Category Archives: Umbertide

Catch up

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. We have been doing a few things. Mostly mundane. We had a Calagrana lunch last week with two couples. Then we had a lovely invitation from Vera and family to their mountain house. It is three kilometers up a winding mostly gravel and dirt road. They are at the very end. So beautiful up there. It was just us and the family. A simple barbecue but so nice. Le regazze!

Some of the food.

The week was full of chores. We have to replace some of our zanzariere. Zanzara is the word for mosquito. Say it out loud. Doesn’t it make you think of the zzzzzzz noise a mosquito makes beside your ear? Two of the screens are ripped and several no longer hook down as they should. They said they’d come next week. And yet again we are trying to get our Tessere Sanitaria renewed. But we needed an appointment so we go next week.

Finally today we had a little fun. We met up with a friend who is buying a house here. He has been stuck in the US because of the travel restrictions but he finally got here this week to see his house. And we had lunch at Nonna Gelsa, a nearby restaurant. Ravioli with pistachio pesto.

Tomorrow I start packing for our little getaway. Leaving on Sunday. First trip since our lockdown from last fall. We are going to Sestri Levante on the Mediterranean. North of the Cinque Terre and south of Genoa. It is to celebrate our anniversary. I will do a trip report, of course!

Ciao! 🌈

Umbertide is back!

Eurocup. Italy versus Turkey. Back in the olden days. Before Covid. We had exciting gatherings in front of Bar Mary to watch sporting events. Mostly soccer, or football as they call it here. Since Covid things have been different, but tonight! Tonight! There’s a huge crowd outside. Bar Mary, as of old, has set up a big TV and the chairs are all pulled up to watch the game. Cheering erupts at intervals. I can hear it well up here. See the fun…

Makes me happy.

Best laid plans…

I just re-read my last post. Nothing worked as planned…no surprise!

First, the day we planned to go to the new Asian market happened to be the day the Giro d’Italia was in Perugia. Streets closed. Public transport closed. Traffic nightmares. So we decided against that trip for now!

Lunch Saturday also called off. The restaurant is fully booked both Saturday and Sunday. All the restaurants are very busy since they’ve been allowed to reopen. The main issue is the limited number of outside tables. Now we have to regroup. It looks like we will need to plan a little farther ahead.

Due to some great tips and recommendations from one of my blog readers (thanks Matt!), our trip for our anniversary has moved from our original destination up the coast to a town called Sestri Levante. It sits between Genoa and the Cinque Terre along the coast. We have been a couple of times to the Cinque Terre but never have we explored the coast north of there. The town of Portofino is just near Sestri and I’ve always wanted to see it. We also want to visit Rapallo and S. Margherta Ligure. I am told they are nice villages. And then, possibly we will take the train into Genoa. I want to have some downtime too. So we will see.

Buona serata a tutti!

Where is May!!?

I’m getting tired of this cold wet weather. May is usually so reliably nice. But not this year. Last weekend up to Monday was nice. Then the cold damp came roaring back for the rest of the week.

Big news! Finally. After almost two weeks. We managed to get into our garage! Whoo hoo! Things always take longer that you expect here in Italia…one gets used to it… Now we can take the Angelo Giallo out for a spin. (Note to self…get a second door key)

We still aren’t doing very much interesting so I’ve not been writing too much lately. We did go out to nice dinner with friends at San Giorgio this week. It was fun and good to get to know our new friends. I had Bottoni…a pasta dish. Means buttons. 🙂 descriptive as are so many pasta names.

While I was waiting to pick up my Tikka masala on Takeaway Thursday. I took this pretty shot of the Lido – the park by the river. Once it actually had cabanas and people went there to go swimming, go dancing and sun bathe.

This is now….

This was then… so very different from now. Dancing and partying. You can find this same vibe today along Lago Trasimeno. In summertime it is disco dancing and partying non-stop. Lots of Italian tourists. Nowadays you will see women…I note there are none in these pictures except the dancers.

1939 cabanas in the Lido
1934 Pommerigio festivo alla piattaforma
1934 when the Tiber was clean…It is not dirty now…but I suspect there was a time when it was…

Today, the Saturday Market. I picked up some coriander plants at the Books For Dogs/Libri per i Cani special plant sale. Then we met some good friends at Bar Mary for drinks. They just arrived home from the US this week. They have a home in Montone and are residents of Italy so can come here with no problem. We were interested to hear their experiences for their trip home. They said many people trying to travel without citizenship, residence or an acceptable, essential reason were turned away by the airline in the US.

This man, nicely dressed with his “man purse”, on his bicycle had a 3 liter container of vin sfuso from the wine booth. Looked like a nice rosato. You can just see it in his left hand. Wish I’d gotten a better view! It was classic!

Italiano phrase for today. “Ho messo in ordine tutti i libri” — in English — “I tidied up all the books”. Pronounced…oh mays-so in or-dee-nay toot-tea ee lee-brie.
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Get vaccinated everyone, if you can. Here in Italy it is slow…but in the US everyone now is eligible — so please, do it for the greater good…and thank you 🌈!

Catching up

We took a drive Monday up to Arezzo in Tuscany. We visited a big grocery there that we like. We drove the Porsche which hasn’t been driven since January. The trip takes around 40 minutes. It was nice to see new scenery for a change. And to stock the larder with food.

Over the weekend we were awakened at 5am by our resident Hoopoe. Our bedroom window was wide open and he perched on the clothes line just outside where he proceeded to sing his (loud) two note song which is the origin his name, they say. Oddly, just last week I opened a bottle of wine which had a glass stopper rather than a cork. I noticed something painted on it. It was a Hoopoe! It seems every time I turn around I’m reminded of this cool bird.

Saturday local market was cheerful. We still have mostly winter vegetables. But I saw asparagus today. Also, everyone has piles of fresh eggs. The chickens lay more eggs in the spring apparently.

Plant booth had some pretty plants but I was going to take a trip up the hill outside of town to the big greenhouse so I just admired his flowers.

I’m happy to see both of the bars are welcoming folks.

San Giorgio, the restaurant across the piazza from us. They are happily serving lunch and dinner again.

I went out to the nursery just outside of town. I bought petunias and a bunch of herbs. I still need the sweet alyssum I normally plant and couldn’t find. I guess it will become a quest! This is the view up to Civitella Ranieri, the castle that hosts fellows in the art world. They were empty last year so I hope all goes well this year. Isn’t the sky pretty and the winter wheat so green!!

Spur of the moment we decided to have lunch at Patrick’s Enoteca. I’ve missed it. The “clown” train passing on the tracks across from Patrick’s.

Lunch.

So that was my week. Oh, except I locked the key to the door of our garage inside the garage. So now we can’t get to the car! And we were going for a ride today. Oh well. We are trying to figure out how to get in! This was the very thing I reminded myself never, ever to do…and I did it 🙄
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Italiano phrase…”era un bellissimo sabato”. In English “it was a beautiful Saturday”. Pronounced — era une bell-ees-see-mo sah-bah-toe.
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Stay safe everyone! 🌈

Vaccine appointments

Yesterday we got the call from our medico di base. She has vaccines and we have an appointment on Tuesday to get our shots. We are happy. It is good news. If we get AstraZenica, as we assume we will, we will get the second shot in July sometime. They say the efficacy is a lot higher if you wait.

On Monday we go to Zona Gialla. Zone Yellow. This is the BEST news. We will be able to travel to places in our region and even to adjacent regions that are Yellow. So we could go to Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Le Marche, Abruzzo, and Lazio. 😁 💕 What freedom. The ristorante and the Bars are also opening for sit down outside drinks and meals. How exciting for them. It’s been very hard on these businesses. I was out yesterday, and the chef at San Giorgio, the restaurant across the Piazza from us, was outside cleaning his tables in anticipation. I was excited for them and asked if they’d be open next week. And yes! They will be, for Pranzo. It is the best place in town. It warms my heart to see Cafe Centrale out spiffing up the outside space, and Bar Mary too. It will feel like the old Umbertide again 💕. Spritzes on the Piazza…wow.

Beautiful weather today. Just perfect. Pastel blue sky, bright green wheat, the trees with varying blushes of tiny spring leaves. The birds flitting about. I saw our resident Hoopoe or Upupa on our terrace today. Big beautiful bird.

Dinner last night was from the little group who do “takeaway Thursday”. They offer two menus. One, more traditional Italian or continental. The other, more exotic. This week we got one of each. Luther got the French one. I got the Thai one. Very yummy. I walk across the bridge over the Tiber to pick-up at 6pm. Half of Umbertide seems to be over there getting dinner! Here is a picture of my dolce. Peanut butter cups with spicy bits on top…to be honest, I ordered my meal just to get these. 😁 There were three…

Next chore is to put together our packet for the Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (ex carta di soggiorno) – elective residence. We finally have gotten everything we need to apply. And it is quite the list, let me tell you. I will be working on this today and tomorrow and I hope to have it all ready to submit on Monday.
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Italiano phrase for today. “ho pranzato, ora è tempo di fare un pisolino” In English “I had lunch, now it is time for a nap”. Pronounced….oh pranz-ahto, or-ah aa tem-po dee fah-ray une peese-oh-lean-oh. Pisolino is a favorite word…a nap!
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Stay safe everyone. Un buon fine settimana! 🌈

Sunday lunch

Yesterday we picked up our lunch at Calagrana. It was Five Spice Slow Roasted Pork Belly and Bau Buns. Tasty! Picture follows.

It was a decent enough Sunday weather wise. Quite cool but a nice little drive. A tiny change of scenery. The pretty driveway to Calagrana.

Otherwise it was same ole, same ole. Today, Monday, I called our doctor. She said we would get our shots this week or next. She seems to be a little behind the other doctor in town that most of us go to. She said last week she did 78, 79 year olds. This week she will do 76, 77 year olds. Depending on the number of shots she may get a little lower. We may have a bit of a wait. I volunteered that we would be happy to come and take any left over shots if someone doesn’t show. She said her practice has never had anyone not show for their shot. Ok then.
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Yesterday, I noticed the exciting sight of our little House Martins visiting their nests after the long migration back from Africa. They return every year to the same nest. So today, in honor of our returning friends I chose as our Italiano phrase…”i balestrucci sono tornati a nidificare” In English “the House Martins have returned to nest”. Pronounced Ee bah-lay-struch-chi so-no torn-ah-tea ah nee-dee-fee-car-ay.
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Stay safe everyone! 🌈

Everyday food

Someone wanted my bolognese recipe. So here you go.

Ingredients
1 carrot diced small
2 garlic cloves minced
about a pound of ground beef
1 can (15 ounces) tomatoes chopped
About 3 to 4 cups whole milk
Pasta (about 8 oz)
parmesan to serve

Sauté carrot in oil. Add garlic for one minute. Then add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes with juice and mix and cook a bit. Add around a cup of milk. Cook slowly until milk is incorporated. Add some milk every so often and let simmer into sauce. I try to cook the sauce for two or three hours. Or until it’s creamy and all the milk is incorporated. The amount of milk can be more if needed. It will become creamy. Once it is finished you can feeeze some of it. I usually get two or three meals for two from it. Boil pasta in salted water until nearly done. Drain. Saving some water. Return pasta to pot. Add sauce and some water and cook over heat letting the pasta finish cooking and absorb some sauce. Salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan. Mmmm.
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For our weekday lunches we often have egg “McMuffins”. Silly huh? We’ve been getting English muffins from Ely at Calagrana. They are not to be found elsewhere here. So we enjoy them. I have a cute little contraption I brought over here from the US that cooks my eggs to just the right size. I put it in a non stick pan, and add a pat of butter, salt and pepper. Heat it up and crack an egg in. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove that little ring and flip egg for 10 seconds. This “should” finish up with a not completely hard yolk. Depends on the size of your egg. Eggs are smaller here. It makes a good lunch. Here’s the ring. We have a set of four.

And here is the finished egg “McMuffin”. I toast the muffin and add cheese.

What else is there to do around here except eat? Well, that’s not completely true. We ran errands this morning. We picked up some cat supplies and went to the Coop supermarket. Brought it all back, to include emptying the trunk of four bags of pellets. We figure these are the last we will use this spring. All of this had to be carried up to our house. Huff puff.
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Italian phrase for the day…”ogni giorno leggo molti giornali” — English “everyday I read many newspapers”. Own-knee gee-or-no leg-go mol-tea gee-or-nahl-ee.
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Four of my friends here in Umbertide got vaccinated yesterday. Stupendous news! Soon it will be our turn, we hope. Stay safe everyone! 🌈

What’s next

We continue to struggle here in many ways. But we also are doing well in other ways.

In the newspaper it is intimated that Umbria was doing so well with the new case numbers and hospitalizations that at the end of April, when the re-assessment takes place for May, we may go….drum roll…Bianca!! This means, everything opens up to us. BUT, I will believe this when I see it…I, for one, will be happy with a Yellow zone. Then I can sit in the piazza and have a spritz or a caffe. Or go to an actual lunch in an actual restaurant! Wow. Or we can drive to another part of Umbria to do a wine tasting. Or just to tour around. It is so amazingly freeing and it is also amazing how little it takes, after being locked down for so long, to thrill me.

On the vaccine front, good news. Three of my friends were called by their doctor today to come tomorrow for shots. AstraZenica. They are going by birthday and these are all around 75. Also, our friend and Italian teacher Marilena told us that her Mom got called by her doctor to come in. Her Mom is 79. She got AstraZenica. Her Dad, a bit younger but with asthma, will get Pfizer. But he has to go to the hospital whereas her Mom went to the doctor. Another small piece of information for us. I guess the info we got that our doctor would call us is correct. So we wait.
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I am not bragging when I say I am the queen of bolognese sauce. They say there isn’t really a bolognese sauce as such. It is true, there is no one recipe. And there are many arguments. Even in Bologna, where it is said to have originated. Over the years I’ve chosen my favorite and I make it often. I make a big batch and freeze portions for quick dinners. The recipe is simple. Only a diced carrot, a couple cloves of garlic, ground beef, a 15 ounce can of tomatoes and milk.

Italiano phrase — “inizia una nuova settimana”. In English — “a new week begins”. Pronounced — in-eat-zee-ah une-ah new-oh-va set-tee-mah-nah.
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Stay safe everyone. 🌈