Peace and love to you all!
Letizia and family at Alla Madonna del Piatto Assisi.
Peace and love to you all!
Letizia and family at Alla Madonna del Piatto Assisi.
Weeks ago I received an email from a woman stating the following:
“we considered staying at your B&B for our holidays but we have read on your blog that you are planning to renovate the new part of the house and we are afraid the works will disturb us during our stay”.
Indeed last May, after a decade of painstaking negotiations and worries, we have fulfilled our dream and bought the second half of our farmhouse. The story is here.
Cara signora (dear lady), I hope you are reading this. Because I want to ask you why you take from me the time which I need to read your message. Then you take the time I need to reply that of course we would not dream to do any works which could disturb our guests during season. We have a B&B we quite some reputation, so why should we do something so damaging.
And then you don’t even bother to reply because you have already decided that you will not be staying here.
Cara signora I know why you have written this message. You live on a planet where – when you want a house - you ask your neighbor kindly if he wants to sell it. If he does, after a week all the papers are signed and the house is yours.
The next week you have your plans and you go to one or another public office and ask them kindly if they give you permissions to move a couple of walls, install, new windows, photovoltaic solar panels and a modern, low consumption biomass heater. “A wonderful project!” – they will say – and give you full support.
Say all the above has taken you a month. Then you get immediately all the construction companies and technical consultancy necessary to actually implement the project, order the materials and put up the scaffolding. immediately afterwards the builders speed in and start hammering making all that horrible noise.
Cara signora, can you please tell me on which planet you live? Because I want to move to this place where is possible to buy a house in May and start to the actual renovation work in September. And may be even complete it by Christmas.
I live in Italy.
It’s been 5 busy months and we haven’t even managed to put together all the crazy paperwork necessary for the solar panels on the roof. The rest of the renovation has to be presented at a later time because it needs even more crazy paperwork.
A couple of days ago, a public officer has announced that after all the documents prepared, we might not be able to install the photovoltaic panels on the roof where they would hardly be visible.
The local government prefers for us to install the panels on our beautiful fields, where they will take up much more space, be visible from very far and disrupt our magnificent view. He said that we have to hide the panels behind a 6 ft tall fence surrounded by tall trees.
Shaded solar panels. Ingenious.
Besides, as we are at the top of a hill on sloping grounds the fence would not hide the panels from view. In contrast, it would only increase the horrendous visual effect of the whole construction.
Cara signora, if you would only know how difficult it is to realize a project here, you would not even consider coming over for holidays.
Please give me the address of your world and I might start packing before it’s too late.
Today it’s a turning point in my life. I have been waiting for this since 26 December 1996. On that day Ruurd, my husband, and I walked to the top of our beautiful hill in the snow.
Here we fell in love with the incredible views of Assisi and the surrounding countryside. Despite the dilapidated aspect of the house, we bought it against the judgment of family and friends who thought we were not a little mad.
It took us 5 years of hard work and worries to move here and start Alla Madonna del Piatto B&B and cooking school.
Ours was the bigger half of a very large farmhouse.The rest was owned by someone who did not do much with it except keeping it quite messy.
Of course, from day one, we started to dream the impossible dream, buying the other half and have our island of peace all to ourselves.
For 10 years we have lived here and worked hard to make Alla Madonna del Piatto a dream for us and for our guests.
Meanwhile a lot has happened, good and bad. Today we have finally managed, we have signed the contract, the other half of the house is ours.
The house is in reasonable conditions, better than the first half we bought back in 1997, it will however need quite a bit of renovation.
This will hopefully result in one or two holiday apartments, a new and larger cooking school and finally, finally, finally an office for myself! Wow, I haven’t had an office for 10 years. It’s maybe time.
Today I feel like a princess. I own my castle. Tonight I’ll have a good sleep.
In my previous life I used to trap smells. As a profession.
I used to collected the elusive aroma of plants with complicated glass vessels and solvent washes. I used the resulting extracts to test their behavior modifying effects.
Capturing scents is science and art at the same time. A scent has to be collected at the right time which can be based on season, time of the day or developmental stage of plant or animal. Scents come in very tiny amount and if badly handled will turn bad or disappear altogether.
Even the definition of the word perfume (a pleasant scent) is evanescent. From the Latin “per fumus” it means through smoke.
So it is that every spring I make a few walks with my daughter Tea to pick wild rose petals. Umbria is covered in wild flowers right now.
Rose essential oil (attar) is still the most widely used ingredient in perfumery. Hindus produced it as early as the 7th century AD. Tea likes the perfume on butter and bread. I only get help to pick if I use the harvest to make rose marmalade.
Only then I am allowed to use some of the bounty to make one bottle of rose liqueur. It’s delicate and subtly sweet. I keep it for a few months to mellow and age. When opened – generally in the fall - it’s quickly gone, it tastes like the perfume of spring.
Clean up the petals from leaves and insects and place them in a clean jar, add alcohol, close and keep in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks. If you forget it for 6 months it’ not a problem. Once extracted, the scent will just stay there, happily dissolved in alcohol.
When ready to bottle, prepare the sugar syrup. Bring the water and sugar to a low boil until the sugar dissolves completely. Cool. Filter the alcohol mixture and reserve the petals. Transfer the infusion in a bottle. Add syrup to the infusion. Stopper the bottle and keep in a cool dark place at least 2 months before using. It does improve with time, so if you can resist you’ll be rewarded.
The left over petals have a lovely taste. Place them in a pan with same weight of sugar and the juice of one lemon. Cook on low heat until dark amber and transfer in a jar. Use like a jam.
Spring is such a crazy special time here. It’s cold, cold, cold. Then one day we wake up and all the little birds are loudly celebrating the first sun. They seem surprised just like us. Look, there’s flowers! forget-me-not! daisies! Isn’t it amazing, one gets surprised every year.
Also we innkeepers get out of our cocoon. It’s been too cold to paint, plaster, vacuum, polish, wax, plant, prune, mow. So we run. We’ve been alone for 4 months on our magical mountains and soon someone will turn up at our door. How can that be? And, amazingly, it happens again.
The last Sunday of March we go to the agricultural fair in Bastia Umbra, it’s part of the spring rites. My husband needs to do some tractor watching
I need to buy geraniums and aromatic herbs and our daughter loves to see the animals.
There’s all sorts of breeds of farm animals on display and “beauty” contests to choose the champions. I love the song in the video below. It’s a silly ’50s tune where a silly guy calls a silly girl on the phone and repeats to death “you are the most beautiful of all”. Happy spring everyone.