with the drinks. It was a nice evening and we caught up with them about their recent 4 day trip to Rome. The city was empty. They had the place to themselves. Most hotels have not reopened. Many restaurants have not either. They have pictures of themselves at the standard sights — alone. The Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon. Amazing and a bit sad. I hated Rome for its frenetic bustle, but I don’t think I’d like it any better this way. They heard no languages other than Italian. No tourists are there. 😢

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Here is the latest information about travel to Europe.
 
Updated: 19 June 2020
 
Italy has dropped its travel ban on European countries, but for people hoping to travel from the US or anywhere else outside Europe the news is less positive. (This article was last updated on June 16th.)
 
As of June 3rd, Italy is once again allowing international tourism from within Europe after closing to almost all travelers for months. However, non-urgent travel from outside the EU bloc looks unlikely to be allowed until the beginning of July at the earliest.
 
While the EU rolled out a plan to loosen travel restrictions over the summer holiday season, it too was only talking about travel within Europe.
 
So what’s the situation for people who want to travel to Italy from the US, Australia, India or anywhere else outside the EU or Schengen zone? 
 
European travel ban
 
Currently, Europe’s external borders are effectively closed to all non-urgent travel, while the US is also advising citizens against travel to Europe.
 
The EU in March brought in a ban on all non-essential travel from countries outside either the EU (which for this purpose still includes the UK) or the Schengen Zone.
 
Italy, along with other EU member states, is limiting entry to EU citizens and residents. US citizens who are not residents of the EU and do not fit into one of a handful of “essential travel” exceptions may not be able to travel, and/or may face quarantine measures upon arrival.
 
Here is a full list of the current restrictions and possible exemptions for all travellers from outside the EU.
 
It’s possible that non-essential travel from the US to some European countries may be allowed again on or after July 1st,  but this has not yet been confirmed by any authority.
 
The European Commission is recommending that countries consider a “progressive and partial” reopening to non-EU travelers from July 1st.
 
No details have yet been given as to which countries will be included in the move to lift restrictions. Each EU nation’s individual response depends on how the coronavirus numbers in the United States change for the rest of June.
 
What is essential travel?
 
The EU’s definition of essential travel is stricter than many countries’ individual restrictions and does not contain any exemption for visits for family reasons.
 
People who can travel into the European bloc include:
 
—Citizens of an EU country
 
—Non EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
 
—Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
 
—Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
 
—Delivery drivers
 
—Travel services
 
Some flight connections have been reinstated in June, such as Alitalia’s Rome-New York route. Yet this does not mean that the restrictions for travelling into Italy have been lifted.
 
The US Embassy in Rome and Consulates General in Milan, Florence and Naples remain closed for their usual routine services, and only offer limited emergency services on a case-by-case basis.
 
Quarantine
 
Currently, Americans who enter Italy for essential reason – for example returning residents – will be subject to quarantine for 14 days, according to the Italian government’s latest decree.
 
This also applies to those who are entering Italy via another European country on a connecting flight, such as via Germany or the UK, if they have been in the US (or anywhere else outside of Europe) within the past 14 days.
 
Many readers have written to The Local to ask if a 14-day stay in another European country before arriving in Italy would allow them to avoid the Italian quarantine requirement and/or allow them to travel for non-urgent reasons.
 
It seems that any traveler from the US could still be asked to demonstrate that they have an urgent reason for travel in order to be allowed to enter Italy. The Local has asked the Italian Interior Ministry for clarification on this.
 
On travel from the US, the Interior Ministry’s offical FAQ states, “the basic rules remain similar to the previous ones. Travel continues to be allowed only for proven work needs, reasons of absolute urgency or for health reasons; in any case, you are still allowed to return to your home or residence.”
 
“Those who enter or return to Italy from states or territories other than those listed above must spend a period of 14 days of health surveillance and isolation at their home or in another residence chosen by the individual, or failing that, determined by the Regional civil protection authority.”
 
US Official advice
 
At the time of writing, US authorities are warning against travel to Europe.
 
Anyone planning to travel is advised to check the latest updates from the US State Department, and to find out whether they are covered by their travel insurer.
 
The US Embassy in Rome directed us to the following advice for any US citizens planning to travel to Italy:
 
Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information regarding foreign countries’ quarantine requirements and other global impacts.
 
Have a plan to depart from Italy that does not rely on US government assistance.
 
Check with your airlines or cruise lines regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
 
Visit the Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Italy.
 
Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions affecting travel to the U.S.
 
Review the Italian National Institute of Health’s website (available only in Italian).
 
This also applies to those who are entering Italy via another European country on a connecting flight, such as via Germany or the UK, if they have been in the US (or anywhere else outside of Europe) within the past 14 days.
The rules change frequently in both Italy and other countries. Anyone with specific questions about travel to Italy at the moment is advised to consult the Italian embassy in their country.
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I will try to update as often as I hear anything.
 
Buona domenica! 🌈

Market day and Summer Solstice

Happy Solstice! I think it starts at 5:30-ish tonight. It is a beautiful day for the market. It is finally starting to get warmer.

I visited the local market this morning. Then I took a turn through one of the town parks for a walk. Look at this picture My friend Paul took this morning of a bouquet of squash blossoms! Really beautiful.

And this one is a street in the Centro part of town near our house. Flowers and sunshine were pretty.

Finally a couple in the park that cuts through town. It is a green swath next to our small Torrrente, or creek.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the terrace in the afternoon, and a bird flew in and I shooed it away, thinking it was a pigeon. But once I had, I could see if was definitely not a pigeon. So a while later, when he returned I sat very still and he landed on the railing a few feet away. He looked at me and I, him and suddenly he popped up this most magnificent orange crest. He had a very long beak and was about the size of a red bellied woodpecker in the US. After he flew away I looked him up and he is a Hoopoe. Or in Italian, Upupa. They are migratory and fly up from Africa to breed all over Europe. I copied a photo since I didn’t have a camera while he was there and I posted it on my Facebook page. I apologize if you are a friend and have seen this. Here he is. Is he not beautiful? 💕

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Have a nice weekend everyone! 🌈

Beautiful sunset

Friday morning…such a pretty day. My poor flowers have been beaten about face by the relentless rain we’ve been having. During our lockdown, everyday was perfect. Dry and warm and sunny. Soon as they let us out, the heavens opened. I’m hoping things will dry out so the flowers can recover.

The weekend looks to be nice. Saturday, of course, is our local mercato. And Sunday is our anniversary. I remember last year which was our 50th. This year, it’s just us and I think we are having Pranzo at San Giorgio. 

Last night we had a beautiful sunset. Check it out!

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This was an interesting comparison. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…and don’t say it’s because of more testing… that is an overused convenient excuse.

I’m sorry for the loss of all the good work the US did by locking down. Of course there were some states that didn’t do that… I still really don’t  want anyone coming to Italy to ruin all the hard work we did. That includes the potential  U.K visitors. They also don’t have this under control. Two travelers from the U.K. to New Zealand tested positive there. And New Zealand was virus free.😢

I know the Italians really DO want the tourists back. Friends of ours in Florence said they went to a restaurant and the proprietor heard them speaking English. He got very excited to have American tourists back! Sorry, they had to tell him, they lived there. So the Italians want the Americans back…they’ve just got to get that pandemic thing under control.

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Stay safe everyone! 🌈