Category Archives: Umbertide

Tick, tick, tick ⏰

Well, time winds down. Doing the final move stuff. I am a Capricorn and therefore a very organized person. Also, my OCD husband says I am OCD too. Well, maybe so. I have a system with all my rooms color coded. We shall see how that works!

All of my boxes and furniture now have colored dots on them. I really want to limit the necessity of moving the boxes around once we are there. If I can get them in the approximate right places then I’m good.

Today I emptied out our chest freezer. We had begun to eat all the food frozen in there over the last couple weeks. Mostly what was left was frozen hot peppers. 😏 but also a ton of pesto, frozen cranberries — which I WILL NOT relinquish — crisco, chocolate chips and pecans from the US. Now that we have emptied both freezers I was able to save most stuff. Just had to throw away some peppers. It will all stay here until after we move.

We will be moving out of here Sunday into an agriturismo here in town. We will move the cats (and all their stuff!) and also several suitcases with all the things we will need for the beginning. I don’t want to have to be hunting in boxes to find the things we need first, like towels, sheets for the bed first night, etc.
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For fun stuff, we had a really nice time at the Books for Dogs quiz night. We teamed with friends, Ben and Karen. We had a favorable showing of third place. Tonight we will dine with our new friends.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. More as we progress…Ciao for now!

Off and running…

We got the new year off with a bang! We are only five days in, four of those were working days, and already I have received my renewed drivers license and our new Tessere di Sanitaria, health care cards. I think getting the later this fast must be a record!

I also have an upcoming unpleasant test to prepare for. I think most can figure out what it is 😏. For this I had to get blood work done and buy meds which my doctor said were over the counter. Got both of those things done yesterday.

We did a pleasant task today as well. Thank goodness sometimes we get to do fun things! We ordered two beds for our new house. We have only one mattress that we are bringing so we also bought a new mattress. We visited our old friend Sr. Tiziano. We bought a lot of things from him back when we moved into this apartment. He has a showroom with some furniture. But he also has books full of products to order. I leafed through the copious pages and chose two pretty iron beds. I really like their look. Clean and spare. We asked if he could deliver the same day as we move into our new place and he can. That’s good because I want to move in as soon as we can. A bed to sleep in is essential.

Tomorrow is Epifania, Epiphany. It is a holiday here. The end of the Advent-Christmas season. I wrote a post about this and the beloved witch Befana who comes the eve of Epifania. It is an interesting story — check this link for the legend. All the Italian children wait for her to come and bring them gifts. Much like Santa. Anyway. I heard the town band playing and went to the window to see. They were coming down the street all dressed as witches! And one of them was dressed as Befana herself. She is the one in the scarf and checked apron.

We are nearing our move. I am doing some packing of things that I would rather not have the movers packing for me. Our guest room is piled with boxes. I have been purchasing some odds and ends that I think will come in handy. Like a hand truck. I love hand trucks. I used to manage all of the trade shows for my employer, back when I worked. I accompanied our big display booth, making sure it got to the show and back safely. I used a hand truck all the time. I decided it was just what I need now to move boxes around. I think Amazon knows how much I love hand trucks because they sent me two!

Ciao for now!

This n that

It hasn’t been as cold but, boy! has it been rainy! The Tiber got very high and jumped its banks, but it has subsided. It is still running fast and muddy but staying behaved in it’s banks now. This morning I woke to sunshine. Nice for a change.

Out and about for a nice walk and visit to our local market. First I bought the vegetables I thought I would need. I got one of those beautiful romanesco broccolis. So pretty and so alien looking!

And I got beatole, the big meaty and leafy green I use in soups a lot. Along with a couple nice leeks. Now I have to decide how to use them.

I dropped off the veggies inside our door and went for a walk. I always like to have an aim for a walk and this time I wanted to replenish my depleted bay leaves. When I first came here I tried to buy bay leaves in the store. There were none. I was baffled. Eventually I learned that bay laurel trees are everywhere and you just pick off a leaf or a branch when needed. I went looking and sure enough, I found the town bay tree. You can see that the whole bottom of the tree has been sculpted as people pull off a branch or two.

Just next to the tree are a series of orti or vegetable patches. There are still a few hardy winter veggies like cabbages, but not much else.

I turned up-river and took a couple pictures. Tiber a bit high.

You can tell when we have had a lot of rain because this small “river” called a torrente, which is normally a trickle actually lives up to its name! Here it is joining its bigger brother the Tiber.

Last night I went to the Christmas open house at Books for Dogs – Libri per i Cani. I think everyone who reads this journal knows about this charity which supports two local canile which care for abandoned dogs. It was a nice little gathering. I saw some folks I knew, and met some I didn’t know. I snapped a couple, pictures in the town as I went home.

Ciao for now!

Eventide

Tonight, on my way back from my doctor appointment. It was about five-ish PM. We are nearing the solstice so our days are short. It was dusk. The sky turquoise. Is this not beautiful?

This next photo is going to be one of my all time favorites. You know why? Because of the Ape parked in the foreground. It is pronounced Ahh-pay. It is one of the ubiquitous Italian three wheel workhorse trucks seen everywhere here. Somehow it makes the composition just right. To me this photo is perfect.

Saturday

Today was our usual Saturday market. It poured rain all night. And continued throughout the day. Here is a picture of the Tiber which is muddy and full.

We went out because we needed a few things. It wasn’t cold at all. Just wet. We visited the Carrefour grocery a few steps from the Centro. We picked up some things we needed. I always laugh at the baby food when I notice. I bet you can’t get Coniglio, which is rabbit — baby food!

After the grocery we got some vegetables from the vendors in the pizza. Then I paid a visit to Books for Dogs to make a donation and also visited Laura at her ceramics shop, CeramicArte. You may remember her from posts last year. She is very skilled and will make things to order for you, personalizing them. I wanted to ask about buying a new Deruta ceramic table for our new house. We sold the round table we had made for our terrace with this apartment. The new place has a larger space with room for a bigger table so I thought it would be nice to get one that seats six. I got quotes from her and will drive to Deruta, probably next year, to the factory where she said there were lots of tables all ready to buy.

As always she has lots of great gift items in her shop. Here are just a few.

These are by another artist Carol Brannigan. A very different style, but very nice.

I love the snowman, which is a bell. She had several similar ones hanging on the mantelpiece. If you’re in Umbertide, stop by her shop.

We are told a frigid air mass will be hitting Italy starting tomorrow. Time to batten down the hatches! Buona domenica!

The tree is lit!

A very pretty, tall and stately tree. We walked through the little Christmas fair for the kids and also small booths selling things. The first picture is where Babbo Natale awaits visits from the children. He is inside La Rocca, our fortress.

Babbo Natale awaits within!
Old woodcut
Carnivale mask
Collection of dolls for sale.
Jane enjoying the ambience.

Today we had a pizza lunch at Calagrana. Albi had fired up the wood oven. Delicious.

Luther had bacon and potatoes on his
Mine was roast vegetable with anchovies. Jane had the same minus the anchovies.
Christie had a margarita with fresh pomodorini and anchovies.

It was all delicious. The day was mild and I didn’t have to wear a coat. Our friends Jane and Christie are just here until next Tuesday. They return to the US and their adventures there until next spring when they will return and move into our apartment. Big adventures to come for us all.

Commissioni, in another word, errands…

Even though today is one, vile, day we decided we couldn’t put off our commissioni another day. I fear the Umbrian winter has set in well and good. Rain, gray, dark and cold for the foreseeable future. It is not like people picture Italy, all sun and aperitivo on the piazza. The weather will remain like this for the next two – three months. We stay mostly inside with the stufa. It is quite cosy.

Today we had a number of things we wanted to get done. It started with the Saturday market. We bought what we needed there and walked to the photo store to get a photo of Luther for his passport renewal. ☑️ Then we walked back to the Carrefour to get a couple things. ☑️ Next up, the bakery to order our Christmas panettone. Last year we missed out because we were too late. This year it seems we were too early! But we got on the list for when they start making the cakes on December 15 ☑️

Then we walked to the car and drove to the big wine basement nearby. It is quite the place. Lots of great wine and all kinds of other booze. But, they also have seasonal things and they sell custom baskets full of good things to eat. Take a look at some snaps I took.

Panettone and Pandoro
More, all kinds

I think my favorite thing about many (most) Italian stores and hospitals and even gas stations is they have pictures of Mary or Jesus, or a crucifix or even more! In this shop, just above the cash register they have an array of religious photos. Mary, Jesus, Pope Francis…

We bought our wine and I decided to buy a panettone to share with friends since we couldn’t yet get one from the forno. ☑️

Next we headed to the Poste to see if we could pay a bill for a friend. It was jammed with people lining the sidewalk. First part of the month is a busy time there for pensioners getting their checks and all sorts of other business. The Poste is not just the Post Office but it is a full service bank and where you pay your bills. Anyway, we decided to try again next week. No check. 😞 Next ATM and last to the pellet store for more pellets. ☑️

Then for the hard part for Luther…the toting the purchases up 53 steps. Our neighbor said he couldn’t help carry the pellets because he has hurt his back. But he did help with one box. When we move the elevator will be our favorite thing!

I hope your weather is better than ours!

It is here! Christmas 2022 begins.

They kept us waiting this year. But today was the day the town Christmas tree arrived! My last tree while living in Centro so I savored the experience. I got a much appreciated phone call from Paul who could see the tree from his apartment as it was maneuvered into the Piazza. They don’t truss trees here so they are very bushy. They needed a crew and cherry picker to keep the street lights from being sheared off the buildings. As a friend said this morning, The Italian ability to get things through tight spaces should be the envy of the world. And I have to agree. I had to wait…and so did everyone else…anticipation!

Previous post with all trees from 2014 to 2020. For 2021 see last December.

Finally the tree is in the piazza. It looks to be a beauty!

The tree hung in mid air for a while.

Then they settled it into position.

I shot two videos of the maneuvering.

The tree will be lit on Thursday December 8, L’Immacolata, a National holiday. I will post pictures.

Celebratory lunch at Calagrana

What a day. It has turned sharply colder. Today was the day we celebrated with our buyers, Christie and Jane, and our former realtor Jim and his wife Jill. Jim was our original realtor in 2014. He knows the system and we just give him power of attorney and he handles the rest. So easy. We all went to Calagrana. The day was incredible the sky brilliant blue and the slanting autumnal sun made everything starkly clear.

Calagrana on it’s hillside.
View from in front Calagrana.

There was a new addition to the Calagrana family. Here is Tallula. She is 50 years old and is entirely original. She has only 60,000 kilometers on the clock. An original Fiat Centocinque.

Here is the group with Ely in the foreground.

It was a lovely afternoon. Lively conversation and great food. When we got back to Umbertide, the Castagne man had his fire going and the chestnuts were a-roasting. I love this! Every autumn this man and his family come and roast their chestnuts just next to the Piazza. This farmer is one of my favorites and comes to both of our weekly markets. He has the best tomatoes of anyone…but now is not tomato season…it is castagne season!!

So good. Sweet. I ate well today…Ho mangiato bene oggi! And it was lovely to spend our day with friends.

Excellent lunch with friends

Today, Saturday, was a bit gray, dreary and chilly. I went out to the market to do some shopping where I bought quite a lot of stuff for soups and salads. I noted we have a new bread kiosk which I must try. But today I visited our local forno for bread.

My haul.

Our friends from Spello, who moved here in July, were coming up for lunch at C’era una Volta, a restaurant near our new apartment. The name means Once Upon a Time. But first an aperitivo in the Piazza was in order. We sat at a table and Jane happened by so we invited her to join us. Then Jim (our realtor) and four other Brits sat at the table next to us. Bar Mary is always the place to meet and greet.

We headed down to the restaurant. We pointed out our new apartment on the way. I actually love C’era una Volta. It is only one block from our new apartment so I anticipate it will become our go-to place. The people are so friendly. I think they are Sardinian. Mom, dad, and daughter. We got the names of Mom, Laura, and Dad, Giuseppe. Next time, daughter. The food is quite good. They have a menu but the specials are recited. It is a real language and memory test! Here are pictures of our food.

Our shared antipasto plate. Amazing variety.
Delicious, made in the house, pasta with zucca (winter squash/pumpkin), prosciutto, and funghi (mushrooms).

We had such a nice time catching up with Roselyne and Steve. They are renovating their apartment right in the historic center of Spello. Excellent location with three terraces, one of which is right over the main drag up the hill so they can see what is happening all the time. Much like our view of our Piazza. It is ALL good! We will see them again soon!

When I got home I snapped yet another photo from our terrace…our last Autumn here. I want to always remember this view.

A little later I looked up and was greeted with an amazing sunset! It doesn’t get any better!

Buona domenica a tutti! 🌈