Saturday, March 30, 2013

The First Annual Montisi Italian Film Festival - only a week away!!  We are planning a Montisani-only showing Wednesday afternoon (5 pm) April 3, of Divorce Italian Style.  We are hoping that the little ladies and gents who don't get out much and certainly would not come to see a movie when they think there will be foreigners (too confusing).  I've printed the invites, piles of which we will leave at the hair dresser, the grocery, the bakery, the pharmacy, the bank, the post office and the two cafes.  The contrade will be door-belling, too!!

Fundraising is crazy-making and we are juggling budget items and due dates.  SIFF has been great and has mentioned us twice in their newsletter!!!  This will attract anyone who is going to be in the area and acquaint the newsletter readers that the MIFF site provides all you need to plan a trip to Montisi.  We'll hope this helps us build a following for the site, no matter whether people come for the festival or at other times.  We are talking about how to link MIFF with the Giostra di Simone and the New Oil Festival...stay tuned. 

Everyone in the village seems to be on board.  I was even handed a flyer for a new walking tour service THAT FOCUSES ON TRUFFLES!!  During the March and November seasons, they will take you truffle hunting on a preserve with truffle-dogs!!!  I'll be putting together a letter for guests about this, for sure!!!

One of the women in the village is going to Tweet during the festival.  Whatever that is.  If you are interested I can find out how to connect you with her Tweeting.

If you are interested and willing, have a look at the site, under Registration....PayPal is easy!!  And your membership badge for this year gets a discount for next year - and a free drink or two!!  Thanks, in advance!!


Well, if it weren't for the better quality and lower price of the wine, I'd think I were in Seattle!!  Rain came in sheets today, powered from time to time by wind!!  However, since the garden got a thorough going-over yesterday, I could almost hear the sigh of contentment from the new flowers and newly weeded beds.  I understand that you in Seattle are having lovely spring weather!  Ah, well.  Here the spring artichokes are coming up from southern Italy, together with fava beans.  Spring risotto is now on the VM menu.  And today, a special harvest from the garden  ~~ 

It's amazing the difference in flavor - vegetables from the grocery store and a veg eaten within an hour of harvest.


Monday, March 25, 2013

5:30 pm, Monday. 
Well, things move slowly, slowly here, "piano piano" and then, all of a sudden.... So, a couple of things showed up today and some things got done.
Here's the latest improvement to the kitchen.  The shelf will help organize this little corner and make it easier for those of us who are pyromaniacs, to enjoy the process.  
 For those who had not seen the new frigs, here they are, but today the falegname came with the custom-made platform (piano) so that they could be leveled exactly.  Apparently not everyone who buys these things lives in a 18th century barn.  Go figure.  Roberto, while he was installing this, found a whistling air leak from Mannuccio's garden, behind the frigs.  We joked that it was Italian air conditioning and we'd keep it our little secret.  But we filled it with cement anyway. 

Here's how you level something in a kitchen like ours....
He and his dad built all the new windows and the beautiful doors back during the restoration.  So they went around and oiled everything and measured for new mosquito screens.  We decided we will take off the cords and teach people to use the built-in handle at the base of the screen.  They will last longer.  Patricia, he also fixed the window over your terrace door and rebalanced the other doors, so they open very smoothly now!! 

So, slowly slowly, then BOOM!!  Lots of progress.  Of course the dishwasher (on the left) sprung a leak  :)  Ah, the glamor of a Tuscan villa, eh?

Oh, my gosh, I didn't mention the highlight of the week!!  Silly me!!  Antonella and Maurizio's Vitis Vinifera wine tasting osteria opened Saturday night and Sunday!  It's in the deep 'cave' next to the old meat market on the main street, carved into the mountain!!  Here's the website, but it doesn't do it justice by any means.  I'll write more later, but if you are planning a trip or know someone who is coming over - this is a MUST SEE!!

Ciao!!  M
Greetings, All.  I can't believe how long it's been since I last sent you a message.  It's a busy time here, between working on the house, meeting friends and getting ready for both arriving guests and the Montisi Italian Film Festival.  Lots to do!!
I think I've been waiting for Spring to really 'spring.'  Just when we think we are on the verge, it gets cold and blustery again.  Our version of Punxsutawney Phil has lead us astray.  And a friend has sent photos from England of huge drifts closing roads and villages.  So we count ourselves lucky here. 
But there are some promising signs:

 Here, a blend of the wild violets from the hills, some deeply colored, fragrant violets from Mother's garden, hand-carried tulips from friends in Holland and in the upper right corner Santa Barbara belladonna lilies, blended with the original Maddalena garden belladonnas.  Interesting that they are EXACTLY the same!!

And below, hints of what's to come?

If these winds are timed right, we'll have apricots again this year.  But if they are too cold and too dry, and come when the fruit is trying to 'set' we will go without.  Last year the timing must have been exquisite because we had a bumper crop of huge, sweet 'cots - literally carpeting the ground.  We even became tired of them, ultimately.  We'll see, eh?

And for those of you who think life at Villa Maddalena is all relaxation and glamor: 

This is just a part of the week-long cull, laundering, inventory, count and organize festival, here.  Rosanna and I have been through every attic, closet, armadio and trunk (all in Italian - bless her, she's patient).  Comforters galore!!  Friends who are arriving for the Montisi Italian Film Festival are bringing sleeping bag stuff bags for the winter comforters, too!!  Shelves have been added in every 'back of house' area.  You won't recognize the joint!!  Garden storage nook, the water tank area off the laundry room, behind the main caldaia, over the washer.... even a bit of new marble countertop!

The bookcases are all installed in the library.  Author John Lawton helped with the tote and shelf process.  He's house sitting for Robert and Lizzy at The Mill.  You'll find a few of his books around the house now.  A last, long shelf will arrive this week that will go along the back of one of the day- beds, to complete the system.  Finally, eh?  All cookbooks have moved up, too.

The falegname (wood worker, Roberto Perugini, across in Castelmuzio) is arriving today with a large, new shelf to go under the grill and a large 'piano' or floor, to put under the two new large frigs so they can be leveled exactly.  He'll also take away all the mosquito screens for replacement.  We'll also finally have a spot for the huge pasta board and roller!!

I'll have some exciting news and photos later this week about the living room art scene!  Stay tuned!!

This week will see the end of the house-wide sort and cull.  Next week we'll begin the intense clean and by the 5th of April we'll be ready for the film festival, arrival of my best friend from high school Tom Owczarzak, wife Lisa Voelker, daughter Kaska and her husband Damien and baby Levven.  Both Tom and Damien are musicians so we are looking forward to some lovely evenings - a mixture of film and music!!  Tom and Lisa's day jobs are fine art jewelers in Gleneden Beach, Oregon, Jan David Jewellers.  At Salishan.  It will be a warm and fun week together.  Kaska, Damien and Levven are one of Madelyn's two adoptive families in La Jolla, so it's like a reunion of family!

And three final words from you-know-who.....


Monday, March 4, 2013

Good afternoon!!  Feathery white clouds with strands of sunshine.  The deep purple crocus now are following the light yellow ones.  The Italian violets and Mother's are blending.  The roses have their first tiny buds and a few glossy red-green leaves.  The leaves of the belladonnas are luxuriant.

Today is the first day of spring painting.  I have a system and it works well and is fast.  Just touch-ups needed. 

Work on the library continues.  The new bookcases arrive today and then I'll inventory and try to organize. 

UPDATE - The delivery guys just left.  They were right on time.  Could NOT believe that it would fit up the main stairs.  Tried once.  Gave up.  Carried it up the Fresco stairs and into that hallway.  Stopped at the door into the mezza stanza.  No go.  Carried it back down.  I finally convinced them to try one more time.  Success x 2!  Stay tuned.  Fun to watch men throw around huge pieces of furniture!!

Off to make a cuppa before returning to the paintbrushes!!  The primroses are basking in the afternoon sun.  Did you know that only yellow primroses are scented??!!  Lovely fragrance.