The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker in Cupramontana

It’s Saturday. Up early and a short drive into Cupramontana for provisions for the weekend. Nothing is open tomorrow, Sunday. So into the car, first gear & 20km per hour up the white gravel track to reach the metal road into town. Hills to the left, hills to the right, hills in front and hills behind. Up and rolling, bending down and over, roads and tracks squeeze around bubbles of woods and trees, stoned villages close and far away on tops and in valleys and through fields with every hue of browny earthiness. Every metre has a view across this rolling patchwork of awesome agricultural colour mixes.

It is like moving across an artist’s palette, driving from one colour to the next as ploughed earths mix it up with harvested grasses and rows of vines stand next to clumping trees that abound with fruit – walnuts and pomegranates and olives. Textures, shapes, rural colours crowd in on your eyes and your senses.

So the first stop is to get in to the bakers. Now the Italians do many things perfectly – pasta, pizza, fish, wine, coffee, but bread is not on this list.Usually it takes the form of snubby loaves with hard middles and even harder crusts the are past their best within 30 minutes or so of baking. So when you have a recommendation that the local baker’s fresh loaves are to die for, you go for it, especially as they tend to go before 1030. Park outside, straight in and a fresh crispy French stick is on the lunchtime menu.


The next up is the butcher. This is found down the small side street with a narrow entrance with a pink, porky pig above the door. They love their pork around here. On a narrow table a lady is selling crackling in every form and just crackling- ears, tails, cheek flaps, every bit of skin you can imagine large and small. We have a bit of friendly agro trying to order meat. Avoiding the stare of the white skinned rabbit, complete with head and long neck attached, snuggling around a large carrot, the campaign starts. We want duck. A picture of 2 plump duck breasts comes to mind, like what might be found in Waitrose. None are obvious. Using Google we show signor the word. He mutters under his breath, goes out the back and gets his wife. Ah yes, she leans over, moves some carcasses about and comes up with a whole duck. We hold up two fingers for 2 breasts. You want two she says. No, one finger, duck, but 2 breasts. This goes on for a few minutes until we agree on one duck that she will cut up. Next problem. How do we want it cut? Firstly legs, neck, wing are lopped off with a chopper and put in a bag. Then the bird is halved with an electric saw. Then one half is cut into slices with a big chopper and the other into a front half and a back half with an even bigger chopper. Never had this problem in Waitrose. Now we gotta cook it!

Very good duck in plum sauce, Hazel.

The grocer is a lot easier. We can stand there and just point at tomatoes and lettuce and onions and melons and peaches put them in a bag, say ‘grazie mille’ in our best Italian and move on. The candlestick maker was supposed to produce anti-mosquito coils and citronella candles. Sadly the village had no candlestick maker but we did find some coils in the local super mercado.

After a very necessary cup of coffee in the square it was back in the car and home. Mission accomplished. You want to see the quality of the local entertainment and live music? Come over on the 18th. It’s free!!!!

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