Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Last Day. Ostia Antica

Friday, April 27, 2012

We checked out of our hotel and wended our way to Rome's airport, where we checked the car and caught the shuttle to our last hotel, after schlepping our bags forever.  Very bad planning.  We grabbed some pizza for lunch and then headed over to Ostia Antica, an excavated Roman town that I found fascinating.  It had been the main town of commerce in southern Italy during the height of the Roman empire.  Founded in the IVth century B.C., it was located near the mouth of the Tiber whose silt eventually buried the town, which had been abandoned in the 9th and 10th centuries AD.  The excavations started in the 19th century, but were completed in the 20th.
In Ostia Antica, you can walk the 2km road where its inhabitants walked; you can marvel at the mosaics, the baths, the theater, and the temples.  You can really get a feel for what it was like to live there, although the roofs are no longer present, having been burned and/or buried.  I highly recommend a visit to this ruins; try to stay for the entire day.

Before the battery of my camera died, I got a couple of photos:

And that's our Foodie Trip.  I hope you can join us next time, in October 2012.  Write for details.

The trip to Castelluccio.

Thursday Afternoon, April 26, 2012

After our cooking class and its wonderful staged lunch, we took off for Castelluccio in the mountainous eastern section of Norcia.  Castelluccio is famous for its lentils, which are grown on the Castelluccio plain.  This plain is also famous for its display of wild flowers in June and July.  Photographers come from far and wide to capture their vivid colors.

The Castelluccio Plain.

 I bought some lentils and piselli or wild peas in the very small town.

Then we hustled back to Norcia to don our party dresses for the Gala Dinner at the hotel where we partook more of Flavio's wonderful creations.  Unfortunately, I don't have photos.  My camera's battery was dying.

Our cooking class in Norcia.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Early in the morning we went to the market held in Norcia.  I was looking for another bag to put all my new extra stuff in, but didn't find one there that I liked.  I finally found one in a small store that sold all sorts of things, like socks and duffle bags, a small department store, to which I later referred some nuns who needed new stockings.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the market; I was on the mad hunt for that bag.

Around 10 am, we joined Flavio for our Norcia cooking class in what used to be, many years ago, the barn.

We made all sorts of goodies:  lentil soup, risotto,  pasta, and tomato sauce.

Lentils cooking.
The beginnings of lentil soup.

Did you know that it's not necessary to stir risotto?

Beautiful colors.
Jamie is checking out the progress of the risotto.
The finished product:  lovely saffron risotto.

Simple, simple tomato sauce.

Jamie and Marilyn look either askance or really impressed.

Batter up:  Pasta time.

What a delicious lunch this was.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Norcia and the Truffle Hunt

Wednesday, April 25

Even though Marilyn will sorely miss her birdwatching in the wonderful park at the villa, we checked out of the country house hotel and packed the car with  help from Antonia.  It was a miracle that all of our bags did fit, but Antonio is a wizard at cramming stuff into a trunk.

We wended our way to Norcia, in the eastern part of Umbria, near the Sibillini mountain range and really close to Marche.

We checked into a very elegant hotel in town, which has abundant rooms on the ground floor to accommodate readers, chatters, diners, and spa-goers.  Their goal is to make their clients feel at home. (My home certainly doesn't have such a beautiful library or such large, fireplaced living rooms, but these areas certainly were comfortable!)

Norcia is a small town, with about 3 parallel streets, 2 or 3  arched portals into town, a piazza, and a market on the outskirts, and maybe a small suburb.  It's size reminds me of the town where I went to high school, but Wallkill,  NY is actually larger.

April 25 is liberation (by the Americans) in Italy.  Tis a big holiday.  The whole town was out marching, going out to eat, and just enjoying the day off.

Wednesday afternoon, after a lunch in a very local restaurant, we were driven by Titziano to meet Nicola and his cute dogs so we could experience truffle hunting.  We walked perhaps a good 2 miles in rocky fields and woods to get to Nicola's truffle field.   There were lots of wild flowers, including, wild orchids.

It was a good hike; we all enjoyed getting out into the fresh air.

The dogs played during the walk, but as soon as we arrived at the appointed field, they started working.

The truffle is barely visible but it's there, at the end of the pointer.

An unfocused truffle.

The dogs find another one.

It was a good day for Nicola.
Here's a photos of the view from his field.  Beautiful.

And that was our truffle hunting.

A Day in Perugia

Tuesday, April 24 2012.

Today we went to Perugia, the capital of Umbria and perhaps also its capital of higher learning, with its university and school for Italian language for foreigners.  It rained here, too - poured in fact.  It was so wet that at lunch I took off my shoes and stuffed them with paper towels to dry a bit.   Real pleasant image, huh?  Another travel tip:  bring weather proof shoes, if you've room.  I digress.

First, we went to Marta's who owns a building full of Jacquard looms on which she produces exquisite designs reproduced from Renaissance paintings.  Her ability to reproduce these designs on the Jacquard cards (1st computer with its 1s and 0s)  and then to execute them on these work horses of weaving machines is phenomenal, especially considering that she is dyslexic.

These threads in the warp are held down by lead weights.  To lift the loom to allow the bobbin to go through requires (and builds) lots of  leg and core muscles.

Marta's works of art:

 Marta's studio, a deconsecrated church:

 Marta conserves lace from one of the last lacemakers on Lake Trasimeno:

Besides this most fascinating artist's studio, we visited the town, had a lunch of a soup sampler (delicious), and then went to the gardens of the Horticulture Department of the university.  And I just lost all these photos.

Medieval garden at the University.

 Below are more pictures at the Horticulture Department of the Unversity in Perugia. The gardens are reproductions of medieval plans.