Category Archives: Umbria

Lemon tree, very pretty…

Today is a good day. I am finished with my procedure and I am fine! A relief. I seem to think the worst will happen and at the worst possible time! Like now. In the middle of the big move. I went to the hospital in Città di Castello. They have a very nice new hospital with all modern facilities. People around here call the town just Castello. It is about 20 kilometers and takes around 25 minutes using the good, old E45 super strada that runs north and south through our valley. Once it was part of the Via Flammina. An old Roman road. But I digress. They were super efficient and fast. Even mindful of my modesty…many are not here. And the doctor and nurse were friendly. So, now I am done with that…I am dusting myself off and going back to the business of living here.

You all must know of my little lemon tree. I had always wanted to be able to have a lemon tree. One of the first things I bought was a small one from a local vivaio or nursery. I wrote a post about this little tree way back in 2020 when we were in the strictest lockdown because of Covid. It was titled Day 46 Covid 19 and I had a bit of fun with my lemon tree. At that time I was trying to keep myself entertained while being locked down. This post was just one day…I blogged for 83 straight days. You, my reader friends, helped me keep sane. This blog helped keep me sane. What a time it was. Anyway. If you’d like to read that post, here is a link — Day 46 Covid 19.

My tree is still flourishing. I am still pinching off all the leaves on the one side. And this year I got 19 —yes! — 19 lemons. She is doing very well and she is coming on our move. I will take off all the lemons to make her easier to move and take the weight off. She will love our new terrazzo and she will be getting a bigger pot. 🙂


As for news of the move, we are making forward progress. I’m making copious lists. Lists of things to leave here for Jane and Christie, things I need to keep away from the packers that I many need first at the new place, cat stuff (of which there is a lot), some clothes, our computers, wires, chargers, remote controls…on and on. We are using up all the food in our freezer. Sadly I’m going to have to throw away most of my frozen peppers. But I’ll just grow more! And we have a meeting with our sellers this coming Friday. We are bringing our agent friend Jim along. We have many questions and much measuring to do.

Ciao for now! 🌈

Off and running…

We got the new year off with a bang! We are only five days in, four of those were working days, and already I have received my renewed drivers license and our new Tessere di Sanitaria, health care cards. I think getting the later this fast must be a record!

I also have an upcoming unpleasant test to prepare for. I think most can figure out what it is 😏. For this I had to get blood work done and buy meds which my doctor said were over the counter. Got both of those things done yesterday.

We did a pleasant task today as well. Thank goodness sometimes we get to do fun things! We ordered two beds for our new house. We have only one mattress that we are bringing so we also bought a new mattress. We visited our old friend Sr. Tiziano. We bought a lot of things from him back when we moved into this apartment. He has a showroom with some furniture. But he also has books full of products to order. I leafed through the copious pages and chose two pretty iron beds. I really like their look. Clean and spare. We asked if he could deliver the same day as we move into our new place and he can. That’s good because I want to move in as soon as we can. A bed to sleep in is essential.

Tomorrow is Epifania, Epiphany. It is a holiday here. The end of the Advent-Christmas season. I wrote a post about this and the beloved witch Befana who comes the eve of Epifania. It is an interesting story — check this link for the legend. All the Italian children wait for her to come and bring them gifts. Much like Santa. Anyway. I heard the town band playing and went to the window to see. They were coming down the street all dressed as witches! And one of them was dressed as Befana herself. She is the one in the scarf and checked apron.

We are nearing our move. I am doing some packing of things that I would rather not have the movers packing for me. Our guest room is piled with boxes. I have been purchasing some odds and ends that I think will come in handy. Like a hand truck. I love hand trucks. I used to manage all of the trade shows for my employer, back when I worked. I accompanied our big display booth, making sure it got to the show and back safely. I used a hand truck all the time. I decided it was just what I need now to move boxes around. I think Amazon knows how much I love hand trucks because they sent me two!

Ciao for now!

Winter Solstice

Today was a nice day. We got together with friends for a holiday lunch. Three friends, all of whom moved here since the beginning of the year. All near Spello. Roselyne and Steve live in Spello Centro Storico. An excellent apartment with great terraces which have country and mountain views and a front balcony above the main street going up the hill. Right in the action. Doug lives in a sweet house situated on Monte Subasio. I don’t know his elevation but it has views across the valley to die for. He is in the very beginning of renovations.

We chose to meet in Assisi. There is a nice restaurant there called Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erbe. It is just off of the main piazza which has the Assisi Comune. It also has the temple of Minerva and lots of cafes and shops. Today, it was empty. I don’t think I have seen Assisi as empty and quiet as today. The restaurant welcomed us. It wasn’t very busy. We have been going to this restaurant since a 2011 trip with my sister and her husband and another couple. It is still good. It is nice in summer as it has probably the only trees in Assisi. They have two menus, one Traditional and one Fusion. I love the fusion choices. Here are a few pictures. The first one is fried artichoke/carciofi in a cheesy sauce. Very delicious. It does look a bit phallic. Three of us got this.

Doug’s next course was Strangozzi yakisoba. Fat spaghetti with shrimp. It looked great.
I had the salmon taco next.
For dessert three got the tiramisu. But it wasn’t your everyday tiramisu.
I got the gelato with caramel sauce topped by popcorn. The salty popcorn set of the caramel perfectly. Luther got a spoon…🙂

It was a really nice get together. We won’t be doing much this Christmas. Nothing in fact. Which is kind of sad. But it is what it is. Happy Winter Solstice, here’s to longer days…if not warmer ones!

Domenica pranzo with friends

On our ride south today to lunch with friends. Brilliant sunshine.

We met up with friends in a town called Bastia Umbra. Completely overlooked by everyone but we are told there are a lot of monied folks living there. I assume it was bombed during the war since much of it was new. But the old outline of the wall was still there. And some of the old gates remained. Inside was a clothing market along the streets. The second picture below is marking the border of one of the Rioni, or neighborhoods. Most towns have a number of neighborhoods and people living within them are fiercely loyal.

Our friend Doug found the restaurant we went to. It was just outside the old perimeter, called Perl d’Oro. Unpretentious outside but pretty inside. Good service. Delicious seafood.

Here are pictures of our food. Captions under photos.

This was called Gamberi tempura. Not like any tempura I have had. But very delicious.
Luther and I chose the red snapper. It was under potatoes and roasted tomatoes.
Jen got the Branzino in a salt crust.
Afterward they brought scoops of Gelato di Mele (apples) with pistachios. Very refreshing.
Finally we shared this chocolate dessert. Mmmm.

Originally we wanted to visit a huge fair on the fairgrounds there which was all kinds of vintage things, clothes, furniture etc. We didn’t allow enough time to make the entry fee worth it but I will go again in the future allowing more time…once I am in the buying mode for our new house. 😁

Rainbow Saturday!

My friends alerted me that I should check out the sky. An amazing full double rainbow. Got my socks wet going out and taking photos!

Off to do marketing at the Saturday local market. Wet day but not raining right now. Pretty blue sky! The autumn veggies are gorgeous.

Soon this market will be sharing space with the town Christmas tree. I am excited the season is beginning.

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Our new apartment is on Via Fratta. We still don’t have a firm closing date. We are still waiting for the estimate from the moving people. The way the apartment is set up we have the top two floors. Essentially all the necessary living space is on the 2nd floor. On this floor we will put all of our current furniture that we are bringing. This means we will have a living room, dining room, kitchen and office. The bedrooms will need new beds and one mattress which we will order once we have our dates. The top floor, which I want to make into a great room with open plan kitchen, will have almost no furniture. It will be unusable at first. I hope to hit the ground running to get a kitchen, appliances, and furniture. We will need some construction. A small wall needs removing and the services for the sink and stove will need to be relocated. That means we need to hire a Geometra to manage the construction and installation.

Today we took a trip to Divani & Divani to look at sofas for the great room. I am torn. I want to buy soon so we will have the furniture without having to wait too long in the new apartment. I also thought to take advantage of the Black Friday sales. Today was the last day. But, I don’t have any measurements of the new space. Reluctantly I decided to wait. Next week we will make an appointment with our sellers to go see them with a bunch of questions. Also we will be able to take measurements. I think it is best to wait. I do know what I want to get now, so the trip was not wasted.
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I forgot to mention we picked up our new olive oil Thursday from our friend Fabio who always comes to the Thanksgiving feast. He has around 250 trees and I always buy from him since he has consistently had great oil. I bought 15 liters, and 6 half liter bottles which will be gifts.

Buona Domenica a tutti!

La Raccolta…Olive harvest!

Our friends who have around 75 olive trees asked us if we wanted to help. This is our second time to harvest there. We really love being involved in the olive harvest which has been happening here for thousands of years. To be able to be a part of something that has gone on for so long is really something we like about living here.

I have hurt my left knee and have been nursing it for over two weeks so I was really not sure I could be much use, but Luther wanted to go as much as me, and I was willing to try.

We have had at least two weeks of dry sunny weather. Everyone in Umbria has harvested much earlier than normal. We had a very hot and very dry summer which affected the crop. It is fairly plentiful and all my friends have had good harvests and weight to oil ratios are pretty good. Here are a few pictures.

Beautiful views from this property. There are always dogs at the harvests it seems!
Putting the nets under the trees.
The nets catch the olives allowing faster picking using hand rakes.
Olives of differing hues and ripeness. Makes for more piccante oil.
Luther working his tree.

They hire a helper team with the beaters that shake the olives from the top branches. They had started yesterday, and were back today. We others harvested the lower and interior branches.

I don’t mind admitting that a hard days work nearly killed me. I managed to work steadily the four hours up to lunch. And credibly, I might add 🙂. I worked probably five or six trees. While I worked I thought about the fact that I am a small part of a long, unbroken line of people, just like me, stripping the olives from the branches on a golden October day — year in and year out for thousands of years. Makes one feel the history of this ancient land.

When we left they had 20 boxes of olives to take to the mill. All the trees were harvested. I will try to find out what the weight was, and the yield of oil.

Ask me if I am happy I participated…YES! Thank you Joanne and Mark. Ask me again next year! 🫒🫒🫒💕💕💕

Beautiful day, nice lunch

Yesterday was a beautiful day! In fact, we have had a nice long run of beautiful September and October days. The Germans call it Goldener Oktober. We, in the US, call it Indian Summer. No matter what it is called…I am loving it!

We had a planned lunch with our friend Doug who just moved here a few months ago. We were meeting in Gualdo Tadino, a town in eastern Umbria which lies on the slopes of the Apennine mountains. The really big ones that run from the top to the toe of Italy. I had not visited this valley. It runs north and south along the mountains from Foligno to Gubbio.

The restaurant is Terrazza di San Guido. It sits high above the town on the mountain. I would have thought it would take advantage of it’s position to showcase the view. But it does not. It has an unpretentious interior dining room, and a few tables outside. The service was good. They have an unusual offering on the menu which I had not seen before. A whole section devoted to Crescia. It is a flat bread specialty of Umbria and Le Marche which they use to make sandwiches. I think it is the same as what I know as Torta al Testo.

Doug ordered one as his starting course. It looked tasty. We also had a chance to sample the bread as they brought out bags of it, soft and warm. I had Caprese insalata to start and it was good. The October tomatoes were still decent. Then we had pasta, and Luther, ever the meat eater, got the mixed grill. Doug got the Tartuffi Lasagna — Lasagna with truffles. I got a taste and it was great. I ordered Cannelloni al Sugo di Carne. It was good…but not great. Here are pictures.

Truffle lasagna
My Cannelloni
And…the mixed grill.

On the way home I took a couple of pictures of the bodacious day and the beautiful scenery.

We will continue to enjoy this wonderful weather for as long as it continues. I am now seeing many pictures of the olive harvest which is just beginning here. Umbria is known for its oil. It is robust, grassy, and peppery in your throat. I am smitten with it. To me it is the best of all. Love the green green color of the new oil. Photo from my friend James Lupori.

Buona domenica a tutti!

Energy shortages this winter…

As most people know, energy costs have always been high in Italy because it buys most of it’s energy from other countries. Always has. They have promoted sustainable energy and give big supplements for solar and there are a lot of wind farms. This is a drop in the bucket but better than nothing.

Thinking about heating in August seems pretty weird, I know. But there have been a number of articles and posts in the expat websites about the shortages of solid fuel already being reported. Most of us heat with gas. As anyone probably knows, the Russians control the gas that Italy buys so this is also problematic. Costs have always been three or four or more times higher than the rest of Europe. Now it is even worse because of the Ukrainian war. Not to mention the uncertainty of even having gas.

Many here in Umbria supplement their heat using wood or pellets. A lot use those as their primary heat source. There are systems that use pellets in their central heating systems. We also supplement with pellets to warm our living room.

This year pellets have become very expensive. They have nearly doubled in price, from €5.50 a bag to €9.50 a bag. IF you can even find a supplier who actually HAS them. Our pellets came from Austria. Ukraine also produced a lot. Now, it seems, Austria, afraid of shortages itself, is not exporting as usual. So, our future winter has become uncertain. We plan to buy some pellets since we will be here until the first of the year. If we can find a source.

We have not looked into firewood. Since we are nearing our move, we won’t be buying any yet. In our new house, we will have a need for firewood. There is an outdoor BBQ which uses wood, an outdoor wood fired pizza oven, a fireplace in the family room and a wood stove will be in the living room. I guess we will find out about firewood later.

The newspapers are warning of real problems this winter. It is hard for us, since we are moving, to try to make alternative plans to augment gas heating if we don’t have it. We cannot stockpile anything. It looks like we may have to bundle up!

Artisanal products Umbertidese

Today I want to showcase two new products being produced here in Umbertide. We had heard of one of them from friends, but still had not visited. The other we just learned of from our recent dinner guests. I decided to showcase them both here.

First the cheese shop. Caseificio which means dairy is painted on the building. The shop is Fattoria Palazzo Rosa – Famiglia Monni. It is on the small road that crosses the river to Montecorona and the Abbazia di Montecorona which is run by the monks of the Eremo di Montecorona. So it wasn’t surprising to have a monk drop in to buy some cheese while we were there. The Eremo is a hermitage with a number of working monks. They take care of the Abbazia. The Eremo is in top of the 700 meter high mountain behind the Abbazia.

The back room, which you can see through a glass window is chock full of cheeses being aged. We bought a Pecorino peperoncini and some butter. The butter was not made here but I love trying new butter. The cheese was piquante but not too spicy. They had cheeses from other areas as well such as a creamy Gorgonzola. One of my favorites. This was an excellent find.

Then we decided to visit the Pauselli pasta fattoria. Our friends Joseph and Paul brought us three boxes of the pasta last week as a hostess gift. So generous — a box of Gemelli, Penne Rigate, and Linguine Ruvide. It is all made from artisanal grains grown in the area.

We followed the directions they gave us and found the negozio, but it was closed. I checked the hours. They are open 5-7 Wednesday and Saturday.

We tried the Gemelli last night. The name means twins. and each piece of pasta is made up of two pieces. Hence the name. The pasta is slightly darker than usual wheat pasta because of the grain. it has a rough texture and this shape is good for catching sauce in it’s crevices. I served it with a tomato, red and green pepper, onion sausage sauce, with a little sour cream added in. It was delish.

I am happy to live in a place with so many people producing such excellent products. They are just very poor at marketing. I think they could benefit from coming to the Saturday market and maybe even opening a temporary storefront to test the waters. At any rate, we will support them by buying their products. I hope they thrive.

Glorious sabato!

What a beautiful day. We are in a lull in our summer heat. We are totally enjoying it! Last night we had thunderstorms in the wee hours and nice rain. I woke to very cool temperatures — 61 F. And fog hanging in the valley. Refreshing. Here is a picture of the super moon rising over our Piazza.

Yesterday we took a trip down to Etrusco, our favorite butcher. We don’t get there often so we buy a lot when we go. We bought a beautiful Tomahawk steak, two fillet mignons, a flank and a skirt steak (I think? I am never sure), two tomahawk pork chops, sausages and hamburgers. He brought out big tubs of shrink-wrapped meat for us to see. For each piece of meat I bought, the butcher went to great lengths to tell me how to cook it. Mostly it involved holding the fatty edge on a hot griddle or pan and letting the fat sizzle and melt. Then cook one and a half minutes on each side in the rendered fat. He also was super proud of his lamb. I am excited to try it because he explained the lambs were two years old and castrato. This is a lot older than most “Lambs”. Perhaps it is the castrated part…I don’t know. He again told me how to cook it, even to giving me a big piece of fat to use. I know this butcher well. He only sources from local farms and knows that they were raised humanely, and treated well during their life. I prefer to buy meat like this. He wished a buon Ferragosto! Happy feasting.

The Saturday market was abuzz with activity. It’s high summer now and the produce is abundant. I probably got a little carried away. I bought a ton more of the wonderful tomatoes, green beans, baby zucchini, arugula (super bitter to go with the steak tonight), sweet new red onions, a pepper, friggatelli, eggplants and a melon. I visited Angelo to buy prosciutto crudo to go with the melon. A feast for a festa! This picture is only some of the bounty! I love our local market and am really happy I will still be able to walk to it from our new apartment. Not many towns have a market like this. I feel blessed.

I will take a picture of my dinner tonight if I remember. Here is a picture I took of my Rocky-cat helping me out while I am preparing dinner. I am constantly stepping over him or around him. He is very helpful!

Finally, an unbelievably beautiful sunset a couple of days ago.

Buona festa a tutti!!