Category Archives: everyday life in Umbria

This and that

We got back home on Friday afternoon. Our cats were very happy their full time staff was back. Outside in the evening they had a concert in the Piazza. Very nice classical music. The chairs were well spaced for the social distancing, for both the spectators and the musicians.

Today I made a big pot of soup. I hunted and gathered in the kilometer zero market on Saturday. I bought a big bunch of beattole aka, beet greens. And a butternut squash. Among other things. Here’s a picture of one of my favorite onions. I was talking about it with a friend yesterday so I thought I’d include it. They have enormous piles of them and they are mild.

My hand is included so you can see they are big!

Otherwise, I’ve still been watching the Covid cases in both Italy and the US. A friend of mine seemed to imply we, over here in Italy, are being mislead about the severity in the US. That it is not that bad there… That is not true. I‘m watching the US news, and I’m watching the statistics on the Johns Hopkins, WHO, CDC, and Worldometer websites.

I know it is bad in the US. People say it is because of population differences. But many stats are adjusted for that. The figures I’m seeing on the news, CNN and Fox ( I try to be bi-partisan 🙂) say taking into account population differences – the US is 4% of the world population with 23% of the worlds Covid cases. And The US death toll is more than twice as high as that of the country with the second-highest death rate, Brazil. So that says a lot.

There is still a ban on people traveling from the US to most of Europe until they can get the infection rates down. The magic number is when the US has an average of 15.3 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days. I have noticed US numbers are slowly coming down which is good, but it still has a ways to go. 
~~~~~~
— Italy has around 60 million population with 1,458 cases on 9/13
— US has around 350 million population with 33,506 new cases on 9/13

Doing the math. The US has about 6 times the population of Italy. So if you multiply 1,458 x 6 = 8,748 new cases which would be how much the US would have on 9/13 if their infection rates were the same as Italy. That is 24,758 more cases than Italy in one day, adjusted for population.

It tells me the much harder lockdown in Italy has succeeded. Life here is quasi normal. I don’t think the US can say that yet. Masks are key. They are still here everywhere. Masks help a lot but the real help will be a vaccine. Here’s hoping 🤞
~~~~~
Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene. 🌈

Pia Bianca. Piccione libera.

My post of two days ago chronicled my rescue of a piccione intrappolata. A trapped pigeon. And if you read that post you’ll know I got someone to open the window and free her. But, the pigeons, being stupid birds, all decided to come back, and go in the window. Sigh.

Pia Bianca did not come back for a while since freed. But she is back now. I think she’s got a nest in there. So I was able to snap her photo. For those who care…here she is.

That’s all folks!

Lunch with friends

Nowadays we are careful about getting together for just about anything. We have space on our terrazzo for only four to dine together. So I can only invite two at a time. Today was the second time since lockdown that we’ve had friends over for a meal. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sunny, breezy and the perfect temperature. I set our round table outside.

My menu was: Bruschetta with avocado, gazpacho with mozzarella, shrimp risotto, peach cobbler. Some pictures.

~~~~~~
Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutti bene 🌈 And so it will. Ever hopeful.

Pigeon rescue

I think and hope I saved a pigeon today. I’m not a huge fan of pigeons. Messy dumb birds and we have so many they are a nuisance. But I just can’t let one starve to death while I watch. There’s a small window across from our living room in the Comune. It has been left open and pigeons are living in there. I’m sure it’s a disaster inside. It must be some sort of storage or utility area for them not to have noticed, even though the building is empty.

Anyway, yesterday I noticed someone had shut the window, but I saw they’d shut a pigeon inside. I gave her the name Pia. Her mate was outside and quite distraught. For a pigeon the stuckee was pretty. Almost totally snow white. I tried to find some help this morning, and finally in the end was knocking on the Comune door and hoping a caretaker or workman was inside. Irene, at Bar Mary called to me and I told her the problem. She called someone and they said they’d let her out. So I had my fingers crossed.
~~~~~
Good news. Later the window was open. I kind of wish they had shooed her out and re-closed the window. It’s got to be a disaster inside. And now all these pigeons are right back inside. 🙄 I’ll try to get a picture of Pia to post.

~~~~~~
stay safe all…🌈 andrà tutto bene.

Rainy days and Mondays… 🎶

It is the last day of August. The summer has passed. It feels like fall. The temperature was in the upper 90s just a week ago and today it won’t get out of the 60s. It is also raining steadily. Soaking the fields. The growing season is nearly done. The corn is drying on the stalks. The sunflowers are sad and drying as well. The tobacco is halfway harvested. The wine harvest is just starting. I am sure the rain is not appreciated by the vineyards. But it is just raining for today so I imagine the growers can let the grapes dry in the next sunny days and all will be well.

1,365 new cases in Italy. The good news is the summer vacation season is over today. So I hope our numbers will steady, or better yet, decline. 23,000,000 people were on the road going home from vacation over the weekend ! Considering there are only 60,000,000 people in Italy, that is quite the onslaught. I’m glad I wasn’t out there.

School is scheduled to begin in person classes next week. The kids won’t have to wear masks, but the teachers will. I’m not sure of the reasoning for this. They had to scramble for more desks because kids traditionally sit at two person desks. Now they can’t. They also mandated the school buses only carry half of the capacity so there is a shortage of buses. Our Italian teacher told us they have a rule the kids can only be on the bus for 15 minutes. This is creating its own set of problems and issues. For example, her son rides a bus for an hour to his school. Now what? I don’t know the answer.

~~~~~~~
Stay safe everyone. Sooner or later we will get that vaccine. It is the only thing that will really help end this thing. But we mustn’t rush the process. Better safe than sorry.
🌈 Andrà tutto bene!

Update on Covid here, and my morning walk today

I had a hard time with my title today. It is definitely not a pithy headline!

Numbers here in Italy have been fluctuating. For a few weeks they crept up steadily. Then the last couple of days they dropped from around 1,200 new cases a day to 800 or so. But yesterday it shot back up to above 1,400. Sigh. At least I know the people in charge are watching it carefully.

I am happy to note, since the closing of the discotheques and the new mask mandate our piazza has calmed considerably. No longer does Cafe Centrale have bands or loud music. They have a sign that all must wear masks. This has definitely dampened the party atmosphere. I am feeling good about this development.

There have been a couple of publicized issues here regarding anti-maskers. It is the law you must wear a mask on public transportation. A German tourist on a Vaporetto (bus boat) in Venice, was forced off the boat by fellow riders for repeatedly removing his mask. He was kept from reboarding by the passengers.

The MSC Italian cruise line started limited cruises out of Genoa along the Italian coast. They have taken extreme precautions to keep the ship virus free. They try to keep everyone in a bubble. All transport drivers are vetted. All shore tour guides are vetted. The rules are if you go into port you stay in your tour. A family decided to go off on their own in Naples even though they were told they could not. When they tried to re-board the ship they were denied. They were left in Naples.
~~~~~~~

I’ve been very good with my walking since I decided to do it first thing when I get up. All my life I’ve excercised in the morning. For 20 years I rose at 5:30am to run. Then I changed to walking with my neighbor In Alexandria and we met outside at about 5:30am everyday. I find if I put off my walk until later, well, I simply won’t do it. It is also more pleasant in the morning. It’s cooler during these hot summer days for one thing. And I enjoy the quiet of the morning.

Today I walked along the river. Behind our house is a colony of feral cats. The latest batches of kittens are out and about. Someone built a little lean-to house covered with plastic and there is food out. No sign of mamma but here are two of the kittens. Tiny ones.

The Tiber in the still of the morning.

~~~~~~
Stay safe all…🌈 andrà tutto bene…spero di si!

Here and there…pandemic thoughts

In Europe the virus is making somewhat of a resurgence. France has become the new hot spot in Europe. As for Italy, we had 642 cases here yesterday, that is even with the numbers on May 23. It had gotten down to only 100 cases a day at one point. So, there is cause for concern. In my last post I made an error. The Italian officials have closed all of the Discotheques. The spread here, as in most other countries, is due to the young people flauting the rules, gathering in big groups, no social distancing, and no masks. The new cases everywhere are overwhelmingly among the young. But then, they bring it home to grandma and Mom and Dad who tend to get much sicker. I just heard we have 4 new cases in Umbertide. Kids who vacationed outside of Italy and brought it back.

In every country, people experience this pandemic in different ways, depending on what they do for a living, where they live, their race, etc. If they are poor and live in crowded conditions, must work, and have no health care, they have it much worse than someone who is say, a professional, perhaps a white collar worker allowed to work from home who still has insurance and income.

From a Washington Post article…
“Not everyone is experiencing the same level of stress, and everyone’s pandemic struggles differ. Any “essential” worker exposed to high-risk conditions day after day has more urgent concerns than someone merely stuck at home and missing out on summer barbecues.“

“No question, epidemic fatigue or pandemic fatigue is real. We are experiencing it,” Markel said. “But throughout human history, there have been terrible pandemics and contagious threats. Every civilization, every nation, has come through to the other side. And we will, too.”

I do know about epidemic fatigue. Just about everyone I know has it. Here in Italy we are a bit freer to do things, but everyone feels the threat of the virus, and has the fear of another lockdown. It kind of looms over us. The US hasn’t gotten there yet. They’ve got a ways to go but I see a downward trend so that’s a good thing. Still, that damn virus will loom over us all. Until we get a vaccine. But humans are pretty adaptive and resilient. Amazingly so. We will get through this…as long as we stay careful until then.

~~~~~~~
Dinner out tonight. With new friends. We went to San Giorgio in the Piazza. It was nice to have a good amount of time to get to know each other better. Here are pictures of what I had to eat.

~~~~~~~
I scored two big, fresh Porcini mushrooms yesterday at the market. They are destined to become tagliatelle funghi for dinner tonight. I adore these big meaty mushrooms. It is not possible to cultivate them, they must be gathered from the wild.

~~~~~
Stay safe everyone. Now is not the time to let down our guard.🌈 Andrà tutto bene…

In defense of myself…

Recently, I had a comment on my blog that said, “I’ve noticed that people who have made life changes and are thrilled with their choices often will then mock or downgrade those or situations they’ve left ”. Wow. I hope most people who read this blog don’t feel like I come across this way. I certainly don’t feel this way. I am happy with my new life, yes, but would never, ever “mock or downgrade” people in the US.

My Ferragosto blog post had a paragraph at the end where I expressed my concern for my fellow Americans and their difficulties right now. Maybe it was the way I worded it. To clarify…. I’m sure not everyone is experiencing difficulties but I know from what I see, and read, that there are a lot of people hurting out there right now. I do realize there are also many people unaffected financially who can do most of the things they have always done. I am happy for them. I just meant to express my concern for those not so fortunate.

I write my blog because I want to. It is not commercial in any way. It is a way for me to remember my life here. I can go back and re-live things if I want. I am gratified that some folks like to read it…thank you!

Mostly I try to stick to relating everyday events going on here. Back during the lockdown in Italy, I felt like I needed to relay all we were going through. So I posted for 83 days straight. I feel that is quite an accomplishment. As you can imagine it was a roller-coaster of emotions for me.

Sometimes I do compare the US and Italy. They are my two countries after all. I enjoy my life here, but remain interested in all that is happening back home. And I vote. What happens in the US affects us too. We are still US Citizens after all.
~~~~~~~
OK then. Enough of this. We are in a new week. It will remain hot for the foreseeable future. We have been dealing with a sick cat. We went to the vet last week and she put Rocky on antibiotics. He is much better. I don’t know why he was sick but I am really happy he is feeling better.

This one is Simba, Rocky’s brother. He always looks so comfortable when he’s sleeping.


~~~~~
I recently read that the Italian government has become concerned due to the rise in new cases of the virus here. They have added requirements that anyone traveling here from a few countries, Malta, Croatia, Spain and Greece (for now) must be tested before they can come or return here. They also have instituted new requirements that between 6pm and 6am, everyone inside or out must wear the mask and socially distance at Bars and Discos. There has been an uptick in young people getting Covid and it is related to the fact that the bars and discos have huge crowds of young people partying together and not being careful. Schools are reopening so the concern is the kids will bring it into the schools. We are not out of the woods yet. I’m glad Italy is being vigilant.
~~~~~~~
Stay safe everyone! 🌈 Andrà tutto bene.

New Covid case in Umbertide

Our first Covid case in months has been announced by our Mayor. A man, who returned from travel in the north of Italy brought the Virus with him. He is being isolated and there is contact tracing so I’m hopeful this will be a one off. We will still stay vigilant.
~~~~~~~

This is Sunday. Beautiful and hot. Just like August should be. Yesterday I made summer soup. A mish-mash of a few recipes I read. It is delish and people have asked for the recipe so I’ve included in the recipe bar above.

~~~~~~

Today, we decided to visit Calagrana for Pranzo. It had been too long. What a big crowd they had! Yay for them. A few pictures. The view from their terrace is always beautiful.

My lunch was excellent. My first course was amazing. Deconstructed gazpacho. But…I ate it before I thought to take a picture. Sorry. But I did take a picture of my next course. Seared tuna with a poached egg. Yum.

This next one is for my friend Jen who always loves anything fashion. These shoes, worn by the lady at the next table, and the purse to match, were amazing.

~~~~~~~~

Last night we had the most amazing cloud formation. I suppose it was a thunder head. It towered maybe 50,000 feet into the sky. Love the sun coming over the top. Or maybe it is not coming over the top. 🤔

Stay safe everyone! 🌈 andrà tutto bene.

Ferragosto!

Today is August 15, also known as Ferragosto. It’s the holiday in the center of the month of August, which itself is the big vacation month in Italy. It is also a religious holiday — The assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. Assumption day.

Ferragosto originates from Feriae Augusti, the festival of Emperor Augustus, who made the 1st of August a day of rest after the weeks of hard work of the agricultural sector.

The popular tradition of taking a trip during Ferragosto arose under the fascist regime. In the second half of the 1920s, during the mid-August period, the regime organized hundreds of popular trips through the fascist leisure and recreational organizations of various corporations. The initiative gave the opportunity to less well-off social classes to visit Italian cities or to reach seaside and mountain resorts. The offer was limited to 13, 14 and 15 August, and comprised two options: the “One-Day Trip”, within a radius of 50-100 kilometers, and the “Three-Day Trip” within a radius of about 100–200 kilometers.

Today, here in Umbria, everything except for bars and restaurants, are closed today. If the Italians aren’t at the beach they are eating and drinking and having fun. I’m happy for them after all they’ve (we’ve) been through this year.

It still is a mystery to me, though, that people whose businesses were closed for 2-3 months and with the economy in the toilet, can still go on vacation. I still see “closed for vacation” signs everywhere. I noticed Bar Mary is closed for three days from today. Normally they take a week in summer. At least they are at the beach as we speak 🥰. Maybe it is the safety net the Italian government has put into place for its people. And they even have incentives for people to go on vacation. The people get to go on vacation and it’s a boost to the hard hit tourist industry.

It is certainly a lot different from the US right now. No one seems to be helping our hard hit populace. No one can afford a vacation. I worry about them paying the rent or mortgage, or even having enough to eat, for heavens sake. Molto triste. 😢

~~~~~~
Please let’s all work to stop this pandemic. We all can help. Andrà tutto bene 🌈