Our Ripatransone Neighbors Star on Italian TV!

Tooling around YouTube uncovered this RAI 3 television show focusing on the people and culture of Ripatransone.


Making appearances are:

  • Stefano Acciarri — Stefano and his family are the hardest working people we know.  They grow delicious organic things year round, and make some of the very best olive oil.  We procured our little baby olive trees from Stefano!
  • Alessandro Capecci — Alessandro runs a pasta shop in “downtown” Ripatransone. He also gave G a cooking lesson at Le Caniette during one of our earliest visits to the area.
  • Roberto Pasquali — We only met Roberto once, very briefly, at Caffe Blob in Santa Maria Goretti. Our good friend Pietro arranged for us to try out a couple of bottles of his Rosso Piceno.  It was absolutely DELICIOUS!

In addition, there are a number of other talented folks from Ripatransone. We can’t wait to meet the rest of them around town!


Seven Things Americans Can Learn from Italians – HuffPo

G sent a really good HuffPo post my way, and we spent a bit of time talking about it.  Seems spot on to both of us.

I’ve noticed three threads in the way Italians approach life that seem different and good, and I think they’re picked up in HuffPo’s list:

  1. Italians prioritize family and friends.
  2. Italians prefer to interact in person.
  3. Italians pursue happiness in a sustainable way.

Eating slowly and with others, the evening passegiata (stroll) in a crowded piazza, staying near the place you grew up, drinking but not to excess, maintaining a positive reputation… these all seem to me to stem from a shared set of values that focus on spending face time with those you love, and enjoying life without losing (too much) control.

G and I are looking forward to learning a bit more the way of Italians, and are especially looking forward to family and friends coming to spend some face time in one of the best places on the planet!


Old Postcards and Photos from Ascoli Piceno

Tutto Doppio is in the province of Ascoli Piceno, in eastern Le Marche.  The province is named after its capital city, Ascoli Piceno.

Ascoli is a beautiful old town, positioned at the confluence of the Tronto and Castellano rviers, and nestled at the foot of the mountains.  It lies along the via Salaria (“salt road”), an important route that the Romans used to transport salt to Rome. It’s a really lovely place, with a couple of magnificent piazze, and warm, friendly people.

Giovanni Vagnarelli has put together a slide show of 150 postcards and pictures of old Ascoli Piceno.  Much has changed, but not too much!  Enjoy!



Christmas = Karaoke?

It may not be a true Christmas tradition, but we sure do enjoy it!  Although the setting isn’t quite as spectacular as the terrazzo at Tutto Doppio, the boys and I had a great time belting out some tunes.  The girls – G, Gidget, and Buttercup – were good sports and put up with us.  A ton of fun!


Cappelletti: Pasta Shaped Like Little Hats

Pasta comes in a nearly countless number of variations, but one of our favorites is cappelletti, or “little hats.”  These tasty, meat-filled pasta are a Christmas Eve tradition and are typically cooked in a brodo or broth.  G’s filling included a combination of chicken, pork and beef, plus some cheese and a bit of seasoning. The pasta was handmade and then shaped by G into the little cappelletti.  Quickly cooked in seasoned chicken stock, these pasta are absolutely delicious on cold winter evening!


Bea’s Honey

on July 17th, Gina’s beloved Aunt Bea passed away. She’d been ill for a while, and although her passing wasn’t a surprise, it was a big loss.  Fortunately, G had the opportunity to be with her for a bit prior to her death.

Later the very same day of her passing, we learned that a colony of bees had built a hive
on the farm, between the kitchen shutter and window – a prominent spot that
couldn’t be missed.

Aunt Bea
always enjoyed a good joke.

We weren’t at the farm to take care of the bee invasion.  But not to worry: our good friend Pietro carefully removed the hive, and relocated it to the farm his family owns just a few miles away from Tutto Doppio. 

On our last visit, Pietro presented to us a couple of good sized jars of Bea’s honey.  We rebottled it, and shared it with those we love! 



Loreto – A Beautiful Curiosity

The view of Piazza Della Madonna from the steps of the Basilica della Santa Casa

The view of Piazza Della Madonna from the steps of the Basilica della Santa Casa

Loreto sits atop a hill almost to the Adriatic, just about 15 miles south of Ancona — a relatively quick drive from Tutto Doppio.  It’s a beautiful town, with the expected small streets, shops, and cafes.

But the main attraction is the Basilica Della Santa Casa.  Believers have been making the pilgrimage there since at least the 14th century.  The reason?  The Holy House (santa casa). 

Legend has it that this is the home in which the Mary was born and raised, in which she received the annunciation, and in which she lived during the childhood of her son, Jesus.  The story goes that in 1291, with the Turks threatening its existence, angels plucked up the house and transported it away from Nazareth.

But they didn’t bring it all the way to Loreto.  Instead, the Santa Casa was deposited in Croatia; an appearance of the Virgin Mary, along with miraculous cures attested to the true origins of the house.  Then in 1294, the house was transported across the Adriatic and set down in the woods about 7 kilometers to the west of Loreto.  The holy house was soon moved to the hilltop that was to become the town of Loreto.

Today’s basilica – and especially the small, ancient santa casa that sits within it – is as beautiful as its origin story is farfetched.  You can walk right into the little house, and inside you will feel the devotion of those who are there with you, and the many who have come before.

If you’re like me, all of that history and beauty will have worked up an appetite.  For a low key bite, we can highly recommend Piadineria Artigianale Magritte.  Piadini are the Italian version of quesadillas, and this place makes them in with all kinds of fillings.  They also have a very nice selection of beer.  Lunch was so delicious that we each ordered another round of piadini – really special!



The Beautifiul Adriatic

Tutto Doppio is on the western cusp of the last hillside just before the Adriatic.  That means la spiagga (beach) and la mare (sea) are less than 20 minutes away. 

The water is clean, and nearly always calm; it’s shallow, which means it’s nice and warm.  The sand is white.  The people are friendly.  And the entire lungomare from Grottammare to San Benedetto del Tronto is a beautiful walkway dotted with seafood restaurants.  


Princess Buttercup

This is what we refer to at the house as “division of labor. “

We’re excited to see how all the animals do after we move to the farm.  I am concerned about whether Buttercup will destroy the vines (she ate a fair number of our tomatoes this season); G is convinced that she will be too tired running up and down the hill to have much energy left to cause trouble.

We’ll see, but based on the photo above we may both be right; she can do a fair amount of damage by just lying down on stuff.