Poco ma buono

October 10, 2012 / Local Interest
That’s what the wine experts unanimously declare for the 2012 vintage. The lack of rain and intense summer heat hampered the proper maturation of the grapes, resulting in a drastic drop in grape production, though the quality of the wines should be excellent. Claudio Riponi, head of the Dipartimento di Viticoltura ed Enologia dell’Università di Bologna, assures qualita’ buona, explaining that this summer’s hot and dry temperatures protected the grapes from disease.

The 2012 harvest will be the most meagre since 1950 with grape yield down 5-6 % compared to last year but down 10% against the 50-year average. Here in the hills around Assisi – where the climate is milder – most of our farm neighbors are pleased with a good yield, though l’uva e’ piu’ piccola, Peppe reports. (The grapes are small.)

Peppe and Gentile’s wine cellar was stacked with crates of grapes. In his late 70’s, Peppe is picking all on his own: Gentile has far too much pain in her joints to scramble around their vineyard, fanning out over the hill. Piano piano (“slowly, slowly”), he says, clarifying that he is picking bit by bit at a slow and steady pace. “What rush is there?”

We went into the cellar for a glass of last year’s wine, which Peppe drew out of the vats. Following an age-old Umbrian tradition, we’ll first taste the 2012 vino novello (lit. new wine) on the Feast of San Martino, November 11th, along with roasted chestnuts. It’s still a month or so away – but in the meantime pane, prosciutto e vino rosso shared with Peppe and Gentile is still a festa.

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

51 Responses to “Poco ma buono”

  1. Greg Wunderle

    Looking forward to a great trip to the peaceful city of Assisi. Anne has been great in helping us plan our trip. Thanks Anne. See you soon.

  2. J. Kevin Crocker

    Anne, again you bring back fond memories of tasting wine from your neighbors. I recall that first day walking up the path to your farm (before there was a road) and Pino greeting me with a glass of his wine and a question, Marino (both of them) and Pepe visiting and sitting at your table, and of course baking bread at the Piermatti’s. Great times.

  3. Colleen Simmpson

    Yes, the hot weather with no rain certainly made for a harvest small in quantity but high in quality. I will be so excited to taste the 2012 vintage to compare! Thanks so for the beautiful photos of your beautiful neighbors. Grazie mille sempre!

  4. Jon Gilloon

    Ciao, Annie et …
    Well, it won’t be too long before the retirement date is set, and when that happens, please know that we will be coming over to visit. I’ll be able to afford it then :)

    In the meantime, you have an open invitation to come to Arlington to see and stay with Peggy and Ann and me at our new house.
    Katy is expecting a little girl in late February, Keanan Ray Larsen. That will be # 3 for this Nono.

  5. Frank and Brit

    Thanks for the article, Annie. It’s always a pleasure to read one of your reports from Assisi.

  6. Nancy Mazza

    Long live Peppe and Gentile. I always enjoy the personal touch in your articles, Annie. The title was catchy–“Poco, ma Buono”. Nice photos.

  7. Suzanne and Jack

    I just love the insights into Assisi traditions you give us through your articles. It was a pleasure meeting Peppe and Gentile when we visited Assisi in 2011. They were so generous with their time and warmly showed us around their farm.
    We look forward to being in Assisi again next May.

  8. Sarah (Sally) Currie Walters

    Ahhhh, Annie. . . I plan to retire to Assisi and permanently move into IL NIDO TRANQUILLO, your sweet little rental nest in the center of town! In 1982, when I first visited you, Pino and the bambini, you told me to take the train from Rome, get to the main piazza, and go to the nearest pharmacia and ask for “Anna, la Americana” because everyone in Assisi knew who you were and where you lived. Thirty years later,with lots of tours and cooking lessons, and now the whole world knows who you are and where you live.
    Baci, Annie,and “see you soona”!

  9. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    Italy has been experiencing bumper crops of excellent wines.
    Topping France in quantity and Quality..This slow year will only prove to make the vini d’Italia in greater demand on the world market. Italy needs and deserves to get that attention.

  10. Janet Voigt

    Two weeks ago my husband Keith and I had a small tour of Assisi and Spello with Anne. We are so happy our agent hooked us up with Anne, her knowledge and spunk made it a wonderful day! Anne is one of those people you instantly connect with, and would love to keep in touch with.

  11. Beautiful pictures, my family had the opportunity to help with a grape harvest above Vernazza several years ago. It was a magical time I hope to return there and check up on Vernazza post lanslide and visit Umbria as well. Picking grapes all over Italy, now that is a great goal!

  12. Anne Robichaud

    Thanks to all for your comments -I was just reading the thesis of a young Italian woman on wine and this quote leapt out at me (seems to fit with the subject of the above piece):
    “A cask of wine works more miracles than a church full of saints>”

  13. Mary Cappiello

    I’ve been waiting to see another article by Anne! She has such intimate knowledge of the people and customs of the area, accompanied by her great photos, that everything she writes and presents is a new lesson on the Umbrian way of life. Her articles are a treasure trove of insight!

    Thank you, Anne, and IN.

  14. Genny Cesario

    We had the opportunity to eat some grapes right off the vine during a visit to a vineyard during our recent trip to Italy (September 2012)and they were “dolce, dolce”. No wonder the wine was so delicious. I love reading all these articles about Italy so much that I am saving them in a folder and go back and reread them as I feel the need to be filled with Italy.
    Thanks for another great article Anne.

  15. Anne,

    I’m missing Italy very much of late. I shouldn’t read your articles as they tend to make me envious. Such a life!

    Just back from Maine, and rain. Five inches in two days and at least four inches are still in my basement. Was beginning to feel I was back in Venice.

    Still waiting for the book!

  16. Jack OConnell

    Her face made me want to go out and pick the grapes for her! Keep these wonderful vignettes coming.

  17. J and J Manley

    Spent three wonderful weeks in Umbria. Took two tours with Anne and had a fabulous dinner at her home. We found both tours extremely informative and loved both the meals and wine tasting included in the two tours. Anne made Assisi and Spello highlights of our stay in Umbria. The tour of Bevanya and the wine festival in Montefalco will always be special memories. Anne really brings the history of Umbria to life. Her knowledge and understanding of the Italian culture made our trip a great success.

  18. Anne introduces us to the people who make the food happen. They turn a utilitarian place at the table to a gathering. Some of my best memories of Italy are connected with food, and then with the people in whose company I enjoyed it. The world slowed down conspicuously at such moments.

  19. Hi Anne,

    Another great article! Whenever I read your articles it takes me back to Italy…which I miss very much, and look forward to staying in your cozy apartment next year. I love the photos of your neighbors and also the photo of the valley with the grapes in the forefront–very artistic! I may use it for one of my paintings!
    See you next April!

  20. Donna Waltrip

    Hi Anne,
    Bill and I are back in our CT. home after a fabulous week in Assisi. We LOVED every minute we were there with the spectacular weather, The Festival of St. Francis and all the activities related to the event. We would highly recommend everything you recommended. The Ristorante Medioevo was our favorite (a recommendation of yours and Rick Steves.) We also loved the Trattoria Umbra on the square and the Trattoria Pallota off the square. We especially enjoyed staying at the small, charming Hotel Umbra on the main square, Piazza di Comune, at your recommendation and probably would have loved staying at your small, charming apartment if it had been available. The location of your apartment is terrific also, right behind the square and hotel. We wish you much success in your new venture.
    We thoroughly enjoyed our tours with you and recommend highly that anyone coming for a visit to Assisi should take advantage of your knowledge and enthusiasm and contacts in the area. The tour of Assisi and Spello with a wine tasting fabulous lunch, Perugia with the amazing lunch at your friend’s farmhouse (so special and charming and delicious!) and tour of the Ceramic factory in Daruta….all just very special!
    Thank you so much for your help in every way in making our trip very special.
    All the BEST!

  21. Jackie Gilliam

    This is where evesdropping on a conversation in English paid off in a HUGE way! I met Anne by chance while wandering through Assisi on my first day with my friend Gina. We were invited to join her Rural Life Tour, visiting her farm neighbors who were so charming and welcoming. We shared their wine, heard stories of real life and enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by Olga and her husband who played his accordian as we clapped and sang to complete the evening. It was an unforgettable adventure and a page of what real life is in Italy outside of the busy crowded streets of the big cities. Thank you Anne, I look forward to seeing you again…..either in Italy or when you come to Denver!

  22. Jeanne Butzer

    Hi Anne,
    Looking so forward to another great trip to Assisi and Spello in a month. I think we will be visiting three times this year. :)
    It is such great news that you and Pino have an apartment in Assisi to rent. In our family we call it “Living the Life”. Moving into an apartment, shopping at the local markets, buying flowers and hanging out where the locals do is so different from living in a hotel. Really a wonderful idea for you to offer this apartment to the people that tour with you.
    One of the reasons we love your tours so much is that we love meeting your friends, going to their farms and homes and really seeing how the people live. Nothing beats Anne’s Italy!
    I hope all is well with you and your family.

  23. Lovely article, Anne. Wine making is definitely a labor of love…and Mother Nature always puts in her 2 cents worth! What varietals do Peppe and Gentile grow? I know of Sagrantino, but would be interested in what the whites are? Grazie!

  24. Cindy and Michael

    Your article is wonderful, Anne. Peppe and Gentile the real treasures of Italy. Thank you for showing us that window of true rural life. You are so unique in your perspective, energy and enthusiasm for all things Umbria. We are lucky to get to be shown your world whether there or through a cooking class here in Seattle!!

  25. Love reading every one of your articles! And since I am the current tenant in apt., it’s very appropriate for me to say Magnifico!! That of course, is Texan, for WHAT A GREAT PLACE TO STAY WHILE IN ASSISI!!! I have been in “the nest” for a week and a half, with one more week and a half to go. Do not even want to think about the day I have to leave. It’s perfect for relaxing in a quiet area; yet, so close to everything. I’ve been having a blast doing Annie’s rural tour, Spello tour, and I’m even going to eat at her farmhouse tonight! My experience in Assisi has been nothing short of wonderful. thanks to annie and her laughs and hospitable manner! Perfect landlord….hahaha…maybe I should start calling her that!!
    Sad that this may be a poor grape harvest for I’m afraid I’ve drunk almost all of it that has already been bottled!!
    I will definitely be back….I’ve been in Italy for almost 6 wks now and annie told me I’d love Assisi the most. She’s right…I think a piece of my heart will stay behind here with all the new friends I’ve made!!
    thanks ms. landlady for making my trip so memorable!!

  26. I love the photos and the stories. Iam so glad you took a photo of their hands. That photo tells a million stories. Their smiles are contagious! Thank you for transporting my spirit to Umbria. I really needed that. Hopefully my body will follow suit!

    I hope that I meet Peppe e Gentil! Please tell them that I am thinking about them and have them in my heart.

    Malinda (San Diego)

  27. Anne,
    Nice article about the Umbrian wines. We love the wines so much that we bought a couple of bottles in Spello and Assisi. Thank you for your recommendations on several restaurants we visited while in Assisi in September. I love staying at the Hotel Umbra but if we plan to stay longer in Assisi would like to utilize your apartment. Assisi is so beautiful and the countryside is breathe taking. We hope to tour with you again when we return to Italy next year.

    Jenny and Steve

  28. Your articles and manner of relating the stories are so magical. I always imagine myself there in the experience through your vivid capture of the occasion. I visited my beloved Italy again this past June. This last visit was Venice,Rome and south. I took my grandson 14 yrs old for his first visit to Italy and now he has been bitten by the Italian bug and has my passion for Italy and our italian heritage. He also is now reading the Italian Notebook regularly and we are planning our next trip which will include Umbria and the Tuscany area! Peppe and Gentile and Pino and others are cherished by us all through your recounting of everyday life. Mille Grazie!

  29. Anne, write a book already! I think I should move into the Nido Tranquillo for awhile and help you work on it. This story reminds me of when I was a student in Urbino in the ’80s, and I went along with some Italian students to “steal” grapes at night from the farmer’s fields. As we crept along in the dark, they whispered “filo! filo!” and I said “what?” and promptly tripped and fell over the wire tying up the grapes. The point was to grab a bunch or two and run away before the farmer came out yelling and firing his BB gun at us. I learned the word “filo” and never forgot it.

  30. Anne, write a book already. Maybe I should come over and move into the Nido Tranquillo and help you with it. This story reminds me of when I was a student in Urbino in the ‘80s. I went along with some Italian students late one night to “steal” grapes from the farmer’s fields. As we crept along, they whispered to me “Filo! Filo!” I said “what?” and promptly tripped over a wire tying up the grapes which triggered an outburst of barely controlled laughter. The point was to grab a few bunches of grapes and run away before the farmer came out and yelled and/or shot a BB gun at us. I never forgot what the word “filo” meant!

  31. I live in the Finger Lakes region of central New York. The Finger Lakes is a huge grape growing and wine producing area and we experienced very similar conditions this summer. The wine producers are expecting an excellent vintages this year.

  32. Janice Peters

    Ciao Anna,

    As always, your photos are gorgeously full of local color. I look forward to seeing you in 2013!



  33. marianna raccuglia

    Carissima Anna,

    As you must know by now, I am an ardent fan of your wonderfully descriptive articles and am always on the lookout for them. I love when you tell us of your hard working friends. I also like to read the comments of your other “fans”. If everyone that wrote rents your new apartment, I will have to get on a long line!
    Val was so happy to see you again – I’m glad you both had a lovely visit. Hope to see you soon, con affezione,

  34. Karen Kotoske

    Annie, reading your delicious updates is almost as good as (well, OK, not really) sitting in the afternoon sunlight in the cafe in front of Assisi’s Greek museum, centro citta, and watching the world stroll by, contemplating which fantastic trattoria we’ll be dining in later on. Oh to stay in your Nido Tranquillo for a month. Tom and I will dream and perhaps our dream will come true.

  35. Betty & Jim

    Hi Anne,
    We so enjoy reading all your articles-always interesting with beautiful pictures to match. We fondly remember our visit to Assisi during calendimaggio. The costumes, the skits, the town…all so wonderful. The wine tasting banquet in Spello was such a treat. Assisi was the highlight of our visit to Italy. Please keep writing these articles. You make Umbria and its people come alive.
    Best regards,
    Betty & Jim

  36. Annie-We’ll be toasting you and your neighbors on November 11th!! Mmmmmmmmm.

  37. Tom & Carol

    Anne, you have shown us so much of Umbria through your tours, emails, blogs, etc. We were in Umbria with you just a week ago and a piece of our hearts will remain there as a link of over 5000 miles here in Canada. We brought back our max 4 bottles of wine from our trip (bought in Spello and Montefalco) and all came from Umbria even though we visited 3 other regions in Italy. Your excitement and passion of the area and people is now ingrained in us also and in so many others I am sure!!!

  38. Leonardo

    We were your first guests in the apartment Thanks for the wonderful 5 days. We were in the thick of things but on the quiet back streets where one could get swept up in the real soul of Italy. The memories will follow us forever! Thanks again for the great tours and insights into the culture. Your local contacts are so good! See you in the spring!


  39. Wonderful photos! Please tell Peppe and Gentile Dick and I remember them fondly. I still bow before the master of proscuitto!

  40. Hi Anne ~

    This was my first trip to Assisi and it was our good fortune to run into Anne and go on her Rural Life Tour with my friend Jackie. My friend Jackie and I joined a group of 7 other tourists (some couples some singles) what a fun evening!
    We visited some of Anne’s friends /neighbors who have worked and lived off their land their entire lives. They shared their stories, traditions, cheese and wine with us. I was touched by the affection between Anne and her friends. It was a heart warming experience!
    I’ll be back (with my husband)
    Thank you Anne!

  41. David Humphreys

    Great story. Brings back wonderful memories. Thanks so much for sharing!

  42. John Wilkinson

    We met Anne on Sep 12th and had a wonderful tour followed by a magnificent feast at her home that evening (hope we didn’t overstay our welcome, Anne). She must have figured out a way to be in two places at once to have pulled it off. We also got a sneak preview of Il Nido Tranquillo and it’s perfect for a single or couple: compact, cozy, fully equipped and perfectly sited in the town. I see several people have had a chance to stay there already and am not surprised at the great reviews it’s getting. If we’d had the time and the apartment was ready we’d have tried to stay in Assisi just to be in that space. To sum up, it’s a: MUST STAY. We’re already working on plans for our next trip.

  43. Love Umbrian wines! What a nice story. Sad to say I missed my Italy trip this year due to a death in the extended family . . . but I’ll be back soon! Watch out, Anne, I’m coming!

  44. Jeanne, Sue and Judy --3 sisters

    Our package of wine and olive oil arrived today. The tastes of Assissi and Spello are most vivid when drinking this wonderful wine.
    Anne was such a great tour guide. You brought the area to life for us.
    Thank you so much.

    Jeanne, Sue and Judy

  45. Zofia & Charles (Canada)

    Enjoyed your article. Awaiting our wine delivery so that we can once again enjoy the flavours of Spello. Hopefully we will return to Italy soon in order to taste the 2012 production!

  46. My friend and I visited Assisi this month and were so happy with Anne’s tours! We loved the Farmhouse Tour and the FestaTour. We were only in Assisi for a few days before heading to Rome but when we left we had made a new friend. We learned what made Assisi and the people who live there so special. I would suggest that anyone visiting Italy start with Anne and Assisi!!

  47. Janet Eidem

    How wonderful to see Pepe and Gentile again if only in photos this time. Meeting them on your farm tour a couple of years ago was really the highlight of the day. What you share Anne is so beautiful and personal. Who else can match your true taste of Assisi!

  48. Bridget Coffey

    Touring Assisi and dining in Spello with Anne was a highlight of our trip. Anne made the time special for all of us and was very inclusive of our 10 and 12 year old daughters. We remain so grateful that we had this amazing and memorable experience!


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