Category Archives: Umbertide

More musings

The Italian language never fails to surprise – and make me crazy. It makes me realize how descriptive English is. As in it has so many different and nuanced ways to use the language. Here, I have always been frustrated by the words hot and warm. In Italian if it is hot it is caldo, and if it is warm, it is caldo. Even worse the words niece, nephew and grandchild are ALL nipote. I just don’t get that! I wanted to say sibling today, so I looked it up. It was fratello. But , I said to myself, that’s the word for brother! So there is no distinction between brother and sibling. What about the girl siblings?
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Now is the season of the red spiders. They are on all flat surfaces by the thousands. They are very small. The sun really brings them out. If you wear socks on the terrace the soles become red with squished spiders. It is impossible not to mash them. This is an annual occurrence. It doesn’t last long. Thankfully!

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We just read that Italy will require all new construction, both public buildings and private homes, must include solar panels. I think this is such a good idea. It should be just part of the price of building.
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This is also the time of May snow (neve a maggio)! One tree here lets loose its fluffy seed puffs into the air. It is so thick in the air it is just like snow. We are lucky to have installed screens in most of our windows. Italians don’t normally have screens. Our big picture window in the living room has no screen. It tips in so we can let in fresh air. But now we cannot open it. It actually will build up until you are wading through heaps of it on your floors. Below is the river, which has a lot of the fluff build up.

May in Umbria is interesting. 💕

Weddings are Back!

Before the Comune was closed for renovation, all the weddings happened right down below our house. I loved looking at the outfits and watching the festivities. Then it all ended as they closed the building. I missed them…but NOW! They are back. Today I took a few pictures of the wedding below. I love looking at the fashions. It took a little while to figure out who the bride was because she was wearing a denim jacket…Maybe she was cold…but forever after all her wedding photos will show her in her fashionable denim jacket. If you want to see other weddings, including our first same sex wedding, the bride who wore orange because she was a Vespa club member, and the one in the bright red stilettos put weddings in the search field on the right.

And now for the groom. Man-bun and beautifully tailored slim-cut suit. And the shoes! Yes, brilliant white tennis shoes…no socks. It is the fashion here. Tennis shoes, trainers and other casual shoes. Note the red high-tops in this picture below. The happy couple refused to face my direction…sorry!

I love this one. The little girls in their fancy outfits throwing rose petals at the groom.

I am happy to say…the double kiss is back! During Covid I was afraid it was gone forever.

A little fun on this Saturday. 😁

Morning at the Mercato

A lot of people who retire complain that they can’t keep track of what day it is. Here in Umbertide that is never a problem. Our two weekly markets bracket our week nicely, and give us anchor points on Wednesday and Saturday. The town is very quiet on Monday and Tuesday, but gets more lively from Wednesday onward. Today, being the big, main market, I decided to go out and do a little hunting and gathering. Exiting my front door I am steps from Bar Mary and the Mercato.

Bar Mary is always busy on Wednesday. People meet friends to catch up.

There are almost always these musicians playing. They always bring their dog. Today it was some blues and then traditional tunes. They are good, so I always contribute a euro or two.

Here are a few pictures of the produce where I bought my items. The young man is from Cannara, famous for its onions. He used to just have onions and some dried legumes. Now and then he would have another crop. Suddenly, he has everything.

Here are a few of the spring veggies growing around this area now. I’ll put captions under the photos.

This is agretti. Also called Monks beard. Grows abundantly in central Italy and is a delicacy.
These radishes are the sweetest I ever had. Sometimes they can be hot. These are not.
Local carciofi are just coming in season.

I was so disappointed. When I got to this stand there was a bucket with a few handfuls of asparagus. I wanted some and this was the only place I had seen it. There were three ladies ahead of me. The first one bought around 8 spears. Still plenty left. The next one bought half of what was left. But what was still there was enough for me. So, one more lady. She got carrots, onions, lettuce, and was just about to pay, when she took the rest of the asparagi!! 😱 Sigh. Oh well. It is early in its season. I will go out earlier on Saturday. Anyway, I bought two bunches of radishes, four artichokes and some arugula.

Tis the season for planting gardens.

Onion sets
Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, etc. etc.

There are always two or three really big stands. They bring much of what they sell from down south, Sicily, Calabria. Sort of like Florida and California produce in winter what people north cannot yet grow. So we are seeing strawberries here now, but not local. Artichokes are here all winter from the south. Apples and oranges are just about done for the season. These stands sell things really cheap. Here are a couple examples.

One Euro fifty for 2.2 pounds
Ten artichokes for €5.00

I strolled back and took these final two pictures. One of the wall and all the plants that manage to dig roots between the stones. And of the old church tower with the four bells that ring for Mass, but also the hours of the day.

Next on my to-do list is buy the plants for my terrace. While we are still trying to sell our apartment I am still going to plant my flowers on the terrace. who knows how long things (like closing and us finding a new place) would take — and that is IF we sell it! Things move veeerrrryyy slowly here. Italian time…piano, piano.

Buona serata a tutti!

Officially declaring spring is here!

Yesterday, we dumped the last bag of pellets we had bought this winter into our stufa. We declared it officially Spring! We went through around 80 sacks this year at €5.50 each. We know the amount because this year we had most of them delivered and hired people to carry them up to our apartment. The pellet stove keeps our living and dining room nice and warm all winter… and it saves on gas.

I bet most people don’t know that the Italian government regulates when you can start and must end using your heat. Umbria is in Zone E. This zone is second to the longest allowed time (meaning we are second to the coldest region). We are allowed to have the heat on 14 hours a day from October 15 to April 15. They also regulate the temperature. The warmest you can set the thermostat is 20C or 68F. This explains why such a large proportion of the population use wood or pellets as a supplemental (or primary) way to heat.

Just this week Italy announced that this year they will also regulate, and limit, the use of air conditioning, but only in businesses and schools. Italy imports 95% of its gas, and 40% of that comes from Russia. Italy says we will stop importing any gas from Russia within 18 months. Applause! We have two air conditioning units but very rarely use them. Perhaps on the hottest days of August we use it for around three or four hours in the living room since it gets the full afternoon and evening sun. Otherwise, it cools off very quickly in the evening so the windows are open to the night breezes.

We took a nice drive over the weekend. Down through the mountains. I got this castle photo in the town where we ate lunch, Capodacqua.

Yesterday was Liberation day, a big holiday here. 25 Aprile 1945, the end of WWII for the Italians. It’s complicated! In Umbertide is is even more complicated because the very same day but one year earlier in 1944, the Allies dropped 2 bombs on Umbertide while trying to destroy the Tiber river bridge. Seventy-eight citizens were killed and an entire block of houses destroyed and never rebuilt. So it is a bittersweet day here. Anyway, all over Italy one hears the Bella Ciao! song. Here is a still of of our marching band and all the citizens entering the Piazza. Photo borrowed from a video my neighbor Christie got.

Bella Ciao! By a local group – Nuova Brigata Pretolana. A rousing rendition!

https://fb.watch/cDwDrvf2wU/

Upcoming trip, Permesso di soggiorno lungo periodo

We are having beautiful weather. Yesterday, Luther and I went for a walk. It was the first day of warmish weather after a long cold spell. It seemed like everyone in town was out for the evening passeggiata. We chose the river walk. The Tiber river and Umbertide, behind its walls.

Today, we finally turned in our paperwork for the Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo – elective residence…second try. We will see if we’re missing anything this time. Last time 2 of our documents were expired. Our Questura appointments are April 14. Once, in the past this first appointment was six months out. That meant it took almost a year to get our new Permessi from application to receiving the card. By then we had to start the renewal process for the next one! We are glad that was a one time thing. We have no idea why. 75 pages of documentation…And €176 each in stamps and fees…EACH.

UPCOMING TRIP REPORT!!
Tomorrow we are going on our first trip since last summer. Long time. Short time and distance. We will take the train to Milano for three nights and explore the city.

Ciao for now!

Bambini per Ukraine

Today I had my weekly Italian lesson. I use my office computer in the room with the window into the piazza. I heard voices and cheers so I rose to look. A couple hundred kids outside. I took a picture. Not so good because it was shot through the screen. The children from the local elementary school all had Ukrainian flags. Warmed my ♥️. It was the first demonstration I have seen here in Umbertide.

Buona domenica

Our weather is foul. It’s the only word for it. High of 5C today, spitting cold rain, with howling winds. Doesn’t that sound lovely? That doesn’t mean I am not enjoying my Sunday. The apartment is warm and cozy. Of course the stufa is burning in the living area. Last week we had 30 bags of pellets delivered which should see us through the winter. We buy them and they bring them to the steps on the ground floor. We then hire two men, our downstairs neighbor, Pietro, and Walter an unemployed but very nice fellow who is a fixture in Umbertide. They are happy to make the money — it is a lot of work. They huff and puff. I have emergency services on speed dial. 😁 At least Luther doesn’t have to carry them anymore. 💕

The stufa has a big hopper in it. You pull it out and fill it and it feeds the pellets in throughout the day. One hopper full lasts a day and a half. We turn it off at night. The living/dining room is a big room with high ceilings so we augment the radiator heat with the stove. Very cozy.

Energy costs are high here, so many Italians heat with wood. Some have whole house pellet systems that heat the water and the house. Others, who have access to wood supplies, use wood. Fireplaces or wood stoves. I, personally, love a real fireplace. When we move, a fireplace or wood stove will be on the ”must have” list.

Tonight I am grilling an enormous bistecca which we bought from our favorite butcher, Etrusco in Bosco. I will grill it on the kitchen fire. The fire will warm the room and also allow me to make a fine dinner. The firewood is brought by a nice Romanian gent named Quintino. He brings five big bags whenever I ask him and delivers it right up to my terrace. I must admit, I pay him handsomely. It is worth it to me, and he appreciates the money.

Have a nice Sunday everyone!💕

This & that

A little catching up is in order I think. We have been working once again to get our long term permissions to stay (Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (ex carta di soggiorno)). Much paper to gather. You may remember we tried for it last year. Two of our documents were time sensitive (we didn’t realize) and had expired. So my new hobby is copying all our myriad cards, IDs, passports, tax returns, financial statements, house certifications, and compliance with the language proficiency certification and other requirements to live here. Whew! I think I am almost there. We are still waiting for our police reports, and the Certificato Contestuale. When I’m done killing trees I will take a photo.

The month of February is more than half gone. It is that time of year when the temperatures are all over the place, but more warm than cold now. Today it was mid 60s but cloudy. We are having sunlight until six PM now which is nice. I have been walking so I notice the buds on the trees.

Along the city walls next to the river. We have a brand new fence. The fishers where out this morning in force.

After my walk I stopped to shop in the local Saturday market. I got a big bunch of rapini, called broccoli rabe in english. I will post on Monday the way I love to have it with pasta. Super good and super easy. But meanwhile I’m have a salad tonight among other things, look at this. So pretty! Like a flower. Salad-to-be. It is much like radicchio.

Tomorrow we celebrate a friend’s birthday at Calagrana. I will try to post pictures. Buona domenica everyone!

Birthday party!

Yesterday, we went to Calagrana to help a friend celebrate his birthday. It was lovely, if a bit scary, to be with a big group all having fun together. Poor Calagrana had suffered a power surge on the line and it blew out much of their power. I have to hand it to them for going forward with the lunch even with such huge problems. None of us really noticed anything much awry. That’s a credit to the team there.

We started out, outside for drinks. The day wasn’t warm, but in front of Calagrana is what is called a “sun trap”. So it was quite nice. Not cold at all.

We were around twenty five people all together at one long table.

Below…Birthday boy! We also are probably distant cousins. Scottish, his last name is Gilmore, mine is Gilmer. Anyway, we are happy to pretend we are!

Obligatory food pictures 😁

No, party is complete without toasts! To your health and long life, Tom!

Finally, a small tribute to Archibald – Archie for short. One of the two restaurant dogs.