madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking

how I got to be on TV

23 Comments

If you see where I live, atop a magical mountain in a rural area of Italy, you will find it quite surprising that anyone finds me at all.  And it’s probabaly even more surprising that myself and my family can make a living with our B&B and cooking classes. Mysteries of the internet, most likely.

Indeed, after having scrutinized my website statistics for years, I still have no idea how people ever gets to know about us.

Take last August, for example. I was in the car in front of a hardware shop waiting for my husband. He spends 50% of his time in the hardware shop. It was hot and I wanted to go home.

Then my cellphone rang. At the other side of the line someone with a velvety voice said “I am a TV film director”. And “we want to come next week to film one of your cooking classes for a BBC program”. Suddenly I did not feel that hot, but my head was spinning. No, I don’t often get phone calls from TV people.

A few days later I was walking in Santa Maria degli Angeli with a couple of newly wed Scottish people, Ruth and Stuart. Under the bright August sun, I was trying to tell them that I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Umbria, and that I can have lots of great food here.

Right, easy peasy, this is my stuff, isn’t it?

In front of me a young crew of BBC TV people – headed by handsome John Bonny – was trying to convince me to stop hitting the microphone and to walk slowly without looking in the camera which was almost attached to my nose. Easily said than done: nr. 1 I am Italian and I talk with my hands, nr. 2 all the village people was looking at me walking with a TV crew. Try to concentrate on the camera when your butcher is watching.

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Hot and clumsy and weird, my TV day went on. Do you know they put a furry microphone virtually in your bra? It did take me a while to get acquainted with the microphones.

We had to go into my friend’s Barbara shop to buy prosciutto and pecorino. That took about one hour because we never said the right thing about the pecorino and we had to repeat. Beautiful John had not given us a script.

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Then we proceeded to my house to cook. We made stringozzi with a Norcina sauce. The original recipe only uses one egg, but we went through a whole box because we were not capable to break it in the right way. I was terrified we would run out of eggs. Until this very day I am not sure what’s the best way to break an egg for the camera.

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Ruth and Stuart had moved house the day before, then they had jumped on a plane at 4:00 a.m. to come to Italy. We had been filming in the sun for several hours. No wonder we were starting to falter. Notwithstanding our clumsiness, John, his delightful assistant Bella and the rest of the crew stayed kind and smiling until the end. Only then I realized how difficult it must be to work with people who has no idea how to behave in front of a camera.escape to the continent Umbria11

Finally, we did manage. The pasta was cooked, stirred in the sauce, blanketed with truffle shavings. escape to the continent Umbria14

The best part – and it’s a pity it’s not on screen – was to see everybody’s eyes becoming soft because of the heavenly smell. It was way past dinner time. You could almost hear them salivating. Everybody relaxed. We shared a few forkfuls of pasta, they packed the cameras and left, leaving us with 5 failed pasta doughs and a few more stringozzi to cook.

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Ruth and Stuart with my helper Maria who took care of the failed pasta doughs

And guess what? I asked John how he found out about me, and he said “on the internet”.

Of course. I shouldn’t have asked.

If one sits at the top of a mountain, someone, sometimes, will pass by.

 

PS. the program is named Escape to the Continent (Umbria), if you can’t access the link here, you might be able to  see it on BBC i-player or just google “Escape to the continent Umbria”. You can see me from approx min. 24

 

 

 

 

 

Author: madonnadelpiatto

Former scientist, I now run B&B and cooking school Alla Madonna del Piatto in Assisi, Umbria, central Italy, together with my husband Ruurd, daughter Tea and truffle dog Google. We love good food and wine, travel, beautiful handicrafts like textiles and pottery. We feel fortunate to be able to share our magical mountain with many friends from all over the world.

23 thoughts on “how I got to be on TV

  1. Great post. We are sure you could easily be a TV personality with enough Vino. Will look forward to seeing you on our next trip to Umbria. John and Sharon Massachusetts

    Sent from my iPhone

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    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope to see that episode some day. My husband and I found your wonderful B&B via trip adviser and the day we did your cooking class was my favorite day. We made homemade pasta with pea/almond/basil pesto, yummy rosemary/onion focaccia and a lovely chocolate panne cotta. Oh, and we drank lots of wine while we did it. Perfect.

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  3. Hi Letizia, loved your tv story, hope it gets u lots of new customers! Can u tell us how we may b able to view the piece they did on you? Would live to see it! I’m Lynn, remember me…. I was with u in December a year ago… All alone one cold, snowy day! Still love to remember our afternoon together! I’m in Paris for a few weeks visiting with my daughter who is studying at Sciences Po university here…. We r having a lovely mother daughter relaxed vacation together. I’d love to know about any of your favorite restaurants here in Paris if you have some. Hope to hear back from u! regards, Lynn (w the Dutch Husband)

    Sent from my iPhone

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  4. Oh…. Yes… I sent this to u because I thought u’d enjoy reading it. I took classes a year ago at Letizia’s amazing agraturismo (sp?) outside Assisi… B sure also to read her website and if u want get on her newsletter/blog list… Such an excellent cook! Her husband is from the Netherlands!!! They both have their masters in “insects”….. Bugs, so interesting! Gave it all up in order to build this place. Enjoy!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  5. A star is born! I loved this. Thanks again, so much, for time spent on your beautiful terrace talking and laughing.

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  6. Bravo Letizia, tell us where to view! When you teach from the heart good things come your way and the world is destined to find you! Hope to see you again sometime.

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  7. Loved this!!

    Sally Watkins, CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) “The A-List: Top 125 Travel Super-Agents” http://www.sallywatkins.com

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  8. Hi Letizia, I don’t remember exactly how we found you (probably on tripadvisor) but I DO remember the drive to your home! We were wondering where on earth we were and if we would ever find you! Ruud gave us a warm welcome and we still have very fond memories of our time learning in your kitchen and of the tiramisu you served us with our breakfast! Congratulations on becoming a TV star!

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  9. Lovely story, Letizia – And what an experience! So glad they found you. What’s the name of the program? You may find you will get lots of new business! Best wishes, Heather

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  10. What fun hearing all about the behind the scenes goings on. You’ll be happy to know it all looked perfectly natural and seamless in the video! A star in born…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So my dear friend, now you are a star! Film, print, what media form is next?? I am so happy for you, this is well deserved! How did I find you? I think it was tripadvisor. But what drew me in was your blog. Your way with words has a natural cadence and becomes almost mesmerizing. Seriously, you have quite a way with words. GOOD FOR YOU!! Ciao amica mia!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congratulations! I can’t wait to see this–and LOVE the backstory!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I found you through a close friend who spent three months living in Italy and may have taken your cooking lessons. When she returned to the United States she told me about you and gave me the link to your website and the rest is history. Probably for most of us, that’s how it happens. A good friend shares their treasures! Congratulations! Angela Muller

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sei semplicemente meravigliosa! <3

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Your segment was FANTASTIC! So lovely to see you and hear your voice again. It made me long to come back…. and oh… cooking with truffles would be a dream. I am coming for Terra Madre this year. Will you be there – we are skipping out on the Saturday to go to the Truffle Festival in Alba. Would love you to join us if you are in the area…. It will be my first time at BOTH! :)
    Valerie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Valerie! I’d love to come to Terra Maddre and meet you there but Torino is quite far and it’s during school time, so not ideal for Tea. Hopefully next time you will make it again down here, have a great time!

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