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Arrivederci Casa Gregorio!

ITALY | Saturday, 16 March 2013 | Views [802]

This day was our last full day at Casa Gregorio. When we got up for breakfast we all knew that it was coming to an end. Breakfast was, as always, delicious, and consisted of the usual frittatas, fresh melon, croissants, coffee, mystery green juice (which tasted like apple), pear juice (which we later discovered was actually banana and apple), biscotti, and a number of other biscuits that are too many to mention.

After breakfast we went into the kitchen (the old one, not the newly renovated one!) to learn how to make pizza dough. Our teacher was Ana, one of Gregory’s staff who has been with him basically since the beginning. She cooked a lot of our meals at Casa Gregorio, along with doing the housekeeping. She is a very sweet lady, though she spoke no English. We left the dough to rise and went out for a morning of shopping in the town of Frosinone. This town is the largest of the little hilltop towns in the area, and so has some fancier shops selling Italian leather goods and some name brands. I bought a handbag, and Dale and Jan bought really amazing shoes. Paolo and Patricio were there to help us, though some of their suggestions were a little off (Patricio pointed out a bag that had a panel of hot pink leopard print on the front…). When I went to pay for my bag the man behind the counter asked where I was from, and I said “Canada,” like you do. He replied, “which side?” in a sort of sarcastic tone as if to say, “Canada is big, be more specific.” I had to laugh because most people just smile and nod when you tell them you’re from Canada.

After a morning of shopping we went back to Casa Gregorio to make our pizza for lunch. We each got to make a pizza with the toppings of our choice, and cook it in the wood fired pizza oven. We were the first class to use the pizza oven as well, and it worked beautifully! The pizza goes in on a long paddle, and is placed next to the red glowing coals. It only took about 2 minutes to cook a pizza, as the oven is kept at above 700C. We ate so much pizza, although we were all thinking that the entire week had been boot camp training for the Friday night dinner. For this reason we all tried very hard to refrain, but it was pretty much a lost cause. We all laughed every time Gregory said “just a light lunch” or “it’s a light dinner,” because if he ever said “it’s a heavy dinner” we’d all run in the other direction.

Our afternoon was free time which we used to wander the town, run errands, and for me, write in my blog. It was also time to prepare ourselves for the night’s dinner at a local Farm Restaurant. This area has several of these types of restaurants, which use 70% locally sourced ingredients in their dishes. Apparently the percentage used to be 80, but it was thought that this was too unrealistic.

Up until this point we had been fairly lucky with the weather, as it is the end of winter. We had mostly sun, with a few sprinkles of rain. This night the rain came down in buckets, and we had to run inside the restaurant for fear of getting soaked through. The good thing about Italian weather is that it seems to vary, and to change quickly. I suppose this is only a good thing when it changes from rain to sun, and not the other way around…

Our dinner was not as enormous as we had feared it would be, as Gregory decided to change the format so that we weren’t on the verge of bursting at the end of the night. Instead of everyone ordering our own four course meal, we could choose one first plate (primi piatti) or one second plate (secondi piatti), instead of choosing both. The antipasti was ordered for us, as was the dolce (dessert), so we could choose one dish and either eat all of it ourselves or share with someone. Mom and I have since found that this sharing technique is very useful as it allows you to try more dishes without dying of fullness or breaking your pocketbook. It’s a good tip for anyone visiting Italy: order two antipasti, one primi piatti (usually pasta), one secondi piatti (usually a meat dish), one bottle of wine, and one dolce. Your bill will be EU50 or so, which is pretty average, and you won’t feel like you’re about to burst.

The night we visited the Farm Restaurant, it was pretty quiet for a Friday night. We figured it was because it was International Women’s day and all the women were at home enjoying a night in, or enjoying cooking dinner for their men (as mom said). The staff of the restaurant gave all us ladies little bouquets of flowers to take home which was really sweet. I kept the little vase my flowers came in, as I couldn’t take the flowers with me.

After dinner it was a mad dash back to the vans to avoid the rain, and back to Casa Gregorio for our last night. When we got back, the rain had stopped and from the top of the hill you could see all the lights from the distant hilltop towns shining in the distance.

 

Arrivederci Casa Gregorio!

 

Our last breakfast was bitter-sweet because it was familiarly delicious, but sad because it was the last one. We said our goodbyes and parted ways, and some went back to the airport, and Patricio dropped John and Susan and mom and I off at the Cassino train station. John and Susan went back to Rome for a few days, and mom and I headed south to Sorrento. It was a long journey with a lot of transfers, and we ended in Pompei where we decided to take a taxi the rest of the way. Sorrento is only about 25 minutes from Pompei, but not when there is a landslide on the only road leading there. A trip that should have taken 25 minutes took almost 2 hours and cost EU90. Our poor driver also couldn’t find our hotel because my confirmation had the wrong address. It was a bit funny because he started out very cheerful, and he put on cheesy “Italian” music (including “That’s Amore” and “O Sol Amio”), and he ended very rushed and with no music at all. Not that I blame him, nobody likes being stuck in traffic for two hours. On the plus side, we could watch the sun set next to Mount Vesuvius, on the only day it wasn’t shrouded in clouds. We did make it somewhat unscathed, and the view from the terrace of our hotel was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Tags: arrivederci, casa gregorio, farm restaurant, pizza, shopping, sorrento

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