Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Villa San Donino Citta' di Castello

One of the ways we explore our region is we look for a restaurant we want to try and then explore the area around the restaurant.  I know it is a bit backward, but it seems to fit our ass-backward life here.  So, we found the Villa San Donino up in the hills that are between Umbertide and Citta' di Castello.  We found this restaurant, like we do most of them, on Trip Advisor.  I read the reviews in Italian and English, and then decide.  I also read the worst reviews first and see what people complain about and see if I care.  This place had great reviews, it was open on Monday, so we got the GPS and off we went.  We took the windy road that went up the hill and it seemed like it took bout 15 minutes.  Coming down it seemed like it took 3 minutes, which was closer to the truth.  Weird how the sense of time changes when you know where you are going versus when you don't know where you are going.  Is that metaphorically true?

Anyway, we were totally surprised by what we found.  The villa is in the middle of cultivated fields in the middle of nowhere.  It is located between Umbria and Tuscany, probably very close to the actual border.  It was built in the late 1700's by a nobleman from a Roman family.  The remains of Saint Donino are in a chapel on the property.  Donino, along with a St. Florido and St. Amanzio are the patron saints of Citta' di Castello.  Don't ask me why they need 3 saints!

 So this is the outside of the villa that.  Isn't it lovely?  They have turned the place into a restaurant and a 3 star hotel. I could imagine that 300 years ago it was as unlikely a spot as it is today.  The views of the valley surround the property, and there is a beautiful pool and with outside eating, weather permitting.

They have an extremely innovative chef named Antonio.  We had inside out ravioli carbonara, this means the carbonara was on the inside of the ravioli.  It was so delicious.

Here is the chef on the left.
Another time we had a reverse chicken salad.  There was a parmesan crust and the chicken salad was inside the parmesan like a burrito!This is the parmesan salad 'burrito".  Delicious!

If ever you are in the area, I recommend this as a stop.  The waiter, Salvatore was born in Pompeii, and is quite charming.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Festa '800

When I first saw the signs for the Festa I wondered what had happened in 800 that  the Italians were celebrating.  Oh, 1800, that makes sense.  So our town is in the middle of a 4 day celebration of Garibaldi and the unification of Italy.  There is dancing in the streets, food, reenactment of the battles, food, singing, drinking more food and singing.  Did I mention food and singing?

Watching the young men sing and dance last night around the stage I thought of Romeo and Juliet the beginning scene.

The weather is beautiful.  Blue skies, about mid to high 70's.  We are off to try a new restaurant.


First the good news.  We area here safely.  We arrived without incident as far as the travel logistics were concerned. No delays, flights on time, no bad experiences while flying.  Our dear friend Simone picked us up at the airport in Rome, and we made it to Umbertide in record time.  On the way he called Simona, who said there was a problem in the apartment.  We weren't sure exactly what the problem was, but we were too jet lagged to process the concern in Simone's voice.

When we got to the apartment we couldn't believe it.  The inside looked like a halloween house, with blackened cob webs, black walls and black dust everywhere.

So we pieced together the following.  The night before our arrival, (thank god we were not in the apartment, I would have had  a heart attack) there was a lightening storm.  We think somehow that the lightening hit our fuse box, with such force it blew it out and spread black melted plastic particles every where.  The fuse box you see below is the replacement.  Once we began to make sense of what happened, Simone called the electrician who showed up with his father.  Then Manuele came over to check things out.  Everyone was worried about the roof.  They climbed up there in the attic and no problem.  No black dust nothing.  So Manuele says no problem the fuse box did what it was supposed to.  All we need to do is paint.  Then he called the man to check on the hot water who showed up immediately.  We had 10 people in this little place doing this and that.  Electricity was restored, we had hot water, the fuse box was replace and everyone went home.  The apartment is now having a very thorough cleaning.  Painting will happen when we leave here and go to Cortina.

New fuse box.  Thank god the door was not burned.