July 19, 2013

La Casa dei Tintori

My last two nights in Florence I stayed in a bed & breakfast called Casa Tintori located on the street of the same name in the Santa Croce neighborhood in the city center near where I had been staying during class the previous two weeks. Corso dei Tintori, which translates literally as "over the dyers" is located near the Arno River and there is a reason this building was close by. It was used as a house to die wool. There was a famous textile industry located in Florence. Wool dyers, spinners and weavers worked here to supply some of the finest clothiers in Europe.
Over the years this building had been owned by individuals who had no interest in its history. 
The current owner uncovered treasures like the bricked arches of the now lobby and this outgoing pipe made of many ceramic tubes to take waste water out to the river. 
The water came in through this faucet. 
Casa Tintori is proud of the history of this building and works to preserve and educate people by showcasing this utility right in the lobby. 
Spinning wheel in the lobby. 
Along the hallway to the charming kitchen they have illustrations of the textile industry workers from
The die pots 
To spinning the fiber
To measuring the warp
dressing the loom
And the various tools. 

It is no mistake or chance that I would have found this place. 
Ricardo and his wife manage this lovely place. I will always return. 

July 13, 2013

Medieval Hill Towns

My Ventimiglia hostess, Elizabeth, took time from osteopath and naturopath studies to give me a scooter tour through a few of the old towns in the hills.
The first one translates to sweet water. 

Community olive press. Still today communities share a press. 
Accurate sun dial. 
There is a law that you have to paint buildings to be aesthetically pleasing. 

A woman getting her water from the community well. 

Just inside the entrance to the town. 
The street/passageway. 

Lookout at the top. 
The bumps on these leaves become a berry. 
This town is noted for the wall paintings throughout. 

A good restaurant worth traveling to. 

Kitty on the curb doing a good job. There were no rats. 

Elizabeth leading the way up a steep street. 
Very steep.
Looking back down. Dizzying. 
Someone's front entrance. 
Another front entrance. 
Two entrances. 
Church at the top. 
View from the top. 

On a clear day you can see the snow capped Dolomites. 

Cooking with Vegan Ventimiglia

My hosts in Ventimiglia, Elizabeth and Pierre, are vegans and former chefs of some notoriety in the Washington DC area.

They know food and care about where it comes from and how it tastes and how providers care about the earth. In Petrini's definition of new gastronome, Elizabeth and Pierre are role models. 

I asked if I could have a cooking lesson and they generously agreed. 

I learned to make a Ligurian dish called Farinata which is a  thin flatbread or focaccia made from a dough comprised of protein dense chickpea flour, water and olive oil. It is sometimes flavored with rosemary, fresh spring onion or bianchetti which are newborn fish and whatever vegetables you have on hand. They bake theirs in a cast iron skillet with plenty of olive oil. 
It was delicious. 
Elizabeth, Pierre and one of their offspring. 
And me :)