Everyone is on holiday! August 15th is Ferroagosta in Italy, a national holiday akin to the 4th of July in the States. The traditional August holidays in Italy are called ‘ferie’ (fairy-a), and when you go on vacation, you are ‘in ferie’, and that my friends is your Italian lesson for today.
This means that starting somewhere in mid-July random businesses start to close for ferie, so from July to September you never know who will be open and who will be closed. An example: I had an urgent dental emergency around the first of August, I called a dentist in Perugia who explained that I could certainly make an appointment in September. Now bear in mind that all shops and restaurants already keep random hours and days, the butcher closes on Tuesday afternoon, the café on Monday, the osteria on Tuesday etc. so all this just adds to general gratefulness when you find your shopkeeper open and working.
On Thursday night, or Ferroagosto eve, there was no mistaking the intoxicating party air. We arrived in Citta di Castello just in time to watch the town wake up from its summer afternoon slumber and begin the passagiata. Passagiata is when you put on something sexy and stroll the streets; it’s the “see-and-be-seen-giata”. We got a prime seat at the bar and sipped a cocktail and watched the parade go by. The two guys at the table next to us were having a great time making comments, and we all burst into laughter as they chanted ‘pah dunk pah dunk pah dunk’ in rhythm with a woman strutting her stuff in a very tight yellow dress.
Later that night, we joined everyone in Montone in the piazza for the very famous Stefano Rey band. Let’s just say power and volume are more important than nuance and staying on key. The whole town was there and everyone was in holiday mode, so what’s a little off key trumpet playing among friends?
The actual day of Ferroagosto was anti-climatic compared to the night before. We sat and had a long, but simple lunch, where I discovered that you can actually frizzle very thin slices of fennel and they taste excellent over bits of sautéed pork, and that Adanti makes an outstanding Grechetto wine. It’s these little things that make a day great, that and sharing it all with good friends.
Then the storm clouds blew in with plenty of thunder and lightening and welcome cooling winds. After a short walk, we headed home and tried out a ‘turcolo’ recipe that was given to me by one of our neighbors. Turcolo is a simple cake that gets its color from the vibrant orange eggs yokes that you find around here, and it is usually served with a glass of vin santo for dunking. I’m happy to report the Orieta’s mother’s recipe works very well and has been added to my repertoire.
6 etti farino 00
4 etti zuccerho
4 tazzine latte
2 tazzine olio
spremuta di limone
As soon as I translate the units of measure and figure out exactly how to explain ‘cartine”, I’ll post that as well. Cartine means a busta (envelope) of a type of vanilla yeast that is used in baking. I’ve never seen it’s equivalent in the States, so I’ll have to ask around.