Today i`m taking a (short) break from Amsterdam as I would like to share with you some of the highlights of my holiday in Italy this Summer. It`s always hard to summarize in a couple of blog posts what you experienced every day for two weeks and a half, but I thought to give it a try.
I have already shown you some photos of my favourite places in Rome: Monti (neighbourhood) and Giardino degli Aranci (park). I also posted a bit about where we stayed in Rome for five days before leaving for Umbria and Toscana. However, because Rome is such a beautiful and amazing city, my posts about it won`t finish here. I still have a lot to share with you and I`ll do so in a couple of future posts.
After five incredible (and also very hot) days in Rome, I found it quite difficult to say good-bye to this place where I almost felt like home. But once in Umbria, at the old stone farmhouse we had rented for no less than twelve days, I discovered yet another place to call home. I have already posted about this amazing place to live in the Italian countryside, but now it is time to get a bit more into details, as there is so much more to say about it.
Just looking at the photos in the link above, I could almost feel again all the peace and beauty of Umbria, but also its delicious food that we were mostly preparing at home, with fresh ingredients bought from the local stores. As we were basically in the middle of nowhere, on top of an Umbrian hill, surrounded by forest, the closest village – Fabro – was no less than fifteen kilometers away. We also had lunches or dinners in the places we visited on our daily trips around, but almost none could compare with those we had at home, prepared in our rustic kitchen and eaten outside, on the terrace, in the company of two (big Murazano and friendly Camilla), sometimes three dogs and five cats, all belonging to the owners of the house – Paola and Paolo – and, the additional dog (Milla), to one of their friends.
Paola and Paolo, one of the most beautiful couples I`ve seen, lived a big part of their lives in big cities of Italy (I remember Paola saying she was from Rome and that`s where her twenty-something year old daughter was still living) before moving into this one hundred years old farmhouse hidden in the Umbrian forests. Their life here seemed peaceful and complete, surrounded by their cats and dogs and in the company of old friends always coming to stay for the weekend in their big stone house. The house was indeed always full if we count the other guests staying here for their holiday, so we were really happy with our separate “apartment”, at the back of the house.
We were seeing Paola every day, watering the flowers and the vegetables she was growing or, together with Paolo, going to neighbouring villages in their Fiat, with Paola dressed in chic clothes with hippie accents. Paolo was the one to speak English better, while Paola was the one willing to communicate more. They were really lovely together and we were very happy when, one evening, they invited us to have dinner together with them and some good friends who were visiting.
As we were taken by surprise and had no time to go the fifteen kilometers way to get something for this dinner, we contributed with a bottle of wine, a melon and a box of ice cream we had in the fridge. We also helped with the cooking, especially me, as the men are not required to do anything in the kitchen in this part of the world. 🙂
We were speaking in English, but sometimes the words came more easily in Italian and Paolo was always surprised by the similarity between Romanian and Italian words. The two friends of Paola and Paolo who were dining with us were former high-school colleagues of the couple, now an anthropologist (the woman) and a teacher (the man, see the photo above). I am sorry I cannot remember their names, but I will blame it on the red wine we drank throughout the dinner and long after the food finished. The woman was living in Rome and the man was living, as he told us, in a house in the forest, after separating from his wife.
It has been such a pleasure hearing their stories and I`ve learned so much about the Italians with this occasion. For example, I had no idea that Italian people cherish so much more their Etruscan rather than Roman heritage. They were so proud and nostalgic when talking about the Etruscans, how they were the fist ones to use the arch when building monuments (which was then taken over by the Romans and used in their architecture), how they excelled in ceramics and spirituality. But, as the woman pointed out, the power of the gun (the Romans) eventually defeated the power of the soul (the Etruscans).
On this occasion, we also found out from Paolo how to cook the most simple and delicious pasta ever – his favourite – with only garlic, peperoncino and olive oil. (We prepared this so many times already and never get enough of it!)
The evening ended with the man showing us the constellations on the night`s sky and our holiday continued with us going to see, in the next days, the sunset in San Feliciano (as this man advised us) and to buy some typical non-touristy Umbrian ceramic form a small town called Ficulle (as the woman suggested).
When we had to leave, at the end of the almost two weeks spent in this house, we felt like we were saying our good-byes to some relatives, which were waiving their hands to us as we started driving our way out, surrounded by their cats and dogs and with the beautiful old house in the background.
I will come back with photos about the trip to San Feliciano, Ficulle and to some other places in both Umbria and Toscana.