Friday, August 3, 2012

Recess and Dismissal

I"m finally back in the states after a 24 hour day of flying.  It was a short two weeks in Italy, but I have to admit, it's nice to see the wide open spaces of America and to sleep in my own bed. By the way, Italians love America, because, as they said "Everything's so big there! The stores! The roads! The buildings!"  All the locals we talked to had been to the states at least once.  Where do they go when they come to the U.S? New York, Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, Las Vegas.

I wanted to end this blog with several pictures of the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri, both of which are resort areas and a wonderful way to spend the last 4 days of our trip.  We stayed in Sorrento, which is right on the coast, across from Naples, (Napoli) Italy.  Sorrento is a charming little village but very touristy since the Amalfi Coast is one of the top ten vacation destinations for both Italians and the people of western Europe.  However, we could see why. Sorrento is one of the only coastal towns that's relatively flat, which makes walking much easier! Plus, the vistas of the bay are stunning!
Sorrento is on top of the bluff. The buildings on the water are part of the marina.
We spent one morning at the beach, but the beaches in Italy aren't anything like those along the Atlantic coast.  Because the shore line is mostly rock, the beaches consisted of a series of wooden docks extending out into the water.  As with everything in Italy, we had to pay to sit in a chair on the dock. We were prepared for this, thinking it might cost a couple euro a person to rent a chair, but it actually cost 8 euros ($11) per person plus 5 more for the umbrella that goes with it.  For the four of us, that added up to 52 euros or $67 to sit on the beach. Holy cow! Instead, we chose to stake out a spot in the very, very tiny public beach area. Setting up camp wasn't easy either, because the beach was so crowded. We swam in the cool, clear blue water, which was much saltier than the Atlantic.  This struck us as odd because even though the water tasted more saline, the air in Sorrento didn't have that same salty smell we associate with beach towns along the Atlantic.  Plus, there were no bugs and no sea gulls.  Lots and lots of pigeons though!

Each chair and umbrella cost 13 euros per person or $17 to rent, even those umbrellas you see on the sand. We didn't get a picture of the public beach because some of the swimwear was not especially appropriate. :)
To get in the water, mostly people jumped off the rocks.  
While we were staying in Sorrento, we took a ferry across the bay to the Isle of Capri.  If you are wondering like I was... Yes! This IS the island that capri pants were named after.  Evidently, the shortened style was all the rage on the island in the late 40's and 50's and the style was picked up by a famous clothing designer and made famous by Mary Tyler Moore who starred on the Dick van Dyke show. Historically, Capri has been the vacation spot of Romans for centuries. Only 12 thousand locals live on the island, the rest were tourists like us.  We visited both the town of Capri and Anacapri, ("ana" means higher). The island was breathtaking from any vantage point.  No wonder so many people go there!  We took a heart stopping trip to Anacapri considering the width of the road (one car), and the sheerness of the cliff should we make a wrong turn, but we made it! I heard Chelsea, who was sitting by the window, gasp a few times but the view was incredible!
This is where we were going, the Isle of Capri!

We were pulling into the marina on the island.  That's the main town, Capri, in the center.  Anacapri is on the bluff behind it. Before the invention of cars, people walked up 735 stairs to get to Anacapri! 

It was a 13 minute chairlift ride to get to the very top of the bluff.  Chelsea is on her way down.  The single chairs made the ride very serene. 

Our rode to Anacapri.  Yes, our small bus made it through with approximately 4 inches on either side.   I'll admit I held my breath a few times.  I kept repeating to myself, "The driver does this every day....the driver does this every day...." I really wanted to get a picture of the sheer cliff which our bus cleared with about 3 inches to spare, but honestly, I  couldn't force myself to look down.
The charming town of Capri
We took a boat ride around the island and went through the famous arch of the Faragilioni, or rocky outcroppings.  It is also one of the most photographed spots in all the world.

One of the many grottos around the island.  The most famous is the Grotto Azzure or Blue Grotto.  Look how iridescent the water is.  On a side note, I learned that a grotto is the italian word for any natural or manmade cave used by humans.  
One of the many luxury yachts moored in the bay.  This one is owned by the owner of Victoria's Secret and the Limited Clothing Stores.  It's called Limitless and is the 14th largest yacht in the world.  
This yacht is owned by Roman Abramovich, a russian business tycoon and owner of  Chelsea Football (soccer) Club in England.  It dwarfed the Limitless and was worth more than $115 million, one of the biggest, most expensive yachts in the world.  I wanted to take a field trip there, but unfortunately, it wasn't on my itenerary.  Rats.
The other 3 days we spent exploring the town, shopping, sleeping, eating, and relaxing.  It was a fantastic way to end our trip!

Once more, I'd to thank both Tom McGlothlin and the anonymous person who recommended me for this award.  This experience has certainly opened my eyes and made me a richer person. I've gained a wealth of information and I understand so much more about people, both past and present.  In the spirit of this award, I hope I've brought some of that understanding back to those of you who read my blog.  Arrivederci, friends!  Hmm, now where can I get some decent pizza.....?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's Almost Over. :(

Today is our last day in Italy.  I wanted to tell you all about Sorrento and the Amalfi coast,  but my internet connection here is very weak and slow, so I'll post my last blog when we get back to the states.  We are really sad to leave, but excited to see all our friends.  Here's a picture of where we are now. :)
Italy is beautiful!


Ancient Pompeii

     We've been in Sorrento for 3 days and are having a grand time!  Sorrento is a resort town on the Amalfi penninsula which is located in the southwest portion of Italy, in the ankle part of the boot.   We came from Naples but stopped in Pompeii to learn a little more history before we started our recess. :)

     Pompeii was fascinating!  My only wish was that we'd had more time to explore. Unfortunately, we left the camera in the car so we don't have too many pictures.

      Of course we all know that Pompeii was destroyed by 25ft of ash and rock after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD.  Excavation of the sight didn't begin until the 1700's and many of the relics are in a museum in Naples. Also, much of what historians know about the events of that day come from the letters written by a young boy, Pliny the Younger, who watched the eruption from across the bay.  Walking through the ruins, I was amazed at the ingenuity of ancient civilization. Pompeii was part of the Roman empire and a very important port city. Situated on the Bay of Naples, many supplies and trades were routed to Rome through both this city and Ostia Antica, which we visited earlier in our trip.  Pompeii was a thriving town before the eruption.  We didn't get to see everything, but here are some highlights:

      The ancient roads were built using rocks placed very close together with narrow sidewalks on each side.  Builders even placed small pieces of white quartz between the rocks to reflect moonlight and illuminate the street at night, so people could see where they were going.  As we walked along, we occasionally saw deep grooves cut in the rocks. These were built so carriages could ride smoothly down the streets.  The wheels of all carts in that era were built using standard measurements.  The distance between the two wheels equaled the width of two donkey behinds standing side by side, because, of course, donkeys pulled the carts. See? Even ancient Romans had to do math!!! The grooves in ancient roads were built to accommodate this distance, and even`today our railroad tracks are based on this standard.  Isn't that interesting?  Railroad tracks have their history in ancient Rome!
One of the main roads in Pompeii. If you look towards the center of the road just in line with the space between the crosswalks, you can see part of the grooves for the wagon wheels.

The crosswalk

    Also, with all those donkeys going up and down the streets you can imagine the mess that might have piled up.  The citizens of Pompeii didn't want to have to walk through that (who could blame them) so at street intersections they placed raised stones to serve as crosswalks.  It also protected their robes and sandals from getting wet during a storm because the streets flooded when it rained heavily.

     The people of Pompeii collected rainwater in large cisterns and built an ingenious set of pipes and aqueducts (water ways) to bring water to their bath houses and public drinking fountains.   In all of the Roman ruins we visited, the bath houses were huge and elaborately decorated.  They weren't just for bathing, that's where people went to socialize and hang out with friends.  In Pompeii, the houses included both a men's and women's sauna room, each built with a double wall and a fire pit under the floor.   The hot air from the fire circulated through the space between the two walls and heated the air in the sauna room.  They also had both hot water baths (similar to our hot tubs), cold water baths, and swimming pools. They could even get a relaxing massage. Could our modern day spa be a decendent of the ancient Roman bath house?  Hmm..maybe we aren't so different from the ancients after all.

     I will say though, thank goodness for the modern clothes washing machine!  In Pompeii, slaves did the laundry and used...this is icky...donkey urine to clean the clothes. The ammonia in urine is a natural whitening agent. The clothes were soaked in urine, rinsed several times, then hung over a fire that included sulfur to neutralize the ammonia.  They also added seeds from sweet smelling flowers like lavender, which scented the smoke. This, in turn, gave the clothes a much more appealing smell.  More interestingly, this is also the origin of perfume.  "Par" is the Latin word for through and "fumare" is Latin for smoke, or "through the smoke." Fascinating!!
One of the laundry tubs where slaves stomped the clothes clean using ammonia from animals.

     The people of Pompeii had all amenities we enjoy in our towns today.  The forum in the center of town was 2 levels full of shops that sold whatever people needed to buy.  I imagined it like our strip malls. However, my favorite shops were the snack bars on the side streets.  Yes, ancient Romans had snack bars where they could go to get a quick bite to eat. The shops were complete with a marble counter top where customers ordered a drink and food!  On a side note - A "bar" in Italy is not a drinking establishment.  It is a small shop where people can get a quick coffee and maybe a sandwich.  It's much like our coffee houses in the US, except here people stand by the counter and drink their coffee. Sitting at a table costs money. :) Also, they don't offer a "to go" cup. Pompeii had several hotels, expensive houses, small apartments, restaurants, an outdoor theater (which could be covered in case of heat or bad weather), and of course, a coliseum with assigned seating for watching games and special events.  There was even ancient graffiti inscribed on the walls! Jeez! Teenagers will be teenagers no matter which century they live in!
The living room of a very wealthy citizen.
This is the theater.  The white marble seats are original and have roman numbers inscribed on them for assigned seating.  

This is the entrance to the forum, or market place.  The pillars held a second story.
We are standing in the center of the forum. The space was a square with markets on the outside and a piazza in the center.   On the left you see 3 white pillars which held a second story of shops.  In the background you can see the famous volcano, Mt. Vesuvius.  

     I walked away from this tour with the realization that human beings really haven't changed all that much in 2000 years.  Yes, our technology has changed, but our basic human needs and desires, thoughts and feelings are still the same.  


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Art History 101

We are standing by the river Arno in Florence

   We only had a day and a half in Florence, but with all the walking we did, we managed to see most of the sights.  This trip has been wonderful so far, but not necessarily relaxing.  As a matter of fact, I'd call this a two week educational field trip!  Florence was so full of history that I couldn't begin to fit it all into this short blog, but I'll try to give you the highlights.
     First, I didn't know that Italy has only been a country for 150 years.  Before then, each city operated as a state, with its own government, military, and state council.  Towns tried to conquer each other to obtain a larger territorial rule.  That's why each town built walls around itself.  Florence had a very powerful ruling family named Medici (Meh dee chee).  In general, the Medici family started out as bankers, made a tremendous amount of money, and because of this wealth gained enough political power to make Florence one of the richest and most influential city-states in Europe. Also, Cosimo Medici was one of the first bankers to extend credit to merchants. You see and hear the Medici name everywhere in Tuscany.  This family was so powerful they conquered and ruled many localities for centuries.  To this day, Florentines view themselves as superior to other Italians.  They are not well liked and we found this to be true.  When we were in both Rome and Siena, the people we talked to had nothing nice to say about the people of Florence.  Even our Florentine guide acknowledged that Florentines were snobbish. :)
     We hiked to the top of a small mountain to a piazza (pee o tsa) dedicated to Michelangelo. A piazza is just a plaza or concrete park and you find them everywhere in Italian cities.  Its where people go to hang out.  The view there was breathtaking.  Here are some pictures.  Note that the duomo (town church) dominates the skyline.  The dome on this church is the 2nd biggest one in Italy.  It is magnificent!
The dome of the church is the biggest thing in the city.  Isn't it beautiful?
      The dome was built by a very famous 14th century architect, Filippo Brunelleschi (Broon eh les kee), who built it without any wooden supports, something that had never been done before.  Because he wanted to keep his methods secret, he destroyed his designs when the dome was finished.  Even though there is much speculation, no one is exactly sure how he did it. Michelangelo, who was quite famous when the dome was finished, was unimpressed and called it "a cricket cage".
      The inside of the duomo was very plain, but my favorite piece was the clock.  It was hard to get a good picture, but back in the 14th century, clocks showed all 24 hours.  The day did not end at mid-night, but at sunset, when the light was gone. :) I'm not sure when we began using the modern day analog clock.  "Time" for more research!
Italians still tell time in 24 hours. 15.30 in Italy is 3:30 pm in the US.  I have had to do a lot of time conversions so we didn't miss our trains.  See, we DO need math!

     We also visited the bridge over the Arno River called the Ponte Vecchio (Pon teh  Vek ee oh).  This was the only original bridge left in Florence.  If you look at the bottom level, you can see the backs of the old original shops along the bridge.  These were full of butchers, tanners, meat and cheese markets.   Across the top of the bridge you can see a more modern looking covered structure.  This was a passage built by the Medici family in the 15th century from their palace to the government offices, so they wouldn't have to walk amongst the common folk. Evidently, the meat and fish markets caused such a horrible stench, that Duke Ferdinand I (one of the Medici family) ruled that only goldsmiths and jewelers could set up shop there and that's what you'll find to this day. People of royalty don't like to walk where it smells bad! The jewelry in the shops was exquisite, but way out of my price range!  I am not a Medici!
Can you see the old buildings on the bottom section?
     One of my favorite sights was the bronze doors on the Baptistery next to the duomo. Unfortunately we were all so in awe that we forgot to take pictures of the entire doors! The Baptistery is a working church where people go to be baptized.  It is dedicated to John the Baptist and was built before the duomo.  In 1403 a contest was held to design new doors for the church.  7 artists entered the contest including Brunelleschi.  However, an artist by the name of Lorenzo Ghilberti won the contest and began work.  It took him 20 years to create his first set of doors.  Here is a picture:

    He then took another 27 years to create a 2nd set of doors which are even more beautiful than the first.  Back then, artists were just learning about perspective and you can see the difference in the two sets.  The first doors have 28 panels and have flat backgrounds.  The second set has only 10 bronze panels which are very much 3D.  Ghilberti signed his doors by making a bronze portrait of himself to hang next to the doorknob.  Here he is:

This is a close up of one of the bronze panels.  It was truly outstanding!

Ghilberti, the artist, is the bald guy on the left.
     Michelangelo said about these doors, "They are worthy of the gates of Paradise" meaning they looked like the gates to heaven.

     No trip to Florence would be complete with out mentioning Michelangelo's most famous statue, David. Have you ever wondered what makes this statue so famous and why Michelangelo made his hands so big?  Well, first Michelangelo was only 26 when he created this work.  It took him 30 months and propelled him to fame.  He carved the statue out of a single piece of very low quality marble, one that was actually thrown away by other artists. No one had created a statue of that size out of a single block since ancient times.  The work is from the biblical story "David and Goliath", and shows David as he prepares for battle against the giant.  He has the sling in his hand and seems to be sizing up his opponent.  Before the 15th century Renaissance, artists did not show much emotion in their work. However, the face of David is contemplative. Michelangelo sculpted the chest, arms, and muscles of the human body perfectly, including the veins, creating the illusion of life.  No one had done that before either. Also, back then, artists strived for perfect proportion when sculpting.  Michelangelo's genius was that he understood proportion according to where the piece was to be viewed.  The statue was supposed to be mounted on top of the duomo.  He sculpted the head, chest, and hands slightly bigger so that they would appear correctly proportioned when viewed from down below.  When the masterpiece was finished, it was so well acclaimed that it was given a place of honor on ground level in the Piazza del Signoria.  I end this blog with a picture of Michelangelo himself.  This is what genius looks like. :)
The statue of David.  

Michelangelo as an older man.  He lived to be 89.
We've been excellent students and learned so much that our brains are tired!  It's time for recess so we're off to the beach and the Amalfi coast!  Ciao!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Scuola di Italia: What I Found Out About Schools In Italy

We've been in Italy for 7 days and are still loving every minute!  We spent our last two days in Siena  traveling the Tuscan countryside and exploring the local flavor of this small mountain town.
The brown color of the rolling hills is from the expansive wheat fields.
Some of the fields had already been harvested. It's hard to see, but there are vineyards on the hillside.
One of the highlights of the trip so far has been our tour into the country.  Tuscany is the west central part of Italy and is known for its delicious olive oil, its flavorful steak, and its wine which is produced from the many, many vineyards in the region.  I had always imagined this part of Italy to be lush and green because of those vineyards, but this is not the case. While we did see vineyards, the most prominent color was light brown due to the expansive fields of wheat. I was surprised, but of course, this makes sense - pasta is made from wheat, and Italians eat A LOT of pasta. Our guide, Levennia, told us the other two colors of the Tuscan landscape come from the grey rocks and soil, and the bright yellow sunflower fields intermingled with all that wheat. We passed quite a few of these sunflower fields, and I wondered why Tuscany had so many.  Levennia told us that these are grown as feed for the farm animals in the region, as well as for oil.  I wanted to take a picture of those lovely fields for you, but as we drove the clouds moved in. Unfortunately, if you've ever grown sunflowers in your garden, you know that on cloudy days the flowers bow their heads and close up their petals so you can't see the bright yellow of their faces. There's nothing sadder than a whole field of sunflowers on a rainy day. :(  I also noticed the many olive orchards as we drove.  Here in Italy, olive trees are as abundant as apple trees in the US.  I had never seen an olive tree before and was fascinated.  Here they are just beginning to produce fruit.

This is an olive grove.  The trees have gnarly bark and a pale green sheen.
We stopped to explore the beautiful historic mountain town of Montalcino (Mont-e-chino). I had to practice pronouncing the name, but I learned that  monte is the Italian word for mountain, and the single c is pronounced as a ch. That helped!   Did you know that Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello is taken from the Italian language and means "little mountain"?  Even though the single c is supposed to be pronounced with the ch sound, Jefferson didn't pronounce it that way.  He called his home "montisello" even though he knew how to speak Italian.  No one really knows why.
The narrow streets of Montelcino.  In Tuscany, everywhere you want to go is uphill!  
At the end of our day, my family and I realized that from a distance, except for the brown wheat fields, the Tuscan mountains look very much like the blue ridge of our home in Virginia.  Lois Armstrong was right - It IS a wonderful world!
This is the view from the top of the church's bell tower.  Doesn't the ridge in the background look beautiful and blue just like in Virginia?
On our last day in Siena, I wanted to experience some local life so we walked outside the city walls where the town was a bit more modern! I have to keep in mind that modern here means architecture built in the 1700's. :) We found a small local bakery which served excellent paninis, very cheap. By the way, panini means "sandwich" in Italian. We also found the local elementary school housed in a 17th century renovated building.  Check out those front doors!  After talking with a local resident, I found out the school system here is not very different from ours.  Children begin "elementare" at 6 years old and continue for five years.  Classes range in size from 15 to 25 with several sections of each grade just like in the US.  From there students transfer to "scuola media" or middle school, until they are 13 or 14.  Students then must take and pass an exam before attending high school, or "scuola secondaria" where they attend for 5 more years.  Most children finish their schooling by 18 or 19 years of age and a school year runs from September to June just like in the US.  Interestingly, English is taught every year beginning in elementary school.  This must be why most Italians can speak at least a few English phrases. Since we've been here, all four of us have realized how helpful it would be to know a second language. We're each picking up a few Italian words here and there, but we're lucky so many of the local residents can speak rudimentary English.  Even many of the tourists we've met from other countries can speak to us, albeit not very well. Thank goodness! The most difficult part of traveling internationally is not being able to communicate! I also found out, according to the residents I spoke with, sports are played through community league teams and not sponsored by the schools. I have not researched this outside of the few places I've been, so I hesitate to say if this is true for all of Italy.
I could barely reach the doorknobs on the front doors of the elementary school.  There wasn't a second set at a lower point either!
This was the playground.  It had a slide,  2 swings, and lots of space for pick up soccer games!

Speaking of sports, we did run across this GREAT human foosball game at a festival in Siena!  Doesn't this look like fun?  I wonder if we have something like this in the states?  Time for more research!

Next stop, Florence!  Ciao!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Soups, Spaghetti, Meats, and Sweets: Molto Buono!

Today is our 3rd day in Siena.  We spent our last day in Rome visiting Ostia Antica, a quiet little town about 30 miles outside of the city.  Within its borders lies an entire town of ancient ruins open for the public to climb through, touch, and explore.  We spent the better part of our day there, walking around and imagining what life must have been like in the 4th century BC.

The next day, our challenge was figuring out how to take the train to Siena.  Tourists beware in airports and train stations!  We had several people approach us in an attempt to forcefully help, then demand payment in Euros.  They wouldn't take no for an answer.  When this happened the final time, we caused a scene on the train, and the man was escorted from the station by the polizia (police).

Sienna is a beautiful town straight out of medieval Italy. We are staying at the Hotel Duomo at the top of the mountain. (A duomo is a church). All medieval towns were situated at the top of a hill or small mountain so that the people could defend themselves against invading armies.  Walls were built around the buildings and the gates were closed and guarded. Should their town be attacked, the elevation gave the people an advantage against the enemy.  It's difficult to fight uphill. :)  The sights of the city are breathtaking.  Here are some pictures to show you what we are seeing.
The town of Siena from the surrounding wall.

We are standing in the piazza in the town center.

I'm standing on Via Stalloreggi (via means street)
Last night we took our cooking class and it gave us a new appreciation for the amount of time it takes to prepare Italian cuisine.  We were taught by Lella, a fantastic chef who spoke no English and looked like the quintessial Italian mama.  In Italy, people take food seriously.  Meals are to be savoured and it is a time for relaxation and conversation.  Breakfast is usually light, or not at all, and true Italians do not drink milk in their coffee after 11:00 am.  By the way, the coffee here is delicious.  It is heavy and thick, but smooth with no bitterness at all.  Dinner usually consists of at least 2 courses, but a full traditional meal includes 4.  First is the antipasti. Antipasti means appetizer and is most often some sort of cold cuts/cheese combination or vegetables like tomato slices. This is followed by the primo, or first course. The first course is either soup or pasta. Then the main dish, or secondo, is served.  This is your meat like steak, pork, or seafood. The meal is finished with a light dolce (dol sheh), or dessert, with espresso. Of course, we prefer gelato, italian ice cream, and have eaten our way through many flavors! My favorite so far was cream, but I haven't tried pistachio yet.  The gelato back home isn't quite as creamy as it is here, but it's comparable. Enjoy! It is ice cream after all, and ice cream is always good!

Italians drink wine or water with every meal - never milk. It seems like A LOT of food, but the one thing I've noticed is that all the food we've eaten has been fresh. As Lella and her interpreter, Francesca explained, the people eat very few packaged foods, and Italians cook with olive oil, not butter. Each region has its own specialties, just like in the US, but the food is prepared fresh and is very healthy.   We've tried wild boar, deer sausage, sheep cheese, spicy mussels, and the calamari, or baby squid. Also, from what I've observed, fast food means pizza. We've only noticed a couple McDonald's and one Burger King, but we've seen lots of pizzerias!
Spicy steamed mussels as an antipasti

wild boar and deer sausage as an antipasti
In our cooking class, we learned to make several dishes.  First was the Pappa col Pomodoro, a soup made from tomatoes (pomodoro) and stale Tuscan bread. It is a traditional dish and, honestly, tasted like heaven in a bowl! Next we began the dessert. We made cantuccini (can tu cheeni), small almond cookies that look and taste like biscotti.  However, Italians do not eat biscotti with coffee in the morning like Americans do.  They are for after dinner with espresso or sweet wine and lots of conversation. :)  Our primo, or first course, was homemade pici, a very thick spaghetti.  Lella taught us the secret to making good pasta.  The added water should always be 60% of the amount of flour and never add oil to your cooking water - only generous amounts of salt and stir often!  She made the process of preparing the dough look very easy, but making pasta by hand takes a lot of effort! I did get a "perfecto" from Lella on my pasta dough, but my handmade spaghetti left a lot to be desired. According to Lella,  I made the noodles too thick and had to redo several.  I guess a B+ in pasta isn't too bad. :) My family and I had a lot of laughs trying to get it right!
The main course was arista di cinta senese in porchetta con patinie arrosto (I can't pronounce it either), but it is roasted pork loin with potatoes on the side.  All and all, I think we did pretty well on the meal, even if we aren't Italian.  Both Lella and Franscesca told us "molto buono" which means "very good" when complimenting food.  Hooray for us!
pappa col pomorodo or tomato soup

Our homemade pici - mine was a little too fat!

the roasted pork, or porchetta

Our cantuccini - yum!
Chelsea is rolling out the cantuccini dough.

Alex and I got stuck with peeling the potatoes!

Chelsea and Eric were concentrating on getting their pici (spaghetti) the right thickness.  Their noodles were far better than mine.  Rats!

Our chef, Lella, on the right and her interpreter, Francesca, on the left.
Afterwards, we rolled back up the mountain, which wasn't easy, and went to sleep, full and happy.