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Archive for October, 2009

Orvieto is a wonderful city to visit. There is much to offer. It is on the tourist radar, but not a tourist destination. The result is lots of amenities without the crush of tourists you find in Rome or Venice or Florence. As a result, we are able to show our guests an intimate experience connected to the locale, to the people and customs, and to the wonderful and beautiful places in and around the city.

One of those places our connections provide is Palazzone – a beautiful vineyard just a few miles from Orvieto. We love the stunning setting. We love the The vineyards and locandapassion with which Giovanni Dubini carries out his trade and the definite opinions he has about how to make wine. We love the education we get about making wine. We love the food and wine he serves us as part of the tasting.

In addition to the vineyard the Dubinis run a “locanda,” or small inn. It is set in a building constructed around 1300 for use by a secretary to the pope. When

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The locanda

the Dubini’s bought the property the house was in ruins with no roof. They renovated it with an ultramodern interior. Guests are treated to exquisite rooms and, exceptional dinners if they choose – or they can travel in to Orvieto to eat. It is as relaxed and beautiful setting as you could want.

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Locanda's First Floor

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The Pool

We were blessed with exceptional weather this fall the two weeks we were in Orvieto, and it was perfect when we were at Palazzone. Here are a few pictures of the vineyard to help you visualize what it is like. Enjoy!

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Vineyards

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Orvieto in the distance

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Orvieto as seen from the patio on which we taste wine

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Sangiovese Grapes

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Where grapes are pressed

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Bottling and labeling

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The Reward - Giovanni serves his great wines!

 

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Great Workshops

We had two wonderful teachers of very different workshops this fall.

Transfering an image

Transferring an image

Catherine Moore led a class in which students altered “Orvieto Dust”, a book from the 1930’s. Catherine researched Orvieto from afar and came equipped with an amazing array of goods for her students to use in the book. In addition, each person collected their own items during the week to include. So there were images transferred onto pages,

Page cutout

Page cutout

doors and windows cut out of pages with images behind, collections of aromatic plants sewn into the book, a pomegranate used as a stamp, peacock feathers, journaling entries made. The creativity was amazing and endless, Catherine guiding everyone in altering their books in very personal ways. Kristi is still adding to her book as I am sure others in the

Altered pages with journaling

Altered pages with journaling

class are as well. In addition we explored underground Orvieto, visited our favorite vineyard, had a fabulous cooking class, ate good food, picnicked, dined under the moon. It was such fun.

Scroll down to see images from Ellen’s class.

Chestnut covers/postcards in process

Chestnut covers/postcards in process

Ellen Kochansky led her class in using found objects, junk, and trash from Orvieto to create 1) a journal, and 2) a postcard book with a series of cascading “postcards” inside. She provided used cardboard and silk for the postcards, while the students gathered materials from around Orvieto to include. Each made a “chop” symbolic to the week’s experience to use as a stamp. They made

Postcards drying (l), postcard covers (r)

Postcards drying (l), postcard covers (r)

glue from an old recipe of rice flour, corn starch and water, and use it to spread on the silk postcards, which then hardened as it dried. The result is a wonderfully transparent object beautiful when backlit by the sun. The journal is covered in discarded cardboard and chestnut leaves. (Chestnuts were shedding their leaves, and the ripe chestnuts we

Backlit postcards

Backlit postcards

had in soup and as flour for pasta – yum.)

It was a wonderfully creative and fun couple of weeks all under glorious fall skies that produced virtually no rain. We’re already dreaming of spring!

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Silver Linings

We are home from three weeks in Italy, trying to get out from under all the details. I have got a variety of blog entries I want to make about the trip, but will start here with a recap of the exceptional experience we received the last two days.

We showed up at the airport to leave Italy only to find that I had somehow managed to book the wrong day. Who knows how I did that and never caught it but I did. The upshot was that we had to spend two extra days in Italy before we could fly home.

So what to do? It was a no-brainer for us: Hopping on the train and returning to Orvieto was much more appealing than trying to find a room in Rome and cope with the big city – for, while we enjoy big cities, we are small town folk.

Cristian and his family

Cristian and his family

We got to Orvieto and our convent B&B home, San Lodovico, instantly made up a room for us. As we got out into the streets, our friends and acquaintances all stared at us agape, wondering why we were back. Our buddy Alberto said it was out destiny! Maybe so.

When we went to Cristian‘s for dinner, we explained my mistake, confessed my stupidity. In addition to a wonderful meal, he brought us out a surprise – a divine chocolate mouse with just a hint of spicy pepper in it. He wrote in the chocolate – “Don’t worry” and comped us a good part of the dinner including

Don't Worry

Don't Worry

dessert. Talk about salve for a boneheaded mistake!

Giovanna with 2 of our group

Giovanna with 2 of our group

Then, upon leaving, Giovanna wouldn’t charge us for the two night’s lodging. There are good people everywhere, but it seems incredible that we have found such good folk in a small town around the globe.

So yes, we had to pay a financial penalty for the mistake. But, we were given two extra days in Orvieto, we were humbled by the generosity and compassion we were shown, making the entire experience one that brings smiles rather than frowns. Thank you Orvieto.

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One of the most fun things we do on our trips is a four hour cooking course in the kitchen of a local restaurant. Lorenzo, the chef, is loads of fun and a great teacher. Last week we made our own pasta, focaccia, a wild boar ragu, a pork stew, a divine ricotta mousse, and a very fresh salad. Following are pictures of the class running from the beginning to the enjoyment of eating it all at the table. Enjoy!

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Cream filled crepe flamed with chocolate we made and ate as we cooked

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Pork Stew

Pork Stew

Ricotta Mousse

Ricotta Mousse

I think she liked it!

I think she liked it!

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Wow! This week’s workshop has just finished, with another starting today. It was a fabulous week, with a wonderful group, dynamic teacher in Catherine Moore, superb weather, and unparalleled hospitality.

One of the participants came up to us to thank us. She said, “My soul healed and I was given wings.”  Oh what sweet words. We do these trips because the potential for a transformational experience exists. It won’t happen for everyone. It may only happen for a very few. But when it happens it is the best reward imaginable.

Certainly, it is a combination of things that makes this happen. It is the teacher and the guidance and inspiration provided by her. It is Italy and its ability to have us use and enjoy all our senses. It is the people in Orvieto we meet who give so much of themselves and who have a series of beautiful philosophies that they share with us. It is the interaction of the participants on our trips, who generously share and give. It is the participants themselves who come with open minds and hearts, ready to embrace the energy, inspiration, and passion of Italy. All of this comes together to create a wonderful week’s adventure with the potential for transformation.

One other participant said, “Time slows down here – it’s not as important to keep those deadlines – a good conversation is more important and treasured.” What a wonderful idea to take away from the week, and what joy Kristi and I feel when people do. Thank you all for a fabulous week. Following are a few pictures of the week. More to come later.

Dinner Under the Moon

Dinner Under the Moon

Doing rubbings for altered book

Doing rubbings for altered book

Picnic lunch

Picnic lunch

Page from altered book

Page from altered book

Page from another book

Page from another book

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