In Città  di Castello, Magnificent Tubers Entice

November 11, 2011

In early November, white truffles star at the 32nd edition of la Mostra-Mercato del Tartufo Bianco in Citta' di Castello in the Upper Tiber Valley. But not only the prized white truffle, Tuber Magnatum Pico: all the many flavors of Umbrian fall goodness team with traditional culinary wisdom in this weekend dedicated to educating the taste buds and the mind through a kaleidoscope of conferences, cooking competitions, theatrical presentations and food tastings. read more...

November: Chestnuts, New Wine and Rural Lore

November 11, 2011

The Chapel dedicated to St. Martin and frescoed by Simone Martini in the 14th-century is certainly one of the masterpieces in our Basilica di San Francesco. St. Martin of Tours, 4th-century saint, is pictured as he gives his cloak to a freezing beggar outside the walls of Amien. According to legend, the beggar will reveal himself as Christ. The association is there: St. Martin, the bringer of warmth.... read more

Trevi Olive Oil Trail

November 9, 2011

There's only one way to greet guests at the 20th edition of medieval Trevi's la Festa dell'Olio Nuovo: with a slice of hot bruschetta drizzled with just-milled olive oil, l'olio nuovo. Wearing white gloves and royal blue jackets, students of the local catering/hoteliers high school, la scuola alberghiera, worked in teams yesterday just outside one of the Trevi-area olive oil mills: two toasted the crusty bread slices on a grill, one rubbed the slices with garlic and the other poured - not ungenerously! - the mill's oil on the slices. Musicians played nearby, welcoming visitors. read more...

Elegant Turin, Bracing Against the Floods

November 7, 2011

As the Genovesi and the people of the Cinque Terre mourn their dead and shovel out the mud, the Torinesi keep a watchful eye on the Po, il Grande fiume, up 4.5 meters yesterday and swelling 10 to 15 cm an hour. They know their river - and that ravaging weather can turn it into "un padre ubriacone e malignazzo" ("a big old drunk and malicious father"). The mayor of Turin has ordered all schools closed and advised the locals to stay indoors. read more...

Here Comes the Pope (again..)

November 2, 2011

In 2002, I wrote about the Pope John Paul II's sixth visit to Assisi - and my memory of a personal encounter (so-to-speak) during his 1976 visit. That note follows below. On October 27th, Pope Benedict XVI made his first visit to Asisisi, called "citta' della pace" ever since the encounter of all the world's religious leaders here at invitation of John Paul II in 1986. This recent Papal visit commemorated the 25th anniversary of that most significant inter-faith meeting... read more...

The Joy of Cooking – Umbrian Cuisine, in the U.S.

October 21, 2011

As I look forward to my 2012 February/March coast-to-coast U.S tour, memories of my memorable 2011 tour flood in. No single event takes the stage. Each one was unique, each one was highlighted by an unforgettable moment (and laughter!) - and each one connected me with such a wide array of amazing people. read more...

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...

Remembering a Grape Harvest Past

October 14, 2011

Yesteday on my Rural LIfe Revisited tour, we tasted Peppa's mosto (grape juice on its way to becoming wine). Sipping Peppa's mosto brought back fond memories of our first (and last!) vendemmia (grape harvest) in 1975, the year we moved to the land here in Umbria. 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...