We need a morning to recover after Winesday! So today I have a light agenda starting with letting everyone sleep in. Of course sleeping in for me meant sleeping until 7am whereupon I got up made coffee and got a fire going. Some real fall weather had moved in which is par for the course for our day at the Country Houses. It seems to rain every year we do our day at the country houses and this year appeared to be no exception. I love it as it just seems to really accentuate the cozy nature of these homes.
I caught up a bit on my blogging and emails from my team holding the fort down. It is amazing how nice it is to have the technology we have today and the connectivity it affords one who travels. My staff emails me drawings and with the apps I have I can sketch right over their drawings and send them right back. The nine hour difference is not bad either as they work while I’m sleeping and vice versa.
Slowly my group arises and everyone is free to do as they wish. Some years we go to the farmer’s market in Umbertide but everyone wanted to sleep this year. So with the late start I offered a trip to Lacole’ and Porte del Passato - an antique store and a door and kitchen showroom respectively. This is a family operation run by the Belli family. The mother of the family runs Lacole’ and the father run Porte del Passato and our contact, their son, Gabriele, is always a gracious and most helpful host. I had a pretty good sized group so off we went about an hour north of our country houses just outside of Citta de Costello on our way to Lacole’.
Lacole’ is amazing and their business has steadily grown over the years from the little stoneyard I visited in 2000 to the gigantic facility and yard they currently occupy. They source and sell everything from antique furniture and accessories, to reclaimed beams, roof tiles, fountains and fireplaces. I could spend hours here and have brought clients here for purchases and shipments for their homes.
This year I have a client with me who is sourcing doors for her new home we have designed in Desert Mountain. Little did she know what was in store for her. The doors at Porte del Passato are fabulous and quite frankly endless. From sourced antique doors to reproductions they have created inspired from their antique collection this place is like being in a candy shop for me anyway! They have since added a collection of cabinetry for kitchens which rival the doors. Needless, to say, my client was in heaven. We spent a couple hours and like clockwork we got hit with our torrential rainstorm just like every year.
With the storm subsiding, and evening quickly approaching, it was time to gather the troops and make our way home for our cooking class with Elizabeth Wholey, Paola, and Stephano. On the drive home we bumped into the hunters as we are in prime hunting season here in Umbria.
This is always a magical night and really marks the crescendo of the trip and tis year was not exception. The aprons were put on, the wine was poured and we split our time between cooking in the kitchen, enjoying the fire in the living room, and savoring the sunset on the porch.
After two hours of cooking, talking, and laughing we all get down to enjoying a fabulous home cooked meal including Stephano’s grilled meats prepared right in our Living Room fireplace. From battered and fried sage leaves and zucchini flowers to Gnuddi, accompanied by a delicious fresh fennel and orange salad, roasted figs stuffed with gorganzola and wrapped with prosciutto, a dip for veggies made of beets, chick peas, garlic and I’m sure some other delectable ingredients, and then topped off with tiramisu – all prepared by us – with a little help from Elizabeth, Paola, and Stephano of course!
We then all took turns telling our story of how we found this trip and our favorite part of the trip so far. I love this part of the evening and although it sounds a bit corny I think it really connects and enlightens everyone of how cathartic this trip is for many. For me it is truly one of the most heartfelt moments of the trip and there usually is not a dry eye in the room.
Nothing quite like a day and evening in the country houses in Umbria.