More Design Input Wood and Paint Colors, plus Fireplace Design

In preparation for our visit to the property, which happens next week, Kevin has given us some homework.

The trip will include meetings with a landscape designer, a kitchen and bathroom designer, and the architect, who is also an interior designer.

We have already provided enough guidance for the kitchen and bathroom designer and the landscape work hasn’t even been roughed out yet, so our assignment deals with internal elements.

door and window color choices
Windows and Doors: Middle color

Lintel stain color
Exterior Lintel Color
Click image to enlarge

The first part of our homework deals with paint and stain colors.

  • Confirm the color we chose last year for the (mahogany) windows and doors.
  • Ditto for the external lintels.
  • Decide how to stain the interior lintels.
  • Select the color for the main (chestnut) beams and cross (pine) beams.
  • Pick paint colors for the ground floor ceiling (the part between the beams) and the walls.

Kevin wanted us to gather some paint and stain swatches to bring as input. We went off to Home Depot to see what we could find.

It became clear right away that this not an easy task, with the stain being the main problem. Since each wood takes stain differently, we need to see actual wood pieces with the stain applied, not a brochure with color swatches. (Shockingly, there were no examples of stained European Chestnut.)

Without knowing the wood color, it is hard to make any paint choices beyond “something off-white.”

Anne also feels that choosing colors from an American source isn’t that useful. We need to see what’s really available in Italy.

So we’re pretty much an F on this assignment.


The other piece relates to the fireplace. This has always been a great unknown. The floorplan included a fireplace in one corner of the main room, but it has always been unclear just what fireplace shape and orientation were conceived.

The design issue is further complicated by one adjacent wall being stone, the other plaster, so how do you merge the two together via the fireplace? If we use a lot of stone is the fireplace and the wall above the fireplace, will that be too “heavy”? What if the fireplace surround is stone, but the wall above is plaster? Does that make for an awkward junction between the two walls and their different materials?

We thought maybe we could sort this out by finding a picture of a fireplace with the right design. Despite our best efforts searching the web and Pinterest, we couldn’t find a good example. We could find fireplaces with some of what we wanted, but even taken together they don’t show a clear solution.

So maybe we get a C on this part of the homework.

Next week’s meetings will be interesting. I predict we’re going to need more time for research, exploration, and discussion than Kevin has in his agenda.

Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Two — Now Three — Special IGP Foods From Marche A Salami and a Pasta; Now Add an Olive Oil

In addition to the three DOP products unique to Marche, there are two IGP foods made only here. (There is a different version of ciauscolo made in Umbria.)

(Read about the DOP classification system.)

News flash: on April 20, 2017 a third IGP was added: Marche Olio EVO IGP.

Il Salame Ciauscolo IGP

A pork sausage that dates back to at least 1700, when it was devised by the poor farmers as a way to use much of the hog. It’s made from the shoulder, the ham, the bacon, and the fat, plus wine, garlic, and pepper.

Traditionally, it was made in winter, when the tenant farmers had more time and the lower temperatures helped preserve the meat.

The meat is ground at least twice, making the mixture very smooth. It is put in casings and aged 2-4 weeks in a humid environment. Each sausage is 0.5 – 1.0 kg (1 – 2 lbs.) and about 30cm (12in) long.

The texture is soft and smooth, resembling a paté. It is sometimes called “il salame che si spalma“, the “salami that you can spread.”

It is produced in the inland areas of Macerata, Fermo, and Ascoli Piceno provinces and the southern part of Ancona.

There is a sagra in Moresco (FM) in early September.

Ciascuolo drying
Click image to enlarge

Spreadable Ciascuolo
Spreadable texture
Click image to enlarge

Maccheroncini di Campofilone IGP

This pasta is fascinating in many ways. It’s made of only eggs and flour — no water — and entirely by hand, including cutting it VERY thin, like what we call “angel hair” but more so. I’ve seen pictures, like the one below, but I’m not sure how they manage it. I’ve read that the range of thickness is 0.3 to 0.7mm, an incredible 1/100th to 3/100th of an inch, and of width 0.8 to 1.2mm, or 3/100th to 5/100th of an inch. (Not surprisingly, it cooks in less than one minute.)

You can see some more good pictures of the making, cutting, and drying of the pasta.

The methods date back until at least the 1400s when it was made in a local abbey. Traditionally, it’s eaten with a meat sauce, but in a true marketing way, they say it’s delicious “with other sauces or simply with extra-virgin olive oil and a small spoon of Parmigiano.”

There is an annual sagra celebrating the Maccheroncini during the first ten days of August.

Campofilone is a comune of about 2000 people. The center of town lies a bit inland from the Adriatic, but there is a beachfront of about 1.5km.

Cutting Maccheroncini
Cutting Maccheroncini
Click to Enlarge
Drying Maccheroncini
Drying Maccheroncini
Click to Enlarge
L’Olio Extravergine di Oliva Marche IGP

olive oil pouring

This yellow-green olive oil can be grown and produced anywhere in Marche. It can be made from up to 12 varieties, 10 of which are native to Marche: Ascolana tenera, Carboncella, Coroncina, Mignola, Orbetana, Piantone di Falerone, Piantone di Mogliano, Raggia/Raggiola, Rosciola dei Colli Esini e Sargano di Fermo. Oil from these must make up at least 85% of the product. The other up-to-15% can come from two other varieties that have been grown in Marche for centuries: Frantoio e Leccino.

(These varieties show up in other Marchegian DOP/IGP products: Ascolana tenera is also the olive used for Olive all’Ascolana and Frantoio and Leccino are used in L’Olio EVO di Cartoceto.)

Olives have to be picked by December 15 and processed with 2 days of collection. It must stay under 30°C (86°F) during processing.

The flavor is described as mildly fruity, mildly bitter, mildly spicy. (All score 2 out of 7 on these scales.) There is a little variation toward a little lighter and a little more intense. The odor has a mildly herbaceous note and can have hints of almond or artichoke.

Marche’s Own IGP Products

Click to enlarge, zoom, and move
Pin A: Casa Avventura
Pin B: Salame Ciauscolo
Pin C: Maccheroncini di Campofilione

Click to open a larger map

Ciauscolo images: Lorenzo Vinci |
Maccheroncini being cut: Marche Tourism |
Maccheroncini drying: Campofilone Tourism |
Olive oil: Pixabay: pau_noia0 |
Map icons: Maps Icons Collection |

For more information:
Guida Vino (In Italian) |

Learning More About Marche’s DOP Foods Three Traditional Foods Unique to Marche

In another post, I wrote about the 13 foods from Marche that have one of the special designations (DOP and IGP) and what the designations mean. Here I’m going to write a little more about the 3 DOP products that are unique to Marche. All three are from the province of Pesaro e Urbino, in the north of Marche. I’ll write about the other products, and more, in subsequent posts.

As of now, I’m going to need to base my descriptions primarily on information from the website of Marche Tourism and those of the locales and the producers.

Casciotta d’Urbino DOP

“There are a thousand types of casciotta cheeses made in central Italy. but only one Casciotta d’Urbino.” So starts the description of the cheese on the website of the consortium of Casciotta d’Urbino producers.

Casciotta d'Urbino DOP
Casciotta d’Urbino
Click to Enlarge
Sagra Casciotta Ticket
Sagra di Casciotta Ticket
Click to Enlarge

It may sound like marketing fluff, but the distinction of DOP which it has received indicates that experts in Italian food have singled it out as a special type of Casciotta. It is described as a sweet cheese, tasting of the milk it is made from. It’s very soft and spreadable.

The cheese is made following a method more than 2000 years old. It starts with a mixture of 70-80% sheep milk and the remainder from cows. After pasteurization, the milk is heated to body temperature and the fermentation begins. After the curds form, it is drained and put into molds, which yield cheeses about 5-6 inches long, 2-3 inches long, and weighing 1.5-2 pounds. The aging lasts only 20-30 days.

Two fun facts:

  • It gained its fame throughout Italy in the 1300s. It is said to have been a favorite of Michelangelo and our man Pope Clement XIV.
  • The correct spelling of the name of the cheese is “caciotta“, not “casciotta“, with the “s”. An official made the spelling error and the name remains.

The recommendation is to drink a young, fruity white or rose.

The sagra is in late April.

Prosciutto di Carpegna DOP

Carpegna is a comune on the northern edge of Marche, near Emilia-Romagna. It sits on the edge of a large mountain park, Parco Naturale Regionale di Sasso Simone e Simoncello. Though the comune is only 30km2 (11 mi2), it’s the only area that can produce this DOP prosciutto. There are two variations: San Leo, delicate, and La Ghianda, more intense and aromatic.

Location of Carpegna
Prosciutto di Carpegna
Slicing Proscuitto di Carpegna
Click image to enlarge
Carpegna ham advertisement
An Interesting Ad

Being near the mountains, Carpegna is at an altitude of about 750m (2500 ft). It’s said that a key element in what makes Carpegna ham special is the microclimate. Temperatures are moderate summer and winter and humidity is low.

Said to have a sweet aroma and taste, the ham has been produced here since at least the 1400s. Using a special method of seasoning applied to the meat from hogs fed on acorns, it was produced only in small quantities until the 1970s, when production started to be more commercial.

After a seasoning process of about 20 days, the prosciutto is aged for at least a year. The result is meat of color ranging from dark red to pink, surrounded by a layer of pure white fat. Each ham weighs between 8.5 and 10.5 kg (19-23 lb)

A wine merchant site recommends the red Lacrima di Morro d’Alba as the proper wine.

The sagra is the third weekend in July.

The consortium uses some “interesting” advertising, judging from the image at the right. Not only is the picture suggestive, the caption reads, “Only son.”

L’Olio Extravergine di Cartoceto DOP

It’s hard to say much about what distinguishes this oil from other Italian extra-virgin olive oils, especially the DOP ones.

A production factor noted on the website of the corsortium is that the oil is made only from the olive fruits and not from the pits, but I’d guess this is true for all DOP olive oils.

Also, the olives need to be gathered by hand, by a long-handled rake-type device, or by shaking the tree, and not touch the ground. All that can be done “pre-processing” is to separate out the foliage and wash the fruit. Oil need to be processed within 48 hours of picking.

Oil from the fruit is made by simply grinding the fruit, pressing it, keeping the temperature below 25°C (77°F), extracting the solids and water via centrifuge, and filtration. No heat, no chemicals, no second or third pressing.

Getting oil from the pits is a more involved process that uses chemicals and which includes heating, cooling, and steaming.

Leccino olive

Raggiola olive

Frantoio olive

The varieties of olives used in this region vary from others, which is what probably makes the Cartoceto oil special. The formulation is at least 80% oil from three varieties: Leccino (harvested in late October, lightly fruity and sweet), Raggiola (harvested in early November, more fruity and herbaceous), and Frantoio (harvested in late November. adds an almond-like note). The remainder, up to 20%, can come from a selection of 7 other cultivars. The DOP region where the olives come from and where the processing is done covers only 5 comunes in Pesaro e Urbino, in the north of Marche.

The consortium’s FAQ has some interesting notes:

  • The oil can be kept for up to 2 years, but it’s best in the first year, as the decline in quality starts after about 8 months.
  • It should be stored in stainless steel or glass and kept from the light.
  • Very fresh oil sometimes can cause a little “bite” in the throat.
  • Color has nothing to do with quality. (It apparently starts out green and turns to golden yellow.)
  • There are two main classes of this olive oil: fruttato – fruity, smooth flavor, no bitter odor, and verde – the younger oil with a more herbaceous aroma.

Sagra is in early November.

Three DOP Products from Pesaro e Urbino

Click to enlarge, zoom, and move
Pin A: Casa Avventura
Pin B: Casciotta d'Urbino
Pin C: Proscuitto di Carpegna
Pin D: Olio di Cartoceto

Click to open a larger map

Casciotta picture: |
Casciotta sagra ticket: |
Carpegna map: |
First ham image: Carpegna Turismo |
Carpegna ad: |
Three olive varities: Consorzio Olio DOP Cartoceto |
Map icon source: Maps Icons Collection |

For more information:
Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori delle Marche (In Italian) |

More Top Floor Wall Work Plus Some Great Views

Panorama from DR and Kitchen
Panorama from DR and Kitchen
Looking Northwest
Click image to enlarge

Google Photos stitched together this panorama without me even asking, so I thought I’d start this post of with it.

Works continues steadily on building the exterior and interior walls of the top floor. It seems most of them are in place. Tomorrow, a visit from the structural engineer is scheduled so work can start on building the roof.

We also got some great photos of the view to the west from the upstairs back (SW) bedroom and from the master bedroom.

View from SW Bedroom
View from SW Bedroom
Click image to enlarge

View from Master Bedroom
View from Master Bedroom
Click image to enlarge

The series of pictures gives a tour of the top floor and of the main room on the ground floor.

All images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Walls for the Top Floor More Poroton Blocks

We were a little surprised today to get pictures of work being done on the top floor walls. We had expected that the structure for the roof would be built first, as that was the sequence in the rough work plan. Maybe since they had been building the ground floor walls, it made more sense to just continue the wall work.

Here’s an overview picture of the house as of today.

Casa Avventura Today being built in Le Marche
Casa Avventura Today
Click image to enlarge

All the pictures below.

All images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure