Culture /
Lifestyle

The 5: What We Are Obsessed With This Summer

AUGUST

 

Summer Read: Caro Pier Paolo by Dacia Maraini

A book or rather, an intimate conversation between dear friends Dacia Mariani and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Memories which allow us to get to truly know a great poet, screenwriter and a man who lived life out of the box: for the strength of his arguments, for his nonconformist spirit, for his great passion for cinema, and for his, at the time taboo, homosexuality. A hundred years have passed since his birth and almost fifty years since his brutal death. Yet he is still alive, among us, still capable of making us argue, converse and reflect. A memory not only of a man but of an era, the 60’s and 70’s where:

 

“Ci trovavamo insieme per il puro piacere di vedersi e parlarsi, senza fini di nessun genere. Oggi, come sai e come hai previsto da profeta …ci si incontra solo per uno scopo…Mentre allora ci vedevamo fuori da ogni programmi prestabilito, per la gioia di ritrovarsi e scambiarsi idee.” 

 

“We gathered together for the sheer pleasure of seeing and talking to each other, with no purpose of any kind. Today, as you know and as you predicted as a subtle prophet, we only meet with a purpose …While then we saw each other outside of any pre-established program, for the joy of meeting and exchanging ideas.”

 

Caro Pier Paolo is a book that unites past, present and future and that makes us dearly miss a time and a man we’ve never met, but who we know and admire greatly. 

 

Reschio Estate

There are luxurious stays and then there is Reschio. A world where nothing is left to chance. Where the tint of the sandstone and terracotta-colored walls match the tones of dusk, the seamless pool blends into the natural scenery like a lake, the impeccable lighting keeps the property at a perfect shade of warmth at all times—not to mention the scenery, the wildflowers, the winter garden and the 1,500 hectare estate of oak and chestnut forests, olive groves, vineyards, and the stable of forty Spanish horses trained in dressage. 

 

An estate on the border of the “green heart” of Italy’s Umbria and rolling hills of Tuscany. A property that truly embodies the feeling of “sprezzatura”—effortlessly elegant, tasteful and rich in history—one which fully expresses the warmth and care of the Bolza family, who acquired the estate in the 90’s and have been living there and restoring the grounds ever since. A family which perfectly understands the importance of quality over quantity, and how the attention to every single detail is key to creating an intimate connection between a place and its visitors–one that satisfies all the senses.

 

La Casa Dipinta

Off the beaten path, immersed in the heart of the suggestive city of Todi, at number n. 25 in Via Delle Mure Antiche, lies a place where art blends with everyday life.

 

The house, now known as “La Casa Dipinta” (“The Painted House”), was bought in 1975 by Irish-born, American-by-adoption artist Bryan O’Doherty and his wife, art historian Barbara Novak, as a place to spend their Italian holidays far away from work. The reality is that there is no escape from what you love, and this house is proof of that.

 

In 1977, O’Doherty began to paint the walls of the house’s three floors with acrylic colors, creating an immersive work that summarizes 40 years of his artistic career and the great love he felt towards his wife, Umbria and art. And this is how the artist willy-nilly made this 19th century house one of the most interesting and exclusive works of his career.

 

Between geometries, colors, symbolisms, mirrors, threads, plays of perspectives and stairways reminiscent of the rainbow, O’Doherty’s ideas criss-cross the space, allowing those who enter to get lost, physically and spiritually, in reflections on the sense of identity, of belonging and of space.

 

The silhouettes of him and his wife on the sides of the bed, as well as the imaginary painted windows, recall their love for the Umbrian landscape. Umbria is so suggestive that just a painted window and a chair (perhaps a real one) are enough to admire it and fall in love with it.

 

La Casa Dipinta is a house between the imaginary and the real, which today can be visited by appointment through the Coopculture association (iat.todi@coopculture.it). Three simple words written at the entrance contain the artistic language of O’Doherty–One, Here, Now (Uno, Qui, Ora)–and deconstruct the exhibition space, literally inviting you into his art.

 

Italy’s Forgotten Fruits

The ubiquitous tomato might be the least exotic produce to hit Italy’s gardens and markets this year, yet at one point in time, the tomato was deemed dangerous and even poisonous: a forbidden fruit, used for decorative purposes, and eaten only with caution and care. Although we have no need to be as skeptical about food as those in the 16th century, Italy grows a bounty of fascinating, quirky produce that is often forgotten. Here, five of our favorite lesser-known summer fruits. Give them a shot: you might just be eating the next tomato!

 

Barattieri: A variety of muskmelon most commonly found in Puglia, barattieri have the texture of a melon but the flavor of a fresh cucumber and are typically eaten before they’re ripe. It’s deliciously confusing. 

 

Binello Fig: Exclusively grown in Liguria’s Val di Magra, Binello figs are petite and often grow in pairs (hence the name “binello”, which translates to “twins”). Green on the outside and orangey pink on the inside, the sweet and fleshy figs are very delicate and easily rot; for this reason, the variety has been largely abandoned in favor of larger, easier to transport varieties. 

 

Monreale White Plums: There are two varieties of Monreale plums, grown in the Conca d’Oro valley (inland of Palermo): sanacore, traditionally believed to have healing properties for the heart, and ariddu di core (“seed of heart”) for the peculiar shape of the pit. Historically, Sicilians made strings of wrapped plums: resembling paper salamis, each package had about ten fruits and was hung in a cool place for the fruits to slowly dehydrate.

 

Il purceddu d’Alcamo: These ribbed and wrinkled melons are called purceddu (pig in Sicilian dialect) because, you guessed it, their shape resembles that of swine. The fruit has a shockingly long shelf life: Trapani farmers harvest the melons in August, store them on terraces or hung from balconies, and eat them through Christmas! The longer they wait, the juicier, sweeter, tastier the white pulp becomes. Best eaten raw or in Sicilian granita. 

 

Neapolitan Papaccella: From July until the first freeze, markets in Naples overflow with peppers, but only locals can distinguish papaccelle from the rest. The small peppers–which are either bright yellow or dark red with green shading–are ribbed (their name translates to “curly”) and look like they’ve been ever so slightly squashed. The surprisingly sweet peppers never grow larger than 10 centimeters in diameter!

 

Italian Secrets for Staying Cool

It. Is. SO. Hot. We hope you’ve escaped the oppressive heat of Italian cities this summer and headed to our country’s beautiful coasts, mountains and lakes…how lucky are we to have an abundance of all of them! But, no matter where you are, here are five secrets for staying cool when it feels like a forno:  

 

Go Swimming: But not at the pool. Italy boasts 7,500 km of coastline and around 350 marine islands (about 80 of which are habitable). Cool down at the beach and take a dip in the fresh sea–there’s enough to go around and nothing to fear. 

 

Create a Corrente: Who needs AC when you have corrente? Open all doors and windows in your house to allow a refreshing breeze to flow through. 

 

Close the Shutters: Or…do exactly the opposite. Close those heavy wooden or metal shutters to hold in the night’s coolness and keep the sun and heat out, especially during the hottest hours of the day.

 

Take a Pennichella: The best way to escape postprandial heat, when the sun is highest in the sky, is to take a little nap. After a good summer lunch, you’ll need it anyway. 

 

Drink and Eat Cold Foods: Come summertime, we can find icy treats at every bar–perfect for beating the heat. Try swapping the classic cappuccino for an iced shakerato. And for afternoon merenda, a gelato or a granita is a must. Just don’t forget to give yourself time to digest before heading back into the water!