The U-T

After visiting many enchanting towns in Umbria and Tuscany, we have decided that our hometown of Umbertide is our favorite.  It is not situated on a hilltop like most of the others, so we forego the wonderful picturesque vistas, but in return we enjoy more space and amenities, and have the rare luxury of being right on the river Tiber, along which we have enjoyed many jogs and picnics.










Umbertide is not known for its frescoed churches and Renaissance art, but it makes up for it in more subtle, culturally progressive ways.  For example, we were delighted to discover a jazz club steps from our apartment in Umbertide’s historic center.  The club, “L’occhio, l’orecchio e la bocca,” is run by the local jazz afficionado, Marco, who hosts live acts on most Friday and Saturday nights.  He also creates delightful, if somewhat mysterious, cocktails when we drop by, and freely shares his extensive knowledge and passion for music and life in Italy.

Because our apartment is conveniently located in the center town, some days we never have to climb into our underpowered chartreuse Fiat Panda.  Panificio Pasicceria, the bakery right next door, has the best pane in town, even though Jen thinks Umbrian bread could use more salt.  The Wednesday market in the piazza covers almost all of our needs, including three porchetta panini stands, a wide array of black truffles and fresh roses.  Since Umbertide is off the beaten path, few national chains have driven out the neighborhood boutiques, leaving them to sell irresistible blue suede platform heels and cute sweaters.

Umbertide’s restaurants are of mixed quality, with our current favorite being a new one which serves traditional Umbrian fare and welcomes you with a glass of prosecco and delicious salame bread.  For a more casual bite, we’ve discovered the friendly American-themed Golden Saloon that serves pizzas (that can be ordered with fries as a topping) and “American antipasti” to residents with shockingly hearty appetites.  They have good, even pizza topping distribution, a selection of German and Belgian beers and they give you a whole bottle of wine when you ask for a “vino rosso.”  It reminds us of our favorite local haunt in Santa Monica, the Galley.










A little farther from our place, we have been pleased to discover other treasures, such as the Enoteca Wine Club owned by Patrick Piccioni, the local sommelier who escorted us to Montefalco and cooked us a delicious four-course wine-paired lunch, a small but densely forested and tranquil local park and a small shopping center housing the local supermarket (“the Coop”) and a cafe promising fantasy cocktails. Our apartment window affords a magnificent view of the Rocca di Umbertide and the Teatro dei Riuniti.  Much to our surprise, the ancient Rocca now houses a modern art exhibit, currently featuring work by Alessandra Zorzi, including this rather peculiar video installation.


The transition to Umbrian living hasn’t been seamless.  Even though Dorothy, the owner of our apartment (and one of the very first women to buy a flat in this area), left little explanatory notes just about everywhere, it still took us several attempts to understand the peculiarities of her washing machine.  We didn’t endear ourselves to one of the local shop owners when we were trying to track down same fabric softener.  The post office operates a highly complex system, forcing visitors to choose between three categories of lines to queue in, not helped by an exceedingly detailed (but useless) map of the interior of the room.  And we are still adjusting to the four hours of risposo, which begins just as we want to do things, and seems to end shortly after – leaving us four panicked hours to accomplish everything.


















But, all in all, we couldn’t be happier with our temporary home.

Here are some more pictures of the town we affectionately call ‘the U-T’.


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