Friday, August 28, 2015

Small Blessings

I haven't gone into the backyard at all this year. When we first got here, Gianluca sent his crew to come whack the weeds and trim the palm trees so the kids could make use of the space. But I was still in my knee brace and on crutches and I never dared venture out to where the wild things were. As I progressed in my rehab work, the weeds progressed as well and now it is back to vines and roots growing rampantly, posing a real threat of tripping the none too stable wobbler that I am. 
But this afternoon I threw caution to the wind. 
We had a spell of lovely cool weather where a stroll down to the church was manageable but now we are back to days well into the 90s. We have been comfortable inside during the hot times of the day but that means not getting much sunshine at all. I was just complaining to Mike that I felt like a troglodyte living in a cave. It's quiet and peaceful, just maybe a bit too much so. 
I looked longingly out the back door and then I noticed it....ripe figs on our tree! I  put on a pair of boots and headed out to do some harvesting. 
Treading very cautiously I took my first tentative steps. Head down, I studied every footfall.  I got to the tree and saw a dozen or so figs ready to be picked. This requires pulling down branches so that they bend down enough to reach the fruit and testing each purple orb to check for ripeness. 
I was well into this job when I finally looked up from my labors. There in front of me was the craggy granite facade of Mount Pizzone. In its shadow was the tower of our castello. The sky was a brilliant blue, the cicadas were singing, and a warm breeze wafted through the leaves. Our yard always reminds me of the film "Jean de Florette" which takes place in the south of France but which is very similar in feel to our little spot here in Cervinara. At that moment I stopped to say a little prayer of thanks for all that we have here. The beautiful heat, the buzzing flies, the scampering geckos, and our views of some marvels of man and nature....all give me a sense of gratitude for the blessings we have been given. 
And, the menu for tonight? Figs and prosciutto!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sant'Agata di Puglia

We've been back in Cervinara for a little over a week. The first couple of days were spent doing general maintenance, always an issue with this old house. We did some shopping to restock the larder and we spent one morning hooking up my new stove. And there were a couple of lump days where we just listened to the thunder storms rumble outside while reading and doing crossword puzzles. So  this morning when Mike asked me what I wanted to do, I was ready for an outing. 
A few years ago, an Italian soap opera that I watch filmed some episodes in a little hill town called Sant'Agata di Puglia. The scenes were so beautiful with piazzas overlooking rolling hills below, I immediately put it on my list of "wannasees". Google maps said it was 40 miles from here, an easy day trip for us. So off we went. 
GPS is a wonderful device. It has helped us navigate strange cities all over the world. But it has also led us into some sticky situations. On the map it looked like the most direct route was easy but not terribly scenic. We followed Gilda's (our GPS) directions and got off the Autostrada to follow the green road. We passed through some lovely little towns and up winding roads. The roads eventually became narrower and steeper. Not a guardrail in sight. 
Then we came to a fork in the road. One was marked with a "road closed" sign. We saw a car go down there but we decided to follow the sign pointing in the direction of our destination. Big mistake. 
SP 101 turned into a nightmare of washed out roads, craters rather than potholes, hairpin turns and gravel surfaces. We were in the middle of nowhere with no way to turn around, so we soldiered on. 
Eventually we got to this gorgeous town and realized it was worth all our effort. This town is a one way street going up to the castle and Piazza XX Settembre. The piazza where Andrea and Arianna first kissed was just as it had been on my show. Truly a sight to behold. 
Since it had taken us way longer to get here we were both ready for lunch, but neither of the pizzerias in town were open. As we strolled along we asked a group of young women where we could find something to eat. Right up the street from us was a gorgeous little spot called la Cantina Della Canonica. One of the girls walked us right to the door and let them know that some clients had arrived. This restaurant was in an old part of a church, with vaulted ceilings and lots of charm. After looking over the menu we decided to split the antipasto of the house and then have a bit of something else.
Well, this antipasto was the best ever! First came out some prosciutto and mozzarella. Ho hum. Pickled veggies. Yawn. Then the good stuff. Pane cotto. A terrine of melted cheese. Potatoes, sausage and chick peas. Sautéed greens with sausage. Escarole in broth. A mix of fried veggies. Potato croquette. Tripe. Sausage and peppers. I'm sure there were others but I can't remember them all now. 
This antipasto was supposed to be for one person! I can't imagine it! After this I cancelled my second course but Mike took his to go for supper tonight. We decided to have a bit of a sweet and opted for the pistachio ricotta pie. Not too sweet, redolent with real pistachio flavor, this was a perfect and to a perfect meal. 
After all this, we decided to follow the signs for the Autostrada to get us home. It was completely uneventful and a rather boring ride home, for which we were very grateful. 
If any of my blogger friends find themselves in Cervinara this year, consider a day trip to SantAgata di Puglia. Just remember to take the Candela exit off the highway. Don't listen to Gilda!!