Pretty yellow flowers…

Never noticed these flowers before. Don’t think there bloomed even one last year… The Year Of The Quake. By the way, we’ve been shaken everyday for the past 10 days, not that I have felt them all. One I noticed came right at dusk. Rattled me, My Glass of Pro-secco and The Dogs. I went out to survey the surroundings. The glass of pro-secco was replenished. The Dogs just switched wing-back chairs… These species of a margarita are everywhere… loads in river beds, masses along fences & thorough-fairs and many sprouting their yellow selves in people’s gardens, but none at Il Poggiolo. Taking them to be wild, I felt left out. How come not at Our Place? To have a few, I resorted to theft…

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Back in June, Our American Friend, expressed an interest in a house in Our Neighborhood called La Colombiera. The rather charming house sits on the corner of the road to Casciana from the New Bridge and the lane leading to Codiponte’s piazzetta. Lovely vine-covered facade, bright green painted shutters, a mock-tower even and an enormous grassy yard protected by traffic hiding bushes. I arranged a meeting between Our American Friend and the owners. They are nuts. And, very unpleasant. The couple had done zilch to clean-up or straighten the house’s four small apartments since The Quake. Furniture, lamps, pictures topsy-turvy, walls shot with structure worrying “Xs”… the next time you see photos of houses & buildings damaged by an earthquake, check for these “Xs”. You do not go back inside, if present… dust and cob-webs and debris from one end to the other. Then of course, outside, there is an important wall and roof soon to be dust & debris in the yard. Not a fun sight. Our American Friend left for the fresh-air. No longer keen on the place and certainly not with the owners. Unpleasantness is internationally understood. You & I, to be polite, continued to the end of the tour with the owners, risking our necks. I was The Anointed One to inquire of the asking-price. Now, let me say, the house has been declared inagibile, meaning, you cannot live in it. IT’S DANGEROUS!!! The owners also have done zilch to forestall any further damage, i.e. that wall & roof due to collapse. And, not forgetting that the place has been un-occupied for 15 years, meaning totally out-of-code for electricity, gas & water, what was stated for a price flew right on over My Bald Head and out into the country-side. Euro 500,000!!! A figure so very much out of touch with reality or good sense, to both of which the couple are out of touch. I managed… in tempo… a reasonably expressed reply… Your price would be unacceptable to Our American Friend. The man smiled, You & I chatted for a couple of minutes longer then, we all shook hands and My Group departed to gossip and belly-ache and bitch in the privacy of Il Poggiolo over glasses of pro-secco. Well, a Coke-cola for You. Let me add that the owners can sit on their Euro 500,000 house till it falls into a heap. And that might be sooner than they think too. But who cares? They are nuts and unpleasant.

Passing by La Colombiera this fine morning with The Dogs and feeling bereft of some Pretty Yellow Flowers, I noticed there was a HUGE clump on them along the soon to crumble wall of La Euro 500,000 Colombiera. I opened the gate, marched over and yanked two hand-fulls of Pretty Yellow Flowers for Il Poggiolo’s garden. They are now enjoying their new home. And squirrels to those owners. Gads.

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Beans are a goner…

Beans have been harvested and sent to market in Aulla. The vines have been left to tumble to the ground to mulch and rot. The weeds have since taken over the plot of land. Stakes have been pulled and stacked away until next year. So, that’s it, Folks! IMG_4944

 

Walnuts…

If you live on a farm or in an agricultural region, such as I do living in Codiponte, you know there is always something to do… around the farm. No sooner have the Codipontesi harvested the last of their beans, tomatoes & zucchini than the season says… It’s time to go pick-up walnuts! IMG_4864What? they say. No way. Let the birds eat them. We’ve got the vendemia to do. Yes, there are grappoli e grappoli of grapes… You jabbed me in the stomach the other day as he studied those hanging over the entrance steps to Our English Friends house. See, we could have those too, implying a lack of initiative on My Part. Va’ be’. Il Poggiolo has two vines sprouting out of the tall retaining wall of the aia… or, courtyard. One is red and the other is white and the grapes are pathetic. Not worth the trouble. This year though, I suspect, and this is confirmed by the Codipontesi themselves, the grapes this year might already be sour, or worse. The weather here this summer has been too wet, or when not wet, too muggy, predicting a lousy vendemia. Might be best to grab those walnuts!

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There are walnut trees scattered about. A big one is along My AM W-a-l-k With The Dogs. The walnuts have a soft gift-wrapping-gone-bad casing. Take that off and you have a classic walnut nut. Inside that is the meat. You swears by them. He eats them at night after dinner while watching some over-charged show on Italian TV. You says… 6 walnuts a day keeps the Alzheimer’s away. Hmmmm. Gads.

A reminder, go to Your Italian Concierge for travel & events in Italia!

http://www.youritalianconcierge.com

Cucina survival…

Many years ago, You & I were invited by a friend to spend a week with her far way in the hills of the Maremma, the southern part of Tuscany, inland from Grossetto. Our friend had rented a guest villa of an enormous complex of stone villas, barns, garages, tool sheds. Our villa was planted on a stunningly simple gravelled, terraced courtyard strewn with XXL to S terracotta pots full of flowers to olive tress and across from the main villa, the sumer residence of our friend’s friends, Roman princes. Yeah. WOW!!! More wow for me was our friend had a staff brought from Rome. A  kind couple who cooked and cleaned and kept us in order. I have been ruined ever since. The cook!!! Sad and dejected to even think of entering a kitchen from that time immemorial. But, I must. You does not cook if I am around. He only goes into the kitchen to dump gifts from his patients on the mini-counter space, drink straight out of the COKE bottle before leaving the bottle cap-less on the same mini-counter, throw any trash away, again, leaving the drawer open for me to crack my shins against. My trials are great. But no greater trial is the indentured obligation of making a nightly meal. Being of a magnanimous Nature, here’s a tid-bit of what I have learned to survive the lack of a cook…

The Rule of My Cook’s Thumb is I make sure I ALWAYS have on hand… mixed erbe for meat and for fish; pinoli; faggioli sec chi but there are now packages of pre-soaked beans which is a God-send!!!; pancetta, speck e altri salumi; specie da rosmarino, oregano, basilica, salvia… to wild maggiorana e timo, and in dry AND pick-it-out-of-the-garden varieties; bottle of filetti d’alici, anchovies to non-Italians; potatoes of any origin; the 4 main cipolle gialla, blanche, rosse e scaglionio, whatever that is in English escapes me; fine, medium and crude  olive oils and some I have even spiced with what’s on hand, like peperoncino, etc.; aglio which I prefer a light white as opposed to the stronger slightly red variety, ’cause You HATES garlic!!! That is so N-ITALIAN!!!; Dry Vermouth and both vino bianco e rosso for dousing.

With these ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS, I can happily tackle any risotto, pasta, arrosto, verdure, insalata, antipasto imaginable and in a moment’s notice too!!!

Cucina - Dried BeansCucina - Parmiggiano

Cucina - Mixed ErbesCucina - PinoliCucina - PancettaCucina - RosmarinoCucina - Filetti d'Alici

Cucina - Potatoes Cucina - Onions Cucina - Olive Oils Cucina - Dry VermouthCucina - Garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT…

Anyone been waiting with bated breath for this? Yes, and finally, Graze a Dio, I can reveal what I only alluded to lo’ those many months ago…

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Tah-dahhh!!! Let the bugles blare… the crowds to applaud… the banners to fly!!!

The Short Story… Italy is a perfect place for dilettante tendencies. I adore art, architecture, gardens, history, culture, fashion, design… and real-estate too! I speak the language. Well, as if it were American; God Bless, My Version is occasionally recongnised as Italian. I know everyone from principi ai contadini and many in between. I’ve been to every corner of the peninsula, with much thanks to You.  It occurred to me I live on a gold mine, one I want to show off in a way the country should be shown off… to see, touch, taste, sniff, bump into even, what makes Italy Italy. Your Italian Concierge was born! Consultation to advise, guide and recommend to those who care to explore Italy and do the booking themselves or, plan custom trips or events under any heading imaginable… tours from moments of Italian literature, i.e. le ville e i palazzi where Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard was filmed, for instance, but there are many others… fashion excursions to see where Armani’s jackets are made to shopping the nooks & crannies of Milan… journeys through public and private gardens in the heart of Tuscany or in & around Rome… to organising a family reunion in a maseria in Apuglia, the Baroque boot-tip of Italy… and on and on and on and on. I love to invent. Just want to attract those who favour that too!

What’s in store for the Italian House blog? Pretty much the same shenanigans will appear posted on living at #Il Poggiolo a Codiponte and the ebb & flow of the village yet, with the addition of posts on the wider aspects of Italy. Who knows, I might even post recipes, book reviews, places to stay, things to see & do not normally known about… and on and on and on and on!

So, please stay tuned and in the interim check-out the Your Italian Concierge website at: http://www.youritalianconcierge.com

Spread the word!

Gosh, maybe someone will even come along and make a movie about Your Italian Concierge? Wasn’t there some idiotic film with J-lo and Stud-puppy McConaughey about a wedding planner? Your Italian Concierge will try to avoid If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium. Better go out and buy a jacket & tie. Gads.

 

 

Traces of a sagra..

IMG_4854 IMG_4853IMG_4855 IMG_4856 IMG_4859IMG_4726Blue skies over Codiponte one week after the Sagra dei Pomi has come and gone. Dismantling is decidedly a more casual affair than the mounting or hosting the event. Exhausted from the three-day hoopla, the locals did not appear until Tuesday afternoon to break-down all the tents, kitchens, bars and cart the stuff away to be properly warehoused until next year’s do. The imprints left are a bitter-sweet reminder that summer’s kaput, it is now Fall, back to work, back to school, back, back, back. Gads.

Sagra Finale…

A Lesson with a question… What makes a good Sagra dei Pomi? Well, there is all the food & drink, the floats, the decorations and the fine weather…

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but what really makes a good Sagra dei Pomi… and this will read as absolute corn, yet is true… are the Codiponte towns-folk, who threw themselves into the details & preparations & events weeks before the festival’s weekend and the three exhausting yet satisfying days of the sagra. So, here’s a quick photo tribute to a few who participated at Sunday’s Parade of Floats…

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This Sagra die Pomi 2014 was undoubtedly the best yet. Gads.

Tonight’s the nite…

Friday, the 5th of September and preparations continue for tonight’s Big Sagra dei Pomi opening at 5 o’clock sharp! IMG_4713

The town-folk labored until nearly 2AM last night…

lots of noisy activity coming from down-by-the-river at Sagra Central. I know because I stayed up watching YouTube videos of Joan River’s stand-up comedy routines from the 60s, 70s & 80s.  After that, her plastic surgery took over. Up until then, A Very Funny Lady. Been nourished on her outrageous sense of humour from the moment of her Tonight Show debut in 1965. That says how old I am. I’m still laughing. She’ll be missed.

Anyway… those late-nighters installed refrigerators, ventilators, cook-tops, work-tables, lighting and wiring, wiring, wiring, wiring and unloaded provisions of food & beverage. They were up at the dings of the church’s dongs to pick up where they had left off. Time’s running out!

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The decorators… mostly women town-folk… built and decorated the entrance arches to La Sagra dei Pomi at the Medieval Bridge, another to the Dance Shed next to the Mela Bar and still another above the road leading to the molino… or mill, for Ristoranti N. 2. Propped up here & there are many pupazzi… huge dolls stuffed with hay… covered in their fear-of-rain plastic wrapping. Off with the plastic by 4PM! Amazing what one can do with an oil press matting and bit of stuff.

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More women-folk spent yesterday in Casciana, the village above Codiponte, cranking out apple pies, apple cakes, apple muffins for sale in a special apple store. The cakes are OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD!!!

More to come once the lights are turned on tonight. Gads. I can’t wait!!!

Sagra prep tour…

IMG_4700Let’s begin today’s tour with the stunning shot of an eventual bar facility for the three day September shindig… 5th – 6th & 7th… dedicated to the local apple, la Rondinelle.
IMG_4701Across it is the front of the large Kitchen Numero 1. It must make the Italian Health Dept. either sigh with relief or vibrate with pride for their abundant Rules & Regulations.
IMG_4694Behind the white tents is where the asado Argentine meat will be prepared. The meat is cooked by reflective heat off a metal panel. Just imagine what the heat is like. And, I bet you those tree’s limbs will be as black as the meat’s crust too. Chasers to the asado are salsicce con fagioli e salsa piccante di pomodori e sgabei vuoti oppure farciti con formaggio bianco e prosciuto. The Judge’s Box, Communications Centre and meeting point before the dancing starts IMG_4702on Saturday night. Line dancing by Midnight.  The IMG_4704dirt track festooned with colourful pennants and which we all hope will be artfully lighted to show people the way to the Ristoranti Numero 2 and with music too at the local frantoio… or, olive oil press. The menu? Frittelle di baccalà, torte di patate e verdure e piatti sfiziosi con acciughe e formaggi, yum-yum. Apple cakes for dessert. And next door to the presses are where the puppazzi will be waiting to show you the presses. Gads.
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