Archive for March, 2014

Simon’s Italian Birthday


Simon opening presents from his friends

Simon turned fourteen a few weeks ago. Celebrating in Italy has its advantages. He got a pizza party with some of his friends and the next day we left for a four-day trip to Venice. The pizza party was at I Castelli di Napoli, just down the street from us in Perugia. Like many restaurants in Perugia, it is in the vaulted lower-level of a large palazzo. We reserved the room in the back.

Here are some photos from his party. We’ll put up pictures from Venice in a separate post.

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Castel Rigone, Weeks 26-29: Streaking

Kickoff between Castel Rigone and Ischia

Kickoff between Castel Rigone and Ischia

On January 5,  Castel Rigone had won five in a row and was in fifth place, solidly in place to retain a place in Serie C next season. At that point, they had 29 points. On March 23, they lost their fifth out of the last six games (the other was a draw), and have 34 points, fifth from bottom, and solidly in place to be relegated into Serie D next season.

When they were at their best, they were beating the top teams in the league; now they have lost to the two worst teams in the table. Gutted by injuries and suspensions they continue to accumulate due to too many red and yellow cards, they have not been able to keep a consistent lineup, which has shown in the stuttering linking of their play through the midfield. More and more they have resorted to booting the ball long up the field, hoping to pick up some scraps with their forwards. The last two games they even played 4-2-4, in the hopes of gaining more attacking opportunity, but with such a narrow midfield, can’t retain and build possession unless the wide forwards track back consistently for the ball. And it is a truism in soccer that it is easier to run forward than it is backward.

Well, they are streaking backward now.

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Fly Trought The Future

This shop window in Arezzo was too good to be true when Lili pointed it out to us yesterday.

I don’t envy the Italians trying to spell English. I do wonder what it would mean, however, to Fly Through The Future. And how the mannequins might help with that.

Maybe they’ve jumped off the brutalist architecture like Don Draper.

Much to Ponder.

But wait… Now there’s more!

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This post is for our friend Tom and his family at Red Barn Farms. Tom just announced the amazing array of produce they are planting this year. We won’t be there to partake of all of it, but we can share a little bit of what our family is eating from the farm stands in Italy.

IMG_2373On Wednesdays, I now make it a habit to stop at the open market in Perugia’s Piazza Matteotti. It is a small market (compared to the Saturday market in the Pian di Massiano). The vendors are local producers of olive oil, wine, and cheese; and there is one family that sells produce. After picking up two pieces of fresh mozzarella and a wedge of pecorino (Jakob likes the sotto vino variety: aged under wine for at least 6 months), I make my way to the produce stand and try to think through the menu options for the week.

For several weeks we have been in the hearty winter greens stage (the only additional color on the table is provided by a few tomatoes that come from somewhere else in Italy and do not taste much better than the supermarket tomatoes we have at home). The Romanesco broccoli that the kids enjoyed is gone and we are now subsisting on rapi (broccoli rabe) and beitole (chard), which comes in several varieties (I am feeling iron fortified). But this week there were some new items on the table, including several different forms of radicchio that I had never seen before. The woman who runs the stand suggested I take an assaggio (taste) of each to see what we liked best.

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MY SPAGHETTI AL TONNO (spaghetti with tuna)

I made spaghetti al tonno and it was yummy; it looks like this:


This is the video from the chef who taught me how to make it:

And here I am eating it up:



Il Bartoccio – different versions of this Perugian character can be seen throughout the city. This is our local Via dei Priori version.

This weekend marked the end of Carnevale celebrations in Perugia. For much of February there have been parties and parades, and it seems that each district, school, and club in Perugia had their own celebration. As with other festivals, like Epiphany, Perugia has its local traditions when it comes to Carnevale. People dress up, especially kids, but costumes are not elaborate (like in Venice) and there is a certain pride associated with the do-it-yourself look. In keeping with Umbria’s rustic image, the traditional Perugian ‘mask’ of Carnevale is Il Bartoccio, an old farmer from the Tiber River valley. Il Bartoccio appears in Umbrian literature as early as the 1600’s. He is “rozzo, ma sagace, gioviale e saggio” (“uncouth, but shrewd, jovial and wise”).
Il Bartoccio is credited with the first satirical attacks against the ruling classes. In the 1700’s his character was banned by the Vatican (Perugians were always at odds with the Papacy) but he was brought back after the Risorgimento (unification of Italy) in the 1860’s. Today he is considered a symbol of Perugia.
On Saturday, we had our chance to parade with Il Bartoccio as Jakob’s class celebrated Carnevale on the Via dei Priori.

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