Ben Tornati

Ben Tornati translates as Welcome Back, and we feel very welcomed back into Montone.   With all the drama and angst that is surrounding us and the situation at the restaurant, we both had a little case of nerves, but once again the town is welcoming us with open arms. 
We had friends arrive on the same day that we arrived, so I confess to going out to play and have some fun before hooking up the computers and getting the Internet to work.  The weather is very strange; so cool and rainy you would think it was October instead of June,  Italy is a nation that has elevated complaining to a fine art form, and the inhabitants have risen to the occasion. They are all cursing the weather with much creativity and gusto.  Someone confided in me that he actually likes the cool weather, but he had to do it off to the side so that no one would hear his heresy.  I’ve never seen it so green as it is now, instead of the burned out brown of the last few years, this June looks more like an abundant rain forest.

For those of us who relish all news Montonese:
The piazza looks great with Giancarlo’s new restaurant in the old Erba Luna space. He’s put up a lovely awning and he is his usual charming and welcoming self. He still hasn’t obtained the final restaurant license from Perugia, but that should come any day now.  He has plans to open a much-needed enoteca (wine shop) in the lower level of his space. The space still looks a little raw, but I’m sure he will be working away all summer.
The Aries got new outdoor furniture! Now the old men who sit there all day get up extra early to claim their comfy chair, we haven’t been able to score a seat this whole week. There is something incongruous about seeing these old codgers in the chic new synthetic wicker chairs, a collision of old timers and Men’s’ Vogue.
Of course all these developments have led to a real dilemma: where to have coffee in the morning.  We never used to go to the Aries until Erba Luna closed and there was only one café in town.  Last summer we got friendly with the new young crew at the Aries so we still have to patronize them, but Giancarlo is a good guy and is also in need of the business. So you can understand how tricky the morning espresso has become. Ah, life in a very small town.

Montone hosted the first ever “Festa Della Luce” over the weekend. The
event was created and sponsored by the Accademia Della Luce.  Although
the event was not well promoted (that means there really wasn’t a
schedule and things just seem to happen randomly) it was intriguing and
surprising.  One evening, all the children were given large white
helium filled balloons that had small blue lights in them; they all
took the balloons up to the Piazza San Francesco (a large, flat piazza
that is on one of the higher points in town) and then released them.
We didn’t get to see it, but someone described it as looking like the
Milky Way. Another time huge cinema images were being played across the
large stonewall by the Del Verziere Ristorante.  The little church that
is right out of town had another display of film images being shown on
the ancient walls of the church.  There was a fantastic photography
exhibit, where the photographer had printed his photos on aluminum
giving them an amazing luster and play on light and movement. Hopefully
this will be an annual event and will become better organized and

Niccolino, our stray cat friend, is looking very svelte.  Apparently he
is now the top stud cat in town and he’s looking every inch the part.
Sadly, Arturo, who used to be the top cat, was brutally murdered.
Someone just didn’t like Arturo and took a stick to him.  Titziana, his
owner, and our neighbor, is heart broken and so are we. He may have
been a noisy old tomcat, but he was a good guy at heart.

None of our flowers survived the winter and poor Jeff, who was feeling
terrible about the loss of his flowers, was mercilessly teased by his
gaggle of old lady girlfriends. They were ALL giving him quite the hard
time, including Virginia who hugs you with all her might while burying
her stubbled chin into your cheek. We went to the nursery yesterday,
and in the dark of night, Jeff hung all the flowers in their pots to
surprise his girlfriends this morning. 

I brought my natural bread starter from Soho, mixed it with some
Montone air and now we have some gorgeous fresh bread in the house.
Cherries are in, some good tomatoes are around, lettuces are gorgeous
and it’s great to be back. Ben tornati indeed.


  1. mitch on June 12, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Ahhh, so lovely to see you back in Italy – though we miss you in NYC!
    The bread are absolutely gorgeous, as are the flowers, Jeff!
    So tell me, does the bread taste a little bit like Broome Street?

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