Archive for July, 2014


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.


Welcome to America


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.

Micah’s People

We’ve met so many great people here in Perugia; we’ve mentioned many of them in our ‘Miss You’ post.

But Micah has some special acquaintances as well. Here they are, Micah’s friends. As the most sociable member of the family, he quickly won them over.


Ricardo, who runs the giornale stand down Via dei Priori

Ricardo supplies us with news, toys, and calciatori/mondiale Panini stickers. He’s also the coach of the neighborhood (Via dei Priori) soccer team.

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Ci mancherai, Perugia (We will miss you, Perugia)


The Palazzo dei Priori and Fontana Maggiore in the morning.

In recent weeks several topics for posts have been flitting around in my brain. Fear of becoming nostalgic has kept me from writing. Now time is running out, only a few days are left, and we owe it to a city that has given us so much to acknowledge those gifts. Each of these photos/comments deserves its own post. For now, a few brief words will have to do.

Il Parma


Alessandro, Armando, and Francesco behind the counter.

Since we have arrived, I have wanted to write something about the alimentari, Il Parma, where we bought prosciutto crudo and pecorino every day, and where Francesco always checked the dates on the milk bottles before I walked out with them (even though I assured him the boys could drink a liter of milk in one day) and Armando always gave me advice on how to prepare Umbrian specialties (we have him to thank for Jakob’s prison lentils), and Alessandro joked with Micah and gave him samples from behind the counter, and who surprised me one day in the spring speaking near-perfect English to tourists trying to buy truffles – he never spoke English to me. How will we every shop at the Greencastle Kroger again?


Armando, Simon, Alessandro, Micah, Francesco, and Jakob

Micah always helped out at the cassa:


Monia and Micah

Pasticceria Lepri

Then there is the world’s tiniest panetteria/pasticceria on via Maestà delle Volte which has many varieties of bread and pastries packed into one narrow shop (only two customers can stand inside at one time) as you could find in any large bakery. Italians appreciate variety and quality over quantity. When your favorite type of bread is gone, it’s gone. No stale bread left at the end of the day. These are also the bakers who made Micah’s birthday cake.


Macelleria Pierini


Skill with a knife: slicing chicken breasts into super-thin cutlets

And the butcher; we cannot forget the butcher. The boys will miss his chianina beef burgers and breaded turkey cutlets. I will miss walking in and getting exactly the right amount of meat, cut and/or ground to order, for the dish I want to make (typical order: 500 grams of beef ground with 300 grams of sausage for Jakob’s favorite ragù).


The Wednesday Market


On Wednesdays, when I could remember what day it was, I would leave the library half an hour early so I could pass the “Wednesday Market” on my way home. For most of the year the market was located in Piazza Matteoti, but in the lead-up to Umbria Jazz, the Comune decided to repave the piazza. In recent weeks the market has moved to Piazza Italia. The vendors highlight local Umbrian products: olive oil, wine, Deruta ceramics, etc. But there is also a produce vendor and two women who sell cheese. We became very fond of the fresh mozzarella and ricotta from Fattoria di Opagna. Jakob and I also liked the pecorino aged under wine for 18 months (the others think it verges too much on tasting like blue cheese).


Bar/Pasticceria dell’Accademia


Italian breakfast: cornetto and cappuccino

Coffee. Italy has rekindled my taste for good coffee: a perfect, hot, creamy cappuccino in the morning (with a good cornetto), and a macchiato in the late afternoon. There are bars on every block in Perugia and everyone has their favorite. After experimenting in the Fall, I settled on the Bar/Pasticcerica dell’Accademia on Via dei Priori. The pasticceria is adjacent to the bar; at night you can smell the pastries being baked for the next day. The bar is run by two men who look like they have devoted their lives to making coffee. The cappuccino is hot and made with fresh milk (none of that UHT stuff). Now when I walk in the barman reaches for a cornetto con crema and starts making my cappuccino. When the library got full during the exam period, I ensconced myself in the back of the bar and worked for hours. If my book gets published, Bar dell’Accademia will be in the acknowledgements.



There are so many people and places that made this year special for us. Thank you to all our new friends in Perugia, ci mancherete ma siete sempre nel cuore nostro.


Sunset from our apartment.





As we pack our bags, Umbria Jazz is stepping out.


Every day from noon to well past midnight  there are official and unofficial performances. We passed part of yesterday afternoon in the Giardini Carducci listening to the KJ Denhart Band and the Allan Harris Quintet, while eating porchetta and jambalaya.


Later we encountered Tuba Skinny playing in Via Mazzini; they are a true traditional New Orleans jazz band, and they are phenomenal; they look the part as well as playing the parts. For Pedar, they are the best thing going at Umbria Jazz: they play the truth.


So far, one of Micah’s favorite events is the twice daily “parade” with Funk Off. All week, at noon and 6:30 pm they parade from Piazza Italia to Piazza IV Novembre where they stop for a performance. Here’s a clip from yesterday:

And here is Micah channeling their vibe with one of his friends (stay with it to 0:52…):

He’s learned that the show must go on, even with equipment malfunctions; maybe someday he will be on the main stage.


Perfect Vision

Zydeco is bouncing off the sixteenth-century bastion behind us. Umbria Jazz is in full swing. The green and grey slope of Monte Subasio sets off the fortress above Assisi with perfect clarity. A cool, dry breeze scampers up from the valley to the south. Postcard puffy clouds drift along above.

We’ve seen the view before. It’s not new, says Jakob. He wants to go home. Wednesday he’ll get his wish.

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