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Saturday, 05 July 2008

Our Village in Italy is Called Lubriano - Page 2

Written by Diana Armstrong
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Our village in Italy is called Lubriano. It is a "pass by" village. Tourists traveling to the famous hill-top town of Civita di Bagnoregio (called the "Dying Town" as it is collapsing into the Calanchi Valley below) stop at the edge of our village to gaze across towards their stunning destination no more than one mile away.  Truth is, this medieval wonder of a town is also our view.

In the evening, the town takes on a somewhat split personality. The Admiral Bar at one end is filled with the young who flaunt tight jeans, noisy motorcycles and various pierced body parts. In Italy a bar is different from a bar in the U.S.A. A bar in Italy has many different functions. Not only does it serve alcohol but also coffee and ice-cream. It is frequented by all, including young children.  Village posters are displayed here, and the bar owner is a walking Google.


The street leads as if through time to the other end of town where the old-timers live peacefully with their friends and memories close to the cemetery, always ablaze with flowers.  In the peaceful light of day, widows and widowers walk quietly down this street, carrying armfuls of blossoms.  They make the cemetery an extension of the life of the village rather than a dead end.


Wake up early and you will see workers heading for the fields with scythes or hoes on their shoulders. Wake a little later and you will see women on shopping expeditions,Our village in Italy is called Lubriano, Civita di Bagnoregio, Calanchi Valley, Southern Umbria,  Rome, Florence, Via Roma, Porchetta, Diana Armstrong friends congregating at particular chosen spots along the road. In winter there are warm spots where the sun's rays angle between the buildings to soothe chilled bones. In summer, there are cool spots, where a fresh breeze steals between the houses all baking together in a tight row.  Up and down our old Via Roma, women sit on tiny stools, chatting quietly as they strip fennel seeds from the plants they have brought in from the fields.  This is slow, tedious work, done patiently like their mothers and grandmothers did before them. I watch in fascination, and promise myself that, when cooking with fennel seed in the future, I'll remember these ladies and recall that the collection of a teaspoon of fennel seed equals an hour of manual labor.


I am surprised that there are two butcher shops in town. This seems an improbable luxury for such a small place. Bellapadrona Butcher shop is my preference. The shop is spotless, with an amazing selection. Pork, beef, chicken and turkey are laid out before me, not to mention a number of different salamis and sausages.  The butchery purchase takes quite a long while. There are usually four or five of us waiting, all local ladies. The village ethos does not yet approve of men folk getting involved in anything as domestic as butchery purchases. As I wait patiently with my neighbors in the butchery we chat away idly. All the village gossip is passed around. An amazing amount of it. Vendettas, the baker running off with the town beauty, a prominent citizen caught in a compromising situation, it goes on and on.


The owner, Giuseppina, is a lovely lady with a scrubbed smile, velvety smooth skin, rosy cheeks and blue eyes.  Her white coat and cap are starched and gleaming, making her eyes look bluer still.  Her husband is grappling, a little grumpily, in the back room with a length of salsicce. The long rope of sausage is coiled as though ready to attach to an anchor on the wharf.


Giuseppina begins working on my order. Everything is done by hand; it's inconceivable that anything could be prepackaged.  She handles my order for six quail as though they are pieces of jewelry, lovingly placing them on the wax paper, and wrapping each of these gems individually. Then she starts on my spiedini - kebabs.  Each piece of meat is carefully cut to size, mushrooms and peppers are added, and finally the finished products are laid before me for approval.


Our village in Italy is called Lubriano, Civita di Bagnoregio, Calanchi Valley, Southern Umbria,  Rome, Florence, Via Roma, Porchetta, Diana ArmstrongThe busiest day of the week in the butchery is Friday. Seemingly defying the Catholic tradition of fish-on-Friday, a whole deboned pig is laid out on a giant slab of marble. This is an Italian traditional dish called Porchetta. Giuseppina's husband stuffs the unfortunate porker with a highly aromatic stuffing of sage, onion and fennel and roasts him on a spit. On Friday morning at opening time, Giuseppina will hang up the "Porchetta" sign announcing a pig roast Italian style. The wafts of roasted porchetta will lead you to the butchery and she will slice it into delicious rounds for you, with a rich crust of honey-colored crackling on the outside and the delicious stuffing in the middle.


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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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