17 August, 2019
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The torta al testo, typical product from Umbria, has arrived in Tokyo and it is bound to become an innovative haute cuisine dish.

This is thanks to the chef Narisawa who spent in Europe a period of time to know the best of Italian, French and German cuisine. He tasted, appreciated, learned and brought back to his country many different European specialities, which he transformed according to his inspiration in order to satisfy all the senses.

 

The Bread of the Forest

From the Japanese virgin forests

He introduced a refined product in his minimalist restaurant in Tokyo, which combines ancient and modern traditions: the Bread of the Forest. This bread is made with wheat flour, chestnut powder and a Japanese chestnut compote. The chestnuts are collected in a virgin forest without pollutants, where flavors and aromas are expressed to their maximum. A novelty in Japan. In the past, the chestnut tree was called the Tree of Bread, because from its fruits, it was obtained a nutritious and cheap flour. This happened when wheat flour was expensive and reserved for wealthy people, while chestnut flour, was left for the poor working class. Now the situation is opposite: the chestnut flour is expensive, seasonal and chic. Narisawa made the Bread of the Forest something special to taste.

 

First act

Two forms of raw pasta are brought to the table. Add a dose of natural yeast and mix with fingers. All in front of the customers.

Second act

Customers observe the miracle of the floury growth. In a few minutes the future bread reaches the expected leavened, then it has to be cooked. Where? On the table, of course.

Third act

A pot of stone arrives on the table, very hot 240 ° degrees – in which the two forms of leavened dough are placed.

In just 10-12 minutes the bread is cooked.

 

In Umbria, something similar has happened since the dawn of time

The dough, already leavened, is spread out like a pizza and placed on a large stone wheel called testo. The testo is positioned inside the fireplace in front of the fire. On the top of the dough an iron cover is placed and the embers are glowing over it.
The torta al testo cooks under and over, while the fireplace fire warms up. 10-12 minutes – as in Japan. Then the torta al testo is ready. Cut it and bring it to the table with cured meats and cheeses.
Here, the Umbrian ritual of the torta al testo starts: it involves opening the slices of cake with your hands, stuffing it with the cured meats and eating it with your hands.

«If Umbria was a comic book? It would be fun and colorful»

Sualzo

 

Antonio Vincenti, better known as Sualzo, defines himself as a missing saxophonist and a self-taught artist. With his pencil he illustrates and tells stories: «For me it is important to tell beautiful stories. I always choose topics that are close to my heart».Winner of several awards, his works have been published not only in Italy, but also in USA, Russia, France, Spain, Poland, England, South Korea and other countries: November 30th will be in Russia to represent Italy at the Moscow International Book Fair. But Sualzo remains closely linked with its territory, with Umbria and above all with the Trasimeno Lake: «Umbria is often represented in my comics and the lake appears often as a background of my drawings».

The first question is a must: what is its link with Umbria?

I was born in Perugia, but I have been living in San Feliciano for twenty years. I feel very closed to the physicality of this place, I feel it mine so much; here I met my wife, here my children were born.

Would you like to explain how a comic book takes shape? The idea, the inspiration…. 

I usually work with two types of stories. I need six to seven years to make a book with a story completely mine: the work starts from an idea that appears in my mind, or I work on stories written by Silvia Vecchini, and at that point the creative process is faster because a process of change, elaboration and refinement of the story can begin.

What does come first? The texts or the drawings?

Usually the texts, even if sometimes, a text can be generated by an image. However, generally, first of all there is the writing. Writing is, for me, the most important part.

What are your characters inspired by? 

In the stories I write, I always put a part of myself. The characters are not 100% autobiographical, but they resemble me a lot. It is very important in my books, to talk about things that I have experienced, and above all, of subjects that are close to my heart The same can be applied to children’s books: the choice of topics is always oriented to communicate something inspirational as the motivation must be strong.

 

Sualzo and Silvia Vecchini

Do you work more on comics or graphic novels? 

At the moment, more graphic novels, even for children. 

Which of the two do you prefer? 

For my perspective, I have always been fascinated by the idea of ​​a non-serial narration, closer to the novel, a story without presuppositions and consequences because I do not care to tell a character, but only stories.  

This year with La zona rossa you won the Attilio Micheluzzi prize for the best comic book for children: could you talk about this work?

La zona rossa is a comic book that tells the kids about the earthquake. Before realizing it happened that the displaced people of Norcia were guested in some structures of San Feliciano and for some time they lived with us in the country. Even if only by spectators, we had  the chance to entered their real experiences and to tell more closely. Moreover, a part of the proceeds of the book financed a theater school in the earthquake zones: it is important to rebuild, but not only things. Next year La zona rossa will be released in the United States and in Korea: a local history can also have an international dimension.

Is there a common thread among all your works? 

What always is present in my work is the need to communicate a concept and a basic thought. Also in the comic books for children Gaetano and Zolletta – which tells the story of a father and son donkeys – there is an important topic: the role of fatherhood. Silvia and me wanted to deal with this aspect, which in the books for children is not very represented or, at least, only marginally. I want to specify: they should not be pedagogical books, but books that tell a meaningful and captivating story. It is our priority.

But you don’t write books only for children… 

The stories I write with Silvia are for children and teenagers, but the ones I write on my own, are for an adult target.

If Umbria was a comic book, how would you represent it? What are the aspects that would you like to highlight? 

Surely it would have a comic humor: the Umbrians have a belly humor, they are not as musoni (sad) as they seem. They know how to be funny. However, it would be a colorful comic: Umbria is full of colors. Even in my works the landscapes of the region are very present. After all I see them every day from my window. 

How would you describe Umbria in three words? 

As a crossroads, a place where walking and a mystical land. 

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region… 

Rest for the gaze.

When Autumn comes, it is time to harvest and to collect olives. Once, in our countryside after the harvest, the rents had to be paid, and if the harvest was scarce, the farmers had to move.

A palette of colors

The colors are so special during this period: the hills that surround the town of Montefalco are cultivated with the Sagrantino wine variety, a multi-awarded DOCG red wine. The beauty of Sagrantino explodes in the colors of its vineyard: at a distance, they seem to be mainly red; but if we go closer, we can note that the leaves have taken the whole palette of autumn colors, ranging from yellow to red, passing through the burgundy, and with shades of dark green. The Canadian maples have become a worldwide attraction for the magnificence of their autumn leaves: the vineyard of Sagrantino is no less beautiful, but at the moment it is little known. Compared to the others vine varieties, the leaves of the Sagrantino do not take on the sad and crumpled aspect of the vineyard that are bound to die, but they widen and seem to acquire a still summer vitality.

 

The olive harvest

Another important aspect of the Autumn in Umbria, is the social one, which consists in the ritual of bruschetta with the new olive oil. Many people in Umbria harvest olives, those with hundreds of trees and those with only a few dozen. Suddenly the fields are filled with nets stretched out under the trees to collect the falling fruits, because none must be lost. Those who have few plants still collecting by hand, those who have more trees collect with the electric beater, a kind of whisk that quickly drops all the fruits from the trees. Umbrian trees are small and hand harvest is still possible, even though the advantages of the new technologies are replacing ancient methods.

The smell of the milled olives

Fun begins here, at the olive oil mill, where you are greeted by large baskets full of black and green olives. You can hear the noise of the machines that are milling them, eventually the scent of the fresh olive oil with its intense flavors.At the olive oil mill you can start enjoying the new olive oil. «How many olives did you collect? How much does olive make this year?» These are the two fundamental questions that everyone exchanges. The collection varies from year to year, once it could be affected by the drought or too much rain. During other years, the flies arrive, another time, the frost ruins gems and trees. Nature owns a factor of uncertainty that cannot be ignored or avoided.

 

Christmas arrives early

Between a chat and another, you can taste the new olive oil. All the olive oil mills in the area of Gualdo Cattaneo have a room with a fireplace, with fresh bread and a bottle filled directly in the mill.The olive oil is still a little dense, not transparent, perfumed with fresh fruits, it is poured slowly on the bread called bruschetta. Then you taste it and it is a wonderful sensation. This is not only for the quality of the olive oil, as it comes after, but, above all, it is important to be together, to discover, with curiosity, the magic of the new season. It is a bit like at Christmas, with the difference that it does not last only a day, but a whole month.

Today I walked in an enchanted garden. A large lawn with trees, flowers and roses. Wild roses with only five petals and hybrid roses with an infinite number of petals, fragrant and perfumed roses, white, red, yellow, pink, mottled and solid. An endless palette of shades of colors.

A spontaneous garden like the one, as I saw, was not born by chance; it takes study, knowledge of the environment and the ability to wait.

 

Which grow wild!

This wonder was created by Mrs. Helga Brichet, who, in a short space, collected the whole world. Mrs. Helga comes from South Africa, she lives in Umbria in the area of Torri, where she grows Chinese roses and roses from other parts of the world.
Do not expect the usual rose garden with neat bushes and romantic passages covered by climbing roses. Mrs. Helga lets the rose bushes to maintain a spontaneous form, the shape that nature gave them. To enhance its beauty, it has accompanied them with other flowers, such as poppies, periwinkles and blue bells.
In the garden there are two types of roses, the wild ones and the hybrid Chinese ones, which are ancient, but arrived in Europe at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the following century.
Since then on, Europe had known red roses, and had fallen in love with them. Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, wanted to set up a rose garden at the Castle of Malmaison, which surprised by the great variety of flowers, and because the Chinese roses bloomed again, unlike those already present on the old continent.

 

The garden of the antitheses

Entering the garden, I found myself facing the gigantic Rose of the Himalayas. Large flowers and large leaves, has no stem but a trunk and climbs up a tree. Then we move to its opposite, a bush of white Chinese wild roses, very small, with very small leaves. It’s called Rosa Sericea Pteracantha, but it’s an absolutely new feature for me: it has giant, reddish, winged and transparent thorns. In contrast, they look like a precious stone.
Perfume? A little. Chinese roses are not recommended for perfumery, but if you approach them, you will feel a gentle and intoxicating smell.
Mrs. Helga is an excellent guide, accustomed to show visitors her wonders with a great knowledge of the subject, also for her role as former president of the World Federation of National Rose Societies. To see the garden, just call and make an appointment.

 

Helga Brichet

 


For information: Helga Brichet – 0742/99288

A Lombard who lives in Umbria and tells the Sicily of Commissioner Montalbano: “In Umbria there is only the sea, but for me it is not a problem, so I can live in Sicily when I turn the series”.

Alberto Sironi was our guest, and with him we had a chat on the occasion of the Fa ‘la cosa giusta, to discover all the secrets of the most famous commissioner in Italy. The director of the record – almost twenty years behind the camera of the series with an average of 10 million viewers – was trained at the drama school of Piccolo in Milan where, under the guidance of Giorgio Strehler, he began working as an actor in small theatrical parts. In the seventies he began collaborating with Rai as a writer and director: after a series of experiences as director, at the end of the nineties he arrived Commissioner Montalbano, based on the novels written by Andrea Camilleri.

 

Alberto Sironi

Now you live in Umbria: what is your relationship with this region?

I married a umbra and now I live here. Initially the Umbrians are a bit ‘closed – this must be said – but then when you get in confidence with them they are friendly people. I would very much like to tell a story set in this territory.

Her career began in the theater with Giorgio Strehler: how much did she use this school to make television?

In the six years I have been with Strehler, at the Piccolo in Milan, I learned a gym that facilitated my work on television; I also prefer actors who have done theater, it’s easier for me to work with them.

Tell us a secret: What does it work in this tv-series?

This success continues over time because the public loves the stories of Andrea Camilleri. Andrea tells the characters, describes the environments, tells a type of world set today, but that is actually a child of his world of many years ago. The stories thus become somewhat historical. We have removed the cars: there is no one in our films on the streets, they are deserted. Commissioner Montalbano has a car that was old since the first film came out. We have created a sort of magical world to support Camilleri’s way of narrating. This is what the audience loves. Another thing that appreciates a lot is the desire to live well with the Commissioner. Italians want to eat well, they love women and they need their friends. When the audience waits for the release of a Montalbano film, it is as if waiting to meet a friend.

Do you think the success of the series drags the literature or is it the other way around?

This is difficult to establish. Surely we have helped to sell more than normal publishing, but the character of Montalbano was already quite popular. Camilleri started writing in 1997, we started shooting a couple of years later. They are certainly two different ways, there are those who love the literary genre who the film, so it can not be established.

 

Montalbano is broadcast in over twenty countries around the world: did you expect all this?

When we started, nobody could imagine the success that Montalbano would have had in Italy and in the world. Today we shoot in 4K, a technically advanced system, but until a few years ago – by my choice – we were shooting in 35 millimeters: this allowed us to have a perfect product, with more definition and depth of field. In this way we have conquered the US market and beyond.

Have you ever thought about leaving the series?

I still like Montalbano, but I do not think it will last that much longer, maybe even two or three years.

Does he want to tell us some behind-the-scenes curiosity?

The first that comes to mind was when Belen Rodriguez arrived to shoot the episode in which she was the protagonist. There were people everywhere waiting for her: so we decided to have her arrive on the set a day late from the expected and on board an ambulance.

Will Montalbano ever marry Livia?

No, he will never marry her.

In our imagination, museums’ deposits are dusty warehouses full of marvellous works, more or less guiltily removed from the public view. Some of them are temporarily exhibited in place of others on loan or in restoration, other still await the visit of scholars or connoisseurs who can study and better enhance them; other finally, though valuable and sometimes beautiful, they carry on themselves too many offenses of time so they can’t be exposed to the public.

Giovanni Baronzio. Imago Pietatis

 

The National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia completes the celebration of its first hundred years of life with an exhibition until January 6th, 2019 called: The other Gallery. Works of deposits, that brings to light the less known works. The exhibition offers the visitor an opportunity to discover unpublished works among the pictorial beauties of the thirteenth century up to the middle of the sixteenth century

New techniques

The works were first subject to diagnostic investigations and conservation interventions, thanks to a team of restoration specialists of the Umbrian and Tuscan territory that used innovative systems of painting and cutting-edge conservation methods. New attributions, new dates and findings on provenance, technique and old restorations have made it possible to clarify the identity card of each product and to be able to better evaluate the qualities. Cesare Brandi said: «The restoration is the methodological moment of the recognition of the work in its physical consistency and in the double aesthetic-historical polarity, in view of its transmission to the future».

 

Madonna with the Child, Giovanni Battista and Benedetto.

The amazing discovery

So bright colours have emerged by thick deposits of dirt and heavy layers of yellowed paint, as in the Crucifix and Santa Maria Maddalena, in the Madonna with the Child, San Girolamo and Sant’Antonio da Padova by Matteo di Giovanni and in God and Angels of Mariano of Ser Austerio. Unpublished polychromes are surfaced by strongly damaged boards due to cleaning carried out with aggressive substances; details of intense suggestion have also been discovered, such as the stigmata on the legs of the Mystic Lamb or the prayer of the Virgin engraved by the author of Saint Catherine.

 

The exhibit

The other Gallery is therefore configured as an extension of the museum itinerary, in which we find names already known as Giovanni Boccati, Bartolomeo Caporali and Perugino, and figures that, on the other hand, return to the exhibition circuit after a long time, or they make their first appearance as the Master of Dossali di Subiaco, Melozzi da Forli, Meo da Siena, Allegretto Nuzi, Rossellino di Jacopo Franchi, Eusebio from San Giorgio, Berto di Giovanni, Domenico Alfani and Dono Doni. In addition, some frescoes are also visible, detached from the Santa Giuliana monastery in the choir, in the refectory and in the chapter hall of the church itself. From these rooms comes the fresco with the rare representation of San Galgano. The exhibition offers the visitor a unique and special occasion to admire a refined selection of tables at the golden age of the Umbrian school.