The Rocca Paolina (the Pauline Fortress) was built by Pope Paul III in the mid-1500s to show his power over the city of Perugia. To build this giant fortress he took down one-fourth of the city. The Perugians were not amused. So, after the unification of Italy in 1860 (for which Vittore Emmanuele is given great honor and regard – every Italian city we have been in has some sort of memorial to him) they tore most of it down and built the lovely Piazza Italia, a pretty square with trees and benches and flowers surrounded by beautiful palazzi. Part of the Rocca remains fortunately but mostly it is underground, below the Piazza and you descend by means of the escalators (remember the escalators?). It is this amazing labyrinth of rooms and the remains of ancient city streets built of stone and bricks with gigantic high ceilings and arches everywhere. In the summer it is very, very cool down there. Parts of the exterior walls of the fortress are still standing and I have included a photo that shows an exterior view. I’m telling you all of this because today we went to a cheese festival (the name of the festival is “Dite Cheese” which is funny and it took me a bit to realize that the name meant “Say Cheese” although really, if it was written completely in Italian it should have been “Dite Formaggio” (the Italian word for cheese!). It was great fun to walk through this ancient space and wind your way through the rooms and underground streets tasting all of these incredible cheeses and sampling wine and olive oil. We bought some pecorino and wished we were more knowledgeable about the whole cheese thing. I have never been a big fan of cheese but I think it’s because I had never really sampled these incredible fresh Italian cheeses. Yumm.
The first thing I did today actually was to get a haircut! I have been trying to let it grow for the longest time now and trying to be patient with the process. But I finally lost my patience finally and asked our landlady to recommend a good hairstylist and she gave me hers. She told him I might be coming too and he seemed to be expecting me when I went in! I am delighted so far with the result but I am including a photo (taken only moments ago) and you can form your own opinion!
After exploring the Rocca and Dite Cheese we went back up to Piazza Italia and they were having an Antique Fair (it seemed like a big rummage sale to me, except with lots of antique things – from furniture to books to all sorts of things for the home – glassware and silver, porcelain statuettes and old photos and coins etc etc. It was fun just to walk around and see what they had on the tables and try to have some little conversations in Italian. As I have told you, it’s amazing that they know automatically that I am not Italian even though I try my hardest to say “buon giorno” rolling my “Rs and everything! And, they never fail to apologize for their poor English and then manage to do quite well with it.
So now we are back home. We threw together a light lunch of salami and cheese, fresh tomatoes, some bread, a few strawberries. Bob has fallen asleep on the couch and I may take a little nap too. Maybe we are sort of getting the hang of this.
Rosemary & Bob