at the top of the mountain12th entry – italy 2014

Sept-6 028If my mother saw the house that we are in and the ancient hilltop town she would be convinced that I had lost my mind. The town is everything they left behind for the modernity, convenience and hope of the new world. (The image on the left is outside our kitchen window.)

We are staying in an Albergo Diffuso. This is an organization and a cooperative throughout Italy that works to renovate medieval house that have been abandoned into a dispersed hotel. In other words, the hotel is throughout the town and each renovated house is like a hotel room. A wonderful idea. The one we are staying in is the only Albergo Diffuso in Calabria. The husband and wife who run it have an interesting history. He was born in Belmonte, in one of the renovated houses, she is Venezuelan from Italian parents. They both moved back to Calabria and are making a go of a new enterprise.

Because we didn’t get a chance to shop, we decided to have dinner at the Albergo Diffuso. The meal was a phenomena. We began with a plate of antipasti – capicollo, prosciutto, olive paste on good Calabrese bread, roasted eggplant, marinated zucchini, olives, and pecorino. The primo piatto was a thick spaghetti in a light tomato sauce flavored with chunks of fresh lamb. The secondo piatto was brazed lamb with oven baked potatoes, rapini flavored with fennel, eggplant and potato and a tomato salad with sweet red onions and capers. We finished with a plate of white figs and prickly-pear, home-made yogurt flavored with lemon rind and salva, and wild fennel liquor. Rick-and-Sarah were teasing me, because I kept making all these wonderful sounds as I was eating my favorite dishes.