Wednesday, September 07, 2005


We had a get together yesterday at Larry and Shelly’s house near Massa Martana. They live in Houston but are approaching retirement and the graduation of their youngest child from college. Once these milestones have been reached I’m guessing that they’ll be here more than in the states although I don’t know there specific plans.

They’ve owned this house for three years and are still in the process of renovating. It must have been a three or four family borgo at one time, but now Larry and Shelly own three of the four properties and with any luck will eventually own the whole thing. It’s a fantastic property….made of stone and timber, with a pool out back that overlooks a sunflower field. Sigh…..

We picked up Isabella in Todi and arrived just as Larry was heading to the train station to get Bob, Rosemary and Judith. Shae and Art arrived and we were ready to celebrate Labor Day Italian style. 
We met Adrian, a friend of Shelly’s who lives in St. Thomas…she was funny and smart and loved chocolate and wine, so of course she fit right in. Because she seemed to be the perfect houseguest, helping to serve and clear the table, and later even washing dishes, I’ve extended an open invitation to her to be our houseguest any time she likes!

We munched on pecorino with honey and brie with crackers, local sausage and cheeses we didn’t even know the names of, but of course everything was wonderful. Lunch itself was a wonderful selection of peppers, roasted veggies, tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, prosciutto and melon,…I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but needless to say it was all wonderful, especially because it was accompanied by the wonderful company and conversation.

Dessert consisted of a torta that Bob and Rosemary had brought from their wonderful bakery in Perugia. It’s called Salame di Re and I’m sure there must be a story about the name. It was a cake roll filled with a chocolate/raspberry? Filling and it was not only light but was also delicious. (Not all Italian cakes are to my liking) 

I had made brownies from a recipe that Cristina had posted on the Expats site…the new and improved version with more chocolate and less sugar, and I had taken the liberty of using a combination of white and brown sugar for just a little extra richness. Cristina had been explicit in her directions to NOT over bake these brownies, so I had erred on the side of under baked, knowing that a gooey chocolate center wouldn’t be a problem for true chocoholics….and I was right. These brownies were dense, gooey and decadent.

After lunch Larry and Shelly gave us a tour of the property, telling us their plans for the future. It’ll be great to watch their dream become reality over the next few years.

We all talked and talked and talked….by now we all “know” each other to some degree….we’ve all met before, shared advice on the message boards and have our common love of Italy to fill in the gaps. Art and Shae told us that they’d found the same good airfare deal on US Airways to Tampa and will depart on January fifth. Unfortunately they had planned to visit the Gulf coast…all the cities that have been destroyed by Katrina. Plan B presented itself quite nicely when Adrian extended an open invitation to all of us to visit her in St. Thomas.

I guess it was close to six before we left, but we had to get Judith back to Perugia in time to catch the last train back to Citta di Castello. We had planned to take Bob and Rosemary back to Perugia, so it just made sense to take Judith with us. Art and Shae offered to drop Isabella off in Todi since they had to go right past it on their way back home.

We stopped for pizza with Bob and Rosemary before saying goodnight. We were exhausted from a long day of eating drinking and talking…..what a life!


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