Sunday, 25 September 2016

The penultimate day

Our last day in Panicale & Macchie. I always dislike the last day because I am never excited to be leaving and it is always sad to be leaving.

I started with some quality peaceful time ...

... then we started packing. This can be hazardous when you have been away for an extended time. The airlines might allow you to take 30 kg but you have to be able to handle it,  getting on and off trains, up steps and across cobble stones. Luckily we have done very little shopping so we expect the cases to weigh what they did when we left home, that is, just under 20 kg. There are bathroom scales here and we know that they are meant only for weighing luggage!

We made the most of the sun at lunchtime and caught up with our journal writing. I'm afraid the blog takes priority these days but I still like to write a more detailed account.

After some housework and pot plant watering it was time to take the empty bottles to the recycling point. Kel loves this job; counting and reminiscing as he crashes each bottle into the big container.

Next task was to give the little Ypsilon a bit of a wash. We have travelled ???  kilometres and been very happy with the Lancia.

Time for a gelato so up we went to Panicale and visited Gelateria Vittoria, a new shop in the piazza this summer. The challenge total is still building.

We did a little drive around to have one last look at some of our favourite places, then it was back home to finish off the day's work.

Sunset was at 7.03 tonight, compared with 8.40 pm when we arrived. We just caught the end as we were heading for Bar Gallo.

Even though it seems past Aperol Spritz weather we still had one for old times sake, accompanied by some delicious nibblies. 

Some of Aldo's Gran Bruschette Miste was just what we needed as we sat there watching the crowd coming out from today's opera performance and mingling into the life in the piazza.

Just as we were thinking it was bed time we heard fireworks. We could claim it was a farewell but actually it was celebrating the Festival of the Madonna del Busso at Panicarola. 

Tomorrow we go to Rome, but not before breakfast in the piazza.

Lunch at Locanda Manfredi & the comic opera Il Signor Bruschino

Our last lunch outing was a return visit t o Locanda Manfredi in Paciano. The day was mild and sunny so the view from the terrace was perfect. Massimo and Luigi made us feel welcome and the food was as good as we remembered from our last visit. We chose things that we had not experienced before and it was a very good move. My Italian cooking at home will have changed quite a lot as a result of the wide variety of meals we have eaten in the past three months.

A prosecco was the perfect start to a final lunch in Umbria. 'Doing lunch' is not something we do at home so these occasions are special.

Kel started with grilled red radicchio with goat's cheese and pear.

I started with crostini Manfredi, a gooey delicious cheese topping with artichokes.

Kel's primo course was a semolina gnocchi gratin with artichokes.

My primo was tagliatelle pasta with wild fennel and anchovies.

Look right and you see olive trees and terra cotta roofs, look left and you see ancient rock walls. We are well satisfied!

The third of the operas in the Pan Opera Festival at Teatro Caporali in Panicale is this week-end. Il Signor Bruschino is a one act operatic comedic farce by Gioachino Rossini with libretto by Guiseppe Maria Foppa. This opera was first performed in 1813.

Tonight's performance began at 9 pm and was excellent entertainment. The cast was well rehearsed and very talented so the performance was a real joy. I love these old shows that have such comic humour. More and more we are finding that the gap in our language skills is quite small now and that gives us pleasure too.

I wasn't in a position to get any photos, and was hoping some-one would post on Facebook, but no luck so far.

Later addition: photos by Priscilla Worsley

Friday, 23 September 2016

Fabro, Ficulle and funghi lasagne

Today was probably our last chance to go for a drive so we looked at the map and chose a direction we haven't been this year - we headed towards Orvieto, but on the small roads. First stop was Fabro which we pass on the train from Rome, a village that advertises its only points of interest as the fortress and the church. The fortress was in excellent order and afforded stunning views all around. Actually the main interest around Fabro is the woodlands where there are good walking opportunities and also truffles and wild mushrooms can be found.

From there we went to Ficulle which also had as its attractions a fortress tower and a church. The tower only opens on the weekends but the church was open and there was our man of the day, Padre Pio.

We were particularly amused here as the church is called the New Church of St. Mary. Yep, its new, it was built in 1606! The old church still stands but is outside the walls.

There is one thing to be said for these hilltop fortress towns, you get plenty of exercise walking up steps. It is always necessary to park outside the walls and walk in or up to the historic centre.

Our last stop was Monteleone d' Orvieto where we called in for a drink at a bar we had visited last year. The young man running it speaks good English and is enthusiastic about Australia. He told us he watches Border Patrol!

The average non-Italian thinks that lasagne is a hearty meat dish with a couple of layers of pasta. In Italy you soon discover that this is far from the real thing. Many layers of soft pasta and thin layers of sauce make up a genuine lasagne.
Two years ago in Genoa we discovered pesto lasagne and so began a love affair with that variety. Tonight we have tasted an even more stunning variety - bosciaola lasagne. With fresh funghi mushrooms and truffles, this was another taste sensation. Interestingly we bought this at the local supermarket deli, and they had other varieties such as asparagus.
We need to stay longer so we can try all the other varieties!

Padre Pio - Saint

                               Padre Pio         1887 - 1968

Almost anywhere you go in Italy you will see photos of Padre Pio; in bars, hairdressers, family homes, churches and in shrines on the streets. His popularity here amazed me until I read something of his background.

He was a Capuchin Franciscan monk and had a fascinating life as a priest, healer, mystic and spiritual guide. I think that his great popularity is due to his life story being one that aligns with the great saints of the early years yet he lived in the times of the people now. Over 100,000 people attended his funeral in 1968.

He was beatified in 1999 by Pope John Paul II and canonised in 2002. As a result he is now known as Saint Padre Pio or San Pio da Pietrelcina.

His feast day is 23rd September and Italians have remembered and celebrated the life of their favourite saint today.

He famously advised ' Pray, hope and don't worry', and as a result is known as the patron saint of stress relief.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A celebration of 365 days in Italy

Today we are celebrating 365 days in Italy - yes, we have spent one whole year in Italy!

From four nights in 1983 (on a tour bus with two children aged 9 & 12) to 77 nights in 2016, we have made 14 visits over that time. In fact, we have made 13 visits in 21 years! We have travelled to most parts of the country but spent the most time in Tuscany, Umbria and Rome. We adore Rome and have spent seven weeks there, always finding new and exciting things to see and do.

Today we celebrated with lunch, but first a 4.5 km walk. The Il Poggio grapes have been picked since we last walked this way...

... but further down the road a man was testing his grapes. He told us that they were 'ventuno gradi, perfetto!' (21 degrees, perfect!) so I guess his will be picked tomorrow.

One last look at our dreaming house.

The crocuses are blooming, creating vivid yellow patches in unusual places.

Later we went for lunch at Ristorante Masolino. The power has been off from 9 until 4.30 today in Macchie but luckily only from 2 until 3.30 pm in Panicale. That meant that we had almost finished before the lights went out.

Kel liked the pasta with lake perch so much that he had it again.

My pasta with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts was memorable. We again drank the excellent sagrantino brut with its beautiful colour and bubbles.

Another tiramis├╣ for Kel and zuppa inglese for me. A lovely lunch in a charismatic setting was a worthy celebration of our 365 days in Italy. 

Para-phrased from Dianne Hales book, La Bella Lingua (2009):

Eat like an Italian - not just with your mouth but with your eyes, nose, mind, memory and, most importantly, soul.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

We've been here so long ...

We've been here so long we needed another haircut! Kel went to Biano in Panicale, a favourite spot for the males who live and visit Panicale. With more than fifty years experience Biano knows how to do the works and each visit is a special experience.
I went to Castiglione del Lago where Walter did his best to restore me to my former glory! Here's a selfie of us with our new do's.

The sun has been shining all day but a thunderstorm is due soon. We have enjoyed the afternoon in the sun reading and doing cryptic crosswords.

I have been looking back on my photos and thought I'd post some that I like and haven't previously posted. Those of you who are loyal followers of Villa Nuffka Views will now get to see a little of the beautiful house in which we have been privileged to stay for ten weeks. It has been a wonderful home away from home and we will be very sorry to leave.

The core of any visit to Panicale and surrounds is the nightly ritual of aperitivi at Bar Gallo a.k.a Aldo's. Aldo refers to the piazza (and indirectly, his and Daniela's bar) as the 'salotto buono di paese', the village lounge room. As such, it is the gathering place at the end of the day (as well as for breakfast for Kel and many others.)

Aldo and Giovanni in a rare moment of relaxation.

These three are regulars in the piazza. The dog knows where he can get a pat and isn't he happy!

This is fisherdog we saw near the fish co-op at the lake. He didn't take his eyes off the water all the time we were watching him.

The range of creative furniture we have seen made from pallets is amazing.

I never thought I would ever say the words ' Too much Nutella!'

 Panicale on the ridge behind newly ploughed fields.

I am the Bread of Life.

Tuscany - a regular calendar shot.

Not a volcano, just a Tuscan thunderstorm brewing.

In Monti, Rome

Voted in the top five gelateria in Rome. They impressed us, but we hope to try one of the other top three on our last day in Rome.