Saturday 30 July 2016

Festival del Folklore della Valnestore

Piazza Umberto 1 came alive at 9.30 pm once again last night. This time we were well entertained by a display of folk dancing with the music and incredible energy of the folkloric dancers. This was the 4th edition of the Festival del Folklore della Valnestore with the Umbria Folk group and visiting dance groups from around Europe. 

These men and women did traditional dances such as the tarantella and others which told the stories of their traditions, and they wore traditional costumes. On a hot night and on the rough surface of the piazza, they danced themselves to exhaustion.

 Young and old were enthralled and much toe tapping and clapping was seen amongst the crowd that had gathered.

La Cerreta Azienda Agricola

La Cerreta is a large and diverse farm near Castiglione del Lago. This morning we went on a guided tour and what a interesting time we had. These tours are daily but this morning there was just us so we had a very personal tour.

La Cerreta is a 140 hectare ' biologica' farm, that is,  organic with no poisons or chemicals used.

There are five star holiday accommodation villas available for large groups and they hold events such as weddings there too.

There are many parts to this farm and we started at the ostrich pens. They breed ostriches for many purposes - meat for salami, pate & pasta sauces, feathers for costumery, eggs for breeding, selling on, liqueur and pasta making, and leather for handbags and shoes. The baby ostriches twenty days old were already quite big. The adult birds in pens are grouped with one male and four females.

On our first trip to Europe in 1983 one of the big questions was ' Where are the animals?' Over time we came to realise that the answer is that the animals are housed indoors. Today we went to a see a dairy herd of 275 Holsteins in their huge airy shed. These cows had their own computers on their ankles which sends back all sorts of information to the computer of the herdsman. We visited the dairy where they are milked and also saw their food production area, mainly corn.

They have extensive solar panels on the barn roof however the dust created in the preparation of the animal feed severely interferes with the production of electricity. Additionally they have a power generator run from the manure from the cow yards. This biogas recovery system uses the gases from the manure to produce electricity.

La Cerreta has a little tourist train which usually carries the visitors around the farm. Today we rode in a mini bus through the olive groves to the vineyards and past some of their contemporary art installation.

Included in the price of the tour was the opportunity to sample some of their products and we very much enjoyed their olive oil on bread, the ostrich pate for spreading on crostini and the ostrich salami.

Two red wines, a white and a liqueur made from ostrich eggs were also sampled (although I gave the liqueur a miss!) The grape varieties used included grechetto and malvasia.

We had a great morning with our very personable guide Angela, and came home with some wine, a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of the ostrich pate. We highly recommend this tour, even if you already think you know about farming. 

Your new Italian word for the day is 'struzzo' - ostrich.

Not a partridge in a pear tree but a pigeon in a pine tree! These pigeons coo almost all day. Sometimes you do have to think of them as a charming part of Italy.

But that wasn't where the day ended! See my post on the folkloric dancing for the evening's entertainment.

Thursday 28 July 2016

A walk in the woods and music in the piazza

Today was our first trekking type walk so we chose the easiest route, part of no. M23, which takes us from Panicale to the chiesa di Santa Croce ai Cappuccini and then back along the sealed road. There has been a lot of rain this year and the track was quite overgrown in parts, there were no flowers but lots of dried remains and hips to indicate that spring had been very pretty.

No hunting

The olives are forming nicely

There are people who think that these mirrors by the road are to help you see around corners, but there others of us who know that they are really for taking funny selfie photos.

This evening there was a mini market in Panicale, before the Thursday music in the piazza. A bunch of big, old keys isn't something you see at a market at home.

Tonight's music was a pianist and singer called Due Ottavi. They would have benefitted from some spot lighting and also a warmer night.

On the way back to the car we stopped for some spectator sport, the nightly bocce competition was just reaching its conclusion. The children have table tennis available and the older young people were playing cards and music at their outdoor venue next to the bocce pitch.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Market day in Castiglione del Lago

Wednesday is market day at Castiglione del Lago. These markets are more important than an Australian bush market or farmers' market because in the smaller places this is the only opportunity to shop for everyday necessities. In larger towns like CdL it still provides stalls with essentials such as linens, clothing, shoes, kitchen ware, garden supplies, food and even chemist needs. Castiglione del Lago is in the centre of a tourist area so shops also offer their wares to the market crowds.

We had a successful day shopping today, finding all the things we needed, and more. Porchetta, seasoned roasted whole pig, is a favourite in the area and at the markets you can buy a slice in a roll to eat immediatey or buy to take home, which we did.

Ready mixed pasta herbs & risotto mix, patriotic pasta, spoons made from olive wood, wild boar salami and truffles, the variety is endless.

There are also two very popular pasticcerie in the old town and we were tempted by a couple of items which we took down to the lakeside where we enjoyed a peaceful lunch. Yes, that is a generous serve of Nutella inside the small pastry!

Back home we admired our purchases - sweet and juicy peaches, pears & tomatoes and a salami with truffles, two shirts and our evening meal tonight, porchetta.

Each town has its own market day so you could spend your whole week going to markets without travelling far. Tavernelle has a Monday market and Panicale's is on Friday. Kelly is something of a market 'junkie' so expect to see more of the markets.