Summer’s finito…

It’s official… Summer is over. You spent last Saturday afternoon un-clipping the awning to the gazebo out on the aia. The fabric covering has been washed, dried, folded and put to rest in the focolaio… or, that’s what the Codipontesi call our chestnut drying shed… until next year’s Season of Fun. No more Aia Parties. The Fall & Winter will be passed with the memories of pizze, carne all brace, patate al forno, verdure ripiene and enough sweets to KILL your teeth, happily produced innumerable times by You’s Duo of Girl-friends… Do & Si. Clocks “fall back” this coming Saturday. The mornings & evenings are nippy now. The Dogs do not stir until at least 9AM. The nights are COLD. Blessedly, La Casa Grande remains a warm 18C/65F by night. I AM DEBATING whether to relocate or not up to L’Appartamento Azzurro. Sitting sideways to a good fire in the box since, The Dogs have commandeered as their own the 2 sitting chairs, would be nicer than hearing the hum of the butane burning used to take the humidity out of the air down in the Salotto/BR of La Casa Grande. Means lugging practically everything I own up to the new HQ. December 1, or thereabouts, I will return to Genoa until March 2015. Gads.

IMG_5193

Remember: travel planning & advice and hosting events exclusively… in Italia! at www.youritalianconcierge.com

Cannot mix the peoples…

FerragostoOur Big Ferragosto Party last Thursday night was a success…

lots of food… two 14 foot long tables were piled with plates and platters and trays of food, glorious food: savoury pies of one sort or another, salads to satisfy any and all imagination for taste or colour, devilled eggs galore and an outstanding chicken salad… just one of several dishes concocted by moi!!! Days before the bash, Roberto’s Girl-friends, made a list of who-brings-what to the pot-luck but, 3/4s of the invitees brought two or three dishes to contribute. So much for the planning. When it comes to food, the locals like to go over-board. Our American house-guest for the long holiday weekend, a food writer & TV guest, nearly fainted from hyper-ventilating… Too much food! So much food!! Way too much food!!! She and I had the task later of dumping the left-overs no-one wanted to take home for their next day’s Ferragosto pranzo. Shhh… we disposed of the dishes we didn’t like and yet, there was still tons of food remaining for avanzi. Enough for every meal during the entire holiday weekend. Not that we ate them for every meal. We ate out too.

and drink… though You complained incessantly about My Choice of the white wine. Why fuss? He’s not a drinker. Only fizzy water. I drink water when I am completely de-hydrated after mowing the lawn at il Poggiolo. All other times, it is fruit juices, white wine AND pro-secco. I thought the pro-secco I had selected was optimal. As luck would have it, a couple brought friends who hail from the pro-secco region of Italy around Treviso in the Veneto. I like a dry pro-secco and that is what I had put out on the 7 foot long bar table. The guest’s friend did not concur. Said it was semi-dolce. Cosa? C’e’ di meglio. Between the red wine, the white wine and the pro-secco, the drinking guests of mostly burly men, consumed nearly all the pro-secco I had on offer. Must’ve been good enough for their palettes, dry, sweet or whatever.

and lots of folk… The head-count was 39. The invitees were, more or less, 1/2 Roberto’s Girl-friend’s family & friends and 1/2 folk I had invited. I discovered you cannot mix groups in Codiponte. Though all these people have known each other for a life-time, and though they were very pleasant to each & everyone of the others, and though they knew Our Big Ferragosto Party was a party of people invited by us… noi siamo padroni... they DID NOT MIX outside their Standard Sphere of nuclear family or near-relations. I was caught off-guard. You had arranged the painted palettes along the wall of the aia to eat & drink since, they was no space to do so at the buffet tables. At one moment, burdened with platters of more food for the 14 foot long tables, I looked out over the aia and at our guests below on the painted palettes and I could see glaring spaces in between one group and another. You noticed it too. To stir things up, he circulated. We circulated. Nothing doing. The invitees remained un-moved… until Midnight. I will not do that again. I’ve learned the lesson. But, how boring!!! Gads.

Our Oven..

Il Poggiolo has an oven. It’s the only one on Our Side of the village. Codiponte has three. One is in a courtyard of a house on the other side of the stream in a labyrinth of alley-ways, yet to be explored by Yours Truly. And the other is up at the Borgo Castello high above il Poggiolo. Geographically, too far away. Back in the olden days, neighbors would bring what was needed to be cooked to the nearest oven… from breads to potatoes to meat. The daughter of Our Sadly Deceased Neighbor told us that practically everything or anything could be pushed-in raw & pull-out cooked to perfection in Our Oven, well beyond the above mentioned array of meats & potatoes faire… from savory pies, to cakes, stuffed veggies, sausages and so forth.

This was Great News to You’s Current Codiponte Court. This font of folk-followers sprung spontaneously from a collective visit these Folk had made to said Doctor in his private studio up in Genoa one fine Saturday morning. Seven Folk suffering from one eye irritation, malady or another, seeking succor from il Dottore You. From that moment on, he was theirs. They were his. What bed-fellows. Let me say… if I haven’t before…

when you are IN with any or all Italians YOU NO LONGER BELONG TO YOUSELF. You’re their personal possession. Nothing more to do but let whatever flow…

anyway, the Folk’s affection does not include me. You’s un dottoreun essaltato dottore. I’m merely in the way. The Folk call me only to know when You will next be in Codiponte. The Folk call You to invite him to dinner one fine Saturday night and in the last seconds of the call haphazardly add that I would be welcomed too. I’d be less bent-out-of-shape if they’d just included one of The Dogs in the invitation over me. And, the Folk stop by to give me a plastic basket filled with some ghastly vegetable You said he adored, asking me if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to burden me with it. Seriously friends, I’ve serially risked the contemplation of dumping the entire lot in the river. So, you see, I am violently offended!!! Up until that one fine Saturday morning, I was the King of the Roost here. People sought me out and not Il You. I have been side-lined. It hurts. I am unused to these feelings. These Folk climb over me to get to You. I may resign. No chance of that though.

One special aspect of these Folk… all women and a few inconsequential men added for color & balance since, none can cook, clean, do ironing or, sew… LIKE I DO!!!… are nearly competition-level cooks. Another reality show in the making. When You invited the Team Leader Folk to make pizzas in Our Oven a month ago… BOOM!!!… she & her cohorts arrived pronto per farle!!!… the dough, the fix-in’s and the toppings too! The success of that evening spawned last Saturday night’s 2nd Invitation for A Pig-out At The Ol’ Poggiolo Oven. At six in the afternoon… I hadn’t even thought of taking a shower, much less thinking I’d see 9 persons gaping at me… and which, at that hour, I am normally foraging nel frigo for something to assuage My 6 o’clock Hunger Pangs, so conditioned am I from 30 years of living & eating in the US of A… Team Leader Folk and her two burly assistants & wives & children had arrived to begin shoving in… pork sausages, basted ribs… a pork roast!!!… potatoes, stuffed vegetables, savory pies… and lasagna… to pull them out an hour and a half later for a sit-down orgy of eating for 20 + children.

I can admit, You set a splendid table…here is a pre-orgy shot of You & a few Folk… please note The Dog Numero Uno spying the b-r-e-a-d… Oh! And You has already sent me a text message to remind everyone to pay special attention to il centro tavolo….

IMG_4616

Being of minor importance, I was NOT ALLOWED near the Oven Work Zone so, the only thing I could ferret from the proceedings was that it is mightily important to keep the casings on the sausages, so the fats… I can hear My Mother grown… will burn off and the meat will set nicely. Personally, I HATE the casings and never miss a moment to cut & tear them off. Not anymore. There’s A Good Reason that they are there.

The food was spectacular. Nothing else to say except there was too much! And the desserts were equal to the taste, variety & quantity of the main meal… 2 ice creams & cookies, a semi-freddo, watermelon and a cake.

And, to add misery to injury, the Folk did an amazing clean-up job afterwards. I hardly lifted a finger. How pleasant it was to wake-up Sunday morning… birds chirping, puffy clouds moving towards Parma to dump their rain, motorcycles growling as drivers & their WO-MEN wove their leather-jacketed way up to the Carpenelli Pass, to know that there would not be a dirty dish or a bit of clutter to attend to. Maybe it’s not so bad to be over-looked? Gads.

Pizza Party at Il Poggiolo…

IMG_4573Ever see inside a pizza oven? Well, here’s your chance. It’s the day-after… You & I hosted a Pizza Party last Saturday night. A Codiponte friend, who lives in Casciana above, if we must be precise, came & made pizza for us 10 hungry guests in every way, shape & form… focaccia all’erbe, focaccia al formaggio, focaccia al formaggio e speck, focaccia con prosciuto, pizza con rosmarino, pizza con salvia, pizza con tonno e cipolle, pizza con formaggio e wurstel… the quaint Italian & Euro-way of saying hot-dog… pizza con verdure, pizza con carciofi e prosciuto, pizza con mozzarella, pizza con olive e carciofi e prosciuto, pizza con salsiccie e formaggio… which, in my mind is the most visually stunning & tasty pizza there is… and more combos now long since eaten & enjoyed. We sat underneath the gazebo but had to flee after the meal of pizza when a huge thunderstorm struck. We had caffe’ & dessert on the Loggia while the Heavens struck lightening & the hills rumbled with thunder. We are going to do this again… senza la pioggia pero’. And, you are all invited!!! Gads.

A new addition to Our Complex…

There is nothing so dangerous as a store catalogue in You’s hands. The fine folk at IPER-COOP sent the darn thing for their summer kick-off… lawn chairs, sun-bathing chaises, picnic suits of wood tables & chairs… Oh! boy!!!… swimming-pool toys and several gazebos of various shapes & sizes. The 20 page paper flyer was actually address to me but, You stole it out of My Letter Box up in Genoa. Once he set his eye-surgeon eyes on the biggest of the lot, his heart was won. He just had to have it. I thought differently and am suffering mental & psycho-exhaustion for it. I managed to block for two months any idea of driving an hour to Sarzana’s IPER-COOP to buy the thing. Then, during You’s Five-Day Sojourn to Codiponte last weekend, I lamely suggested we might go to Sarzana for some shopping, intimating a possible look-see as the Gazebo of You’s Heart. We made it to the IPER-COOP and, rounding the corner of the Housewares Dept. there stood this cathedral-like gazebo. My heart stopped. Then, it revived and long enough for me to stutter out a No and I left. The next 24 hours were HELL!!! You and his bonnet’s burr made me black & blue from his endless rational for that Milano Duomo gazebo. I won’t bore you with the list. It’s long. I awoke the next day and said… so even The Dogs would understand… Let’s go buy that gazebo. BOOM!!! Dott. You was dressed, perfumed, shoed and had the AUDI”s keys dangling in his hand to hit the road to Sarzana. We are now the proud owners of this new addition to Our Complex… this is now the view our the Kitchen window…
IMG_4575

 

 

 

 

IMG_4568

 

and, here is your-nose’s in it view…

 

 

 

 

IMG_4567

 

But my favorite is how well the gazebo functions to dry laundry when it rains. I’m sold!!! Gads.

 

 

 

Spring cleaned…

Under-passage cleaned…     Donkey Cellar cleaned…      Where the cows ate cleaned…
IMG_4181IMG_4180IMG_4179

 

 

 

Stanzi dei Tini cleaned…       Scabuzzino dei oli cleaned…  Esseccatoio cleaned…

IMG_4178

IMG_4177IMG_4175

 

 

 

and the courtyard cleaned too!!! Mostly thanks to a Black & Decker leaf-blower and a Dyson vacuum-cleaner of phenomenal power & ability. Elbow grease was extra. Gads.

IMG_4176

August heat…

It is so hot here…

when I stepped off the Alitalia Brazilian-made puddle-jumper last Friday afternoon at Pisa’s airport… the very prestigious sounding Galileo Galilei Aeroporto Internazionale… and after an overly strenuous four-flight trip from Denver through Minneapolis, Chicago & Roma instead of the originally planned three flight trajectory through Minneapolis & JFK, with much thanks to the inclement weather in the NYC area… I thought I was being prepped to become a patate arrosto!!! Before fainting, I hazarded a question of the bus driver on our way to the tinker-toy terminal building about just how hot it was out on the tarmac where the plane had been directed to park and he said it was hovering around 115F. Lordy, me!!! I called You to let him know I had atterrato-ed and to complain about the registered temps between Pisa & Codiponte and he said… It’s August. It’s supposed to be hot. And I retorted… Yes, but You? Is 115F at all normal? No.

So, again, it’s so hot here…

I have to have several day-time costume changes, since I sweat through a T-shirt about every half hour… it’s so hot here, I have drunk 2 six-packs of bottled water from L’Acqua Paradiso today alone… it’s so hot here, I cannot even bear the smell nor taste of white wine, nor do I have much of an appetite either. I hope my liver enjoys the respite. And though I may waste away from malnourishment, I ought to be in fit-form for the hip surgery in September… and, it’s so hot here, IMG_3577Our English Friends have given us a loaner umbrella for Our Aia… or, Courtyard. There is one slight problem… the umbrella is a mono-erect type, so it  takes a bit of Trial & Error to have the shade in an appropriate place. The Best Spot may just be where there is already a bit of shade…. right next-door to You’s iron gate parked against L’Esseccatoio. How nice, rusty company. Gads.