Wednesday, 6 February 2013

SABINA TRAVELOGUE PART 18 - April 7 - A Visit from Norm and Aldo, and an Evening with Johnny Madge

Today we welcomed two of our friends from Rome, Norman and Aldo, to Casperia. In an earlier post I wrote about our visit with them and their friends Alice and Paolo, and Anne in Roccasinibalda... Norm and Aldo have a weekend house on Lago Turano deeper inside the Sabina. They plan to spend the Easter long weekend in Valle Verde but are curious to see what Casperia is all about. So we are thrilled to be able to host them for lunch, show them around and entertain them for a bit in our Sabine home away from home.

The weather looked threatening and in fact for the first part of their visit it did indeed rain, but Casperia is beautiful in every kind of weather. In fact the rain added a bit of lustre to the dark basalt cobbles of the old town

In fact, as the rain was stopping, there was a rather spectacular display of sunrays bursting through the clouds over the Tiber to the west and it eventually cleared enough for them to get a decent shot of Monte Sorrate.



Aldo and Norman had a long drive ahead of them. In the late afternoon we escorted them back down the steps and out through the Porta Romana to where their car was waiting.


Norm and Aldo drove off toward the Alta Sabina and Valle Verde on Lago del Turano. And we headed back to the Porta Romana and the rainwashed basalt steps that would take us back up the hill to Il Sogno.

The winding main street in Casperia, courtesy of
Back at the house we did some washing up, and then it was time for a bit of a nap.

Il Sogno dining room, courtesy of Chris and Meg Phillips

Later that evening, Candace and I decided to head down the stairs to a bar run by a long term Casperia resident, an Englishman named Johnny Madge

Photo courtesy of Johnny Madge's website
Johnny runs the little bar on Friday and Saturday nights and serves some interesting high-end Italian wines, some great cheeses, and also does olive oil tastings. On some days Johnny also does Olive Oil Tours here in the Sabina. Some Dutch tourists were just leaving as Candace and I arrived. We sat down and sampled some great sheeps cheese from Basilicata and some local bubbly which was very very nice. 

Johnny and Carlo singing at Johnny Madge's Olive Oil and Wine Bar. Photo from Johnny Madge's website
Johnny and a friend Carlo Melodia were jamming together singing old Beatle songs, and Candace, who also has a music background, ended up singing along with them. Heck, I joined in and sang a bit too. It was fun. 

Johnny has lived here in Italy since the 1980s, initially coming to study sculpture in Carrara. Early on, he developed a passion for olive oil. His palate is so developed that he is actually an olive oil judge here. This is very interesting for me because back in Vancouver I write the tasting notes for the olive oil we sell at the Gourmet Warehouse. Johnny is so well known in the field that when noted English chef Gary Rhodes was touring Italy to film is his mini-series Rhodes Across Italy, he searched out Johnny Madge to do a segment on him. Here is a link to the Youtube video.

This particular evening the focus was on music, but I plan to follow up the whole olive oil story later with Johnny. This Wednesday he is running one of his olive oil tours. I hope to be able to join if I am back from Rome in time.
Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome, courtesy of Giorgio Clementi
It is almost Easter here. Tonight Rome is filled with pilgrims from all over the world to hear the Pope say Mass at St. Peter's. Tomorrow we go to Gusto Al Borgo for Easter lunch... That will be another meal to remember.

Tonight in Ottawa, back in Canada, my daughter Jayka and her teammates from Templeton High School will compete in the Canadian National Improv Championship Finals

Her team is currently ranked second going into this final leg of the competition. Whatever the result later on this evening in Ottawa, I am extremely proud of Jayka and her teammates. This is the first time that Templeton High School has even had an Improv team. Most of the schools they are competing against have had much longer involvement, so to be ranked this high nationally is just absolutely amazing this first time around. Way to go Templeton! In boca al Lupo, Jayka!

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