I am in a daze. Good daze, but none the less. Saturday Giancarlo and I went to Cortona to see a nice Australian family’s house. Wow. So unusual to find a single family detached home in the oldest highest nicest part of Cortona. Three stories tall, all stone, perfect condition, next to an ancient well and a convent and other nice nice homes. You would have trouble finding anything to spend money on here. It is just most excellent.
And in news around the house, big progress on the woodstove installation here. Still cold enough that I am motivated and it will be ready soon. Can’t wait to curl up with a good book there in front of the fire. Garden still covered with light coat of snow and ice. Very strange for the weather to stay below freezing for a week.
Way out of control today. Met a bunch of friends in the piazza early for gossip in the welcome sunshine under bright blue skies. Biano, my barber, says “Remember when there was that big group of Ferraris in the piazza? I have printed up photos for you.” He and Orfeo and I then had a long conversation about how cool it is to have friends and that after having your health, what else is there really? Bruno buzzed by and said, “Woodstove progress soon.” OK, good.
At noon after the mass at the church in the piazza, I met some good friends for more coffee and bribed their four-year-old with New England taffy while feeding their baby something spinach-related. He didn’t seem to mind. Suddenly, there was a huge crowd in the cafe, all Americans it turned out. The next thing we know, they are all ooohing and ahhhing at the pretty babies and taking their pictures. Turns out they are all tour guides on a tour of places to consider. We all swap business cards like mad and their guide briskly shoos them out to something less important like a lace-making demonstration. We let them know how hyper cool our friend’s luscious classic Villa Lemura is as a destination for their clients, of course.
STEW AND HOW HE SPENT THE REST OF THE DAYS
Must resort to a mere list at this point:
Left the bar with our friend (and defacto Swedish Godmother) Gun Cesarini and rushed to pick up an American friend who Midge found a great long-term apartment for. One of the Cesarini’s apartments in fact. Had lovely lunch at her house with fire in fireplace, leg of lamb and lovely pastas on plates and great views out the window at her house on the edge of town.
Looked at my watch just before coffee and realized people from Alabama were waiting for me at my house. In town. Yike. Rudely excused myself and drove off down the hill to town.
We saw two very nice Panicale homes. One of them with my friend Orfeo. We met him at the third bar cafe of Panicale, upstairs where all the men play cards, drink coffee and watch sports of any stripe.
FRITTERING AWAY TIME. IN A MOST DELIGHTFUL WAY
After seeing the properties we were walking by Orfeo’s house when he diverted us inside for “a drop”. Turned out to be a drop of Vin Santo. With his wife’s super fritters. Small round-ish fritters about ping pong ball sized, made with flour, egg and honey, lightly fried. Amazing. Four hundred times better than I’d had in any bakery ever. She had made them with her own eggs, her own honey. Fried in her olive oil. That morning. Because it is Carnevale time is should be fried in lard they said but they have no intention of doing that when they have lovely light olive oil to use. The fritter come in different sizes and shapes in different areas and are called different things as well. In Panicale they are called Strufoli.
Being a bit too house proud we then toured our house, almost next door, and yes,
yes we DO have a woodstove and wood and kindling.
I recommend that they try their hardest to get tickets to the theater that is happening this very night. Again with the timing.
Bruno comes by and we light the first ever fire and it is righteous indeed. We celebrate with a drink at the bar. Bitters for him and hot chocolate for me. Too much coffee already. And then we agree to wave at each other at the theater that night.
Even thought the theater doesn’t start till nine pm, there isn’t even time for dinner somehow. Never a dull moment. The play tonight was three separate Neopoliton farces by Eduardo de Filippo. The theater was packed. The best part of it all is waving at all your friends in the floor seats, balconies and boxes and then afterwards the hugs and double-cheeked air kisses. It is my whole Panicale life flashing before my eyes condensed into a few fine moments. We stretch the moment by retiring to the bar AGAIN. and then I hurry home for the midnight (here) kick-off of the SUPER BOWL.
I called my wife Midge at 1 am, 2:30 and 4:30 until the verdict we all hoped for came in. . . Go Patriots! Champions Again.
Tomorrow, your erstwhile roving reporter is taking a road trip to Spannocchia outside Siena.