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In: 2005, Cheryl Alexander's Newsletters

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March in Italy is always a surprise. It can’t always decide if it’s still winter or should be blooming into spring. This March trip for me was a lovely surprise of early spring, bringing warm weather, sunshine, flowers and trees in bloom. Didn’t wear my winter coat once!

The local folks in Bagnoregio, where I stayed, were busy getting ready for the annual Easter pageant that most towns and villages in Italy love to produce and participate in. It’s a special day, as is the day after, and they prepare for it weeks in advance. If you ever have a chance to be there over this holiday, it’s worth the trip just to see this lively celebration.

In Bangoregio the whole town turns out after families have an elaborate Easter dinner, then a late night procession re-enacts the Easter story. The Monday after Easter children are sent off on picnics with the grandparents, taking lunches made from Sunday’s dinner, while their parents go on picnics of their own.

This trip I made a wonderful discovery, in the town of Civita di ‘Aliagno. In the town’s Medieval square is a palazzo almost 800 years old, that was built by the Motturo family. Sergio Motturo and his wife Alessandra have turned the family home into a beautiful 12 room hotel. The family, it seems has always been in the business of winemaking. However, this last generation turned the winery to organic production. The story they tell is that when the fields started returning to their natural state, without all the toxicity, the porcupines came back to live on the land, as they once had. So, it seemed appropriate to Sergio and Alessandra to name their hotel La Tana Dell’istrice, which means the return of the porcupine!

The Motturo’s hold wine tastings in the hotel’s wine cellar and serve wonderful local fare in the dining room for guests or travelers who make advance reservations, from March thru October. I’ll certainly return when I’m there in October. Both the food and the wine were excellent, and the price was moderate.

And just down the road from that little gem is an authentic, enormous castle, complete with two ballrooms and a medieval chapel. It sits perched high on a hill overlooking the valley with beautiful, antique-filled rooms. The rates are quite reasonable. The owner, an elderly nobleman was on his tractor when I last saw him, tending to his olive trees.

Just wanted to give you a few things to think about while you are pondering YOUR next trip to Italy. There are so many undiscovered experiences “off the beaten track”.

Until next time, ciao, Cheryl