Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Our friend Nedra is here for a few days. We haven't been doing much of anything, mostly just hanging out. We drove to the Franco Todini Winery
just outside of Todi on Saturday. As usual, serendipity played a large part in our visit.

We drove down to the cantina first, not knowing if they'd be open on Saturday. Although we saw several cars parked outside the office, no one answered when we pushed the buzzer. We were stuck at the gate, about to back up, when a truck came up the road. The driver told us that the cantina office was closed on Saturday, but he told us he'd call down to the cantina so that we could buy a few cases of wine. Good timing on our part, nice gesture on his part.

The grapes were being pressed, and one of the men told me that this year would be 'ottimo" for wine!

On the way back, another bit of serendipity. We stopped in the old church in tiny, tiny Spineta. Jean and Virgil had told us how interesting the church and monastery were, and about the lovely garden that was hidden behind the church.

We'd stopped in once before but the church was locked. Today the door was open, so we stopped to take a look. the church was light and bright inside, decorated simply, We could smell food cooking, and could hear voices. We followed the voices through a hallway off the side of the church and discovered the courtyard that Virgil and Jean had described.

In the courtyard were maybe twenty Franciscan monks. Some were in the center, posing for a group picture, and we asked if they were celebrating some sort of graduation but were told that they had renewed their vows, something that's done every five years. After a few pictures one of the monks told us that he had to lock the door, so we left. Again, just a matter of timing.
Nedra has Italian heritage and is in the process of gathering her documents so that she can apply for Italian citizenship. She'd love to have a small house or apartment here, but unfortunately her family in the south of Rome hasn't been very helpful We on the other hand, LOVE to look at houses for sale, so when Nedra saw an apartment for sale in San Venanzo, we jumped at the chance to see it with her.

Virgil and Damon had seen the same apartment and had told us how cute it was, but it cost more than they wanted to spend. The building actually housed two apartments, the one on the ground floor has been completely renovated and was really charming. A fresco on the wall remains, a reminder that the building was once a church.

Although the apartment was cute, the asking price was waaaaaay more than Nedra wanted to spend, so we turned our attention to the apartment upstairs. Although in need of updating, it appeared sound and very livable. There was a nice balcony, and the apartment has it's own garage and even space for a tiny garden in the back. All three of us became excited about the possibilities.

We’ve also had some memorable meals with Nedra. On Saturday we drove up to the tiny roadside restaurant that Art and Giacomo had discovered while my sister and I were in Florence. It’s run by an elderly couple from San Venanzo and it’s one of those places were you eat what they’ve cooked….there’s a choice of pasta, but that’s about it. We had hot torta al testo with delicious prosciutto, pasta with sugo or truffles. Then the most deliciously tender cinghiale we’ve ever had. Complete with homemade wine and finished off with homemade limoncello, it was a bargain at €15 each.  It's called Angelino and Peppa's and is on the SS317 between San Venanzo and Ospedaletto.

On Sunday we grilled out and invited Giacomo to come too. Art did his famous ribs and I fixed grilled eggplant and baked apples. The weather is still beautiful so we want to enjoy being outdoors as long as we can. Winter will be here soon enough!

On Monday we were invited to have dinner with Corrado, Wendy’s boss. He’d fallen in love with Art’s barbeque when he came to dinner for Art’s birthday in July and wanted to take us out to eat to reciprocate. Okay by us!

We drove to San Marino in Campo, just south of Perugia to a special little place called
POSTA dei DONINI. The menu was really interesting and I’d love to see some of the recipes. The food was good and the service, presentation and ambience were spectacular. We ended up enjoying the last of our wine outside on the patio, allowing Corrado and Wendy the opportunity to smoke. (They’d ask about smoking inside but had been told it wasn’t permitted. I thanked the waiter for enforcing the law!)

In addition to being here for the grand opening of the park, Nedra was also here when Dino brought back our newly cleaned, re-varnished and revamped front door. We had Dino take out the wooden sections on the sidelight and replace them with double-paned frosted glass. At the top of the main door we also had two of the wooden sections replaced with glass.

Our entryway is now much brighter and lighter….but the sidelight looks a little bare to me, so when we’re in the states I’m going to look for some sort of simple stencil or transfer to put on it. 
Maybe something as simple as an ivy vine….nothing that will block the light, just something to break up the large expanse of glass. As usual, one home project sparks another.

Tonight as we took our walk, another bit of serendipity. As we passed by an open workshop, we saw that wine was being pressed! Large demijohns of wine were being loaded into the back of a car, and as we passed we said 'buona sera"...good evening. We knew one of the men, not my name but just from seeing him around town.

They invited us in to watch the work and to sample the new wine....really only grape juice at this point. Ella, the woman we'd met at our neighbor's house in August was there, and as we watched and drank we chatted about the apartment that Nedra was considering. A nice way to end the day.

Tomorrow Jill, Larry and Daniela arrive, and we can’t wait to hear about what they’ve been doing these past few weeks in Italy. They too are determined to find a way to get back here, if not permanently, then at least on a more regular basis. Daniela, their little ‘made in Italy’ souvenir, really should be growing up bilingual, at least in my opinion. Where better than in bell'Italia?


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