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The Olive Branch

Finally, a break in the weather.  Kind of.  The sun was shining bright this morning and it was so very good to see it.  We were almost giddy when we flung open our wooden shutters and saw the sun shining bright across the village and the Tiber Valley.  It was still chilly, but sunny.  What a wonderful thing, the sun.  Makes you feel so optimistic.  Lots to do today, so we took a little time in the morning to relax and then took off.

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The porchetta truck

It’s Sunday, so that means it’s market day in Monterchi.  You can’t miss that.  Monterchi is about 10 minutes away from here and has a really great Sunday morning market.  I bought a couple of pairs of socks, and could have bought a couple of live chickens if I’d wanted to.  Actually, I’d love to, but since I’m a part-timer here it’s probably not a good idea to buy livestock.  Of course we had a porchetta panino at the market.  It’s a tradition with us and since it was about 11:30 it was kind of like lunch.  We walked around eating our porchetta with the crumbs from the crispy bread all over our shirts.  It’s such good stuff.  Porchetta is wonderful and it makes you feel OK about the whole man eating animal thing.  If you’re going to eat it, then by God eat the whole thing.  That’s what porchetta is – the whole thing jumbled up and put back together in a magical way.  Juicy, tender, seasoned to perfection on this perfect bun that’s crispy and crumbly on the outside and pillow soft on the inside.  We also bought some strawberries and artichokes. Six artichokes for five euro.  Couldn’t pass that up.  They were the baby ones – the ones you can eat all of without scraping out the fuzzy choke.  And these strawberries – I think they’re the best I’ve ever had.  Bright red throughout, juicy and so sweet.  I really don’t know what we are sold in grocery stores in the US, but they bear no resemblance to these beauties.

When we got back to Anghiari, they were having their monthly antique market.  We weren’t sure they would have it today since it was Palm Sunday, but there were a few vendors set up.  We bought some ceramics from a woman from Citta di Castello – a  couple of mugs, a soap dish, a few small bowls, a pitcher – things we needed.  It was pretty slim because of Palm Sunday, but still fun to poke around in.

By the time we finished that, the clouds were gathering.  We were planning on going to Sansepolcro for a crossbow event, but it was dark and rainy.  We drove over there anyway and found out that it had been cancelled.  What else could we do but go back home and open a nice bottle of wine?  We had planned to walk to a restaurant here in town for dinner, but the weather was so bad – wind, rain, cold – that we decided to run out to the grocery store and cook dinner at home and build a nice fire.  Our first fire in our new house.  Very nice.

For dinner I used some of the artichokes that we’d bought at the Monterchi market and made a simple pasta with sausage.  It was very good and we had a wonderful evening cooking and lounging by the fire.  The rain finally stopped, but it was still cold and dreary out.  But we were warm and cozy next to the fire.  Very nice.

Since it was Palm Sunday, Steve went to church this morning.  He thought there might be a big deal going on and apparently he was right.  There was a procession from the ancient church up in the old village to the parish church, which is just down the street from us.  Millie and I stayed home.  He came back, telling of the procession and the reading of the passion.  Instead of the palms fronds that you get in churches in Atlanta, they were giving out olive branches.  I’m not sure if that is because there are so many olive trees here that need pruning right about this time of year, or because of the significance of the olive branch as a sign of peace.  Regardless, it was a nice thing to have in the house all day.  We could use a few more olive branches in the world, don’t you think?


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