Category Archives: Umbria

Lunch with friends

Nowadays we are careful about getting together for just about anything. We have space on our terrazzo for only four to dine together. So I can only invite two at a time. Today was the second time since lockdown that we’ve had friends over for a meal. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sunny, breezy and the perfect temperature. I set our round table outside.

My menu was: Bruschetta with avocado, gazpacho with mozzarella, shrimp risotto, peach cobbler. Some pictures.

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Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutti bene 🌈 And so it will. Ever hopeful.

Pigeon rescue

I think and hope I saved a pigeon today. I’m not a huge fan of pigeons. Messy dumb birds and we have so many they are a nuisance. But I just can’t let one starve to death while I watch. There’s a small window across from our living room in the Comune. It has been left open and pigeons are living in there. I’m sure it’s a disaster inside. It must be some sort of storage or utility area for them not to have noticed, even though the building is empty.

Anyway, yesterday I noticed someone had shut the window, but I saw they’d shut a pigeon inside. I gave her the name Pia. Her mate was outside and quite distraught. For a pigeon the stuckee was pretty. Almost totally snow white. I tried to find some help this morning, and finally in the end was knocking on the Comune door and hoping a caretaker or workman was inside. Irene, at Bar Mary called to me and I told her the problem. She called someone and they said they’d let her out. So I had my fingers crossed.
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Good news. Later the window was open. I kind of wish they had shooed her out and re-closed the window. It’s got to be a disaster inside. And now all these pigeons are right back inside. 🙄 I’ll try to get a picture of Pia to post.

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stay safe all…🌈 andrà tutto bene.

Rainy days and Mondays… 🎶

It is the last day of August. The summer has passed. It feels like fall. The temperature was in the upper 90s just a week ago and today it won’t get out of the 60s. It is also raining steadily. Soaking the fields. The growing season is nearly done. The corn is drying on the stalks. The sunflowers are sad and drying as well. The tobacco is halfway harvested. The wine harvest is just starting. I am sure the rain is not appreciated by the vineyards. But it is just raining for today so I imagine the growers can let the grapes dry in the next sunny days and all will be well.

1,365 new cases in Italy. The good news is the summer vacation season is over today. So I hope our numbers will steady, or better yet, decline. 23,000,000 people were on the road going home from vacation over the weekend ! Considering there are only 60,000,000 people in Italy, that is quite the onslaught. I’m glad I wasn’t out there.

School is scheduled to begin in person classes next week. The kids won’t have to wear masks, but the teachers will. I’m not sure of the reasoning for this. They had to scramble for more desks because kids traditionally sit at two person desks. Now they can’t. They also mandated the school buses only carry half of the capacity so there is a shortage of buses. Our Italian teacher told us they have a rule the kids can only be on the bus for 15 minutes. This is creating its own set of problems and issues. For example, her son rides a bus for an hour to his school. Now what? I don’t know the answer.

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Stay safe everyone. Sooner or later we will get that vaccine. It is the only thing that will really help end this thing. But we mustn’t rush the process. Better safe than sorry.
🌈 Andrà tutto bene!

Update on Covid here, and my morning walk today

I had a hard time with my title today. It is definitely not a pithy headline!

Numbers here in Italy have been fluctuating. For a few weeks they crept up steadily. Then the last couple of days they dropped from around 1,200 new cases a day to 800 or so. But yesterday it shot back up to above 1,400. Sigh. At least I know the people in charge are watching it carefully.

I am happy to note, since the closing of the discotheques and the new mask mandate our piazza has calmed considerably. No longer does Cafe Centrale have bands or loud music. They have a sign that all must wear masks. This has definitely dampened the party atmosphere. I am feeling good about this development.

There have been a couple of publicized issues here regarding anti-maskers. It is the law you must wear a mask on public transportation. A German tourist on a Vaporetto (bus boat) in Venice, was forced off the boat by fellow riders for repeatedly removing his mask. He was kept from reboarding by the passengers.

The MSC Italian cruise line started limited cruises out of Genoa along the Italian coast. They have taken extreme precautions to keep the ship virus free. They try to keep everyone in a bubble. All transport drivers are vetted. All shore tour guides are vetted. The rules are if you go into port you stay in your tour. A family decided to go off on their own in Naples even though they were told they could not. When they tried to re-board the ship they were denied. They were left in Naples.
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I’ve been very good with my walking since I decided to do it first thing when I get up. All my life I’ve excercised in the morning. For 20 years I rose at 5:30am to run. Then I changed to walking with my neighbor In Alexandria and we met outside at about 5:30am everyday. I find if I put off my walk until later, well, I simply won’t do it. It is also more pleasant in the morning. It’s cooler during these hot summer days for one thing. And I enjoy the quiet of the morning.

Today I walked along the river. Behind our house is a colony of feral cats. The latest batches of kittens are out and about. Someone built a little lean-to house covered with plastic and there is food out. No sign of mamma but here are two of the kittens. Tiny ones.

The Tiber in the still of the morning.

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Stay safe all…🌈 andrà tutto bene…spero di si!

New Covid case in Umbertide

Our first Covid case in months has been announced by our Mayor. A man, who returned from travel in the north of Italy brought the Virus with him. He is being isolated and there is contact tracing so I’m hopeful this will be a one off. We will still stay vigilant.
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This is Sunday. Beautiful and hot. Just like August should be. Yesterday I made summer soup. A mish-mash of a few recipes I read. It is delish and people have asked for the recipe so I’ve included in the recipe bar above.

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Today, we decided to visit Calagrana for Pranzo. It had been too long. What a big crowd they had! Yay for them. A few pictures. The view from their terrace is always beautiful.

My lunch was excellent. My first course was amazing. Deconstructed gazpacho. But…I ate it before I thought to take a picture. Sorry. But I did take a picture of my next course. Seared tuna with a poached egg. Yum.

This next one is for my friend Jen who always loves anything fashion. These shoes, worn by the lady at the next table, and the purse to match, were amazing.

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Last night we had the most amazing cloud formation. I suppose it was a thunder head. It towered maybe 50,000 feet into the sky. Love the sun coming over the top. Or maybe it is not coming over the top. 🤔

Stay safe everyone! 🌈 andrà tutto bene.

Ferragosto!

Today is August 15, also known as Ferragosto. It’s the holiday in the center of the month of August, which itself is the big vacation month in Italy. It is also a religious holiday — The assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. Assumption day.

Ferragosto originates from Feriae Augusti, the festival of Emperor Augustus, who made the 1st of August a day of rest after the weeks of hard work of the agricultural sector.

The popular tradition of taking a trip during Ferragosto arose under the fascist regime. In the second half of the 1920s, during the mid-August period, the regime organized hundreds of popular trips through the fascist leisure and recreational organizations of various corporations. The initiative gave the opportunity to less well-off social classes to visit Italian cities or to reach seaside and mountain resorts. The offer was limited to 13, 14 and 15 August, and comprised two options: the “One-Day Trip”, within a radius of 50-100 kilometers, and the “Three-Day Trip” within a radius of about 100–200 kilometers.

Today, here in Umbria, everything except for bars and restaurants, are closed today. If the Italians aren’t at the beach they are eating and drinking and having fun. I’m happy for them after all they’ve (we’ve) been through this year.

It still is a mystery to me, though, that people whose businesses were closed for 2-3 months and with the economy in the toilet, can still go on vacation. I still see “closed for vacation” signs everywhere. I noticed Bar Mary is closed for three days from today. Normally they take a week in summer. At least they are at the beach as we speak 🥰. Maybe it is the safety net the Italian government has put into place for its people. And they even have incentives for people to go on vacation. The people get to go on vacation and it’s a boost to the hard hit tourist industry.

It is certainly a lot different from the US right now. No one seems to be helping our hard hit populace. No one can afford a vacation. I worry about them paying the rent or mortgage, or even having enough to eat, for heavens sake. Molto triste. 😢

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Please let’s all work to stop this pandemic. We all can help. Andrà tutto bene 🌈

Quiet week

Things have been changing around Europe (and the world) with the virus. Italy has had an uptick, but the numbers are still low compared to many countries like the US. And we have good tracking and testing methods in place. And quarantining.

We are having a lot of people from other places In the EU come in. As well as some other “allowed “ countries, also immigrants from many places. Many of these have brought the virus as a “gift” to us here in Italy. 😕

I’ve also been reading the US newspapers and watching this reopening of schools. I’m seeing it as a poorly thought out strategy. Super dangerous to so many.

In Georgia a high school opened. They said they couldn’t mandate the kids wear a mask. But they can punish a girl for wearing spaghetti straps, shorter skirts and scooped necklines (all prohibited by dress codes), yanking those girls out of class for “distracting” their fellow classmates with scandalous body parts like knee caps. 😳 oh my! Kneecaps! So tell me…if they can make a girl comply with dress codes…why can they not make the student populace wear a mask? Hmmmm? 🙄of course they can! Don’t be dopey.

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Life in Umbria is good, but we also have upticks. Seven Franciscan monk acolytes from all around the world arrived infected, and from them many other Monks in Assisi. A bunch in Passignano from an Romanian guest worker. Perugia has had an uptick also from guest workers. Marsciano 2 cases, both Belgian tourists. I, for one am hanging pretty close to home. Good food, wine and views. Summertime is splendid here.

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Andrà bene 🌈 You are your own keepers. Stay safe.💕

Fishing competition on the Tiber!

Una bella domenica! A beautiful Sunday. Our weather has settled down into August. Typical hot weather. But at least it’s not scorching. Highs from 35C today up to 37C later in the week. That’s 95F to 98.6F for you non-metric folks.

Anyway, I decided if I didn’t walk in the morning I wouldn’t walk. So off I went about 8AM. My intention was to walk along the river. But I was thwarted. There was a sign that said “International Fishing Competition”. And there were maybe fifty people with all their gear along the river, blocking my way. This is not unusual. It happens almost every weekend here. I paused to take some pictures.

Fishing here on the Tiber is a “Big Deal”. This is the fishing capital of Italy. Really. I’m not making this up. As with most things, it is very orchestrated. The participants gather In Umbertide, and are given numbers which correlate to spots along the river. They all then go rushing off in their vehicles to set up. You don’t want to be on the narrow roads leading to the river at this point 😳!

Once they get to the river they unload and start preparing for the starting gun. The fishing here is NOTHING like any fishing I’ve ever seen anywhere before. They don’t cast. They have very long rods that are in pieces that they fit together to extend them about 10 meters or 35 yards out over the water. I looked this up and I think it’s a form of Feeder Fishing, although none of the pictures had rods as long as these. They have complicated stands on which to prop the rods during construction and afterwards to help hold them above the water. They have very fancy, collapsable chairs with matching umbrellas. And a creel which is a canvas tube which goes down the bank into the water in which they keep any fish they catch alive. The fish are never kept, but returned to the river afterwards. The Tiber teams with fish. The fish are Common Carp, Common Barbel, Common Roach, Catfish, and Asp.

When I got down on the path, it was dead silent. Everyone was intent on getting everything set up perfectly and not scaring the fish (I assumed).

This looks chaotic, and it IS! It is a sea of poles!

A little closer to the action. Today I saw my second female fisherman ever. It is a mostly male sport. Today, though, a lot of women had accompanied the men. I believe since this is an “international” competition these people could be from far away and the wives don’t have much to do. They sit in the shade and looked quite comfy.

Note the creels going into the water. This picture looks almost organized. Now, they wait for the starting gun. We can hear it from our house and these competitions happen almost all year, but mostly in the spring, summer and fall.

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Buona domenica everyone. Stay safe…andrà bene🌈

Pronto soccorso (emergency room)

Today I visited the Pronto Soccorso for the first time. It is a weekend and I am unable to see my doctor. Yesterday we decided to give our two cats their yearly bath. Simba objected. And at one point he went totally nuts and while struggling with him he bit down on my thumb, right through it and for a moment I wondered how I was going to get him to let go. And it hurt! A lot!

I know a cat bite is one of the dirtiest bites you can get. I’ve also heard horror stories. I asked a friend of mine who used to work with animals and she said a veterinarian she knew lost her thumb due to a cat bite. That kind of lit a fire under me. I am never anxious to go to a doctor or a hospital, or worse, an emergency room. But we live in Umbertide. We have a hospital and we can even walk there. So we walked over to the Pronto Soccorso.

We rang the bell and explained why we were there. I had to fill out a form about how I was feeling today (Covid related) and they took my temperature. Then I got to go in. I had to go alone as they won’t let more than one at a time. I was pleased I understood everything they asked me and could answer all the questions. My Italian has improved quite a lot I’m happy to say.

The doctors were nice, interested because I am American. One even looked up Virginia on his phone and started listing the states all around Virginia. I showed them my Tessera Sanitaria, my health card enrolling me in the system here. They were surprised but I explained I live here and am in the health system.

There was no discussion about the cat bite. It seemed almost a given that one must get treated for a bite from a cat. They examined my thumb and redressed it. Then they gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics and dressed my wound. I have to return in 6 weeks for a booster tetanus shot. The visit cost nothing. I do love the Italian health care system 💕.

Afterwards we walked back and I drove to a farmacia to get my prescription filled. All in all a painless (mostly 🙂) visit. I’m glad I broke down and went. I won’t be so reticent in the future.

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Yesterday and today I made pesto. The Basil is going wild. I harvested these two. They aren’t so pretty and bushy now. If you want to keep your basil producing you must cut it back as it starts to flower down to just above the juncture with two small leaves at the intersection of the stem. These small lives will grow into new, robust basil branches. I have regular basil and violeta.

Here is the jar of regular pesto I made.

This one is an experiment. Thai basil pesto. It has a dark color because of the purple leaves, and it has Thai flavors like fish sauce, sesame oil, etc. I haven’t eaten it yet. I will report back.

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I have more to report as today was a busy day, but I will save it for tomorrow 🙂

It is still ungodly hot but supposed to break on Tuesday I think. Stay safe y’all. 🌈

Sunday dinner

I made a wonderful dinner tonight and I thought I’d share it. The recipe is called “string beans, pickled beans, tomatoes, and olives on Tonnato”. It is from the Six Seasons cookbook. It has started to get hot and we have at least two weeks coming up of very hot weather so salads are nice.

I read the recipe a few weeks ago and made a jar of pickled beans. They’ve been curing in the refrigerator for a while and I thought they were ready. I added a few things, like endives for crunch, and a soft boiled egg. The description of the recipe said it had evolved from the Salade niçoise. The egg added a little more umph so it wasn’t “just a salad”. The tonnato sauce underneath the salad was great and you could get some with each forkful. It was quite filling. I’d make this one again.

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🌈 mask up everyone! 💕