The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur In Italy
July 23 - Perugia

What to do on our first full day in Umbria? How about catching the last day of the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia? This has become one of the premier international festivals in its nearly 20 years of existence. Headliners this year included The Buena Vista Social Club, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, John Lewis, Wynton Marsalis, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett, Natalie Cole, Al Jerreau (who was closing the festival today) -- really a Who's Who of jazz.

Most of the action was in the old town. We managed to get the last seats at a jazz lunch in one of the local clubs . . . and that is probably the story of the day. We arrived at the door and the maitre'd at first said that without reservations, there was nothing he could do -- the place was totally full (which it certainly appeared to be.) Then he said, "Wait a minute. There must be something I can do," and left for a minute. When he came back he asked if we would mind putting five people around a table for four -- a two-top had been a no-show and if that was OK with us, he could make it work! Of course!

It really gladdened my heart to find someone who's focus was on how he could make things work rather than on reasons why he couldn't. We had a great time, the food was good, the band was great and we got an extra lesson as well. The maitre'd, definitely one of the beautiful Italians (see photo), was having a ball! He was leading the applause, dancing with the music and generally having the time of his life . . . all the while keeping a close eye on the dining rooms, buffet line and the front door.

It made it so much easier for all of us to have fun when he was having fun as well. It got me wondering if we don't often get in the way of our guests' enjoyment because we are taking everything so seriously.

It was VERY tempting to stay for the Al Jerreau concert at 8:00 but Margene's feet were bothering her and Eric had decided to take a down day at the house, so we wandered back to our little house in Citta della Pieve to see what was next.

Next turned out to be an impromptu picnic under the portico -- salami, several cheeses, mozarella and tomatoes, fresh figs and a couple of bottles of local wine, along with good company, was just about perfect! After dinner, a couple of us went into town to a little wine bar that Eric had discovered. We sat on the terrace above the building sipping espresso and watching the world go by.

La Taverna (jazz club)


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