Monthly Archives: January 2010
The tasting began with a crisp Franciacorta sparkling white that was followed by two full-bodied reds and topped off by a sweet desert wine from Sardegna. With each wine, students tasted different types of finger foods–learning the art of how food and wine, combined correctly can bring out the best in each other.
To add an unusual and fun twist to last night’s tasting, our sommelier, Silvia Bartolini, brought ten jars filled with various spices and scents so that students could first smell the scents and then use them to try and identify the aromas in the bouquet of each wine.
After some discussion it was concluded that last night’s reds were particularly peppery. Students agreed that they could smell white pepper, hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. One student remarked that his wine smelled like Christmas. Which was appropriate because last night’s tasting was indeed, very merry!
Alla vostra salute!
Share your amazing travel experiences with the world and you might win an iPod Nano and a travel filmmaking gig with Tripfilms.com. We are looking for short travel videos, created and hosted by Umbra students. You are the “temporary locals,” so we want you to be the travel hosts—sharing a snippet of your daily life and weekend trips. Any type of video is welcome, from the streets you live on, where you shop, what you do for fun, your favorite restaurants, your experience speaking Italian to locals to even your evening jaunts around town.
The contest was organized by Umbra and an alum, Kelley Ferro, who is now a host, filmmaker and travel video producer with Tripfilms.com. The grand prize is an iPod Nano, and there are several cash prizes and Amazon gift certificates as well. The contest begins January 11th, 2010, and runs until the end of the semester in April. It is open not only to current students but alumni as well. All are encouraged to participate — when you upload, include the line in the description “Umbra Institute Student Travel Video Submission.” Multiple submissions are allowed so upload away! For more information email Kelley AT tripfilms DOT com with your questions.
“Where can you get a decent cup of Java in this town, anyway?” This question is the point of departure for tonight’s second Coffee Workshop. The workshop begins with a short jaunt around the center, with an explanation of the different cafés and their “flavors”: Sandri has the best pastries and is frequented by Perugian high society, Caffè Morlacchi is the bohemian student hangout, while Turreno is historically host to Perugia’s leftist citizens.
The second part of the workshop is the tasting and discussion of coffee’s “cultural geography.” Students will have a chance to try a variety of different coffees (caffè macchiato, marocchino, caffè in vetro) and will learn how each of these has a certain place not only in the day (cappuccino for Italians is strictly a morning drink, for example) but also a specific cultural meaning (an espresso in a little glass cup, instead of ceramic, lends a certain elegance to the drink). The workshop is one in a series organized by the Umbra Institute. The next one will be the Pizza Workshop for Thursday, February 4th.
Perugia is famous for its medieval alleys and beautiful panoramas, and this past Saturday two groups of Umbra Institute students got a chance to see some of the city’s other hidden treasures on staff member Zach Nowak’s Nooks & Crannies Tour. The group braved the bitter cold (warmed only slightly by the January sun) on an hour and a half long traipse about town. Nowak recounted episodes from Perugia’s past (“The Alunni Orphanage,” “Dumas and the Sangiovese Wine,” and “The Salt War and Bad Bread”), underlining the fact that he never lets truth get in the way of a good story. Umbra’s extracurriculars continue this Thursday with winetasting.
Every year on the 15th of May, the residents of the Umbrian city of Gubbio race up the hill from the lower part of the city to the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo, high above on the mountain. On the backs of each of the city’s three teams are enormous “ceri,” enormous wooden casks, each representing one of the city’s three patron saints. For some historians it is a medieval festival, for others it dates back to pre-Christian rituals. No matter what the origin, though, the tradition is alive and well in Gubbio.
Jessup, a small town of just over 5,000 people in northeast Pennsylvania, attracted Italian emigrants from the region around Gubbio at the end of the nineteenth century. These immigrants brought their traditions with them and in 1909 recreated the annual Race of the Ceri, which has been a fixture since then.
This year three of the youngest cerioli (ceri-bearers) in Jessup’s history became ambassadors to Gubbio. Jeff Addley (from the family of Sant’Ubaldo), Michael Cappellini (from the family of Sant’Antonio), and Gabrielle Giombetti (also from the family of Sant’Ubaldo), all students at the Umbra Institute this semester, took a trip to Gubbio this weekend. In addition to getting a guided tour of the city (among the highlights were, according to the trio, the birdcage-like ski lift up to Saint Ubaldo’s basilica), the students were invited to the “second baptism” into the Family of Sant’Antonio of some of the city’s youngest residents, as well as a huge party with over 500 people, at which the students were the guests of honor. Cappellini, in perfect Italian, gave a speech to the guests, and presented a photo of this year’s Saint Anthony team for Jessup’s race while Giombetti played the cymbals with the local band. The trio plan to return to Gubbio on the 15th for the race.
Yesterday night the Umbra student body and staff got together for what usually is a short aperitivo (small before dinner “meal” with appetizers), but what turned into a several hour eating affair. Argentina is a local steakhouse that also has a great aperitivo. Students enjoyed finely-sliced mortadella, spicy southern sausage, pasta salad, soft sausage on a lettuce bed drizzled with thickaceto balsamico, several kinds of cheeses, and potatoes roasted in a brick oven, to boot.
Suffice it to say that instead of the hour-long event that everyone had had in mind, most of the group hung around eating and making new friends until almost ten-thirty at night. The event is one of a number of group events. The next one is the first meeting of the Tandem language exchange program, Wednesday the 27th.
Each semester, a small group of Umbra students enrolls at the University for Foreigners – or the Universita per Stranieri – in Perugia as part of the Italian Language and Culture Full Immersion Program. These students take courses in language and culture five days a week at the oldest and one of the most prestigious language universities in the country, studying and living with fellow students from around the world who have come to Perugia to advance their Italian skills. The Full Immersion program is an entirely different experience from Umbra’s General Studies track, as those who choose to participate have little contact with the other American students and truly immerse themselves in the Italian and international student culture of the city. Once a week they will meet with professors at Umbra for a tutorial session to reinforce what they are learning at Stranieri, but otherwise they take all of their classes at the university. In boca al luppo a tutti!