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Life in an Umbrian Village

So, how do I like living in a medieval village in Umbria?

I love it ! It’s beautiful, friendly, safe, and very relaxing. Village life is so structured, but there is always an element of surprise. Something that makes you laugh … or scream!

So, what do I like?

The shopping!

This I love! It’s like going back to when I was a little girl before the age of the supermarket and we bought everything from the corner shop! Every morning I simply grab my purse and pop over the road to our ‘alimentare‘ where I exchange pleasentaries with the rest of the village (usually women) whilst waiting for my bread to be cut and weighed. When I need to do more serious shopping i pop down to our nearest town and even that is pleasant. There’s not many places where this involves a drive with magnificent views, parking by a marina and a walk by the side of a beautiful lake.

 The houses

They have so much character and the stepped streets are so pretty with window boxes overflowing with geraniums. I never tire of walking round this village.

 Ours is about two hundred years old with wooden beams and you have to duck going through the doorways. Well, I don’t being quite little, but most people do!! I love the shutters and bars on the windows and the walls which are not straight and I adore the view especially when the mist hangs in the valley. We kept the old furniture in the bedroom but couldn’t cope without modern kitchen units! We have also (horrors of horrors) fitted the bedroom and living room with carpet! Just not done in Italy but the winters are cold and it is so much cosier now.

 There have been a few mishaps along the way with old pipes springing leaks (one resulting in a waterfall down the stairs) and boilers giving up the ghost the day before the August Holiday. For those not initiated, everything closes down for two weeks during the ferragosto. Factories close. Goods don’t get delivered. Workmen don’t work! So a boiler breaking down the day before is enough to give one a heart attack! We’ve even had a few leaks but now all is well and it requires very little maintenance.

 Traffic!

 The large.   ……….   our ‘guzzling monster‘ seen once a week preceded by a guy who sweeps up all the debri from the difficult corners that the truck cannot reach. It’s huge. It’s noisy. It’s quite scarey but I wouldn’t be without it because the village is SO clean. Mind you, this is also because the people are so particular about their own houses and the areas outside. Neither would they dream of throwing any litter on the streets! On the day of the ‘monster’ neighbours (plus me) are out with brushes sweeping steps and passages, ensuring that every last leaf will be guzzled up!

 and the small ………….little API vans are very common and very cute unless behind one coming up the hill!

 Lets face it! These villages were really built for horses so its no wonder that today’s traffic causes major headaches, a few curses but a lot of laughs!

 Ours is a typical village with a lower and an upper area linked by a winding road and selection of steep steps. A main road passes through the lower part and since, as per usual, there are no pavements, one does have to keep an eye open for mad drivers! But you get used to it and even the dogs know on which side of the road to walk and keep VERY close to the houses!

Small, hill-top villages like ours are provided with daily buses mainly to transport the children to and from schools in nearby towns. During the long summer holiday, however, this service is somewhat reduced, a mini-bus servicing the village just twice a week. It is free and quite an experience as we go whizzing down the hill, taking the hair-pin bends with great relish accompanied by extremely loud music, braking often and sharply to avoid cars encroaching on our side. The only drawback is that the bus allows only two hours down in the town. Time to do some shopping but not much else!

The main road narrows to the width of one vehicle as it enters the village so, although traffic is comparatively light, we often seem to get a build-up of cars sometimes because a driver is having a conversation with a friend at the bar but more often because of crazy parking!

The rule seems to be ….. avoid allocated parking spaces. Park your vehicle where it is most likely to cause serious disruption, leaving key in the ignition, radio on, door open and disappear!

The people

I just love the people! They are so friendly and warm and kind. They welcomed us and made us feel part of the village immediately -not like the UK where it took years! Its lovely to be amongst people who actually seem to enjoy life and are so happy and contented. It’s not just the older people either. The youngsters don’t have access to anything like the entertainment of kids in the UK, or probably thosevinnthe big Italian cities but they are really happy playing games or often just chatting and listening to music. There is also a different culture. It’s ‘cool’ here to belong to the village band or orchestra and to generally join in with village life and to socialise with all ages.

 Festivals!

Italians celebrate everything from fish and wine and oil to mushrooms and every village has its own annual festival. And they don’t just enjoy their own festa. It seems like they spend the whole summer moving round from one to the other. So do we! Just about everyone plays a part in the festa. Some organising, others in the band, or on a stall, or in the jousting and other challenges, abd others serving nightly at the dinners in the piazza. Come the last afternoon there is a costme parade through the village that young and old take part in with incredible zeal!

The daily routine

 The church really dictates the everyday routine of the village. It tells you the time (every quarter) and announces all the important events. When one has lived here for a while you do become oblivious to the chimes but subconsciously recognise their different messages. Births, Weddings and Deaths are announced and recognised by the villagers who congregate to either rejoice or mourn.

 Even without the bells I would know what time it was because everything is so predictable!

 The thundering of a massive farm truck and subsequent darkening of even the top floor of our house signals 7am and time we were up! This is followed an hour later by the yapping of guard dogs being transported to their new destination for the day.,

 Also around this time the sweet little dog from across the road takes himself off for his morning constitutional being careful to stay close to the railings!

 Then there’s the school bus off to Perugia

 At 8.30am early shoppers stride past on their way to the Alimentare followed by the mums and grandmothers about 10am with their bambini. Bringing up the rear just before it closes at 1pm are the stragglers including a few workmen.

 At 1.30pm the village sleeps. Everything is still. No cars. No people. Even the dogs are having a nap!

 Come 4.30pm and it is awake again. . Cars zoom past, dogs bark and those not working start there daily passeggiata .

 Another four hours will pass before work finishes and everyone gets together once more for dinner. The glow from magnificent sunsets slowly merges with the golden light of street lamps. The aroma of barbecued meat and rich pasta sauces hang in the air. The raucous chatter of the day is replaced by gentle laughter rising from gardens and open windows and the drone of traffic by the singing of cicadas .

 Evenings are magical!

 After dinner we take a walk around the village and meet other couples, doing the same. The upper bar is busy. Young and old sat eating ice-cream or drinking wine and chatting. The children playing by their feet. On the restaurant terrace diners enjoy their meals looking out over the hills to the accompiament of the band playing in the adjacent piazza.

 The bells chime out eleven o’clock. Time for bed and the end of another wonderful day in the village.

 What don’t I like about village life?

 Well, the WiFi can be very frustrating and it would be nice to be able to have the washing-machine and the kettle on at the same time! But, apart from that…..

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