Category: Italian Festivals


Vintage Karman Ghia

Vintage Karmann Ghia

Befana came to Perugia, and for some reason this meant that there should be a classic car rally in Perugia. Jaguars (including a glorious XK-E; see this Top Gear segment), Triumphs, Citroens, Mercedes, and lots and lots of Fiat 500s.

But what caught my eye was a 1972 Karmann Ghia convertible. Because a white 1970 Ghia was my first car.

And I sold it.

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That dear, likeable old woman


Befana arrives in Umbria (from the Giornale dell’Umbria)

Today (Jan. 6) is Epiphany. Last night, Befana, a witch of sorts, came through Umbria delivering candy to the good children and coal to the bad. While the Three Kings are the central figures of the Epiphany elsewhere in Europe, in central Italy it is all about “that dear, likeable old woman.” There are various Christian traditions about Befana (whose name seems to be derived from the Greek ‘Epiphania’). The ‘likeable’ version is that she was a good housekeeper whom the Magi encountered on their way to Bethlehem. They offered to take her with them to meet the baby Jesus, but she was too busy sweeping. When she realized that Jesus was the Redeemer, she changed her mind and she now spends the nights between Christmas and the Epiphany searching for him.

In Central Italy, La Befana may be associated with a pre-Christian pagan goddess. In the town of Urbania, in the Marche region of Italy, a Befana festival is held every year between January 2 and 6.

Micah quickly picked up on the Befana tradition and last night he expectantly hung up his Peppa Pig stocking.

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Sunday lunch: spelt and lentils


Bavicchi, Via dei Priori 15

Umbrians love their legumes and cereal grains. Since early autumn, soups made with ceci (chickpeas), lenticchie (lentils), and farro spelt) have been appearing on menus around Perugia. We have sampled several variations of these warm and hearty creations (such as the soups Pedar had two weeks ago at La Taverna) and I have been trying to recreate some of them at home. Yesterday (Sunday), I read in the Giornale dell’Umbria that this week Monteleone di Spoleto was celebrating its “farro d’oro” (spelt of gold), also known as “farro di San Nicola,” the patron saint of Monteleone (see more below). I was inspired to make a zuppa di farro for lunch. Fortunately, the Antica Spezieria e Drogheria Eredi Bavicchi (Bavicchi, for short) is open on Sundays and it is just up the Via dei Priori from our apartment…

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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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A Saint comes to Perugia


The special mass, overseen by Don Bosco’s portrait

For the last ten days or so, there have been a series of events connected to the 90th anniversary of the Instituto Don Bosco in Perugia. Don Bosco is where our boys play soccer. There have been lectures, concerts (we are going to a performance of the Salesiani youth orchestra from Oświęcim [Auschwitz] tomorrow), picnics, youth tournaments, and a booth at the Chocolate Festival. There was also a special mass at the Cathedral in Perugia; all of the kids on the Don Bosco teams met at the institute and paraded up the hill to the center of town.


Offerings of balls

The choir sang, the arch-bishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve presided, institute officials spoke of the life of Don Bosco and the good work of the Institute, and offerings and gifts were presented at the altar, including a set of balls representing the three sports of soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Even the flower arrangements were done in the Institute’s colors of rosso and giallo.

We then found out that Don Bosco himself was coming to visit Perugia the following week, and would be staying the night at the Institute on 22 Oct. Since he passed away in 1888, and was canonized in 1934, this meant a visit by the reliquiario that contains his remains.

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Dancing for Chocolate

DSC_0148Eurochocolate officially started yesterday. After soccer practice, homework, and music, we decided to brave the crowds. Micah was eager to find his friend Bianca, he was certain she would be there, and he was right! We ran into her (and her parents) just a short way down via Vanucci. Although Perugia is celebrating chocolate, the first thing Micah wanted was cotton candy (zucchero filato in Italian). Simon and Jakob have decided to try all the varieties of cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) in search of the best recipe.

Once Micah had his sugar fix, he danced his way through the streets:

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