Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lacole Casa Italiana - surely the world's best warehouse of repurposed Architectural elements

I love researching far and wide to uncover interesting and intriguing places in our local Umbrian/Tuscan community, places that excite my senses with the quality and depth of what they offer, well 'PORTE DEL PASSATO' Via della Liberta, Pistrino di Citerna (PG), and its sister store 'LACOLE CASA ITALIANA' a few hundred metres down the road, both fit this category.
Lacole Casa Italiana is an enormous warehouse with the most amazingly indepth product display of beautiful recycled architectural & interior design elements imaginable. Do you require a jaw dropping marble fireplace surround to finish your home?...or 70yr old majolica wear concrete tiles for that family room renovation?.....or perhaps a centuries old marble sink to complete your bathroom, or an antique stone archway - my list could go on and on, - well this is undoubtedly the place to find them, and not only will you find them, but you will also have a bevy of choice! I love these type of warehouses but never have I seen the quantity and quality of repurposed architectural items that this place has to offer - nor have I ever seen the items displayed and catalogued with such precision and attention to detail - this place is most definitely a labour of love by its owners and the photos I took below are truly just a fraction of what they offer - it did feel a little like an elaborate movie set, yet everything we saw was certainly available for purchase. 
I admit to seriously eyeing off the majolica ware concrete tiles - can definitely see them in my soon to be started house extension as an integral element of the kitchen/family room  - just currently working out how I can get them back to Australia, but where there is a will.....
Porte del Passato, its sister store down the road, cleverly uses these collected old materials and up-cycles them into useful and beautiful furniture/kitchen units/internal doors - in fact I have no doubt they could work around what ever you required to complete your space. Their craftspeople repaint and rework the pieces to rejuvenate them on a scale I have not seen previously and their attention to detail seem to know no bounds! 

Both places are inspiring and I feel certainly worth going out of your way to visit if these type of things interest you ....... you will definitely find unusual and exciting product, but just don't expect to find a bargain... though I have to point out that with the obviously enormous effort the owners have put into breathing new life into these old items, the prices are totally understandable.

Internal doors repainted and rejuvenated at PORTE del PASSATO
Old cupboard repainted & fitted with rejuvenated marble sinks in a Carrara marble
benchtop makes a beautiful bathroom unit for a refurbished ancient home

Monday, September 23, 2013

Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini - one of our favourite restaurants in Rome

Fancy sharing a table with religious royalty in Rome? Well, amidst the busy high end shops around the base of the Spanish steps you can at one of our favourite restaurants - a theatrical & bohemian haven which transports you to another world.

Originally the atelier of sculptural artist Antonio Canova who bought the space in 1818 to favour his prized pupil Adamo Tadolini, it remained as a sculptural workshop until 1967. Re-created into a restaurant in 2000, Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini Via del Babunino 150 Rome, is a wonderful place to enjoy a very Roman lunch or dinner. 

Dwarfed by huge plaster, bronze and marble sculptures the tables are nestled into the space in a casual manner that creates a feeling of secret inclusion in Canova's and Tadolini's brilliance - and my favourite table, (photo #3 below) ensures not only will you never dine alone but your guest may very well be the custodian of church secrets, though unfortunately he will not be in a position to reveal them to you! The original layout and a large amount of the workshop tools have been retained so the space has a feeling of authenticity which is captivating and intriguing.

With such surroundings one may consider the food is not the main event, however we have always enjoyed delightful fresh pasta dishes and exceptionally good seasonal food, washed down with fabulous local wines. I feel strongly that when one travels, sometimes a wonderful long lazy lunch can introduce you to a city every bit as much as an important monument or art gallery, but with Canova's sculptural works exhibited in such lofty arenas as the Hermitage and the Louvre, here at this restaurant you can do both!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fresh Porcini Mushrooms & Black Truffles directly from the farmer - Ahhhhh....... it's good to be back in Italy!!

In Europe, autumn begins tomorrow and the produce markets in Italy are brimming with the most beautiful looking, and delicious, tasting fruit & vegetables. So our arrival to our home in Citta della Pieve at midnight last night, was perfect timing to fill our baskets at this morning's Saturday market. Although our town's market is small in comparison to many others in the area, it still has food stalls that always deliver exceptional quality seasonal products which we stock up on in large quantity.
In addition to innumerable fruit & vegetables, today we purchased some huge fresh porcini mushrooms which I prepared for lunch by thickly slicing them, then frying in a little garlic infused olive oil and served with fresh thyme and cracked pepper. Simple, quick and incredibly delicious - couldn't be better really! As L would say, all knowledge is acquired, and I discovered this method of cooking them a few moths ago when we ate at our favourite restaurant in Arezzo, "Antica Osteria L'Agania" - the strong but delicate taste of the Porcini mushrooms shines through and delivers a meal so delicious it belies the simplicity of its preparation.
Then later in the day in another quest to uncover some more local knowledge, we were out driving in the Arezzo area when we came upon a little hut selling freshly gathered large black and white truffles. The aroma in the little timber cabin which is open Saturday only, was overwhelming and their product - only white or black truffles in varying sizes, had been collected directly by them the previous day - hard to beat buying directly from the farmer, particularly in the case of truffles where the length of time out of the ground diminishes the strength of the taste. We chose 2 of the large black truffles for only 15Euro, then bought fresh pasta which we simply grated the truffles over for the most amazingly delicious dinner - now that is what I call fabulous fast food! The remainder of the truffles currently sit in a jar with our eggs as we are told the aroma will seep into the porous egg shell and give us truffle tasting eggs for our omelette tomorrow morning - though with the cost and availability of fresh truffles I think we will just shave them into the omelette instead!