From Squirrel and Sunday lunch to Smorgasbord

How I spent my Sunday. April 28, 2019

I arrived here in Mazzarelli a month ago.  During that time I enjoyed visits here from American friends and also went to Spain for 10 days for a watercolor workshop.  This being my first opportunity to post on this blog, I’ve decided to talk about today, my Sunday.

But before I begin, I want to mention that my goal for this blog is to talk about Umbrian people, the culture, the quirks – this is not a travelogue.  In my next posts I intend to introduce you to the few Umbrians whom I count among friends and acquaintances.  I hope to focus my time and attention while living here in Mazzarelli on those relationships.  As I’ve mentioned before, I doubt I’ll ever become truly accepted by the locals,  but I’m taking small baby steps in that direction. I’m still working on Dante, in ancient and modern  Italian, with teacher Dani, e.g.

OK!  Today, Sunday!! After breakfast in bed of croissants and hot tea brought to me by Bob, it was time for second breakfast at Lia’s “Scoiattolo” (The Squirrel).  Many friends convene in Lia and Fausto’s home kitchen, where she turns out fantastic breads from her custom-made wood-fired oven. We drink coffee and chat.  It’s a crowd, we go early!  Lia uses her German know-how about bread. Fausto, her Italian husband, is her helper. It’s THE place to be on Sunday morning here in Paciano: locals, English, Dutch, Czechs, Germans and Americans!!

Making room for others to sit, we leave the “Squirrel” and take a  40 minute walk around Paciano (our hamlet “Mazzarelli” is a “suburb” of Paciano), starting up the steep hill through the spreading buttercups, past lilacs, roses abloom and ancient olive trees.  Into tiny Paciano, with the Buitoni palace on the corner (they of Buitoni pasta and Perugina chocolate fame, now all sold to Nestle or Unilever) past the tiny church where localites marry, up another hill to the  bar/caffe..  We run into Oriana and Franco, standing beside their car while their daughter makes a quick diaper change for 2 year old Augusto.  Oriana is a friend of mine, we speak French together.  She’s a leader in the Paciano/Fontaines sister city program with France.  And works at the nearby apple farm and greengrocer stand.

We greet the new proprietor of the little coffee bar, but forego another cup of coffee.  We walk behind the main church (mass at 11 on Sunday, we don’t go) for a panorama photo.

By now you have gathered that our time here in Italy is focused on food – so it’s time for Sunday lunch at Julio’s.  I love their garlic and tomato bruschetta, their  lasagna and, Bob their cacio and pepe and all the meats Julio grills over open fire.  Today we decide to go easy on food, but we can’t resist the panna cotta dessert covered with “frutte di bosco” (fruits of the woods, mostly frozen currants).

After a lazy post-pranzo afternoon reading John Grisham, painting and resting, we celebrate with what I call a “smorgasbord.”  This means I take out all the leftovers from the fridge and set them out along with whatever I find, be it cottage cheese or apple.

Our habit is to watch American TV after dinner, maybe Barry or Killing Eve..  We have no Italian TV by choice and economics, though it would be so great for me to practice Italian.  Just have to rely on real people and Duo Lingo!

We need to rest for Monday for the water softener technician, DHL etc.

Til next time!  (You can expect 6 posts between now and mid-June).

Bella Ciao/Sweet Caroline


See below Squirrel (bakery) Lo Sciattolo, Buitoni Palace, view from our window of Mts. Cetona and Amiata, buttercups in neighborhood, Paciano parish church, ancient olive tree






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