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Vallelunga, Sicilia 23 October 2011

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Rosemarie Tasca

Our time at Case Vecchie ended just before three, when a driver from out next accommodation, locanda Tanarizzi, fetched us to our quiet new digs. Rochelle and I, for all our enjoyment of the fellowship and productive learning of our cooking school, are ready for some time to reflect and catch up on what we have learned. We don't have to cook; we simply have to eat what is prepared for us, and gaze out over the vineyards and plowed hills of this glorious country, sleep well, and repeat the process tomorrow. What a pleasure!

Fabrizia's school is just behind the ridge, an easy couple of kilometers to the north.

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<p>Dinner the first night at Tanarizzi</p>

Dinner the first night at Tanarizzi

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We arose refreshed in a quiet household -- only the braying donkey for amusement -- and had a sweet breakfast, the Italians loving their sweets: preserves of amarena (bitter cherry), kaki (persimmon), quince, and melle (honey).

We walked into town, Vallelunga Pratameno, a distance of perhaps two kilometers around the hill and down, seeing more animals than the dogs and chickens at Case Vecchie. Here's the views in Piazza Europa:


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Kittens climbing the cactus, ducks, geese, dogs, and the donkey across the street. Dense town with narrow, close-together cobbled streets in the center. Many "Buon giorni" as we go along. As we sit in the piazza an old gentleman comes over, shakes hands, and strikes up a very one sided conversation because all we can say is "we don't understand, we are stupid Americans." He tells us the church may be entered on the side; we do, and it is a beautiful, simple, with with blue and gold florets in the ceiling and a lovely modern Annunciation clearly located at a locanda in the surrounding hills.

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We notice that the sign pointing toward our locanda mentions "tomba Tanarizzi" and when we get back, we ask our friendly driver (who has no English) for directions. He unlocks a gate, points up, and says (in Italian) "up the steps, follow the path, to the right, back to the left, up, you will see it" and of course we do, at the top of the steep hill behind our place. The tomb itself is disappointing, a modern semi-reconstruction of what was probably a heart shaped cavity in a tumulus; the sign is illegible. In the brick-lined pit is a cow skull, some anonymous bones, and two plastic skulls. The view is superb in every direction: rich vineyards, small towns, distant hills (with big windspinners gracefully turning). 

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Far below, our locanda, and below the train tracks and road around the next hill to Case Vecchie. An easy land to fall in love with, at least at this time of year. But lunch is calling!

At one o'clock we are called to lunch in the dining room that seats twenty and that looks out on the view shown at the top of the page -- an ever-changing vista due to the play of the cloud shadows and sun on the terroire. Everything in the lunch comes from what you can see, our cook and care-taker Fina tells us: the carciofi and pomidori from right here on this land, the olive and wine from across the valley in Regaleali, the salsiccia and salumi from animals grazed on the farther hills and made by the salumeria in town, likewise the cheese from the sheep we passed on our way up to la tomba. For dessert, frutta di stagione, fruits of the season, enormous uve della tavola (table grapes), a gracefully mishapen pera (pear), and kiwi all from Regaleali ...and bananas from Ecuador. It is still a small world. Rochelle asks if this is decadent, to be so well cared for. I think not, at least not for today.

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