Postcards from Umbria

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Thanks again to Lynn for chronicling our adventures in Benano!  Easter is a big holiday in Italy, marked by a week-long series of events in every town and small village. On Palm Sunday, the small village of Benano kicked off the week with a special ceremony. The priest arrived from nearby Castel Viscardo just before dark on a cold rainy evening. Despite the cold, his feet were clad only in plain brown… Read More

Few things make me quite as happy as hearing from guests who love Benano as much as we do. With their permission, I’m sharing notes from the heads of two wonderful families who rented the villa over New Years. But first, enjoy their vacation photos (have you ever seen such beautiful families?)! Hi Karen — We arrived safely home and went back to work the next day then battled fairly exhausting jetlag for… Read More

I’m always a little jealous of our guests at Rocca di Benano, but that feeling is particularly acute this week because our guests get to celebrate the arrival of the New Year in one of my favorite spots on earth. Why am I jealous? Let me count the ways. The weather’s mild. Daytime highs are around 50 degrees there. We’re looking at a week in the low 30’s here in Ohio. Capodanno (New… Read More

It started raining hard on Sunday.  By Monday morning, pockets of Northern and Central Italy had been devastated by floods.  Photos of what this 200-year storm did to Venice filled the Internet, but the big news in our part of the country was what it did to the area around Orvieto. Orvieto has something of a split personality.  The glamorous and famous part sits on a plateau atop a huge tufa rock…. Read More

One day last week, our neighbors told me that … the priest (??) … Benano at 5:00 …. blessing … (??) … eggs (!??) … on Good Friday afternoon. (This is about how it goes when you try to converse in a language that you’re not very good at.) So I wasn’t clear about what was going to happen — and if they had really said something about eggs — but I was… Read More

I thought I was imagining things. I heard shoveling outside while I was snowbound without shovel or boots. I stuck my head out the door and realized I had been hearing the sound of goodness and generosity. Our neighbor was shoveling the heaviest snow I’ve ever seen off my steps and porch. My frustration at my inability to articulate my thanks is measureless. We had a surprise snow storm yesterday. I was in… Read More

Yesterday was “Festa Della Donna,” or Women’s Day.  Women are traditionally given mimosas, fragrant little yellow flowers.  It’s not a romantic gesture like a valentine.  For example, the director of the language school I’m attending gave each woman on his staff three (odd numbers are good luck in Italy) candy-coated almonds packaged with a small sprig of mimosa.  Women give mimosas to their girlfriends, too.  My class consists of three women, and… Read More

What most visitors know as ‘the Italian experience’ is the Italian summer experience. This article in yesterday’s New York Times describes rural Italy in the winter. It features a part of southern Tuscany that is less than an hour from here, so it describes exactly the type of experience I’m having in Italy in the off-season. Being here in the winter feels almost like being an invited guest.  I’m loving having shops and restaurants… Read More