Saturday, market day

Busy market day this morning and the authorities have pedestrianised some of the roads for the weekend so lots of kids on bikes scooting about. One little girl was trying to ride without stabilisers for the first time.  She just couldn’t keep the thing in a straight line though and after two pedals ended up in a heap.  Felt sorry for mum who was patiently yelling at her “keep the handlebars straight” and then running after her in a desperate pre-emptive rescue attempt.  Not bad in temperatures of 34 degrees.

Elderly residents have occupied the benches along the tree lined avenue and discuss the merits or otherwise of the young people that pass by in their groups of friends.  The girls in their t shirts and shorts and the boys with their girly haircuts or short back and sides with a kind of birds nest effect left on the crown.  Think I am getting old.  Cafes are full too with families and couples and groups of friends as today is Holy Communion day and people are waiting for the little children to exit the church in the square.

It is also the best time of year for fruit and vegetables all grown in Italy.  Piles of gorgeous orange apricots blushed with red, piles of glossy black cherries and peaches both flat and round.

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Tomatoes are getting redder and are joined by bunches of plump asparagus spears and tiny french beans.  I can feel a salad Nicoise may be called for, if we had a proper kitchen, but in the meantime a plate of delicious ripe melon with slivers of Parma Ham will do nicely.

On the way back home we passed a group of guests outside the duomo eagerly awaiting a wedding party.  Shortly after, a tiny white vintage Fiat 500 arrived, driven by the groom and containing the bride and two young boys, possibly their sons.  Such a lovely sunny day for a celebration and reception outside on the terrace of a nearby restaurant.  It appears they were German, so either here just for the wedding or residents.

We need to tweek our irrigation system so drove down on Saturday afternoon to the general store at Castiglione del Lago.  It was shut.  Half day opening on Saturday which we are still getting used to along with no Sunday opening – remember those days?  Nothing for it but to drive into town for an ice cream.  Red orange and bitter chocolate for me and for Jamie coconut and Malaga (italian version of ‘rum & raisin’ with Marsala and raisin).

Walking back to the car we noticed the poster for an exhibition of Picasso’s ceramics at the Town Hall, but as we had Daisydog with us this will have to be for another day.  In the car park was a beautiful example of an Austin Healey.  I wonder what it is doing here after all these years. Just outside the Old town walls was an amazing planting of cactus from a nearby nursery who specialise in cacti and succulents.  What perfect examples they were, and I think they are called mother-in-law’s cushions.

On the return journey we thought we would make the most of the rest of the afternoon and sunshine and having heard that two neighbouring villages of Paciano and Panicale were worth a visit we decided to do just that.  The first, Panicale has the usual twisty and winding medieval streets and a restored palazzo which is being turned into a small cultural centre and centre for olive oil promotions.

Then we drove on to Paciano, where the newly restored parish church is awaiting the visit of the archbishop of Perugia.  Discussions over the height and position of the awnings to protect his worship from the sun’s rays were taking place in the charming piazza.

They have a great selection of restaurants around the square and a beautiful little fountain, so it was difficult to choose but we went for Lillo Tattini, as their menu had some interesting dish suggestions rather than the usual ‘pici’ (homemade pasta) and ‘tagliata’ (steak), good as they both are.  We were not disappointed but decided to share the starter and first course so that we could reach the main, which would be impossible otherwise. We might even have a space for pud!  The starter was salt cod and prune fritters served on a chickpea puree. First course had to be the hand-made ravioli, each one containing a quail’s-egg yolk, sauteed with pancetta (bacon) and served with grated matured ricotta.  Now you can understand why we shared the first courses as the main was worth waiting for.  My choice looked rather like an Italian version of a Cornish pasty.  This bread case contained boned guinea fowl and finely diced vegetables and was served on a bed of pan-fried cabbage with balsamic vinegar.  Jamie had the oven-baked eel stuffed with raisins and pine nuts and served with onions, baby bay leaves and spinach.  It was all wonderful and after a short pause we ended the perfect meal with peach panna cotta and puree and Jamie had a type of strudel made with richly spiced fruits and served with vanilla ice cream.  Two coffees and a nice slow walk back to the car and mental note to return as the other three restaurants in town all get really good reviews.

Back in Citta della Pieve and we found there were no parking spaces due to the live ‘Irish’ band at the community centre, a guitarist at the wine bar, remains of the wedding reception and it being a lovely warm evening and Saturday night!  Parked outside of town and will move it in the morning.

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