It’s a picture perfect, blue-sky, warm spring day in Umbria. If we were on vacation, we would be visiting a lovely hilltown, checking out a museum, eating lunch at a quaint local pizzeria, and after a brief rest, enjoying an evening stroll and dinner at the best restaurant in town. Instead, today I did two loads of laundry and cleaned the bathroom while Nick mowed the lawn and made dinner. That’s the reality of living in a place as opposed to vacationing there.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. In fact, these mundane chores seem less ordinary in our lovely Italian rustico home. There’s no rush to get it done. There’s always time for a bite to eat, a glass of wine or a long walk with Bella.
Nick and I enjoy a leisurely morning. We typically sleep until about 8:00 AM, have a couple of cups of coffee, catch up on our social media, watch the news and tidy up the house. By noon, we are ready to go out and run errands or explore. The only problem is that much of Italy shuts down at 1:00 PM and doesn’t reopen until 4:00 PM. Most local offices and stores close for this 3 hour siesta. To us, this seems very inefficient. How can a business just close up for 3 hours during what we consider the prime part of the day? I cant tell you the number of times we showed up in a town at 1:00 PM only to find everything closed. Or tried to go shopping in the early afternoon only to go home frustrated and empty handed. We’ve adjusted to the siesta.
What we haven’t adjusted to is that the Italian dinner hour doesn’t really start until 9:00 PM. We haven’t gone out to dinner very often, and this is just one of the reasons why. An Italian dinner is a leisurely affair lasting between 1.5 to 3 hours. When we show up at a restaurant at 7:00 or 7:30 we are literally the only ones there for all if not most of our meal. It’s embarrassing. But were not used to eating a huge meal and going to bed. Eating early is a very American thing, but this is one habit that’s going to be hard to break.
Another reason we haven’t dined out much is that we live in a small hill town. “Hill town” sounds so romantic, but they should really be called cliff towns. Our town only has one restaurant, and it’s nice, but to experience any fine dining we’ve got to navigate the narrow, winding mountain roads down from Giove, and climb up the narrow, winding mountain roads to nearby “hill town” with more restaurants. Now that we know the roads a little better, we’ve started to go out more after dark, but in those first few weeks it wasn’t very appealing.
The final reason we haven’t eaten out much in the 5 weeks since we’ve been in Italy is the high quality of the ingredients at the local markets. It is mind-blowing how much better almost everything tastes here. Not only is the quality of the food phenomenal, prices on almost everything are cheap! One of our favorite activities is grocery shopping, either at the local market or at one of the weekly outdoor markets nearby. Nick loves to cook, and he’s been enjoying using the local ingredients to make us one fabulous meal after another. Bella and I are more than content to eat at home. That said, we are still hunting for a local gem of a restaurant where we can become regulars.
It hasn’t all been running errands and doing chores since we’ve been in Italy. We’ve visited Spoleto, Orvieto, Todi and Siena. We’ll be blogging about those trips soon. We’ve also visited some smaller towns like Orte and Amelia.
I can see how fast these 6 months are going to fly by, so we started a “must-do list” of the places we want to go and the things we want to do before we move on to our next home, wherever that may be. Otherwise, it would be too easy to spend our days in the Italian sunshine on our terrace, doing laundry, cooking, drinking wine and mowing the lawn.