Monday, September 29, 2008

Hidden and not so hidden treasures of Rome

29 Sett.
I headed to the Capitol for the weekend after my friends left for parts north.
My trip to Rome was filled with new sites and activities and since it was a free weekend for all museums and historic sites, I got to see many new places I might otherwise pass by. The list includes the Via Appia antica where the catacombs are located (left for another time), Piramide which happens to occupy the same wall as the protestant cemetery where Keats and Shelley are buried among other fascinating personages. I visited the ancient Terme di Caracalle which were baths of cold, tepid and hot water with a swimming pool and two gyms which serviced 6-8000 romans a day in ancient times. Also, I visited the museum of oriental art and the church of Santa Prassede where some of the best mosaics in Rome are visible as well as "the column used to secure Jesus during the flagellation". Other sites included the consulate of Malta which is famous for a hole in their door which perfectly frames, with the arbor inside, the Cupola of St. Peters and is near the garden of the orange trees (giardino degli aranci) and a number of little churches like St. Sabina.
The pix are of the above sites with the pyramid St. Paul passed by as he entered Rome visible from the protestant cemetery. The entrance to same where you can see Keats grave and on his tombstone is written "Here lies one whose name was written in water". Then the porta Ostiense with a typical little Fiat 500 in pink driving by, the Terme and finally the mosaics in Santa Prassede.

Spelunking in the Marche, Acquaviva and dinner at home

29 Sett.
It is once again empty and quiet here at Nascondiglio di Bacco. I let Adrian off at the train station of San Benedetto del Tronto early Saturday morning and headed for Rome. Our last days with our friends from UNISG were filled with fun and exciting travels. We took Allison and Angela with us to visit a new architect with experience designing wineries and afterward headed to the incredibly beautiful caverns known as Grotto di Frasassi. I don't think I have ever visited a cave system so beautiful and can add that attraction to the "must-sees" for our guests who stay with us long enough. The cave is enough out of the way that one needs a whole day and can add a visit to San Marino or San Leo or the capitol of verdicchio, Jesi. We then hiked up to a church built centuries ago in another grotto before heading home. Adrian then arrived and we took time for a too brief tour of Ascoli Piceno and then we visited our friends at Aurora and Le Caniette to talk about wine and wine making in the Piceno.
We will miss our buddies and it was great to see them as none had visited us here before. Allison is off to Oktoberfest in Munich and Adrian is off to Venice and then to see Coldplay in Bologna. Angela, poor thing has to go back to work in Milan.
I came back home today to Bacco and Raffa and an empty agriturismo, but that will change next weekend as we have a couple of rooms full and a sole proprietor (my turn) as Raffa is off to Alto Adige.
The pictures show the church in the wall of the mountain, Angela and Allison at the fort of Acquaviva, dinner about to be served in our dining room and the cooks and beneficiaries thereof; namely Angela and Allison and Adrian.
Have a wonderful week everyone! dds

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Epilogue of "STOMPIN IN THE RAIN"--cleaning up the mess

LAST photos, I promise, but it was SOOO much fun and too funny. This is the cleanup after our adventure. Check below for more photos of our stomping, harvest, trip to Umbria and the wedding of Michele and Teresa.

Stompin in the rain

Here you see the trailer pix for our new film from Nascondiglio di Bacco.
starring Angela, Allison, Raffaele, Dwight and Bacco.


24 Sett.
We took a look at the previsione (forecast) and decided that we had a little window to harvest our red grapes yesterday as all the other days this week forecasted lots of rain. We all put on our work clothes and with various implements of destruction ascended to the little vineyard on the hill for its last harvest.
Allison and Angela were great helpers and we harvested 3 Doblo' loads of grapes and dumped them into our big red tub ready for stomping.
Just as the fun was to begin, the rain came and thinking fast on my feet, I opened a beach umbrella to protect our workers and our future wine and then began a scene so ridiculous, it is a shame Fellini wasn't here to film it. I think we can safely call our musical Stompin in the rain with Raffaele in the Gene Kelly role and Angela and Allison reprising Debbie Reynolds part. What a hoot! This is definitely a story for the grandkids if we ever have any.
After the stomp, we had a fine dinner of risotto with mushrooms and the famous lentils from Castelluccio and a reward wine of La Spinetta barbaresco from 2002. I hope you enjoy the fotos as much as we enjoyed the experience!

Norcia and Assisi

24 Sett.
Our 1st day here, paradoxically, we took a trip to Umbria to show off the plateau of Castelluccio, Norcia and one of our favorite restaurants, Beccofino and Assisi.
Angela from la Sicilia had never been to Assisi and Allison had never been with a guide like Raffaele. I enjoyed visiting, once again, visiting one of my favorite towns in Italy and said hi to St. Francis. Here are some pictures all mixed up from both my little canon and Allison's of Norcia and Assisi.

The big wedding

24 Sept.
Here is the update on the fantastic matrimonio of Teresa and Michele, my 2 friends from the master program. Raffaele and I left Nascondiglio di Bacco in Jean-Felice's hands and he dogsitted Bacco while we drove various autostradas for 6 hours, arriving in Genova at 1430. The wedding started at 1600, so we hustled and then spent a bit of time with our old buddies from school as we walked to the cute little church of St. Matteo. The wedding was beautiful as was Teresa. Michele was figo (cool) instead of beautiful. Fabio, Michele's friend and a priest from Milano performed the ceremony and then we all were off to a Villa above the old city for the reception. Raffaele and I carried 9 kg of our wine from 2007 up the winding streets and let everyone try them out. The red was, as always merely drinkable and continues to get a bit better, while the passito was a big hit. Better yet for me was the champagne, as I definitely have a weakness for the real stuff, and tire of prosecco all the time. The reception, being on the coast of Liguria was catered with an abundance of wonderful seafood and the fresh sushi of salmon, swordfish and tuna was incredible. The cured meats from Spigerol,i with the best culatello in the world were also present (for a short while). He is the guy who gave us the black pig back in April 2007 which I hastily took back before he/she reached 300 kg!
With all the lubrication available, dancing later was no problem, even for the white guys, and then, when it was all over, we all stumbled back to the hotel, somewhere in the vicinity of 3 in the morning.
Allison and Angela from our class hitched a ride with us and are staying at N di Bacco for the week and as you see in the posts above were great help with the harvest and grape stomping. The weekend was great for me as we don't get much excitement in these parts and this was a real hoot getting to relive a bit, our year together. All but 2 of the students were there and we were all quite happy for the new bride and groom and their little one, Matilda who you see in the 1st photo. Other photos show the throwing of the rice, the villa, the presentation of the gift to the newlyweds from their fellow students and the dancing near the end of the night.
Sure glad I took my antiinflammatories beforehand!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jemshed's photos vs mine

19 Sett.
I was contemplating life, the universe and everything and channeling Douglas Adams as it has rained here all day and I have cleaned everything I could at least once. One of my musings regards my old friend and college roommate Jemshed's photos which you can find here‏
I hope that link works. Jem takes great pix and they vary from mine as do the paintings of Pisarro when compared to Cezanne-Jem's almost always have people, interesting characters all, in his photos and mine are of landscapes and a dog every now and then. I must admit, his are more engaging than mine. He travels the world from Honduras to "Burning Man" finding those folks who are a bit out of the mainstream and I find them fascinating. I think maybe I will try to move a bit that direction myself now that I discovered this lack in my digital diary. I must regain my desire to act as a "flaneur" when I travel about.
The photos show a watchcow in France guarding Bresse chickens and the folks I am off to see tomorrow.

Montepulciano harvest is near, classical concerts in the Marche

19 Sett.
This is the 2 week period of the big classical music festival in the Ascoli Piceno province and it was all started my an american, Michael Flaksman. He is now head of the Mannheim school of music in Germany, but taught many years ago for a master's program in music at Ascoli and fell in love with the town, so decided to start this music festival. Every night there is a concert for 2.5 weeks and they can be in the art museum, churches, wineries, or agriturismos all over the zone. I saw them play at the Ascoli art museum with a concert of Bach and Vivaldi which was exceptional and then again last night at a church in nearby Castignano. They played a Brahm's symphony which is not my favorite, but the price was right at gratis. For those of you who love classical music and want to visit the Marche, come next September in the last 2 weeks and enjoy a bit of night activity listening to fine young musicians!
We inspected the montepulciano grapes and while I think they are probably ready, we are going to take a chance and wait until next week to pick them after the rains coming today and this weekend. I hope the rain stops is all. The pictures show a couple of the plants and Raffaele taste testing, the church at Castignano and the group of 6 musicians who played either violin or cello.
Today, I went to the mayor's office in Offida to request my identity card, another step I must take before licensing my car. I timidly asked how long it would take to receive this vital little piece of paper and they kindly replied 30=45 days. I remember well when the questura at Ascoli told me the same thing for my permit of stay in May and as you know, I just received that 2 days ago. At this rate, my car will rust away before it is legal. One surprising bit of information is I will be able to receive their govt. supplied health insurance with the ID card. With what I have gleaned from various folks here, I hope I will never have to use it. I will come back the US for any serious illnesses for sure.
Off to Genova tomorrow and an opportunity to wear one of my suits which was feeling neglected in my closet. I hope everyone has a great weekend as I will and enjoy the Plaza Art Fair all you Kansas Citians!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Olive tenere, wall of wine and Bacco eats a cow

16 Sett.
Auguri a Sheri e Parker in mezzo dei suoi compleanni.
Yesterday, during a break in our pleasant rain, we harvested our 2 olive trees called tenere. With the 12 kg or so we harvested, we should reap a wonderful reward as Raffaele's mother makes the best olive ascolane I have tried.
Here you see a sampling of the harvest and the empty tree. Last year we picked exactly "0" olives from these 2 trees and 51 kg from all 104 olive trees, so we are off to a better start.
Next you see the wall of wine with stackable crates designed to hold 3 bottles each with 5 liters. I will give one to my 10,000th reader if you come here to visit-9997 as of this posting. Our red is not too bad really. We hope to harvest and stomp this year's red grapes next week when our friends from the master's program arrive.
Bacco is still eating on his cow femur and doing a fine job of whittling it down. He has just about disarticulated the "ginocchio" or knee.
I need to take him somewhere today for a walk as he is getting antsy. I was so bored yesterday I started the "Teaching company's" lesson series on the Impressionists and made it to lecture 5, finishing Manet and the introductory chapters.
Finally, you see a photo of our view from the pool area as it starts to green up after the rain. It is nice and cool today and time to replace our summer bedspreads with the down comforters.
Sunday, I got 3 emails from KC friends who might come to visit next year. That was quite a thrill. I hope everyone will come visit this beautiful region as part of their tour of Italy and as always I am full of ideas on what to see throughout the country.
Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Methodist church of Fermo, scouts invade Nascondiglio di Bacco

14 Settembre
We finally got a bit of rain as you can see by the "wet Bacco" photo. With that we experienced another rainbow at dusk today, and i had fun tweaking the pix a bit with iphoto. What you see is with maximized saturation, but it is still pretty. Raindrops in the pool round out the bunch.
This weekend, I went to the nearby city of Fermo, which is a wonderful place to visit with lots of interesting things to see in the way of churches, museums, roman ruins etc. I, however, was on a mission from God and went to join a little gathering of methodists at a house church. 6 people attended with the minister, a lady originally from Holland. It was a nice experience and I followed the service with a meal at one of the most famouse enotecas in Italy in the town's central square. It wasn't my favorite place as the wine selections were not to my liking, a prosecco too sweet, a montepulciano with oxidized notes, suggesting a problem in the winery and an eponymous IGT wine from the Ancona province of the Marche, which was undrinkable.
That made my trip back on the autostrada much safer, at least.
Meanwhile, back at Nascondiglio di bacco, we had our yearly birthday celebration of the scout friends of ours from Ascoli with dinner last night and breakfast and lunch with us today. They are a nice group and with their families, we had 12 for the weekend and now are empty. One of the braver adults actually bought a 5 liter bottle of our 2007 red wine which I bottled yesterday. I cleaned 28 bottles with soap and water and used the rinse water to water our olive trees, then filled them all up from our stainless steel tank and made a "wine wall" of containers, each with 3 of the 5 liter bottles inside.
When the rain subsides, maybe Wednesday, we will pick the big olives from our 2 trees on either side of our driveway. The other olives continue to change color and will benefit greatly from the rain as will our poor montepulciano vines in the old vineyard.
Also, I am excited to think that next weekend is the wedding of my friends Teresa and Michele and I will get to see their baby girl Matilde for the 1st time! It will be a grand reunion with almost all our classmates from the masters.
A dopo.