D.H. Lawrence Goes Off The Tourist Track

 

Choose An Agriturismo Day Experience + Food; Adults: € 165.00 Children: € 95.00 Groups with 10 people minimum: € 85.00 per person

For nearly two centuries the Pacitti family have passed down the experience gained in the shepherding culture from father to son surrounded by the snow capped mountains of Val di Comino. The Pacittis use raw sheep and goat’s milk from semi-wild breeds that are herded out into the pure air of the high mountain altitudes and pristine valleys daily contributing to the cheese’s characteristics, the tastes and smells of the territory. The products of the Pacitti farm are recognised by the Slow Food Presidium which supports small-scale traditional production in danger of extinction and the recovery of old-world professions.


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Agriturismo Casa Lawrence has taken its name from the English writer D.H. Lawrence who was hosted here in 1919 and where he was inspired to not only finish his novel “The Lost Girl” but to reinterpret the meaning of lost entirely. Lawrence completely went off the tourist track and almost outside of civilisation while retreating to this country villa. He writes “ How unspeakably lovely it was, no one could ever tell, the grand, pagan twilight of the valleys, savage, cold, with a sense of ancient gods who knew the rite for human sacrifice.” Lost took on a different meaning for Lawrence when transfigured by the Abruzzi wilderness. Like the protagonist of his novel, he was taken out of the world and over the boarder, to the very edge of experience. The detailed descriptions of the rooms and furnishings in Lawrence’s novel The Lost Girl allowed for a faithful restoration of the little 19th century villa by the Pacitti family so that you can arrive as Lawrence had in December of 1919, but, for a cooking and cheese making class or to enjoy a rustic 4-course Sunday Lunch with a shepherd's dessert that you have made yourself.


Additional activities are available at the Agriturismo Casa Lawrence such as nature hikes, foraging for wild herbs with liquor making, village hopping and mountain trekking. All activities are accompanied with tasting boards or a 4-course lunch for groups made with 0-Kilometre seasonal ingredients and a browse around the guest house of D.H. Lawrence and the CaciOsteria.

*** Monday Morning Cooking Classes *** Cook traditional recipes from the Val di Comino with the Pacitti mammas and/or cousin(s) in the modern kitchen attached to the little 19th century guesthouse of D.H. Lawrence. You will first take a trip to an age-old farmer's market in the nearby village where you will source fresh ingredients, meet the vendors and learn the cultural and historical relevance of the local produce. Loreto’s mother and aunt will teach you how to make a mean hand-made ravioli or cannelloni stuffed with ricotta from their own sheep mixed with wild herbs foraged from the Val di Comino (the Comino Valley) accompanied with local recipes for the produce that you have procured from the market.


*** Cheese Making Class *** Learn how to make formaggio Primo Sale, an agricultural product from ancient history, from producers who are recognised world wide for their award winning Pecorino D.O.P. The production of Primo Sale is very simple so that it can be replicated at home. You will make this typical Southern Italian fresh cheese in the family's small laboratory or the old fashioned way, in metal pots over a fire outside surrounded by the foothills of the Abruzzi Mountains. How did the Ancient Romans make cheese way back then? Well, you will find out. Cheese Making Class takes place every Monday, Tuesday & Friday afternoon. Monday classes start after the end of the cooking class so you can couple the two activities together for a full day.

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*** Torta Making Class & Sunday Lunch *** Romina will show you how to make traditional torte (cakes) with sweetened sheep’s ricotta from their production paired with home made marmalades, hand picked fruits or hazelnuts from the valley’s trees. You will be done just in time to browse around the villa where D.H. Lawrence finished his book, The Lost Girl, before starting Sunday Lunch at 1:00 PM. Lunch is catered with products from the farm and the surrounding area and is made from ancient recipes. You can experience the traditional 4-course Italian country style meal along side families that have made Casa Lawrence part of their Sunday family ritual. You start with antipasti (starters) and lots of them, this could be a meal in itself, so be aware, there is a lot more food coming your way. The antipasti could include particular species of plants that are only grown in the Val di Comino, the families simple yet tasty patè recipe made from their sheep, samples of their prized artisan cheese and much more. The first dish or primo (pasta, risotto, gnocchi or polenta) is hand made by the mammas just minutes before the lunch starts such as ravioli or canneloni stuffed with ricotta mixed with wild herbs foraged in the forrest. Polenta con sugo, which is a hearty dish typically eaten in the mountains in the colder months is made from stone ground corn processed like it has been done for thousands of years, amplifying the flavour and nutritional content, and then topped with aromatic hand produced sausage slow cooked in a zesty tomato sauce. You will have your choice of a secondo (a second course meat dish) and then dessert, one of the homemade pies that you helped to make before a caffè or tea consumed from English teacups, reminiscent of the villa’s past. Perhaps there is a shot of honey grappa in store for you if you stay long enough to share it with the family cooks after all their business in the kitchen is done. Hang out with Romina and Loreto while Rosalia helps you to ask questions while they eat their late lunch. Sometimes friends stop by from nearby villages or Lorenzo, Loreto’s friend, the forest ranger, who volunteers to watch over his local portion of the Central Appenine mountains, will pay a visit.

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*** The CaciOsteria Foodie Experience *** Loreto Pacitti’s grandparent’s house has been converted into the CaciOsteria, where the family’s cheese gems are displayed and can be savoured along side meats from neighbouring farms with the valley’s wine. The Pacitti are the makers of the Conciato di San Vittore, a raw milk sheep cheese, whose origins can be traced as far back as the 4th century B.C. when the Samnite warrior shepherds, an Oscan speaking tribe from South-Central Italy, incased the cheese in 15 aromatic herbs for preservation in the absence of glaciers used for refrigeration. These herbs not only lend the cheese its characteristic taste but are also anti-bacterial and act as an insect repellent. The Pacitti’s preserve the Conciato di San Vittore recipe by using milk from their transhumance sheep that are indigenous to the border of Abruzzo in Southern Lazio and graze in pastures that are 1200 - 1400 metres high that give the cheese its superior flavour and nutritional content. Not only will the Conciato di San Vittore be on your tasting board but perhaps the Picinisco Pecorino D.O.P., Case-Peruto, Valcomino Blue, or the almost vanished Marzolina, a cheese made with milk only produced in the month of March aged in glass jars or preserved in olive oil. The neighbour down the road provides Loreto with cow’s milk to produce the tangy Caciocavallo hanging from the ceiling of the CaciOsteria like sleigh bells. Small production hand made meats in the form of salami or prosciutto from neighbouring farms of the Val di Comino will be tasted as will local wine such as Maturao di Picinisco or the Cabernet di Atina, which has a festival dedicated to its new harvest every Autumn.


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The refurbished 20th century period villa that hosted D.H. Lawrence is open for you to explore. Step into D.H. Lawrence’s world where he was inspired by the mountains and people of the Abruzzi wilderness. You will find a tiny library with a collection, both in Italian and English, of D.H. Lawrence’s literary works incapsulated in a cabinet in one of the cozy dining rooms of the agriturismo’s villa. The texts within are an excellent reference source for scholars of the traveling English author. Readers have the opportunity to compare the many editions of “The Lost Girl” as well as other masterpieces by Lawrence that have been edited, enriched or translated over the last 85 years. You can relax in the inspiring atmosphere of the villa to appreciate Lawrence’s works while sipping some good English tea.


Inclusions: English speaker, cheese produced by the agriturismo with local meats & wine from nearby small production farms and vineyards, checking out the house where D.H. Lawrence lived and the little house where Loreto’s grandparents were born, spending time with the locals such as Loreto Piscinisco & family, assistance in shopping for food at the farmer’s market when applicable.


Exclusions: Transportation, extra food and wine other than what is on the day tour and tips for your guide


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  • Casa Lawrence, Contrada serre, Picinisco FR
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