Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The wonderful life of the most loved dog in Le Marche

21 July, 2015.
I have been fortunate in being chosen by Bacco to guide him through his short life here on Earth, a greater privilege than I probably deserve.  From the first drive we took together from his birth home in Siena on my lap the whole way until now, when he is reaching the end, I have bonded with him like I rarely have with any other thing.  He saw me through lonely times here in the beginning and I was never lonely with him at my side.  He made me smile and laugh more than anything else in my life, so I guess it's only fair that now he is making me cry a bit.  We have hiked all the mountains in Le Marche over 2,000 meters together, have swum in the Adriatic Sea and visited countless towns in Italy.  He has made friends with everyone he has ever met, never growled or snapped at any human being and is known around the world.  He will hopefully become more famous as his wine Baccofino makes its way to various countries.  He stole the heart of Maryse who feels the pain of impending loss equally with me.  Yesterday he had a crisis in his B&B, Nascondiglio di Bacco, so I rushed him to the vet where they were able to save him with an emergency pericardiocentesis.  Unfortunately, on his echocardiogram, he was found to have an angiosarcoma in his left ventricle, which means he has only a few days left with us.  8years is not enough, but we made memories worthy of twice that and he has truly had a life in paradise here with new friends constantly having made his acquaintance from all over.  He will be sorely missed, every time I walk the 50 meters to the winery and he is not at my side, every hike in the mountains I take without him and this year's harvest when he is no longer eating the grapes and telling me when they are ripe.  No more Bacco at the Carnevale of Offida and no Bacco when I am hiking near my house in the CO mountains this winter which I was really excited about.  Thousands of good times and memories, though, and those will need to help me through his passing.  Here are some of his life's pictures from puppyhood to last night.  I hope to meet him again someday and want to thank all his friends for loving him as he loved you!
He never whined or cried after leaving his mother; we bonded immediately and I think he knew he was in a good place

His first friend?

Dressed up for Carnevale in Offida and curious

1st time retrieving; he was a master and it was a hoot watching him jump over waves and then swimming to get the stick

I had to carry him up a 6 feet cliff to reach the top of Mt. Sibilla, but that was the only time he needed a hand.
King of his territory

One of the great places to visit, Castelluccio in full flowering which contrasted well with his color.

He loved the snow and I was hoping to treat him to a bunch this winter in CO

Daddy's boy

an even bigger stick

Testing the grapes

His very own wine! He will live on through his label

Last summit with Maryse and I, he did Mt. Vettore at least 4 times.  This was 2 weeks ago!

Last night posing with his mom and me

a sad smile on my face

He demolished this bone last night; he can have another today if he wants

Maryse called us the three musketeers.  Fitting to end with a shadow I think.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Valle del Fiastrone, Gola e Lago di Fiastra; the valley, canyon and lake Fiastra


Here is a nice, shaded hike below Lake Fiastra starting at Monastero at the cemetery.  One can visit the canyon dug by the river over millions of year and walk through the water between the tall rock walls and also visit the Grotta dei Frati or cave of the monks where they lived in this hermitage ages ago.  The entire hike took us about 2 and a half hours on a beautiful August day and you will see only few others.  As you see above, you must walk, crawl or climb across the river several times as you make your way upstream.  Waterproof boots or sandals are useful.  I used walking poles and crossed on rocks while Maryse took to the fallen trees to make her way from one side to the other.

After a 30 minutes walk mostly downhill from the cemetery, you reach the river where the path splits; to the left for the canyon and to the right for the Grotta.  Both paths are well marked.

Here one sees the shear walls and they get even taller, although at some point you have to decide whether you want to get wet above your knees to continue or turn around.

Bacco loves the water

Imressive stone walls on both sides dwarf Maryse

Here's where we turned around.

A view back to the canyon from near the Grotta

In the grotto you will find a statue of St. Francis and his prayer on the altar, a huge cistern and sleeping area.

Upstream you find lake Fiastra, beautiful with its turquoise waters

View for an overlook on the north side of the lake

Unfortunately, the lookout has also served as a "lover's leap" and there is no way you would survive this fall.  The dam is to the far left.

This view is from just below the scenic overlook.  You can swim, kayak, picnic at the lake which is really worth a visit.  In Autumn, the trees in the canyon are spectacular.  

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Mt. Priora, Tre Vescovi and Pizzo Berro hikes/2014

You can look back to July 2012 on my blog and find a similar post, but I thought it was time to update this great hike.  The longest part is the drive from Nascondiglio di Bacco and back to the rifugio di Fargno above the town of Casali (or Bolognola); start early and finish at lunch time and you can eat in this "bunker" at 1900 meters above the tree line.  Try and arrive early to avoid any crowds, I started at 810 from the refuge and was the only person on the top of the first 2 peaks.
From the refuge, I recommend taking the left fork at the base of Tre Vescovi, skirting and climbing its north side. This protects you from the early morning winds which in my 2 hikes have been fairly strong, but abate after 930 or so.  This is an easy climb to just above 2,000 meters and took me 35 minutes.  After a short stop for photos with Bacco and the surroundings, we descended to the saddle separating Tre Vescovi from Pizzo Berro.  Arriving at another fork on the east flank of Pizzo, I take the left turn to scale Priora first because it is a bit higher and longer.  The mountain flowers here are fantastic especially in late July and early August.  We topped Priora, the 2nd tallest of the Sibillinis in about 90 minutes and I enjoyed the views of Val d'Ambro and Gola dell'Infernaccio from the top.  Descending along the crest you come back to the crest of Pizzo Berro and a 50 minute hike from peak to peak got us to the top.  This is fairly steep and I would prefer to climb this than descend it (which is what the guide book describes).  More great views await of the Mt. Bove trio and into Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo and then 45-50 minutes got us to our lunch date at Rifugio di Fargno where I had a nice plate of penne pasta with 10 herbs and a couple of bruschetta.  4 hours and 20 minutes total time with 40 minutes of r&r on the peaks, so the hiking part was 3 hours and 40 minutes.  Everyone's pace is different and the book says to allow 4.5-6 hours for the hike.  Enjoy!
 View from my parking spot showing Tre Vescovi on the left and Pizzo Berro on the right
 One of the few signs in the Sibillini mountains although the trails are easy to follow.
 Atop Tre Vescovi looking towards Mt. Bove Nord to the left of the cross
 The saddle between Pizzo Berro and Priora
 Atop Mt Priora, windy and chilly, but with great views 360 degrees
We wrote on names in the log book, one of only a few in these mountains
Some of the beautiful mountain flowers near the trail

4 legs is always faster than 2 legs; Bacco waiting for me on the steep inline up Pizzo Berro

Atop Pizzo Berro looking towards Mt. Priora

The view east from the descending trail

Bacco living on the edge looking towards the Bove circuit to the west

The "bunker" where we will have lunch, rifugio di Fargno

We got lucky and there were still blooms near Castelluccio on the drive back

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My 2013 in pictures...

….and a bit of prose.  I will be glad to see 2014 arrive as '13 was a tough one, from a tough growing season to a change in personal relationships, difficulties finding someone to distribute our wine despite a client base to not visiting friends and family in the states for the first time since my arrival here in 2006.  The good news is that Bacco and I are healthy and have finished climbing all the mountains in the Marche over 2,000 meters, our 2010 wines were awarded at the Merano wine festival, we had a nice year in the B&B with lots of lovely guests from the low countries, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Italy and the states, our wines seem to well appreciated locally and here in Europe and we hope to have some new markets opening soon in Germany and Finland and hopefully more places.  The pool didn't leak this year after a major renovation and the wines of 2013 show great promise.  Enough verbiage, on to photos:
Pruning in January

My friend Fabio on a visit from London in the new year.

Inside Boccascena, a beautiful bar in Ascoli where you can find our wines.

Carnavale in Offida with the running of the fake bull

Offida's English language students visiting the winery for a tasting with explanations 
in English

Our new 350 liter barrels from Burgundy, France and Cavin

Copying my friend Sabrina's pancetta lollipops with dark chocolate and chili pepper powder

Bottling of the mythical new Pecorino which arrived at 16.9% alcohol or as my German friends aptly put it, "It's an Amarone Bianco"

Release party for the Pecorino with friends

In Kuopio, Finland for a tasting event with PS Wines

At Roscioli for a tasting in Rome where I was please to serve our wines to Daniel Boulud

Bacco and I finished climbing all the 2,000 meter peaks in Le Marche this year and this phot is from atop Mt. Vettore

Bacco sniffing the grapes to see if they are ripe enough to peak

What I look like after a day of harvesting

PS wine tasting with our friend Sigismondo at his restaurant Degusteria del Gigante

3 of our red wines were accepted into the Merano wine festival from our 2010 or 1st harvest.  The Confusion, Pieno Monte and Baccofino

With Judy and Raymond at Siena's xmas market

Thanksgiving with my Spello friends and Maryse

Christmas tree in the Piazza del Popolo in Offida

Much as I hate the move to the SEC, I had to wear Tiger colors to the Christmas market in Ascoli Piceno, no one seemed to notice :)
Happy New Year to everyone!