Category: Italian Art

A Day in Umbria


View of Lago Trasimeno from Tuoro

Saturday we had an Umbrian day: Lago Trasimeno, Roman/Carthaginian battle site, torta al testo, a Lombard tower, an Etruscan tomb, and home-made wood-fire pizza with friends as we watched the sun set against Perugia. June 21 was the 2231st anniversary of the Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 B.C.), an epic disaster for the Romans at the hands of the Carthaginians and not generally commemorated in Italy. Nevertheless, in the morning we set out for Tuoro, the Umbrian village above the battle site (which, diplomatically, now has Lamta, Hannibal’s home town, as a ‘sister city’). From here we followed part of the battle itinerary.

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Marble Marvels

Micah and a marble worker

Would Magritte say that Micah was with a marble worker?

We just finished our Easter (Pasqua) break; the kids were off 10 days from school, and Alan and Barbara were visiting. We took a tour of coastal Tuscany, from Lucca in the north to Cerveteri in the south, accompanied by lovely spring weather.

One day, we took the A11 north to Carrara, location of the great marble quarries that the Romans first exploited in bulk beginning in the second century BC. Above the town, the peaks are white — not from snow, but from being cut down for the bright stone that makes up the mountains.

We visited the Civic Marble Museum in Carrara, had a fantastic pranzo at a Calabrian restaurant next to a working marble yard, and then toured one of the underground quarries before finishing the day at Forte dei Marmi, now a posh holiday beach town.

Micah was keen on the adventure; all day (and after) he talked about the ‘marvel quarries’. Continue reading

Selfsational Umbria

Just saw Steve McCurry’s new photo exhibit, Sensational Umbria. Fantastic. As we left, we passed a ‘selfie’ area.


Bella Venezia

DSC_0284We are weeks behind on the blog, but it is spring in Perugia. The streets are waking up: restaurants and bars have brought back their outdoor seating, and the Corso is full of families enjoying an afternoon gelato. Can you blame us for not sitting inside at our computers? We’ll try our best to catch you up on what we’ve been doing.

Our first taste of warmer weather came three weeks ago in Venice. We had four days of sunshine and warm breezes as we traversed the canals. We managed to see some of the main attractions, such as St. Mark’s square and the Peggy Guggenheim, but mostly we spent our time outside either on the water or walking through the back canals.

Here are a few pictures from the trip.


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The village of Solomeo

The village

About two weeks ago, we visited Solomeo, a small town west of Perugia with a population (last census, 2001) of 436. Buses come just a few times a day, mostly for ferrying kids back and forth from school. Automobile is the most practical form of access. We went because Solomeo is the location of Brunello Cucinelli‘s factory and outlet store (photos of the factory here, located in the castello). Cucinelli is also a founder, and the patron, of Castel Rigone Calcio, about which I am continuing to write, and he supports local historical and cultural initiatives, such as the € 1.1 million consolidation and conservation of the Arco Etrusco, the ancient northern gate to the city of Perugia, which has been under scaffolding since we arrived.

The Restoration of the Arco Etrusco in Perugia

The Restoration of the Arco Etrusco in Perugia, entirely funded by Cucinelli

At a time of serious ongoing economic constraints in Italy, Cucinelli’s success is a bright spot for Umbria, and his rise from farm to fashion has become quasi-mythical both locally and internationally. Profiles have appeared in the Financial Times Weekend Magazine (October 2013); Vegas Magazine (October 2013); Forbes (March 2013); GQ (April 2012); and Harper’s Bazaar (March 2011), to name a few.

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The Carousel at the End of the Street

Step Right Up and See the World

Yesterday after a lovely late lunch we strolled down the Corso Vannucci, because Perugia was hosting a cultural exploration laboratory ( with exhibitions, lectures, and showings of film, new media, radio, tv, web series, storytelling, and fumetti (comics). One of the most impressive sections was ‘Young Guns‘, an exhibit of young graphic/comic artists, showing an array of imaginative and expressive local talent. Great sources of inspiration for Jakob.

At the end of the Corso, however, loomed paradise for a five-year old: a Ferris wheel (here, ‘Carousel’; what we call a ‘Merry-Go-Round’ is simply an ‘Antica Giostra‘), set down at the edge of the town walls. As it was 16:15 and sunset was approaching, of course we went up (for a good 15-20 min. ride). Here are the boys and the views.

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