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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

Is there a way to make an ethical journey and in great harmony with the places: is hot air balloon.

 

Peter Kollar is a Hungarian balloon pilot who has lived for a long time in New Zealand and four years ago came among the rolling hills between Bevagna and Assisi. He takes care of its passengers by involving them in a unique and totalizing experience. It all starts six o’clock in the morning, with clear weather and the moderate winds. The departure from Cantina Dionigi with a minibus service that leads to the nearby runway. The crew gets ready for the inflation operation, with industrial fans that produce the wind, we witness the rebirth of the huge orange ball that seems to wake up with the sun.

Time slowly flows

High, Swells and full of people is ready for takeoff. Light up the burners and slowly rises. At that moment you realize the magic that pervades all around, is silence, it is slow. Nature comes and embraces the enormous balloon, indicates the route heading towards Assisi, sometimes you can see Lake Trasimeno, with a sudden change of scenery and colors. Suspended, is flying over the vast expanses of wheat and then the yellow sunflowers, olive groves and grape vines. A panoramic trip that, like a flashback, back to origins. In that time the silence is the master, while the voracious glances collect everything that happens down below trying to interpret every detail. It ‘s all so slow that you forget the time that passes and, while you goes down on the first field not cultivated, identified by the pilot, you find the protagonist of that landscape Once landed, the minibus waiting and you reach the winery where you started.

A prepared Banquet

The experience continues, does not stop there. To wait, in the winery, a table full of delicious scents and flavors from the typical products of these areas and accompanied by excellent wine made right here. In the eyes again those overflown landscapes, which are in the flavors, all the earth just across. In some cases, especially in the most exclusive events, breakfast is served outdoors, in the nearby church of Madonna Pia with cloths woven by artisans of Montefalco and Deruta ceramics decorated by hand. The season from May to September it has a range of colors so rich that every trip is different, nature gives emotions and the traveler will feel part of the environment, outside the contemporary, almost like being part of an old painting.

 

 

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