Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Post - A Day In The Life Of An Expat In Perugia

Here's a lovely post from Tina, one of the first expats I "met" way back when I was thinking of moving to Italy. It's a slice of life look at a beautiful place. Grazie Tina.

A Day in the Life of an Expat in Perugia

I live outside the historic city center of Perugia, in a very tranquil place. I have a view of a castle, the Umbrian hills and some cypress trees. Since I work from home, it's very easy for me to spend the whole day inside at my computer. Now that I don’t live "downtown” anymore, trips into the city (just a few minutes away by bus) are excursions I look forward to.

Yesterday I decided to get out of the house, enjoy the cold, sunny weather and go grocery shopping. I rode the bus to central neighborhood of Monteluce. Where my bus stops, you can see bars, bakeries, a pharmacy and a butcher shop, among other things. It’s bustling. The main thing that stands out for me is the imposing medieval church of Santa Maria di Monteluce, next to the Misericordia hospital. I've been known to forget to get off the bus, too busy admiring its rose-colored gothic facade. I always forget my camera when I go into the city and yesterday was no different. Someday I’ll capture an image of it.

As I made my way through the grocery store, stopping for my usual items (wine, cheese, chocolate, oranges, vegetables, pasta), I had a feeling I should pay extra attention to the aisle I was in. I looked up and saw tortillas, tortillas chips, salsa, peanut butter, mustard, mayonnaise, curry sauce and Tabasco sauce. Nearby, basmati rice. My jaw dropped in wonder. I'm usually in my little Italian bubble when I do leave the house, and I forgot that Perugia is actually pretty international. In fact, now I remember a store on the other side of the city that sells Thai ingredients and even yerba mate, the national drink of Argentina. I have got to get out more.

I walked to my bus stop in the crisp air, checked the bus schedule and while I was studying the bus times, a familiar sound rose to my ears. There was a couple, also studying the bus schedule, but they were speaking Spanish, with Argentine accents. I smiled, half wanting to talk to them.

Meanwhile an old man started to sing. And sing and sing. To me. I distracted myself from him and walked over to the window display of the tobacco shop. This shop sells not only cigarettes but also costume jewelry and perfume. Every time I walk by I have an impulse to buy all three of those items and go home and listen to Edith Piaf.

I noticed the singing old man boarding a bus so I returned to the stop and admired the women around me in their fur coats, one with sunglasses even though the sun had set by now. The bells of Santa Maria di Monteluce began to ring and continued to do so for about 5 minutes. I looked from the fur-clad ladies to the tobacco shop window to the church, all the while listening. It was one of those moments in which everything I loved about Italy was present at the same time.

A couple arrived at the bus stop and began arguing. Her Italian was very Russian-accented. Their arguing would intensify with each bus that pulled up. Finally, my bus arrived. I settled into a seat, grateful that I was no longer in the cold. Two people boarded the bus and began happily chatting in Polish. I smiled to myself, realizing that for being a small city in the middle of Italy, Perugia has a lot going on and is very receptive to immigrants. Earlier in the day I had been craving a larger city with a more international population (and am thus planning a trip to Florence soon), but on this little outing I realized that I am surrounded by people from just about everywhere. This could be a sign of the times – and a very positive one indeed.

Tina Ferrari is a translator, writer and tango dancer based in Umbria. She can be found at her own blog, Tina Tangos as well as **If you're an expat blogger in Italy, stop by and enter the Blogging from the Boot contest!**

Tina Tangos

Blogging from the Boot contest


Anonymous said...

Well, she has good taste: Perugia is nice... definitely more beautiful and livable than the shithole called Rome... yesterday I went to Corso Vittorio Emanuele... oh-my-God-what-a-dump... you're right, nyc caribbean ragazza, Rome is not a pigsty... because a pigsty is tidier than Rome...

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Well, (cough).

I really enjoyed your post, Tina. I have a lovely memory of the day I spent in Perugia. My husband and I were in Tuscany on vacation (way back when before moving to Italy) and we took a day and drove out to your city. I was enchanted by its sense of style and beauty. I will never forget, my husband bought a pair of shoes there and spent a fortune on them. They were not a special designer, but from a beautiful shop that sold hand made shoes. That was, maybe, 1998? He still has them -- on their forth pair of soles. We call them his Perugia shoes!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

diana - I must make it to Perugia this year. I need to avoid all shoes stores however. Too dangerous. heh

Tina said...

Diana, I have Perugia shoes too! :-)

nyc - Do come up to Perugia! I will hide the shoe stores from you.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

tina - I plan to. Hopefully I will be able to this year. Will keep you posted.