Wild horses (Ferraris and Maseratis) in the streets of Maranello, ItalyWild Horses in the Streets of Maranello

Ok, we thought we were touring the Ferrari factory. Brother-in-law, Kix, had wrangled us a tour of the factory in Maranello, and we were counting the hours. At the last minute, Ferrari said they weren’t giving tours that week after all. But … as a consolation prize, how would we like to tour the Maserati factory? Well, fine, they’ve got cars in Modena, too. (more)

Leaving and returning to the Florence airportFinding Florence – Leaving Her

We’ve always liked Florence. Oh, sure, people will say I’m just using her to get to Umbria and I guess there would be some truth to that. When it comes to getting to central Italy, we definitely prefer Florence’s airport. They call it Aeroporto A. Vespucci. “A” for “Amerigo” Vespucci. He was the first one to draw a map with a continent between Europe and Asia and in doing so made a name for himself. (more)

Umbria in Winter – The Holidays and All That Jazz

We’ve been in Italy in every season of the year and we like them all – even winter. It’s quieter, probably because there are fewer of us noisy Americans around. And there are all the fine classics you would expect in this most Catholic of all countries: like midnight Mass in the churches. At the millennium there were three priests officiating in our tiny town. And, yes we all got a glow-in-the-dark, plastic baby Jesus to take home with us, as a souvenir. (more)

Umbrian Rubble -Renovating a Medieval Town House in Italy

In my spare time, I’ve renovated my share of buildings. Maybe more than my share. But the real cry for help was probably the time I went for the Italian Momma Of All Renovation Projects: a big, scary, abandoned house – way over on the other side of the ocean. A house that wobbled up and over neighboring apartments, on a steep and narrow street, in a tiny town in Umbria. (more)

Umbria Jazz in Summer

I first went to the Umbria Jazz Festival the summer I was attending the Universita’ per Stranieri in Perugia. Studying Italian language and Culture. I was living in the center of town and when I say “went to ” the festival, I mean we more or less “moved to” the festival for 10 days. It just got progressively harder and harder to find my way to my classroom with each passing morning. Several of us bought packages “all access” tickets and night after night saw one fine concert after another. The series we saw were all under the stars in a big soccer stadium at the edge of the old part of town. And, speaking of stars, they weren’t just in the night sky. We saw Miles Davis, Sting, Gil Evans, Cab Calloway, … (more)

All About Panicale

Have you met our “home town” of Panicale? It is a small hilltop castle town. Some people call it the balcony on Lago Trasimeno. It just hovers up over the lake.  Incredible town. Social life all out of proportion to its size. Small, but as sort of the county seat, it has everything. Theater that looks like a mini La Scala, grocery stores (3) hairdressers (3) flower shop (1), restaurants (3, again) police, medical clinic 24 hours, pharmacy, four cafes for coffee, a piazza with fountain, churches and on and on … (more)

Panicale the Grape Festival

Our first Grape Festival (Festa del Uva) came as a complete surprise to us. We weren’t in Panicale, high above Lake Trasimeno for the festival. Wasn’t on our radar screen at all. We were there for the luscious September weather – the best weather of the year as far I am concerned. When the festival showed up all around us, that was just icing on an already fine cake. The first thing we learned was that the parade does start on time. But it is Italian Time. Whenever. Half the fun is the milling around and getting lined up for the parade … (more)

Roll on, Mighty Pecorinos – Roll on for Easter

Cheese rolling.  An Easter classic?  Could anything make less sense than bunnies laying chocolate eggs ? I was almost starting to make that abstract concept work, when along comes cheese rolling.  What could the seasonal tie-in be? The sport itself seems to be the slightly wacky offspring of a union of bowling and golf. Not a very wide spread sport, it may be only practiced high on this Umbrian hill here in Panicale, for all I know. What I do know is that it takes place every year on the Monday after Easter, Pasquetta (little Easter), and is called by the locals Ruzzolone. (more)