For several days I've been writing about the workshop I recently led for Il Chiostro. I couldn't write any more without spending some time talking about the wonderful people who made it possible, and I'll begin with our group, pictured left beneath the angel and cross of the San Fedele refectory, where we ate all of our meals. Everyone came from the Pacific Northwest, painters I've known for some time, and some brought a friend or partner. The good humor, great ideas and enthusiasm of the group made every day fun.
To the right is a photo of Il Chiostro Program Facilitator John Motondo, San Fedele owner Nicolo Strub, and Il Chiostro Program Manager Michael Ferris. Nicolo, John and Michael helped us with everything. In addition, John and Michael drove us places, created beautiful settings for our dinners, translated, shared their knowledge of Italy, and they even entertained us after dinner, as they are both musical theater veterans--we asked them to sing for us, and they were so obliging with their beautiful voices!
One day they surprised us with a trip to a vineyard where the wine harvest was under way--here they are hamming it up for my photo. They were so much fun!
To the right is a photo of Pauline and Nancy picking grapes.
Pauline painted the wagon and cask one afternoon before our harvest.
I couldn't write about the exceptional time we had at San Fedele without praising our incomparable chef, Andrea Anichini, who lives in the nearby village of Vagliagli and prepares the dinners at San Fedele. Each evening, Andrea treated us to beautiful Tuscan food, including greens, freshly made pasta with delicate sauces created with local ingredients like wild boar, lovely desserts like chocolate souffle with a peach and balsamic vinegar reduction sauce--my personal favorite! We lingered over every meal, drinking local Chianti and sharing great stories with our tablemates. It was the Italian way of enjoying food--these days we call it "slow food." Andrea is coming out with a cookbook soon, and I will definitely write about it. Our dinners brought to mind lines from a favorite poet, Adam Zagajewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanaugh.
Write about those moments
when friendship's footbridges
seem more enduring than despair.
Write about love,
about the endless patience
of the light.