Monday, February 13, 2012

Is This Italy or Germany? It's winter with snow like in Germany!

02/10, Friday
Vera is outside shoveling more snow from overnight. I call to her "Guten Morgen" in my poor German pronunciation. She says "Das ist Deutschland", referring to the weather conditions. So, maybe we caught the wrong plane when we were in Rome! The forecast is improving; by next Saturday, it will be 48F. We're hoping.

Yesterday, on our drive into Chuisi with Sergio, we learned a little history of the area. Sanfatucchio (..."ch" in Italian is pronounced like "k" in English...San-fa-too-kee-io) loosely means Saint Witch. The legend is that the town was a place for witches to hide in the Middle Ages to avoid persecution...a good story!

We met Michelle, Sergio's partner in love and business, who drove us home in the afternoon. She had been in Rome with her father, Massimo, whom we met too. At 4:30, they invited us up to their home for tea, and we met their son Leonardo more formally. So, we now know the local family members including their two cats, Tiger and Cocca, and dog, Mielina.

Over tea, Sergio narrated their photo "history" of Borgo Solario (I loosely translate this to be "Sunny Homes"). They have been working on this dream since 1999, and they are near the finish line in 2012. Massimo, who is an architect, designed the structure based on the original stone farmhouse, which is a zoning requirement.

They tore the original building down to the ground, saving bricks to use in the exterior of the new building. In addition, Vera and Massimo have a separate home attached to the old stone house. If it was warmer (a lot warmer), we could go swimming in the outdoor pool which they added in 2006.

They have been clever in their progress, moving ahead as time and funds allow. Only one rental apartment remains to be completed, for a total of six units, all in the old farmhouse. Stone walls have been added for landscaping and architectural interest.

02/11, Saturday
Sandy and I took a short walk outside in the snow to see the nearby countryside. We returned to find an invitation for 4:30 tea and cookies. Vera made the traditional Italian cookies which I loved, of course.

Massimo showed us an album of his collection of old (from early 20th century and WWI and WWII) sheet music covers which are real works of art. He is also an expert on Italian stamps from the Mussolini period who attempted to depose the King with an attempt at Fascism. The stamps with King's image are each over printed with a symbol of Fascism.

02/12, Sunday
It is much brighter today, but still cold. Sergio has invited us to visit a local beekeeper and honey maker, and a nearby winery this afternoon.

Our first stop is Il Poggio, a family winery in Macchie. Anna Gattobigio introduced us to two of their red wines, a Sangiovese and a Merlot/Sangiovese blend, and explained some of the details of her business. Their winery produces DOC quality wine, and is known as a Azienda Vitivinicola (a farm that both grows their own grapes and produces wine using only their grapes). We bought 5 liters of the blend which is 14% alcohol.

On to the honey (miele) producer. Arnaldo, the owner, greets us in his shop. Sergio explains the operation and explains the 5 types of honey (from sweet to sour, depending on the type of flower the bees visit) which we sample. Our choices are di sulla and millefiori, both sweet.

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