I spent a lovely day today with Dwight and his pup Bacco at and around his vineyard. They live in the lovely Marche region of Italy. I had forgotten how beautiful the country is here. The sun, the hills, the deliciousness of all of the food… On days like today, I can’t believe how lucky I am. I spend a lot of time thinking about that.
I am so well rested after last night. This was exactly what I needed (which is a bit scary, since my trip is really just beginning). Dwight had already been out in the fields for hours, but left breakfast for me. He had made bread yesterday, plus there were some cakes. The jams were delicious and evidently made by his neighbors. I guess it makes sense in the country, but he seems to know everyone.
Around midday we went into the nearest city, Offida. It’s gorgeous. It has some very impressives churches, one at the top of some cliffs that’s really unbelievably from a distance. I love how towns here are all on the tops of hills. The views of towns and from towns are so picturesque.
Offida is famous for lacemaking. Dwight took me to see some friends of his who make the best lace. These little old ladies were so sweet, even if I couldn’t understand a word they said. One of them told Dwight that I need to be careful in the sun because my skin is so light. Of course I had put on plent of sunscreen that morning. She also said I dressed like she did when she was young. Both ladies are in their 70’s or 80’s now and (still making lace!) She showed me a photo of herself from her 20’s on the wall. She’s on the beach and she looks like a movie star.
Watching them make this stuff was so intense. I would love to learn how to do that, but it’s a really specialized skill and there are apparently only a few places in the world that still have it. It takes so much time, but it’s just beautiful. They make tablecloths and table runners as well as decorative butterflies and crosses. I bought a little pair of earrings for myself. I don’t wear too much jewelry, but I think they’re lovely.
We went back to the B&B when everything started to shut down for lunch. Dwight made us some pork and avocados. He had brought the avocados in from his garden that morning, and they were some of the best I’d ever had. With some of his olive oil, salt and pepper, they were totally perfect.
He went back out into the fields and I had a pretty leisurely little afternoon. I did some reading, some sketching, walked a little bit along the road and admired the view.
Bacco has got to be the happiest dog in the world. He has this entire beautiful vineyard to run and play in. It seems like a pretty good life, being a dog in the Italian sunshine. He’s been attacking snakes lately, which Dwight doesn’t like, but to me he seems to be the friendliest, handsomest, and smartest dog.
After Dwight was finished for the day, the three of us took a little walk around to the other side of his vineyard. Dwight pointed out the almond trees, walnut trees, olive trees, cherry trees, apricot trees, fig trees… This is the land of my favorite foods, and wine. I never want to leave. The landscape is a fantastic patchwork quilt, bordered by sweeping mountains and a distant sea.
After a bit more reading and relaxing, we set out to have dinner. Dwight took the convertible this time, which really makes you feel like you’re in the heart of it. We took the scenic route to the restaurant. He drove us up to the highest town in the area. I thought we were on some big hills before, but I was wrong. The views were different from up there. You could see more, it was much grander, but a little less intimate.
The sea is apparently where Italians go for holiday, but the weather isn’t warm enough for them yet. The restaurant we went to belonged to a friend of Dwight’s. It hadn’t opened for the evening by the time we got there at 8:00, so we looked around the gardens and the beach. The owner grows all his own herbs on site. All of the fish are caugh within 500 meters. The owner ended up showing us around his garden a little more and we got to smell all of the herbs. He’s also an avid surfer. Surf boards hang above the dining area, and he’s going out tomorrow to catch the projected 3 meter waves.
I’ve never seen or eaten as many good fishes as I did tonight. I couldn’t name most of them. When we asked what things were, we got one of two responses. The first time, he brought out a shoebox of photos and showed us one of him holding a fish that was almost as large as he is. That was the type of fish I was eating. After that, he just brought out a platter of beautiful seacreatures and showed us which one we were eating. That was also how we chose our main dish.
The lovely, long meal brought our day to an end. It was long past Dwight’s bedtime, since he gets up at 5:30 every day to go tend the vines. I think I’d be pretty happy with this kind of life. I can’t imagine ever being unhappy with as much sublime and sunshine.