March 13, 2015
This moment just feels so right. Being outside, working in the earth and with plants, physical labor, great wine, incredible cheeses, Italian sunshine… Ah, I’ve made you jealous enough, I suppose! But this is really an incredible country! Lizzie and I are currently doing WWOOFing in a small town in northern Italy called Illasi, just 25 km from Verona.
The couple hosting us here are really hospitable, generous, and kind. They are also very busy, which means that either Lizzie and I are too, or that we aren’t! Lately, we have been busy, though. Our host “father” is a journalist so he can often be found at his computer typing one of his 3-4 articles every day. Anna teaches children with special needs M-F. There is another WWOOFer here named Marco. He is Italian, too, but speaks English (and Japanese and Spanish) fluently, so he is our secondary language coach. He’s really super chill! Grazie Marco!
I thought the stereotypes were all exaggerated. My god, nope. They’re all true. Our family routinely (don’t take the word “routine” lightly!) eats bread with home-made freshly delicious jam in the morning with a mug of green tea. Then, after working most the morning on whichever project in the vineyard, barn, grove or garden, we trek back home to prepare lunch. Lunch is routinely a deliciously fresh salad, pasta, wine, cheese, and afterwards an Italian espresso is (always) offered. Dinner is routinely a soup or minestrone served with leftover pasta, fresh (root) vegetables, and the main dish, which is then finished off with cheese, wine, and sometimes something(s) sweet. It’s all fresh, all delicious, all righteous, man. I love it!
There are various types of grapes which make various types of wines (I can say that in Italian!) which all have their own distinct texture, flavor, aroma, and fans. The type we drank last night, for example, was Clinton. A bit of Monica, a bit of Lewinsky, but I liked it! (They didn’t get the joke.) If you know your types, you can order one and I’ll try and ship it to you. Otherwise, enjoy the random one I bring you!
Lizzie and I have also had the good fortune to help trim and tie down the vines. It was both Lizzie’s and my favorite task this far. We also got to press (pigiare) grapes, yes, even in March. But these grapes (which have been drying since late September) are making a type of sweet dessert wine, I believe! It’s all really incredible with this plant.
Last night, we were discussing the various forms of trimming an olive tree. Over wine and cheese, we later related those methods to life. You see, the olive branches should go in sets of two, to two, to two. It’s quite tricky deciding which two to go with sometimes, which is unlike the paths in life. There’s just one option to the left and one to the right. Anyhow, the best olive trees open up like a vase, so sun can shine in to the center but also so that rain or hail or wind won’t damage inside that vase. So you thin the previous year’s branches quite a bit. The branches should stay not too low and not too high, in order to make it easier for picking later. Really though, it’s quite difficult with these old, but delicate trees. And, after a full day of trimming, we close our eyes and involuntarily visualize certain branches in need of a haircut!
Amazing, and yet annoying. Also, they have 200 of them! Most of them are 150 years old, too. Imagine all the stories they have to tell! Not to mention their incredible view:
Sometimes I wish I were an olive tree. Or a giant sea tortoise. But they don’t have those in Italy, I don’t think. Anyway, how cool, huh?
It is eaten fresh with every meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Vittorio makes it fresh almost every day from live sourdough bacteria that he mentioned is over 100 years old. Now THAT is self sustenance.
Vittorio with his pasta madre:
Here are just a few random photos of what else we have been up to as of late!
Well, that’s enough Italy for you for one day. Stay tuned for more soon! Also, later posts will include more of the specific adventures we have had. Lots of love to all!