Cooking · Garden and Nature · Life at Castello di Montegiove

Elderflower Cordial

May is the Elderflower season in Montegiove and it is the first sign of spring turning into summer.

When the beautiful flower is blooming, it looks just like a ballet tulle skirt, ready to be worn by an Elderflower Fairy.

The Elderflower Cordial is one of the most refreshing drinks for the summer.

 

20 Heads of Elderflower (preferable without bugs)

Sugar 1 kg

3 Organic lemons (Juice from two and one lemon in slices)

1 l boiling water
Preparation:

1. Shake the heads of the elderflowers well, picking off any bugs.

2. Place the elderflowers, sugar, lemon juice and lemon slices in a large bowl.

3. Add the boiling water and stir.

4. Leave in a cold place to infuse for 2-3 days stirring occasionally.

5. Strain through clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.

6. Fill the cordial into clean sterilized bottles. Store in a cool dark place or freeze in plastic containers to keep for longer.

 

Drink cold or hot diluted with water, -also delicious combined with lemon juice in a sorbet.

 

Cin Cin!

Garden and Nature · Life at Castello di Montegiove

Upupa Bird

Castello di Montegiove, Upupa 1

 

This little fellow woke us up one rainy morning; he was sitting outside on the window bars insisting on rehearsing his oop-oop-oop over an over again. Very charming to start with but after a while it got a little monotonous and we got up to find out what it was all about.

It felt very special to witness this pretty bird singing and we managed to make a blurry photo through the window glass.

In Italy the Upupa is also known as the butterfly bird. When it fly it looks like a giant butterfly as the wings are half closing at the end of each beat or short sequence of beats. It is also called the Legionary Bird because of its distinctive “crown” of feathers on the top of the head that it can open like a fan.

It is a colourful and very pretty bird known back to ancient Egypt and it is one of the fascinating animals that live in the forest around Castello di Montegiove.

 

 

Garden and Nature · Life at Castello di Montegiove

Stairways to Heaven.

 

 

 

We have finally started the construction of a stairway down to the swimming pool, after many years with a miserable and very challenging steep footpath to the pool area.

It is our own construction team that is building everything with local stones from the fields below the castle. All stones are placed like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle and it is  amazing to follow the meticulous work, it seems like an endless stone snake has started its track from the top of the hill and down.

Now we are just waiting for warm summer days to come!

Easter · Garden and Nature

Easter

92w2vu8drzsgi%9ais21vw_thumb_c7f8

I am already looking forward to the Easter holiday here at Castello di Montegiove. We always go for long walks or bicycle rides with friends and family and we often end up having an improvised picnic when the first warm sun rays allows it.

In Montegiove, Easter is celebrated with traditional food such as roasted lamb, artichokes and the delicious Colomba Pasquale witch is a cake shaped as a dove. All the ladies in the village gather around the old wood fired ovens to bake “Le Torte di Pasqua” witch is a cheese bread served with eggs and cured meat for the Easter lunch or Easter picnic.

On Palm Sunday, olive branches are handed out to people during the mass and on Easter Monday, there will be dances, concerts and games involving huge Italian chocolate Easter eggs.

For the Easter processione at the night of Good Friday, the statues of Maria and Jesus are brought out of the village church and paraded through the streets of Montegiove and the participants are wearing ancient attire.

So many things are going on in the Umbrian hill towns during Easter. In Panicale a small town near Montegiove they play “Ruzzolone” where huge wheels of cheese, weighing about 4 kilos, is rolled around the village walls as a local version of golf, so much fun.

For our family Easter is the time of the year where we take time off to enjoy each other’s company and Montegiove becomes alive after the quiet winter.

 

Garden and Nature · Life at Castello di Montegiove

Spring Flowers

 

Time to start spring with wild Helleborus, Hyacinths and Tulips

It is still a bit grey outside but spring is in the air, the weather is mild and wet and the wild Helleborus Foetidus are blooming everywhere around the castle.

I can’t wait for spring to come. So I made a corner of the kitchen in spring mood with all these nice pink and white hyacinths and tulips. Now there is a fresh green perfumed scent in the house. It looks like a nice flowerbed and it is just like having a bit of the garden in here.

Garden and Nature · Life at Castello di Montegiove

Mapping

old-map-of-montegiove-and-castle

Castello di Montegiove and the surrounding estate.

Old hand painted map from the Gregorian Cadastre (1816-1834).

The last couple of days I have been drawing trekking maps for walking in the surroundings of Montegiove. The maps are meant as guides for our guests in the farmhouses who want to go for walks or bike rides in the nature.

We have dragged the girls along for exploring and testing the walks and it has been so much fun. Sunday we walked on a path leading to an old Lombard fortification from the 9th-10th centuries that was excavated in 1988. It was really exiting imagining how everything looked like, when these people lived here so many years ago.

Montegiove keeps on surprising me with the history and all the things that have been going on in the past just outside the castle gate, if the walls could talk they would have so much to tell.

Garden and Nature

Autumn

I love all seasons in Montegiove, but autumn, with all the soft colours and when the garden, wineyard and the nature around the castle slowly transforms from green into brown, pink and orange always amazes me.

When the Umbrian autumn sun is shining in warm orange and making everything look pretty and inviting it is almost impossible not to stop and just stare. I must admit that at this time of the year I am always falling in love with Montegiove all over again.