The town of Foligno in Umbria lies in the geographical centre of Italy and for generations local patriotism has it as ‘lu centru de lu munnu’, the centre of the world. But centrality has not necessarily conferred powerhouse status. On the contrary, Umbria’s centrality is more that of the hole in the middle of the whirlpool; the world swirls around it but inside there is a calm.
History might have stormed through Umbria’s valleys bringing great turbulence and creativity, but the ancient ways have somehow remained. Even the modern world has failed to lever Umbria from its time warp and this slow pace of life has, in our feverish times, become an asset.
Patricia Clough came to Umbria as an outsider those like her, who flip like fish out of the busy world and land in this tranquil place, think it a kind of heaven. But as she explains in this enchanting book, there is so much more to Umbria than its fertile valleys, its medieval hilltop towns and its ancient churches. The Umbria she describes may no longer be remote, but it remains a complex, enticing place.
PATRICIA CLOUGH is a former journalist and correspondent for The Times and The Independent. She lived in Rome for several years before moving to Umbria where she now lives and works as a writer. Her books include English Cooking: A Reputation Disproved and the biography Hannelore Kohl: Two Lives.