It was a gray day but it didn’t rain as predicted. I had plans to visit the Saturday market which was buzzing with activity prior to Easter. There was a very rustic gentleman who was selling his asparagi del bosco, wild asparagus out of one of the booths I frequent, always a treat. I wish I had taken a picture of him! I bought two bunches. He had obviously foraged it in the hills, a big pastime here in the spring. It will be part of our Pasqua meal tomorrow. It is very different than “normal” cultivated asparagus.
I also met up with Jane one if the buyers of our house in Centro. We walked through the house and I answered all her questions. It is looking good with new paint and the floors polished.
Afterwards, I walked back home and we met Jane and Christie for lunch at C’era una Volta near our house. It was lovely and we were the only customers. Apparently lunch was so quiet because everyone will come tonight and tomorrow for Easter lunch. A very busy time for them. We had pasta with asparagi del bosco and fungi. Very yummy. We also had their amazing antipasto plate with dozens of great things, as always.
Tomorrow is Pasqua, Easter and a big deal here. Then Monday is Pasquetta or, little Easter, a holiday and traditionally a day when Italians take to the hills for walking and picnics, or to their favorite restaurants, or beaches. I think the weather will cooperate. Buona Pasqua a tutti! 🌺
We are in the midst of a cold snap. Highs in the 40s F. Lows 30F. Below freezing. Bad timing as all the fruit trees are flowering now. I hope it won’t damage the crop.
Our kind sellers of this apartment took away almost all of the plants but, kindly (not) left an enormous old, dead rosemary plant. I have been working to remove it so I can ready that bed for my herbs. I got four big bags of branches and still have the main plant to remove. Thanks Marcella and Walter! 😒
We went on an errand to check out outside furniture yesterday at the big box Leroy and Merlin store. They have a nice selection. We couldn’t really afford buying at the upscale emu outlet. We chose a nice set and will order it online. Afterwards we went to our favorite butcher. I love how they get super excited when you tell them what you’re making and ask for advice. I want to make sugo. It is the long cooking red sauce that every Italian loves. They chopped a big piece of super fatty beef for us. I like some fat but this might be a step too far! And they gifted us a marrow bone and two hamburger patties with a lot of fat. I’m also adding pancetta and sausage. It will be good, I promise you. It will take 4-5 hours so I will make it tomorrow. I will be saving it for our guests who arrive next week. Along the highway. The rapeseed is brilliantly yellow!
We also got mutton chops for Pasqua Pranzo. Easter lunch. Just us two. I am interested to see if I like it. The sheep is castrato (makes it more tender) and about 3 years old. The butcher said it was much better than lamb. I will report back.
This is the beginning of Holy week. We aren’t religious, nor were we raised Catholic. But we like the history, the traditions, and to watch the rituals. We asked our friend Angelo if there were any food traditions for Palm Sunday, and apparently there are not. We are still in the Lenten season so meat is still not eaten much, if you’re observant. An interesting aside, Angelo, who owns the Alimentari in our old building on the ground floor showed us, in his back storeroom, that the building was part of the original wall of Umbertide. His wall on the back is six feet thick. It was built in the 1300s. So our former home was part of this building.
Saturday we went to the market and did some errands. We saw friends and had a vino at Bar Mary, and we rescued my tarragon plant which had gotten left behind in the move. They were working up in our old apartment in anticipation of the arrival tomorrow of our buyers for a three month stay.
We had also been invited to lunch with friends in Montone, a nearby hill town. It was a delicious meal and we feel very comfortable with them. The conversation flows easily. We had a plate of charcuterie to start and then a delicious half red pepper which was roasted and was filled lightly with savory things. Cheese, olives, anchovies and roasted again. Delicious. I plan to make this one in the future! Then we had a duck risotto to die for. It was like a delicious ragu of duck in the rice. I also want to make this one. After that a refreshing salad of mache and tangerine bits and for dessert, a rich olive oil chocolate cake. It was dense and moist. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect meal. Their house is just on the walls of this hilltown. I took this picture from their terrace. It is still just a little too cool to sit outside. So beautiful. Umbria is living up to its reputation as the “green heart” of Italy. When the trees leaf out it will be its greenest.
As we walked back to the car up the hill the bells in the church began to ring. This video is more about the bells than the video.
Here are a couple of pretty photos of springtime in Umbria on our way home. I never tire of it. Most of the vivid green is winter wheat. In two months it will be golden.
Last night I got to make the first dinner in our new kitchen. It is so wonderful to have a sink! But I am so used to walking down the hallway to the bathroom for the sink it is proving hard to break the habit!
Dinner was two Orate, or sea breams. They were from the grocery but they were some of the freshest I have ever had. I decided asian flavors would be yummy for a change. I roasted the fish after rubbing with oil, salt and pepper, slashing the flesh and sprinkling with sesame seeds. While roasting I cooked soy sauce, a little vinegar, sugar and water and slivered ginger and slivered cayenne in a small pan until ginger and pepper were soft. Then all I did was pour it on the fish and sprinkled with spring onions and cilantro. Delicious if I do say so myself. I also had the first spring peas and rice.
Does anyone remember Green Stamps? Back when I was little you got them at the grocery and you saved them and filled books with them to redeem items when you had enough.
We are members of the Coop grocery chain here. It it a co-op and members get some benefits. One is inexpensive products which change every couple of months. They give you bollettini, or little sticky stamps when you check out. Then you can buy a product with a number of stamps and a little cash. I’ve never done this until now when they are selling nice knives.
I got one yesterday. It is really nice! 16 bollettini and €4.90 got me a chefs knife! ~~~~~ Our next big project is a second kitchen upstairs. You may remember I talked to our Geometra who did our former work. But he would never reply to my emails or WhatsApps since that first meeting. I tried a second one who also would never reply. The situation here is that all these people are just so busy. And the workers who do the work as well.
So I decided to message with our friend Irma who is an architect and has done work for many people that I know. She seemed happy to help design a kitchen but she is also busy until autumn. Having no other choice I said I would wait. So that means our summer living upstairs will be a little different than we thought. Since the terrace has an oven and a sink and counters I figure we can make an outside kitchen. I also have our Weber grill. And there is an outside barbecue. It will be camping! I’ll get a 2 burner induction cooktop. And we will need to buy a refrigerator. We would need that anyway. Anyway, that’s the plan for now!
They said they would come today to install the kitchen…and THEY DID! It is a bit different getting a new kitchen here from in the US. I remember renovating our kitchen in Virginia. Painful experience and it took eight weeks. Here, they come and measure the space carefully. Then go away and order it all from the factory. They build it in the factory, and then on the appointed day, they come and assemble it. They arrived at 9 am and finished by 7 pm. Some pictures during the assembly.
That’s Johnluca doing the installing. He doesn’t speak great English. But he keeps trying. He says he tries to speak to customers in English, French and Spanish. Good for him! We helped him learn new words and phrases throughout the day.
And … the final product! It still needs a few finishing touches. The baseboard is not there. The plumber needs to come and hook up the water and gas. And the backsplash has not been attached yet. It’s not my dream kitchen, but it will do for now.
~~~~~~~ Home for Sale in Umbertide Our friends are selling their beautiful home here in Umbertide. It is situated on the prettiest square in town, Piazza San Francesco. It also has beautiful, calm views of the Tiber river and is walking distance to all services. It was finished to a very high standard. I wanted to publicize it to my group of reader friends here, in case anyone is looking or if you know anyone who is looking. Here is the website: “Our Umbertide Property”. Please share! ~~~~~~ Yesterday we had a cold front move through with very high winds and thunderstorms. The temperature dropped precipitously. But after the storms we were treated to a beautiful sunset. I don’t have the view I used to have, but this is pretty nice.
Friends are moving away and had some plants that needed a new home. We had room so why not? Getting them from their fifth floor down, and into the car and then back up to our fourth floor terrace was not so easy, but it was worth the work. The olive barely fit in the elevators (or the car!). The pictures below are of the olive tree, the kumquat tree, and my lemon which I just moved outside for the summer.
Now we need to buy dirt so I can finish filling in around the olive rootball. We will need a LOT of dirt. After the olive is settled I want to fill in the garden we will use for the herbs. I miss all of my herbs from the other house. So nice to just walk out and pick what you need.
Today there was a little something special in the Piazza. There were several booths with local products sponsored by Slow Food. I love Slow Food for promoting the ancient products and the organic and locally grown things. There is a chapter in the Alta Valle del Tevere or the upper Tiber valley, where we are. They had a big booth of olive oil and there was a wine booth with tastings and a woman with dried legumes, local saffron and fresh eggs. It was fun walking over and watching all the action. Everyone was in a happy mood, the weather was cool but perfect. After a cup of cappuccino we walked back home. Here are a few pictures.
There are a number of shops in the Piazza as well. This window caught our eyes! The dress! And the pink suit! (Stylish shoes too) There was a lot of reflection in the glass but I had to get a photo.
Last night we met friends for aperitivo. My first spritz of the season!
It is so lovely to be able to see where you’re going! 🙂 Pino, the elettricista, came right on time Monday morning. Luca (our painter) had recommended him to us and even called and arranged for him to come. He was an older man, a smoker (from his aroma) and he huffed and puffed through the work. He also talked constantly to himself. He definitely knew what he was doing. It still took most of the day to install the thirteen fixtures we had purchased, with a break for Pranzo of course. I also learned a word I think is amusing. Dimmerabile. It means dimmable — like, you can use a dimmer switch on the light. It is good to know a good elettricista. All that work and he only charged us €150 or about $165.
Another thing checked off of our list! Here are some pictures.
We also took a trip to Deruta, famous for its ceramics. I think everyone in town works in some capacity to make ceramics. In Umbertide there is a shop that sells ceramics. It is called CeramicArte. I am friends with Laura Tomassini. She offered to meet me in the big CeramicArte factory in Deruta of which she and her shop are a part. We took a tour of the factory. The first room was a large warehouse type room, very high ceilings and big windows. Very bright. Throughout the room were six stations at which artists were working. All on tables. It was an attractive place to work. The tables are each custom made and painted. In any size and any style. At least the artists don’t paint the same thing over and over. Anyway, we ordered our table for on the terrace. It is big enough to seat six. Here is a picture of one similar. It has markings on it to indicate changes. We will change out some of the flowers for fruits, grapes and pomegranates.
We also visited the Emu outlet store nearby. It is a French owned chain with beautiful things. We saw some outdoor furniture we liked but the price was really high. I am going to look around a bit more and see what else I can find. I don’t want to go too cheap. I do want it to last. So we shall see.
A bit more good news, we are getting our kitchen next week! At long last! This being without a kitchen has been very difficult. It will be so nice to be able to cook properly again. And to wash dishes in something other than a laundry sink! There will be pictures!
It has been nearly three solid weeks of painting and 50 gallons of paint. That’s €5,000 for just the paint we figure. Luca has become our prodigal son. He brought me fresh lettuce from his garden twice and a bag of walnuts. 🙂 The paint job looks terrific and has significantly brightened up the apartment. Particularly happy to lose the peach accent walls. They clashed with the wood I think. Before and after pictures.
For the downstairs we just need curtains, art, and, of course, the kitchen. Speaking of which, they came last week and moved the gas pipe so it was ready for the installation. They can’t give us ETA for the kitchen though. 😕
Today we picked up all our lights that we ordered. 13 fixtures in all. We have an elettricista coming on Monday to install. Big step! Photos upcoming.
We had lunch at C’era Una Volta with our dear friends Susan and Gary. It’s been a long time. They are only passing through town so I am glad we got to see them. They return to Florence tomorrow.
What a beautiful day it was today. A real taste of spring. A friend came up to visit from Perugia. She brought me gifts of food and a pretty yellow beret. I will wear it jauntily 🙂. We also took a walk. Very close to our new house is the public swimming pool (indoor and outdoor) plus tennis courts, the soccer stadium and a beautiful park. We headed for the park, Parco Pineta Ranieri e Bosco “del Macchione”.
We messed around on the fitness trail. The park is a pine forest. It is up on a hill with good views across Umbertide. There are lots of picnic tables. The park was empty save for a couple of runners. Surprising on such a beautiful day. Here are a couple pictures of the flowers along the way.
The Asian magnolias are blooming now. Here is one on our street.
I had made yet another instant pot soup in the morning and just left it sit. It stayed hot so when we returned from our walk we had a couple of bowls for our lunch.
On another note, we think we might have found the source of the bad luck in our house. In the (non-existent) kitchen we found a horseshoe hanging above the entrance. It was only visible if you went inside and looked up. And it was hung like this…
Does that bother anyone other than me, Luther and my friend? Well it SHOULD. So we took it down. No wonder we’ve had bad juju. It will be re-hung…like this…