Saturday, June 15-29, 2019
Our drivers Fernando and Donatella brought guests to Agnone in 2 batches - from Canada, Australia, the US and UK.
Sunday, we went out to Marco’s, to hear about his honey and wine production.
Marco showing the group his honey
The pollen is extracted from wild fruits giving the honey strong medicinal properties.
Learning about wine production on Marco’s farm.
Some vines were planted recently, but many have been lovingly restored.
The day also gave the teachers a chance to meet everyone, and assess 1 – 1 before lessons on Monday.
Lunch was in the very cool stone cantina, with simple food from the garden. Different varieties of Marco’s fresh honey was drizzled over ricotta, we had a selection of other piatti tipici, and, of course, home made wine.
Lessons started Monday in Palazzo San Francesco, then for coffee to Letterario to get acquainted with the staff, and work out the many different ways to order coffee in Italy.
On an afternoon walk around the centro storico Walter’s group (surprisingly popular name in this region!) stopped by one of the most beautiful of the 16 churches. Before a chance encounter with a lady called Filomena, and Guido, il fabbro.
This led to hair appointments for Anne and Sally in the salon of Filomena’s daughter… funny how conversations segue, even in another language!
Cooking dinner with Maria is a good way to relax and unlock the tongue –
While Lucrezia and Francesca like to plan lessons together with a spritz, before joining the other small group dinner in famiglia with Rosaria and Leo.
Leo’s knowledge of history is extensive, and as natives of Naples, their love for Agnone comes with an outsider’s eye.
Before lessons a small group went to sample the focaccia, hot out of Mercedes’ forno a legno –
She told us about her daily work; the lievito madre, preparing the loaves, heating the oven, growing the grain, the stone grinding, old recipes passed down from her nonna.
And then, off we went down the mountain to her brother, Donato, making cheese, with milk from his 20 cows. The bocconcino he gave us to taste was warm.
A walk in the woods kept everyone shaded. Stefania pointed out wild flowers, and herbs and grasses used in local dishes.
Saturday evening we drove out to Sant’Onofrio for a talk about the ‘ndociatta festival; the origins and traditions, making of the torches, and careful processes of this ancient pageant. Dinner, a variety of local dishes, finishing with oven baked lamb and potatoes was prepared by Gino… and delicious vegetarian seasonal platters.
But we expired early; it’d been a full week, and this learning Italian every day is tiring – plus we had to get up early Sunday to get to Campobasso for la festa dei Misteri – a unique event with tableaus ( – real people) enacting the lives of the saints on Corpus Domini, 40 days after Easter.
A rooftop drink on the terrace at Tonina’s B&B – not 1, not 2, but 3 men in one session! Might be a first…. Welcome to the men!
At the little borgo of Marongoni, Nicola Mastronardi explained that the beautiful room into which we assembled was once animal stalls of the family small-holding.
His talk about the transumanza explored how profoundly this ‘migration’ has influenced the cultural life of the Molisani, before we gathered with all the family for a delicious meal.
PIetrabbondante is a site we never miss – even those who’ve been with us numerous times enjoy seeing it again and again; serene, majestic, and there’s always a mountain breeze which, this June, was most welcome.
Anna Maria had obtained black truffles from a local tartufaio, and the meal she prepared was a selection of local flavours. Describing the recipes of the simple dishes, she wove in stories about the land and harvests.
it was a packed 2 weeks with wonderful weather, if a little on the hot side - and the group left for Rome with a palpable sense of achievement. Tongues had definitely been loosened, and all had enjoyed meeting and engaging with this warm community.
Preparing now for September!
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