Floral Masterpieces for an October Papal Welcome

September 9, 2013

Excitement peaking in Assisi for Pope Francis' arrival on October 4th for the Feast of St. Francis - and each day, the Umbrian newspapers leak news tidbits on the "surprises" under preparation for the Pope. One of the most splendid will be the floral petal carpet - infiorata - created by the floral artists of Spello and Cannara, two Umbrian medieval towns famed for the floral tapestries created each year for the Feast of Corpus Cristi (xosty days after Easter) read more...

Pope Francis, Anticipating His Assisi Visit

September 6, 2013

Assisi is in euphoria over the arrival here of Pope Francis on October 4th for la Festa di San Francesco. Hotels have been sold out for months and the Assisians' anticipation is palpable. We're not yet sure about the day's itinerary but Umbrian newspapers - and national ones - drop tidbits of enticing speculation now and then. We know that Papa Francesco has responded "si" to the invitation of all at the Istituto Serafico - housing over one hundred severely-handicapped children and youth - to drop in for a visit. read more...

Assisi’s Christmas of “Il Poverello”

December 23, 2012

ven the holiday decorations in the medieval hilltown of Assisi - citta' della pace - bear witness to San Francesco:  simplicity is the theme.  Over twenty-five years ago, Pope John Paul II chose Assisi as the perfect site for his peace gathering, inviting here 160 world religious leaders for interfaith dialogue;  "Il Poverello", San Francesco, born here at the end of the 12th-century, is known worldwide as an emblem of peace, poverty and simplicity. read more...

Look Up to See Assisi’s Artworks

December 22, 2012

As Christmas approaches, many an elderly Assisi nonna is telling her grandchildren about Gesu Bambino's arrival when she was a child: the children left out hay for the donkey of il Bambino and pasta dolce for Gesu. The pasta dolce and fieno were gone when the excited children crept down in the morning - but clumps of donkey droppings were outside the door - and the grateful Bambino had left tangergines, a handful of walnuts, maybe a few chocolates. What excitement! read more...

La Madonna di Citerna Comes Home

December 17, 2012

The tiny northern Umbria village, Citerna (pop. 3500), - ever heard of it? - will now be highlighted on the Italy map of any art-lover (and not only): after years of painstaking restoration, the early 15th-century polychrome sculptural wonder of Donatello, aptly named "La Madonna di Citerna," has come home - to the village church of San Francesco. With the fanfare a queen merits. read more...

Umbria’s Wild Boar Hunters

November 22, 2012

"Quando piove e tira vento, il cacciatore perde tempo" ("when it rains and the wind blows, the hunter wastes his time") says the old saying, thus verifying why Ristorante/Bar Da Giovannino near our house was full of wild boar-hunters on a recent Saturday. Needle-like rain bucketed down as hunters in camouflage suits and the required fluorescent vests sat in the bar, sharing "missed hits" stories of past cinghiale hunts over espresso or panini di prosciutto with vino rosso - or shots of grappa ("takes the chill out of the bones", elderly Siverio affirmed). All headed out for wild boar as soon as the rain let up. Two caposquadra ("team leaders"), Sergio and Italo, left with kilos of sliced prosciutti and paper bags of sliced bread for their squadra - about 30 of the 50 men would hunt that day - all hunters equipped with radios in their pockets (required by law) so that each knows the location of all. The number of dogs they'll take varies: a team of about thirty will use twenty dogs or more. read more...