Who let the apes out?

italian ape and accessories

We had to spring the “Bad Monkey” from his winter hiding place a bit early this year. It wasn’t for good behavior. But this little green monkey really was going green. He’s being featured at a Sustainable Vehicles Design Seminar at SMCC in South Portland, Monday night. We’ve been really scrambling to get him ready for his first day of school, license plates, registration, insurance, the funny gas/oil brew we have to mix up for it. And a quick bath in the front yard.

See the poster!

And all that early season activity has had some great side benefits. We’ve been storming up and down the road out front, dropping in on neighbors, loud speakers blaring “Volare” or whatever other Italian Classics the iPhone-based sound system has cued up. You can see the glow of this way non-original piece of equipment in the photo. OH, that other glow? That would be one of the Kalik beers our neighbor Denny brought us back from the Bahamas. That was our prize for dropping in on him!

Got to love Italian Design. The two bottles laid down perfectly in the dashboard. One on each side. Cup holders? No. That ground breaking automotive moment had not yet happened back in 1983. And, much as we want one, I have to admit it takes at least two hands on the tiller/accelerator/clutch mechanism to keep this ride shiny side up and between the ditches. Drinking and driving? I don’t think so. We’ve got class tomorrow.

See you in school,

Stew Vreeland

Trasimeno at twilight

twilightovertrasimenoPANICALE – Just got this fine iPhone shot of Kiki’s last supper in the garden. Taken by her friend Kathleen. Brava, brava.

And Kiki tells me she now has the full name of the new deli/bakery/take out place she has been raving about in Panicale. In the same way we call Bar Gallo, Aldo’s, Kiki had been calling this new place “Salvatore’s” but thanks to her credit card bills she now knows its official name is L’umbria dei Sapori di Riso Salvatore. As they say when I’m chewing – that’s quite a mouthful.

Speaking of food, Pino of Siena’s Osteria da Divo has a dinner at the Italian Life Expo that is totally sold out. He’s part of the Siena-based Friends of Rick Steves in Tuscany. They wil be at the expo and there are many other events during the expo June 9-11, so we’re telling people to get there tickets while they can. Tourism, copper ware, ceramics, wines and olive oils abound. And these are wines from little-known grapes like some of my favorites the Turnina Marzeminos and their light and lovely Chiarettos of the Brescia region. You’re not going to see these beauties or dozens of other regional favorites from generations-old family vineyards at your local Piggly Wiggly. Sign up and drink up, June 9-11. Salute!

Ok, See you in Italy (or for a couple days in Portland, Maine during the festival. We’ll be the one in the GREEN ape)

Stew Vreeland

Kiki takes the cake in Umbria. New taste treats hit Panicale

PANICALE, Umbria – Kiki’s birthday was yesterday and she was telling us about the cake she got as a birthday gift from her new best friend, Salvatore in Panicale. Here she is in words and pictures below. Kiki, Kathleen and Salvatore. Clearly La Dolce Vita goes on as usual in Italy.
Discovered Salvatore’s, “Sapori dell’Umbria” the new take-out in town. Best bread ever, plus wonderful seafood lasagna (recommended by Giovanna) and torta di Napoli.

Salvatore is from Napoli. He makes the best bread in Italy. Crusty outside, soft inside and a bit salted. Yummm. Salvatore is across from the post office, where the grocery used to be. Just past Aldo’s. We … love …. it.

Styoo! Of course we’ve been to Aldo’s. The first morning Salvatore bought us coffee there. The second morning Nico bought us coffee. Today Rob experienced the scene — along with Daniela in fish net stockings. Wow!

We went to Castiglione del Lago today for lunch … visited Fabio the framer to get Francesco’s painting all dude’d up … then hit the lake so Kathleen and Rob could swim. They loved it.

Ciao, ciao,



Side note: It appears from initial conversation down-loads that Kiki accidentally asked Fabio to marry her. She was ok with that, in general, but her intention at that moment was just asking him to “dispose” of a box. Who knew? She figured “disposare” was close enough in Italian to “dispose” in English. But of course “sposare” is to marry and well, I’m sure that is how some dream matches have been made.

That is the latest in Italian News for now.

If you can’t get to Italy this Spring – and you happen to find yourself in New England – remember the Italian Life Expo is in Portland, Maine, June 9-11. Yes, the Bad Monkey (as we affectionately have named our Vespa-made 1982 Ape) will be there. With loud speakers on, blasting Italian music and generally calling attention to itself. Prima donna is Italian and fits this monkey to a T. If you are feeling adventuresome, come pat our little green Ape on the head during this fun waterfront weekend. Paul Turina’s baby blue, hard-working ape (Good Monkey?)The Turina Italian Wine Ape will be there too.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

And a very ‘Ape New Year to you, too

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CASOLE VAL D’ELSA–Ape means bee in italian and you probably know it is pronounced ahh-pay. Other wise the headline here is really hanging by a thread. Wouldn’t be the first time, you say? If you saw the earlier blogs about Adopting a little Italian Ape (three wheeled mini-pickup based on a Vespa) you know we went all the way to the far side of Ontario, Canada to get our motorized memory of all things Italian. Just the sound of it takes me there and I’m tickled and surprised to see it every time I go to the barn. But Bad Monkey that it is, as soon as we got it home to Maine it immediately decided to test our love for it by pitching some kind of mechanical fit. So, it had to go to the time-out corner of Peter Brown’s Cumberland Avenue Garage and get totally taken apart, and then put back together. If you’d like to see and hear that distinctive buzz, check out Our Ape Road Test Video on You Tube. Its film debut/road testing/second home coming. First trip was 22 miles with snow in the air. We made it!
italian ape made by vespa
The photo here was just taken a few days ago in Casole Val d’Elsa by our friends at Avis Studio in Portsmouth, NH. Paul and Jane just got back from several weeks at Spannocchia the thousand acre, sustainable agri-cultural estate. It is in the heart of Tuscany, just outside Siena and we write about it often here. Can’t wait to hear all their stories.

OK, see you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

Honey, I’m home. (part six of a series)

GRAY, Maine–Midge, this cute Italian followed me home. Can we keep her? Pleease? Well, we did it. We brought this piece of Italy home to remind us of the old country every time we step out the kitchen door into the garage there. As if we need Italy reminders!
bringing home a bit of italy. an Ape?!
bring home an italian ape. from canada
Could a stranger be forgiven for thinking this part of Maine is crawling with apes? Apes around every corner like we were in downtown Siena or something. Having one in town is just some guy (Paul) being eccentric and leading edge. Two is surely the beginning of a trend, no? I drove it around the yard a bit last night and realized I was way too trippunchy to do that so I bucking bronco’d it into its new home and turned off the key. And went to bed. whew. Going to get comfy driving it this weekend. I’ve never had a motorcycle with hand operated clutch, so I keep moving my left foot around over there. Nope, still nothing there. I’ll get it. Until then, looking into the garage you just want to pinch it on its cheek, it is so cute sitting there.

Before calling it a day, we stopped at our major benefactor’s office, so Bill Goddard could see the whole righteous rig that his valiant Tahoe drug across all of Northern New England and a full Canadian province. Then we showed the STV marketing team the new Company Car and then home. Home. Love the sound of that. By evening I had confused the town hall and the State of Maine as well. They really didn’t have a book sitting around where they could research initial sales prices of one of these. But they kept after it and eventually it worked out, I gave them some money and they gave me a plate.

All’s well that ends well and this may be the end of this part of this adventure. I will try to do one more wrap up with the a photo gallery that shows the Canadian Countryside and the trip adventures in more photo detail. We’ll see how the weekend goes. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Saluti a tutti!

(travel note: the Lavazza Cafe was a giant fun surprise to find on the Mass Pike. Plaza just before Worchester.)

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland