Saturday, April 25, 2009

Having fun? Waterfalls, wildflowers and Bacco at gola d'infernaccio

25 aprile
I had another old friend contact me on facebook saying his mom heard I was "having fun" in Italy. The video shows one of my "fun" days as Bacco and I, tired of being cooped up in the house because of the rain, headed for the Sibillini mountains. I casually drove by a police roadblock on my way to Arquata only to be stopped by a landslide 15km up the road (I learned to ask why they put up the roadblock). We retraced our steps for piano (plan) B and headed for gola d'infernaccio where Bacco likes to hike and play in the stream. Piano B was cut short by the spring snow melt which flooded the path crossing with a torrent, but Bacco got to have his fun and we made up a different hike with good vistas of the town of Montefortino as viewed down the canyon of the gola (throat) near sunset.
Now the rest of the days, my fun consists of keeping the yard looking good for our guests, hoeing 17 acres of vineyard every day with weeds up to my waist, pruning olive trees and grapevines, then cleaning toilets, mopping floors, cleaning rooms etc, etc. Better to say, my work is different and I get to choose hours as do all farmers. The only bad thing about procrastination here is your work gets more difficult with every day you wait.
That said, I do have my share of good times, getting to meet really nice and interesting people from all over the world, shooting the bull with the local farmers as we lament the excessive rain or lack thereof and the weed growth, and sometimes getting away from Nascondiglio to Rome, Umbria, and the closeby mountains and sea here in the Marche.
Today is liberation day in Italy and all the stores are closed, so I will have to think of what I can possibly eat out of the cupboard. Buon weekend! For the complete slide show of our walk in the gola, copy and paste this link:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New links

23 Aprile
Check out the 2 new links to the right! One is for my friend Rebecca's new tourism site for those traveling to Venice or the Veneto region. She can arrange all sorts of fun food and wine tasting trips, private boat tours of Venice and a bunch more. She speaks perfect english although the site doesn't yet have an english translation. Write her directly or to me and I can help you out.
Also, follow along as my friend Kevin and the visitation church choir from KC tours Italy. There will be posts and concerts to view and listen.
We had a half day of sun today finally.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

KC friends, rain, rain rain

22 Aprile
My friends from KC have just left Nascondiglio di Bacco after 3 days of exploration of Ascoli Piceno in the rain. Kevin and Erika and I visited the local hotspots such as the city of Ascoli and the Piazzas Popolo and Aringo, Meletti bar, the ceramic museum and the duomo. The next day Ripatransone and the winery Le Caniette, Porto d'Ascoli where Bacco got to show off his swimming abilities. We then were treated to an olive oil tasting and explanation by our neighbor Tiziano. Yesterday, we made a visit to the local baron's winery, then saw Offida and the local lace making ending the day with a wonderful dinner at Il Gambero in San Benedetto for Erika's birthday where we had at least 10 antipastis of fish, shrimp, crabs and calamari followed by a tasty secondo. Spring weather here can be rainy and unfortunately, my buddies hit a cold, damp, stationary front.
Our newest and final grapevines arrived yesterday, but with the rain it is doubtful we will be able to plant for a week at least with the muddy, mucky ground. This final arrival is the cross between verdicchio and sauvignon blanc.
Rain is a mixed blessing as it does allow some rest from the hoeing, but when things dry up, it will be worse yet. Oh well.
Raffaele is on vacation in the much warmer northern mountains of Italy, but prior to his departure, we took a little trip of to Recanati, home of the famous italian poet Leopardi. Now I can say I know who he is and my italian friends won't give me such a hard time about him. I still am not a big poetry fan and since he writes in ancient italian, which I don't comprehend, I will have to be satisfied with seeing his house. (Sorry, Angela)
It will be a slow week here on out as my Dutch guests leave tomorrow. May 1 is the start of our season, though, and hopefully we will open the pool at that time and have the warm, sunny weather back again.
Ciao. d

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bees and new arrivals at Nascondiglio di bacco

19 Aprile
Sorry about my recent bad blogging habits. After hoeing and pruning all the day long, I am exhausted and not up to posting. Today is the 7th day, however and it is raining, so no excuses.
I have been energetic enough to take some photos around the place as I have been busy gardening as well. I think the place is ready for Kevin and Erika as they arrive today from KC. I have known KR longer than anyone on earth except relatives, so we should have a great time over a bottle of Sassicaia and some veal steaks tonight.
Notwithstanding my stiffness in the morning, I think you know you are getting older when you can't read how many grams of fiber are in the new All Bran box without your grannies. That happened yesterday (or are they just using smaller print these days?)
We are planning on opening the pool in a couple of weeks so the covers will go away and it will be prettier to look at even if too cold to take a dip. The surrounding landscape is awash with many colors of green, yellow and red-the latter two being the prevalent weeds-I mean wildflowers. Raffaele and I have completely finished pruning the Pecorino grapevines and hoeing them all. That is 21 rows down and only 140 to go. Actually, we hired the pruning done for the red vines as we don't have time to do everything.
A confession is in order as I burned up the motor on the weedeater as we have 2 unmarked containers of gas and I used the non-mixed batch which allowed the piston to mate rather intimately with the cylinder until they became as one. 10 days to get in the parts and of course the guarantee doesn't cover malicious neglect.
We will be planting the last 1/2 hectare of vines next week I hope and also expect our sprayer to arrive, so we can treat our vines as needed with sulfur or copper if we get too much moisture. Those are the only 2 elements approved for use in a biological vineyard and the copper is limited.
The quince tree is the last to bloom this year, but wow!, we should have a bumper crop. Also, the almond trees are full this year after a 0 harvest in 2008.
I planted a new granny smith apple tree along with all the flowers as well.
Continuing this flight of ideas I am listening to Karyn Allyson (sic?) and Boko Maru on itunes... I imagine, I am the only person in Italy with the latter and one of the few the former.
Raffaele is off to Val d'Aosta in the area near Zermatt for 9 days, so I am jealous, but I had my fun in the mountains earlier. I am hoping he will bring me photos and descriptions of the ski slopes, so maybe I can finally plan a ski trip in Italy in 2009-2010.
We are getting many reservations for the summer and are ahead of last year with a bunch from Belgium which is exciting. I talked to a Belgian lady requesting a June stay and she explained they are touting Le Marche in the magazines and papers there as the undiscovered "new Tuscany". What have I been saying? I hope this is the start of a nice stream of guests from the low countries.
The pictures show the italian honeybee, a type of bumblebee which I couldn't find on google, another type of bee in 2 photos, one with his tongue sampling the lavender , a hornet, our new granny smith and kumquat trees.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter!

10 aprile
Here's your easter bouquet with margerita's, lavender and a tulip, followed by pictures of a tulip, redbud blooms, cherry blossoms and a doctored foto of the margeritas or daisies. BUONA PASQUA FROM NASCONDIGLIO DI BACCO.
PS, i finished "mowing the vineyard today. Yeah!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Taco night at Nascondiglio di Bacco, italian license plate and earthquake damage

8 Aprile
Thanks to everyone who has contacted us by email and facebook to ask how we are doing after the tragic earthquakes in L'Aquila. As you can see from the photo, our known damage is very slight in contrast to the destruction in Abruzzo which has now claimed over 240 lives and left 15-25,000 without homes. One family lost 15 people, unbelievable! The italian people have come together in a show of solidarity with their central italian brothers and sisters with donations of money, food, free hotel rooms and other needed commodities. As far as proximity to us, if you walk up our hill a couple of hundred meters, you can see Gran Sasso, the tallest mountain in southern Italy and in the valley below this mt., you find L'Aquila, the capitol of Abruzzo. I drove past on the way to Rome on the autostrada, but didn't stop (which is the problem with all autostradas). Bacco and I slept through the big one and the next night's aftershock, although Raffaele was awakened and went outside at 0332 to see what was happening. I did feel the aftershock last night which will go down as my 1st sensed earthquake.
Yesterday morning was my latest effort at the license bureau and it seems the 20th time was the charm as I took away two italian plates, leaving my beautiful TBP 806 KS plate behind. Of course, my little car had the wrong adaptor on the back and no holes at all on the front, so off to BMW for the fix. I am now legal on the back, but need to return for front placement on Friday. They recommended I drill the holes myself, but I politely declined.
The weeds are now chest high in some rows of the vineyard and yesterday I hoed one row in 2 hours with Raffaele completing another in 2 3/4 hours. Aiii! I am pruning the Pecorino vines down to 2-3 buds, which is a good break from the hoeing and works other muscle groups.
Finally last night was Taco night here as I brought back some Chipotle Taco seasoning mix from Nueva Cocina and Raffaele bought some tortillas and salsa from that famous mexican, Uncle Ben. I experimented with frying and baking the tortillas to make more rigid shells - with mixed results, but all in all, I must say, we did alright. 2 corona beers completed the repast and I was content. Mexican food is one thing I miss while I am here and I invariably head out to dine at an authentic restaurant as soon as I hit US soil.
The pictures are from the tulips I planted last year which have bravely resurfaced framed by a beautiful sunset in the background, the results of an 18 month effort to get license plates for my car and a dog who was clean the day before, but did a bit of back country exploring yesterday.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Back in the hidden Marche with a correct visa

6 aprile
I am back in the Marche and trying to adjust to the new time zone. We have beautiful weather and all the neighboring cherry trees are in bloom. Yesterday, we hosted 14 people for an extended lunch for Palm Sunday with fresh pasta with a hazelnut sauce, spiedini, salad and a pair of desserts. Being unable to sleep well, I arose at 550 and made 2 breads, one filled with our olives and another with parmigiano and prosciuttto. After the bread making, I tackled the yard which was in full growth phase. I finally got the courage to look at the vineyard which is as I suggested in a previous post is celebrating the "year of the weed" in a grand way.
My last few days in the US were spent snowshoeing in RMNP in a blizzard, dining in a wonderful italian restaurant in Boulder called Alba, where the owners helped me narrow down a 4 page list of wine distributors for CO to a few names appropriate for our niche production, and finally a going away festa at Elway's where Leslie and I met a wonderful piano player/singer.
I was off to Chicago again at 6 in the morning to pick up my visa and as you can imagine, it is a blast toting 100 pounds of luggage on the El and up Michigan avenue, but this time all was in order and I have the correct visa for Italy. Now, I can legally own half of Nascondiglio di Bacco.
I dropped by the Art Institute of Chicago and although "American Gothic" was on loan to Des Moines, it was well worth the visit and a great way to pass some time while waiting for my evening flight. I hadn't been since Damon Mountford and I visited the Monet exhibit years ago and tried out a couple of Chicago's best restaurants.
This time, I flew Swiss Air through Zurich to Rome and was thankful the young spanish kid next to me was skinny as the seats are really narrow. I give the edge to British for comfort, although the service was as good on both.
I went to AAA to get my international driver's license renewed in Denver and while checking out their guidebook on Italy, found only one line about our region and it was concerning Urbino, a town far north of us. It is a; bit frustrating to us who live in this beautiful region and know it well to see all the guidebooks give us short shrift. Most of them pack us in with Umbria which is wonderful as well and together we get about 10 pages if we are lucky (about the same as Cinque Terre, which is cute but doable in one night and 2 days at most)
Maybe, in 20 years we will be the new Tuscany, but one of the problems is the Marche has a small tourist budget. We are starting to get more requests from america and have started a trial run with, so check out the new ad!
I am off to attack the "tree weeds" with my handy hoe.
Have a great Easter week!
The pictures are of my snowshoeing expedition in the national park in horizontal snow. I didn't push it too much as the trail disappeared and I didn't want to. The deer are near my house and then you see Alba which is on Canyon street in Boulder just down from the great wine and liquor store called Liquor Mart. The chef, Alex, made me a nice meal of antipasti battered and fried with a really light tempura like batter, gnocchi with asparagus and guanciale or pig's cheeks roasted and tender. I got 2/3 wines in the blind flight right and missed the chianti but we tried a new bottle and I almost corrected my mistake.