Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘Appenines

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Clearer and Colder

Winter cold hit today – Dec. 1 — after yesterday’s heavy rain dumped here by a warm south wind.

After lunch of a makeshift salad of tomatoes, ham, seafood salad, artichoke hearts, and salame finished off with a beer, I went for a two-beer hike thru the town and up cemetery hill. The cemetery is up there but the hill can kill you. Went by the gravestones and got some good shots of Tuscany and Umbria and Lake Trasimeno and Panicale and Castiglione del Lago and Tavernelle.

Hill and hot sun gave me a good sweat in the high cold, clear air and I think I lost about four pounds somewhere on that road. If I hike that hill every day, I’ll be able to leave all my clothes here and acquire a new wardrobe when I get home.

There’s More Moretti

Been buying a liter of Moretti beer, my favorite here, for E.79 a bottle, a promo price about half the regular shelf price in some stores. Italian beer is like good German lager and the two main labels are Moretti and Peroni, which also makes Nastro Azzurro (Blue Ribbon).

Plenty of Persimmons

Persimmon trees scramble all over these hills. There’s a regal one reigning over Jurgen Heiss’ moat garden that towers over the road on the south side of the castle. They lose all their leaves and the persimmons are left hanging on bare branches like apricot-colored Christmas bulbs. They aren’t persimmon-colored because they aren’t ripe. They just languish there because there are so many at once, yet they’re still sold in the markets, and the lowest price I’ve seen is 3.50 euros a kilo, which gives you maybe three.

Mariolina snapped several twigs with more than a dozen fruit off her tree for us and we stored them atop the fridge. They ripen very slowly but “if you want them to get ripe more quickly,” Riccardo said “put them in a bag with an apple.” Mariolina added that they don’t taste as good when they ripen on the tree. “They are not as sweet,” she said. They’re ripe when they feel heavy and semi-soggy, like a slightly over-ripe tomato.

They’re about the size of your fist and one makes a great breakfast. Cut it in quarters, cut each quarter in half or three, whatever, and then you have a plateful of little orange-colored oysters. If it’s too ripe, you’ll have a plateful of little orange jellyfish.

Birthday at Masolino’s

Was 75 yesterday (Dec. 2) and that coincided with re-opening, after month-long vacation hiatus, of Masolino’s restaurant – our favorite in this town of Tuscany-tourist-touted high-end-chef’s restaurants  – Lallo Tatin’s, Boldrino’s, and Osterio Il Gallo nel Pozzo. The Belfico family has operated it for 50 years, and Andrea Belfico said, instead of observing the anniversary on its proper date – Nov. 19 – they’re going to celebrate it in the spring, “when there are more people.” Andrea and his family live in the apartment immediately to our left so we’d already chatted a few times. He told Bev that he’d re-open on an auspicious day in Scaglione history. Mama Bruna Belfico and daughter Stefania, Andrea’s sister, were happy to see us and made a comfortable to-do about our return to Panicale for the half-dozenth time. Stefania made one of her great desserts – a cream-and-peach cake with a candle atop. And Andrea tossed in a bottle of champagne. A scoppone session with Riccardo and Mariolina Ripanti, who joined us for dinner, wrapped up the evening. They also gave me a couple of Panicale momento photo books in Italian.

Mountain Man

Walked up the cemetery hill again, this time to where cars can no longer climb and the “road’ becomes a series of rocks and rills. Climbed above the clouds: Tuscan and Ubrian lowlands were packed with cotton batting as far as the eye could reach, from Cortona to Chiusi to Perugia to Orvieto, with only a hill here and there shouldering its way through the fog. And far off to the east, glistening in the sun, are the snow-covered Appenines.

Some portions are like walking on a steep roof. If you slip or trip, you’re going to roll, fall or slide quite a bit before stopping.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 4, 2009 at 8:39 am

Posted in Europe, Travel

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Bologna Bit

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Bologna Airport is small and busy but customs and immigration weren’t open. Got into Hotel Mercure about  22:30. Cab driver said it would cost about 16 or 17 euros. The meter read 13.40, so we gave him 18. Had a note from Barbara in 448. Our room was 412 for 65 euros a night. The rate card above the desk said double rooms cost 160 euros a night. We got the internet rate. Bev and Barb not impressed with Bologna; people not as friendly as Panicale, and Rome, etc. Food’s good, tho. Prices have gone up in this country. Bologna is expensive and we saw higher prices in Panicale, too.

Picked up our rental. We asked for a compact and they upgraded us. That’s all they had. Good for us because of all the freakin’ luggage. No problems on streets and roads. Italians drive like I do. : “Get the f— outta the way.”

Left the hotel at 11 and, after some rain, fog, a couple of dozen tunnels through the Appenines, a coffee stop, and picking up some essential groceries, we walked into Aldo’s bar at 14:30. Don’t know how the heck we’re going to make it back to our hotel when we go back to Bologna. Aldo’s barista Camilla called Riccardo and Mariolina came to the bar. Had coffee and emptied car and headed to Riccardo’s for wine and chat. And met his son Lucca. Both M and R look peaked and worn. They’ve had a bad year. One of their long-time dogs died in their car and Riccardo broke his hip and is still on crutches. And, when you stand back and look, there’s more but we’ll have to wait and let the tale unfold.

Headed for Maselino’s for dinner BUT THE PLACE IS CLOSED – until Dec. 3.  Bev’s initial prod to come was to celebrate the restaurant’s 50th anniversary Nov. 20, my birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, and Little Christmas (Jan. 6).. We learned just before we came that Maselino’s is going to celebrate in the spring, “when there are more people.” And Bev also had planned to have a nice dinner there on my birthday Dec. 2. So we had some great cold cuts at Aldo’s. At a great price – 45 euros. If someone charged us that in PB for cold cuts, we’d call the cops. Got to Chiusi station at noon Sunday and checked times to and from Naples. It’s about a 4 hr train trip and round trip costs about 59 euros. Don’t save money with roundtrip ticket so buy one way and pick your train. Think we’ll go next Sunday because parking lot looked like it had plenty of spaces today. To Margaret Leon’s in Paciano, after lunch at La Brucciatta l’Oca, and delivered her peanut butter and voltage converter.  She had a “pre-holiday” sale of her photos and we met some of the local ex-pats. Interesting people but not the type who would enjoy a beer with me – and, more importantly, vice versa. MTK….

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 17, 2009 at 6:24 am

Posted in Europe, Travel

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