Saturday, October 10, 2015

Unwinding in the Heart of Italy

Who can stay stressed in a small town in Italy? There's nothing to do, nowhere to go. No clocks, no calendars.
In Panicale, you can walk anywhere in five minutes. The medieval fortified town is perched high on a hill. The lanes are steep. 
Our apartment is just beyond the main square, up the hill and under the archway.
The town is quiet in the off-season. Population 500. Everyone knows each other, and many are related. Finding our rental agent was easy--just ask the local bar man, who happens to be her uncle.

Mind your p's and q's or you'll set fingers wagging. Mouths pursed in vigorous protest. Italians love to berate you when youve broken the rules--such as accidentally getting stuck in a bus lane in your rental car, or exiting a museum through a group-tours-only gate.

Then they tell their neighbors--a man on the street, an old woman strolling by, or the driver in the next car. Much gesticulating in your direction. Then it's back to peace and calm and an outdoor table.

Weather is perfect. Days are leisurely, starting with espresso at Aldo's bar and morphing into prosecco at Lillo's.
Come for the pasta at Masolino's (here, tagliatelle with truffles and fresh porcini). Stay for the views from the town wall.
Side trip to Assissi to the massive, elaborately decorated basilica ironically erected in honor of the simple ascetic St. Francis.

He loved all creatures and left us a legacy of gentleness, simplicity and grace. And a series of frescoes by esteemed artists, depicting his life.

Raining and chilly on your Italian vacation? No problemo. Ponchos, umbrellas and delectable, hot, liquid chocolate. The sun will come out tomorrow.

Decorating the coffee shop: 6-year-old with a mohawk playing arcade games.
Ah, the simple pleasures of Umbria.

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