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Celebrating the Art of Neapolitan Pizza in NYC

“Tu Vuò Fa’ il Napoletano- Facce de Pizza” comes to NYC to celebrate the art of the Neapolitan pizzaiuloi as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The idea for the event came with the recognition by UNESCO of the art of Neapolitan pizza making and was developed with the Association Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN).

In the photo art expert  Francesca Silvestri, Antonio Pace, President of VPNA, Peppe Mele, the VPNA delegate to the US and Elizabetta Cantone journalist, Co-Founder and CEO of Dress and Dreams.

The event was organized by journalist Elizabetta Cantone of Dress in Dreams Movies and Culture with the support of MiBACT- Direct Cinema. The events took place on April 16th at Ribalta Pizzaria, April 17 at NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marinò center and April 19 at Song’e Napule Pizzeria.

Cantone said these events intend to show the art of the Neapolitan Pizzaioli through the many films that feature pizza.

Chef Pasquale Cozzolino of Ribalta

I attended the event at Ribalta, which has a large screen.  We saw clips from American and Italian movies with pizza in all its forms being made and eaten.  There were clips from” The Gold Of Naples” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” just to mention two very different movies.

Cantone said that pizza in the past was a dish of the poor but today it is considered a gourmet dish prepared with the best ingredients.

I spoke with Pasquale Cozzolino the Pizzaiolo and Chef of Ribalta about his style and in particular the flour that he uses for pizza, which is a subject of great interest to me.,

In Naples many pizza places will list the source of all the ingredients to show they are only using the best ones.

Along with Pasquale some of the pizza was made by Rosatio Granieri from Rossopomodoro in NYC.  I tasted the pizza margherita, pizza marinara and another with cheese and sausage.





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Hilberg-Pasquero Winery: In Harmony with Nature and the Moon

I was having lunch with a winemaker when Dino Tantawi, owner of Vignaioli Selections, walked into the restaurant. I have known Dino for a long time and have great respect for his portfolio of wines. We talked and Dino invited me to lunch at Baker & Co. the following week featuring the wines of Hilberg-Pasquero.

The winery is located in Roero in the Piedmont region of Italy between the Tanaro River and the Turin highland.  It was founded in the early 20th century on Bricco Gatto in the village of Priacca in southern Piedmont. It is not far from the Barolo and Barbaresco areas and is separated from them by the Tanaro.

Michelangelo Pasquero, known as  Mikio, is the current co-owner of the estate and the wine maker and grape grower.  His great grandfather began producing wine in 1915.  Mikio’s interest in organic farming took him to Sweden and Germany, which had more advanced organic farming methods. In Germany he met Annette Hilberg and she became his wife.


The speaker at the lunch was Annette Hilberg.

Annette said the winery is biodynamic and they do not use any pesticides or herbicides in the vineyard. Only natural yeast (yeast on the grapes) is used and no sulfites are added to the wine. They only use their own grapes and the harvest is by hand.

Grapes are pressed in a standard wine press similar to those used in the 1960’s. The wine pressing is manual.  Punching down of the cap for the red wine is done by hand. They follow the phases of the moon. On the back label it states, “Moon phases influence sea tides, the life of animals, plants and humanity. Like our ancestors, we respect nature, its cycles and potential energy to get the best possible expression of its fruit.”

The wines

Brachetto Secco “Vareij’ 2014 made from 75% Brachetto and 25% Barbera d’Alba depending on the vintage. The production zone is Bricco Gatti. The four-acre vineyard is at 780 feet with a southeast/southwest exposure. The soil is clay and marl. Fermentation is in open-top tanks for 5/6 days and the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and 3 months in bottle before release. Only 600 cases are produced. This is a well-balanced wine with aromas and favors of red fruit and hints of roses, cloves and strawberries. It is an easy drinking wine.

Annette said the Brachetto is a very difficult grape to work with and difficult to make it into a dry wine.  It needs the Barbera to give it structure and acidity. This was the first wine they bottled in 1994.

Barbera d’Asti DOC 2014 made from 100% Barbera d’Alba. The soil is limestone and clay. Fermentation is for 5 to 6 days in open-top tanks. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 12 months, one month in used barriques and 8 months in the bottle before release. The wine has ripe fruit aromas with hints of raspberry, cherry and a touch of strawberry. This is an easy drinking and a very food friendly wine. Annette said 2014 was a fruit forward vintage.

Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2013 made from 100% Barbera d’Alba (Monselli Cru) Production zone Priocca d’Alba. The 2.4 acres vineyard is at 840 feet and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is limestone and white clay marl. Fermentation is for 5 to 6 days in open- top tanks followed by a 14-day maceration period. The wine was immediately transferred to new French oak barriques for the malolactic fermentation and then aged in new French barriques for 22 months and 9 months in bottle before release. This is an intense Barbera with hints of strawberries, blackberries, violets and a touch of vanilla

Nebbiolo”Alba DOC made from 100% Nebbiolo d”Alba. Production area Priocca d”Alba. The 2.4 vineyard is at 840 feet. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is clay, marl with limestone. 5 to 6 days fermentation period in open tanks is followed by a 21 day maceration period. The wine was transferred into new French oak barriques for malolactic fermentation and is aged in French barriques mostly new for 22 months. After 9 months in bottle the wine is released. The wines drink like a Barolo with hints of red fruit, violets, rose, licorice and vanilla.

Annette had us taste the 2008 and the 2010 Nebbiolo side by side because these were more classic vintages which will age.  The 2009 was softer with more fruit. While it will also age, it was more approachable.

Baker & Co served very good Italian food which went very well with the wine. I was very impressed by their Roman style pizza.



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The Unique Wines of Cascina Ebreo


When I was the wine director of i Trulli restaurant in NYC, we carried the wines of Cascina Ebreo. These are unique wines and I always wanted to meet Peter Weimer, the man who produced them. Even though the invitation to meet Peter and taste his wines was scheduled for the night I was to leave for Rome, I just had to go.  Along with Peter the other speaker was the young enologist Gian Luca Colombo.

Peter and Gian Luca

Many years ago Peter Weimer, a successful businessman and wine collector, drove from Switzerland to the Langhe in Piedmont. He visited the producers and brought back their wines. Peter liked the wine so much and visited so many times that he became friends with many of the producers. He would bring bottles of Burgundy and other wines to share with them when he visited.  Eventually, Peter and his wife, Romy Gygax, decided to follow the advice of friends.  They moved to the Langhe and bought a winery.

In 1991 he brought Cascina Ebreo (Ag.Agr Weimer Gygax) with its southwest oriented vineyards not far from the town of Novello.  It was called Cascina Ebreo from the 18th century but no one knows why.

Peter stated that his vision for making wine in Piedmont is: “unruly, sincere, spontaneous, anarchic and crazy just like all great wines should be.” He is not  your typical winemaker and in many ways he is just as unique as his wines.

Rosso made from 70% Dolcetto from grapes which were not crushed, 20% Barbera Segreto and 5% Nebbiolo Tobido. The production zone is Bricco del Gallo, Dogliani- Ravera subzone Nivello. The Rosso and Barbera are pressed together, while the Nebbiolo is included in the end during the malolactic fermentation. Spontaneous fermentation takes place with 25 to 30 day maceration in steel. The wine is aged in Austrian oak for four months and another six months in bottle before release. This is a fragrant, fresh straightforward wine that can be drunk young or can age.  It has aromas and flavors of red and black fruit.

Segreto 100% Barbera from vineyards in the Ravera subzone of Novello from late harvest grapes. The exposure is east/northeast. Pressing and spontaneous fermentation takes place in steel, with maceration between 25 and 30 days. It is bottled without filtration. The wine is aged in German and Austrian oak barrels and spends at least two years. Peter described the wine as “a singularly severe and selective wine, it charms and seduces with its complex profoundness, enigmatic emotionally and indescribable mystery.”

“Sinché… ” 2015 100% Sauvignon Blanc, clones from the Loire Valley and Friuli. Vineyards in Novello until 2016. From 2017 in San Sebastiano subzone of Monforte D’Alba. The grapes are immediately pressed in a closed bladder press and the wine is transferred to stainless steel tanks. After 48 hours the must is separated from the solid parts and transferred to barriques of which some are new for fermentation. The wine remains here for 28 months in contact with the yeast left over from fermentation. Each week the battonage takes place. Then the wine is separated from the yeast and returns for 6 months to steel tanks. After it is bottled, no filtering, it remains in bottle for two years before release.

Peter’s description is “A unique Sauvignon, it is aromatic, complex and mercurial in character. The perception of wood is muted, almost imperceptible, but it aids in the longevity of the wine.”

Gian Luca Colombo made the Rosso and the 2015 Sinchè… in cooperation with Peter. In 2014 Jean Luca was voted the best young enologist in Italy. Peter hopes Gian Luca will follow his path of winemaking.

Peter gave the name Torbido! to this wine because when he presented his first vintage to the DOCG commission to qualify as Barolo, they told him that wine cannot be labeled Barolo because it is cloudy, in Italian torbido. Peter decided to follow his own philosophy of production. No filtration or fining, organic fertilizer, natural yeast, etc. He believes that we have to live in harmony with nature. Peter never went before the commission again so his wine is not labeled Barolo.

He only uses grapes grown on the estate and the harvest is by hand.  The vineyard is 1.5 kilometers near the village of Barolo below the village of Novello, the zone is know as “Ravera.”  Both Cogno and Vietti have vineyards in this zone.

We tasted the Torbido! made from 100% Nebbiolo. Peter said that wine is produced only in extraordinary years. The wine is fermented in the classic style with a maceration of 20/25 days. Selected yeast is not used, nor is there automatic temperature control. Pete said that with pumping over or pushing down of the treber head (cap) for 3 or 4 hours, there is a maximum extraction of color and aroma. Malolactic fermentation takes place in wood.

After fermentation the wine rests in steel for a short time. Then it is transferred to second and third 600 liter Allier and Tronçais French oak of medium toast. Only some of the barrels are new. He said they replace the barrels which do not fulfill their needs any more. The wine remains here for 30/36 months with some movement to support the natural clarifying process by sedimentation. It is bottled without filtration. The wine remains in bottle for two years before release.

We tasted 6 vintages of the Torbido!  Peter described the Torbido! as a deep and structured wine. Rich and vibrant with a charming and complex personality that is endowed with lively, full and enjoyable tannins.

2010 Peter said that that the summer was perfect and the weather in September was good.

2009 He said this was a hot vintage the wines were big and much heavier than the 2010

2007. He dd not say much about this vintage

2006 has a lot of tannin

2005 was a vintage that showed what Nebbiolo should be and said it was better than the 1995

2004 was a good vintage.

These wines were classic with hints  of cherry, tobacco, tar, tea and violets. They are wines that can age.



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Keste Wall Street: Happy Hour Italiano

A glass of wine or a drink in a cafe or wine bar in Italy typically brings with it an assortment of finger food.  Now, Roberto Caporuscio  is following this custom at his Keste Wall street location. He calls it “Happy Hour Italiano” and it takes place Monday to Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.  Nine red wines and seven white wines are offered by the glass. The more expensive the wine the more and better finger food you will get.

The assortment might include focaccia, miniature rice balls, fried burrata, tuna stuffed peppers, and more.  If you order a bottle of wine you might get all of them.

Roberto talking about his Sfincione

When I arrived at Keste recently Roberto took me to where he was making the sfincione and explained to me how it was made and how high the dough had risen once it was baked. Sfincione is a Sicilian style pizza with a thick crust and topped with onions, tomato sauce, cheese and anchovies.  It was very tasty and I limited myself to one piece because I know there was a lot more to follow.

The Sifincione

Peppers stuffed with tuna and anchovies

Potato Croquettes 

Fried Buratta 

Arancini (rice balls)

Frittatine – Fried Pasta

Mortadella and Pistachio Focaccia 

Stracchino Focaccia from Liguria – Very light focaccia made without yeast.

Cheeses: Moliterno and Cacio Sarno

Pizza with Mortadella and Robiola Della Bufala

The picture which did not come out- Pizza with Gorgonzola, Cranberry, Dry Figs and Stracchino

Salame dried in house

Come for the appetizers and wine, and remember Roberto makes Great Pizza!



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The Wines of Paolo and Noemia D’Amico

Paolo E Noemia D’ Amico Winery.

When I was planning my last trip to Rome, Tony Di Dio of  Tony Di Dio Selections suggested that I visit the Paolo E Noemia D’Amico Winery since it is only an hour and fifteen minute drive from Rome.  But the weather is Rome this February was rainy, cold, and one day it even snowed, so we never made arrangements to go to the winery.

When we returned home Tony invited me to a lunch at Il Gattopardo Restaurant with the wines of D’Amico.  The speakers were Paolo D’Amico, Chairman of the winery, and the agronomist and enologist Guillaume Gelly.


Paolo D’Amico

Paolo said he comes from a ship owning family but always had a passion for wine and wine making. His wife, Noemia, was born in Rio de Janeiro but her family is originally from Porto in Portugal. She worked for Maison Christian Dior for ten years. Noemia shared the same passion as Paolo for wine.  Paolo said that he and Noemia founded the winery in 1985 with just 5 hectares and today they have 35 hectares of vineyards.

The wine cellars are located in Vaiano, Castiglione in Teverine (VT) near the unique town of Civita di Bagnoregio, in a part of Lazio that overlaps Umbria. Paolo said the estate dates from the 16th century.


Guillaume Gelly

Guillaume spoke about the wines. He said the wines are influenced by the ancient volcanic soil of Vaiano and this is why the wines have very nice minerality. The cellar is carved from the local volcanic tufa rock.

Paolo referred to the cellar as a library designed by his wife and the architect Luca Brasini where the finished wines are stored to the sound of classical music. The cellar is under hanging gardens decorated with modern sculptures from different eras. There is also a tower on the property which dates from the 13th Century called “Torre del Sole” that was built on Roman foundations.  Paolo showed a video of the estate and it was very impressive. Next time I am in Rome I will make arrangements to visit.



Noe DPO 2016 Orvieto made from Grecgetto, Trebbiano and Pinot Grigio. The vineyards are located in Umbria on the border between Tuscany and northern Lazio at 480 meters. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 5 months. After about 1 month in bottle the wine is released for sale. This is a balanced fruity wine with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, good acidity and nice minerality. Gauillaume said the name of the wine comes from part of Paolo’s wife’s name Noemia. 

Calvanchi Di Vaiano IGP Lazio 2015 made from 100% Chardonnay. Guillaume said this wine and the Falesia come from the same vineyard. The difference is in how they are vinified. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine does undergo malolatic fermentation. The wine is aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks and 3 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant, full-bodied wine with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit and a hint of apricot and good minerality. I asked Guillaume how he was able to make a wine with so much body and flavor without oak and malolactic fermentation. He said the wine was on the lees for a long period of time and this is what gives the wine its character. This is an excellent food friendly wine. 

Falesia IGP Lazio 2016 made from 100% Chardonnay. This wine is fermented in French barriques and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It spends a long time on the lees. Then the wine is aged for 10 months in new and used barriques and five months in barrel before release. This is an intense and complex wine with hints of ripe fruit and touches of honey, butter and almonds.

With the two Chardonnays we had organic farro salad with poached fresh tuna, sautéed artichokes and baby kale.

Notturo dei Calanchi” 2012 PGI Umbria 100% Pinot Noir from a two hectare vineyard at 550 meters. Cold maceration lasts for 5 days. The wine is aged for 10 months in French barriques, 30% new and 70% used and another 10 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant fruit forward wine with hints of red fruit, a touch of cherry, and violets. I was very impressed by this wine. Guillaume mentioned that the winery overlooks the Calanchi Valley.

Pasta “Genovese” Paccheri tossed with a sauce of pork ribs, white wine and sweet onions

“Atlante” Cabernet Franc 2012 PGI Umbria made from 100% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard has a southern exposure and the grapes are hand harvested in October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 20 days. The wine is aged in French barriques for 10 months 70% new and 30 % used and 10 more months in bottle before release. This is an intense complex wine with hints of black fruit, cinnamon and spice. It has a very long finish.

It was a perfect combination with the pan-seared veal loin scented with fresh thyme, served with fingerling potatoes and porcini mushrooms.

For pictures of the estate and the library(cellar) visit their web-site



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Making Pasta at Grano and Farina in Rome

by Michele Scicolone

“No machines allowed here!” announces the website description of the Northern Italian Pasta class at Grano & Farina cooking school in Rome. Julia Griner, who co-owns the school with her husband Pino Ficara, a chef, teaches how to make egg-based pasta using a more than yard long rolling pin like a traditional sfoglina, pasta maker, from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Since we were on our way to Rome, a friend of ours introduced us to the couple via email, and we met at one of our favorite Roman wine bars. Julia and Pino told us that they had recently opened their school in the Trastevere neighborhood and invited us to attend a class. Charles couldn’t make it, but I was delighted to go. Though I often make homemade pasta, I generally use a pasta rolling machine. This was my chance to learn the art of hand-rolled pasta from a pro.

Pasta Boards and Rolling Pins at Grano & Farina

Julia began the class by describing what we would learn. There were two other students and we would each make our own batch of pasta and roll it into 3 different shapes: fettuccine, pappardelle and garganelli, which look like penne with ridges. Julia spoke about the tools we needed including that 110 cm rolling pin, a large wooden board, and a small gnocchi board with a dowel for rolling garganelli.

Julia told us that the rolling pins and pasta boards we were using had been custom made. The pins were made of beech wood which tends not to warp and will roll out the pasta evenly. Not exactly the old broom handle grandma might have stored behind the kitchen door! The boards, which are used only for pasta, are made of poplar or linden woods which are soft and porous. This helps the pasta develop the right texture.

Roman Artichokes

After kneading, our pasta dough needed resting and we set it aside wrapped in plastic to relax. Then Pino took over. In the cooking area, we began working on the sauces for the pasta. Garganelli with Artichoke Sauce used the beautiful long stemmed Roman artichokes that are in season right now, and the Fettuccine Carbonara, made with eggs, guanciale and grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano is an icon of Roman cooking. We trimmed the artichokes and stewed them with white wine, lemon, and garlic. For the carbonara, we trimmed the guanciale, cured pork cheek, and prepared the eggs and cheeses.

While the artichokes simmered, we returned to our pasta boards and Julia demonstrated the rolling technique. We learned how to maneuver the rolling pin to stretch and press the dough out by moving our hands along the pin as we rolled and rotated the dough. The goal was to keep the pasta round, silky smooth, even and in one piece. With lots of coaching and guidance from Julia, we all managed to achieve thin and mostly round sheets of pasta.

Julia Griner, la sfoglina


We cut the fettuccine with a knife and Julia showed us her technique for shaping it into “nests” to dry. Then we cut out squares of pasta that we rolled on the gnocchi boards for the garganelli.

Making garganelli on a gnocchi board


The sauces were quickly finished, and the pasta cooked in minutes. We all sat down to a 2-pasta lunch with wine.

Garganelli with Artichoke Sauce at Grano & Farina


What makes hand rolled pasta so special? It has a different “bite” to it than machine made pasta. It is more substantial and chewy, plus it holds the sauces better.

The class was fun and informative. Julia and Pino are knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects and eager to share their information with the students. I really appreciated how well organized they were, something that is often overlooked. In addition to pasta classes, their program includes a wine range of courses in pizza and bread making, butchery and of course pastry. Pino trained as a pastry chef in Paris and worked at some of the top restaurants there and in New York.  Classes are offered in English, French and Italian.

Next time I am in Rome, I look forward to taking another class at Grano & Farina. Cornetti, anyone?



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Castello delle Regine: Chianina Beef and Wine

Michele and I have know Livia Colantonio and Paolo Nodari, founders of Castello delle Regine winery, for a long time but have not visited the winery in a number of years. The winery is just outside the town of Orte in Umbria, only 30 minutes by train from Rome. On our recent trip, Livia invited us to visit the winery and taste the wines over lunch.

The property covers 400 hectares overlooking the valley that has been called for centuries the “Valley of the Queens,” located between the towns of Narni and Amelia.

Livia said the soil of the hills is sandy clay, the exposure is north-south and there are 5.000 to 6,000 vines per hectare

. They follow sustainable agriculture rules with low environmental impact. She said they use only natural fertilizers and the 200 hectares of forests surrounding the vineyards provide a microclimate favorable to prefect ripening of the grapes, with temperature excursions between night and day.

The consulting oenologist is the very respected Franco Bernabei.

In addition to the winery, the estate includes an agriturismo with comfortable apartments and a top flight regional restaurant featuring products from the estate.


Sparkling Rose NV made from Sangiovese and Montepuliciano using the Charmat Method (the second fermentation takes place in a large closed pressure tank).

This is a wine with hints of strawberries , raspberries and a hint of citrus. Great way to begin lunch.

Bianco delle Regine 2016 made from 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Riesling and 10% Pinot Grigio. Harvest takes place by hand in the middle of August. Each grape variety is vinified separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 75 HL. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to preserve its freshness. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of citrus fruit with a touch of lime and good acidity.

Our first appetizer was marinated Chianina beef rump served with a mix of salad and kataifi, shredded filo pastry for crunch.

This was followed by scrambled eggs with truffle and asparagus

Rosso di Podernovo — 80% Sangiovese, from 30 year old vines, 10% Montepulciano and 10% Syrah from new plantings at 90 to 280 meters with a south/west exposure from the Podernovo estate. Harvest is from the end of September into October. Maceration is in stainless steel tanks 50 to 110 HL with daily pump over for 14 to 18 days. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Allier tonneaux and in oak botti of 25 and 15 HL. The wine remains in bottle for 8 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit with hints of cherry, violets and a touch of spice. This is an excellent food wine.

We enjoyed it with Ravioli filled with pumpkin and hazelnuts with a sauce of veal jus.

Princeps 2005 made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon from 15 and 20 year old vines, 20% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese, vinified separately. Harvest is by hand the last week of September into October. Fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with daily pumping over for 14 to 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 months in French Allier barriques and then in bottle for a minimum of 24 months before release. This is a complex wine with hints of cherry, licorice and tobacco and a long finish. The wine was showing no signs of age.

Pasta with spicy Chianina ragu. Homemade tagliolini in a sauce made from the farm’s Chianina cows.

Selectione del Fondatore 2005 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso from a special selection of 40-year-old vines. The vineyard is south-southwest at 280 meters. Harvest is by hand from the end of September into October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 110 HL for 14 to 18 days with daily pumping over. The wine is aged in French barriques for 12 months and for a minimum of 36 months in bottle before release. This is complex and full-bodied wine with hints of blackberries, cherries and a touch of balsamic.

Roast lamb with vegetables from the garden.

Sangiovese Passito – red dessert wine made from 100% late harvest Sangiovese grapes. The grapes are dried (appassimento) on trellises. The wine is aged in small French oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years before release. This is one of the best I have ever tasted. It has hints of black fruit with notes of blackberries and blueberries, a very long finish and a fantastic aftertaste. As is the tradition in Umbria, it could also go with lamb on Easter.

Cake stuffed with cardamom cream and glazed with chocolate and Cointreau.

The end of a great lunch

After lunch we took a tour of the estate, and went to see the Chianina cattle. Livia said they are one of the oldest, tallest and heaviest breeds of cattle. The cows are raised in a semi-wild state. There are approximately 250 animals divided into four herds and they live on 40 hectares devoted to pasture and forests. Chianina cows originated in the area of the Valdichiana, from which they get their name.

Before we left Livia took us on a tour of the wine cellar.




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