Casale della Torre

28 Jun

This is the story of how a casual hello turned into a magical evening and more. Are people we don’t know truly strangers, or just not yet friends? Such was the case with a couple we met at a local cafe.

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Almost every day, Len and I stop at Torreone, about two miles into our morning walk. That morning, we said buongiorno to a couple enjoying the view as they sipped their cappuccino. We talked a bit and discovered we were all Cortona repeaters, they more than we. Over the next few days, and in several locations in and outside of Cortona, we bumped into each other and met new members of their expanding group. Each time, we’d visit a little longer and wonder where our next encounter might be.

Larry and Carrol were staying at Casale della Torre, an agriturismo in Cortona.

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Being “city” people, Len and I had never stayed in one or even visited one, although we knew many people loved them, as did our new friends. They had become close to the agriturismo’s owners, who one night per week, prepare a family feast for them. And one morning, Carrol and Larry graciously invited us to join them.

Len and I cherish opportunities to experience life with locals, and we knew this invitation would be just that. But we couldn’t have imagined just how magical the evening would be as Larry and Carrol started the dinner with a toast to all.

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Casale della Torre is proudly owned and operated by Lapo and Paola Salvadori on land that has been in their family for generations (www.casaledellatorre.com).

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Their daughters, Ilaria and Laura, were also on hand to help with dinner and join in the festivities. As Lapo poured his own bottled wine,

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Paola was busy in the kitchen. First up, fresh porcini mushrooms.

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She explained that there are two recipes, but she only uses the one passed on by her mother. Lucky for us!

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These were served with various bruschette, all toppings freshly made in the kitchen.

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During the day, Lapo had taught the house guests how to make cheese, including ricotta which is used to fill their  ravioli as well as for dessert.

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Their cellar is filled with what they grow and make, and the products are used in the special meals they prepare.IMG_0006

Next up, homemade ravioli for primo. And yes, the tomatoes are as rich as they look.

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Add the homemade ravioli and a touch of freshly grated cheese, and smiles abound!

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IMG_0024The weather dictated that the dinner be moved inside to their cantina, the lower level of one of the houses, and a perfect setting for a family gathering.

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The secondi, or second course, included stuffed tomatoes,

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rabbit (I ate it and it was delicious!)

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and lamb, sorry no picture.

In between courses, Lapo entertained with a variety of music and dancing,

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and at one point, called us all outside to see a 180° rainbow! The rainbow and picture are real. So very Lapo!

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Not wanting dinner to get cold, Paola loudly called out in English “Hey, movie star!” and Lapo answers quickly.

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We learned that Lapo is a man of many talents, and “movie star” refers to his several appearances in Under the Tuscan Sun. Next time you see the movie, look for him as he appears in several scenes throughout. Here’s a photo of him with the lady who wades in the fountain,

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and here he is with Diane Lane and the producer.IMG_0047

But back to dinner. Once the food was served, Paola and her daughters joined the table and toasts were made. We talked and laughed so hard, tears were flowing. And of course, true to a great skill in our Italian culture, everyone was talking yet listening at once. Dinner was delicious…a tribute to Paola and her skill in the cucina!

Dessert consisted of the fresh ricotta made that day with two homemade marmellatas, fig and berry, and biscotti.

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Then some “surprising” entertainment. Some of the men donned “Renaissance” costumes and presented limoncello along with Lapo’s Vino Santo, a dessert wine served after dinner. Suffice it to say, you had to be there. I’m so happy we were!

It is easy to see that Paola and Lapo are hard-working entrepreneurs who understand how to make a living as well as a life off the fertile Italian soil.  They have raised two intelligent, well-educated daughters, operate a successful agriturismo, run a sheep farm, make wine and olive oil, grow and can fruits and vegetables, pass on their skills by teaching others, and most of all, share themselves and the love of  their culture with those fortunate enough to meet them. Carrol and Larry happened upon them by chance some years ago, and their families have forever bonded. And because of their relationship, Len and I had the opportunity to become part of their extended family this very special evening.

To Carrol and Larry, Paola and Lapo, our heartfelt thanks for an evening we will always treasure!

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To our new friends –  such great memories!

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All night long, conversations flowed easily in Italian and English around a dinner table with a 50 year age span. This is truly life at its best. And for us, participating in local Italian culture is another check on our bucket list.

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If we have learned one thing as travelers, it is to never underestimate the power of a simple hello. Magical!

Ciao,

Judy

4 Responses to “Casale della Torre”

  1. Sandy Holswade June 28, 2013 at 5:05 PM #

    Oh Judy – what a wonderful experience for you and Len! Looks like a fabulous time was had by all.

    Like

    • blogginginitaly June 29, 2013 at 3:59 AM #

      Sandy, this agriturismo is just below the lovely little house across from the tennis courts. Do you remember the area?

      Like

  2. Vera Cabral June 29, 2013 at 2:30 AM #

    Judy, walking this morning I saw the sign for this agro-turismo. Good to know where they are. Well done with your Blog! Bravissimo!!!

    Like

    • blogginginitaly June 29, 2013 at 4:00 AM #

      Grazie and glad you now know where to find them! If I miss you today, have a wonderful trip, Signora Veranese!!

      Like

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