Chattanooga in Poggio Verde

IMG_1478In a country villa up a hillside from little Barzanò, Italy, less than an hour north of Milan, final preparations are underway to receive visitors for a week of exploring the beauty of northern Italy. Rooms are being given a final cleaning, the refrigerator is being stocked, the grounds are being tended to and windows are being shined so nothing obstructs the gorgeous views.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, eight women are finishing up their packing, taking care of last minute details and saying their good-byes before heading to the airport to catch their flight for Milan, arriving Saturday morning.

Things may change due to weather, but their itinerary is as follows:

DAY 1: Saturday, 3 October 2015. Arrival, Organic Luncheon and Montevecchia. Exiting Malpensa airport’s baggage area, look for our driver who will be holding a large POGGIO VERDE sign. He will accompany you to the Villa where you will have time to unpack, make yourself comfortable and take a relaxed walk in the park. We will have lunch at the organic farm,”Galbusera Bianca” followed by a short walk in scenic Montevecchia Alto with its quaint church and stations of the cross. The day ends with a delicious meal at the Villa with home-made tagliolini pasta and fresh vegetables and herbs, followed by Italian cheeses and a dolce.

turismo-enogastronomico-strada-vino-franciacorta-wineDAY 2: Sunday, 4 October. Bergamo Alto and Franciacorta. After breakfast, our driver will take us the lovely hill town of Bergamo. We’ll take the funicular to Bergamo “Alta”, one of the most beautiful hill towns in Italy. After wandering around the medieval town we will take the funicular back to the lower city and our driver will take us to lunch at a nearby vineyard to taste the delicious sparkling wine of the region and then back to Poggio Verde. We’ll have dinner at the Villa prepared by Cicchi (pronounced Cheeky), a great chef and friend.

mendrisioDAY 3: Monday, 5 October. Switzerland, Outlet shopping, Wine Tasting. After breakfast, put your passport in your purse because we’re heading up to Switzerland! Our driver will take us for a short visit to the house museum Vincenzo Vela in Ligornetto and we will have lunch at the nearby family restaurant “Grotto Balduna” featuring Ticinese local cuisine. After lunch we will visit Foxtown for outlet shopping. Return to Poggio Verde and relax until our wine tasting session with the sommelier Penati of Oggiono and delicious home-cooked meal of Northern Italian specialties.

IMG_3452DAY 4: Tuesday, 6 October. Como, Silk outlet, painting exhibit, Tea at Villa d’Este. After breakfast, our driver will take us to Como, where we will enjoy a bit of the Old Town and visit Mantero, a luscious Italian silk outlet. We will have lunch at a sweet Osteria featuring local specialties, then visit a painting exhibit at Villa Olmo in Como followed by tea at the Villa d’Este, one of the most beautiful romantic and neoclassical villas in Italy. Our driver will return us to Poggio Verde in time for dinner prepared for us at the Villa.

isola bellaDAY 5: Wednesday, 7 October. Lago Maggiore, Stresa, Isola Bella, Linens outlet. After breakfast our driver will take us to the charming town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore. We will take a walk along the lakefront and then take a boat from Stresa to the magnificent Isola Bella, the most lavish of the three Borromean Islands. Here we’ll have lunch in a charming restaurant and we will visit the princely Borromeo Palace and its grandiose baroque Italian Gardens built on ten terraces. We return to Stresa by boat where our driver awaits us to accompany us to the linens outlet Bellora and then back to the Villa for a delicious meal at Poggio Verde. (Rain alternative: Go to Milan and visit EXPO! The world exhibition has been receiving excellent reviews and exhibits from 70 countries are said to be amazing.)

Duomo PicDAY 6: Thursday, 8 October. Milano: The Last Supper, Duomo, La Scala, Via Montenapoleone. After breakfast, our driver will take us to Milan where we will begin with a guided tour that includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Lunch will be in a restaurant overlooking the roof of the Duomo. From the restaurant we will walk through the Galleria to the La Scala opera house for a behind-the-scenes visit, followed by shopping and strolling down Via Montenapoleone and Via Spiga. Our driver returns us to the Villa for a short rest and then we will dine at the nearby “Giovanna Passeri” Agriturismo with its refined and fresh Brianzola specialties.

DAY 7: Friday, 912174253054_ca094e3b17_n October. Royal Monza After breakfast our driver will accompany us to the royal city of Monza we will visit one of the most beautiful Romanesque cathedrals in Northern Italy, the Duomo of Monza, for a look at the famed “Iron crown” – said to have been made with the melted-down nails of the Cross and the crown which Napoleon crowned himself in 1805. After a stroll around the old center of this pretty town, we’ll have lunch at a delightful Osteria featuring local specialties. Then we’ll visit the newly renovated Royal   Villa of Monza, a truly spectacular visit. That evening we will celebrate a scrumptious good-bye dinner prepared by Cicchi at what has become by now your new Italian “home.”

DAY 8: Saturday 10 October Departure. After breakfast at the Villa our driver will take you (and your packages and your great memories!) to the airport.

Expo 2015 is HERE!

Expo has opened!! Until October 31st this outstanding exposition on how the countries of the world are working on the issue of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is being visited by millions of people from all over the world!

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Expo 2015 is open not only in the Exposition site but also in the historic heart of Milan, through ExpoGate, both a meeting and entertainment space and an information point for citizens and tourists in Milan. This location symbolizes the role as a gateway between Milan and the Expo, in the same way as Milan has always been considered a bridge between Italy and the rest of the world.

Milan and its region, Lombardy, are proud to host such an important event and can’t wait for all the visitors to come and visit. In fact, beyond the pavilions of the fair, there are many thrilling experiences and interesting trips in the amazing surrounding region which make Milan a top destination during the Expo period, with many not-to-be-missed events. 

Indeed, expo duomothe city has undergone a process of renovation, becoming a modern European city while maintaining the ancient splendor. Even some of the main attractions of the city will change their look for the occasion. The Duomo, after a huge restructuring operation, will reopen its “Museo del Duomo”. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the historic gallery arcade completed in 1877 is the oldest shopping mall in the world, during the Expo will be exceptionally opened until late in order to host a large number of cultural and gastronomic events.

The artistic and cultural heritage of Milan is on full display, as well: among the many exhibitions and museums of the city, don’t miss The Last Supper and Leonardo in Milan (an exhibition of Leonardo’s work during his 25 years spent in Milan) and an exhibition about Caravaggio, which was planned for 2010 and will be repeated on the occasion of Expo. Moreover, others great exhibitions about the Expo’s theme are programmed at the Triennale and Pinacoteca di Brera.

Lastly, if you are interested in fashion and design, sports, music and theatre, you will certainly have plenty of special events connected with the theme of Expo as well.

A day in the vineyards near Poggio Verde

Last weekend Luigi and I enjoyed a day strolling through the lovely Val Curone just 20 minutes from Poggio Verde.  It’s a protected valley dotted with farms and vineyards in the setting of the Italian pre-Alps: the perfect place to spend a pretty winter day.

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We had lunch at Oasi di Galbusera Bianca, a charming Agriturismo located in a WWF “Oasis for Biodiversity”, surrounded by a dynamic organic farm. We enjoyed a simple but delicious meal in the cozy atmosphere, close to a welcoming fireplace. Beyond the restaurant, there’s also a country-style bar where you can taste organic snacks, cold dishes and locally made sorbets.  We tasted the local wine made by the nearby vineyard La Costa, a surprisingly crisp and clean white wine called La Brigante made with the Chardonnay and Incrocio Manzoni grape varieties.  We’ll be visiting the La Costa winery very soon to pick up some bottles for Poggio Verde!

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The location is surrounded by the Regional Nature Reserve of Montevecchia and the Curone Valley .  After lunch we took advantage of this enchanting place and had a relaxing walk amongst the vineyards along well-marked trails. There are various trails for all tastes, and we were overtaken by a mountain bike or two. Our cousins the birders (Peters 1 + 2, Susie and Connie, you know who you are!) would have gone wild with all the feathered wildlife around.  Next time I hope to come with them!                                                                         –    Gretchen

Gretchen in the Vineyards in Parco Curone

Poggio Verde Hosts Photo Shoot for New Cookbook

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The photoshoot team and Italian Friends of TCF supporters ready two fresh Branzino (Seabass) for the photoshoot.

Recent months have brought photo and video crews to Poggio Verde to photograph some beautiful Italian food for a lovely cookbook currently under development.

The cookbook will support The Italian Friends of The Citizens Foundation,   a highly-regarded organization that is building schools in Pakistan.

The cookbook is a collection of prized recipes from some of the supporters of the organization who happen to be excellent cooks. The book will be sold online and at events and markets in Milan beginning in May.

The photos here are of a recent video and photo shoot.

Here are the beautiful finished products of our 3 days of arduous work!

 

 

November menù and St. Martin’s Day at Giovanna Passeri Agriturismo

In Italian agricultural tradition, November is conventionally associated with St. Martin’s Day and the end of the farming working year. Giovanna Passeri Agriturismo e Scuola di Cucina can’t of course miss the chance to celebrate with a typical autumnal menù! Here’s just a taste of what you may enjoy, accompanied by good wine.

Cornmeal mush crouton with mustard cabbage salad

Pumpkin dumplings with butter and sage

Roasted goose on potato and juniper cream

Martin Sec pears in red wine with Moscato semifreddo

But also:

Pumpkin flan with parmesan sauce and fry(fritturina)

Goose meat sauce ravioli or leek and potato velvet sauce

Roasted goose with braised savoy cabbage or salty tart with radicchio and casera cheese

Seasonal fresh and dried fruit

  

For you to feel the atmosphere  surrounding  St. Martin’s Day, it’s a pleasure to report this poem entitled “San Martino”,  by the famous Italian writer Giosuè Carducci

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Tasty Weekend at Agriturismo Giovanna Passeri!

This weekend your kids can’t miss the Halloween Cooking Class! They’ll have a lot of fun preparing delicious Halloween themed surprises such as Chocolate Bat Cookies, Halloween Cake Pops, Pumpkin Cupcake and Chocolate Witch Hats!

And there’s no need to worry if you are not a child anymore or you don’t feel like joining other cooking classes, since Giovanna Passeri has tought up some  mouthwatering menus you’ll definitely enjoy.

Here you can have a look at Agriturismo Giovanna Passeri’s fine selection of food and you’ll also find further interesting information.

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