I can't believe how busy our lives have been! The last posting I did was about our day in the country with our landlords, Sergio and Rita and what a lovely day that was. In less than one week we will be in Paris for 10 days and that will be incredible. You would think we would have all the time in the world to make plans for this and know exactly what we want to do, but we haven't! We bought a book - Lonely Planet's book on Paris - one of the few English language guide books we found here in Perugia, not having bought one in the states before we left and have a loose idea of what we want to see and do. I have bought a few new things - shoes and tops - there are incredible sales (saldi) going on now in Perugia and all the shops are advertising huge price reductions. I haven't written since last week and I'm now trying to remember what we did since then!
Umbria Jazz '05 started on the 8th! This is the amazing jazz festival, famous worldwide that brings in all these great jazz musicians for 9 days of music in the streets - many free concerts and others where you need to pay. We purchased tickets for Al Jarreau and George Benson on Monday, July 11 and it was fantastic! They have two huge stages set up in a stadium below centro next to an old church, Santa Giuliana. One is the free stage where people stand and listen or sit on the grass or onbenches scattered about. The other one, the larger paid one, is set up sort of like what used to be called Blockbuster in Phoenix, with large screens on either side so you can see what the musicians are actually doing up close if your seats are to the rear. We really saw two complete concerts - first Al did around 1-1/2 hours, then George played and sang every song we remembered for at least another 2!
The weather has been rainy since the festival started and in fact was rained out on Sunday night so we were worried that Monday could be the same, but we were fortunate. It was cool (I dressed warmly) but clear and no rain so we were very happy. There is another stage set up in Piazza IV November (the main square, where the large Fontana Maggiore is) so there is almost always music playing somewhere in the city (in smaller venues as well, like restaurants and smaller theatres where you may have to buy dinner and wine to see an act) from around noon until very late into the night. If you are interested, you can log on to www.umbriajazz.com and read more about it. Elton John performed here as well as Diana Ross and Oscar Peterson (we sat outside on the grass last night and listened to his amazing piano playing). We also have tickets for tonight, to see Tony Bennett, which I am particularly excited about!
At noon, the day kicks off with a New Orleans street band parading up and down the Corso Vannucci and everyone just follows behind, creating a procession that is dancing and singing and people standing all along the street watching and clapping. It's great fun and we try to get out there every day to watch them. They will stop in the main piazza and bring people in to dance with them, then turn around and go back up the Corso. It lasts about an hour and then the free music concerts start down in Santa Giuliana. The free concerts there stop in the evening when the big act performs and resumes again when it ends and plays until much later in the night than I can stay awake for! Around 7pm up in centro the other stage gets going and there is non-stop music until at least midnight. Not to mention all the individual musicians playing guitar or some type of horn and entertaining people all over the city. It's a wild musical extravaganza and we really love it.
This point marks the middle of our 4th month in Perugia. It seems completely impossible that we have been here for so long already. I know if I was at home this would not seem like a very long time at all. But here, in this new place, with all that we have experienced already, it seems a very long time. An amazing time. And now, a very musical one.
Rosemary & Bob