Category Archives: Umbertide

The Americans are coming!

I am amazed at the numbers of Americans arriving here in Italy right now. I guess many people waited until fall to come on the much wanted trip after the lockouts and lockdowns. I heard Florence is back to the teeming crowds of tourists, so long gone. I’ve seen pictures of other tourist destinations which are also very crowded. It is all good for the Italian merchants, restaurants and all the tourist oriented industries who have all suffered so much from this pandemic. They are all very happy to hear American voices again.

We have been meeting some of them. For a meal or a drink. Some are virtual-friends through my blog. Some already have places to live here and have returned after a long time of not being able to come. Many are looking for a property here. It looks like the property market is finally heating up somewhat.

We had a nice dinner with a couple who own an apartment in one of the many reconstructed borgos around here. Purpose built from old farms or small abandoned villages into vacation home enclaves. For my foodie friends, this was my Primi course last night. Pasta with a duck ragu, figs and nuts. Unusual and very good!

We just noticed there is a cannon in the Piazza outside! Along with the Italian banner. It is time for Otto Cento! For those who don’t know, Fratta ‘800 or Otto Cento has always been our town’s biggest and most fun festival. It was always held about this time of year and lasted for four days. A quasi recreation of the beginning of the Italian republic in 1861.

People dressed in period costume, re-enactments abounded, the cannons boomed, the horse Calvary were here, the briganti hid in their lair along with the ladies of the night in the brothel until Saturday night when they overtook the town. Garibaldi turned the tables and order was restored on Sunday. Four days of mayhem. 15 or more popup restaurants serving period food. Entertainment in keeping with the 1800s. Alas, since Covid it has been a shadow of its former self. But some people are keeping it going with restrictions. Hopefully in 2022 we can get back to our normal one.

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Today a decree will be signed to mandate vaccination to all workers in Italy.

From TheLocal
“Italy is expected to become the first European country to make its Covid-19 health certificate mandatory for all workers in both the public and private sector from October, as the government tries to speed up vaccinations and keep the infection rate down.”

Apartment for sale

Hi everyone. I thought I would take this opportunity to mention again that we are selling our nice apartment here in one of the most convenient little towns I’ve ever encountered here in Italy. Literally anything you could need or wish for is within walking distance of our apartment. You go to the normal little medieval towns in Umbria, or Tuscany, or to a pretty hill town, and they steal your heart. But there is no “there” there. There are no services. You have to drive everywhere. But not here. It is all close by, reachable on foot. In a flat riverside town, surrounded by mountains. You will get integrated into the Italian life. You will know the shopkeepers, and they will know you. This is not to say Umbertide is not pretty with historic sights because it is also that.

We have the best of both worlds in our apartment, a town view of our main piazza, and a bucolic view of the mountains, river and fields from the back. We LIVE on our terrace in the summer. The people here in the Centro, which is like a town within a town, are super friendly. There are two nice bar/coffee shops just downstairs and the two weekly farmers markets are just out our front door. Here is a link. Umbertide Apartment.

Vino on our terazza
Misty sunset
Moon over the Tiber
Summer flowers and sunset

If you dream of Italy. Maybe my apartment will make your dream come true! Nancy22314 at yahoo dot com. We can do the sale directly without a realtor’s fees. My real estate agent from when we bought will handle all the legal paperwork and obtain a Notiao. 🌈

Pizza night at Calagrana

Every Sunday is pizza night at Calagrana. Fun and casual. Albi mans the wood burning outdoor pizza oven with his assistant. We ran into many longtime friends we hadn’t seen in a very long time. All were in good spirits and have weathered the pandemic. Also we saw newly returned friends Linda and Evan. They will be here enjoying their apartment and the pretty autumn weather. We brought along our friends Jane and Christie who now own the little apartment overlooking the square where we stayed while renovating our apartment. We all tucked into our pizzas, hot off the fire. So good! Thanks Team Calagrana.

My pizza bianche with ham, funghi, olives and artichokes
Luther’s more traditional with salsiccia.

Madonna del Riga

Today is Umbertide’s patron saint day. Madonna del Riga. It is a holiday in Umbertide. It also coincides with the band/orchestra concerts in the piazza. We have had five nights of lovely music. Bands and orchestras from all over Umbria have come to perform. I generally enjoy the music from our apartment. It is one of my favorite things. Here is the program.

Not all of the bands are super good but it doesn’t matter to me. I just love that normal life has returned to our world. We have been through a lot. We didn’t have this traditional series last year, due to Covid. We went through a three month super strict lockdown last spring. Then a summer of loosening and fun. Only to be slammed in the fall. We didn’t leave our Comune, Umbertide, for FOUR MONTHS from Christmas to after Easter. Finally, things are a bit more normal.

Tonight is Umbertide’s own. Our town band. I have to say it is pretty darn good, for a town our size. As a friend says, from 7 to 70, all ages. Tonight the band was all inclusive with the adolescente band as well. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this return to normalcy. I think of this as Umbertide’s living room. 🙂 Look at the turnout. I think I’m not the only one craving normalcy!

Piazza

Something I have avoided posting about. Since the curfews were lifted, the bar in our main Piazza, called Cafe Centrale, has gotten increasingly popular with the ragazzi. This is the perfect Italian word for young guys (and girls). It is a nice bar. He regularly hosts musicians, and has good cocktails and food. August, as most know, is the party month when people vacation, no work is done and much is closed. In the Piazza, as the month progressed the crowds got worse and worse. They stayed out there until dawn sometimes. And need I say they were loud? OMG. They were loud. And they were drunk. The bar owner, Diego, eager to recoup all the losses of the lockdowns, stayed open until the customers left…so, until around 4am 😳. Needless to say, this encouraged the crowds. Luckily for us we sleep in the bedroom in the back of our house. So we didn’t really hear it that much and if we close the window in our office it pretty much cuts the sound completely. Thanks to good windows.

In the morning the wreckage of the night is evident. Trash, broken bottles, vomit, the smell of pee in the small streets. Things came to a head when an article was published in the newspaper about it and it turns out one of the residents swore out a “denuncia” on Diego. The court said he needed to control the crowds. He appealed, and they said, no go. Fix this. Diego spoke to the Mayor and agreed to close at 1:30 am.

I bet you’re thinking we should have just called the cops. What cops? Our cops are in bed asleep. The Carabiniere are awake, maybe, but they can’t be bothered with a group of noisy kids.

So the saga continued. The first night, a Friday, that he closed early, I was up at 2am. I noted very loud crowds of ragazzi. The bar was closed. I was amazed to see packs of people, five or six strong, coming from all directions to congregate in the Piazza. They stayed even though he was closed. I suppose when other bars closed the people came to Cafe Centrale because they knew he was serving. The following night the crowds were also large. But the next day, a Sunday and the last weekend in August, things were calmer. And so it has continued. There are lively crowds which give our Piazza life. We love this. But now they are normal crowds of people sitting, eating and drinking. Music plays. It’s hard to tell if this is because it is September now or because the word is out that it’s no longer party central. Tomorrow is Friday. We will see what happens then.
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Always an adventure in the Big City!

Sounds

From our apartment we can hear many sounds. It’s not annoying at all, it is just the sounds of life in an Italian working town. I enjoy it.

This morning, as I was standing in the kitchen, I realized I was hearing the sound of a lawn mower! “So?” You say, “It is not an unusual sound”. But it IS here. It is a sound so familiar from living in suburban US neighborhoods that I hardly noticed it, until I realized I never hear it here. Or certainly not the ubiquitous background hum of hundreds of them in a grassy neighborhood in the US. It’s something I hadn’t thought of until today.

Another thing I never hear here, and I certainly do not miss, is the sound of fans. Intake fans, exhaust fans, air conditioners, heat pumps. I hated it when we lived in the city. Even the ever present fans in our homes pushing the air through all the ducts and vents of our forced air heating systems. Forced air heat isn’t a “thing” here. Almost all homes are heated with gas hot water radiators. Or they are heated with wood or pellet stoves. Quiet systems.

So…what am I hearing now? Well, from the front of our house, I call it the “town” side, I hear the sound of the morning rounds of the little street sweeper. It is a small vehicle that can fit through our narrow streets. It spins and twirls across the piazza. Cleaning up after the partying of last night. There are trucks making deliveries on the piazza. And the sound of the construction in the apartment next door. From Bar Mary downstairs I hear people calling “ciao” to Irene who works the morning shift. And calls of “Ciao Angelo” to the Alimentari owner. Irene is constantly shifting the chairs and tables, returning them to their proper places. They scrape on the stones. Later the Briscola players will come. Old men pensioners, who spend their days playing cards. The games can get heated, and loud. 🃏

From the “country” side of our casa, I can hear the bird songs. There are chickens nearby and I can hear them clucking loudly as they lay their eggs. The rooster, who I heard every morning, is no longer needed, and has gone into the cooking pot I presume. The dogs, kept penned up on the farms nearby bark. Little kids call out from a playground beyond the copse of woods. The starting gun of the fishing contest scares the pigeons who roost on the roofs and they fly, en mass in big circles, their wings whirring until they settle again.

Kitten update

Buona domenica everyone! Pretty weather here for the foreseeable future. This is more like the Umbrian summer I know. Although I will say there is always a hot spell or two. Now highs are in the upper 20s or around mid-80s Fahrenheit. No rain in sight and it is REALLY dry. I’d love to see a good steady rain. Maybe the vintners wouldn’t since the harvest has started and too much rain at harvest is not good.

The kitten saga continues. Mostly good news. The tiny first litter that seemed to disappear was rescued. These babies were too small to eat on their own. There were six and all are doing well after talking to the people around here. The kittens I saw in the last post are doing well. There are three. We are calling them Braveheart, Tippy, and Loony. The first name will stick. He is brave and tiny. And he has a heart on is side. They all have infected eyes. There’s no way we can help treat them so we hope they will heal with no ill affects. We alternate feeding with our South African friends here. Mornings and evenings. Today I returned from my walk to see them feeding the kittens and cats. We watched the kittens after they had filled their bellies play with each other. They even came under the gate to investigate our feet. I’ve always noticed cats don’t seem to associate us with our feet. To them, feet are individual entities. Rocky, one of our cats, to this day follows our feet to the kitchen. He stares right at them as he comes along. Anyway, the feeding will continue and I think the babes and mom will do OK. I wish I knew someone who’d adopt the kittens. Their lives won’t be the best in that feral colony.

Buona domenica a tutti! 💕

Abandoned

It seems it’s always something around here. We have neighbors who let me know there is a situation behind our houses on the edge of the woodland and river path. They spotted five tiny kittens in the empty lot. No mother in sight. This is a sad, but all too common scenario. Behind us is a “sanctioned” feral cat colony. I’m not sure why it is sanctioned, but it is. There are volunteers who take turns feeding the cats. It is not only in the woods behind us, but also along the river in two or three spots. They have built shelters for them, conglomerations of bits of metal sheeting and boxes with bedding. And food dishes. Anyway, people often bring, and dump their kittens and cats thinking they will get fed.

I went out for my walk this morning and I spotted the cats. I was happy to see the Momma cat. She is so small she’s not much more than a kitten herself. She was nursing the two remaining kittens. I don’t know what happened to the other three babies. I saw no evidence of them. I had brought a plate of wet food which I feed my own cats, along with a small jar of milk. I wasn’t sure if the babies could eat solid food. Anyway, I mixed the food and the milk and slid the plate under the fence. Then backed away. The kittens ate EVERY MORSEL. They were ravenous. When I came back after my walk the kittens were playing and so cute! So I plan to go out again later with more food and milk to give them a good boost and hopefully they will survive. The mamma has access to the food someone leaves by the fence so she should be fine. Here’s a picture. Mamma is on the left.

I try to walk early, before this awful heat gets worse. I learned a new word, afa. Nice and short. It means muggy. And it describes perfectly this weather. I was even stopped along my walk by a woman complaining about the umidità. You can guess what that means!
Along the river this morning I snapped a pretty picture.

Buon Ferragosto!

Tomorrow is Ferragosto. The August holiday which is dead center of the month. The month of VACATION!! Big parties tomorrow.

This is a mundane post. I got out early since the predicted high today is 38C. That’s 100 degrees in US speak. Hot. So I was up and out before eight. I did my shopping at our local market first thing. The high summer bounty of fruits and vegetables are beautiful. It was hard to stop buying. Here are a few pics of the deliciousness to come.

Zucchini, borlotti beans, eggplant, sweet red onion, greenbeans
Every week we go through quantities of tomatoes. And I’ve not even gotten to making sauce.
What’s better than a Caprese salad when the tomatoes are at peak? This is locally made near Montone

I ran into some friends and we had a chat. Mostly about their recent vacation to Como, and the wonderful food in the market. We shared some recipes.

I didn’t only go out to shop. I wanted to get in my walk early before the heat. And like I often do, I decided to combine my walk with an errand. I had finally gotten some more charcoal and was planning to grill. I’ve got a skirt steak that I aim to make into fajitas. It was calling out for an avocado to go with it so I walked to the so-called “Egyptian” market 😁 It is owned by immigrants and I guess people think they are from Egypt so they call it the Egyptian market. I kinda doubt that. But anyway, they have things available there that cater to the immigrant communities in Umbertide and the surrounding towns. Things like cilantro. They have it reliably. And they have avocados that are perfect, and reliably good. So I make a point to get my avocados from them. So, as part of my walk I got two avocados and while there I even decided to buy four ears of corn. I’m sure it won’t be up to my standards of sweet American corn, but I want it so badly, I’ll try anything. I’m going to grill two, for a salad, and boil two, to test how good they are. I asked where they came from and he said Sicilia. I think most of their stuff comes from there.

Here is the corn. All trimmed up.

Doesn’t look so appetizing but we’ll give it a go.

On my way back, I was amused by this little grill on the sidewalk at our little corner store that sells all sorts of things for the household. The amusing part was that it said it was a barbecue “Professionale”. Right. Looks pretty flimsy for professional use!

That’s about it. I’ll try to remember to post a picture of our dinner tonight. And the corn whichever way I do it.

Ciao for now…buon Ferragosto wherever you are! 🌈

Fidelity

This is a follow-up to a post back in July. I had to go look it up. I posted on July 17. It was about the pigeons entrappolati inside the Comune building across from our house. At that point the pigeons had been trapped inside the building for five days. That means it’s been exactly a month since then. Of course, all the pigeons inside have died by now. But I was amazed that at least two lasted more than two weeks. I tried to get them rescued but it never worked out. I’ve moved on. But not so this guy.

He sits on that windowsill all day, every day. Waiting for his mate who has died inside. Of course he doesn’t know she has died. He just knows she’s inside. I looked up pigeon mating habits and, much to my surprise, I found out that they mate for life. 😢 I feel so sorry for this guy. I hope he moves on soon. I have been an unwilling spectator to this whole drama.