Sunday night was a lot of fun. I got to see yet another beautiful city here in Italy, Vicenza! We went out for a spritz on a beautiful hillside, then we went into the city to a church that is famous for the miracle of the healing of a plague. We missed the festival of M'Donna by one day but I was able to see the pictures in the paper and it looked like a big deal. Italians in Vicenza even get this day off work work (and for anyone wondering, no, Italians don't celebrate Labor Day). From this church's courtyard at dusk I was able to see a beautiful landscape of Italian cities. Unfortunetly, it didn't translate onto my camera very well so you'll have to take my word for it. After taking in the beautiful sites we went to a bierreria (I think that's how you spell it). None the less, it's a place that has more beer than wine and serves amazing pizza. After dinner we went back to the center of Vicenza and had a apperitif at the oldest bar in Vincenza. I felt like I was walking down into a speakeasy from the '20s! Afterwords we went to a gelatoria by my request because everyone in Italy grows up with gelato and no one else thought it sounded quite as delicious as I did. The person behind the counter was very friendly and offered the Toffee gelato. I was so excited because it's been hard for me to ask for anything with carmel because the Italian general word for "candy" is "carmelo." It was delicious, and when talking with the man behind the counter I found out that he has cousins in Canada. Oddly enough, I feel like I've heard that quite a bit from many of the random people I've talked to in Italy. I wonder if that's the "in" place to live for Italiains...Hmmm...
Okay so now for Monday Sept 6th...oppsy, I'm behind again. Sorry guys, but it's been super busy here. I should've known!
As it is harvest time many of the surrounding cities are having their city festivals. Monday night I went with Daniela to Soave Versus in the walled (yes, that's right it's inside of what looks like a huge castle) city of Soave where they grow the Soave grapes and make Soave Classico. A lot of the surrounding winemakers brought in their version of the Soave wine the taste out to the large crowd of people. You could walk from booth to booth and talk to the different wine makers and see what they did to their wine to make it taste the way it did. I thought it was neat to compare all the different flavors. They also had food booths that were offering local specialities and I was able to try a smoked salmon, a stock fish, a custard dessert that is made from the must they use to make wine (concentrated grape juice more or less), a typical bread they serve at Christmas time, and biscotti. I also got to try some more of the local cheeses and freshly baked bread, which is fantastic no matter what country you're in. There were a lot of people there for a Monday night, and of course in true Italian style all of them were very nicely dressed! I met a lot of people too (being the social butterfly that I am). I met someone from Sardinia who makes corks, as well as another one of our winemakers that we used to carry at Vino100. If anyone remembers Inama wine, that's the one! It's still so crazy to actually meet the person who produced a bottle of wine I knew so well! Inama's wine maker invited me to his cantina so that I could see a different set up as well as see how they make red wine, since Fattori only makes whites at the moment. I'll keep you updated as to when I go on that trip.
Tuesday 7th the second intern for the season arrived. Her name is Giulia and she is from the North East part of Italy. She is in school to be an Enotologist and is on a month long assignment for her last year of school. She is staying in the house of Antonio as well and has been great to have around for company. She understand English and when she speaks slowly I can understand her Italian. We make it work, and sometimes when neither one of us knows what's going on, we just say Non Importa and move on! Also on Tuesday, I FINALLY got to clean out one of the tanks. I was so excited to actually be able to get inside! First you have to rinse off the entry way so you don't get all musty, then you must rinse the entire tank clean with a high powered hose, then you spray the whole thing down with more or less Bleach, then you rinse the whole thing off again, then you have to clean the floor under the tank you just washed out. Quite the process but I loved it. However, it was a "be careful what you wish for" situation because after one tank came another, and another, and another...I was tired by the end of the day! That night we went out for pizza in honor of Giulia's first day. One of the many Italian traditions I've come to love is the after dinner coffee and aperitif, right now lemoncello and sambuca have been the favorites and grappa (the local Italian liquor) I still can not even get my nose close to. Ew.
Wednesday 8th has been dubbed part 1 of a 2 part labeling fest. Giulia and I were in the Maggazin for a total of 12 hours putting importer labels on 162 cases of wine.
Thursday morning Giulia and I were told to clean the outside of some of the bigger tanks in the cantina. Okay, no problem...so we thought. We had hose shenanigans for and hour and a half before we even got started cleaning on the tanks. It was ridiculous. First the hose that was up in the catwalk where we needed it didn't have the correct attachment piece on it. So we started to take the piece from another hose but was told to reattach it and take the piece from a different hose. So we started to take the piece from the other hose but couldn't get it to come off of the hose. So then we were told to just take a whole other hose up to the catwalk...well when we found the hose we needed and got it up to the catwalk it ended up being too short. SO we had to take the short hose back down, search out a longer hose and drag it up the catwalk and FINALLY we could start to wash the tanks. Thursday night we all went out to a Bar/Gelatoria for drinks. I was able to taste two of the local wines. I'm still so amazed at how cheap the local wines are. €1.50 for a glass, and the best part is...it's actually GOOD! However, one of my friends told me that restaurants will still mark up their prices quite a bit, just like the do at home, so you have to be careful in touristy areas. One of the wines smelled like cat pee and was light bodied like a some Pinot Grigos can be and the other was more similar to a Soave with rich bold flavors, heavy body but not a lot of smell. Both had their ups and downs for me but I actually drank the full glass of the non-cat pee- smelling one.
Friday was part 2 of the labeling fest. We had to wait until Friday to finish because we ran out of labels the first time around. Giulia and I didn't mind the easy and clean work on a Friday and had fun passing my pocket dictionary back and forth between the two of us as we tried to have a decent converstaion. I learned a lot of vocabulary that day! Friday night we went out for another co-workers birthday, Giorgia. We drove about and hour to eat pizza on Lake Garda (where I'm told George Clooney has a house). I'm sure the view was beautiful but since they wait until 10:00pm to eat dinner here all I could see was a big black spot and some lights of houses on the opposite bank. The pizza I ate was the best I've had so far, all veggies, but all soooo fresh and I never would've thought to put riddicco on a pizza, but it was my favorite part! After dinner we had the birthday torta. This one was better for me than the last Italian birthday torta I had tasted. This one was made of layers of phyllo dough and a cream filling that tasted to me like it was egg nog flavored (probably the nutmeg). They also sang to Giorgia the Italian birthday song. I have no idea what the words are but I did reconize THE Birthday Song tune. After dinner we went out the door and around the corner to a disco called Hollywood for some dancing. We had a good time dancing as a group of 8 girls, but the place as packed full in each and every dance floor area. I was lovingly dubbed, by the sister of the birthday girl, "America" for the evening. I really didn't mind, it's not like anyone could hear her calling me that over the blasting music from three different areas anyway!And I'm still amazed at how much fashing sense and effort Italians put into looking their best. On that note, you should see their faces when I tell them I don't iron my clothes...ever. It's a great shock! We got home at 5am on Saturday morning.
Saturday I slept until 12:30. I got up and had breakfast/lunch then went for a run. A long run. I went up the hill to the Donna in the Wall (a statue of sorts that someone has placed in a hole in the wall by the road), down the hill to the road, into the city center of Ronca, back out and to the opposite direction to the Cantina. This took 45 minutes. THEN I took a pit stop at the cantina. I used the computer for about and hour and just as I was leaving the cousin of Antonio, Enrico who frequents a pair of bell bottom pin stripped hippie pants, pulled up on his tractor and asked if I wanted to have a coffe. I said sure and hopped on the side of his tractor to ride the 100 ft to the coffee bar. After coffee I got set on my way back to the house, another 30 minutes. By the time I got to the house I was steaming hot; took off my shoes and Mp3 player and jumped straight into the pool. The water was sooooo cold due to the recent rain. After I got over the cold water shock and jumped in a few more times I did some yoga stretches by the pool overlooking the grapevines and the hillsides of Italy...peaceful. After a shower, a phone call home, and about two hours of journaling to make sure I didn't miss anything for this blog, Guilia and I went with Daniela, Agusto, and Alessandro to the Monte Forte wine festival because this is where our friend Masimo lives and is now working. This wine festival was more spread out than the one in Soave. There were many streets you could walk down and many booths you could visit. There were crafts, food, and of course plenty of Wine. After the festival we went for pizza then off to bed because we knew we were getting up early the next day to go to the beach!
Sunday 12th Daniela, Agusto, Alessandro, and I (Giulia decided to stay in bed when I knocked on her door at 9:30 am to see if she was coming) went to the beach in Venice! It took about and hour and a half to drive all the way to the beach, and once we got close the traffic was just about bumper to bumper. However, the beach was BEAUTIFUL and it wasn't as packed as it can be since it's the end of summer and most people have already taken their holidays. We spent all morning playing in the waves then laying out in the sun. Then at 3 we decided to walk into the town to have lunch. We ate a regualar restaurant and we all had FISH, finally! I had a spaghetti with Vongole (clams) and other seafood, including mussels, prawns, and squid. I also got to try some of the fried fish (more so a Japanese style of fried than fish fry catfish style)mountian that Daniela ordered. It was all so delicious and hit the spot perfectly. After dinner it was back to the beach (hard life, I know) then we the sun went down and it got cold we headed to a beach side bar and had the wonderful Spritza. After our Spritza we headed out to walk around the shops in the town and then Daniela and I had gelato while the boys ate pizza. Then it was time to leave the beautiful warm beach behind and head for home. I vote this to be my best day here so far.