sabato 4 agosto 2007
Yesterday after making breakfast for a lovely couple from Piemonte who interestingly enough gave me a book about scaling mountain peaks later in the day as a gift, I headed to the mountains of Sibillina and began a search for the best Pecorino cheese and cured meats of that region. Driving over a mountain pass I saw the trailhead for the tallest peaks in the Marche and then headed down into the beautiful plateau below the town of Casteluccio. (One picture of each are included.) Then I went on to Visso where i spent a delightful 1.5 hours talking with the proprietor of a shop for cheese and cured meats called Pettacci. I know the butcher in Tuscany is famous and a media hound, etc, but if you want a down to earth, passionate producer, you must make a visit here to visit Giuseppe Tarragoni. He has a friend who raises the native sheep of the zone (which I think are Duilio Psqua) up in the mountain pastures and Giuseppe does the aging and selling. He also has invented a cousin to culatella which he calls vissatello (top foto) where he takes the skin of the exposed part of the coscia or butt end of the pig from which we get prosciutto and after bathing the muscle, which is similar to our gluteus, in white wine and spices after salting, he then wraps the meat with the skin and ages it for many months and it is wonderful. He also makes his own prosciutto and guanciale and salami including the fresh type famous in the Marche known as Ciauscolo. After I bought 2 whole pecorino cheeses, fresh salami and some of his vissatello, he gave me a nice sandwich and 2-500 ml bottles of water for lunch and I was back on the road after taking a coffee at the bar in the piazza, of course.
As my 50th is just 11 days away and as it has been my habit to climb some peak for every birthday, I got to thinking, why not climb Mt. Sibilla today on my way back? So I drove really quickly on the curvy roads back to the trailhead and being well prepared (not), I took my little plastic grocery sack with 3 bottles of water with me with the 2 cameras and a driving hat, but no sunscreen and started up the hill. In Italy, there are no real indicators of how far something is, so I took a slight leap of faith and my friends had said I needed 2.5 hours to scale the peak. Boy, am I out of shape!!! I was huffing and puffing and Pausing a bunch, but at my usual fast pace, I made the summit (the wrong summit) in 1hour and 58 minutes. I scaled Mount Vettore instead which is the tallest mountain in the chain and took some photos and then descended in 1 hour and 1 minute, I had finished all the water, so timing was perfect. By my calculations of my normal pace, I think it was about 7 miles round trip. I had an amazing endorphin high afterwards and headed back to Nascondiglio, filling up the tank for the usual 90 dollars. We treated the guests to some of the good cheeses and I then lost my high form endorphins and adrenaline and crashed at 10. Full, wonderful day!! dds