…and now…the season windup.  Charlotte Attebery, a longtime La Romita teacher / friend, and her group of Californians left on October 4th and we began the process of closing up the convent for the winter.  Hatches are battened, gates are closed, and gear is stored as the winds from the Apennine Mountains take on a bit of a bite.  Each year we watch the sunset as it travels day by day across the “Conca Ternana”, (as the bowl-shaped valley of Terni is known).  In mid-summer the sun sets behind Mount Torre Maggiore, framed perfectly by the bedrooms at La Romita, before beginning its journey south, (from our perspective, no argument with Galileo intended).  Our journeys begin as well.  Enza and Ben are home in Washington DC and I write this from upstate New York where I’ll visit family for a few days before heading home to California.  (The wind I feel now is down from Canada and is decidedly more voracious than the Apennine breeze I felt a few days ago.)

Our Italian friends are busily preparing our olive groves for harvest in November…trimming the trees and the brush beneath them, sorting out the netting that will be strung up to stop the picked olives from rolling down the hillsides, and lining up the crates and hand-rakes to finish the job.We have more than 270 trees at La Romita, some hundreds of years old, and each one is heavy with the green fruit—turning purplish black before harvest—that furnish us with the delicious extra virgin olive oil we serve with our meals.

2011 was a beautiful season at La Romita some wonderful new programs lead by teachers from Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, and Kentucky, and some longtime favorites from California, Colorado, North Carolina, and Indiana.  There are too many special moments to name, but some of the high-points were the town festivals we visited.  Each of the towns has some history-based party or procession or event and it’s tough keeping track of them all, but we try and take each group on a couple of outings.  In October, we saw an amazing concert by a Tuscan marching band in nearby San Gemini.  They marched through the streets in their medieval era uniforms and played Italian parade music—much of it written by Verdi and Puccini—on elongated trumpets of ancient design called Chiarine.  In August we saw Swan Lake performed by the “Crown of Russian Ballet” at the Roman amphitheater in Terni.  There was also the concert in an ancient church by the Oxford Boys Choir and procession of knights on horseback in old Narnia…there were really too many to name.

We would love to hear from you in the off-season (the toll-free number — 1-855-476-6482 — will soon be ringing at my house in California), by email or phone…to reminisce or say hello…or to plan your next Italian adventure. A presto!

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