Sunday, November 22, 2009

Umbria, Continued

In a jet-lag haze……stopped in a hill town – Stimigliano -- and lunched on fresh pecorino (two weeks old) and ripe tomatoes, schiacciata ( a flattishbread) and proscuitto and apples. We were perched on some steps in a square, in front of a WWII memorial. An elderly woman came out her door carrying freshly ironed linens, saw that Robin was drinking some red wine, and started chattering to us in Italian. She retreated into her home, then came to the door with a label-less litre bottle of pale yellow substance. R. stood and attempted to converse in her limited Italian. The elderly woman again disappeared, then returned with a 750ml bottle filled with the same liquid substance. She walked down the steps to us, entreating us to partake. So we did. The bottle appeared tohave been well-used, and not often washed. There was a film of black mold justunder the lip, and a residue inside at the bottom. A middle-aged woman across the square, standing in front of the produce-vendor’s shop, burst into laughter upon viewing us. (Quite nearly derisory.) (Sean suggested that perhaps she was serving us her day’s supply of fresh urine….) Robin produced a trio of plastic cups,and the three of us – Sean, R. and myself – sampled the “vino.” It resembled home-brewed apple cider, but the woman kept insisting that it was made from grapes, not apples. (This with Robin translating.) Faintly effervescent, appley, unfiltered. Not exactly delicious. In her limited Italian, Robin asked the woman her age (82) and name – Guiseppa. We returned the undrunk portion to her, having no cork with which to stop the bottle, and, to tell the truth, not exactly thrilled with

the prospect of finishing our “gift.”


  1. Hmmmm... Beware of Italians bearing home-made wine? Although a good Sauvignon Blanc often has a hint of crisp apples in it.

  2. Another nice Umbria installment. Did you all feel ok after the 'wine' tasting!

    A friend of mine had an uncle who worked in Africa as a missionary. One afternoon he was invited into an elders hut whereupon his host took down from a ledge what appeared to be a ball of mould wrapped in grasses. I believe he managed to eat some as it would have been an insult not to but never found out what it was!

  3. Roy, calling that wine a Sauvignon blanc would be a bit of a stretch...!

    RW -- yes, we survived the wine tasting just fine (although I was a bit concerned). Perhaps the fermentation killed any possibly offending organisms! And I must say I'm happy never to have been a missionary in Africa.

  4. What was funny was that we'd been afraid she was going to tell us not to drink wine on the church steps! Apparently it was OK to drink antifreeze at any rate.