Anniversary

Today was our anniversary. It started as a lovely day. We had reservations for Pranzo at San Giorgio. It is just across the piazza from our house…maybe 50 meters. Gosh. I sure wish I had had my camera. They have been here since before we moved here and they have been getting a lot of recognition from Michelin and Gambero Rosso (Italian food and wine publication). We haven’t gone often for a couple years because I had a problem with the fact they never had a seasonal menu, any specials, nor did their offerings change. I got a bit bored with them. So we stopped going. Today, we decided to try them again.

They have maybe 6 tables outside. Very small. Their offerings are different from the last time we went but that was long ago. I am so sorry I didn’t take photos! I ordered fried sweetbreads with cherries and a small salad with almonds to start, and a ravioli with shrimp. Luther got paccheri (pasta) to start, and tagliata (steak) as a main.

After we ordered they brought plates of different breads. All sorts. Cheesy muffin. An anchovy one, a tomato one, a couple seeded ones. And really good breadsticks. Then they brought the gifts from the chef. Pretty amazing. There were two tastes of each one. One was a sort of jello that I believe was made from Campari and lemon peel. Very bitter but very good. It came on a little spoon. Then two peanuts, well they were shaped like peanuts in the shell. They weren’t peanuts though. But filled with a creamy peanuty filling. Essence of peanuts. There was a tuna lollipop with a red casing of tomato. And finally parmesan crisps on a stick. They were all very amazing. So sorry no pics. We will have to go back! 🙂😋

While we were there a thunderstorm messed up the pretty day. We had wind and some sprinkles but we stuck it out and it didn’t get worse. All in all a nice Pranzo for our anniversary.
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Last night – sunset.

Last evening we had aperitivo with Joseph and Paul at Bar Mary. They have begun serving nice little pastries and prosciutto wrapped bread sticks with their drinks. I guess it is the competition with Cafe Centrale across from them. They have very nice appetizers to go with the drinks. It was a nice evening and we caught up with them about their recent 4 day trip to Rome. The city was empty. They had the place to themselves. Most hotels have not reopened. Many restaurants have not either. They have pictures of themselves at the standard sights — alone. The Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon. Amazing and a bit sad. I hated Rome for its frenetic bustle, but I don’t think I’d like it any better this way. They heard no languages other than Italian. No tourists are there. 😢

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Here is the latest information about travel to Europe.
 
Updated: 19 June 2020
 
Italy has dropped its travel ban on European countries, but for people hoping to travel from the US or anywhere else outside Europe the news is less positive. (This article was last updated on June 16th.)
 
As of June 3rd, Italy is once again allowing international tourism from within Europe after closing to almost all travelers for months. However, non-urgent travel from outside the EU bloc looks unlikely to be allowed until the beginning of July at the earliest.
 
While the EU rolled out a plan to loosen travel restrictions over the summer holiday season, it too was only talking about travel within Europe.
 
So what’s the situation for people who want to travel to Italy from the US, Australia, India or anywhere else outside the EU or Schengen zone? 
 
European travel ban
 
Currently, Europe’s external borders are effectively closed to all non-urgent travel, while the US is also advising citizens against travel to Europe.
 
The EU in March brought in a ban on all non-essential travel from countries outside either the EU (which for this purpose still includes the UK) or the Schengen Zone.
 
Italy, along with other EU member states, is limiting entry to EU citizens and residents. US citizens who are not residents of the EU and do not fit into one of a handful of “essential travel” exceptions may not be able to travel, and/or may face quarantine measures upon arrival.
 
Here is a full list of the current restrictions and possible exemptions for all travellers from outside the EU.
 
It’s possible that non-essential travel from the US to some European countries may be allowed again on or after July 1st,  but this has not yet been confirmed by any authority.
 
The European Commission is recommending that countries consider a “progressive and partial” reopening to non-EU travelers from July 1st.
 
No details have yet been given as to which countries will be included in the move to lift restrictions. Each EU nation’s individual response depends on how the coronavirus numbers in the United States change for the rest of June.
 
What is essential travel?
 
The EU’s definition of essential travel is stricter than many countries’ individual restrictions and does not contain any exemption for visits for family reasons.
 
People who can travel into the European bloc include:
 
—Citizens of an EU country
 
—Non EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
 
—Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
 
—Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
 
—Delivery drivers
 
—Travel services
 
Some flight connections have been reinstated in June, such as Alitalia’s Rome-New York route. Yet this does not mean that the restrictions for travelling into Italy have been lifted.
 
The US Embassy in Rome and Consulates General in Milan, Florence and Naples remain closed for their usual routine services, and only offer limited emergency services on a case-by-case basis.
 
Quarantine
 
Currently, Americans who enter Italy for essential reason – for example returning residents – will be subject to quarantine for 14 days, according to the Italian government’s latest decree.
 
This also applies to those who are entering Italy via another European country on a connecting flight, such as via Germany or the UK, if they have been in the US (or anywhere else outside of Europe) within the past 14 days.
 
Many readers have written to The Local to ask if a 14-day stay in another European country before arriving in Italy would allow them to avoid the Italian quarantine requirement and/or allow them to travel for non-urgent reasons.
 
It seems that any traveler from the US could still be asked to demonstrate that they have an urgent reason for travel in order to be allowed to enter Italy. The Local has asked the Italian Interior Ministry for clarification on this.
 
On travel from the US, the Interior Ministry’s offical FAQ states, “the basic rules remain similar to the previous ones. Travel continues to be allowed only for proven work needs, reasons of absolute urgency or for health reasons; in any case, you are still allowed to return to your home or residence.”
 
“Those who enter or return to Italy from states or territories other than those listed above must spend a period of 14 days of health surveillance and isolation at their home or in another residence chosen by the individual, or failing that, determined by the Regional civil protection authority.”
 
US Official advice
 
At the time of writing, US authorities are warning against travel to Europe.
 
Anyone planning to travel is advised to check the latest updates from the US State Department, and to find out whether they are covered by their travel insurer.
 
The US Embassy in Rome directed us to the following advice for any US citizens planning to travel to Italy:
 
Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information regarding foreign countries’ quarantine requirements and other global impacts.
 
Have a plan to depart from Italy that does not rely on US government assistance.
 
Check with your airlines or cruise lines regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
 
Visit the Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Italy.
 
Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions affecting travel to the U.S.
 
Review the Italian National Institute of Health’s website (available only in Italian).
 
This also applies to those who are entering Italy via another European country on a connecting flight, such as via Germany or the UK, if they have been in the US (or anywhere else outside of Europe) within the past 14 days.
The rules change frequently in both Italy and other countries. Anyone with specific questions about travel to Italy at the moment is advised to consult the Italian embassy in their country.
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I will try to update as often as I hear anything.
 
Buona domenica! 🌈

Market day and Summer Solstice

Happy Solstice! I think it starts at 5:30-ish tonight. It is a beautiful day for the market. It is finally starting to get warmer.

I visited the local market this morning. Then I took a turn through one of the town parks for a walk. Look at this picture My friend Paul took this morning of a bouquet of squash blossoms! Really beautiful.

And this one is a street in the Centro part of town near our house. Flowers and sunshine were pretty.

Finally a couple in the park that cuts through town. It is a green swath next to our small Torrrente, or creek.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the terrace in the afternoon, and a bird flew in and I shooed it away, thinking it was a pigeon. But once I had, I could see if was definitely not a pigeon. So a while later, when he returned I sat very still and he landed on the railing a few feet away. He looked at me and I, him and suddenly he popped up this most magnificent orange crest. He had a very long beak and was about the size of a red bellied woodpecker in the US. After he flew away I looked him up and he is a Hoopoe. Or in Italian, Upupa. They are migratory and fly up from Africa to breed all over Europe. I copied a photo since I didn’t have a camera while he was there and I posted it on my Facebook page. I apologize if you are a friend and have seen this. Here he is. Is he not beautiful? 💕

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Have a nice weekend everyone! 🌈

Beautiful sunset

Friday morning…such a pretty day. My poor flowers have been beaten about face by the relentless rain we’ve been having. During our lockdown, everyday was perfect. Dry and warm and sunny. Soon as they let us out, the heavens opened. I’m hoping things will dry out so the flowers can recover.

The weekend looks to be nice. Saturday, of course, is our local mercato. And Sunday is our anniversary. I remember last year which was our 50th. This year, it’s just us and I think we are having Pranzo at San Giorgio. 

Last night we had a beautiful sunset. Check it out!

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This was an interesting comparison. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…and don’t say it’s because of more testing… that is an overused convenient excuse.

I’m sorry for the loss of all the good work the US did by locking down. Of course there were some states that didn’t do that… I still really don’t  want anyone coming to Italy to ruin all the hard work we did. That includes the potential  U.K visitors. They also don’t have this under control. Two travelers from the U.K. to New Zealand tested positive there. And New Zealand was virus free.😢

I know the Italians really DO want the tourists back. Friends of ours in Florence said they went to a restaurant and the proprietor heard them speaking English. He got very excited to have American tourists back! Sorry, they had to tell him, they lived there. So the Italians want the Americans back…they’ve just got to get that pandemic thing under control.

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Stay safe everyone! 🌈 

Umbria numbers

I am happy to report that the numbers in Umbria are holding very steady. Since I stopped posting the daily numbers three weeks ago, there have been 6 new infections, and 2 deaths.

As of yesterday, June 15, we have entered Phase 3 here Italy. This means that; Cinemas and theaters will be allowed to re-open from June 15th. With a limit of 200 people. Amateur contact sports, including team sports, are allowed from June 25th. Nightclubs – either indoors or outdoors – will be authorized from July 14th.

But many of Italy’s regional authorities have brought in their own rules on reopenings which could be different from the national rules.

The decree confirms obligatory quarantine for visitors arriving in Italy will continue, except for those entering from the EU and members to the passport-free Schengen zone.

Social distancing and face mask requirements will be the same. You must wear them in enclosed public spaces. Schools will not open until September.
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One thing that has gone by the wayside is any semblance of spontaneity when traveling. We are planning a road trip in two weeks. Normally, Luther and I would toss the suitcase in the car and off we’d go. We’d see a likely trattoria beside the road or a cute village where a nice place to eat is likely, and we would stop for lunch. No more. Now, I’ve got to know what time we will leave, so I can calculate where we will be at lunchtime. Then figure out what is nearby, find a restaurant, determine if they are open (many did not reopen) and then obtain a reservation, which are now mandatory. When en route, you can’t just stop if you see anything interesting along the way because it will impact your progress, perhaps making you miss your lunch! A sad thing. Alternative would be to pack a picnic 😁. Might be easier.

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Market day. Today, I was in search of cheap cotton clothing to make masks from. I found out those house dresses the old Italian women wear are not cotton, but some sort of nylon material. Wouldn’t breath. BUT, I found the cutest pair of capri pants.😍 All cotton, nice waist with a really well made sleeving for the elastic. They have drawstrings. I brought them home and tried them on and they fit nicely. I love them so much I must go back next week to get more! Thing is there is no guarantee any will be left. They had lots of colors and patterns. Hope they still have them next week.

Otherwise, I did my errands. Dropped by the farmacia. And shopped and bought in Libri ai Cani. Books for Dogs. They have been doing well since re-opening. Good for the rescues they support. Of course I bought some produce. It looked very nice.

Pictures below are the non-food part of the market. It has been dispersed in a larger area so the tents are not too close. But the competition could be fierce for the bargains! This first table had nice things for €3 — anything on the table. 

Til next time…stay safe miei amici 🌈

Weekend!

Well, here we are again at another weekend. It will be a quiet one for us.

This morning I went to the market and bought tomatoes! First ones. Now, I don’t have any real expectations of greatness or anything, but I thought I’d try them. Also I bought artichokes. They are small so should be tender.

After that, I took a walk. Along the river then I cut across the fields to the farm roads that crisscross out there. I took a couple of pictures of the wild flowers in the wheat field.

On the way home it occurred to me that I would be passing right by Tortetcetera, a bakery and gelato shop which moved last year to a location in the new apartment buildings behind us. They make the most amazing cupcakes. And the gelato is made everyday in the shop. It is the BEST I have ever had. I asked for a box so I could take it home. Then I chose salted caramel (my favorite), pistacchio and cioccolato.

The news from the US isn’t good on several fronts. The Corona virus numbers are really jumping in many places. Sorry to say. Opening up so soon has negated much of the progress made there.

In Florida, Jacksonville has said it will host the Republican convention with no masks required and no social distancing. Some people in the city are not happy about this.

From the Washington Post — “It’s irresponsible,” said Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett L. Dennis, a Democrat. “It will increase the number of covid infections and put the locals at risk.”

”Anyone who is a thinking person would have concerns,” said David Miller, a Jacksonville business leader who opposes the move. “It puts our community in harm’s way. And it values political spectacle over sound decisions being made with the best interests of the health of our community.”

Florida has seen a recent spike in infections as the state has relaxed restrictions and reopened businesses. On Friday the state reported 1,902 new coronavirus cases, a record high. Cases in North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma and other states also have continued to surge.

President Trump is said to not like the idea of looking out during his address at a room filled with masked people —

The president also insisted: “I don’t want to be sitting in a place that’s 50 percent empty.”

Alas, he is putting spectacle ahead of the health and safety of US citizens.
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News from Italy is rather good. Our numbers remain low and manageable. Everything has reopened. But many things are different. Still one at a time and masks required in the small shops and the pharmacy. Restaurants and Bars are open with many safeguards. Tables 6 feet apart. Masks required when you stand up, etc. You must reserve at restaurants. No spontaneous stopping when you see a trattoria on the road. Means you’ve got to plan ahead. Hairdressers open. One customer at a time inside. None of this bothers me. In fact I welcome it. It is best to still remain careful. We are enjoying our freedom. Italians and other people who reside here are taking advantage of the few tourists by going to the major sites which can be enjoyed without the crowds.

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Now I’m sitting on the terrace with the tende di sole or sun shade extended. It is threatening to rain shower and I would like to keep the terrace dry for tonight if I can. We are halfway through a movie!

Be careful over there!🌈

Wine Tasting!

I read this in the Post:

The coronavirus would have infected nearly one in five Americans, 60 million people, in the first few weeks of the outbreak without shutdowns or social distancing, according to a peer-reviewed study led by the University of California at Berkeley. The paper credited quarantine policies with preventing hundreds of millions of cases globally through early April, and a separate study estimated that shutdowns saved at least 3.1 million lives in Europe.

This is incredible. And so worth it. I know it was hard. On us. On the world economies, but just look at all the lives saved! Yay us!
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Every 2 weeks we get a new proclamation here. I know many people really want to come here to Italy, for a vacation, or because they own a second home here. And I completely understand. But, as of now, there is no provision for anyone from any non-EU member nations to be allowed in. Unless you are a registered resident here, or have family to tend to, or a medical issue. And can prove it. And then you must quarantine for 2 weeks. In a hotel, at your expense, or a home you own. This may loosen up sometime in July or August but we must wait for the next proclamation, which is June 15.

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Now for some fun stuff! Today was a nice Tuesday. We had reserved a spot ahead at a winery for a tasting at Arnaldo Caprai. Near Bevana and Montefalco. Nice day. Not hot at all. Skies full of all sorts of clouds and blue. It was our first “outing” other than the 2 Lunches we’ve had. We arrived and Camilla, the nice person in the tasting room told us we could sit on the terrace and she gave us the wine menu. Last fall, when we were here it was packed and there was no way to sit on the terrace. Today, it was only us. Quite nice! We chose a white wine each. And she brought a nice plate of meats and cheese, along with crusty bread with good oil drizzled on it. It was a perfect repast. We had another white, then switched to Rosso. Camilla said it was nice without all the buses full of Germans and Swiss. She said all they have had lately is Italians. But we did spot a car from Luxembourg. They were a ways from home. Anyway, a perfect little trip. Some pictures.

Luther on the Terrazzo.
First white
Our meat and cheese plate. One for each.
View from terrace
Behind winery. Grapes!
Behind winery. Olives on top.
Behind winery
Private patio. The family lives in the winery building in a separate wing.

Take care everyone…alla prossima! 🌈

Mercatino di antiquariato e vintage

Sunday we had our first, first-Sunday-of-the-month, flea market or mercatino di antiquariato e vintage. It was good to see them back! I, in the past, have never bought anything at one of these. But we did buy two things. A plate and a beautiful photo book of Perugia. The book is going to be a gift. Pictures!

Monday
We had terrible storms for hours during the night. And it continued to pour into the morning. It put a damper on our plans for today.

We had planned to get the Angelo Giallo (our Porsche 🙂) serviced and also visit the hospital in Perugia. We canceled and rescheduled for next week. A joy of being retired! 

Tonight we had a delicious chicken stuffed with brie and prosciutto from Calagrana. It had a nice garlicky dipping sauce. Delicioso! 

I hope all are well as we try to extricate ourselves from the lockdowns. The young people are partying on the weekend and I am concerned because they are not masked nor social distancing. I guess we all must wait and see.

Meanwhile we have made plans for our first trip! We will go to the Maremma in Tuscany. On the Mediterranean coast. About a 2.5-3 hour drive. 3 nights. A birthday celebration… More details to follow. Take care everyone, don’t loosen up too much, too soon! 🌈

Tuesday – Day of the Republic

Today is a national Holiday — Festa della Repubblica. June 2nd. In 1946, it was the day Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, and the Republic of Italy was born. So it’s called Republic Day.

After an 85 year monarchy, which had for the most part been very popular with the people, a referendum resulted in the end.  All male members and future heirs of the ruling House of Savoy were deposed and exiled.

The monarchy had ruled since Italy’s Unification in 1861. Its final monarch, Umberto II only got to be king for a month, earning him the nickname ‘Re di Maggio’ or ‘the May King’.

Umberto had actually been acting as head of state since 1944; after Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime – to which the monarchy had been allied – collapsed, King Victor Emmanuel III transferred his powers to his only son in the hope it would give the monarchy a popularity boost. It didn’t work.

The constitution now forbids a monarchy. In 2002, The House of Savoy family formally renounced their claim to the throne so they could return from exile. Umberto refused the right to return to his homeland, dying in Geneva in 1983.

There you go! Your Italian history lesson for today 🙂
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Last night I made a new recipe from “Six Seasons” cookbook. It was a faro salad with salami, cheese, and fave.  I added new peas, arugula and basil to the mint called for. Lots of good Umbrian olive oil. Very yummy. Luther loved it. 

Buona domenica!

Sunday in Umbertide. Hard to stop posting when it has become part of my life! But at least I don’t feel like I must, which takes the pressure off. 🙂

I went up to Calagrana to pick up the food I ordered. It is kind of gray but I’ve never seen so many motorcycles and bicycles out as I saw today! On my way I saw this cool little car. It was in perfect condition and I love it’s drop top.

Calagrana was all set up for its first lunch since the shut down. It looked beautiful. Ely was very nervous and hoped all the guests would abide by the rules.

When I got back to town they were having the mass. But it was outside. Excellent idea.

Hope everyone is staying safe. With the loosening of everything it feels dangerous to me. I am just waiting for the spike. 😢

Sabato!

Today, Saturday, dawned gray but cleared by midday after rain all night. Last night the young people partied into the night at Cafe Centrale. The rain made them pack into the cafe. Maskless. I guess we wait a week or two to see if we get spikes in the virus.

I had errands. First, we visited the market where I bought fave beans, tiny zucchini, the crisp cucumbers, rucola, and fresh eggs! The last five uova! I also took some pictures. Then we paid a bill for my friend. On the way back we visited the newly opened, Carrefour supermarket for the first time. There were far too many people in there. All masked but still… I didn’t feel very comfortable. The store itself is OK. Better than the old Conad but still nothing much different than all small Italian supermarkets. It does stay open all day, unlike the old Conad. We recognized all the checkout women from the old store 🙂. Finally to the farmacia. So much for our errands.

The last thing was to see if the Porsche would start after it’s dead battery issues. We had received our battery charger a couple days ago and it had been hooked up and charging for a couple days. Crossing our fingers we started her up. Vroom! We took a spin. Luther added air to the tires. All is well. It is due for a servicing so that’s next.

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We went to Bar Mary for Aperitivo. I complemented Irene on her pretty flowered mask. She said she got it at the Tabacchi. Next thing I know she had bought me a mask…just like hers! She is so sweet. We are gemelli! Twins.
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Tonight we are having a pasta primavera. Sautéed pancetta, peas, asparagus, fave. Mmm perfect for this time of year.