Monthly Archives: June 2006
>Umbra would like to congratulate photography professor, Philippa Stannard, as she has recently picked up the new title of “Sommelier.” Ms. Stannard embarked upon the challenge of becoming a wine expert in February of 2005. As of this past May she is now qualified to work with wine on an expert level.
Aside from appreciating fine wines, Ms. Stannard plans to exercise her knowledge by working within the local community at wine tastings and related events and festivals. Ultimately, Ms. Stannard says she would like to take her knowledge of wine into the classroom, conducting courses on wine specifically for in English speakers in the region.
Looking to take the edge off the heat? Our new expert says that nothing beats the heat like icy cold Champagne or “Spumante” as it’s known in Italian.
Cin, cin! Salute a Philippa Stannard!
> A colorful awakening Sunday morning awaited Umbra students, as they stumbled out of bed and down to Perugia’s central station, to hop the first (and earliest) train south, towards the little town of Spello. Spello’s “Infiorate”– literally, “the flowering” – attracts more attention every year, as locals gather in tradition to carpet the town in fantastic designs made entirely (ENTIRELY) from flower petals. But neither the splendid sunrise nor the prospect of seeing the big event was enough to rouse their sleepy faces, especially after the previous night’s World Cup showdown between Italy and our U.S. boys. Only after a few cappuccini did everyone become livelier and ease into a nice ride into the valley…
We saw that arriving early still wasn’t enough to beat the crowds as we inched along the peach-colored alleyways, catching the odd glimpse of colourful tapestries at peoples’ feet. Though the first designs were hard to see between kids and old men all vying for a look, we were immediately hit and intoxicated by the perfume of roses, carnations, wild thyme, and sunflowers. Finally, we managed to edge our way into the crowd. Brilliant tapestries unrolled beneath us, some depicting religious scenes, others more funky and abstract. We lingered and ogled with mouths open – our eyes dazzled and nostrils tickled.
The “Infiorate” is celebrated every year on the ninth Sunday after Easter for the Corpus Domini, a moving religious feast observed in a few towns in Umbria. Rumor has it that it begun in 1930 when one woman laid flower petals down on the cobble stone in a religious design that delighted the town’s people. Pleased with their reaction, she repeated – and elaborated – her flower petal tapestry the following year. L’Infiorata quickly became tradition and has gained so much fame that sponsors now support the event, offering prizes to the most impressive arrangements.
Though it was tough to choose, everyone had favorites by the end of the morning. The sun peaked around noon, and so did the hordes of tourists; so as the crowd thickened, we made our way down the station and headed back to Perugia. More awake now, and delighted with everything we had seen, we made it back just in time for lunch…and a nap!
As any Umbra student worth their salt knows, Italian gelato is in a class of its own. Its creamy sweetness and blissful flavor put even the proudest midwestern dairy farmer to shame. So for this week’s Tandem jaunt, students were treated to an icy gelato while they chatted it up with the locals. As cones grew soggy and daylight dimmed, Tandem participants exchanged lively stories in both English and Italian, pausing occasionally to lick a wayward trail of fragola from their fingers. It’s summer in Perugia, and there’s no better way to spend it than with gelato in hand and friends at the table.
Once again, Tandem provides a sweet and savory way for students to immerse themselves in Italian language and culture. Check back next week for the scoop on Tandem’s subsequent success!
>The Umbra Institute summer program is intense.
There is really no other way to put it – students have only six weeks to acclimate themselves to Italy, immerse themselves in the local culture, complete academic coursework, and explore the surroundings of Umbria.
That’s a lot to accomplish in a little over a month, but students seem to be doing well on all accounts. We checked in on students in the Photography Studio yesterday and found Philippa Stannard, professor of fine arts, reviewing contact sheets with students. Later in the day we realized that the students were not the only ones working. Barbara Wallace (photo, right), a visiting professor from University of Richmond, has audited the Landscape Painting class – and we found her practicing her artistic strokes just outside the school.
Every year from deep in the delta, arrives the swanky, sultry sound of the south–the southern United States that is. Annually, Perugia hosts Umbria Jazz, a world renowned week-long festival that pays homage to one of America’s greatest legacies, jazz. Every year in July thousands of tourists, muscians and music lovers flock to Perugia as the streets transform into great stages where jazz, gospel, zydeco, R&B and even marching bands perform.
In light of Katrina, this year the Umbrian community of Orvieto has decided to give back to the jazz community in its time of need. “Umbria Jazz Loves New Orleans” will be blazed across sweatshirts and sold for 40 Euro each during the festivities. Proceeds will go to those in need in New Orleans after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. If all of the sweatshirts are sold, Orvieto will have raised 80,000 Euro in proceeds for Katrina victims. The Umbrian community states, “UMBRIA JAZZ LOVES NEW ORLEANS sweatshirts is a small sign of our love and affection for that part of America hit by Katrina which is the part that is neither rich nor powerful. It was in this America, neither rich nor powerful, that jazz was born. By raising money to help victims of Katrina, we hope to repay some of the debt that we owe it.”
For more information on Umbria Jazz and sweatshirt sales, go to http://www.umbriajazz.com/
Before their arrival in Perugia two weeks ago, most Umbra students probably associated the word “tandem” with a funky two-seated bicycle found at beachside vacation spots. But today, they have moved into a realm of higher understanding, a dominion in which tandem means much, much more. Our Tandem – an innovative Umbra-sponsored outing that brings American students and native Italians together once a week – is off to another great start for the summer session. No bicycles here, folks: this is the real deal.
Yesterday evening, Umbra students were treated to a special tandem in the traditional aperitivo style. An aperitivo (which owes its heritage to the French apéritif) is a pre-dinner cocktail enjoyed before a large meal. Food and drink play a central part in Italian life, and the aperitivo affords a perfect chance for pleasant camarederie and good conversation before embarking on the marathon dinner event. This Wednesday, over thirty Americans and Italians chatted over bruschetta, salad and pizza as they sipped wine and cocacola, enhancing language skills and making friends. By participating in Tandem, students can meet real Italians and sample the true Perugian culture, all in a safe and fun environment.
Tandem meets every Wednesday at 7:15 pm and is always a favorite with Umbra students. Stay tuned for news on next week’s Tandem adventure!
>As summer 2006 students enter into their third week in Perugia, some participated in a wine tasting which was held yesterday evening at local winery or enoteca, Enone. Students were given a glimpse of the art of enjoying wine–from how to combine wine to compliment food to how to correctly open a bottle. Three wines were tasted; a light, sparkling white from Umbria, a crisp white from Venezie and a deep Sicilian red. The event was conducted in English by local sommelier, Silvia Bartolini.
The tasting is part of a series of cultural activities for students scheduled this summer. Last night’s wine tasting was the first of two groups of tastings. The next wine tasting will be held Monday, June 12 at the same venue.