La vita é un sogno: life is a dream.
This is how I feel right now. I am currently living out a dream, and my heart is full of joy, love, and gratefulness. Every morning I wake up to the sound of church bells, with the Italian sunshine streaming into my window, and I remember how I got here. I want to say thank you once again to my beautiful friends and family who gave me the support, both financially and emotionally, to come here. I am so deeply thankful for you.
I have officially been living in Italy for over a month now, and I am in love. Every beautiful idea and concept you have about Italy is true. The wine is beautiful, the food is beautiful, the people are beautiful, the houses and churches are beautiful, the language is beautiful, tutto é bello: everything is beautiful. I am studying the Italian language on my own, and I’m happy with how quickly I’ve been learning. It will be a while until I am fluent, but I’m able to order food at a restaurant, and that’s all that really matters, right??
My internship group and I have been doing some traveling and going on our culinary excursions. Last week, we went to a Pecorino cheese factory, Lake Bolsena, Civita di Bagnoregio (the dying city),the Bartolomei olive oil museum and factory in Montecchio, and an ancient winery here in Orvieto. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, sooo you’re just gonna have to google these places if you want to see!
This past Friday, the 27th, we had a great trip to Perugia for a chocolate class at the Scuola del Cioccolato in the Perugina chocolate factory. Each of us created a different kind of chocolate bonbon, using the 70% dark chocolate created at Perugina. The Chef educated us on the process of creating chocolate, and on each element and its importance to the final chocolate product.
I chose to fill my bonbons with white chocolate ganache flavored with coffee liqueur and cream.
This chocolate factory produces a type of chocolate candy called “Baci”. In Italian, “un bacio” (pronounced “bah-cho”), means “a kiss”. Baci (“bah-chi”) is plural for bacio. This chocolate candy is made with gianduja (a hazelnut flavored chocolate), hazelnut pieces, a whole hazelnut, and dark chocolate couverture. The candy is wrapped in foil covered with stars, and inside each one is an Italian love note. This is an extremely popular chocolate in Italy, and is super delicious. We were taught how to make these as well.
We were given a tour of the factory and production area, but we were not permitted to take pictures.
After the chocolate factory, we drove to Assisi, and had a picnic lunch on a mountain overlooking the countryside down below. Then we went into the city center of Assisi, and visited the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, where the body of Saint Francis is buried, and many of his relics are kept. It was a beautiful church with an interesting history of Saint Francis.
We wandered around Assisi for a while, eating meringues the size of plates, and enjoyed the beautiful day. Then we journeyed to Deruta to visit a ceramics workshop. It Italy, this ceramics style is called Maiolica, or Majolica. The pieces are all hand made and hand painted with beautiful, intricate designs, then finished with a beautiful glossy glaze. Plates, cups, vases, pitchers, table tops, door knobs, bowls, jewelry boxes, platters, you name it, they had it. Each and every one beautifully and carefully formed and painted.
It makes me think of Isaiah 64:8. “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” If this pottery created by human hands is so delicately made, with so much care and love, how much more lovingly and intentionally are we created by the ultimate potter?
To conclude our beautiful day, we had a dinner at a restaurant on a hill, surrounded by vineyards, rolling hills, lush green grass, bathed in the warm evening sunshine. The meat that was served was prepared over an open fire in the dining room, and the wine was as local as it gets. Beautiful food, beautiful company, a beautiful day. Bella giornata. My heart is full.
An Italian proverb to conclude this post:
Bisogna saper afferrare l’occasione pei capelli
This literally translates to “you have to know how to grab the opportunity by the hair”. Basically, an opportunity comes only once, and you have to know when to take it. I’m grateful for this opportunity, and I couldn’t be more happy that I took it.
Sending love to you all! CCFN, ciao ciao for now!