MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2017

Category: Italy

Our Final Few Days In Montone

What A Week …
This really has been an amazing week and one that will go down as a lifetime experience. The festival, interaction with friends and the Montone community as well as the food and wines have all been highlights. We learnt very early in the week that to survive you needed to have the afternoon siesta just like the locals as the piazza is still alive and buzzing at 2:00 AM.

Further Afield …
On Thursday we decided to venture out of the village and return to two of our favourite places in Umbria. The village of Corciano and Castiglione del Largo. If you are travelling in Umbria then these are two places that should not be missed.


Corciano
Corciano is a mountain top village similar to Montone. It is a beautifully preserved village similar to Montone but much quieter. In 1416 the condottiero Braccio Fortebraccio of Montone laid siege on Corciano so there is some history between the two villages. Above and below this text are photos from Corciano.


Castiglione del Largo
Situated on Lake Tresimeno this is another fortified village but unlike Corciano it has catered well for tourists with restuarants, shops and great views over the lake. We stayed their back in about 1998 and have returned many times since.


There are a number of alimentari (delicatessens) that sell local produce such as herbs & spices, sausages and preserved meats, local wines and a host of other goods. Each store has samples for tasting and some will make you up an antipasta plate for lunch with a local glass of wine.


A Truffle Experience …
On Thursday night we were lucky enough to be invited to a local farm to go truffle hunting. A truffle is part of the mushroom family and the black truffles that we were collecting grow about 10 cm below the surface and are located by a dog that has been addicted to the smell of the truffle. Black truffles sell for around €1000/kg in markets.


We were then given a tour of the farm to inspect Sergio’s (the owner) wine making facility and meat curing. Very interesting.

Dinner Followed …
Following the truffle hunt we enjoyed dinner at the farm sampling farm grown and local produce, wines and of course truffles. Another unique experience.


Porta del Borgo Historical Play …
Set in the courtyard of the Church of Saint Francis this medieval play was a highlight for us and I have included in the video below some excerpts.


We Need A Quiet Day …
Friday was a quiet day with a quick trip to Citta de Castello for some shopping and then lunch with our friend Carlo along with Luke and Allison, Bevan and Jill. We had dinner at Bevan and Jill’s that evening and to finish off a medieval play put on by the Porta del Monte quarter. It was really nice to slow down for the day and catch our breath.


Further Afield Again…
On Saturday we decided on another short day trip to another medieval village called Anghiari (pronounced Anyaree) about 40 km north of Montone and close to Sansepolcro. This village perched high on a hilltop is secured by massive walls to fortify the village from invaders. It is more rustic than Montone but has a real charm. It has a few small tourist shops, restaurants, a museum and boasts some of the best coffee in Umbria at the Giardini del Vicario Caffe. Well worth a visit if you are travelling this part of Italy.


Another Highlight …
Saturday night turned out to be another highlight of our trip and this was to a restaurant in Umbertide, 10 km from Montone, called Ristorante Pomorancio. This restaurant would be equally at home in any city in the world with magnificent decor, a fabulous garden setting for outdoor eating and located right on the river. We were served an absolute feast of seafood accompanied with fine french champagne and Italian wines.

The Festival Parade
Sunday signaled the end of the festival and for us the end of a memorable week in Montone. The finale was a grand parade through the streets of the village by hundreds of villagers dressed in medieval costumes followed by the Sansepolcro Flag Throwing troupe.


We had our final meal in one of the medieval taverns set up for the festival and bid goodbye to our many friends in the village.

Click on the video below to be redirected to Youtube to see a short video highlight of our last few days.

YouTube Video

As I finish this post, Liz and I are sitting in the Business Lounge at Bologna Airport awaiting our flight to Seville in Spain.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Montone, Italy

The Festival Continues

We thought after the party at Ivan’s on Sunday night that the partying would be over and we would settle down to a nice quiet week enjoying the festival. How wrong we were !!!


A Public Holiday …
Monday was a public holiday in Italy. A National Day called Assumption Day or Ferragosto. It is one of the most important Catholic holidays, because it’s the day that the Virgin was “Assunta in Cielo”, in other words transported directly to Heaven to be with her son, Jesus, and also to look after those of us still here on Earth It is during this week that many communities hold festivals to celebrate their own origins and such is the case in Montone. The entance to Montone (below) proudly displays the poster announcing the “Santa Spina Festival” along with the flags of each quarter and the Montone Flag.

Lunch With The Locals ….
Whilst enjoying a morning coffee in the Piazza we were invited to the “Porta del Borgo” quarter private lunch where the volunteers for the festival enjoy a family lunch prior to the opening of their tavern that evening. We arrived armed with food and drinks and were made most welcome by the locals and enjoyed an afternoon sampling delicious traditional Italian foods and local wines. It concluded with an impromptu singalong.


Medieval Wenches …
Liz, Allison and Jill offered to work in the Porta del Borgo Tavern that evening and had to dress in traditional medieval costumes and work as waitresses. They worked hard but had a fun time claiming the Tavern would not have survived without them.


Medieval Comedy …
Monday night marks the start of the traditional medieval plays and each quarter is required to put on a 15 minute comedy set in medieval times. It turned out to be an hilarious evening, all in Italian, but funny none the less. The sets, costumes and props were fantastic and could hold their own in any professional theatre. These people are just so talented.


A Traditional Meal …
The evening finished with a visit to the Porta del Verziere Tavern for a traditional medieval meal and local wines. The taverns are set up just for the festival and operate each night till about 1:00 AM. Very inexpensive meal we thought at 8 Euro per head for entree, main course and 2 litres of wine. So another late night as the plays didn’t finish till 11:00 PM.


A Quiet Day and a Wild Night …
Tuesday was a restful day but turned out to be another wild night. Drinks and nibbles in the early evening followed by another traditional meal in the tavern and then an impromptu get together with some of the locals in Bevan and Jill’s apartment. 4 bottles of Limoncello were consumed in an hour. We finally got to bed around midnight again.

Tuesday was also the archery competition which we unfortunately missed due to our tavern dinner but we were lucky enough to see the procession announcing the winner, Porta del Monte. See the video below for the procession.

Market Day …
Wenesday is market day in Umbertide, a larger town about 10 km from Montone. We ventured down the mountain and wandered around the market selling, clothes, household goods, fruit and vegetables and beautiful porcetta which has been roasted overnight.

Pizza and Plays …
Wednesday night was a great night. We drove to another village called Pietrelunga about 30 km from Montone. The restuarant called Ristorante Pizzeria Locanda Dei Foorucci has won many awards in Umbria for the best pizza and the 6 of us agreed that the award is well deserved and all at very reasonable prices. Typically the pizza’s cost between €4.00 to €5.00 with the supreme pizza’s at around €7.00. Good value and a beautiful atmosphere overlooking the adjacent valley.


We returned to Montone Just in time to catch the Porta del Verziere medieval play called

Terribillis Infamia

, Terrible Infamy. It covered the story of the hardship the soldiers went through during regional fighting in 1424 BC and the rape and killing of the women in the village by the soldiers. Very dramatic.

Below is a short video which you may be interested in that highlights some of the activity covered above. It provides a real feel of the talent and skills of the people of Montone who present this festival.

YouTube Video

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Montone, Italy

We Have Arrived In Montone

A Short Delay
After a 39 hour trip from Melbourne we finally arrived in Montone. The only hiccup was a cancelled train in Rome so we had to wait another 2 hours at Roma Termini for the next train. The downside of this is that there are 5000 people waiting for trains and only about 20 seats. Oh well!

We met up with our friends Jill & Bevan and Allison & Luke for welcome drinks and great pizza’s made by Jill. A reasonably early first night.


L to R: Jill, Luke, Allison, Rob & Bevan

A Disco To Start The Week
On Saturday night there was a disco in the Piazza and a great chance to meet all our old Montonese friends. It certainly didn’t take long to get into the swing of it and party till 1:00 AM.

Too much great food, a moderate amount of alcohol??? and lot’s of dancing left us with sore heads the next morning and a very slow start to the day. During the disco we met up with an old friend from Montone, Ivan, who is in the Italian Military. He was having a party at his villa on Sunday Night and he kindly invited the six of us to attend.

The Disco Continues…..
Ivan lives on the opposite side of the valley to Montone and with detailed directions on how to get there we arrived to find a beautiful Agri Tourism Villa complete with swimming pool and views over Montone. Much to our surprise the DJ from the previous night with all his disco equipment was set up by the swimming pool.

Ivan and his Mum served up the most delicious meal of a whole roasted pig, salads, melon, prosciutto and traditional Italian foods. Another great night.

Presentation Of The Princesses
We returned to Montone just in time to see the official opening of the Santa Spina Festival. This festival runs all week and is our main reason for returning to Montone. It is a great medieval festival which takes place in Montone, the “Castle Of The Ram”. The three wards in Montone, Porta del Borgo, Porta del Verziere and Porta del Monte challenge each other reproposing scenes of medieval life and tournaments in order to conquer the “Palio” (The Prize).

The opening consists of official speeches and the presentation of each Ward or Quarters Princesses. A Medieval fanfare complete with authentic costumes, drums, trumpets and lots of fanfare.

 

 

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Montone, Italy


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