I like pointing out lesser known places in Umbria.  
Just right outside of Porchiano del Monte lies the Eremo di S. Trinità, a hermitage from the 12th century.  It's about 600 mt. walking distance into the forest.  It's a quiet and meditative place, perfect for painting.

Mi piace indicare luoghi meno conosciuti come questo.  Appena circa 600 metri fuori Porchiano ed immersa nel bosco si trova l'Eremo Santissima Trinità.  E' un luogo silenzioso e meditativo, perfetto per dipingere.

The view unto the Tiber Valley.

La vista verso la Valle del Tevere.

Work in progress.
If you're driving around southern Umbria, don't miss this lovely little spot.
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Se siete in zona, non perdetevi questo piccolo posto incantevole.
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 One of the nice things of living in Umbria is that you're surrounded by small producers of heavenly food.  Meet Gianni and Simona of Cellitti, cheesemakers in Porchiano del Monte. I spoke to Simona the other day and asked her some questions.

Cellitti isn't a local surname, where are you from?
That's Gianni's last name, his family is from Abruzzo.  I'm from Romania. He comes from generations of shepherds.  He grew up around sheep and can't live without them.  When we go on vacation and are away from our farm, after a few days he starts to dream of sheep bells ringing!
He can't be away from his sheep too long.

Why did you choose Porchiano del Monte to make your cheese? 
Previously we had been living and making cheese in Civitacastellana near Rome for about 5 years.  I really like this area because it's so beautiful and green so when we heard that this farm was for rent, we jumped on it!

Does Gianni make the cheese?
Gianni is the shepard, he takes care of all of the cows, sheep and goats we have.  He gets up very early in the morning, around 4 or earlier to tend to and milk them.  They graze in different fields around the area and then towards the evening he puts them back into their barns.  
I'm the one who makes the cheese.  I asked my father-in-law to teach me.  At first Gianni didn't think I was going to be able to learn but in time I've mastered it.  When we married I began to make the cheese for the farm since my father-in-law has become too old to continue.  
Gianni helps me and we transform 500 liters of milk a day from 500 sheep and sell fresh sheep or cow ricotta.  We have all sorts of cheeses: fresh, aged, with rosemary, or chili paper, you name it.  

I got special permission to get 'behind the scenes' photos of Gianni & Simona making their cheese.  The whole process takes about 3 hours. What I'd like the photos to transpire is the pride that goes into the entire process of raising their animals and transforming the milk into wonderful cheese. 

Simona filtering the morning's sheep milk.


While the cheese pasteurizes for about 30 minutes, Gianni cleans  the cheese containers.  He's always in movement, very difficult to get a still image of him!

A little bit of vapor to sterilize the containers.

Adding the rennet diluted in milk.
After about 20 minutes, a type of cream forms.

Gianni testing the consistency.
Once the rennet has solidified the milk, Gianni breaks it up.  This process requires alot of muscle.
Once it's ready, the almost cheese gets poured into a container.
And of course I had to taste test it! Yum!

The containers are almost filled. The liquid whey you see at the bottom will be used to make ricotta.
The cheese gets steamed to release excess whey, then Gianni turns them.  This is repeated 3-4 times.
All of those containers are about to become wonderful sheep ricotta.
While the cheese is settling, Gianni quickly washes the huge vat in order to get it ready for making ricotta.
Simona transfering & filtering the whey.

Of course I had to try the ricotta, c'mon you would've too!
The whey gets heated at 70°c for about 20 minutes with a little salt.

If you happen to pass by Porchiano del Monte (Amelia) in Umbria Italy, drop by, they'd love to have you taste their cheeses. :-) 

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It's Spring and this means that it's time to do some 'Spring Cleaning' in the studio.

From May 11 to May 25 all high quality digital prints of original paintings are 50% off.
Originally €10 each, now only €5 each.

So head over to my shop and pick up some prints for yourself or friends.  They make a sweet birthday or housewarming gift.

These are just some of the prints you will find in my shop.
If you'd like a particular painting print, just email me with your request.

Click here to follow my 
Sales & Giveaway board on

E' Primavera e questo vuole dire che è tempo di fare pulizia nello studio. 
Dal 11 al 25 Maggio tutte le stampe digitali di alta qualità sono scontati del 50%.

Originalmente erano €10, adesso sono €5.

E allora venita al mio shop e prendi qualche stampa per te o degli amici.  Sono il regalo perfetto per compleanno o casa nuova.

Qui sopra potete vedere alcune stampe disponibili nello shop.
The nicest surprise about my trip to Verona was the Youth Hostel at Villa Francescatti. I highly recommend it to anyone of any age.  It is a villa originally from the 16th century, recently restored with an enchanting garden and beautifully kept. It is in quiet historical neighborhood overlooking the city and within walking distance to the center.  Private rooms with bathrooms are available too. 

La cosa più bella del mio viaggio a Verona è stata quella di scoprire l'Ostello della Gioventu.  E' situata in una villa del 16° secolo, recentemente restaurata e con un giardino incantevole.  Non dista lontano dal centro storico.  Ci sono stanze con bagni privati anche.

I love Italian decorative motifs.

Amo la decorazione Italiana.

The garden.

Il giardino.

 The entrance to the Arsenale in Verona where many cultural events are held such as the Festival del Handmade.

L'ingresso all'Arsenale dove si organizzano molti eventi culturali come il Festival del Handmade.

 The inside of the Arsenale is very scenographic.

L'interno scenografico dell'
Arsenale con tutti i partecipanti.
The 'Paint Live Love Italy' stand.

Lo stand di 'Paint Live Love Italy'.
Watercolor greeting cards, party decorations, postcards and paintings at my stand.
As always I met lots of interesting people and made new friends.

Have you ever been to Verona?
Share your story with me.

Bigliettini e decorazioni per feste ad acquerello, cartoline e dipinti nel mio stand.
Come sempre ho conosciuto molte persone interessanti e fatto nuove amicizie.

Siete mai stati a Verona? 
Raccontatemelo nei commenti qui sotto.

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