Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The old adage "when it rains, it pours" seems to hold true. The nest at the Pinon Tree has been a little empty as things have picked up steam around here, keeping me very busy. Besides my usual "to do" list, I've had more writing projects come in (hooray!). It seems that post-Easter week heralded the official start of tourist season in Italy, and we've seen more activity with the tour company (woohoo!). We've had some wonderful clients come in; we've enjoyed showing them our corner of Le Marche...or "their" corner, as the case may be, because some of them have roots in this area. Its doubly fun to help them find records and see where their ancestors originated.

We also thought we'd take advantage of spring weather to hit the hills in the central portion of the region. Bryan has longed to explore the caves of Frasassi, and after touring them I am not sure it took us this long to make it up there. The cavern system is extensive and extremely well-preserved. Having only been discovered in 1971 there haven't been too many hoardes mucking around with them. Carlsbad Caverns was impressive...I had thought at the time. But with over 100 years of activity - exploring, mining, and suchlike, there has been impact. Frasassi seemed quite pristine in contrast. Three sets of vault-like doors ensure precise climate control. The network is sinewy and only a portion of the (at least) 13-kilometers of caverns is open to the public. How such a gigantic cavern could remain undiscovered for so long is a mystery! Geology-degreed hubby was in raptures. In typical Italian fashion, formations are named after food items: you have the prosciutto strata, bucatini (a type of pasta) strands, pancetta, lard, and butter formations!

I took advantage of the caves' location to hit an exhibition of artwork by Luca Signorelli in the tiny but charming town of Arcevia. The artist painted five works for a church there, and the place was transformed into a lovely venue to house this important mostra. I enjoyed not just the exhibit but the friendly town. It made for a nice little weekend getaway, something we've not done in quite some time. Our quiet agriturismo in the hills with welcoming hosts added to the enjoyment.

Back in town I've been trying to catch up on research, projects and tour strategizing. After a slow winter, the spring rains are pouring down not just much-needed moisture but much-needed work as well. Ah blessed springtime!


Carol in DC said...

Hi Valerie,
so glad to hear that the tours are picking up.....you've got so much to show off and share....Brava!!!Hope you still have time to blog :>) ciao ciao

bleeding espresso said...

I love the energy in this post--woohoo for spring! I'm with you on things picking up speed and just trying to keep up. Good feeling, huh? ;)

Valerie said...

Carol, Thanks! I'll still manage to squeeze in some quality blog-time. Hope to see you back here soon!

Sognatrice, thanks anche a te. It is a good feeling. Except for the mal di primavera which has suddenly hit. Allergies, ugh!

janie said...

Valerie-it sounds like you're really adapting to the Italian style of life, despite planning and schedules! I'm thoroughly jealous!

Stelle in Italia said...

Glad that you enjoyed frasassi so much! we live in Macerata, but we visit the Frasassi area frequently because we are spelunkers, and we explore the other caves around there.

I'd heard about that Luca Signorelli exhibit and would like to see it. Sounds like a good exhibit, plus we've never been to Arcevia either! (although we were in nearby Corinaldo--did you get a chance to see it? It's a very quaint and beautiful little town with amazing intact city walls).

If you're ever up in Macerata, let us know!