Archive for August, 2010

Ristorantino Valzangona

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

ristorantino valzangona

On Friday evening we went with Mike, Monique, Luke, Alba, Gian Carlo, Michi, Oriella, Angelo and Viola to a small restaurant near Montefelcino. It is the local restaruant of Oriella and Angelo and serves home made food. Unknown to us Friday night is dancing night.  Apart from dancing it also means that they don’t serve meat as a main course. So we had various grilled vegetables and meats for starters and then we had 3 different pastas. By the time we finished eating the music had started and the dancing had begun. We all sat enjoying the spectacle but decided not to dance apart from Luke and Michi.

ristorantino valzangona

They were the only two who seemed to be enjoying themselves as all the other couples appeared to be taking their dancing very seriously or were too busy counting the steps to smile.

Have we retired to the right place?

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

The American organisation AAARP is the equivalent of Saga in the UK i.e. aimed at retired couples over 50 and giving advice about money, health etc. In the September issue of its magazine they have looked at some areas of the world worth considering if you want to retire abroad.

Places are assessed on climate, cost of living, health care etc. The Marche was listed as one of the places worth considering particularly the northern part of the Marched. Recently some neighbours were asking us if we knew any people who wanted to buy property in San Giorgio as they would like to get any currently empty houses filled and so make the village more lively. Perhaps the article will have an impact and we will soon have some more Americans as neighbours.

Click here to see the article


Saturday, August 21st, 2010

ferragosto 2910

Ferragosto is celebrated on the 15th of August. As you know it is currently the day the Catholic Church celebrates the assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. However, as with many Christian festivals the origin is much older and in Roman times it was held to celebrte the cycle of fertility and ripening. The Italian name Ferrogosto comes from the Latin Feriae Augusti – Festivals of the Emperor Augustus.

Today people celebrate by having family dinners or by going for a picnic to the mountains or the seaside. This year we celebrated by inviting Anne of Mondavio’s family for lunch. They were down from Zurich for a few days and so for lunch we had Anne, Sara (daughter), Rod (son in law), Alexander (grandson) and James (Alexander). Despite the oven breaking down just as we started to cook the meat the previous night and having to throw ourselves on the mercy of Mike and Monique’s cooker everything went well – stuffed boned chicken, the pork cooked in milk and the summer pudding for dessert.

After lunch we went to the beach where an English speaking colony was formed – us, Anne’s family, the Asentes, the Roscoes. The weather was perfect, the water lovely and we had a great time.

In the evening we went back to Mike and Monique’s house for even more food and somehow we managed to eat something. It felt like Christmas but with sun.

Elizabeth comes up trumps

Sunday, August 8th, 2010
fonte avellana basilica fonte avellano concert

Elizabeth, our Cultural Advisor as to what is on in the area, asked if we wanted to go to a concert in the monastry at Fonte Avellana. Our last couple of cultural visits, respectively to a concert and an unveiling of a fresco, had been less than inspiring and had raised some doubts about her status as Advisor. We hesitated as the place is about 45 minutes drive away but she sweetened the pill by suggesting an aperitivo at her house before the concert, she would drive to the monastry and we would stop for something to eat on the way.

Elizabeth is back on form. The concert was in the basilica of the monastry which is a beautiful space to sit and enjoy the concert. The two players were Dario Destefano playing the cello and Maurizio Barboro on piano playing pieces by Vivaldi, Schumann, Schubert and Kabalewski. Even I, not the must musical of people, found the evening enjoyable and at times moving and exciting.

Searching on the internet I discovered the website for Dario Destefano and you can listen to excerpts of a recording they have done together.

What no Italian kitchen should be without.

Thursday, August 5th, 2010
passatutto bamby

We have a “passatutto” in our kitchen (picture on the left). When we first arrived we discovered that no self respecting italian kitchen should be without it. Not only do we have it but we also use it when making tomato sauce.  I put cut up the organic tomatoes grown by Bill in his vegetable patch. I put them in a pot and simply add some chopped celery, onion and carrot and then let it all simmer for about 45 minutes. Then using the passatutto (pass everything), basically a hand blender/sieve, I grind the mixture down until I am left with a thickish tomato sauce with all the seeds, skin etc. left behind. If necessary I thicken the mixture, pour it into jars and then boil the jars for 15 minutes. The sauce is then put in the store cupboard for winter use.

Yesterday our friend Alba talked about using a “Bamby” in the kitchen. She was very surprised that we had no idea what she was talking about. “You don’t know what it is?!!!”, she cried. “But every kitchen in Italy has a Bimby!”. So we were taken into the kitchen and shown the Bimby. It is basically a blender/cooker combined. You can make blend soups and heat them at the same time. It can make bread and cakes etc. It is another masterpiece of German design. So if you want to give your kitchen the “italian look” then buy a Bimby. Searching on the web I discovered that in English it is a Thermomix. The Bimby/Thermomix website has all the details on how to use it. However, even with an english name I had never heard of it.

The Higginson effect?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

rain august 2010

After 4 or 5 weeks without rain we were  hoping that the visit of friends Jeremy and Juliet Higginson would bring us some much needed rain. Unfortunately their track record of bringing bad weather whereever they go failed as they had 8 days of unbroken sunshine. Also during their stay the commune introduced a water ban in which you can only water the garden on Tuesdays and Fridays between 9.00 and 11.00 at night.

However, despite the “Higginson Effect” sounding much more scientific and the fact that there was rain on their last evening with us we think the arrival of the rain may be due to the “Asente effect” as Mike, Monique, Luke and Dante the dog returned for their annual holiday.

We had two days of rain and then the sun came back. However, yesterday the 3rd another depression came our way and at 4.00 this morning everyone was woken up by the most incredible thunderstorm. This was in time for the return of the Roscoes to San Giorgio. So could the rain now be due to the “Roscoe Effect”. Whatever it is we are happy with  or 4 days of sun followed by one day of rain.

A night at the opera

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

opera at piagge

Duing the summer every town and village puts on festivals and events. In recent days we could have gone to festivals celebrating local winkles, local bread, local sausages or we could have gone to jazz concerts, one act comedies by local dramatic groups etc. We could even have gone to a re-enactment of Winston Churchill coming to the nearby town of Montemaggiore in 1943 to review the battle for Rimini. Instead we opted to go to Piagge (next village to San Giorgio) who put on a production of the rarely performed Donizetti one act opera “Rita”. As it was free entry we decided to treat our then guests Jeremy and Juliet to an evening out. We were joined for the evening by Pam and Michael, both keen opera fans.

The opera took place in the small piazza inside the walls of Piagge. The evening was like a step back in time when people in isolated villages would go to whatever was on offer. The stage was simple with some bed sheets as backdrop. Music was provided by a man on the piano and the opera has only 3 singing parts and so there was just about enough space on the stage. Unfortunately the singing was at best mediocre with the lady playing Rita even less than mediocre. Despite it all we all decided we enjoyed the evening but would not be rushing back for next year’s offering.