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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Pieta

Ippolito Scalza’s Pieta inside the Duomo always, always moves me.

Hope one can evoke such emotion out of stone amazes me. And a couple more shots from inside the Duomo.

The Baroque organ

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At the end of our first full day we do a wine and food pairing dinner with Graziella, Rita, and Carla. We’ve done this dozens of times and it is always different. Amazing the variety, and the creativity of these powerhouse women.

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This was the appetizer plate. Eggplant flan with a squash puree on top, truffle on bread, arugula pesto and more. This was preceded with bruschetta using Rita and Carla’s unbelievable olive oil.

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Asparagus pasta

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For the secondo we had lamb and a salad. Not pictured was panna cotta with strawberries for dessert. Each course came with a different wine that Graziella helped us taste and appreciate with the food it was paired.

Next night we went to make pasta with Maurizio, followed by dinner on the pasta we had made.

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Emma, Maurizio’s daughter who I have known since she was one, joined us for her first ever pasta making lesson.

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Maurizio had this beautiful machine that rolls out the dough in a heartbeat. Very cool!

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Angel hair, tagliatelle, fettuccine, and papperdelle all coming from the dough we made.

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There are about 230 different pasta shapes in Italy! Maurizio showed us just a few of the possibilities.

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This long one I want to try at home. It holds lots of sauce. Need to go back and get the name of it from him! Then came the dinner.

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The appetizer plate that includes a little omelette, a little quiche, two baby pizzas, and one made with turnips. Mamma Mia!

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The primis. Two pastas – one with a ragu sauce and one with eggplant. In front is risotto made with saffron from his garden. Incredible! And he showed us a new way to get the risotto started I’ll be trying at home.

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The secondi. Wild boar, roast beef, bacon, roasted potato, and look how he made flowers with the veggies!

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Maurizio is a pastry chef by training. This was dessert, all of it delectable.

So that was two nights with of yum. Last night we ate at Cibus. The have a new, beautiful menu.

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A big bowl of mussels and sea bream. Two big, beautiful salads to finish the night.

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Cappuccino at the market before shopping for a picnic lunch. Food in Italy! Buon appetito!!

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Italy has wonderful food. It varies by region, is not just spaghetti or pizza. Here is a little tour of our food from the last few days to give a sense of the variety and how beautiful it is.

We love eating with “The boys” at Vin Caffe.

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Most people go to Vin Caffe for a beer or wine, but they also have excellent light food. If ordering a drink they always bring a wonderful, ever-varied plate of appetizers as this one here.

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Two soups. One is a lentil-bean. The near one is a chickpea soup with bacala – salt codfish. Oh so good!

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Still at Vin Caffe, a mixed salad, buffalo mozzarella which is the silkiest, most divine mozzarella you can imagine, and a plate of radicchio with cheese and bread that has been put under the broiler. Oh my!

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We are now at Folk Osteria. Folk has innovative, nontraditional food, which is a sheer pleasure if you want something different. Here is prima salata pecorino cheese with tomatoes and asparagus. The cheese is made from sheep milk and is creamy. In front, a stew made from chickpeas and legumes served in a bread bowl.

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On to Bartolomei where, with our groups, we do our first night food and wine pairing. Faro salad, prosciutto and melon. Not pictured a barley soup.

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Mushroom pizza at Bistrotters which has Orvieto’s best pizza. Super thin, crispy crust, light sauce.

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La Palomba is a traditional restaurant known for their use of truffles. Here we have chicoria, a kind of green, a mixed salad, lamb, and a steak in red wine sauce.

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Or favorite restaurant is Torre Moro d’Aronne where our good friend Christian holds forth. Simply the best. Here eggs with asparagus baked in the oven, eggplant meatballs which you would swear is meat, and chicoria again.

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Desserts are killer, and if you can’t decide, head to the street and get gelato!!

Then there is the market. We do lots of picnics with our groups because it is light and we get such fresh produce.

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We also get salads for our picnics from Montanuccia’s

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Then you have to finish or start the day with coffee!

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So much food, such good food!!

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Wow! We had a wonderful new experience yesterday. It was a first for us and for Maurizio and Roberta who, for the first time, hosted a beer tasting/food pairing at their artisanal brewery Cento Litri.

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Maurizio introduced us to, and took us through, his beer making process.

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He ferments the must at different temperatures depending on the style of beer. In some, the yeast settles to the bottom and he removes it before drawing the must off. His beer is unfiltered, and develops the carbonation once in the bottle as it continues to ferment.

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His laboratory is spotless and gleaming.

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The house which sits above the brewery was hand made by Maurizio and his father-in-law. It took 7 years to complete, and is gorgeous. They just finished enclosing this porch, which is where we had our tasting/dinner.

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Maurizio prepares the beer. The sun continued to drop and the light fade.

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Antipasti with one kind of beer – a biondo. Roberta made the bread, and jam, and friends made the cheese and lardo. The rest of dinner was her wonderful creation.

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Gnocchi with mushrooms, and an American pale ale.

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The sun set, the moon followed, our happy selves reflected in the glass.

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Cinghiale, some of the best we’ve ever had, and look at that potato. Mama mia!

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Dessert beer?  Yes, my goodness, yes! It complemented the apple and fig tart so incredibly well.

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There we are enjoying the end of a delightful evening.

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The end. Thank you Maurizio, Roberta and Graziella!! What an incredible time you gave us.

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Layers of Seriously Old

Sometimes the depth of the history in this country astounds me. It is there in Orvieto every day, but is so part of the scene to me anymore that I forget to marvel at it. In a new place I am once again reawakened. The depth at the Faggiano Archeological Museum both historically and literally is amazing.

The owner had a rental apartment with a blocked sewer. The repair led to the uncovering of 2000 years of history over the last 20 years. He’s found silos, cisterns, granary, tombs, secret passageways extending from the third floor of his apartment to about 20 feet below ground.

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Here I am at the bottom of a cistern about 20 feet underground. The shaft at left was where a bucket on a rope was lowered to get water.

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Looking down into the cistern from the ground floor.

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The third floor access to the same cistern. Beautiful isn’t it?

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Room full of artifacts discovered on site

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This is the tomb of a baby. He also discovered a “dead drier” – a place where deceased nuns in the convent occupying the place at one point would be mummified. Yow!

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How beautiful the construction. That is a drain pipe going through the wall to the right of the door.

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This is the third floor giving you an idea of the size of the place.

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These stairs go up to the tower above the third floor. Well worn!

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Fireplace, and you can see circles in the ceiling. These are 16th century earthenware jars used in ceiling construction. The practice made for a lighter ceiling and also provided insulation. This technique was first developed by the Romans.

Just an incredible place all done by a private individual who made the discovery and has been pursuing it for years.

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This is a beautiful city. It is often described as Vienna without the tourists or high prices. The Ljubljanica River runs through it in a great big oxbow. Nestled around the bow is the old city. It is picturesque and charming

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This is the Tromostovje, the triple bridge. It was initially a road bridge, and then, in the 1930s, two pedestrian bridges were added on either side. This is one of the pedestrian bridges. The old town is now car free, so it is extremely pleasant to walk.

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There are an incredible number of places to eat, have a coffee or drink. These places line the river and the streets, and nearly all have outdoor seating. When cold, as it was yesterday, some provide blankets so you can comfortably sit outside. It is also a very international city with all sort of ethnic restaurants.

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We’ve been having coffee each morning at a nice little Illy cafe. It is frequented by university students. Popular with them are these big bowls of cereal filled with yogurt, and a pastry.

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We met a couple of med students, in the first of a six year program to become doctors. Here, as in Italy, waiters carry around mobile pay devices on which you can pay with a credit card. These students use their mobile phones to pay, placing the phone on the device to pay. They tell us that the government pays a portion of their meals using these devices. Breakfast was about $4, lunch $6 for very generous sized meals. Contrast that, plus free education, with the massive debt of American students. Health care, retirement – there is much to be said for the semi-socialist systems in Europe.

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We definitely feel the Austro-Germanic influence in the food.

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They have a wonderful farmers market – bags of hand picked baby lettuce!

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The setting here is stunning, sitting in the shadow of the Julian Alps.

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One of the things that is eye opening here is how well everyone speaks English. Except for an accent, you would think they are American – all the vernacular, slang and colloquialisms from home.

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The people here tell us that because Slovenia is so small they have to learn other languages. It makes sense, but the facile way they use English is amazing. Frankly, it is much easier to get around here than in Italy because so many speak English. More to come

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While the flower artists are busy at work on their creations the rest of the town is also at work, decorating their businesses, houses and the neighborhoods for the festival.

Yellow and blue

Yellow and blue

Yellow and blue are the colors of the Santa Maria of the Star quarter. You find people decorating in many different and beautiful ways.

Spectacular!

Spectacular!

Charming

Charming

Corsica quarter is red and yellow. The red and yellow banners come out.

Banners

Banners

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On this street – the dividing line between two quarters – the plants in the planters are of two different color ways. The near planter is the red and yellow of Corsica, while the far one is the yellow and blue of Santa Maria.

Two quarters, two color ways

Two quarters, two color ways

Then, in our neighborhood they decided to have a little evening celebration to complement what was going on elsewhere.

Shining shoes

Shining shoes

Federico, who does exquisite work in leather – shoes, purses, coin purses, belts, bags – joined in by offering free shoe shines. And across the street from him is a wine store. So . . .

Desserts and dessert wines

Desserts and dessert wines

Music from a couple of other store owners in our "hood"

Music from a couple of other store owners in our “hood”

So it was lots of fun as we came home from dinner this night to find our neighborhood partying. We of course jumped in and shared the night with them. Just love the spontaneity and serendipity of travel.

 

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