Sunday, March 15, 2015


James and I are often asked why we return to the same place when we go to Italy. The answer would center around a feeling of being at home when we are in Panicale.
It has much to do with the  kind and welcoming people of here. And clearly, for the food, the wine, friends and the art  bring us back year to year.
In other words, we are captivated by this place.

There it is, Panicale, rising up from the top of the hill, it's narrow streets follow a distinctive elliptical spiral layout from the main piazza up to the bell tower of the Podesta at the height of Panicale, where the view is out to Lake Trasimeno. The colors... you just do not find these colors on buildings in New England, this, my friends, is right out of a Medieval or even Renaissance painting.
 Walking through the streets, if one is observant they will see evidence that the Etruscans were here inhabiting this hill top .
Much later, sometime in 1300, Panicale was decreed a commune and a walled town established then and on into the Renaissance......but is a Medieval hill town, and one of the most beautiful in Umbria.

James and I walk through these complex arches several times each day since they are not far from our front door, stopping to sketch on occasion, but the perspective is challenging, to say the least. Talk about  finding the is evident all around.

 Not far down this street is Teatro Caporali.....Panicale boasts this charming teatro based on a grand opera house. I adore sitting in those little boxes ringing the theatre and listening to music or watching a performance. It' dream like!

The textures of Italy are so varied by the age they were constructed and the building materials that were available in the area, stone, brick, terracotta roof tiles, and stucco are all in evidence.  I find here that people use what is available locally and seasonally, it is an ethic as well as tradition.  As for food, if it is artichoke season, then we eat artichokes, if it is porcini season, then porcini mushrooms are on the table in some form.

Within the old wall of the town you will find small gardens everywhere, including hanging on walls.
There are homes that have outdoor spaces for eating, drying laundry and a garden, but space is tight, so residents here make use of every avaialble space. I  love peeking through gates and over fences at the hidden gardens where roses and wisteria spill over walls.


Spring is artichoke season....a great reason to visit Italy during these months!
Then there will be wild asparagus, and we hope that Katia brings us some this year again!
Strawberries, fave beans and peas will follow.
Umbria is agricultural, so most all this is grown right here. If you ask, was this grown here, they will apologize and say no, in Macchie ( which is the next town over)!

At the Tavernelle outdoor market, a Monday morning must, James is buying some very thin Sardinan bread and a salami. Believe me, if they had porchetta he would be buying that too! He will get that , the porchetta, back in Panicale at the macelleria.

We do most of our marketing right in Panicale.There is a greengrocer, bottega, macelleria and a forno.
Like most towns in Umbria, and most regions of Italy, each town has it's own small shops to do marketing. James and I love shopping like this, where we find ourselves going to the market just about everyday to buy what we need for that days meals. We can also practice our Italian, which the proprietors kindly help us with! They are very patient.

The town has a few good restaurants including our favorites - Masolino's  a old favorite of ours. There is also  the newer and good, Osteria Il Gallo Nel Pozzo .

Panicale sits high and looks over the Umbrian plain to Lago Trasimeno, the scene of a long ago battle of Hannibal over the Romans. That aside, this is a view I never grow tired of. Perugino would often put Lago Trasimeno in his distant landscape, when painting a Nativity, or a tribute to some Saint. There is a fresco  of St. Sebastian, by Perugino, in Panicale that includeds the lake as landscape. James uses this same landscape, "come Perugino" ( like Perugino) in his still life paintings with this exact Umbrian landscape.

It is evident that this is agricultural land with the patterns of crops and plowed fields.

These fields are ever changing as the spring progresses towards summer, at times they the rich green, other patches of field are bright yellow, and then come the red poppies! The lake can appear as a beautiful blue green, at times  a somber gray, and then shift to a nearly tropical green.

Now, time to is important here.
Thank goodness!

Pasta with Cinghiale ragu *

It's about 1:30 time to start thinking about sitting down for lunch. I cannot resist pasta, here a bowl of handmade pasta with cinghiale ( wild boar) ragu at Il Casale, just outside the neighboring town of Paciano. A favorite lunch place.....plan for a long relaxed lunch here, and on a nice day, sit outside.

OK. Here is a big reason why we return to Panicale......Bar Gallo, also known as 'Aldo's'.
It is owned and run by Aldo and Daniele, and each morning we begin the day with," Buongiorno Daniele, Ciao Aldo, " and they respond in kind, then we ask for....
"due cappuccini , per favore!"

Bar Gallo is the heart of Panicale, everyone goes here for caffe, later for a light bite and prosecco and before dinner an apertivo. Aldo and Daniele know the area and  has offered us good advice on places to go to draw/ paint,  out of the way, offbeat places that we would have not found ourselves. Aldo has also given us great tips on places to Il Casale.

Great signage!

A good landscape to paint.

ci vediamo a presto!

See you soon!
Beautiful Panicale.

* My thanks to Debbie D. for the  great photo of the bowl of pasta, and thanks to Jim M. for ordering it and his patience in allowing the photo to be taken before he took his first bite!

No comments: