There is a black hole time warp here in Montone: the day starts early, the afternoon is suddenly eclipsed by the setting sun, and before you know it, dinner has been eaten and the day is done. You want to jump up and grab the arms of the clock to slow time down, to stop the bells from pealing so often, but time just keeps it’s own relentless pace.
The Umbria Film festival has come and gone, and with the exception of one film, the films all gave you something to think about. There is always something magical, something of a pinch me, can this be real feeling, when you are sitting in the piazza watching a film on this huge screen, under the stars, with your friends and neighbors. OK, so a little girl disrupts a few rows of seating scrambling after her puppy, or they can’t get the subtitles to work, or if they do manage to have subtitles, they aren’t on the screen and the words float somewhere on the wall of the bank behind the screen, it’s all a part of the experience. It’s a very social week in Montone, so there were lots of dinners with friends, and chatting and glasses of amaro being sipped while you sat and watched.
Should you have the opportunity, see the film, “Buda As Sharm Foru Rikt” or “The Buddha Collapsed from Shame” by Hana Makhmalbat, who is the 19-year-old daughter of a well known Iranian filmmaker. Filmed in Afghanistan, in the area where the Taliban blew up the enormous Buddha statue, it is essentially the story of a six-year-old girl as she tries to find a school that she can attend. Her adventures as she tries to sell four eggs to buy a notebook and encounters with other children tell us far more about the Afghanistan psyche and Taliban influence than anything that I’ve seen or read. That coupled with Nicholas Kristoff’s recent NY Times editorial make it painfully clear that there other ways to win friends and influence people besides blowing each other up.
Lest you think we are starving here in the film-crazed world of Montone, fear not. Recently we sat with our friends Jody and Tom on their front porch and feasted on a huge spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti and clams) lunch. It was a raucous lunch with Sergio and Manuella and their children as we pitched clams into the abandoned garden across the way. Tomaso and Jeff tried to convince us that they were planting a vongole tree that would bear fruit in time for Christmas. Hey, you never know.
(Teaser: there is more news on that abandoned garden).
Another movie night was a big dinner at our house, with friends who came all the way from the Marche to visit us, bearing beautiful flowers. Paul and Kate are fellow Americans who are navigating the residency visa process, so we traded war stories over Proseco on the roof, followed by a Sicilian style cous cous dinner, except that it was with bulgur wheat in place of cous cous and I have to say it makes a fine substitute. Now, if only the German film had been as entertaining as our dinner companions.
Now our food oriented friend Elaine is visiting us and we’re eating very, very well and we even heard a little jazz on the street at the opening day of the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia. Sadly, we’ve had very little time for cocktails, but Mitch, the almonds in the kitchen and are well on their way to being orgeat syrup.