Goings on in the Upper Tiber Valley: Montone, Umbertide, Sagrantino
It’s time for a local news update:
Weather report: still cool. We’ve actually had a good,
steady rain, which is a blessing because everything was tinderbox dry. It was
looking more like an African savannah than the green heart of Italy. I’m crossing my fingers that this rain
will bring porcini mushrooms; it’s been 2 or 3 years since we’ve had the right
combination of rain, followed by the warm weather that is necessary to get these
‘shrooms to sprout.
Vendammia (grape harvest) is under way and this weekend is
the big Sagrantino release and festival. Montefalco, here we come!
The Montone piazza is still ripped up! Originally we thought
it was to fix the water problems, but no, it seems some of the stones in front
of the tabaccheria and the hairdressing shop need to be replaced. The Aries bar
has no outdoor seating except the front porch, the old guy’s eternal card game
has had to move indoors and town just feels unsettled.
There is huge screen set up right down the middle of the
piazza, and for over 10 days now, Martina and the tabaccheria are behind the
screen, along with very noisy stonecutting machines. We’re thinking this may
not have improved her usual good mood.
Stone cutting begins promptly at 7:00 am. This was supposed to be a
quick fix project, but no one is taking bets on when it will be finished.
Umbertide had their Ottocento festa over the weekend and it
was a rousing good time. Forgoing the whole medieval theme, Fratta (the
original name of Umbertide) has embraced the roaring 1800’s. It is a festival
in every sense of the word: lavish tavernas done up as genteel parlor rooms,
can can girls, dance performances, jugglers, ragazzi running in the streets
with bayoneted rifles, spectacularly bad wine, incredibly good home digestivi.
We sampled basil, erbe and Indian fig, and all were outstanding. Oh, yes, and did I mention the ring toss around the salami game? There was a large, erect salami, and if you got the ring around it, you took the salami home. Fun for the whole family! We went home tired, with sore feet, and big smiles. I love this festa!
Figs are in season and I have eaten too many of them. There
are still good peaches to be had. Tomatoes are winding down.
Getting a pizza on a Monday night was even harder than
usual. It took four tries before we found a pizza last night! Franco is always
closed on Monday, Nestors is on ferie, Old Café was closed…we finally wound up
at Habanera’s in Umbertide. Pizza Guru was beside himself as he led us on this
pizza pilgrimage. Habanera’s deserves to be fourth on the list, but we still
managed to have a good time.
And that’s the news.
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