Category Archives: everyday life in Umbria

Covid 19 Phase 2.1 — Day 1

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.

1,480,873 cases in the US – 89,318 deaths.
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Monday — gray day with sprinkles. We have started a new Phase today. I am calling it Phase 2.1 — Our numbers in Italy are impressively small, only 145 deaths. 675 new cases. I just hope opening up doesn’t ruin all our hard work. But I am happy for the merchants, bars, and restaurants. It was extremely hard for them all.

We went out with the intention of taking the Porsche out for a much needed drive. It’s been sitting for over three months. But on our way through town we ran into the Books for Dogs team. When they closed up for the shutdown, it was wintertime. But now, it’s spring. All the clothes they have in the shop are winter clothes. So they’ve got to sort out the merchandise and change over. As we strolled along we noted all the shops have opened. Lots of bustle going on. A stop in the farmacia, then we crossed the river to the garage. 

We keep the Porsche on a constant trickle charge since it isn’t drive all that much. But, for some reason, it didn’t seem to keep the battery charged this time. Luther thinks it wasn’t plugged in right. So, no ride for us and we have to sort out how to get it started. Also it needs its annual servicing so it needs to go to the dealer in Perugia.

So much for our Monday outing. Other than that we had nothing planned for today.

I did get up this morning and made a nice big soup for our lunches this week. So, on that note I will close for today. 

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Jill’s garden is here to brighten up our gray day! The Irises have given way to the roses! So beautiful.

Ferdinand Pichard 
Eglantyne

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Enjoy your week, whatever you do. Just be careful. 🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 14

224,760 positives in Italy. Up 0.4% – 31,763 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,422 positive cases in Umbria. 73 total deaths. Zero new cases, zero additional deaths.

1,456,841 cases in the US – 88,230 deaths.
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It is springtime. Early summer almost. And that is the time for taking the duvets off the beds. It is getting too warm to sleep under them. So I occupied myself with that today (Saturday). Removing the covers and washing them. On Monday we will bundle up the down duvets and take them to our lavanderia. We found out a year after we got here that they will clean the duvets and then store them for the summer! Everyone takes theirs and leaves them. They are bulky and most people don’t have much storage, including us. So a springtime chore…
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It was a rainy day. All day. We stayed in for the most part. After visiting the market this morning.

Last night we finished an excellent series on Netflix last night. Il Processo or The Trial, in English. It was a window into the differences between the US justice system, and the Italian one. Takes place in Mantova (Mantua). In Italian with English subtitles. If you like Italian stuff you may enjoy this. Tonight we begin Orthodox. I am really looking forward to this one.
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Sunday — what a glorious day! Wow. No clouds and nice and warm. Predicted to hit 30C today. That’s 86F. Almost hot. It would be perfect for a lunch outside at a nice restaurant. Sigh. Not yet! But, speaking of restaurants, we are taking a little ride to Calagrana to pickup our food. I will take some pictures!

Approaching Calagrana. Tobacco newly planted in the foreground. The agriturismo and restaurant is where the rows of cypresses are.
Albi, AKA Chef Alberto. Weed whacking. In a trash bag!🙄🤣
View from Calagrana.
View from Calagrana of neighboring properties.
Amohorae.
Ely. Garden tour.
Gigantico lettuce!
New peas, not ready yet.
Peppers.
Zucchini trained in a cage.

It was such a lovely, but short trip. OK. I admit it. We hugged. Oh, but how wonderful it was. Susan, Gary and Luca came too. It’s been literally MONTHS since we’ve seen anyone we know or love, so it was lovely and tear provoking. 

Albi kept his distance but it was nice to see him. He’s the “old man of the mountain” with his bushy beard! Ely showed off her garden. Sigh.

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From our walk a couple days ago. Look at the fish in the Tiber!

And last, but not least, the answer to my question about tables in the Piazza…Mirko is busily setting up for tomorrow! Very exciting! Spritzes are in our future!! Spiffy new tables too!

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Buona domenica to all. Stay safe, wherever you are …🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 13

223,885 positives in Italy. Up 0.4% – 31,610 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,422 positive cases in Umbria. Up two. 73 total deaths.

1,443,397 cases in the US – 87,568 deaths.
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Bar Mary is open now but just for pickup. You go inside to order, Mary or Irene brings the coffees out in disposable cups and puts them on the lone table out front, no chairs to be seen. As Italians do, the coffee is knocked back within seconds and they are on their way. Coffee culture is strong here but completely different from in the US where people linger for hours in a coffee shop over a huge coffee.

But back to my point, as of Monday, Restaurants and Bars can open with greatly reduced tables. Widely spaced. Does this mean Bar Mary will return the tables and chairs to the Piazza? We don’t know but I will let you know, come Monday.

In summer we normally have a great influx of British into the area. Bar Mary is the bar of choice for them. They have large groups that gather on market days (mostly) and they take up most of the tables, beginning the cocktail hour well before lunchtime. This year they won’t be coming. Their second homes in the hills all around will be empty. And we will miss their raucous gatherings. Perhaps next year…I hope so. I’m sure they all do too.

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Friday night is pizza night, you may remember. But I wasn’t in the mood for a pizza so I ordered the insalatone. Literally the big salad. It had tuna, eggs, mozzarella cheese, another, harder cheese, various greens. I dressed it with the amazing Umbrian olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. It was excellent!

The evening was beautiful. Pretty soft sunset. The wind had died down. Perfect to eat outside. This, we will do more often as it stays warmer through the evenings.

Saturday — kilometer zero market. Gray and light rain. I went out about 10am and bought things for another soup. The pickings were slim. Only one stand sells eggs and I wanted some, but someone had beat me to it. Next week I will have to go out earlier!
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I promised two more iris pictures. They make me think of fancy ladies in frilly dresses!

Autumn Circus.
Celebration Time

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Enjoy your Saturday…safely! 🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 12

223,096 positives in Italy. Up 0.4% – 31,368 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,420 positive cases in Umbria. 73 total deaths. Up one.

1,405,961 cases in the US – 85,194 deaths.
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I read this yesterday…The simple act of speaking can emit small droplets that linger in the air for at least eight minutes and potentially much longer, according to a new study. This could help explain why covid-19 cases cluster in places with poor air circulation, such as nursing homes, households and cruise ships. It also shows why face coverings are so important to prevent the spread.

For those who don’t want to wear a mask…please consider this.

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It is hard to compare different countries and the progress of the virus. For instance, the Johns Hopkins site lists all the different countries and the number of deaths per 100K of population. So, using this, Italy has about 50 deaths per 100,000 people. The US has about 25 deaths per 100,000 people. But, this is a false comparison since it doesn’t take into account the length of time the virus has been growing. Italy is ahead of the US by at least a month and probably more. Therefore Italy is farther along on the timeline meaning it would have higher percentages of deaths related to population right now. To even up the comparison between Italy and the US you’d have to wait a month or more (for instance) from now and compare those statistics in the US with the Italian statistics today to get a more correct picture.

At any rate there are numerous things to skew figures like how much testing is done. Percentage per capita, Italy is way ahead of the US In testing. Also how the deaths are reported makes a difference. Some Covid deaths are attributed to an underlying cause which makes the death rate “appear” lower, again skewing the statistics. In the end, we will need to wait a year or more to get the true facts.

Finally, how the two countries are perceived to be handling this crisis is also important. Italy, for the most part is getting good grades for its unified approach to the shutdown and eventual reopening. The definition (by most of the world) of the way the US is seen to be handling this crisis is —- chaotic. 
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Umbertide news…

Big doings all around town as shopkeepers are sweeping the sidewalks and sprucing up their storefront displays. All, to get ready for the Monday, May 18, reopening of all shops here in Italy. Happy days for our merchants.

We took a walk around town to see all the hustle and bustle. One thing I was wanting to see, was the progress on our nearby grocery store, which was shut down at the first of the year.  It was formerly 2 spaces; one was our large macelleria, or butcher shop. The other was the Conad City, a very small grocery store. I used it for necessities but many towns people relied on it exclusively. So, these two spaces are being combined into a new Carrefour store. It is a French chain very prevalent in Italy. The renovation was delayed by the shutting down of all non-essential construction projects during our lockdown. I am told it will open May 27. My assessment yesterday was that it was nearly finished. They were installing the big freezers and the ovens for rotisserie cooking. And all the shelving for the products. I’m pretty excited to get a convenient store back. And I’m hoping it will be better than the Conad. That is setting the bar pretty low! Believe me! 
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Just LOOK at these Irises! Amazing flowers. We have an amazing iris farm near here — Iris Umbria. I have never seen such beautiful varieties. Jill has some from there in her garden. I’m saving the other two pictures for tomorrow 🙂

English Charm.
Stairway to Heaven

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Have a good, and safe weekend everyone! 🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 11

221,216 positives in Italy. Up 0.6% – 30,911 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,419 positive cases in Umbria. No new cases! 72 total deaths. Up one.

1,381,696 cases in the US – 83,356 deaths.
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From the Guardian

…in the US…Many of the new emerging hotspots, both rural and urban, are in states where governors refused to issue stay-at-home orders, or are following Trump’s advice to relax lockdown restrictions, despite public health warnings about the dangers of doing so too soon.“

“There are more than 1.3 million cases of coronavirus in the US, including more than 81,000 deaths – by far the highest number in the world. There are only 16 states, plus Puerto Rico and Guam, where the number of new confirmed cases is on the decline.“

Please tell me when wearing a mask became an ideological issue? And why?

I know an issue that is very important to many folks who follow my blog is whether and when people can travel to Italy— An excerpt from an article that is talking about tourism whenever it returns for US citizens. Not good news…😢

One thing is sure: Gone are the days of the American abroad, at least for those hoping to summer in Europe this year. The new models on how to reopen European travel do not have room for the American tourist for the foreseeable future…

… The key to any successful reopening in Europe is based entirely on risk assessment, meaning anyone coming from a nation deemed risky or careless will be the first to be banned. Simply put, anyone who has been under the lax American approach to the pandemic….won’t be welcome any time soon.

… Access to previously restricted areas will be granted solely on a passport basis to ensure people aren’t traveling clandestinely to third-party countries to get to a Greek island or Italian beach when they open up. This means that if you have an American passport—as travelers from the U.S. aren’t included—you will be unwelcome no matter which country you are coming from or how long you’ve been there. (That would be us too)

Americans, instead, will have to focus their getaway plans closer to home, like Latin America or Canada—so long as they are coming from a state that is not a hot spot.

For us we will have to content ourselves with traveling inside Italy.  We have an embarrassment of riches so it is not a big issue. I guess we all (no matter where) just need to think of our own home regions and make an effort to explore them.

Here is our plan. We will plot a 2 hour circle (driving) around our town. And we will investigate what we can see inside this circle. This will allow us to drive 2 hours, explore the site, have something to eat, and drive home. A nice day trip. This lets us not need to stay in a hotel…which makes me a bit nervous right now.

Try this in your area…All places have treasures. Enjoy finding yours!! After we do some research I will post what we will try to see. But of course we need to wait until we can leave our region. Soon we hope.

Jill said this is a peony. And the bloom is 4 inches across. It isn’t as frilly as those I’m used to but what a color!

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Be safe – tend to yourselves – be sure to remember and be considerate of others when you go out. A domani! 🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2, Day 10

221,216 positives in Italy. Up 0.6% – 30,911 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,419 positive cases in Umbria. Up 7 cases which is a lot for Umbria. 71 total deaths.

1,358,901 cases in the US – 81,805 deaths.
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It seems my numbers on yesterday’s post were not updated. So I have done that now if you care about this. They are on the website.

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Wednesday. Market day. I am not going. I don’t need anything. So I will remain inside. It is a rather gray day anyway, but the cheerful hubbub from outside is nice. Like old times. I note, when I compare my pictures from this week and last week, that the same vendors are in the Piazza again. I had thought they may rotate so others would get a chance since fewer can come now. But no, they don’t do this. And now I’m thinking, not for the first time, that I wish I understood the underlying mechanisms of these markets. 

Someone sent a nice list of things that are open for takeout in town now. Just about all restaurants and pizzerias. Also many Bars and Pasticcerie and Rosticcerie I didn’t list here.

I actually have never seen a list of places to eat in Umbertide. There are more than I thought. We will order from San Giorgio maybe instead of Pizza night. It has the best food in town.

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Last night I woke up and my computer monitor was lighting up our office like it was day. What the? I thought to myself. I went in to look and the screen was totally white with a big icon of a folder in the center with a blinking question mark. I rebooted and it seems OK but it kind of gave me a wake up call. My old MacBook Air is pretty long in the tooth. It must be ten years old! And I rely on it for a number of things. I believe I will begin to research new ones today. Nice! Something to do!

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Jill’s garden…I forget what she said it was!

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Another day in our march of days. Stay safe…🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 9️⃣

219,814 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 30,739 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,412 positive cases in Umbria. 71 total deaths.

1,340,643 cases in the US – 79,935 deaths.
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A new week. Pretty,  if windy, day. Luther had grocery shopping duty so he went this morning. No waiting! We have new more comfortable masks…I don’t even mind wearing them. He tried his and liked it better too. He accomplished the shopping and brought it home. I promptly put all the dry goods into our decontamination room to wait 72 hours. Way easier than trying to wipe everything off.  The cold goods I did disinfect before storing them. So we are set for another week or two. Of course I will supplement with trips to the markets for veggies. The next grocery shopping
 trip we will go together as we used to.  Maybe even to the big IperCoop! If it opens back up.
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Tuesday. Gray and rainy but pretty warm. Perfect for growing plants. I made a big pot of soup today. Tonight I’m planing coniglia braised in white wine.  Otherwise quiet here.  

My friend Joseph wrote a journal entry today. It really got my attention. He is having difficulty acclimating to this new Phase 2. I completely understand. Maybe this will sound weird to many in the US but we will miss our lockdown. First, the lockdown in the US was never anywhere near what our lockdown was/is. We could not even exit our house without a written reason of necessity. The polizia patroled. We learned to just stay home. Only food shopping, medical needs, or medicines were allowed. Otherwise we had to stay HOME.

So we all got used to it. We even embraced it. I would awake in the morning. I would think of my day ahead. Empty. Serene. No obligations. No errands. Bliss. The days ran together. Each just the same as the one before. Alas, that is coming to an end. I know that sounds strange…but we can love a thing, and hate it too, I think. Our markets returning have again, bookended our weeks in Umbertide. We again have anchors so the days no longer run on in an uninterrupted line.  We must get used to the new changes. But we must be very careful. We will take no chances. And we will wait to see how this re-opening affects the numbers. Here are some pictures from Jill…

This iris is called Lemon Ice! Makes me think of gelato.

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Stay safe everyone 💕🌈 

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 8️⃣

219,070 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 30,560 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,411 positive cases in Umbria. 71 total deaths.

1,323,028 cases in the US – 79,124 deaths.
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A beautiful Sunday. I picked up our meals from Ely. Of the few people there to pickup our food, every single person expressed dismay at the number of people out now, and the lack of social distancing and (sometimes) masks. It makes us all a bit nervous. And next week it will loosen further with more stores open. Umbria 
has done a stellar job during this crisis. Our numbers are low. The outbreak is under control. I guess in a couple of weeks we will know if loosening up will bring the infection back.

While I was out I  got a few pictures of the nearby park.

Tonight we had a really good meal. Half from Calagrana, half from me. I’m still on a salad kick using the Six Seasons cook book. This time I blanched a bit of asparagus. Then I sliced a spring onion. Added a few leaves of torn spinach. I went out to the terrace and snipped a good amount of chives and added them. Lemon juice from half a lemon, olive oil. Bread crumbs and grated pecorino. Finished with two soft boiled eggs. I pronounced it excellent. The main course was the Vitello tonnato. Classic dish from Torino. Thinly sliced veal on a tuna sauce. It is one of Luthers favorites. Thumbs up all around. Thanks Calagrana!

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I read a good column by Dana Milbank today in the Post. A couple excerpts with which I couldn’t agree with more.

The mindless reopening is as stupid as it is immoral. Does anybody truly believe Americans will return to work while the virus rages? Send our kids to schools without tools in place to stop outbreaks? Put our parents in retirement homes that, without adequate testing, are often death traps? Enjoy a restaurant, theater, flight to Disney World or trip to the mall, knowing it could kill us? Reopening masquerades as a political cause — LIBERATE! — but it is really a lazy unwillingness to do the hard work to defeat the virus, and to restore our economy.

If “we see an uptick again in the covid-19 pandemic coming back because we didn’t handle it right the first time — we still don’t have testing and we don’t have a solution — that is devastating as an incumbent president.”
And rather more devastating for the people dying.

Yes, that last bit…it is truth. People are dying. What cost, a life?
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Be careful with yourselves…🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 7️⃣

218,268 positives in Italy. Up 0.5% – 30,395 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,407 positive cases in Umbria. 71 total deaths.

1,300,079 cases in the US – 78,320 deaths.

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Hi everyone! Sorry if you received two post emails yesterday. Operator error!

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One of our favorite activities during this enforced inside time is….

As you know I bought artichokes. I cleaned them for a salad I was going to make. These are local. I’ve never had artichokes like these before. They are MEAN. Look at these stickers! The second pic is after I “processed” them.

Tonight we had a salad made from raw artichokes sliced very thinly, with fava beans, fresh spinach, toasted almonds and soft cooked eggs. It was inspired by the book “Six Seasons”, which I mentioned before, although I made a lot of changes. I served the salad with salmon. It was tasty. I took a picture but, sadly, it was blurry. 😔

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Sunday morning. Beautiful day. The bells are ringing. One day they will, again, call people to Mass. Today I have to pick up our weekly meals on wheels! 🤣 Just kidding. The meals are from Calagrana. This time I won’t get caught by the cops as it is now legal to go over and pick them up. Whew.

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Buona domenica to all! And happy Mother’s Day! Take care of yourselves…and stay safe!
🌈 Andrà tutto bene!

Covid 19 Phase 2 Day 6️⃣

217,185 positives in Italy. Up 0.6% – 30,201 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,406 positive cases in Umbria. 71 total deaths.

1,273,887 cases in the US – 76,475 deaths.
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Hi everyone! Today, I am on my blog pulpit a bit.  If you don’t want to read it scroll to the bottom of this post to read my bellissimo news about our Kilometer Zero Market.

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US News. I can’t resist reprinting this little tidbit.

With polls showing most consumers still afraid to venture out of their homes, the Trump administration has intensified its efforts to soothe some of those fears through a messaging campaign that relies on tightly controlling information about a virus that has proven stubbornly difficult to contain.

So…they are controlling information (i.e., deep sixing the CDC report because it recommends waiting)…this is the information that people NEED to be able to make an informed decision on their OWN health and safety. When they intentionally delude the populace into believing it is OK to resume life, knowing full well that it is NOT safe yet, they are WILLFULLY putting (intentionally misled) people in danger of catching this virus. I am astounded at the very audacity of this! And the cold calculation by trump to allow people to get sick and perhaps die, all because he wants to get re-elected. Words don’t convey…

NY Times….A useful — if chilling — way of thinking about the new phase: It’s the “trial-and-error” phase, in which different countries take different approaches and the world witnesses the results.

Human guinea pigs. Sorry for all those who will suffer and die.

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European News. I just read an interesting article in the Daily KOS about Sweden. I had been wondering how they were doing since they had taken an opposite approach to most everyone else. Herd immunity. No shutdown. It has not worked out well. We must also take into account more than half of Swedes live alone. And they have top-notch universal health care…unlike in the US. Nonetheless…

If nothing else, Sweden’s alternative response to the virus was … a good control group. And what we’re learning now is that failing to shut down hasn’t just led to more deaths, but—surprise surprise!—it also didn’t prevent its economy from tanking. In fact, Sweden is poised for more economic pain than its neighbors. 

Some pretty big differences between stay-at-home strategy and let ‘er rip. And remember…the economy is no better for this choice.

It is good to have a “control group”. Maybe the Swedes would not be happy being classified as such. But there you have it.

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Saturday! Bright and sunny! Exciting day as the Kilometer Zero market is here today. Yesterday I observed they had painted more marks in the piazza. It was confusing to me but I see the vendors figured it out. There are 13 tents. No crafts allowed. Only food. I am so so glad to see most of the farmers have survived. It must have been hard for them. And I note many are a bit sparse in what’s on offer. That is to be expected I suppose, since you can’t hurry the plants. Here is the view from my window. Next are the Polizia Municipale watching. Finally, the posted rules for entry.

The beautiful vegetables of early spring. I’m pleased I did not miss the peas. They will be in soon a woman told me.

Then the cheese stand with the Pecorino Staggione pictures.  This is aged pecorino. Excellent and sharp flavored. They also had fresher pecorinos of course.

Here is the stand for Blassi, our closest winery. They sell their wines but they are also famed for their porchetta. Here It is!

The people. Everyone is excited. The farmers and the customers. The stated rule is one meter distant from each other. Most were doing that. There were some couples shopping together. Of course we all wore masks. 

I came home with carciofi – artichokes, spinace – spinach, 4 fresh uova – eggs, fava beans, and some of Luthers favorite crackers. I’ve surely missed this market more than anything except maybe freedom to walk. Happy days.

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Signing off for now. Have a great weekend but keep yourselves safe. 🌈 We are the keepers of ourselves. No one else.