A Travellerspoint blog

I believe I briefly mentioned...

...the Paciano town band

-17 °C

in a previous post. They performed at Lunch In Paciano. Probably more than any other thing, the town band has made a lasting impression on all of my visitors. Especially Dan Sanders.

The first night that visitors arrived, it was my custom to take them to the terrace after dinner to enjoy the freshness of the evening air, and the views of the valley and Lake Trasimeno while sucking down sfuzo wine. The conversation usually goes something like this:

"Wow. I can't believe I'm here."

"I can't believe this place."

"It's so beautiful here."

"You are the finest person I have ever known." (Ok. That may have been my own inner monologue.)

"Look at the lake."

"Are those olive trees?"

"How old is the house?"

"What the hell is that noise???!!!"

"That's the town band practicing."

"No. SERIOUSLY. What the hell is that noise?!"

"Seriously. It's the town band."

You remember Dan.......... Dan, nicknamed the Travel Whore, keeps a one-day-a-week job with the airlines so that he can travel at reduced rates (his round trip flight for Italy was $50). This benefit is available to all employees, but few take advantage of it to the vigor that Dan does. He has, so far (unless he's snuck in other countries since he visited Poland after Italy) visited 53 countries. Many of those trips were made solo.

Dan was very moved by Paciano. This trip was more emotionally charged than others for him because he was sharing it with Constance, Lylaine and me. He was appreciative of Paciano's beauty and age and history as he was our beauty, age and histories!

The first night of their visit, we were all out on the terrace basking in the joy of the moment when band practice started 2 buildings down from our terrace. At first, it sounded like the usual tuning up session, but when that continued for a LONG time, it was clear that they were not tuning up, but playing!!!!!

At first, we just had a laugh about the fact that they weren't the best. As it continued, Dan's analysis began.

"Man. They are bad."

"Are they little kids?"

Another sip of wine.

"Their timing is off."

"The notes are off."

Another glass of wine.

"Is that a song?"

"What instrument is that?"

"Are they all playing the same song?"

2 more glasses of wine.

"Can't they hear themselves?"

"Do they have a leader? Can't he hear them?"

Not enough wine in the world!

"Why don't they just say, 'A band is not a good idea. We don't sound good.'"

In fairness to Dan, the band really isn't good, but they are dedicated and well-supported and on at least 2 occasions, I could pick out what they were playing.

Blogger's Editorial (like the rest was impartial)...Dan probably won't forget his ride to the top of Gubbio in the open, standup chairlift. He will likely recall with appreciation the Etruscan tablets and artifacts. He will always remember the beauty of the countryside and the impact of the ancient walled hill towns. He will smile when he recalls the gas pump wine. But in the end, it will not be those things that will define his memories of the visit. It will be the engaging company of 3 fabulous women and the Paciano band experience!


PS-Feel free to comment, Danny.

Posted by Allegra51 07:34 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Speaking of....


This trip, we were treated to an astounding amount of live music in Paciano. Every year in the wider surrounding area, there is a month-long+ event called Trasimeno Blues. During that time, internationally known as well as locally/regionally popular artists perform in the surrounding towns (Citta Della Pieve, Castiglione Del Largo, Panicale, etc).

One morning, when leaving town, we noticed that they were building a stage in the park area of Paciano outside the gates. We also began to notice posters for bands and performers. Over the course of our visit, Paciano hosted concerts in the piazza and on the stage by:

2 accordians and a girl (our name for the group...not theirs)
2 accordians, a girl and a drum (also our name)
A female blues performer
A rock band
A local pop band
An Italian pop singer

I missed the 2 accordian band concerts, so I must report de facto. On those nights, I chose not to go down the hill for the performances. It's not that I have anything against accordian music (hey...who doesn't love Weird Al?!). It was more a matter of physics...overcoming inertia. Anyway, it turned out that the accordian bands were, of all things, tango bands. Bobby and Kathy and Jim stayed a long time at the first night's performance (without the drum). Ben went along, but didn't stay as long. They came back to entice me to go back down with them. They said that the place was packed mostly with older people and that there was a whole lot of tangoing going on! An adorable young and very accomplished couple (<12 years old) was also there dancing. The news of the kids dancing nudged the inertia, but did not dislodge it.

Several nights later, the other accordian/tango band was performing. By now, Ben was gone, and Bob and Kathy and Jim went down. I was still suffering from chronic evening inertia (spoiled by the concerts under the balcony). They all came back a bit later.

I need to backtrack a bit. When they were deciding about going to the first park concert, there was quite a lot of discussion about whether or not they could take beers along. Apparently it had escaped them both that THIS IS SMALL TOWN ITALY..........I'm pretty sure that the Carabineri were not on roof tops looking for beer-toting tourists. While it's not something you would generally see Italians doing, I felt certain that they were not risking deportation by taking a beer to a concert, but I stayed out of the discussion (Honest. I DID!). They finally decided to risk taking the beers. As they left, I went out on the balcony to check out the piazza and glanced down the street at them walking to the concert. Each of them had a LARGE (20oz?) glass beer bottle and they were "palming" it in an effort to disguise their transgression. A la "My Cousin Vinny"...."Yeah. You blend!"

When they returned, Bobby and Kathy had had enough, but Jim.........oh, Jim. He had thought that they would all return, including me, and he and Kathy would dance. He got the picture pretty soon that I would not be joining him. When I say pretty soon, I mean after he asked me about 30 times to come down with him. Once I convinced him I was not returning, he turned to Bob. It was easier for Bob because I had worn Jim down a bit and Bob used spending time with me as an excuse (who wouldn't believe someone would want to spend time with me?!). Poor Kathy was alone and vulnerable in the assault.

"C'mon, Kath. Come dance with me."

"I told you I would dance with you before we came up. I don't want to go back down."

Repeat this exchange or words similar about 30 times.

"I can't believe you aren't going to come dance with me. Just one dance and we'll come back. I promise."

"I don't want to go back down. I told you I'd dance with you before, but now I'm tired. I want to go to bed."

Repeat this exchange or words similar about 30 times.

Kathy goes to bed.

"I can't believe that Kathy didn't go back down and dance with me."

Repeat this about 30 times.

The next morning:

"I can't believe Kathy didn't go back down and dance with me."

Repeat this about 10 times (he was showing signs of acceptance)

Several days later

"I can't believe you didn't dance with me."

"I can't believe I stuck to my guns and didn't either." (sllight smile of assertiveness)

Jim had a piece of bread.

Posted by Allegra51 06:43 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

This little town...


DISCLAIMER: OOps. I thought this happened the night we got back from Florence, but I'm wrong. I happened several nights earlier.

Just before it got completely dark, a band set up in the piazza.


They began to play and Ben went down to the piazza to watch. Bobby followed (I told you he liked Ben better than he liked me) and then Kathy. Jim was out on the balcony and I was still inside. The music was a real mix, from ABBA to Italian pop. The crowd gathered in the square was getting in the spirit and they were beginning to dance and sing along. I got a bottle of prosecco and joined Jim on the balcony. The less prosecco that was left in the bottle, the better the music sounded and the more fun I was having, but the REAL party animal was........wait for it...........KATHY!!!!!

After a while, Ben and Bob stayed downstairs (no further comment) and Kathy joined me and Jim on the balcony. She also joined in sucking on the prosecco bottle....little by little, she loosened up and little by little she got more animated and little by little she got louder and eventually, the people in the piazza took notice.

There were 2 young men (motorcycle racers, Ben says) from the next town up the hill, Panicale. It was one of the young men's birthdays, or at least close. It was clear that they were celebrating. They were hugging and kissing each other and dancing to every song. All of the Italian songs, they sang along with. No one was safe. In their exhuberance, they would grab ahold of someone and the next thing they knew, they were dancing and singing with the "boys", everything from can-can to polka to tarentella.

At one point in the evening (I'm estimating about 2/3 past the start of the prosecco) the singer began an Italian pop song that had the refrain, "Subito" (soon). The boys began singing and in an effort to punctuate their performance with drama, looked up singing "SUUUUU BEEEEE TOOOOOOOOE"...............uh oh......

Kathy and I replied with song and grand gesture (hands outstretched, longingly)


They kicked it up a notch by dropping to one knee and repeating the refrain:


as we did the same from above


Now, the entire crowd got in on the act and everyone was subitoing all over themselves!

The Panicale boys were in rare form all night and much of their attention was focused on the balcony of Casa Tourisiti! Just before midnight, Bob took down glasses of prosecco for the boys and Agnese (one of the coffee bar owners) and we shared a toast. It was a wonderful moment and a memorable night.

PS-Kathy was drunk as a skunk!!!!!

Posted by Allegra51 18:55 Archived in Italy Comments (0)


Bobby's in the shower.

It's the day that we (Kathy and Jim and Bobby and I) are to go to Florence. We are up early to make an 8:30 train in Chuisi.

I was up early, showered and dressed and getting breakfast ready. Bobby was asleep.

Jim came down showered and dressed to help with breakfast. Bobby was asleep.

Kathy came down and we started breakfast and coffee. Bobby was in the shower.

We finished breakfast. Bobby was in the shower.

We finished the breakfast dishes. Bobby was in the shower....he's small, but he's clean!

We are off to Chuisi and then to Florence. We have reserved seats on the train and are seated in a compartment with Jennifer and Flavio. Jennifer is from California. She came to Italy 4 years ago for 4 months. She now has a Consierge Tour service out of Rome. Her boyfriend is Flavio. Flavio is Roman (for generations and it shows in his profile) and an architect. Times are rough in Italy for work, and especially for architects in Rome. As Flavio said, "Every time they turn over a shovel, they find a piece of a vase or something and then you cannot work for many years." We had a great time with Flavio and Jennifer (also going to Florence for the day). Flavio's English was great and when I inquired about it, he said he had lived in the US for a while. He got a bright smile remembering his time there near Pittsburgh with his cousins. Something was said about driving and I said I was getting used to it, but finding it hard. He said, "Yes, but in the United States, at least when the light is red, they stop." So right! We exchanged business cards (if you are going to Rome, let me know and I'll give you Jennifer's email address and website) and headed into the city for the day.

Florence is a city like no other. The architecture is grand and, while a city, it feels small, inviting and manageable. We headed right for the leather market (blocks and blocks of street vendors and purses so soft you could cuddle up and sleep on them!) We were on a mission. Bobby had 2 small leather change purses that he loved. He lost one in Hawaii and had said that he thought that they had to have been made in Italy and if he saw one, he would buy one. I should tell you that when we were in Pienza several days prior, Bob had showed the purse to a leather craftsman there. He said it was a very special art and that very few still did it. He said that we may find someone with them in Florence.

We hit every stand. Some had similar purses, but Bob's is not stitched (making it much more difficult to make) and was formed around wooden or steel forms for its shape. None were quite right. He stopped in one shop and the vendor said he had just lost 40 of them to theft..............we kept looking............finally, we found a vendor that had them. They were a bit bigger, but just the same otherwise. The vendor wanted Eu 35 though, and Bob wasn't buying. Arggghhh. He decided to give it up and bought a stitched one for Eu 5. Just after that, I was still looking and found them at another stand and the guy accepted Eu 25 and he bought it. Mission accomplished! I was so happy since it was the only thing he wanted.

We had several things to accomplish in Florence. Find a change purse for Bob (done). Get to the Academia (museum) by 2pm for our appointment. See the Duomo. See Ponte Vecchio. See Piazza De La Signora (sculpture) and get rice gelato (special shop I'd gone to my first visit to Florence almost 20 years ago). We accomplished all on our to do list and Florence enchanted us along the way.

First stop. Duomo. It is thrilling to come around a corner, or look up a narrow street and catch a glimpse of the grand Duomo in Florence. That is exactly how we came upon it. The first glimpse was just a sliver of the stripes of marble and a small wedge of the dome.


Next, up a larger street, we could see more of the base structure and a little more of the dome. Finally, we entered Piazza Di Duomo................it is simply amazing. We spent some time photographing the outside. They are in the process of cleaning the facade and what a difference it makes! It is stunning even dirty, but cleaned, it glistens and the colors are lively. After a while, we went inside to admire the structure and the beauty of the art, marble and architecture.

We took a walk and picnicked (that k looks wrong) in the Piazza De La Signora.


It is filled with sculpture and quite lively with people and tourists. We busted out our beautiful salamis and cheeses and grapes and rosemary crackers and breadsticks (the addict needed his fix) and a bottle of wine from Naples. Tell me. How did I get this lucky???!!!!!

I was spellbound by Michaelangelo's "Captives" or "Prisoners" when I first saw them and was no less captivated and astounded this visit. For those that are not familiar with the works, Michaelangelo was asked about his process. Did he sketch, rough in the forms, etc. He said, "I do not do that. I look at the stone. I see the form within it, and I take away the extra." That's quite remarkable, when you think of it and even more remarkable when you see it. The "Prisoners" are 8 (I think) large stone sculptures that are unfinished. They look like figures emerging from the stone..........living things trapped in hard, stone...........the figures within and the extra being taken away. These sculptures are on either side of a walkway and at the end of this walkway is Michaelangelo's David. Standing in the shadow of this huge figure that you have so often seen in photos is quite a treat.

We went from there to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). It is across the River Arno and from it you have lovely views of the river and the riverfront buildings. You can also see other bridges spanning the river. The day we were there, there was a lone boatman crewing on the still water. The bridge is also famous for being lined with shops selling gold. It is wall to wall or more accurately arch to arch gold vendors. Ponte Vecchio is a quintessential Florence spot.

After that, we found our way to the gelato shop where I had gotten rice gelato all those years ago and we talked about how we would spend the rest of the day. We decided just to eat and make our way back to the station. This decision was prompted by our inability to continue walking due to hunger and dehydration (did I mention that it was freaking hot???!!!).

After a nice dinner, we boarded the train at 6 for Chuisi. Jennifer and Flavio were in the next car and stopped by to say hi and fill us in on their day. They had spent the day with friends and for 6 hours of that time, they were having "lunch"! She described the most wonderful meal with course after course and bottle after bottle of wine..... nice.

12 hours after we got Bobby out of the shower, we were home. And oh, what awaited us there!

Posted by Allegra51 17:56 Archived in Italy Comments (0)



I made an observation this trip about the way that Italians tell you "no". It's as if they don't want to disappoint you, so they have developed a clever way of letting you down. Example:

"Buon giorno."

"Buon giorno."

Combination of gestures and pigeon Italian "I need something for a shutter."

"Finestra?" (window)

"No. Per (hand gesture of shutters opening and shutting) Come lei dice?

"Ah.............Non so." (I don't know)

More gestures and every Italian word I can think of to communicate that I need a brass ball that keeps the shutter from blowing open. You can imagine the scene. I am making my hands look like shutters. I am saying vento, vento (wind). I am making my hands into latches. I am saying "non aperto a vento" (no open in wind) I am blowing. It's embarassing in the retelling, but I didn't feel embarassed at the time..........

Finally,they begin to understan me in stages...

"Ah. Finestra." (window)


"Persiane." (shutters)


"Vento." (wind)

"Si!" (I'm getting excited now.)

"Non aperto."


"Una palla di ottone." (a brass ball)

"SI! SI! SI!"

"Ah..................(me smiling.............hope rising)...................no."

They let you have hope right up until the "no". I sort of like it. Be warned. If you ask me something and you hear an ahhhhhhhhhh...............

Posted by Allegra51 17:36 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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