We climbed a mountain above Castellucio because our dad told us to. It was a lot of fun and we felt very accomplished afterwards. We were also lucky because some friends who stayed later there said that a huge storm hit with hail and everything.
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If you have been following the weather in Europe, you know that it is unseasonably hot in Italy right now. We are little better off in Perguia because there is always a breeze up here. Even so, yesterday we decided to escape the heat in the city and head up into the Sibilline mountains towards the plain of Castellucio. This is another area in Umbria famous for its lentils, farro (spelt), and peas. In the early summer the plain blossoms into a sea of colors. We were a little too early for the flowers this year, but the views were stunning nonetheless.
We are back in Perugia just under a year after we moved back to Indiana. Some of the family had already made visits back—we have begun to help lead Smithsonian Institute Journeys Tours (Highlights of Italy [done in 2014 and again in 2015] and Gems of Tuscany and Umbria ), and Pedar led a DePauw Winter Term tour for soccer players in January of this year, in which Simon participated. This summer, Simon is taking an intensive Italian course at Umbra Institute, and we are partnering through DePauw with Umbra for a new summer archaeology field school.
[The story of Castel Rigone (21 chapters) in chronological order here.]
There is an ending to the story of Castel Rigone Calcio. And it is an unexpected one. Maybe. Well, perhaps it represents a final twist, then. I tell the tale in The Blizzard, issue 14, Sept. 8, 2014, pages 122-128: “Rise and Fall of Castel Rigone: The entrepreneur, the village team and the experiment in humanistic capitalism”…
“This story does not end with dramatic victory from a penalty. It begins that way — in Florence, at a quarter to five on a Sunday afternoon, 5 May 2013. Banks of dark grey clouds jostle over the Apennines along the Arno River. Tourists shuffle along to glimpse Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring at the Uffizi Gallery. And at Stadio Turri, fourteen men crowd in along a torn white arc to watch Dario Pietro Tranchitella place a ball carefully on the ground…”
You’ll have to go to The Blizzard’s website to find out the rest.
I’m a bit stunned to have published this in The Blizzard. I’ve been a reader ever since issue ‘zero’ appeared in 2011, as it represented the first real attempt at a football literary periodical. The founders weren’t after money (though they wanted it to succeed); its financial model is ‘pay-what-you-want’—as little as one pence per issue, though you’d have to look pretty hard in the mirror at yourself if you only shelled out that much for hundreds of pages of great writing and insight. “Intelligent Football Journalism,” it says on the ‘About’ page that tells the origin story. Exactly.
The editor, Jonathan Wilson (Twitter: jonawils), has written some of the best books and articles extant on the subject of soccer. He conjured the idea for The Blizzard in a Sunderland pub with the help of friends and colleagues. To have one’s name in the same table of contents as Philippe Auclair, Scott Murray, and Rob Smyth is an honor.
Due credit in the Blizzard article (though the journal didn’t insert it) is our friend Marzia, for her help and humor in certain translations that otherwise I would not have properly understood. My deep thanks, Marzia.
It was exactly one year ago when I first learned about Castel Rigone, the village club whose youth team was practicing on a sunny Wednesday upon the artificial turf at the Don Bosco Scuola di Calcio in Perugia. Never could I have imagined how it would turn out. Requiescas in pace, Castel Rigone Calcio.
We have now been in the United States for three+ days. The houses are strange (an eclectic variety of styles and materials that evoke everywhere and everytime without actually being anything, a collection of mini domestic kingdoms named Cape Cod, Georgian, Neo-Classical, Spanish Colonial Revival, Clapboard Bungalow…). The roads are needlessly wide; there are lawns everywhere, and they are trimmed and edged; people pick up after their dogs. People talk loudly with Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia accents–vowels are strong, angled, harsh. Everything is bigger: cars, buildings, portions, people.
There are fragments and reflections of Italy here on the East Coast — at Uncle Gino’s Pizza in Margate, the restauranteur noticed Simon’s Juventus jersey and Simon was able to practice his Italian (though not try the pizza; he wasn’t ready for that). We saw stracciatella on the boardwalk in Ocean City, but no one wanted it, at risk of modifying the memory of the divine products from our beloved Gelateria Gambrinus in Perugia. As we go west, even those embers will wink out.
We may be putting up a few more posts — stories and images we didn’t have time to share as we packed up. For now, the boys have decided to start a YouTube channel that is meant to introduce kids in America to European soccer; to share, peer-to-peer, their observations and insights. It’s called “Soccer Stuff”, and episode 1, though a little long (they need to get each show down to 5-8 minutes), is below. It’s about the World Cup. They begin to find their stride about halfway through.
We are on the plane and already are clearly back in the States. The in-flight shopping offers all manner of wonderful products we cannot get in Italy, such as this charming figure who, floating in the backyard pool we don’t have, will make the atmosphere of central Indiana just like Venice!
We can’t wait.