Deliciously Abruzzo @ La Grande Quercia

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Cooking tools @ La Grande Quercia | photo: ©Lonza65

At La Grande Quercia, dishes follow season cycle, so menus change according to the produce available. Don’t forget to ask for their signature lamb dish, “agnello incaporchiato” [anyello incaporkiato]. It requires a few ingredients: a leg of lamb, extra-virgin olive oil, white wine, rosemary, a couple of cloves of garlic.

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Prepping “agnello incaporchiato” @ La Grande Quercia | photo: ©Lonza65

This recipe comes from the old days when people did not have meat very often, so when there was the chance to cook it, they used to put another pot on top (incaporchiato), so that the smell could not go out and tell the neighbours that something good was on the stove. At La Grande Quercia a heavy lid is used instead, and the stewing is perfect.

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Deliciously Abruzzo :: Mamma Maria @ La Grande Quercia | photo: ©Lonza65

The true secret is mamma Maria’s cooking mastery – and the weight of the stones…

Read more about La Grande Quercia :: Harvesting time and family recipes

Italian Flavours :: In Vino… Venea

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Venea, a family story of wine and “spirito abruzzese”| photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

The English Idiom “good things come in small packages” translates the Italian “nella botte piccola c’è il vino buono” (small casks carry top-quality wine). If this holds true for “things” in general, it should be truer for wineries.

Venea is a 25-acre winery on the hilly backcountry around Fossacesia (Chieti). The name recalls a former Roman temple dedicated to Venus Conciliatrix (“the peace maker”), on whose ruins the Abbey of San Giovanni in Venere was built in the IX century A.D.

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Paolucci’s family | photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

This is just one instance of how Paolucci family is strongly and firmly tied to this stretch of land, caught between the sea and the Maiella massif. Nicolino, Serena, Michele and Elena are the kings and queens of this tiny kingdom, a treasure chest where you can find excellent wine and extra-virgin olive oil.

Nicolino Paolucci spent some years in the local cooperative winery and then he realized it was high time to run his own wine business. He and his wife Serena merged the lands both families owned since four generations ahead and started their own “cantina”.

However, with such a rich and important background, one should not think that Venea is tied to bygone days. Their approach to wine-making is updated to the new trend, e.g. it is respectful of the environment through the implementation of the integrated pest management. Even the choice of the name for their rosé wine comes from the title of the one of the most popular Italian rocker’s songs – Vasco Rossi’s Albachiara. But again their roots come up again with a tribute to a local noblewoman, who gives her name to Venea’s Trebbiano and Chardonnay white wine – Spinalba.

Venea’s style mixes old and modern references but keeps its focus on the land. Venea’s estate is included in the upcoming Parco della Costa dei Trabocchi (Trabocchi Coast Park), whose aim is to protect this unique area from unauthorised building development and other land violations. The Trabocchi Coast Park setup could be another asset for the Paolucci, whose love and respect for their land is the leading inspiration for their activity.

Contact: Nicolino Paolucci
Telephone & fax: +39 0872 60303
email: info@venea.it
Azienda Agricola Venea – Via Piano Madonna – 66022 Fossacesia (Chieti)

Enviromental Theatre and the Festival of the Gnomes

A festival designed for children, a party to celebrate nature and the forest and all its inhabitants – fairies, elves, fauns, jesters, trolls, giants… Read more: International Festival of the Gnomes… via festadeglignomi.it

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Once upon a time there was the Festival of the Gnomes… | photo: © Matelda Codagnone

“It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost the only thing for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children.” ~J.M. Barrie

La festa degli gnomi è molto particolare, piena di colori e giochi, un bel modo di far trascorrere a ragazzi di tutte le età del tempo nel verde e nel rispetto dell’ambiente. Il festival si svolge tra Pescocostanzo, Roccaraso e Rivisondoli in località meravigliose come il Bosco di Sant’Antonio uno dei luoghi più belli dove poter incontrare fate, elfi, fauni, giullari, troll, giganti…

Portrait of a Blacksmith :: Filippo, the one and only Iron Man 72.0

In these days the Adriatic coast around Pescara is flooded with 2000+ participants to the IronMan Italy 70.3. Someone who, in a reasonable time, can swim about 2k, bike for 90k and run 21k can be regarded as an “iron” man (or woman). But someone who handles iron as if it were modeling clay and is able to create a piece of art from some scrap iron, he well deserves the name of “Iron Man”, too.

Filippo Scioli - Blacksmith in Guardiagrele, Chieti, Abruzzo photos: © Matelda Codagnone and © Lonza65

I met Filippo Scioli in his workshop in Guardiagrele, (Chieti, Italy), a mid-sized village nesting at the foot of the Maiella massif. Filippo is 72 and, when I asked him to describe himself, he just said “I am a blacksmith”. However, it is quite an understatement, since from Filippo’s anvil and hammer unique masterpieces come out. His father was a farrier and his grandfather’s job was farming tool maker. His main feature is that his artistic works (be it a dog, a rose or an andiron) do not need soldering because he just need one single piece of iron to accomplish his idea. He just need to hold some scrap iron in his hands and he knows exactly what he can obtain from it.

He likes to say that he is a “cittadino della Terra” (citizen of the Earth) because he does not like labels or definitions. “We’re all citizens of the Earth”, he says. And that is enough for him.

photo: © Lonza65

His works can be admired in Texas, Canada, Czech Republic and many other places, his presence is required at the most important arts and crafts fairs and Filippo rarely says no.

Just like the real great artists, he is not jealous of his skills, he willingly teaches everyone who is interested how to forge iron.

His workshop frequently hosts classes of students of every age, but Filippo’s eyes sparkle when he tells me about the disabled students that, on regular basis, visit his shop. “I don’t care if they don’t hit the iron, I am happy to teach them the things I can do.”

Filippo is like a river in full spate. While we talk, he is busy forging a rose with his hammer. I immediately realize that there is no noise inside the shop, but sound. And indeed, the hammer falling on the anvil creates a rhythm that Filippo composes every time he forges a new item. He says “iron talks, the hammer sings”.

You might think that this man in his Seventies is a laid-back guy. Not in the least. He radiates energy and stamina in every single move, his favorite music is country music – two cd players work at full blast in the shop and his favorite singer is Johnny Cash. This larger-than-life blacksmith is a man of parts. Besides being a talented craftsman, a big-hearted man, a great entertainer, he’s a poet, too. When the rose is finished, before we say “arrivederci”, he says these words.

photo: © Matelda Codagnone

“Come vedete, questa rosa non ha spine. Questa rosa non appassisce, non muore mai. Potremmo dire che è una rosa perfetta. Ma ahimè, al mondo niente è perfetto, anche questa ha il suo difetto. Il difetto che ha è che non profuma. Comunque, io c’ho messo il mio cuore di artigiano per farla. Chi la compra ci metterà il suo profumo.”

“As you can see, this rose has no thorns. This rose does not wither, it never dies. We can say that it is a perfect rose. But, alas, in this world nothing is perfect, this rose has its flaw. It has no smell. Anyway, I made it with all my craftsman’s heart. Whoever buys it, they will choose its fragrance.”

Next time you see some scrap iron, try to look at it with Filippo’s eyes. It may conceal a rose. And a fragrance, too.

Contact: Maestro Filippo Scioli
Mobile: +39 335 6073140
Telephone: +39 0871 86349
email: filipposcioli@email.it
Workshop: Via Occidentale, 21 – 66016 Guardiagrele (Chieti)