Spello Celebrates its Gold

December 6, 2011

Acclaimed "la citta' dell'olio", Spello celebrates its "liquid gold" with the Festa dell'olivo e Sagra della Bruschetta every year in early December. Its 50th anniversary edition transforms this medieval hilltown gem into a showplace of art and photography exhibits, open markets, traditional Umbrian song and dance performances, oilve-oil tasting events - and more! - the second weekend of December. The president of the local Pro Loco (small tourist board), Umberto Natale, says " This manifestazione is much-loved by our Spellani and is dedicated to the land, our traditions, and a cultivation which has been the livelihood for centuries for many our families. We have now become a reference point for the production of top extra-virgin olive oils. We owe this to the excellence of our producers." read more...

A Thanksgiving Turkey – and More

November 22, 2011

We'll celebrate our Thanksgiving on the Sunday AFTER Thanksgiving, as we always do. Giulia and Keegan and friends are celebrating in Perugia on THE day - and have pre-dinner games planned on the Thanksgiving theme. I love their invitation, featuring a most original turkey, ie, our former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi all set to be roasted, with the usual smirk on his face as he heads for the oven. read more...

In Città  di Castello, Magnificent Tubers Entice

November 11, 2011

In early November, white truffles star at the 32nd edition of la Mostra-Mercato del Tartufo Bianco in Citta' di Castello in the Upper Tiber Valley. But not only the prized white truffle, Tuber Magnatum Pico: all the many flavors of Umbrian fall goodness team with traditional culinary wisdom in this weekend dedicated to educating the taste buds and the mind through a kaleidoscope of conferences, cooking competitions, theatrical presentations and food tastings. read more...

November: Chestnuts, New Wine and Rural Lore

November 11, 2011

The Chapel dedicated to St. Martin and frescoed by Simone Martini in the 14th-century is certainly one of the masterpieces in our Basilica di San Francesco. St. Martin of Tours, 4th-century saint, is pictured as he gives his cloak to a freezing beggar outside the walls of Amien. According to legend, the beggar will reveal himself as Christ. The association is there: St. Martin, the bringer of warmth.... read more

Trevi Olive Oil Trail

November 9, 2011

There's only one way to greet guests at the 20th edition of medieval Trevi's la Festa dell'Olio Nuovo: with a slice of hot bruschetta drizzled with just-milled olive oil, l'olio nuovo. Wearing white gloves and royal blue jackets, students of the local catering/hoteliers high school, la scuola alberghiera, worked in teams yesterday just outside one of the Trevi-area olive oil mills: two toasted the crusty bread slices on a grill, one rubbed the slices with garlic and the other poured - not ungenerously! - the mill's oil on the slices. Musicians played nearby, welcoming visitors. read more...

Elegant Turin, Bracing Against the Floods

November 7, 2011

As the Genovesi and the people of the Cinque Terre mourn their dead and shovel out the mud, the Torinesi keep a watchful eye on the Po, il Grande fiume, up 4.5 meters yesterday and swelling 10 to 15 cm an hour. They know their river - and that ravaging weather can turn it into "un padre ubriacone e malignazzo" ("a big old drunk and malicious father"). The mayor of Turin has ordered all schools closed and advised the locals to stay indoors. read more...

Trevi’s October “Black” Celery Festival

October 19, 2011

Throughout October, the picturesque Umbrian hilltown of Trevi celebrates its renowned sedano nero ("black celery") in a month-long array of cultural events. Celery is justly celebrated in Trevi: after all, celery is a key ingredient in many Umbrian recipes (and one follows at the end!)... read more...

Remembering a Grape Harvest Past

October 14, 2011

Yesteday on my Rural LIfe Revisited tour, we tasted Peppa's mosto (grape juice on its way to becoming wine). Sipping Peppa's mosto brought back fond memories of our first (and last!) vendemmia (grape harvest) in 1975, the year we moved to the land here in Umbria. read more...

Sicilian Thirst-Quencher: La Granita

August 30, 2011

Arab influences are strong in Sicily, from the architecture to the sweets, from the underground Arab acqueducts of Palermo to the granulated-ice dessert, la granita. The Arabs brought their sherbert to Sicily, an iced drink flavored with fruit juices or rosewater. In the Middle Ages, the nevaroli - "ice-gatherers" - had the important task of conserving the snow of Mt. Etna and other mountain ranges in stone depositories built over grottoes, natural ones and man-made ones. The nobility bought the mounds of ice during the sizzling summer months, mixing in the juice of the island's lemons with grated ice to make a perfect thirst-quencher - and thus the granita was born... read more...