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.
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?
Micah always helped out at the cassa:
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.
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).
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.