Spring is here and La Romita is in full swing; mild temperatures and some
afternoon showers have the entire region verdant and blooming. The red
poppies are virtually everywhere, lining the roads and filling the spaces
among the olive trees. From the golden poppies of California to crimson
trails of Umbria, my springtime migration leads me to the soft light of
the Mediterranean sun, the many ages of human accomplishment, artistic and
architectural, and to the warmth of the Italian people…my friends and
colleagues and other-countrymen.
Our first group is being team-taught by Fritz Kapraun and Bob Rankin,
quite diverse in their artistic styles, but both accomplished and talented
and helpful. Their followers, many, like Fritz and Bob, from North
Carolina are interesting and erudite and the conversations at table are
endlessly fascinating. Their tour has been fascinating as well. We now
have a list of about forty towns to choose from within our self-imposed
bus trip limit of about an hour and a quarter. It would be in the
hundreds were we willing to log more time aboard, but the shorter trips,
many lasting only 15 to 30 minutes, already create a crisis of choice.
Which ones shall we leave out??? Never an easy decision.
This year Umbria is featuring the works of Luca Signorelli in a moveable
feast of Renaissance glory. The artist, from nearby Cortona, famous for
his awe-inspiring frescoes in the San Brizio Chapel in Orvieto, is the
subject of two local gallery shows. His sensuous preparatory sketches for
the San Brizio are displayed at the Museum of the Duomo in Orvieto, and
many of his masterworks on wood, including his sumptuous “Pala di San
Onofrio”, are on display in two museums in Perugia: the National Gallery
and the Diocesan Museum. Michelangelo studied Signorelli’s mastery of the
human form before beginning work on his “Last Judgment” at the Sistine
Chapel…and the influence is obvious.
On the last Sunday in May, Italy celebrates its wines with a national
festival in which every winery in the country is open to the public. Our
group, full of bon vivants, connoisseurs, and gastronomes, found this too
intriguing to pass up. Tastings and tours were augmented by grilled foods
and bowls full of fresh cherries. The small country roads were lined with
cars and pedestrians and the wineries were bustling with both aficionados
and dilettantes; with tasters both frivolous and sober…(maybe that’s not
the right word).
Needless to say, it was a wonderful excursion, and with our driver’s
guaranteed sobriety, the group was free to sample many of Umbria’s most
Tante BUONE cose,