Reading “Under the Tuscan Sun” the author mentioning the Piero della Francesca trail.
Piero della Francesca Trail, The.
Seeing that phrase, a trip wire.
A past memory revived.
An unfulfilled dream, that.
Touring central Italy for ‘must-see’ frescoes and his birthplace.
Towns like Sansepolcro, Arezzo, Rimini, Monterchi and Urbino.
Piero della Francesca Trail, The
Structuring our trip.
Paintings characterized by serene humanism, geometric forms and perspective.
His most famous work: the cycle of frescoes, “The History of the True Cross.”
Arezzo, the town of.
Home of the church of San Francesco.
Wherein dwell said frescoes.
Only a fat hour by car from Florence.
Of course, taking much longer as we car-tour Tuscany with stops all along the way.
Piero della Francesca Trail, The.
Add it to the four days in Florence as another brick in the wall of our excursion.
Monday, October 8, 2018
My 181st consecutive daily posting.
Boston’s temperature is
Weather will be
Question of the Day:
What do you get when you order Linguini Aglio e Olio in a good restaurant.
Note a change to the recipe page entitled “Always on Hand.”
Open it and find a new entry, a ‘wok’ as something belonging in every kitchen.
And here’s a movie review,
Especially for fans of Maggie Smith.
The film begins in 1935 in Florence, Italy, where a group of cultured expatriate English women – called the "Scorpioni" by the Italians – meet for tea every afternoon. Young Luca (Charlie Lucas) is the illegitimate son of an Italian businessman (Massimo Ghini) who shows little interest in his son's upbringing; the boy's mother, a dressmaker, has recently died.
Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright), who works as the man's secretary, steps in to care for him, turning for support to her Scorpioni friends, including eccentric would-be artist Arabella (Judi Dench).
Together, they teach Luca many lessons about life and especially the arts.
Elsa Morganthal (Cher), a brash rich young American widow whom Scorpioni matron Lady Hester Random (Maggie Smith) barely tolerates, sets up a financial trust for Luca when she learns of the death of his mother, whom she was fond of and to whom Elsa still owes money for her dressmaking services.
One day when the ladies are in a restaurant for afternoon tea, it is vandalised by Fascists, reflecting the increasingly uncertain position of the expatriate community.
Lady Hester, widow of Britain's former ambassador to Italy, retains an admiring faith in Benito Mussolini (Claudio Spadaro) and takes it upon herself to visit him, receiving his insincere assurances of their safety, and proudly recounts her "tea with Mussolini".
But the political situation continues to deteriorate and the Scorpioni find their status and liberties diminishing.
Luca's father decides that Italy's future is with Germany rather than Britain and sends Luca to an Austrian boarding school.
Five years later, Luca (now played by Baird Wallace) returns to Florence with the intention of using Elsa's trust fund to study art.
He finds that most British nationals are fleeing the country, anticipating Mussolini's declaration of war on Great Britain, and that Mary has moved in with Lady Hester and the other English hold-outs. He arrives at the house just as they – and Hester's ineffectual grandson Wilfred (Paul Chequer), disguised as a young woman for his safety – are being rounded up and put onto a transport truck, which he follows to the nearby Tuscan town of San Gimignano.
Because the United States is not at war, Elsa and her American compatriot Georgie Rockwell (Lily Tomlin), an openly lesbian archaeologist, remain free.
Elsa uses Luca to deliver forged orders and funds to have the ladies moved from their distressingly barracks-like quarters to an upper-class hotel. Believing that Mussolini himself issued the orders, Lady Hester is delighted, proudly brandishing the newspaper photo of her tea with Il Duce.
As the war progresses, oppression of Jews increases and Jewish Elsa – protected somewhat by her citizenship and wealth – provides a group of Italian Jews with fake passports, enlisting Luca – who has become enamored with her – to deliver them. However Luca becomes jealous when she forms a romantic alliance with Vittorio (Paolo Seganti), a shrewd Italian lawyer.
When the United States enters the war in 1941, Elsa and Georgie are interned with the British women. Elsa falls for Vittorio's scheme to embezzle her art collection and money, which would deliver her to the German Gestapo in a phony escape to Switzerland. Luca is aware of the deception but does not tell anyone out of jealous spite against Elsa.
Mary learns of it from Elsa's art dealer, (Mino Bellei), and scolds Luca. His attitude changes and he gives his trust fund money to members of the Italian resistance movement, which Wilfred has joined. Elsa still refuses to believe Vittorio's betrayal and is ultimately convinced only when Lady Hester, informed by Mary and Luca of what Elsa has secretly done for all of them, repents of her contempt for Elsa and offers her gratitude and help. Elsa consents to an escape plan hatched by Mary, Luca and Wilfred. Before she departs, Elsa tells Luca how she once helped his young mother choose to go through with her pregnancy, thus allowing him to be there for her.
In July 1944, as the British Army advances toward San Gimignano, Arabella frantically defends her beloved frescoes from demolition by German troops and is heroically joined in the line of fire by Georgie and the English women, including Lady Hester.
They are saved when the Germans receive orders to retreat, leaving the women and the towers untouched.
The city rejoices as the Scots arrive, with Luca now serving as their commander's Italian interpreter.
The major has orders to evacuate the Scorpioni but Lady Hester refuses to cooperate, resolved that they will resume their former lives in Italy.
Mary is delighted to see that Luca – now in British uniform – has become the "English gentleman" his father wished him to become.
Closing texts explain the mostly happy fates of the characters, concluding with the remark that Luca went on to become an artist and "helped in making this film" – in other words, as writer and director.
The answer to today’s quiz question:
A plate of pasta with an oil and garlic sauce.
Here’s a recipe for that, now added to our web’s recipe pages.
I forgot to mention: this is a Mother Sauce, which along with Marinara, are gateways to hundreds of simple and delicious variations.
LINGUINI AGLIO e OLIO
For 8oz linguini, two full portions; 4 half portions.
8TB olive oil
6 garlic cloves sliced thinly
Very slowly fry the garlic slices until lightly browned.
Purpose here is to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor.
In turn, the oil will flavor the pasta.
When we are happy with the fragrance of the oil and the color of the garlic, stop the fry quickly by pouring ¼ cup water into the pan.
That’s the recipe.
Oily, garlicky. Hence the name, (Aglio e olio.)
Probably better, however, to layer the flavors.
After we add the 4TB water to slow the fry, try adding one or more of these to the frying pan – to your taste:
1 small dried red chili, coarsely broken up.
2 or more canned anchovies, to our taste.
2 TB lemon zest chopped fine.
½ cup chopped fresh basil and/or parsley.
Salt and black pepper
Use your imagination.
Cook the adds for a little bit.
Use a wok to boil the linguini.
Don’t have one?
It’s worth buying a wok just to boil pasta.
Stop the boil when the pasta is still chewy.
Drain the pasta, quickly returning it to the wok so that the pasta retains a cup or two of the pasta water.
Add the garlic sauce and 2TB fresh lemon juice to the pasta and toss.
Vigorously heat the linguini until almost all of the remaining water is absorbed and portion into warm bowls.
On top of each bowl, sprinkle parmigiana cheese and a bit more of the fresh herbs.
Delicious smells, tastes, and sights.
Great way to start an October 8 Monday.