Category Archives: Umbria

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.

~~~~~~~~
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.

A curiosity — Monte Ruperto

I tell you there is always something new to learn! A couple of days ago I was looking up a place in Le Marche on Google maps. I noticed, to my surprise, a chunk of Umbria completely surrounded by Le Marche. Like it was a little island stuck in the next region. Of course I was curious and so went looking and found out it is a Frazione, or a part, of Città di Castello, next town north from us. It is called Monte Ruperto. It is an Umbrian enclave surrounded by Pesaro and Urbino. It is 30 kilometers from the center of Città di Castello. So, how did this happen? Enquiring minds.

It is described as a historical curiosity. The mayor of Città di Castello can claim the noble title of Baron of Monte Ruperto while he serves as mayor. The story goes like this…during a time of famine, caused by a heavy snow, the Baron asked for help for his citizens. Only Città di Castello responded, sending a mule train with supplies.

The Baron was grateful and decided to donate his territory to Città di Castello, along with the title which was bestowed on the sitting Mayor. He can wear the period dress and has the dual role of Mayor and the Baron of Monte Ruperto.

The story is an old one. The inhabitants of Monte Ruperto had tax benefits. A document dated 1274 and reaffirmed in 1574 established that they owed the municipality only five soldi, in usual currency, per hearth (per house), to be paid on 27 August.

There is not much left in the little Frazione. It is about 500 hectare and once had four towns. They are gone or they are ruins now. There are only mountains and forests left. Photo borrowed from Città di Castello.

Alien eyes

I read a post by a friend today. It was about the fact that we stranieri, foreigners, who come to live in foreign lands, come with different viewpoints. We see things differently and notice the differences in our new land, which the residents don’t see, because it’s so familiar to them. It’s because we strangers look on things with “new” eyes. It would be the same if reversed, I’m sure.

One thing they don’t seem to see here, is that they don’t market themselves. Or not well, anyway. I’ve always said, Umbria just doesn’t “get” marketing. It doesn’t have a regional program to market itself to the world, like say, Tuscany does. It’s why many people who asked me where I was moving before we came had no idea where Umbria was when I told them. I, personally, am fine with Umbria as it is. But Umbria could be more if it knew how. It is so much like Tuscany. The landscape is nearly identical, save for the sea. The food and wine are very similar. Wild boar, porcini, and salt-less bread, all shared by the two regions. And yet, Toscana is overrun with tourists. While Umbria is tranquil and undiscovered. The traditions that so many tourists love are all sleeping here.

They just don’t understand marketing. A good, and slightly amusing example is in our town. Or was, I should say. We had a really nice Jazz bar on a nearby street. But you wouldn’t know it was there because it had no sign. When friends from California mentioned they should put up a nice sign, the owner said, “I don’t have enough business for a sign”. True story. The Jazz bar is long gone, for obvious reasons. This the defunct Jazz club. It looked just like this when it was open. No sign, no hours…who would know it was even there?

Don’t get me started on websites, which are, in my opinion, one of the easiest ways to market yourselves. When we first came we always reflexively went to the website looking for info. Take for instance, a town with an annual festival. You want to know the schedule. When you go to the town website, you see the schedule for 2016. It is 2021. They haven’t updated their site in five years 🙄. This is typical. Hotel sites list specials from two years ago. Restaurant sites don’t list their weekly closing day. They don’t say if they are open for lunch. Many don’t even say where they are! An art museum in Citta di Castello we wanted to visit listed their hours. So we paid them a visit, only to find them closed for TWO MONTHS for renovation! Wouldn’t you think they’d tell you this on their website!? It IS an important bit of information. Anyway, they’ve beaten us down. We don’t expect accurate information on a website anymore.

We had a nice monthly magazine for the Upper Tevere Valley before the pandemic. It had articles about businesses and items of interest. It was free, so there were lots of ads in it. Me, being new, I was always interested in knowing what was out there. Half the time, I’d find a business and it would have nice glossy pictures etc, (they do design well) but it wouldn’t say where they were, no address, not even the town sometimes, or when they were open. I guess if you grow up here they’d expect you to know. Marketing 101. Italians are surprised when I point out these “tiny” omissions. They just don’t “see” it.
~~~~~~~~
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The weather is perfect. Warm days, blue skies, cool nights. Suddenly, it’s fall. Photo from my walk today.

Information for those who are traveling to Italy from the US. The EU put the US on the list of countries no longer able to come without restrictions. Each country will make a ruling for themselves. Yesterday, Italy reimposed the requirement for a negative Covid test in addition to proof of vaccine. It says specifically, “presentation to the carrier at the time of embarkation and to anyone in charge of carrying out the checks, of the certification of having undergone, in the seventy-two hours prior to entry into the national territory, to a molecular or antigenic test, carried out by means of a swab and negative result.” This takes effect from today August 31 to October 25 unless amended.

Buona giornata a tutti! 🌈

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! 🌈

Hot, hot, hot

Big heat spell here right now. Temps near 100F. No rain for months. I hope Italy doesn’t have any fires. We are pretty much managing the shutters and attempting to keep the heat out in the daytime and letting the cool (if there is any!) into the house at night. We have even been using our AC during parts of the day, and at night. I dream of a cool front coming through, or a nice thunderstorm. No sign of one 👀 Sigh.

We have no trips planned for the rest of this year after our fun trip to Sardinia. It may have been a risk. But we suffered no harm. And good memories. Luther is talking of a trip to Milano in September. We shall see.

Umbria is doing very well. We haven‘t had a death in weeks. Crossing my fingers it stays like this. We have hardly any UK visitors which is very unusual, and not many US visitors either. We seem to have German, Belgian, Holland, and the Scandinavian countries.

We are now in Agosto, August, which is the big vacation month here. Businesses and government agencies shut down. Don’t even think of getting anything done in August in Italy.

Dinners and lunches are cool affairs. No baking, no roasting. If I use heat it will be to make something ahead to use in a salad at night. Or I will quick sear a thin cut of meat. Chicken cutlets are a popular choice. Or a thin steak. Last night we had a Greek salad. Tonight we had left over Greek salad in pasta served cold and chicken cutlets in pesto from my basil. We are out of charcoal but when I get more, grilling will be an option.

Hot time! Summer in the city…

Traveling to Italy – Updates
Italy began its Green Pass mandates this week. People will be required to show the pass for access to museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas, sports stadiums, theme parks, indoor swimming pools, spas, gyms, and indoor seating areas at bars and restaurants. US residents can show their CDC card and it will be accepted in lieu of the Green Pass. A person can also show a negative test within 48 hours of entering one of these venues, or proof you had Covid and have recovered. As of September 1st, the Pass will be required to travel in planes, ferries, busses and long distance trains.
~~~~~~
Since things have gotten so bad in the US, there is talk of the EU closing travel to US travelers. Again. They say within the next two weeks they will make a decision. Today The Local, our “go to” English language online paper, had an article with the latest. I cut and pasted since there is a pay wall. (By the way, it is not at all expensive to subscribe and it is a wealth of information.)
Here is the article:
~~~~~~
At the moment Italy allows arrivals from the US for any reason, including tourism. But as coronavirus infection rates rise in both countries, readers have asked if and when the rules could change.
Question: We are traveling to Italy soon and are hearing rumors concerning Italy or the EU imposing new restrictions on US travelers. Do you know if and when this is likely to happen?

As the coronavirus infection rate in the United States has now risen well above the threshold for removal from Europe’s travel ‘safe list’, there has been media speculation in recent days about whether a change to the rules is imminent.

The European Commission regularly reviews its ‘safe list’ of countries from which non-essential travel is allowed, and news reports from Reuters and Bloomberg this week have cited EU officials saying rules for those arriving from the United States could be reconsidered under the next review.

After initially saying the ‘safe list’ review could come as soon as next week, the same officials have now reportedly stated that it will happen in two weeks, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The rate of new coronavirus cases in the US has risen to 270 per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The EU’s ‘safe list’ limit is 75 new cases.

The seven-day average of Covid-19 cases in the US now stands at around 100,000 per day, up from under 20,000 in June.
~~~~~~
Stay safe and wear your mask. Andrà tutto bene
🌈