The other day I rented the movie “My House in Umbria” because I liked the title.

English language movies set in the Italian countryside always offer panoramic vistas of rolling hills and interior shots of charming if dilapidated houses.  Life is an endless loop of strong espresso, nature walks, alfresco lunches, dinner parties and red wine, or in this case grappa, which Dame Maggie Smith drinks morning, noon and night.

I fell asleep halfway through the movie more because I slept badly the night before than on account of the movie’s slow pace.  I woke up near the end but was still able to piece together the plot without rewinding.  There is a bomb on board a train to Milan, a few survivor’s end up at Maggie’s “House in Umbria” and they all help each other deal with the tragedy over said espresso, walks, lunches, parties and alcohol.  Oh and there is this little girl who can’t act that makes nice with Maggie and was maybe smacked around a bit before the explosion.

But that’s all beside the point.  The reason I rented the DVD and the reason I suspect most people rent it is because of the title and not to see The Prime of Miss Jean Brody Part II.

“My House in Umbria” rolls off the tongue like “our safari in Botswana” or “the jewels I keep in the safe deposit box.”  It’s a pretentious little title that works with or without a slow-paced movie as a side-kick.

If someone were to ask me where I spent my Easter holiday, I’d be tempted to say, “My House in Umbria, Darling.  You should come and visit next time you’re in Milano.  There is this charming little village near my home, just lovely really, about a half hour walk from my garden.  It’s just magical, really, just magical.”

And it can only be My House in Umbria.  Other phrases don’t work so well.

“My flat in Manchester.”  Who the fuck cares?

“My townhouse in Orlando.”  What, you couldn’t afford a mansion in Palm Beach?

“My apartment in Chicago.”  Fuck you.

See?  It has to be “My house in Umbria” and you must say it with Maggie’s accent and a glass of grappa in your hand.

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