Home and Abroad

Italy inspires us. No matter whether we are at home or abroad. Join us on our journey of self discovery, learning the lessons of la dolce vita.

Chiara and Marco’s Umbria

It’s summer at La Fattoria del Gelso and we are ready to host you in this awesome place in the green heart of Italy. We said summer and that means pool, drinks, fresh food and relaxing. We had this combination a couple of days ago and now it’s time to share with the guests. The farmhouse is ready with its flowers and this year we’re lucky to have a wonderful golden wheat crop set against the cozy sunset each evening. Like every summer, the chicken coop is full of friends: hens, guinea fowls, geese, ducks and our beautiful rooster (he is a good fellow, he understands that he can’t bother us early in the morning!)

Another beautiful corner is our garden. The asparagus has just finished, but a good substitution has just arrived: green beans are now the king of La Fattoria del Gelso. And we can’t wait for the tomatoes and potatoes that are coming next. And since we are in Cannara, we can’t miss garlic and onion. So… we have good weather, a good location, good food and what else? Of course good wine is always with us.

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Next week we’ll have our typical pizza night and we are going to try our new favorite pizza: mozzarella, fresh stracciatella, anchovies and truffle! What? Did someone say truffle? Yes, we did. This year we have a new member in our family: Google, the truffle dog! Google and Marco go truffle hunting every morning and they are doing a great job. A lot of people are coming and we are ready to host them on tours, private dinners, cooking classes or whatever they might ask.

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We try to do our best to give you an unforgettable experience in Umbria.

Marco and Chiara

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It's summer at La Fattoria del Gelso and we are ready to host you in this awesome place in the green heart ...

Jennifer’s Umbria

Life Italian Style’s  Family Farms of Montefalco Tour has been a big hit so far this season.  In addition to a wonderful tasting of cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses from a young local farmer, we visit two local farms and meet all of the animals – from chickens and ducks to rabbits, sheep, pigs, goats and cows!  We also take a stroll through the borgo of Montefalco, always stopping at the Pardi linen store – a visit to their neighboring winery completes the day!

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For a more active day, nothing beats a horseback ride though the vineyards of the Terre Margaritelli winery followed by a long winery lunch or a cycling tour through the Umbrian valley with a picnic lunch in the countryside!

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Discover the best that the neighboring Umbrian villages have to offer!  I have designed my Tasting Tours of Bevagna, Spello and Perugia to explore all of the hidden secrets from the best salami producer to the original Perugian chocolates!

Suzy and Bill say:

“Jennifer has been working closely with all of the local farmers for 12 years—for a multi-course feast  at the Farmhouse using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients, reserve her to cook a special dinner for your guests!”

Family Farms of Montefalco Tour Read more

Life Italian Style's  Family Farms of Montefalco Tour has been a big hit so far this season.  In addition to a wonderful tasting ...

What’s New In Umbria? (Part One)

I am Simone Proietti Pesci, the chef of the restaurant and when you come to visit me in Bevagna you can taste the real Umbrian cuisine.

Le Delizie del Borgo is my restaurant in Bevagna inside the park, Filippo Silvestri.

The park is a special place to eat. We have table outside under the shadow of the trees and beautiful light during the evening. Some of our favorite dishes right now are handmade pasta with local fresh truffles, porcini mushroom salad and pasta with fava beans.

We have planted a garden in the backyard of the restaurant.  We have aromatic herbs and all the veggies come from our garden.

We are available for  cooking classes and private dinners in the restaurant and also at Bill and Suzy’s farmhouse, la Fattoria del Gelso, where you can celebrate your weddings and special events.  This summer we are hosting our first wedding at their farmhouse (can’t wait to share the photos with you!)

During the summer we have music in the park.  July 7th we have a concert and dinner, July 22nd a Jazz trio with dinner and the end of August Lola Swing will be playing.

Come party with us in the park.

Simone

Happy Father’s Day

Dad, Padre, Father, Papà, Babbo. Whatever you call him, he is that unique figure in your life who holds a special place in your heart: a father. Father’s Day, means something different to each and every one of us, and we’ve asked our staff to share some of their favorite memories with you!

Reflections from our Team:

Lindsey: “Best (and worst) thing my father ever thought me: if something isn’t funny the first time it definitely will be by the tenth.”

Rae: “My Dad is my Best friend!”

Antonio: “Mi Papá ha sido un gran maestra de la vida.”

Justin: “Mio padre è il mio idolo e voglio ancora diventare come lui.”

J’han: “He always had a story to make you laugh.”

Tammy: My Dad can make me laugh as much now as when I was little.”

Ron: “My Dad was the kindest person that I’ve ever met and I still want to grow up to be like him!”

Patrick: “My Dad eats like a horse, sings like a bird and drinks like a fish.”

Deyon: “ I am so happy to be both a Father and a Grandfather!”

Chris: “My Dad never turned down a chance to go outside to play”

Zach: “Without my Dad, I wouldn’t be as ready to take on the world”

Meg: “My Dad will do anything he can for his family”

Max: “My Dad would beat Chuck Norris up”

Julia: “My Dad is the life of any party”

Federico: “Mio padre sarà sempre il mio punto di rifermento”

Liam: “As a father myself..I hope to one day be as kind, strong and courageous as my father..I know no one is perfect, but in my eyes he sure was pretty damn close”

Rene: ”Es un buen tipo mi viejo”

Larry: “This is my first Father’s Day as a father and I am really looking forward to it!”

Scott: “My Dad taught me how to smoke [pork butt!]”

Lauren: “My Dad has always taught me the value in working hard and eating well.”

Suzy: “Growing up in Iowa, I thought the Presidential candidates went to everyone’s house for dinner.  Lorne’s passion for politics was addictive and is what brought me to DC. He was a great dad – I miss him every day.”

Bill:  “Everyone who ever encountered my dad, no matter how briefly, couldn’t help but know that he was an exceptional person.  Kind, friendly, caring and always engaging, he quietly set a very high bar for his four sons. One day, stopping by his summer mountain vacation home I found myself chatting for the first time with the couple who had cleaned his house for the past decade and at the end of our conversation the husband remarked to me, ‘you are exactly like your dad.’  No one has ever paid me higher compliment.

 

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Dad, Padre, Father, Papà, Babbo. Whatever you call him, he is that unique figure in your life who holds a special place ...

Mozza-bella!

This is an excerpt from one of Bill’s previous blog posts during a visit to Puglia and the impromptu mozzarella class that ensued.


Today’s installment is all about the food. Such is life in Puglia, a bountiful region with hundreds of miles of coastline and an abundance of seafood, olive oil, grapes, regional pastas, cheeses and meats. For travelers such as we, it is both a blessing and a curse. A visit here awakens the culinary imagination and quickens the gastronomic pulse… though it also threatens to expand the corporeal waistline.

We awake to the gentle lapping of the ocean against the cliffs below our window, but today the sun is not so bright. The skies are gray and rain clouds dart in and out. But the temperature is mild, perhaps 50 degrees, a veritable heat wave compared to the freezing, snowy weather we encountered here last February.

We drive to Gioia del Colle to meet Angelo, who will be our guide for the entire day, retracing the route by which we left him the night before. Together, we drive toward Santeramo where we will meet the aunt of Filippo Mancino, our supplier of extra-virgin olive oil. Filippo and Angelo have been kind enough to arrange for us to watch fresh mozzarella being made—Filippo’s aunt, who runs a farm just outside of Santeramo, has been making this signature cheese her entire lifetime. The drive is beautiful, with olive trees stretching into infinity and small stone fences lining the road. As we descend from the Murge, the plateau on which Gioia del Colle is situated, onto the plain that stretches into neighboring Basilicata, the terrain becomes rocky and then lush. The rain has given up and bits of sun occasionally stream through the gray sky.

We are greeted warmly by Filippo’s aunt and her spritely eighty-year-old mother (it must be the mozzarella!). We are led into their kitchen which is connected to the cheese making area, a small sanitary area with some sterile metal cans and other devices for making various cheeses. Our mozzarella today, however, is a decidedly low-tech affair. A simple plastic tub, filled with briny water is sitting on a stool and next to it, on a wooden table is a thick white mass the consistency of cottage cheese but smooth rather than lumpy. This mass will in a few moments become mozzarella, and has been made from a mixture of the previous evening’s milk and this morning’s milk from the farm’s cows.

The milks have been heated to a temperature of 40 degrees celsius and rennet has been added. (When we ask about rennet we are told it is not a very “nice” ingredient. It comes only from the stomach of baby calves who are still drinking their mother’s milk. We are not quite clear how it is extracted from the cow, but we really don’t want to know.) The heated milk has been left to drain and has now settled into the light paste that is before us. The Aunt uses a knife to cut through the paste, mixing it up by cutting it (we are told that the word mozzarella comes from the old Italian mozzare, which means to cut) and then placing it in a large bowl where her mother pours hot water over it. Using a long, flat, wooden paddle the cheese is rolled and pressed, moving it in and out of the water and over the paddle. The texture begins to change from a paste and becomes light and elastic, like a bright white wad of Silly Putty. The aunt shapes the cheese into a long flattened tube, tying a knot and using a knife to cut off the little tied pieces which she puts into a bowl of cold water. Alternately she rolls the mass into a small ball the size of an egg, gathering the edges together and tucking them away from view inside the ball. Asked if we want salted or unsalted cheese the mozzarella is transferred to a bowl of salted water and then we are each served a plate of cheese. A small glass of red wine and a piece of bread accompany the most delicious (and definitely the freshest) cheese we have ever had. The cheese has a mild taste, slightly salty but creamy and smooth. We finish our plates and are rewarded with another knot of cheese—I consume six balls and braids of mozzarella (so as not to be rude!)

We are told that the family raises cows only for the production of milk and also have a small stable of a special breed of donkeys. As we are preparing to leave, two donkeys are brought out for milking. The milk of these donkeys is very close to mother’s milk, we are told, and the family sells it to families whose children cannot drink cow’s milk.

When we say goodbye to our new friends, we are comfortably full of farm-fresh mozzarella and good company. We promise not to return until we have recovered from the food coma, but we make many plans for joint travel, business and, of course, eating.

A story full of farm-fresh mozzarella Read more

This is an excerpt from one of Bill's previous blog posts during a visit to Puglia and the impromptu mozzarella class that ensued. Today’s installment is ...

Better Bubbles

This holiday season we reprise the following post which we filed after our visit to Franciacorta in April 2018. On that trip we fell in love with franciacorta, Italy’s emphatic answer to champagne, and dedicated ourselves to spreading the word about what we consider to be the most delicious sparking wine available anywhere. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or New Years, we can’t imagine a better way than by popping the cork on a bottle (or more) of franciacorta. If you are curious, stop by Via Umbria. We have the largest selection of reasonably priced bubbles in the DC metro area.

— Bill and Suzy

It’s franciacorta.
It’s not champagne. It’s franciacorta.

And it’s definitely not prosecco.

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If we learned one thing during our visit last month to Franciacorta, the sparkling wine producing district in Lombardia, about an hour east of Milan it is that franciacorta is not Italian champagne. It is tasty, elegant and refined. It’s a sparkling wine that deserves its own name, free from the shadow of champagne

What is franciacorta? In a word, franciacorta is delicious.

Franciacorta 22Following four memorable days in Verona last month, we spent four glorious days in Franciacorta, unpacking our bags at the lovely Hotel Rivalago located, as the name suggests, on the shores of Lake Iseo. One of the lesser known lakes in this, Italy’s lake district, Iseo is a stunning backdrop that forms the northern boundary of Franciacorta. The mountains that surround the lake create a unique microclimate that, paired with the area’s poor rocky soil render the area unfit for growing much of anything. Execpt, to our good fortune, grapes and olives.

Franciacorta 15Until 1961 Franciacorta labored under relative obscurity, known mostly as a lovely weekend escape for wealthy Milanese and an area of good but unremarkable white wines. But in 1961 one of those wealthy residents, Guido Berlucchi, seeking a way to improve upon his modest local white wines decided to reach out to winemaker Franco Ziliani who posed a fateful question to his new partner. “What if we were to make a sparkling wine as the French do?” What was born from that question was franciacorta, and today nearly 200 producers annually riddle by hand and machine 17 million bottles of Italy’s best sparkling wine.

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Franciacorta 9Compared with the over 300 million bottles of champagne produced in the eponymous region in France, the growth of franciacorta (the name has nothing to do with France but instead was the name given to this middle ages tax free trading zone) has been remarkable, establishing itself as one of the world’s premiere sparking wines in just fifty years. Much of that no doubt has to do with the fact that it was championed and promoted from its beginnings by some of Italy’s most influential, fashionable and cosmopolitan families. Today people love drinking franciacorta as much for its silky, seductive taste as for its elegant packaging and branding.

Franciacorta 11Franciacorta 3Franciacorta 20On our visit to the region we got to experience first hand just how elegant and personal the winemakers’ hospitality can be. We were treated to a tour of the Berlucchi winery, where franciacorta was invented, by none other than Cristina Ziliani, daughter of the original winemaker, enjoying Berluchi’s 61 franciacorta brut and saten in the ancestral home of Guido Berlucchi.  Ca’ del Bosco, one of the most recognized names in Franciacorta introduced us to the area with a tour of their winery and treated us to a memorable lunch at the spectacular il Priore restaurant overlooking the vast and stunning Franciacorta landscape. At Bellavista we were not only treated to a visit to a winery that could just as easily double as an art museum and a private tasting that was among the most elegant we’ve ever enjoyed, we experienced a homecoming of sorts for our lunch at l’Albereta, a relais et chateaux property one of the finest Italian resorts we’ve ever stayed at. If you haven’t read of our memorable visits there, check out our blog post.

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By now you should be getting the picture. Franciacorta is a region and a type of wine. But no matter what you mean when you utter this magical word, it is elegance and beauty personified, offering a sense of wellbeing that we find so often when we travel to Italy, but which comes so easily and automatically in this unmatched corner of our favorite country. We look forward to experiencing it over and over on future visits to Franciacorta and to sharing it with our customers through special dinners and wine tastings. Come join us and enjoy franciacorta with us. Just be sure to not call it champagne.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

What is franciacorta? In a word, franciacorta is delicious Read more

This holiday season we reprise the following post which we filed after our visit to Franciacorta in April 2018. On that trip ...

My Verona

VinItaly 1It has been just a week since Suzy and I returned from our annual spring pilgrimage to Italy and we’re already counting the days until our return. The two and a half week trip flew by and is now a just a memory. But oh, what memories!

Our April visits are always a joy, if only because they give us the opportunity to enjoy springtime in Italy, which really is, in a word . . . magical. This year was no exception, with perfect weather during our week in Umbria and even perfecter weather throughout the week we traveled up north.

Pavilion for the Veneto region at VinItaly. This is a building, not a landscape!
Pavilion for the Veneto region at VinItaly. This is a building, not a landscape!

That second week’s itinerary took us to Verona, site of the VinItaly, the Italian wine expo that is held annually there. This was Suzy and my fifth visit to VinItaly and even after all those visits, it remains simply breathtaking in its scope. Nearly five thousand exhibitors displaying tens of thousands of Italian wines in a dozen airplane hangar-like pavilions covering a million square feet. That’s an awful lot of wine for two people to drink.

Our new best friend. And Marta Poli, the export manager at Mirabella winery.
Our new best friend. Also pictured, Marta Poli, the export manager at Mirabella winery.
Meet the family.
Meet the family.

That’s why we brought Lindsey and Scott from Via Umbria to join us and help us navigate this ocean of wine. For four days we spread out and made new discoveries and friendships and renewed old ones. We drank bubbles – lots of bubbles – from spumante to prosecco to franciacorta. We drank white wines. We drank red wines. We learned about particular grapes, about soil, about terroir, about traditions. We met winemakers and met their sons and daughters, their mothers and fathers. We saw our friends and neighbors from Umbria and made new friends in Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto and Puglia.

For us, wine tastes better, leaves a deeper impression and is just plain more enjoyable when we don’t just taste it, but understand it. Not a clinical academic understanding, but an appreciation and a showing of respect that comes from knowing the grapes (of which there are thousands in Italy), of knowing where it comes from (the zone, the soil, the history and traditions of the area) and of getting a sense of the mindboggling number of decisions the winemaker makes every day that impact the final result. As big and crowded and frenetic as Verona is during VinItaly, it is still possible to find quiet moments with winemakers where they can share their passion with you and help you understand their wines. And along the way you may drink a glass or two.

We had a number of those moments with winemakers over our days in Verona. We drank through Giorgio Colutta’s entire lineup while comparing notes with him and his winemaker about the winemaker dinner he is hosting at Via Umbria on June 7. We met Marianna Annio from Pietraventosa in Puglia, who is also hosting a winemaker dinner here (on May 4) and made some last minute changes to the menu for her dinner. We were given VIP treatment by Cristina Renda, brand ambassador for Ca’ del Bosco, one of the leading producers of Franciacorta, which some call Italian champagne.   Cristina prefers to call champagne French Franciacorta. And while visiting Cristina’s private VIP room we ate prociutto and drank bubbles with the owner of the parent company. We tracked down Valentina Frignani, who will be hosting our Veneto winemaker dinner (May 22) and wrangled an invite into her boss’ private tasting room, where we got to meet the boss – Remo Farina – himself. We tasted out of this world Barolo from a small family-operated estate as the owner, Giorgio Viberti, passes on leadership of his winery to his young sons. And on a daytrip outside Verona for another tasting event we were treated to a spirited debate over the relative merits of Tuscany and Umbria by Simone Santini (Tenuta di Calcinaie in Tuscany) and our dear friend Albertino Pardi (Cantina Fratelli Pardi of Umbria).

This is how to learn about wine. This is how to taste wine. This is how to enjoy wine. With all your senses and your mind and spirit engaged. Learning from the people who make it because they are all to happy to share their stories with you.

Ci vediamo!

Bill and Suzy

Terre Margaritelli manager Federico Bibi and Suzy execute a Vulcan Hair Meld.
Terre Margaritelli manager Federico Bibi and Suzy execute a Vulcan Hair Meld.

Verona, site of the VinItaly, the Italian wine expo Read more

It has been just a week since Suzy and I returned from our annual spring pilgrimage to Italy and we’re already counting ...

Mad About Florence

The popular song proclaims “I love Paris in the springtime.”  You’ll get no arguments from me for I, too, love Paris in the springtime.  But I reallyreally love Italy in the spring.  And not just Italy—I’m mad about Florence.

Thankfully, our yearly travel schedule takes us to Italy each spring.  This is the time when Suzy and I host week-long Umbrian Food and Wine tours, each one an opportunity for eight lucky foodies to experience the special world we have discovered and nurtured in Italy.  Our guests join a community of food and wine producers who are eager to share their passion. For the past several years we’ve concluded our spring trips in Verona to participate in VinItaly, the largest annual expo of Italian wine producers. There, we sip, spit and schmooze, learning about Italy’s hundreds (if not thousands!) of indigenous grapes and meeting the incredible producers who work with them.

And so each spring—on the way from Umbria to Verona, or Verona to Umbria—we stop in Florence. It was where we got our first taste of Italy, and it was here that we fell helplessly in love with her. Now, it’s where we renew our vows with Italy. Short as they are, our Florentine pilgrimages remind us of so many aspects of this incredible country that we originally fell in love with as we stroll the historic streets of this birthplace of humanism, bathed in golden sunshine and cooled by the soft, crisp springtime air that wraps itself around us like a cool down comforter on a chilly winter night. In this birthplace of the renaissance, where civilization was reborn six centuries ago we are lifted by a different kind of rebirth, the annual rebirth of life as the languorous rhythm of spring softly delivers us from the cold, bleak winter and reminds us of the joys and beauty of nature.  We taste it in the fresh, spring peas that play the starring role in a spaghetti ai piselli we always enjoy at lunch at Buca dell’Orafo upon our arrival in Florence.  Florence 1

We feel it against our skin as we meander along ancient vias, oblivious to the crowds of tourists that do not hear the voices that are speaking to us. We experience it from a rooftop bar in the late afternoon, enjoying an aperol spritz as we take in roman, medieval and renaissance Florence.

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It’s there as we seat ourselves at a table set atop the ruins of an ancient amphitheatre, where we tuck into an enormous bistecca alla fiorentina and wash it down with a wine that proves that the whole can indeed be greater than the sum of its parts.Florence 9

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It was in Florence where we were first overcome by all the beauty and contentment that Italy has to offer. And what a place to start, because all of Italy can be found there.  Art. Food.  Weather.  Pace of life. Warmth.  Style.  Humanity.

Those on a mission can charge right past it, oblivious to all.  Not see the marker halfway up the exterior wall of a palazzo announcing “here is where the waters arrived during the great flood of 1966.  Yes, here!”  Not hear the opera music drifting from an apartment window, echoing off the walls of the medieval streets.  Not smell the baking of bread or roasting of meat.

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It was here that we learned not just how to taste but how to enjoy the act of tasting.  What we have tasted, and what we taste every time we visit Italy is not just food and wine, but life.  For Italy is comfort food for the soul, engaging not just the senses but satisfying all of our basic human urges—aesthetic, artistic and intellectual—as well as those of sight, sound, smell, hearing and taste.  To enjoy it fully you must slow down, you must breathe deeply and allow Italy to come to you.  When you do, you will feel her wrap herself around you, envelope you, become you, as you become it.  Transforming you and transporting you, protecting you and providing for you just as Daphne was when she was transformed into a tree.

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On our earliest trips to Florence we always made a stop at the Madova glove store, a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop at the end of the Ponte Vecchio.  There, animal hides have been being transformed into works of art and style for generations and we always felt the urge to bring home some pairs for us and to give as gifts.  On this spring return visit, this pilgrimage, it felt only right to cross the bridge and to take another look at this icon of Florence.  Not to buy anything, but just to look and say thank you.  For just as Madova gloves transform the quotidian and create something that wraps itself around you with beauty, comfort and style, making your life momentarily better, so does Florence.  So does Italy.  During our brief visit to Florence we slipped on Italy and the fit was perfect.

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Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

I really, really love Florence Read more

The popular song proclaims “I love Paris in the springtime.”  You’ll get no arguments from me for I, too, love Paris in ...

The Proof is in the Bottle

This is the story of four men. Farmers, Winemakers, Community builders, Umbrians.

This is the story of Roberto DiFilippo, Federico Bibi, Giampaolo Tabarrini and Albertino Pardi. Umbrian winemakers, colleagues and friends.  But we could have just as easily told this story with different names – Roberto Dionigi, Duccio Pompili, Peter Heilbron or a host of others.   The love of the land, of the region’s traditions, of the wine that Umbria’s winemakers make is universal amongst them.  To them, it is simply what they do.  To us it is unique.  To us it is inspiring.

Over the course of this weeklong food and wine tour our winemaker friends have shared their passions, their stories, their love of what they do.  Each one practices their craft differently but at the end of the day, they do it all the same because each in his own way has discovered the universality that connects what they do.  Some are organic.  Some are biodynamic.  Others practice traditional farming methods.  But regardless of the label we apply or the strictness of the practices they follow they all value sustainability.  Above all they seek to sustain the patrimony that is their land. To nurture it, to make it healthier every day.  So they can grow the best grapes.  So they can pass on this patrimony to their children and their children’s children.

Each respects others’ differences, but they all share the same universal belief.  Each looked us in the eye and said that good wine is made in the fields, not in the cantina.  That in order to make good wine you must grow good grapes.  Healthy grapes that reflect the soil in which they grow.

The proof is in the bottle.

One of them told us of an experience he had in Turkey, where a certain winemaker extolled his practice of adding this and that in the cantina to make up for grapes that spent days in the sun before fermenting.  This, our friend opined, perhaps a bit too generously, is just a different approach.  The wine, he told us, was “technically good.”  It had been corrected in the winery.

Our winemakers prefer not to correct mistakes in the winery.  Because you can make bad grapes “technically good.”  But the excitement in wine is not in being technically correct, the excitement is in feeling something alive in your mouth.  Something that vibrates with the rhythms of the fields and the sun from where it came.  You can correct flaws and make something “technically good” but you can’t give it life.  You can’t give it personality.  Only the land and the sun can do that.  And that is what these four men have spent their lives learning.

Their wines are simple in the very best sense of the word.  They are made from healthy grapes grown in well-tended fields.  They are transformed from juice to wine with knowledge and experience that does not rush, that does not cut corners.  Because while technology can minimize risks and defects, only time can produce great wine.

This week we have enjoyed many wines at many good meals and have created many pleasant memories around the table.  But the lessons of these humble, passionate, patient, giving and caring winemakers – farmers, community builders, Umbrians – will stay with us long after that glorious taste has faded away.  And it will leave a taste as sweet and as satisfying as the wine itself.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

Umbrian winemakers Read more

This is the story of four men. Farmers, Winemakers, Community builders, Umbrians. This is the story of Roberto DiFilippo, Federico Bibi, Giampaolo Tabarrini ...

Spring Green

What a fierce winter this has been.  The extremes between odd 60 degree days have not been enough to balance the fierce cold, snow and winds that have crept along the east coast.  We often joke about how frequently we shut down the government for the promise of snow—this year was an all time first for me when we shut down for the promise of wind.

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We departed a snow covered New York City for Umbria where we have been greeted by sunny skies and fields of green.  

We are often asked, “What is the best time to visit Italy?”  Of course our answer is always, “Whenever you can make it to Italy.”  There is always a good reason to visit Italy. For me, the best reason to visit Italy in the spring is the promise of what is to come.

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When we visit during the summer—the farmers discuss the heat and the wind—how they are affecting the fields.  When we visit during the fall—the farmers discuss the impact of the flies and the rains. When we visit during the spring the farmers discuss the possibilities of what is to come.  The promise of a perfect harvest. The potential of a particular grape. The buds on the trees. The gentle rain that just passed through. In spring—everything is possible.

Our tours always involve food and wine—in the spring we are drinking the most recent releases.  We are eating wild asparagus, artichokes and favas. As our friend Emiliano pointed out to us on day one, “The green has returned”—and we are here to enjoy it.

—Suzy

The green has returned Read more

What a fierce winter this has been.  The extremes between odd 60 degree days have not been enough to balance the fierce ...

An Umbrian Easter in DC

When our dear friends Marco Palermi and Chiara Cigogna come to Washington from Umbria, it might be an understatement to say that they bring the whole spirit of Umbria with them. With wit, warmth and wisdom, Marco and Chiara are the ideal ambassadors for this truly special region that we have come to call home.

Marco and Chiara are well known to anyone who has visited our Umbrian farmhouse but for those who are unaware, they are Umbrians through and through and have built quite a following among the guests whom have they taken care of during their visits to Umbria.

But the true treasure of the green heart of Italy is its people and no one better represents Umbria than Marco and Chiara. We relish that their annual visit coincided with Easter this year as we get the opportunity to celebrate with these cultural ambassadors discovering new foods and traditions.

But beyond their amazing personalities and hosting skills, their visit also means Umbrian delicacies are flying out of the Via Umbria kitchen at an even higher rate than usual! One of those specialties that is now available in our cafe, is the delicious Ciaramicola, pronounced Chara-mee-cola.

This special Easter cake is Umbrian to its core, and the tradition is that a woman would present this cake to her fiance on the morning of Easter Sunday,  But to be honest that traditional has been left in the dust because it is so good that everyone deserves the right to eat it!

So whether you join us around our communal table for Easter Brunch or Dinner with Marco and Chiara, or come in to the cafe to try some of their Umbrian delicacies, we guarantee you will be just as smitten as we are!

For the recipe for Ciaramicola, follow this link!

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