"Come to my Villa."

Sometimes grief strikes us at the oddest times. This morning I was watching a press DVD about a villa in Umbria, Italy. The villa sits just outside the hill town of Montafalco. Watching, I was brought to tears. I was thinking, this is why Dad loved Italy. If only I could bring my Dad to Montafalco. We’d stay at this villa, the Villa Pambuffetti. We’d eat that pasta, drink that wine, sit and talk and read on those round over-stuffed chairs–and they would envelope us like my Grandma Rose’s bosoms, in a great hug. I miss him dearly.

It was my pleasure to meet the family behind Villa Pambuffetti last night. They treated us to a dinner of “home favorites” at the il Buco restaurant in lower Manhattan. Alessandra Angelucci Pambuffetti, our hostess, exuded elegance and ease, she was so graceful and charming and chic, that not only did I want to visit her at her Villa, I wanted to adopt her life! Imagine, being able to say, “Come to my Villa. I’ll give you a cooking lesson in the morning and then you can explore the Franciscan art of Montefalco. Or just sit with me in the garden and drink our local wine, Montefalco Rosso or Sagrantino. I was converted. In my next life I am Alessandra Angelucci Pambuffetti. I own an Italian VILLA!

BUT I will not wait until my next life to visit Villa Pambuffetti and if you have a villa-ownership fantasy like me, you should go there too! Lucky for you, you’ll be a guest with none of the headache of ownership. You can relax, a specialty of the house.

If you prefer to wonder, well you’re in Montefalco, “Everywhere you look or you walk everything is ancient, medieval, stony, cold and hard. Tiny roads cut tall stone houses through ancient towers, portals, castles, churches and walls.” Said Hermann Hesse describing this ancient village, unchanged since he visited it in the early part of the 19th century.

I can’t finish this post without describing one stand out, unexpected dish served to us last night–Cachi con Finocchio–persimmons, fennel, hazelnuts, mint, parmesan. This combination was just music to my taste buds. Accompanied by Grigetto wine, seated in the basement wine cellar of il Buco next to my Italia –phile friend Lisa Beth, captivated by Allessandra, I had gone to heaven and it was in Italy.