Trevi’s October “Black” Celery Festival

October 19, 2011

Throughout October, the picturesque Umbrian hilltown of Trevi celebrates its renowned sedano nero ("black celery") in a month-long array of cultural events. Celery is justly celebrated in Trevi: after all, celery is a key ingredient in many Umbrian recipes (and one follows at the end!)... read more...

November in Umbria: Sweets, Saints and … Cemeteries

October 12, 2011

Yesterday when I visited Peppa, she was sitting on a bench outside of chicken coop, chopping walnuts open with a hammer. "Buonissime!", she said happily as she munched the nutmeats. Her walnuts are tasty this year and will be perfect in the pasta dolce she'll make for November 1st, All Saints' Day and November 2nd, All Souls' Day, two important feast days here in Italy. Here in Umbria, at the end of October the farmwomen start chopping the walnuts they have gathered in preparation for the traditional early November Umbrian sweet, la pasta dolce.... read more...

Assisi’s Glorious Day: Festa di San Francesco

September 13, 2011

San Francesco is not the patron saint of our Assisi: He is the patron saint of all Italy along with Catherine of Siena. Most Italians aren't practicing Catholics. Let's just call them "cultural Catholics". Example: ask an Italian, "Sei cattolico?" "Certo!" will be the answer. Then ask about last Mass attended. A likely reply: "a Natale" ("for Christmas"). Catholic or not, you don't mess with the name of San Francesco in this country. He is "Numero Uno" for the Italians. And Alessandro del Piero is only Numero Due (greatest Italian soccer player?)... read more...

Arrivederci, Umbria Jazz, 2011

July 18, 2011

"Three Ladies of Blues" had all rockin' at the jazz aperitif last night at Hotel Brufani, one of the last events of the stupendo 10-day Umbria Jazz festival in Perugia. read more...

Eating Flowers in Spello

July 14, 2011

Spello - che bello! - is becoming world famous for its magnificent flower petal tapestries - Infiorate - carpeting medieval alleyways and piazzas for Corpus Cristi. Prior to the wonders, the Spellani compete in a contest of flowering balconies, windowboxes and alleyways, try out the rose and lavender flavors featured in the main piazza gelateria - and even eat flowers... read more...

Perugia …and all that Jazz!

July 14, 2011

Since 1973, In mid-July the rhythms of jazz, R&B, soul, Gospel, swing, Latino, zydeco, bebop, tango, blues, samba - to mention a few - fill frescoed Perugia theaters, reverberate off the walls of its stately medieval city hall and wrap around the Gothic sculptural masterpiece, the 13th-c fountain, in the main piazza. Yes, things are cooking in Perugia this week giving the city the redoubtable honor of being the hottest city in Italy - but Herbie Hancock, Santana, Prince, Liza Minelli, Gilberto Gil, B.B. King and countless other top musicians - are doing the cookin'...and the rockin' fans filling the piazzas and streets are feeling a different kind of heat... read more...

Bejeweled Baroque in Foligno

June 21, 2011

"The applause and affection of my fellow Folignati made up for the fatigue of wearing this stupendous gown," said Miss Italia, Francesca Testasecca from Foligno, (Umbria) after participating in the splendid Baroque evening pageantry of her city's festival, la Quintana. Culminating moment of the festivites is the jousting match the day after, rooted in the Roman history of the town, once called "Fulginium: the "Quintana" was the area of the Roman army camp, site of the the arduous training of the soldiers. Soldiers armed with swords or lances launched themselves at a target in the form of a soldier holding a ring, trying to run the sword through the ring, thus honing their accuracy... read more...

Bevagna’s Festival in June Heat: Passione

June 21, 2011

At the end of June, it's hot in Bevagna, medieval hilltown of Roman origins in the Valle Umbra Nord, Umbria's largest valley. Not exactly the ideal day for dressing in heavy woolen capes or jute or velvet gowns - or armor (!) - or for forging bronze bells, baking bread in a stone bread oven, minting coins, glass-blowing or tanning leather. Not even to be imagined: unless you are Bevignate. Months of work on their medieval festival, the Mercato delle Gaite, are coming to fruition now as the town relives its medieval culture and history...with passione. read more...

La Sagra: Something Sacred?

June 9, 2011

There certainly is something sacred about the sagra: a local village festival offering the best in local cuisine at minimal prices, top (and free!) dance band music outdoors til the wee hours and entertainment for all from pre-schoolers to the elderly. At some sagras, there are mini-soccer tournaments, others offer a performance of a local dancing school on one night, and others fill the food tent walls with artwork of the village school children. read more...

Gubbio’s Glorious Mad May Race

May 12, 2011

Dramatically perched on a hill overlooking the ruins of its Roman theater, Gubbio seems suspended in the Middle Ages: time has stood still in this stunning medieval hilltown. But slumbering Gubbio erupts in frenetic euphoria on May 15th for the mad race, la Corsa dei Ceri... read more...