That’s Amore!

Saturday, June 19, 2010 — Lincoln, California

This was wedding reception day. Kris and Nichole were celebrating their “third” wedding, of sorts: a reception here in California for family and friends who were not able to make it to the two special weddings on the Amalfi Coast.

The reception was held at the beautiful Catta Verdera Country Club
in Lincoln, California

We all wore the same outfits we had worn to the evening wedding in Praiano. It was surreal to meet up again, but this time back in California. In the dining room, a slide show of the wedding(s) and trip to Italia was projected on the wall. The tables had all been assigned names after the places we had gone: Praiano, Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Rome, Sorrento, and Naples.

It was wonderful to celebrate with our family and friends back home.

We dined, we danced, we laughed, and we cried.

These are my parents, Mario and Arleta. Just two days before the reception, they celebrated their own 60th anniversary. They still hold hands when they walk together. They inspire us all.

At the very end of the night, everyone gathered in a huge circle, holding hands, preparing for one last dance. Then, singing at the top of our lungs, we began with the words that carried a special meaning for those of us who had been on this special trip together:

That's Amore!!!

When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie, that’s amore

When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore

Bells’ll ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling, and you’ll sing “Vita Bella!”

Hearts’ll play, tippi-tippi-tay, tippi-tippi-tay like a gay Tarantella

When the stars make you drool just-a like pasta fazool, that’s amore

When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet, you’re in love!

When you walk in a dream but know you’re not dreamin’, signore

‘Scusami, but you see, back in old Napoli,

That’s Amore!


[Update: 1) l’hotel in pietra in Matera found and sent my coat. It arrived two weeks later in perfect shape.  2) I never did get charged for those scratches on the rental car. And don’t you tell them!]

June, 2011: It’s been a year now since the Wedding Trip to Italia. We’re thinking of going some place completely new this year. Hmmm…I’m smelling Turkey…and it’s way too soon for Thanksgiving…

This September, check back in to to see what’s cooking.


Last Night In Ostuni

June 15, 2010, continued…

This wasn’t only our last night in Ostuni — it was our last night in Italia. At least for this trip. If it weren’t for the California wedding reception coming up in four days, I would be getting sad. But we still had one glorious evening left, and we were going to celebrate!

It looked like we weren't the only ones celebrating

Not far into the old part of Ostuni, we saw our daily bride. We called out “Auguri!” to the newlyweds, and in unison they responded, “Grazie!”

Just beyond, Gino veered us into a small artist’s workshop. It was filled with a collection of small, smooth rock slabs decorated with various scenes of Ostuni.

The artist explained and demonstrated how he delicately scratches intricate scenes onto pieces of stone slabs. It is quite labor intensive, but the result is incredibly beautiful. Gino, who has a discerning eye for art, could not resist taking a piece of this amazing art home. If you get to Ostuni, make sure to visit Bottega d’Arte di Croci Sisinni on Via Cattedrale.

Deeper into the old town we went, burning the images into our minds so we would never forget.

This huge painted vase would certainly
remind you of Ostuni

We came upon a wine bar and lounge called Gipas 111. Music with a Middle Eastern tinge emanated from the interior. That was enough to pull me in. We plopped ourselves on two of the black, poofy bean bag seats scattered about the small courtyard.

The outdoor bars in Ostuni have the coolest seats!

Look up from your drink and this is what you'll see

Last call!

All of a sudden, the wind came up, swooshing through a corridor and into the space where we sat. It was enough to not only snuff the candles on our drink table, but knock off a glass lantern on the other side of the walkway. The lantern fell, crashing loudly and spraying glass over the stones. A waiter rushed over with a broom and swept it up as best he could.

More of Ostuni's outdoor bar seating

Our steps slowed — not from weariness, but reticence. It was time to return to our hobbit house to prepare for our departure early the next morning. But instead of getting right to the task of packing up for the plane trip home, we took two glasses and the last of the Prosecco up to the rooftop terrace.

We sat there a long time, savoring the skyline views of Ostuni and contemplating the unsurpassed warmth and friendliness we had found in the people of Puglia. Then, with a sigh, we went inside to pack.

Our neighbor, an Italian dachshund,
to remind us of our own back home

But we won’t say goodbye yet! The next post is something you won’t want to miss!

Masseria Asciano

After our excursion to the beach, we returned to our hobbit house. As we opened the door, a note fluttered out. It was from Tim, inviting us to come with him later to a nearby masseria (farmhouse) that produces its own olive oil. A friend of his would drive us all in her car — just meet them at Caffé Trieste on the corner of the piazza.

The excursion sounded fun. At the appointed place and time, we met Tim and his friend, an Italian woman who also spoke perfect English. She drove us to Masseria Asciano, an agriturismo a mere four kilometers (about two and a half miles) from Ostuni.

Agriturismo is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of agriculture and tourism. Farmhouses have been converted, renovated, or expanded to create farm “resorts” where guests can experience life in rural Italia. The food served at these houses is usually grown or produced right there on the farm. Often, they provide an opportunity for guests to participate in the activities of the farm.

Masseria Asciano was such a place. Not only does it offer accommodations in a peaceful, relaxing setting, it actively produces high quality olive oil. The grounds cover over 170 acres of olive trees — 12,500 of them! These gorgeous trees are the lords of this land: ancient, gnarled, knobby trunks topped with masses of silvery-green leaves. They are regal, worthy of great respect.

A young woman met us as we stepped out of the car. Although she spoke no English, she set about giving us an olive oil tasting tour. I was pleased to find I could understand most everything she said.

The masseria was lovely. A long portico lined with huge glossy terracotta urns led into the large tasting room. Inside, a table was set up with several bottles of different types of olive oil, a stack of tiny plastic cups alongside. Our host explained the production process, from tree to table. Then, describing the subtleties of the different varieties, had us taste each. The oil was sublime.

Olive oil containers

Imagine this on your dining table, filled with delicious oil

This was how the olives were crushed in the old days

Back in town after our brief tour, Gino and I said arrivederci to Tim and Angela, then made a beeline to the centro storico. This was where we wanted to spend our last evening in Italia.