Our expat friends Larry and Shelly have a gorgeous stone house - actually a cluster of houses or "borgo" in Italian, in the countryside near the Umbrian town of Massa Matana. When we knew we were passing through from Sicily to Verona, and decided we wanted to spend a few days in Perugia, Shelly and Larry kindly offered to let us stay at their place, even though they would still be in the states at the time. It seemed a perfect solution. Several of our friends invited us stay at their homes but with everything we had in the car we didn't want to impose on them by filling up their homes with our all our stuff (think "Beverly Hillbillies!") and this allowed us to unload the car for a few days without inconveniencing anyone.
June 3 was also the date of the "Monster Get-together" that the expats folks had planned. We weren't sure, with the car and insurance snag that we would actually make it in time to participate but we did and it was fun to see some familiar faces and hang out with some of our friends like Art and Barbara and Janet and Stephen, not to mention Kelli, Isabella, Judith, Pio and Diane, Bruce, and Anikka (who has commented on our blog and who came all the way from Sweden!) and finally getting to meet Cristina face to face. She's the woman who is the guiding light for the web site www.expatsinitaly.com and deserves a lot of credit for not only planning this giant event but also bringing all of us together in one central location. We thought it was great and enjoyed ourselves very much, in spite of the weather not being exactly ideal.
We spent the next few days going back and forth to Perugia visiting our friends there. We had lunch with Marco and Analisa and their daughter Viola at their lovely, art-filled apartment in Perugia. Bob and I met Marco in Corciano one day when we had recently arrived in Perugia and he and his wife showed us such warmth and friendship on subsequent days. They are originally from Napoli and spoke enough English for us to communicate in those early days. This time we felt that we were able to have an actual conversation in Italian and understood most of what they told us. We hope to see them again on our way south in the fall and then perhaps when we are in the Napoli area and they go there for the Christmas holidays.
We took care of some business we had to attend to like closing our bank account in Perugia (I will have to write about that in a separate blog!), getting original copies of our title from the car dealer, and shopping for a wedding gift for Andrea in Koln, which we will be attending in July. We had something special in mind and knew exactly where to go. In case she's reading this I won't tell you what we got!
We had coffee with our friends Sergio and Rita, our former landlords in Perugia and it was so wonderful to see them again. All seems just as before except that their little dog Momo died last month and they were very sad about that. We stopped in the garden to say hello to Giovanni, the gardener and he remembered us warmly and stopped his work to shake our hands and wish us well. To be able to look out over "our view" one more time meant so much to us as well and we savored the moment. My heart hurts though thinking of all the paintings I made in that garden that were stolen from me. So I just can’t think about it.
We stopped to visit with our Phoenix friends John & Gail and their two daughters Erin and Zoe who are staying in Sergio & Rita's country house outside Perugia and seemed happy to be there, even though the weather was pretty cold for these Arizonans!
We planned some lunches and dinners that fell through and walked from one end of the city to the other to say hello to some of the people we had met during our days in Perugia, like Sylvia from Re.Leg.Art on Via Fiorenzo di Lorenzo (www.relegart.it) who works with disabled people to produce the most gorgeous hand-made leather books and journals, to Claudia and her father Remigio (who was not there, sadly) who own one of our favorite shops that sells "prodotti tipici" called "Il Tempio" located near the Tempio Michele Arcangelo, another of our absolutely favorite places in Perugia to go and taste wines and chat with these two warm and welcoming people! She proudly showed us the May/June issue of National Geographic TRAVELER that contains a brief article about her and their shop in Perugia. We spent several hours with our friends Art & Chris and also with John from the Tempe Fire Dept and his "entourage" there one afternoon tasting wines and cheeses.
We popped in to see Massimo the Magnificent, our computer wizard who helped us out so many times at All Media Service on Corso Garibaldi near the Tempio (www.allmediaservice.it). Massimo was out, but we had a nice talk with his partner Federico. And of course visited with our friend Giovanna at the internet point, who promised to have lunch or dinner with us the next time we come through this way and we will hold her to it. We even ran into Francesco from Della Rosa Café on Piazzale Europa and had a nice chat with him! He gave us a hard time for not sending him a postcard and we promised to send one from Verona.
Amazingly, our Australian friends Guiseppina (born in Sicily) and Myles who bought an apartment near Lago Trasimeno were in town. We knew this only because we saw them boarding a bus and arranged to share a glass of wine in between visits we had previously arranged!
We managed a coffee with Janet and Stephen and a glass of wine with Art & Barbara. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to go to all of our favorite places in Perugia. The city looked better than ever, with many of the restoration projects complete and the scaffolding down. Even San Ercolano was completely finished and we were delighted to walk up the old marble staircase and stand back to admire its beautiful façade. The Giardino Carducci is also finished and it was lovely to walk beneath those trees and among the paths of flowers. It was closed the entire time we were in Perugia although we could see by the time we left that it was near to completion. The weather those few days was fresh and cool and only rained on the last afternoon, as we visited with Sergio and Rita in their apartment with the bird's eye view over the countryside of Perugia.
We also couldn't miss a brief stop and a chat with Marta at the artisans "Guiditta Brozzetti (www.brozzetti.com) and see all the gorgeous things they are making by hand on those ancient looms with historic Perugia patterns. She showed us another ancient loom she is learning to work and all the different colored threads it uses to produce a piece of multi-colored cloth.
Staying in Massa Martana meant about a 40 minute drive back and forth but also afforded us lovely quiet nights in a wonderful old stone house "Due Torre" and we appreciate so much the generosity of our friends in allowing us to stay.
The morning of the June 7th we re-packed the car, being sure not to leave anything behind (except the surprise we left for Larry & Shelly) and trying to clean up after ourselves like good guests should.
By 9am we had turned over the keys and were on the road to Verona. So in a matter of a week, we had driven through Sicily, Campagnia, up past Lazio and into Umbria, Tuscany, past Emiglia Romana and finally, the Veneto and Verona. Quite a journey. We are full to the brim with happy memories and fortunate to have made good friends all along the way. We hope there are more friends to come as well as more opportunities to see again, the ones we have made. We will treasure all of them.
Rosemary & Robert