As I said other times, I love Autumn, mostly when a still generous Italian sun shines through the day and enlightens the coloured leaves on the trees, the sky is clear light blue and a slightly chilly breeze touches my face. This is the period in which I know that I have to breathe deeply all this: the the warm colours, the last heat, the last foliage to keep a memory that may last through the grey winter. This Fall I couldn’t have collected a better memory than my Umbrian blog tour. I have been so lucky to be invited in Umbria, spite my young blog age and spite my insecurity, which I don’t think is a great quality in a blogger. I’m terrible at promoting myself so I’m always surprised to see someone paying attention.
The weekend didn’t start so well. Trenitalia, the main Italian railways company, announced a strike (later luckily cancelled) so I wasn’t sure if I could go or not and plus I had been sick for weeks (slight fever, strong belly pain) so I left home with the alert mood “on”. Moreover I was scared to share the room with someone else, because I have problems to fall asleep and, as I said, I was sick. Moreover I’m super shy and I’m not used to deal with many people. I usually hang out with the same old friends gang, mostly composed by men because I’m not at all a girly-girl. This blog tour was composed by 12 women + me + a female dog (and I’m afraid of dogs) so I thought I couldn’t possibly fit in. And I must admit I felt a bit a fish out of water.
The other girls always seem to me more beautiful, more interesting, more chatty, more everything. They are able to start and above all to carry on a conversation. I am not. I can do that only under special circumstances, which I haven’t figure out yet. Sometimes with some people I feel relaxed and I am the real me: funny, chatty and all. I wish I could always be that way, but I can’t and I know that. I have already made progress in leaps and bounds since I was a little girl who wasn’t able to make a phone call or something. But I’m aware that there’s still a long way to go.
Where were we? Ah, yes, in Umbria! I love Umbria. I spent many holidays there with my husband and I chose it for many reasons: it’s certainly beautiful, with great food, no traffic, small picturesque villages clinging to gentle hills; plus it has a very spiritual atmosphere (that’s something that even I feel… and I’m not a believer). In short, it allows you to experience a real break from the hasty and concrete city life. Moreover it’s very romantic with its charming corners made of ancient stones, flowers vases and glimpses on the breathtaking landscape.
My weekend in Umbria
First of all I had the chance to live at best the weekend thanks to the hospitality of Daniela, Massimo, Franco and Graziella of Villa Eleiva, our accommodation, a glamping (glamorous camping) 30 minutes from Orvieto. They welcomed us, escorted us, fed us and most of all they passed on us their passion and their dedication to the life they chose. I immediately knew I was in the right place for me when I first entered the main house and I saw the glowing fireplace, the white and blue gingham tablecloth on the wooden table and the rustic centrepieces consisting on pot herbs glasses.
Warning: The lodges are no longer in Villa Eleiva. You can only stay in the main buildings, in the classic rooms.
I saw things I had never seen and experienced things I had never done before. Here they are:
Glamping at Villa Eleiva
Sleeping in a Glamping: We slept in wooden lodges in the middle of an olive orchard (in Villa Eleiva they produce a superb extra virgin olive oil): each lodge has a double comfortable bed, a little wardrobe, bathroom and heating system. That’s why it is called glamping. You can enjoy sleeping amid nature but with comforts. One criticism: Is the chromotherapy system supposed to work that way? (too fast imho). I wish I could stay there for a weekend during spring with my husband and not during a hasty blog tour, to enjoy the experience at its best and live a romantic break. But I was lucky anyway to be there in the first place.
Going “Food hunting”: We visited an oil mill plant, we went chestnuts picking near Melezzole (a bit too tiring for me. Due to a medical condition I tend to become weary faster then other people), we participated to olives harvest (made by hand) in Villa Eleiva and above all we tasted delicious Umbrian products.
Visiting the Painted Egg Museum and stalking its supervisors. In Civitella del Lago we visited a tiny museum in which thousands of different eggs are displayed: big and little, decorated and carved, painted by artist or children. Some of them were maybe more artistic but those that hit me the most were obviously the funny ones, most of all that inspired to Noah’s Ark and the Choir one. Hilarious!
But one thing disappointed me. I hoped to find some painted eggs souvenirs to buy, but there were none. Some years ago I went to Prague. It was a lovely weekend with my husband and our best friend who now lives abroad (we miss him very much). The last day I bought a painted egg. I chose it carefully and back home I hung it up in the kitchen. I loved it. It gave me joy and reminded me of those days, until one sad day it fell down and broke into pieces. Considering that it was supposed to be a good luck charm you can imagine my reaction. Hot tears.
When I found out that we would have visited this museum I immediately thought “Yes! I’ll buy another beautiful egg to hang in the kitchen and my luck will be restored”. I asked but no, no souvenirs. I told them it would be nice to sell painted eggs to the visitors. They replied that they wanted to, but so far it couldn’t be arranged. Undismayed, I tried to convince them to ask the village ladies to paint some eggs and then sell them. They promised me to consider it. But I suspect they only wanted me to stop stalking them with the egg matter.
Unique Barber shop
Discovering the world tiniest barber’s shop with the world largest waiting room. It is in Civitella del Lago, a stone’s throw away from the Egg Museum, and it is very minuscule, more or less 6 square meters. The barber is the lively 70-yeared-old Adelmo. And what about the waiting room? It was nothing more than piazza Belvedere, a small square with the most enchanting view over the Corbara lake and the Tiber valley. Look at the photo and tell me: Isn’t it breathtaking or what?
Preparing a giant tortello (called tortello del prete, which means priest’s tortello). I was so scared because sadly every new experience frightens me but Daniela helped me and I did it… And it was fun…And good too!
Surviving despite the presence of 3 dogs (in Villa Eleiva) plus one (the little Chihuahua Maya, the pet friend of Cristina, one of the bloggers). The three dogs were quiet enough so it wasn’t a problem. As for Maya, she was adorable. I never met a Chihuahua so calm and sweet before. She almost never barked and she become immediately our mascot. The aggressive ones were actually the geese. They started squawking as soon as you tried to go near them to take a picture. Not at all friendly. What a pity! I dreamed to make friends with them! Massimo told me that normally the geese are free and that they are nice to them. But it is better to keep them in their fence when there are guests because they can be very hostile with strangers.
Meeting determined and proud people. Paola who managed together with her Association to reopen the local Library (still needing books and support) among many difficulties and Daniela who decided to start over at Villa Eleiva and to create a new association called Ulivolio to save Italian olive trees and Italian extra virgin olive oil producers, that work among many burocratic, economic and climatic difficulties. If you could have seen the light in their eyes while they were describing their efforts! I envy them for this.
Coming up against a harsh reality, that of a movingly beautiful country, in which sadly the population is getting older and older. Young people have abandoned little towns to seek fortune in the cities. In these amazing little villages I saw an astonishing number of VENDESI signs (for sale). It broke my heart. Me and the other girls invaded the streets of Civitella and Montecchio, observed by the inhabitants. None of them failed to greet us or smile at us. They were truly kind and goodhearted.
Umbria is called the green heart of Italy because of its luxuriant nature. And I like to think that this name it’s also due to the facts that Umbria has a big heart, made up of friendly and genuine people. I hope to go back there as soon as possible!
My fellow bloggers:
Valentina Around & About Treviso
Lisa Blog di Padova
Letizia Mangia viaggia ama
Cristina Parliamo di viaggi
Paola Smart traveller
Elisa Tintipa Travels
Erika Viaggi del Taccuino
Valentina Via col viaggio
Misa guest blogger at Fraintesa