Every year for the last 10 years (with slight interruptions for a small hiatus in the last two years) Elisabetta and I have joined a series of close friends(of which one of the original organisers and house provider Carlo Sigon – the man in the photo below) typically on the week after Christmas and run a Charity Event which consists of the following rules:
1. Bring three objects or gifts that you would like to get rid of. (typical stuff that you might have received and that you never found a place in the house for, an old object that is in the back of the garage that you noticed the other day and want to get rid of or you don’t use, etc.)
2. All these objects are placed on a big table for all to see. The person that brings the object puts a starting bid price after which people can increase and try to outbid the other participates usually on the basis of one euro increases (roughly a dollar and twenty cents).
3. If nobody wins the bid the person that put the price on the object has to re-buy it back at the price he indicated for the object. This is called a classic “boomerang” for obvious reasons.
This year we decided to do it in February since most of our friends were gone for the Holidays. Our dear friend Michele Rossi (in the photo) acts as auctioneer doing a great justice to the presentation of each item with comedy like approach that truly makes him a master (specially considering that he is an architect and their is a famous Italian comedian/actor in the group).
What started out as a small group of friends having an excuse to get together, drink and laugh has with time turned into a major event with more than 40 people in attendance and proceeds close to 2000$. Last night was no exception as you can see in the following photos.
Once we finish the Yearly Charity Event, a mailing list is generated and we pass the votes towards which charities to assign the proceeds in the following weeks. A great idea and tradition that is for a great cause and unifies friends on a fun evening!
If you ask any Italian from the north of Italy were Camogli is you’ll receive as an answer a languid sigh “ ah, Camogli !”. I was lucky enough to have a father that grew there and a mother that used to go on holiday in the same place back in the late forties.
Three are the highlights of this landscape piece of art: Panavision sunsets, irresistible focaccia’s and a fakir big stones beach that keep away the unmotivated visitors. I sometimes know tourists routes work like our synapses (preferring to follow known paths) and most of the American traveler tend to go to Le 5 Terre but make the effort to change the trend and have a look to this perfectly preserved Ligurian corner.
There is nothing better than a nice Italian wedding in my book Especially if it’s my sister-in-law the one that is getting married! Last Friday we had the pleasure of staying over at her closest friends beautiful house and partaking of such a great event! For the occasion she decided to simplify the process (a typical Italian wedding is a four to five course meal that goes on for hours with people just stuffing themselves like there is no tomorrow!) and provide a nice combined full platter buffet (one for cold cuts and the other one for diverse cheese: Parmigiano, gorgonzola, smoked buffalo mozzarella along with extra stuff to long to mention!).
To close out the evening we had a huge Paella (for about 150 guests so the size of the pan was huge! 1.5-meter diameter!) and a lovely cake with a couple of singers and bands!! Check out the video!
Obviously, it was a super exciting event considering that all sisters love our new brother-in-law and my mother-in-law approved (that’s amore!)
The Chiesi Clan: Elisabetta, Simone and Patty (the one that got married)
We just got back into Milan today after a wonderful 3-week break from all the hectic running around and left our wonderful summer house (small house but great none the less!). The strange thing is that this year we had a really strange summer: mostly cold, rainy and yucky to say the least! On the last day here as we woke up and looked outside our small cottage window the sun was bright, the sky was blue and a strange feeling of having been tricked settled into our hearts!
Maybe the best way to express this is in a video:
And to follow some wonderful memories of a great summer with our dear friends who came down to visit from London. Michael Corsar (the guy with the beard) worked with a major design studio in Milan, Italy for close to a decade before getting married with Susan (a wonderful chef who has worked at St. Johns in London) and moved back to the City (London). On a whim of the moment, they decided to book the tickets and spend the beginning of August in the countryside along with our other dear friends Carlo and Yvonne who also own a nice country house about 5 minutes from our place. At the end of the stay and before heading back to London, Michael looked over at me while we had one of many glasses of Gutturnio red and told me: you have no idea how I miss Italy and the Italian way of life….Can I say that I understood and felt a strong emotion for which words can never express…yes, my friend I can believe it!
While on Holiday’s we prepared some fun stuff for our dear friend Jeff Sieh so that he can work on a super cool Casa Chiesi video intro for us.
Here is a bit of a backstage peek so you get the idea…Our daughter Zoe was involved in the photo shoot and she was quite severe with the models involved!
Most people marvel at the fact that Italians really enjoy and can afford the long summer holidays. When the month of July comes to the conversation in most Italian office’s centers around inquiries towards which beach is the best or how long are you taking off this year? (a typical Italian summer break can hover between two weeks to a whole month..)
When most of our friends come and visit us in August, they tend to marvel at the fact that everything is closed and wonder how can the economy of such a country withstand the full or partial closure for a whole month! We just tell them to sit back and relax as we pour another glass of wine over a wonderful summer dinner in a nice location.
This year we decided to take off the first three weeks of August and head to the Val Tidone area where we are lucky enough to have a small country house precisely in the location of Casa Bazzari which is up in the hills at around 700 meters above sea level.
The great thing about our location is that serene calm and quite govern Ca Bazzari (there are roughly 20 houses in this small locality with about 35 people living here). The not so great thing is the terrible internet connection which drives my husband crazy but at least gives me a chance to have him for myself during the break (although he managed to find a sliver of connection upstairs in the right corner by the old doll house!).
As I look out towards the beautiful Italian hills from our garden while trying to figure out how long my husband can survive without a decent connection I secretly feel the blessing that is an Italian summer! E viva!!