"We are here on this planet only once and might as well get a feel for the place." -Annie Dillard

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

HelpX #3 - Torre Amene, Orte.

The Massullo's (November 9 - November 120)

Torre Amene - my home for
two weeks.

I did a very, very, very, very bad thing. I was talked into trying a cappuccino. Every morning, after taking care of the horses, I go up to the house to have tea. Well, I have tea. Everyone else has coffee/cappuccino. And every day Claudio, Monica and Carlo's 15 year old son, says I must try a cappuccino. And so this morning, in the presence of just Monica, I tried it. It was a cautious start, just a little coffee on the bottom before filling the mug with frothy foam and milk. And then, after a little dollup of sugar, I mixed and tasted. My first thought was, "Ack, tea is much better." After my second sip I thought "Well I like the foam but I would prefer if this coffee was chocolate." After the third sip my thought was, "Okay, well it isn't sooo bad..." Now Monica is convinced that I will have it every day instead of tea. I am determined NOT to acquire a taste for it.
UPDATE: This paragraph was written about halfway through my stay. I will report that yes, I continued to have the "cappuccino." However, the very last day, Monica took us to the nearby village of Vasanello, with it's really neat castle and little windy streets that would be a kid's dream play place, to have cappuccino from the cafe. And I am happy to say that this normal cappuccino, with the regular amount of coffee, was no good at all. So basically my morning "cappuccino" was a lot of milk and a spoonful of sugar mostly masking the taste of coffee. I think I can do without! But now at least I have tried something VERY Italian in Italy!

ALSO: Okay, why this machine isn't in every household, I don't know. BUT I WANT ONE! It's like those nifty water machines that boil water almost instantly. Except with milk. mmmm...frothy goodness!

Meet the Nespresso Milk Frother.
Christmas present? Anyone?.........

I had to take a bus today to get to the train station, and well whoops, I accidentally hopped on the bus heading to a completely different town - where it seemed all the kids were going to school. I figured this out when the bus didn't turn towards the station... and so I quickly hit the stop button, made my way with my bags through the crowded bus of kids, and then had a nice hour long walk to the train station. Good thing I had an hour and half till my train! A nice 'welcome back to backingpacking mode' walk!

And so now I am sitting on the train heading to Venice. First Venice for a day and a half and then Milan. I'm hitting up my last two cities right at the end! I have finished with my third and final Helpx site. It's really hard to believe that I'm done with something I have been planning for so long. Looking over all the profiles, picking out places I was interested in, e-mailing people, setting up dates. And now I have experienced three different and unique places and people......

Life at my third Helpx site was wonderfully busy with all things horses - riding lessons, dressage show, jumping show, and of course my main job, taking care and cleaning up after the horses - Di Biassi, Eddy, and Biki... And it has been great! And I bet you had started to think that no Italians live in Italy, with my previous Helpx sites being with people from England and Chile! But how appropriate to go from English to English/Spanish/a little Italian/ to a full out Italian family?!

Looking out at the horse paddocks and beyond.

Meet the Massullo's ~ Carlo, Monica, and son Claudio. They live on a hilltop overlooking the valley just outside of Orte. Here the Massullo's train and compete (mainly Claudio now) jumping horses, in which at the moment they have three (with a baby hopefully on the way). OH - and they are the real deal. Carlo competed in THREE Olympics, (Los Angeles, '84, Seoul '88 and Barcelona '92) in the Pentathlon, where he won a gold medal and bronze medal in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, both as a team and individual and a silver medal in Barcelona! He's now a doctor specializing sports medicine and osteopathy.

Anyway, all that aside, the family was son wonderful, and I'm already missing Claudio's enthusiastic 'Ciao Coty!' every time I came up to the house for tea time or dinner or watching this funny cop show every night trying to figure out what was going on in Italian.

Carlo, Claudio, and Monica

And the horses! They are BIG! Hello! With perhaps the exception of Biki that seems a little more sane to me. :-) Especially after working with little Paddy at my first helpx site, when I first met the horses I couldn't help but be a bit intimidated. I have a childhood recollection of my mom's horse Skylar, and these horses seemed on par or bigger than him, especially Eddy.

The first days I was there was especially a whirlwind. The very first day I arrived we got the horses ready and went to riding lessons. Then the next three days were dressage and jumping competitions. Being at these competitions, especially the jumping ones, brought me back to that short period of time I had with my horse Flash. The summer of jumping! Mom working with me every day down at the little arena we had, painting wood different colors, Flash refusing a jump, working and working till he would do it. Why did it only last a summer, I can't remember (was that when Flash hurt is leg?), but it was a good one.

Claudio at the jumping competition
He got second :-)

The work here is good work. Monica knows how she wants things done, and I do feel a bit of pressure to get it done right! Actually Monica reminds me a lot of my Mom in they way she interacts with the horses and works so hard around the barn, constantly fixing things, riding around in the tractor, lifting a big hay bale, getting up early to get things done, caring about the particulars.....

There was a point when I first had to clean Eddy's hooves and he was putting all his weight on me (and that' a lot!) and the mud was caked in there. And then I just started thinking, "Oh my mom would totally be attacking this mud with vigor, she would totally have the hoof cleaned out by now...I am not going to let her beat me!" And I gritted my teeth and dug in. Now what this thought process says about me and my mom, I'm not sure. I like to think that it just means I have a bad-ass mom that works hard and cares about what she is doing, and does things right. And is a big inspiration. :-)

But I really appreciate Monica's attention to detail and making sure things are done the way she want them to be. It has also been a good opportunity for me to practice my intention I have set for myself to be more accepting of myself if I don't know how to do something and admitting to when I don't know something. And because of this, I was able to get an intense lunging lesson and wrapping horses legs lesson! I picked up some different techniques for taking off halters and mucking out stalls. And instead of feeling bad that I didn't know how to do something the way she wanted it done, I was able to take it as an opportunity to learn something new. And Monica was always completely patient in teaching you how to do something. It was like she really took pleasure in teaching you, of getting satisfaction that she was able to pass on new skills.

This was also the case at meals. She never said so, but I got the impression that she really liked introducing me to new kinds of Italian eats.... different kinds of ham slices, cheeses...cappuccino. And even though I was scared of the cheeses, I just had to take a deep breath and get over my mental blocks on these kinds of foods and go for it. And not once did I regret it! (no stinky cheese was served, by the way - and thank goodness!)

But hey, let me give you a quick run-down of my typical day!!

Morning routine:
~Let the chickens out!
~Head down to the barn where:
1. Feed horses hay and oats (make sure to take wraps of Eddy!)
2. clean up the pasture (i.e. scoop poops!)
2a. Check the water.
3. If stayed the night in stalls, clean stalls
4. Sweep and clean barn
---Tea time!
(Might now sound like much but this would usually take me at least a couple of hours)

Then, until lunch I would help with other things - raking up endless acorns and leaves etc... etc... Or if there was a dressage or jumping show off we would go!

Afternoon I would have for myself and then evening time:
1. Feed horses! (put wraps on Eddy)
2. blankets on
3.If going in stalls get them prepared for that.
----and depending on the day, cleaning saddles and bridles (soap and grease)

And there you have it! My typical day!

And then, I go home in the evenings to my little cottage just below the regular house. I love my little cottage home, with it's cozy wood stove. Every day, I had a little challenge for myself to use less paper to start the fire each time.... I think I am getting pretty good, although I am sure my Dad will have something to say about this when I get home to chilly Montana! But it was just really nice to have the evening to myself, to read, listen to music, write....

Getting pretty good if I do
say so myself.

Now there is one animal that I haven't talked about but who really ended up being the one I cared most about. Arielle. The Massulo's have five wonderful dogs. But Arielle, she was special. After just the first day I noticed that when I went to the cottage after dinner she was there with me. I went to bed, she was outside the door. I woke up in the morning. She was there waiting for me to accompany me down to the barn. Everywhere I went, Arielle went too. If something was rummaging around in the little woods below the cottage, she would chase it away. My little protector. I wish I could say I was special, and she had picked me out to have this special bond, but it turns out that she does this with all the helpx-ers. If you stay in the cottage, Arielle adopts you. So for two weeks, she was my little dog, and I really loved her. I hope that someday I might be able to find a little Arielle of my own, but until then I will miss her greatly.

Me and my new doggy love, Arielle.

Actually, I will miss this entire family greatly. I really felt a part of their every day life here on the farm, with all the hard work that that entails. It was also a bit of home away from home, with the horses and the barn. My world, except for on the other side of the globe! I'm glad they were the last helpx. Rather appropriate to leave getting a litlte Italian family flavor! And who knows, maybe someday we will see Claudio riding for the Italian Equestrian Team!

The other four dogs.... unlike Arielle who is always
attentive to my needs...these four doggies just
laze around...sheesh :-)

Kaki fruit tree. I had never seen these fruit before and now
I keep seeing them everywhere. I honestly can't say if they taste good or not
as I was too distracted by their unfortunate similarity in texture to raw oysters....
Not my favorite. (oh hey, I just found out these are
Persimmons in English!)

So the second day I was here Monica took me to get their olives pressed (at a more common press than the stone press we used at Madeleine's.....
Anyway, here is what I call the olive pooper. This is what comes out after
the olives have been pressed. Now, I want you to find that $2.00 bottle of olive oil
in your pantry. Now think of this olive poop. Yep, they run this stuff through the machines again, and you get your $2.00 bottle. I guess there is something to be said for making the most of all your materials.


Here are a couple of photos of my day trip to the hill town of Orvieto.

The Orvieto Cathedral, whose facade is one
of the most famous (click picture
for a close up)

Hey I met the Wizard of Oz!
He lives right here in Orvieto....and makes miniture carnival replicas or
if you tell him important events in your life he will construct a house
representing it all.
Celebrities come in droves (he has pictures all over the shop)

1 comment:

  1. Hello, very nice writing, me and my friend Ree are two girls from Taiwan, we'd also like to have a homestay in Italy this summer, could you provide the family's mail so that I can make some contact with them? we are also looking for a trip to Italy! Thank you very much!
    my email is d33888@hotmail.com
    you can see also from facebook!