Festa del Bosco in Montone

Beating Pulse It may only be a weekend long Festa, but it starts on Monday
when workmen come around and run electric lines from our house out onto the
street. It’s part and parcel of the festa, as we live on one of the main
streets, we are therefore expected to donate our electricity to the cause.   By Wednesday evening, pick up
trucks are roaring around town with flanks of men standing up in the backs of
the trucks as if some strange coup had erupted. I kept checking to make sure no
one was waving an AK47, and that the men were holding pieces of gazebos that
would house cheese and salami stands. (Not that I might not be in favor of a
coup, but that is something we should discuss in the back room of the Aries
bar.)  Thursday was the day of the
Concerto of the Dropping Pipes. Apparently, while assembling the vendor stalls it
is required to drop the support pipes regularly and rhythmically or the Festa
Gods will be angry.  By Friday night,
all the pipes were standing, the stalls had been built, decorated and stocked
and it was the opening night of Festa del Bosco 2009.


This is where I start to lose track of the days, and of the
nights. People started showing up in our kitchen bearing gifts of art (It was
actually quite amazing: young Daisy’s watercolors, Joseph’s unexpected and very
beautiful gift
, and the irrepressible Franco showing up with his Burning
and Woman Reading to the Sea…. Don’t you love the idea of a young woman
entertaining Neptune?), people were telling stories, saying good-byes, saying
hellos, opening Prosecco, opening more Prosecco, handing me goose eggs, and
just when I wished out loud for some roasted chestnuts, Oswaldo walked in the
door with a huge bag of warm chestnuts and cool and fresh Cannaiolo
wine.  Oswaldo and Giusy set up
their chestnut stand in front of our house and they always make sure that we
have more chestnuts than we could possibly desire; but how he knew to walk in
the door, right on cue, is a mystery to me. Vino e castagne


Saturday I entered the world of Taverna Indentured Slavery
and began cooking pasta for all of Umbria and beyond. Kilo after kilo of pasta,
mountains of miaile, entire forests of olives, and leg after leg of prosciutto
walked out of our kitchen.


Saturday night we had planned on a quiet dinner for two, but
then the door opened and there was Jonathan with more cheese and wine and salami,
along with some crazy good cured cinghiale.  And before you know it there was roasted quail in a maple
syrup and bourbon glaze, followed by a spectacular, intimate jazz concert in
the teatro San Fedele. Maple Syrup & Bourbon glazed quail


Sunday is usually the busiest day, and this year was no
exception.  The Taverna del
Verziere was packed to the gills and once again we cranked out the food, only
this time there was the added excitement of serving Emanuele Umberto Reza Ciro
René Maria Filiberto di Savoia, Prinicipe di Venezia and Piemonte
.  I’d had my head in a polenta pot for too
many hours, when Luca starts bouncing around the kitchen babbling something
about the Principe di Savoia and pointing in the general direction of the
dessert station, which is also near the front door. I look over at the desserts
expecting to see a Principe di Savoia…I thought it was some sort of whipped
cream dessert confection, hey, if strangoprezzi, or ‘strangle the priest’ can
be a pasta dish, why can't Principe di Savoia be a pastry? Finally Luca explains
that we actually have royalty in our midst and he literally drags me
outside to take a group shot with the very gracious Emanuele Filiberto di
Savoia and his two adorable daughters.

Del Verziere & Principe di Savoia This happy episode is immediately
forgotten as a large man rushes into the kitchen, shouting at full volume,
complaining that he has been waiting too long for his polenta. Which has the
result of everyone dropping what they were doing, including making his polenta,
so that we can all discuss his rudeness, thereby further delaying delivery of
said polenta.  Dinner service was fairly
dull by comparison, as everyone alternated between falling over with exhaustion
and giddy exuberance that festa was nearly over. At one point in the night,
there were literally more people crammed into the kitchen, all babbling and
grabbing bits of food, then there were diners out at the tables. Anyone who is
part of the Del Verziere family is eternally permitted to come into the taverna
and scrounge for handouts.


staggered over to Jane & Eddy’s for a very welcome cup of tea, and finding
it hard to put a whole Chestnuts on our doorstep sentence together in any language, Jeff took pity and
guided me home.  Arriving at our
door, we stepped over and around mounds of chestnut shells, cheese, corn,
fruit, leaves, empty wine bottles, cartons, crates, found our traumatized
street cat Niccolino at our feet begging to come in,  and with that, we went inside and closed the door on Festa
2009. Or at least I did, Jeff wound up helping Oswaldo and Giusy break down
their stalls, whereupon we were gifted with more chestnuts, a sack of walnuts
and more wine.   This morning,
the Concerto of the Dropping Pipes resumed to give thanks for a successful
Festa del Bosco, and right on cue the rains have begun as Montone shrugs off
the effects of the Festa like waking from a fevered dream and we inhabitants resume
our usual rhythm.

For a full set of photos: clicca qui


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