Friday, August 31, 2007

Fire and Rain

31 agosto
Thanks to J from England who took the picture of the plowing for me and is ready to start his own blog. He is the young son of 2 anesthesiologists who stayed with us along with their daughter and 2 friends to celebrate his 40th. Raffaele baked a cake for him and we had a mini festa!
We are full again starting tonight; I had to "evict" a priest to make room for our new guests who arriving for a Slow Food convention of sorts in Offida. He stayed with us 3 days and is off to Loreto where the pope has an annual gathering for the children. (Actually, he knew we were going to be full tonight)
On a serious note, we have fires all around us and last night Raffaele had to dash off to save the family home in Ascoli where flames got as near as 50 meters from the house and were burning their little garden olive grove and some oak trees nearby on the hill behind them. We are still waiting and praying for rain which we desparately need. Today again a 60 % possibility, but nothing here at Nascondiglio.
Tonight we are taking a much needed break to visit our friend Marco at Oasi degli Angeli for dinner and maybe a bit of consultation about our vineyard to come. He makes the wine called Kurni which is very special and unique from the Marche,, hopefully one day, we will make one as unique and complex.
The pictures are of another night and day here. a full moon behind clouds, an airplane which was dumping water on Raffaele's house (almost literally) which controlled the blaze behind their house and today's sunrise.
Ciao dds

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Finally a little free time

29 agosto
Sorry about the long delay... what a few days. First of all, we are still full. That means breakfast takes me about 4 hours every day for 14 people as i start preparing about 7-730 for the 1st folks who want breakfast at 830. The other 12 come along over the next 2 hours and I am usually working around the kitchen while i am waiting with my 18000 song ipod, a gift from my friend Laurence, keeping me company. Tuesday, the container of my stuff from america arrived from the port of Napoli at what time???? 0821!!! the worst possible time. Raffaele had to get up way before his usual time (0900) to help out with breakfast while the 2 guys and I unloaded a full 20 foot container of bed, boxes and beyond. After breakfast and putting all the rooms in order after al the guests had l left for the mountains and the sea, we unloaded about 12 boxes of stuff for the kitchen. We then had the man who sells rootstock coming at 1530, badddd time!! to explain what clones would work best here and he was a typical Italian chatterer. I thought Raffaele would throttle him before he left. Meanwhile, one of the local agriturismo owners who I have met and developed a rapport with called to ask if we had room for a priest and a young girl. We had 2 rooms empty but not ready, so we hightailed it up to room 6 which has a loft as they couldn't afford 2 separate rooms and fixed it up. At this point I was dead tired, so we went off to the local restaurant to let someone else cook for a change. DAI!! Today I had it easy--only emptied 6 boxes of knickknacks and finished about 1300. We went out for lunch with a friend Jean Felice who helped out yesterday and today and then visited a nice winery called La Caniette, which I mentioned before because Jean F. wants to work there during the harvest. Back here and finally i have a few moments. We are full through the next weekend and then ??? things will get a bit quieter, maybe. The pictures are of my container arriving with the bed taking up all the space at the end; a bed the likes of which has never been seen in Italy before! Queen size is the largest they sell here and they don't know box springs. The first thing i found was an egg poacher , which made Raffaele laugh because they are available also in Italy, but noone uses them here either. Then you see some photos I took of a walk with Filu across the hill looking back tat N di Bacco and the part we will plant this year in brown. Then finally, pictures of the new moon here. Enjoy! dds

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Siamo pieno!!

25 agosto (only 4 months of shopping days left)
We are officially full with 7 rooms occupied; 4 with English visitors and 3 with Italian visitors. Raffaele even abandoned Rm 3 to make space for a nice couple of doctors from the UK and their 2 little ones. It is a good time for me, because I can practice my english speaking skills! Things will slacken a bit in September and we will have time to reprogram our future plans a bit. Today, our neighbor Luigi started plowing our ground in preparation for the vineyard planting. By plowing now, if we do get any rain in this decade, the water will soak deeper into the soil. Filu and I took a long walk today up and down hills and searched for houses in which to live in the future for me. There are many abandoned examples near by, but the Brits have the upper hand when buying due to the pound sterling which is double the dollar's value right now.
If any Slow Food types like me are planning a trip to Italy, be sure to come the weekend of september 21-24th to Bra to visit "Cheese"; a truly remarkable get together of cheese producers from around the world. (I am afraid there won't be any Kraft american slices or """""Parmesan""""). I hope to find my favorite variety in the whole world, Macagna there.
Today's pix are of dawn this morning, my little hike with Filu, passing our one big oak at the bottom of the hill and on the way back we met Luigi, our expert plower. ciao e buon weekend! dds

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Icy Hot

23 Agosto
Raffaele has writer's block, so it is up to me to provide humor and information for both my blog and nascondiglio di bacco's blog. My lastest project after curing my third patient in room 8 (another lawn chair repair) was to make a sorbet with our contadino's chili peppers or peperoncini as they are called here. Using my normal base recipe for simple sugar as a base, I cooked 3 - 1 inch hot peppers in the simple sugar for about 15 minutes and then used my sorbet maker to produce an "Icy hot" mixture which I would be very afraid to apply to certain parts of my anatomy.. like my eyes, etc. It was an interesting combination which my Italian guests thought was great. They have family from the southern parts of Italy where spicy foods are relished.
Next I checked the brix levels in the grapes in our little vineyard, and most are ranging from 16-17 which is still too low, but there was one row at 21 which is getting close to ripe and those compact (another word for shriveled) grapes tasted delicious. I think they would make a fine wine, maybe even enough for 2 glasses if you come visit.
We are nearly or completely full through the end of August which is exciting. We stay busy cleaning, cooking and planning. Saturday, we are going to try a tasting menu for the guests with a sparkling wine from the area made from the Passerina grape, a Pecorino which as you recall is the name of a grape variety and a cheese (we will offer 2 of the latter), another cheese made from a mix of cow and sheep's milk, prosciutto from San Daniele, a Rosso Piceno superiore and a secret red from the zone, which I won't reveal until Sunday. As a final touch, Raffaele will make a torte and with it we will offer vino cotto, which is another specialty of Italy (cooked wine)
All for only 20 euros a piece!!!
Tomorrow is actually a rather light day, so I may try to escape the confines of NdB and explore Porto San Giorgio and on the way, I hope to buy the secret wine near Ripatransone.
We are still missing all the rain that seems to fall all around us, and would love to take some of the water from Hurricane Dean for use here. I am using gray water from the kitchen and the shower to water the flowers as an agriturismo with dead plants and flowers is NOT attractive. As I wrote before, it is illegal at present to water with our garden hose with a fine of 500 euros. I hope after we plant the vineyard this fall or winter, we get adequate moisture to support the new plants.
The pictures today are of our mascot Filu who is sorely missed by his grandparents and may have to go back to Ascoli for a couple of weeks to keep them company, a picture of the terrain in the northern Marche in the land of verdicchio and another picture of our grapes.
And now, some more about Nascondiglio di Bacco in English:
In the rooms and reading areas one can find books of all types for your enjoyment or edification. We are also at your service to give advice about activities and events in the region or to arrange an itinerary for you with visits to museums, cities nearby, local wineries or artisans.
Nascondiglio di Bacco offers 8 large comfortable guest rooms. Each room has been redesigned to retain as much of its original characteristics as possibile. This includes brick walls and ceilings and wooden and iron support beams. Some rooms are available with private terraces and/or lofts and all have been comfortably appointed and furnished.
Vistas from every room include scenic hills, olive groves, and vineyards; the majestic Sibilinni mountains and the Monti della Laga are visibile in the south and west.
Each room is aptly named after one of the native grapevines of Italy such as Sangiovese, Pecorino and Montepulciano.
For families and small groups of friends we offer rooms with sofa beds and one room also is available with a small kitchenette.
Each room has a large private bathroom with shower and bidet, individual climate controls for heat and air conditioning and free wireless or cable internet access. Free parking is provided and laundry service is available for a small fee.

And that is all for today, Ciao for now, dds

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chirurgo dei lettini

21 agosto
Days pass here with not much of excitement happening. I spend most of the mornings working in the kitchen and cleaning or fixing up the guests' rooms and in the afternoon after lunch buy bread for the next day or fruit etc. and the last couple of days spent an hour each day at the beach.
I finally found the winery where they make Kurni which i tried on my bd. Marco was nice enough to let us sample the 2005 while explaining his philosophy of winemaking. He was a great guy and we plan to visit again, and try to learn from our local Jedi master.
Today, having nothing else to do, I decided rather than spend 15 euros (or approximately 21 dollars now) each for new lawn chairs for our terraces; i would instead spend 3 euros for needles and outdoor thread and repair the little buggers myself. I figure a complex repair of this type on a patient would bring in enough money to fly roundtrip to italy, but today i only saved 27 euros... You can see my fine stitching job above,, before and after fotos like the plastics boys (and girls)
For dinner I made a concoction which you can make at home without worry of explosions etc wherein I layered slices of small tomatoes in a ramekin with parmigiano reggiano cheese sliced thin or grated (not out of a can!!). I also put in the middle, a few flakes of fresh oregano and red onions and a little garlic and in the next to last row a bit of prosciutto. Easy to make and fun to look at. I cooked the batch in the oven at 175 centigrade for about 20 minutes. In mine, I added some of my home grown peperoncino, but that is for those of us who like a little spice in their lives.
Not all in life is happy, however, and yesterday I got news that a good friend in KC was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, so I would appreciate those of you who are prayers like me, to keep him in your prayers, hoping for a cure or remission. Grazie mille!!!
The pictures today are of another sunset, night time in the Piazza del Popolo in Ascoli, before and after surgery pix and Offida from another angle, my little nearby citta'.
Ciao dds PS, all the blue came out of the bedspread, so i did learn a thing or two from my pop

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to work

17 agosto
It has turned a bit hot here again and the guests are from the north of Italy and requested a little air conditioning for tonight so I will also sleep better. I am sorry for everyone in the midwest, because for them hot has another definition more akin to SAUNA. Best wishes for a reprieve!
Today, up at 7 to make breakfast for some folks from Abruzzo who overslept a bit, so by 9 I had everyone (3 rooms) at once. We will have a full house next week, so it is good practice.
After breakfast I straightened up the 2 rooms upstairs, cleaned room 4 which is now ready for new guests and then did laundry. There were two bedspreads, one blue and one beige which needed a bit of cleaning and as my friends from Carrollton know, I was brought up in a family which owned an industrial laundry, so... you would think i would know better or be less lazy..... but..... there is a product in Italy which is guaranteed to soak up any bleeding colors in the washing machine,,,, and I have actually experienced this product functioning well.... but..... not today! So I am now rewashing with fingers crossed the beige bedspread with spot remover on about 1/4 its surface area and using bleach, fabric softener, 2 types of detergent and another sheet of color soaker upper. We will see!
Today, we have some strange pictures.. me with a poster of horses, because a strong person or thing in Italy is a cavallo, kind of like me.. pictures also of Giorgio arriving in full stride from his vacation home in Abruzzo, (he is a former classmate from Caserta, near Napoli and you all must visit the palace and gardens there sometime), a wonderful foto of the ruins in Agrigento (temple of Zeus, I think) for my Sicilian friends and a picture of my boyhood home in Carrollton where I learned all about washing clothes! (If you double click on the pix you can get full size images.)
and now for ndb website visitors ,,, more translations from the website about the nearby towns and the nascondiglio di bacco blog which suffers from lack of my attention right now..

Situated nearly 300 meters above sea level an a hillcrest dividine the rivers Tronto and Tesino is the gracious little town of Offida. With a population of just 5000 inhabitants, it is truly a hotbed of activities throughout the year, starting with the famous festival of the Fake Bull the weekend before Fat Tuesday and continuing throught the next week.
Along the Tesino valley, one finds hills covered with grain fields, fruit trees and vineyards and on many of the summits sit the surprisingly beautiful towns of the Picena.
Ripatransone, founded in the mid 1500’s is known for its archeological finds, museums, open air theater, the “narrowest alley in Italy at 43cm and its surrounding medieval wall and towers. Time seems to have stood still here and one can get caught up in this gentle rhythm while enjoying an apertivo in the piazza.
Cossignano, a walled village, is just a few miles from Ripatransone along the same spine of rolling hills.and has a beautiful, if austere, church worth a visit and also a lovely little piazza or plaza.
Finally, Montalto della Marche is famous as the birthplace of Pope Sisto V and experienced great growth during his papacy. Here one finds a solid circumferential wall protecting churches of the romantic and renaissance styles as well as many small streets with artisanal shops. (Ripa and Montalto are 2 of my personal favorites)

The blog will be our simple, fast method to comunicate our adventures at Nascondiglio di Bacco via the internet. We will continually update events here at the B&B and can maintain a direct, reciprocal contact with our guests and friends who are curious about goings on here and in the region.
Here you can find stories about our daily life at N. di Bacco, our new discoveries whether it be an exceptional wine of the zone or a new exciting Pecorino cheese. A calendar of local festivals will be provided as well as spotlights on specific artisans. Photos will give a clearer view of the tremendous beauties the Marche offers, from the mountains to the sea! Some posts will be in Italian and some in English, offering viewpoints from the 2 souls of Nascondiglio di Bacco, our B&B, and we hope you will follow along as we grow and change.( there is a link to that blog from mine and also to slow food, the university blog we started last year and our website.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My birthday parade

15 agosto
Nearby Castorano had a birthday parade for me and they really went all out and built tremendous floats full of my fellow contadini!
I worked pretty much nonstop until 11:30 and then I relaxed a bit and enjoyed some good wine and food from the grill. This was the 1st time they had cooked corn on the cob on the grill, but all turned out well. You can see some of my little presents here including a complete contadino set (peasant farmer) and I also got a beautiful book on Passito wines, a horizontal of Pecorino wines of the zone, a nice t shirt that says Don't worry but in genovese dialect and a cheese knife set with cheese plate and cover. Also Fabio and Michele stopped off in Assisi and picked up some wonderful books and a crucifix from the church of St Francis. I am surely forgetting something, but as I remember, I will add the rest. Finally to bed before 2, but as the early riser of the group, it fell to me to do breakfast for our Czech guests and they rewarded me with a cd of the quartet the man plays in near Prague. I am looking forward to listening to it because it is music written by young Jewish composers who were killed in the holocaust and this string quartet has discovered the music and brought it back to life! Enough for now. I am pooped! dds the pictures are of the monastery where we attended vesper's service, my parade, my implements of destruction and the gift givers who are friends of raffaele's and now me from Ascoli, and Michele with my homemade birthday torte

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the 1st birthday photos

here begins the 1st day of the rest of my life.. others have braved these waters before me... I can too! We started with a toast and tanti auguri at midnight with Berlucchi and i have heard from my friends all over the world, from kansas city to japan, to all over italy. We have a grand group here to help celebrate tonight, but 1st we are going to visit a monastery and hear the vesper's service... enjoy the pix. i am taking a break from the translations for ndb for a couple of days
dds PS,, we will see if i can show you the movie of the little girl singing me happy birthday in english. she is from the Czech republic

Sunday, August 12, 2007

La notte della stelle cadente

12 agosto 2007
The night of the falling stars was last night, but you still have time to view the near peak performance of the Perseid meteor shower again before dawn tomorrow. I tried twice last night at 12.30 and then again at 0430 and the latter time was much more fruitful. After I saw 11, I went back to bed.
Offida had another festival last night with roving jazz musicians, dancing troupes, a modelling company which put on a show of costume changes from roman times to modern and could have been ½ gypsy for all I know as there were also scenes with knives balancing on foreheads etc.
The town also had a wonderful demonstration of all the women and man in Offida who do the fancy lace-making with the Tombolo technique and I saw one which was a reproduction of the Last Supper which was truly incredible.
Musical groups also included folk groups, an accordion player who accompanied a singer, and a local girl with a voice like an angel. I didn’t stay for the big finale which was a lady on the main stage named Linda, because she started at 0100, I think.
Our calm time ends tomorrow as today we switch one couple for another and from Monday on, we are full for the week. It will be interesting doing breakfast for everyone at once, but good practice for what will in the future hopefully be a common occurrence.. Fingers crossed! Following is another translation from the blog site describing our history a bit.

The B & B started life 500 years ago as a typical marchigiana farmhouse and was carefully remodelled in 2004 with special care to preserve its antique structure and the simple beauty one finds in traditional Piceno architecture.
Visit our small “hideout” and allow yourself to escape from your daily stresses and reguvenate your spirit. You may choose to enjoy the gentle sea breezes as you relax on the grounds, viewing the beautiful hillside tapestries of vineyards and grainfields or explore the incredibile southern Marche.

At Nascondiglio di Bacco you will experience a relaxing, peaceful environment free to get lost in your thoughts, read a great book, or take a stroll through the beautiful surrounding countryside. One also has the opportunity to discover the talented artisans of the zone with specialties in wine and cheese and tapestry production. Nearby are charming medieval cities, beautiful sandy beaches and mountain paths. Nightlife and fine restaurants are also just minutes away.
Pictures are of Offida and our puny grapes!
Dwight The pictures today are of the main stage in front of ciy hall in Offida, the local hospital, a statue honoring the lace making ladies and my sorry grapes

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ascoli an notte bianca

11 agosto
Last night, Raffaele and I headed out for a night on the town as it was the famous Festival of San Lorenzo and a notte bianca in one. We ate dinner in Offida at the wine cooperative's restaurant, Vinea where they offered a night of courses built around the olive tenere which is the famous olive variety of these parts. They make a specialty which started in the Ascoli Piceno province of stuffed olive tenere filled with meats and cheeses surrounded by a coating of flour and spices and deep fried.
From there it was on to Ascoli Piceno with the top down to enjoy all the outdoor concerts and spectacles which were offered in each piazza. The stores all remain open and in some the prices go down as the night goes on, perhaps starting with a discount of 40% on all items from midnight to 0100 and finishing with 70% off from 0400-0500. Then for the strong of heart, (not us), there is free breakfasts of coffee and pastries at all the bars at 0500.
We had some guests from Modena who popped in yesterday at the last minute and so I had to get up for their breakfast at 0800 and wanted a few hours of sleep!
The pictures are all of Ascoli with the first a horseman from the Quintana, the second the Roman amphitheater and finally a view of Piazza Arringo.
And here is the translation I made of the history of Ascoli:
Ascoli Piceno, the capitol of the territory which bears its name, is city with a history which perhaps predates Rome. Evidence of inhabitants dates back to the Paleolithic Age with stable settlements from the Neolithic Age forward.
One legend states the city was founded in the 9th century when The Sabini arrived after following a sacred woodpecker which led them to this beautiful valley.
After starting a rebellion against Rome, Acoli was subsequently conquered by the the more powerful city in 89 BCE. Many Roman structures and ruins remain to this day including examples of Roman housing, temples, theaters and amphitheaters and bridges.
Ascoli was strategically located on the Salaria or salt road which led from the sea near San Benedetto to Rome and precious salt “flowed” on this byway from East to West.
The town was conquered in later years by various northern invaders and is twice nearly destroyed and is only reconstructed after 593 ACE. It falls under control of the Longobardo for 2 centuries thereafter and much rebuilding takes place during a time of relative peace.
Under the bishop-count Emmonel, 82 towers are built in a period of 28 years and the city is allowed to coin money and this activity continued into the 18th century.
Next, Frederick II conquers the city and orders the destruction of 90 of the towers and again the town is again burned extensively.
More of Ascoli’s exciting history can be found in numerous written works and in the museums of the city and the surrounding territory.
Visitors today can enjoy many of the old churches and piazzas including Piazza Arringo, Piazza del Popolo, the Duomo with its adjacent Baptistry, the beautiful churches of San Francesco, San Vittore, San Venanzio and Santa Maria Intervineas. Different architectural styles can be viewed in each.
The 100 year old Belle Epoque building of Bar Meletti is well worth a visit in Piazza del Popolo which is surrounded by a wonderfully eclectic and sometimes elegant shopping zone.
A short distance west from Ascoli, one finds the small castle Trosino enclosed inside its city walls and the largest Longobardi necropolis in central Italy was discovered here just within the last 200 years. Driving a bit furthur yields the thermal springs of Aquasante and thereafter a beautiful mountain drive leads to Norcia famous for cured meats, cheeses and chocolate.
Heading east toward the sea, one finds various historical and entertaining destinations for the historical minded such as Offida, Aquaviva Picena, Ripatransone, Grottammare, and San Benedetto del Tronto. Each locale has a plethora of activities and festivals throughout the year and one can find the latest updates on our blog,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Welcome to the new Nascondiglio di Bacco site!

9 august
Hello everyone. I now have a new job on the blog and that is to explain Nascondiglio di Bacco to English speakers. Our website designer went on vacation after finishing the italian language website and hooked the english flag into my blog. Check it out at or (it) or (eu) as there are many wonderful pictures, our rates, current events and last minute specials which are often tied in with local special events. Don't let the words scare you, it is pretty self explanatory and has soothing music when you get frustrated!
Raffaele and I, as blog followers know, went looking in Italy for a vineyard and the prices were in the stratosphere in Tuscany and the Bolgheri, so we headed here to the beautiful Marche where the land prices are still on the silver standard rather than the platinum standard. After finding several vineyards we liked, but all with problems of some sort or another, we chanced upon Nascondiglio di Bacco which has 6.5 hectares or about 19 acres ready for a vineyard. Starting from zero is one good way to make a wine the way we really want; so we decided to take on a bed and breakfast and try to make the best B & B in the Ascoli Piceno province if not the whole Marche.
We both have master's degrees in gastronomic science and we search the countryside for the little producers of finely crafted wines and foods to serve, biological scented soaps for the rooms, and serve dinners with ingredients from our garden and so on. We have 8 rooms to let which you can view on the website, although for the moment, I am in number 5 until the end of September.
We have now met a winemaker and an agronomist who will help us with the planting details and eventually the winemaking, but for now we are concentrating on buffing up Nascondiglio. We plan to build a nice pool overlooking the southern part of the new vineyard and hopefully will have that finished by the end of Fall 2007. As the grapevines grow, we will start construction of a small winery as well.
For now, there are many wonderful little towns nearby to visit and also the sea and the mountains, both within 30 minutes from our hillside. Keep an eye on the website "news" and "last minute" sections for more details and deals, in both italian and english. Those are the only two parts we can change! Dai, oh well. Ciao for now.. we will have to wait for corrections to the website, we know there are a few, like my name's spelling and we are missing Raffaele's name;;;; he is "io"..
I will start putting my translations which will eventually go on the website here for the time is the 1st titled relax:
The byword at Nascondiglio di Bacco is RELAX.
Visit our B&B and you sense immediately a sense of profound peace and tranquility and simplicity.
We are far from the big city and its noise and chaos. Here the little sounds of a distant tractor , birds singing, or crickets chirping are the only things you will hear. At night, one can spend a very pleasant evening viewing the stars without light pollution and listening to the unforgettable sounds of silence.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Caveman of the Marche???

8 agosto
Sorry to say, I am very happy because it rained here for 5 minutes. Now you can see my rudimentary rain gathering techniques and the rinse cycle for washing my clothes, then a pic of the tiles below my balcony which are unused to collecting water! Ciao dds