Monday 31 August 2015

Mugnano and the Muri Dipinti

Yesterday I made a  video of the church bells which ring for 2.5 minutes three times every Sunday morning. I was really pleased with my first video effort and it was only when I started posting it to the blog that I realised it was 633 MB. Maybe not a good idea to continue.

Today we went to a small village about 25 minutes drive away from Panicale, a village with a castle and a former Benedictine Abbey, but it wasn't a hilltop village. Very unusual. This village named Mugnano is also unusual in that in the 1980s they decided to enliven their historic centre by having modern art works painted on the walls of the homes. It is such a pretty little village and the art work, known as Muri Dipinti, is an added attraction. It is also flood lit so can be viewed at night.

I think the sign said there are 42 works to see, some newer ones having been added recently to celebrate 30 years of the Muri Dipinti. I didn't photograph all the works but here are a selection.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Lace and embroidery - such talent, such patience

The lace and embroidery exhibition is an amazing display of talent, patience and creativity. There are 42 exhibition spaces spread throughout the town, in marquees, in empty shops, storerooms and people's front rooms. Sometimes the space is as interesting as the display.

You cannot imagine how many ways there are to make lace. The local ladies' speciality is embroidery on tulle and it is beautiful work. As with last year I was amazed at the macramè lace making using very fine thread, and the tablecloths with lace insets are real treasures.  Some items are for sale but even small runners can cost 200 euros.

Our favourite this year was a group of ten people who first made some fun friendship quilts ( every-one contributes squares and they are joined together to form a quilt) then created an impressive hand embroidered book of squares featuring firstly, Italian proverbs then quotes relating to each month and lastly quotes about each region in Italy. They were obviously quite funny quotes and the ladies and one man enjoyed telling us about them with their limited English.

It was amusing when we walked into the exhibit because we were asked if we spoke Italian. 'Un po', said I, 'australiana'. There was silence for a while until one person said 'Inglese'. Then they were keen to point out the things in their book that they knew the English words for. It was one of the most productive bits of communication that we have had.
These elderly people treasured their book and the lady turning the pages wore protective white gloves. It took this group of nine women and one man three and a half years to make this book. Sorry, no photos!

There were several artists at work around the piazzas with works on display.

 No, its not washing day, just a novel way to display lace table cloths!

I still haven't got a photo of the decorated fountain so I am including this one, thanks to Stephania Belfico.

The man in the Super Moon is smiling at Kel again tonight. K is not actually howling in delight but he is very enthusiastic!

Friday 28 August 2015

Preparing for Fili in Trama - the third international exhibition of lace making and embroidery

The third international exhibition of lace making and embroidery is on in Panicale this week-end and preparations have been in full swing today. Entitled Fili in Trama, this year's festival includes the lyrical theatre piece 'In Quelle Trine Morbide'. This will be performed at the Teatro Caporali.

Today decorations have been appearing in the shop windows and marquees erected in unexpected places, as well as shops and displays have begun to appear in  unused spaces around town.

An interesting feature this year is a collection of decorated bicycles leaning against walls in the village.

The fountain has a display also but I couldn't get a photo because there was a welcome reception in the piazza. Look at tomorrow's blog for a photo.

We have spent many hours today keeping up to date with our CIS homework. We may not be talking to anyone but we will know our grammar!

Arezzo - a city with class and style

Two previous attempts at visiting Arezzo in past years have been thwarted by traffic and parking issues. It is, after all, a city of over 100,000 people. So this time we took a calming ride on the train to Arezzo, only 33 minutes from Castiglione.

Our main purpose was to visit another Buon Ricordo restaurant, dine well and collect another plate for our wall. Again this was financed by the offspring, thanks to birthdays!
'Buca di San Francesc is the Buon Ricordo restaurant in Arezzo and it is a fascinating little place almost under the Basilica of San Francesco. It looks like it could have been a refectory or similar in a past life, although it has been the Buca di S. F. for over 80 years.

The first thing you notice is the frescoed walls and ceiling and the portrait of Saint Francis. The second thing is the floor which we were told was a Roman road. The rooms are characterful, filled with all manner of interesting things, many connected with books and drawing. Mario, the owner is listed in the Guiness Book of Records for his collection of Ex Libris book labels.

It was Kelly's turn to have the plate meal and as we were looking through the extensive menu our waiter made some suggestions, which we took up because they are generally worth following. He suggested a small pasta each, the hunters plate for Kel and a chicken salad for me. Now a chicken salad would not normally excite me at all but neither do big meals in the middle of the day so why not!

First to arrive was a complimentary panzanella, a Tuscsn favourite made from bread and a variety of vegetables but predominantly tomato.

The pasta was a pappardele with a duck and rabbit sauce. We could have just eaten that and gone home happy. Despite my poor photo, look at the plate.

The salsicce alla cacciatora con medaglione di verdure e cibreo didnt bear looking too closely at its content as it included what I call 'spare parts', that is tripe, liver, heart and so on. It was however a taste sensation with pieces of sausage, the miscellaneous other bits, a spinach and cheese mould, fave beans in sauce, polenta and fried cheese. Kelly declared it very rustic and absolutely full of flavours.

Now I know you are absolutely dying to hear what an Italian restaurant can do for a chicken salad! The designer greens were topped with carrot, tomato wedges, lemon slices and pieces of chicken, but add some pomegranate seeds, some fat sultanas, some popped grains and drizzle it with pomegranate syrup and it is beginning to look like something special. Top with fresh olive oil and a mist of balsamic and it is something special.

Two days in a row ...dessert! There was only a choice of three and I had a creme brulee. I forgot to keep photographing as I was so excited about dolce two days in a row. Shortly after we were both given a glass of Vin Santo and a cantucci biscuit to dip. 
Kel ordered a coffee and after it arrived our charming waiter appeared saying to me, 'Your cappuccino' , and as I was vigorously saying no he put the cup down and inside was a chocolate for me. I'm sure this happens on a daily basis but those little things make for a Buon Ricordo - Good Memories.

Arezzo is a rich and stylish city and judging by the old city, it always has been. The architecture in the palazzi, the churches, the civic buildings and the piazzas is quite stunning. With wide and clean cobbled streets it was a pleasure to wander looking at the mix of very old and very new - art, that is. We did more than our daily quota of churches but didn't do more than look in the door of the Basilica of San Francesco. This is the centre point of Arezzo's tourist trade as this church houses a famous set of frescoes by Piero della Francesca entitled 'The Legend of the True Cross'. Unfortunately it cost 12 euros each to go in, and at the current exchange rate that seemed rather too hefty for 10 minutes viewing. Kel did challenge the girl at the door who demanded to see our tickets whether it was a church or a museum. Her reply was that it is a church and a museum. 

Here are a few views from our walk. They were preparing the Piazza Grande for their jousting festival next week-end so the piazza was half filled with tiered seating and soil on the cobbles.

Returning back to the station we paused for a rest in the shade as the temperature was over 30 degrees again. Buona fortuna! Una gelateria! Again there were new flavours for me to try. For the record ...48 tried so far, but only 19 days to go so, what will be my final count?