To the ocean...this is hard work
05.26.2015 - 05.26.2015 75 °F
We arrived at breakfast a little late and sat out on the terrace next to the kitchen in warm sunshine with a cappuccino and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and hills. The church bells rang through the air.
After breakfast the three vans left for a brief stop at a local farmer's market where, as our host, Peter, stated...you can watch a world untouched by social media. We strolled through the market, me primarily looking for limes (for Margaret's gin and tonic...if we ever have time to make one)...lots of beautiful fruit and produce...but no limes.
Next stop was a cheese making farm, Ponte de Legno (Bridge over Wood). This is a local farm that produces many cheeses but is famous for its buffalo de mozzarella. Its cheeses are distributed all over Europe, Asia and the Eastern United States. We were given a freshly made sample and learned a little about the cheese making process.
Next stop was the Abbey Fossanova. Located in a picturesque village, the Abbey of Fossanova (Abbazia di Fossanova) is a Cistercian abbey with a beautiful church and peaceful cloisters. Begun in 1163, Fossanova is considered a magnificent example of Cistercian architecture, reflecting that of Clairvaux. The village of Fossanova is part of the town of Priverno and not far from the Abbey of Casamari, which is better known. The first monastery on this site was built by the Benedictines in 529 AD on the site of a Roman villa. It was dedicated to St. Stephen, the first martyr. The abbey was given to the Cistercians in 1135, who began by building a new canal (fossa nova) for swamp drainage. The Cistercians are famed for their water engineering skills.
Construction on the abbey church began in 1163; it was consecrated by Pope Innocent III in 1208. By the time it was completed at the end of the 13th century, Fossanova Abbey already had nine daughter monasteries. The church is considered one of the earliest appearances of Gothic architecture in Italy.
Fossanova's most distinguished visitor was St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) who fell ill while passing through and died here on March 9, 1274. He was on his way to the Council of Lyons. In 1368 his remains were moved from Fossanova to the Jacobins Church in Toulouse, France. But his presence still lives on at Fossanova: the hostel where he stayed at Fossanova was turned into a chapel in the 17th century and the address of the abbey is Via San Tommoso d'Aquino 1.
The abbey was closed by Napoleon in 1810, but bought by Pope Leon XII who gave it to the Carthusians of Trisulti. The Friars Minor Conventual took over the abbey in 1936 and made it into a college. The parish of Fossanova was established in 1950. Today, Fossanova Abbey remains both an active Franciscan friary and parish church.
Portions of The DaVinci Code were filmed at the abbey.
Next, we were off to the seaside village of Terracina. We were given an hour to wander before lunch. We settled at an outside café where we ordered Peronis. We walked back to our designated meeting area and began walking toward the undisclosed restaurant only to discover it was the café from which we had just come. The restaurant was a seafood cooperative which absolutely delighted SJB and I. We got some plain old pasta and, after lunch, we walked to the beach. There was a beautiful sandy beach for as far as the eye could see...seemed like a mile of lounge chairs and umbrellas. We settled into a little place called Serinella and spent an hour in the sun, ruing the fact that we had left the dominoes back at CG.
Then it was back to CG for our next lesson. The "hard work" part of the heading for this post is based on the fact that our days are filled up with little down time. We arrived back at CG at 4pm and our next lesson started at 4:30. It was antipasti night. We prepared Frittatta di Spaghetti, squash blossoms filled with either ricotta cheese or anchovies, eggplant parmesan, roasted peppers and bruschetta (which Chef Diana reminded is pronounced "Brewsketta"). To my dismay, no salame, cheese or prosciutto in sight. The wine was flowing during prep time. I bought a bottle of Jameson at the Duty Free Shop in Paris, but had not even had time to sample it. So I brought some with me to the kitchen and immediately became very popular with one of the other men. Once prepared, all of these items were cooked and we were served by the staff at two long dining tables in the kitchen. For dessert we were served the pie tarts we made the previous evening and a white cream mousse drizzled with chocolate.
We have an amazingly cohesive group of people and we are all getting to know each other after only a couple of days together.