Jottings from Italia

Tales from an Italian respite.

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An Evening Near Montepulciano.

A couple of weeks ago, our dear friend Piergiorgio (PG) invited us to an impromptu barbecue in the countryside just outside Montepulciano in Tuscany. 


We piled into the car in the late afternoon sun and drove the 40 minutes from Casa Monte (YourHouseInUmbria.com) to PG’s new country house.

It was an incredibly warm day but the evening sun and breeze in the valley gave us some relief as the kids chased bugs, Jules and Alessandra organised the gazebo, PG barbecued and I filmed. 

Yes, I got the easy job.

As light eventually failed us, an enormous red, then orange disc rose on the horizon. It was the Harvest Moon that lit our strada bianca home, via Montepulciano for a sambucca and the odd glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The kids were asleep before we hit asphalt.

Music is by Vladimir Cosma from the movie, “My Father’s Glory”. I know, I know. It’s a French film but the cicadas sound like Italian cicadas.

The dinner track is the “Humming Chorus” from Madame Butterfly by Puccini. (Coro a bocca chiusa – I love that term).

Filed under Montepulciano Tuscany Toscana picnic bbq Sant Albino Casa Monte Panicale Italy Italia Harvest Moon

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Il Teatro Cesare Caporali.

Two doors down from our house, Casa Monte (YourHouseInUmbria.com), you’ll find Panicale’s theatre, il Teatro Cesare Caporali. Built in 1858, it still holds the honours for being Italy’s second smallest theatre.

All year it is home to music and drama of all varieties. Perfect acoustics, and an atmosphere that makes one want to pick up a lute.

There were originally twelve box seats built for the twelve most influential families of Panicale but eventually that expanded as popularity for more refined entertainment grew.

In this brief video, you’ll see resident tourist officer and Panicale historian, Alessio, explaining the above facts to my friend David and I.

The music is an excerpt from “À Chloris” by Reynaldo Hahn, performed by Jérôme Ducros & Philippe Jaroussky.



UPDATE: Next Concert details here:

La Signoria Vostra è invitata
Venerdì 2 settembre, ore 21.00
presso il Teatro Cesare Caporali di Panicale
per il concerto di chiusura del festival
Musica Insieme Panicale 2011

"Mein Herz" Il mio cuore

Katharina Rikus, mezzosoprano e
ModernDuoProject con Katharina Bäuml, cennamella e bombarda, Margit Kern, fisarmonica.
Musiche di Jan-Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Claudio Monteverdi, Younghi Pagh-Paan, Ali Gorji, Joachim Heintz.

biglietto intero euro 8,00 - ridotto per studenti euro 6,00 - gratuito per bambini e ragazzi fino a 18 anni
info e prenotazioni: Ufficio Informazioni Turistiche di Panicale 075-837319

Please try to keep the noise down upon exiting the theatre as we may be asleep.

Filed under Panicale umbria theatre theater cesare caporali Italy italia drama 1858 Casa monte tuscany toscana

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The illustration.

Every couple of years we have an illustration done of Monty in Florence. They’re framed and placed proudly on the walls of his grandparent’s house.

It’s a touristy thing to do but now a tradition for us.

This year it seemed to attract a lot of onlookers. Checkout the guy who walks straight in front of my camera blissfully unaware that i might be filming. He looks like a hammy extra blowing his walk on role.

Enjoy.

Music: Luke Howard

Filed under Florence Firenze Portrait sketch artist Tuscany Toscana

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One warm night in Florence, a crack of lightening announced an unseasonal downpour. So we took refuge in our favourite restaurant Antica Noe. Massimo served us fresh pasta with the day’s Porcini’s followed by aged Pecorino cheese with aged balsamic drops on it. Then we made our way through a chargrilled Fiorentina for two. 

This was a quiet Monday night so the restaurant wasn’t as full as it is later in the week when Massimo literally locks the doors and you’re trapped inside for one helluva party. But they always make us feel at home and gave me the chance for a ‘behind the counter tour’.

Music: Madeleine Peyroux

Filed under florence firenze antica noe italian food porcini pecorino italian restaurant tuscany

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So true!

"Florence makes one believe in the certainty and sometimes even in the joy of intelligence" Andre Suares, french poet and critic (1868-1948)

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A walk through Florence (Part One)

After the Amalfi Coast, we had a few spare days before our Casa Monte guests left and we could move back into our home. So we boarded a train for our beloved Firenze. We stayed in our usual place, an old Palazzo we like because of its proximity to our favourite restaurant. 

But our trips to Florence always begin with visits to our favourite shops to restock Monty’s art supplies. July is crowded as you’ll see, but it is still spectacularly wonderful to be in such an inspiring city.

The second part of this video will be posted soon.

Filed under Florence Firenze Palazzo Galletti Renaissance Monty

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10 Plays
The bells of San Michele Arcangelo
Le campane dei Morti

Le campane dei Morti.

Every hour from about 8am to late at night the church bells strike the hour and the hour half in Panicale. Midday gets a special jubilation and 11am mass on Sundays goes bananas from about 10.30am to remind people to put down their coffee and head off to church.

Sometimes though, the bells play slowly and out of order to signify that something is out of place in the village. Something is not right with the world.

On the the weekend, a man from Panicale was riding his motorbike on the road to or from Castiglione del Lago where the Trasimeno Blues Festival was playing. For some unapparent reason he came off his bike and left the world at only 40 years of age, leaving behind two children at home.

The funeral was today and the church bells played their sad reminder that Panicale has changed a little, by the amount of one person.

This audio post is what I recorded from our house.

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Still terribly lagged from the long flight, we make our way out of Naples via a long tunnel that opens up on the Nastro Azzurro; the ‘blue ribbon’ of a road that leads to the Amalfi Coast. Our final destination is Marina del Cantone in a small hotel called Lo Scoglio. Our room overlooks the rather crowded beach on one side and our own private beach on the other. It was here we spent ten days unwinding.

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Not long after I posted this story, a very good friend of mine, Phil Astley, sent me his answer to the question, “Can I watch JAWS, Mr Spielberg?”

Not long after I posted this story, a very good friend of mine, Phil Astley, sent me his answer to the question, “Can I watch JAWS, Mr Spielberg?”

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So we had just finished our morning swim in the crystal clear waters of Marina del Cantone. Such a fabulous spot. Wish we discovered it twenty years ago. It feels like Positano must’ve been like half a century ago before the high prices, the Americans, the British and the Antipodeans. Before the English menus and the ubiquitous Ibizia soundtracks pumping out of the bars and clubs. No, Marina del Cantone is where you go when you don’t want to be seen. It’s still a fishing village where Italians go for summer. Prices are normal, even ridiculous and all the restaurants and hotels are run by the original families. No outside staff.Like I said, we had our swim in what has become Italy’s hottest summer on record. The beach is just below our room and the restaurant to our hotel is on a large jetty built out on a rock ‘Lo Scoglio’, with a panoramic view of the marina.Lots of boats and yachts pull in for lunch, and just when you think the biggest yacht in the world has pulled up, a bigger one turns up and scares away all the now mid sized yachts. That happened the other day when Tom Ford pulled up for lunch. Biggest. Yacht. In. The. World. We thought it was odd that celebrities had even heard of this tiny bay but I guess their options of going somewhere with good food without paparazzi are getting a little thin on the ground.Jules, Monty and myself go to grab our usual table to order Lo Scoglio’s famous Spaghetti e Zucchine but the world’s most gorgeous waitress, and owner’s daughter, Antonia let’s us know that we have a different table today because Steven Spielberg has booked our table. I guess if you’re going to get bumped, get bumped by someone on your filmography (don’t believe me? Look up Spielberg’s Filmography on IMDb and you’ll find my film “You Better Watch Out” from 1997)So we go for the table next to it. But we can’t because the CEO of Ferrari has booked it. At this stage I’m looking at Jules and thinking, since when did we have to book a table in our own restaurant? Siamo famiglia qui!   So we get an equally fabulous table. There are no bad tables in paradise, as I’m sure a Jimmy Buffet song would say.Our food arrives as do Signor Spielberg and Ferrari, separately. Lots of girls want their photo taken with Ferrari but no one is going crazy about Steven, Kate and the kids. Their security sit at a different table quite far away.Antonia tells us later that they have many VIPs but the ones that are extra extra VIP like Spielberg are always the most natural and kind. Others tend to be big borers and rude.Then Monty asks us if he can go up and talk to Steven. We say, “Yes,” on the proviso that Monty finishes his prosciutto and melone, which he does.So Monty goes over to Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw and the kids and has a chat.When he returns, Monty informs us that he’s a nice bloke, he gave Monty his email address so he can write to him, and that Minty got to tell him about the movies he likes and the ones he likes to make. Then came the bit of information that Monty had been dying to tell me. Something that could overrule one of the decisions that I had made in my own household as a father.He informed me, “Steven Spielberg said it’s okay for me to watch ‘JAWS’”What the …I never saw that coming. I had prohibited Monty from seeing JAWS until he was at least ten so that he didn’t ruin his love of the ocean. But if the guy that made the film said it was okay, who am I to argue.(It turns out Spielberg said it was okay if it was okay with us but that wasn’t mentioned in the first report).So that was lunch.Oh, and the title of this story? Well, that’s what Monty had planned on saying to Steven Spielberg before we yanked him back by his collar.PS. Yes, that’s the Spielberg yacht behind in the photo.

So we had just finished our morning swim in the crystal clear waters of Marina del Cantone. Such a fabulous spot. Wish we discovered it twenty years ago. It feels like Positano must’ve been like half a century ago before the high prices, the Americans, the British and the Antipodeans. Before the English menus and the ubiquitous Ibizia soundtracks pumping out of the bars and clubs. No, Marina del Cantone is where you go when you don’t want to be seen. It’s still a fishing village where Italians go for summer. Prices are normal, even ridiculous and all the restaurants and hotels are run by the original families. No outside staff.

Like I said, we had our swim in what has become Italy’s hottest summer on record. The beach is just below our room and the restaurant to our hotel is on a large jetty built out on a rock ‘Lo Scoglio’, with a panoramic view of the marina.

Lots of boats and yachts pull in for lunch, and just when you think the biggest yacht in the world has pulled up, a bigger one turns up and scares away all the now mid sized yachts. That happened the other day when Tom Ford pulled up for lunch. Biggest. Yacht. In. The. World. We thought it was odd that celebrities had even heard of this tiny bay but I guess their options of going somewhere with good food without paparazzi are getting a little thin on the ground.

Jules, Monty and myself go to grab our usual table to order Lo Scoglio’s famous Spaghetti e Zucchine but the world’s most gorgeous waitress, and owner’s daughter, Antonia let’s us know that we have a different table today because Steven Spielberg has booked our table. I guess if you’re going to get bumped, get bumped by someone on your filmography (don’t believe me? Look up Spielberg’s Filmography on IMDb and you’ll find my film “You Better Watch Out” from 1997)

So we go for the table next to it. But we can’t because the CEO of Ferrari has booked it. At this stage I’m looking at Jules and thinking, since when did we have to book a table in our own restaurant? Siamo famiglia qui!   

So we get an equally fabulous table. There are no bad tables in paradise, as I’m sure a Jimmy Buffet song would say.

Our food arrives as do Signor Spielberg and Ferrari, separately. Lots of girls want their photo taken with Ferrari but no one is going crazy about Steven, Kate and the kids. Their security sit at a different table quite far away.

Antonia tells us later that they have many VIPs but the ones that are extra extra VIP like Spielberg are always the most natural and kind. Others tend to be big borers and rude.

Then Monty asks us if he can go up and talk to Steven. We say, “Yes,” on the proviso that Monty finishes his prosciutto and melone, which he does.

So Monty goes over to Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw and the kids and has a chat.

When he returns, Monty informs us that he’s a nice bloke, he gave Monty his email address so he can write to him, and that Minty got to tell him about the movies he likes and the ones he likes to make. Then came the bit of information that Monty had been dying to tell me. Something that could overrule one of the decisions that I had made in my own household as a father.

He informed me, “Steven Spielberg said it’s okay for me to watch ‘JAWS’”

What the …

I never saw that coming. I had prohibited Monty from seeing JAWS until he was at least ten so that he didn’t ruin his love of the ocean. But if the guy that made the film said it was okay, who am I to argue.

(It turns out Spielberg said it was okay if it was okay with us but that wasn’t mentioned in the first report).

So that was lunch.

Oh, and the title of this story? Well, that’s what Monty had planned on saying to Steven Spielberg before we yanked him back by his collar.

PS. Yes, that’s the Spielberg yacht behind in the photo.

Filed under spielberg marina del cantone amalfi