Italy!! Paper & Felt Research Trip - Part 2

Dear all,

It’s been a while since we’ve been to Italy.

Over the English countryside, shortly after takeoff from Heathrow, which was just a stopover:

Flying over France, looking down over the upper Seine River, north of Paris.

One of Don’s sister’s, Barbara, and spouse, and Don’s brother, Scott, and spouse, are currently in Paris (or were when we wrote this).

Over the Alps, heading towards Italy.  We determined that Bologna was the most convenient airport for us.

We had booked a very comfortable hotel across from the Bologna Central Train station; very convenient as we also had to pick up our car near there.

Went out for a light bite. The young woman behind the front desk recommended Pane & Vino, San Daniele for a light meal. 

Platter of freshly cut prosciutto with some very fresh, partially formed buffalo mozzarella. Also had a salad. Everything was delicious, except for the little breads. Whenever we commented on the quality of the food in Bologna, their attitude was, "Well, of course. We are in Bologna; we are known for our food here. Go to any place in Bologna." We weren't there long enough to try out this claim, but almost everything we had was delicious and very fresh.

Very talented drummer performing in a main piazza in Bologna.

Next day, wheeled our luggage to Europcar, picked up our Volvo, which we are very pleased with, and drove to our friend Elizabeth’s house, Casa Ruspante in Umbertide.

Greeting Elizabeth’s neighbor.

It’s the start of porcini season. I’ve never seen such huge porcini. We are at Nonna Gelsa in Niccone near Umbertide.

Our dear friend, Elizabeth Wholey, with Don, anticipating a great meal, and it was. Shaved truffle bruschetta in foreground.

The grilled vegetable antipasti which the Italians do so well.

And more. 

Don’s duck breast with porcini.

My tortellini stuffed with walnuts and truffles.

Elizabeth says this is her favorite time of the year for food in Umbria. It’s irresistible and we’re probably gaining weight, but it doesn’t seem the time to diet.

The next day, off to Fabriano, the famous papermaking city. We are off season and there are not many tourists.

The director of the Paper and Watermark Museum in Fabriano, Giorgio Pelligrini, kindly guided us
through his museum.
Photo by Elizabeth Wholey

Beautiful old copper papermaking vat

Fabriano makes a lot of Italian currency papers. They are very proud of their watermarks. Rightfully so, they invented them.

Papermaking has been ongoing in the Fabriano region for a long time. This paper was made on a paper mould with cut flat wires, before the use of wire as we know it. It was made in 1360.

And then Mr. Pelligrini guided us to a very good restaurant. It’s off season and the streets are pretty empty in Fabriano. (The tourists are all in Florence.)

Era with Giorgio Pelligrini. The building with the red windows is some type of art gallery. 

Wait! Isn’t she that Italian movie star? No, that’s the famous cookbook author, Elisabetta Wholey.

More food. Sorry to those who are not the foodies we are, but the food is beautiful here. A friend of ours, referring to these photos, called us “cruel gourmets."

Spaghetti con vongole et pomodori (clams and tomatoes). Yum. Era looking almost reverent. And truly, she is grateful.

Elizabeth is having gnocchi with porcini.

And Don ordered white truffle with spaghetti. The white truffle season is just beginning. The truffles are worth their weight in gold and are fresh for only a few days. So the waiter is carefully weighing this prime truffle before Don shaves away at it.

I can almost smell it.

I think this is the Fabriano town hall.

Elizabeth is taking us to meet her neighbor up the hill, Gianni, an engineer, who raises alpaca, along with his wife, who is an economist.

Don, Gianni and Elizabeth standing in front of an old tobacco barn, now their office.

On the trail to find the kind of coarse wool which could re-create the cinquecento felts used in making paper that Michelangelo and other old masters drew upon. Gianni has some good samples of coarse old wool, much more rough and coarse than his soft alpaca.

Alpacas with babies.

Love and yum, yum, from Italy

Era and Don