madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking



This post is dedicated to all those who have been waiting for something to finish or to begin, for a problem to solve or simply for the rain to stop.

two rainbows from my window, double joy.

The “Gerusalemme liberata” is an extraordinary XVI century piece of poetry by Torquato Tasso. The theme is fairly embarrassing by now, it’s about Crusades. It is however strongly symbolic of the collected efforts of men to walk steadily towards a goal. Then, when all seems lost, finally they see it in the golden light of the sun and rejoice. When I am happy, when something  really works out, I chant  these verses in my head and I know it’s a special day.

Ali ha ciascuno al core ed ali al piede,
né del suo ratto andar però s’accorge;
ma quando il sol gli aridi campi fiede
con raggi assai ferventi e in alto sorge,
ecco apparir Gerusalem si vede,
ecco additar Gerusalem si scorge,
ecco da mille voci unitamente
Gerusalemme salutar si sente.

Feathered their thoughts, their feet in wings were dight,
Swiftly they marched, yet were not tired thereby,
For willing minds make heaviest burdens light.
But when the gliding sun was mounted high,
Jerusalem, behold, appeared in sight,
Jerusalem they view, they see, they spy,
Jerusalem with merry noise they greet,
With joyful shouts, and acclamations sweet.


Happy Easter Monday

happy spring!

Spring is such a crazy special time here. It’s cold, cold, cold. Then one day we wake up and all the little birds are loudly celebrating the first sun. They seem surprised just like us. Look, there’s flowers! forget-me-not! daisies! Isn’t it amazing, one gets surprised every year.

Also we innkeepers get out of our cocoon. It’s been too cold to paint, plaster, vacuum, polish, wax, plant, prune, mow. So we run.  We’ve been alone for 4 months on our magical mountains and soon someone will turn up at our door. How can that be? And, amazingly,  it happens again.

The last Sunday of March we go to the agricultural fair in Bastia Umbra, it’s part of the spring rites. My husband needs to do some tractor watching

some interesting equipment on display at the agricultural fair in Bastia Umbra near Assisi

I need to buy geraniums and aromatic herbs and our daughter loves to see the animals.

There’s all sorts of breeds of farm animals on display and “beauty” contests to choose the champions. I love the song in the video below. It’s a silly ’50s tune where a silly guy calls a silly girl on the phone and repeats to death “you are the most beautiful of all”. Happy spring everyone.


cooking on a sunny day

Over the years our guests have given us the gift of many beautiful images. Images of ourselves, of Umbria, of cooking classes, of fun and relaxation, of greetings.  Moments in which the lives of others have crossed ours here, atop our magical mountain. Moments for which I am grateful.



This video is a gift of Chris Honeysett, a very talented photographer who visited us 3 years ago, make sure to visit his fabulous website


from Umbria with chocolate

the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia is a good opportunity to sample new and fashonable products

the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia is a good opportunity to sample new and fashionable products

Every year around this time, mid October, I get vaguely annoyed. First of all it gets cold and wet for the first time after months of wonderful weather. It’s still beautiful all around, but one needs to get used to the sweaters.

Then, like every October in the last 10 years,  Eurochocolate comes to Perugia and so the traffic and a million chocolate wrappers.

Eurochocolate is a large chocolate festival, sponsored by the big chocolate brands. It brings more than 100 thousand visitors to our small provincial capital. The locals lock themselves up for 2 week-ends. There is not point in getting squashed when one can buy (most of) the same stuff in the supermarket.

It’s better to visit during the week if one wants to get any close to the stands.

fine Venchi chocolate from Torino

faboulus Venchi chocolate from Torino

Those who love crowds can go in the weekend to see the making of the chocolate sculptures in Perugia’s main street Corso Vannucci. Large blocks of chocolate are carved by energetic artists and all the trimmings are given out for free to the onlookers (video).

Altrocioccolato, held in Gubbio is the cozy, fair-trade, green alternative to the monster kermesse. There’s lots of organic stuff, hand knitted socks, good music and free theatre for the kids. It’s even possible to find parking space. Really, it is very friendly.

no sponsors and genuine children entertrainment at Altrocioccolato Festival in Gubbio

no sponsors and genuine children entertainment at Altrocioccolato Festival in Gubbio

As for myself, if I need special chocolate, I can get it year around, I have friends. I go to Barbara in Santa Maria degli Angeli*  or to Elena in Palazzo**  where I can find a variety of artisan chocolate at reasonable prices. I like to support small companies. I like to get suggestions and a bite to taste in peace, no queuing up required.

I am grateful to someone who makes the effort to trace good genuine products, possibly from another small company, and hands it with a smile. They know I’ll be back tomorrow.

*Terra Umbra. Via Patrono d’Italia 10, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi
**Pasta fresca e non solo, 43, Viale Michelangelo Palazzo di Assisi



not everybody enjoyes the beautiful medieval festval.....

well, not everybody enjoys a medieval festival.....

CALENDIMAGGIO of ASSISI is a medieval festival held in Assisi from Thursday to Saturday of the week after May 1st. The festival celebrates the arrival of spring with games, magnificent pageants and music competitions of love songs. The contest involves the two districts of the town – or parts – who compete for  the Palio, a scarf symbolizing the victory of one part over the other.  Most of the festival is held in Piazza del Comune which is closed for the 3 days to regular visitors. Tickets are available at Assisi’s tourist information office. Here is this year’s program:

Thursday May  7

  • 3:00 p.m.  – The major of Assisi consigns the Keys of the town to the master of the Calendimaggio, Maestro de Campo.  Flag waving exhibition of the “Sbandieratori di Assisi”
  • 4:00 p.m. – A ringing of bells proclaims the start of the festival. The Maestro de Campo takes on the supreme authority of the town.  The Palio is returned to the Master. Investiture of the jury.
  • 9:30 p.m.  –  Medieval life and food in the streets by one of the contestant parts

Friday 8 May

  • 3:30 p.m.  –  Medieval games and  proclamation of Madonna Primavera, the beauty queen of the festival
  • 9:30 p.m.  –  Medieval life and food in the streets by the other contestant part

Saturday 9 May -

  • 3:30 p.m.  – The two parts publicly challenge each other in a love song contest.  A pageant will parade through  Corso Mazzini and Piazza Santa Chiara.
  • 9:30 p.m.  – Entrance of the historical pageants. Choral contest between the two parts. The winning part is chosen and receives the Palio


twenty four thousand sausages

Animal lovers have peculiar behaviors sometimes.  Like, for example, eating 24000 sausages in one day.

On the third week-end of January the village of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi celebrates the feast of Saint Anthony Abbot . The Egyptian hermit is the patron  of domestic animals, especially pigs, as well as of butchers.  He has been invoked by farmers against a number of diseases including pestilence, herpes and , of course, various skin rashes.

Our local celebration originates from somewhere  in the XIX century when the end of a pestilence  decimating the village’s horses was attributed to a miracle of the  Saint. From that time on, the people of Santa Maria degli Angeli commemorates the miracle with a procession, the distribution of  the Piatto di Sant’Antonio (see below) and the blessing of domestic animals.

This year's

This year's proession was proudly preceeded by the Carabinieri cavalrly

People comes to watch the procession and to bring their pets for the blessing.  Pets are clad in  red to honor the Saint.

pets on the way to blessing

Pets on the way to be blessed

Animal lovers find all sorts of implements to carry their pet s.

a rabbit trolley, dog and rabbit pouches

A rabbit trolley, dog and rabbit pouches

Some are impeccably dressed.

dressed up for the eventDressed up for the event
The celebration is organized by a group of local men, the Priors, who carry the Statue of Saint Anthony during the procession.

The Procession of saint Anthony, his statue is carried by the Priors

The Procession of Saint Anthony, his statue is carried by the Priors

In addition, the Priors collect funds so that virtually everybody in the village can afford to go out and eat the “Piatto di Sant’ Antonio” a plate with pasta, meat and fruits that was originally distributed to the poor.  The plate is a carnivore feast including by regulation 4 pork sausages , two slices of roast and 2 meatballs.

So, with approx. 6000 participants, the local butchers have had enough work. The pets have been dressed up and blessed.  As in the best Italian tradition, everybody went home well fed and happy. Well,  may be not the pigs, but at least thay have been put out of their misery.


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