I am just back from two glorious weeks in Italy. Two weeks in a place like Umbria is never enough. Especially when you are there with good friends. Especially when you are drinking fantastic wines such as the Sagrantino that is made with Umbrian grapes. Especially when you are sampling the local cuisine – the pecorino cheeeses and the cinghiale sausages, the olives and the limoncello. My mouth is watering just now even thinking about it.
Adding to the perfection, we stayed in a villa that is owned by a descendent of Dante and dates back to the 16th century in Castell del Piano, which is just south of Perugia. It was a perfect location for exploring Umbria from, but it was also a perfect location for just staying and relaxing in as the Villa Aureli had beautiful gardens around it. (Being the English lit geek that I am, I could not help but think that I was strolling the park at Pemberley with Jane Austen’s Darcy.)
The nearby towns all seemed to be scenically and strategically situated on top of hills, date back to Roman and Etruscan times and be thoroughly charming with cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes galore. Mary was everywhere: the Virgin Mary, that is. At most every corner, at every home and in every square, I would run into a statue of Mary with flowers or a candle or a combination of both in front of her. Religion is front and center in Italy. It’s quite a contrast to the much more secular Sweden.