Italian School: Wine and Shopping

Teachers and staff at Comitato Linguistico:

Teachers and staff at Comitato Linguistico

I enrolled in another week of language school at Comitato Linguistico. There aren’t a lot of international students in town during January, so the classes were small.  In the morning I met with three others to study grammar and conversation.  We focused on fashion and cinema terminology and a difficult verb called il congiuntivo.  I think I used it correctly just once this entire week.

Ismael, Luca, Boris, Laura and me.

Ismael from Palestine; Luca, our Italian teacher; Boris from the Netherlands; Laura from Germany and me.

After the difficult session with verbs, the cultural second half of the morning is always fun.  We listened to interviews with Georgio Armani as well as other Italian designers who are projecting the trends in menswear for 2013.  According to the experts, we can expect a mix of sporty and elegant with a lean towards a one-of-a-kind look, meaning a preference towards original and limited edition pieces (kind of like back in the 1800s when your mom made your clothes instead of H&M).

In the afternoon, I was the only one in Luca’s class, so I asked if we could turn the sessions into a series of little field trips.  He thought that was a great idea and had lots of places to show me since he’s kind of an expert on Perugia.  We started with an artisan shopping excursion.  Luca took me to several nearby stores where the owners work and create everything right there.   My favorite was Ozona where I met the incredible Sandro Gonnella who makes lenses and sunglasses.  Sandro earned a degree in design in Milan and then worked for a couple high-end companies before opening his own studio here in Perugia.  While he sells many ready-to-wear models, much of his work is in creating the perfect pair of glasses for individual clients.  He explained the process to me. When someone comes to him looking for frames, he begins by carefully studying the shape of the face.  He takes a picture and then creates a series of virtual glasses on the computer.  At the next appointment, the client and he will meet to discuss the best option before he begins work on a prototype.  Once that is complete, the client tries it on for size. If it works, colors are chosen and then construction on the actual pair of glasses begins. With an infinite variety of colors and shapes, each pair is different.  It can take a month before the glasses are ready.  Let me just say that it might be impossible to set foot in this inspiring studio without making an appointment for Sandro to begin creating your own pair of glasses.

Sandro with some of his raw materials

Sandro with several samples of acetate, the material used to make the frames.

Sandro models several styles

Sandro models several styles

Luca and Sandro in the studio

Sandro and Luca in the studio

Trying on a bold look

Trying on a bold look

Later this week we went wine tasting.  I asked if I could bring a couple friends to which Luca agreed.  So the whole family came.  On Thursday, we filled his car and drove out to Lungarotti Vineyards in Torgiano.  When we arrived, Grazia, a guide, sommelier and olive oil expert, gave us a private tour.  She walked us through each step of the wine making process starting with the vineyard then moving through the stages of crushing, fermentation and bottling. We concluded the visit around a table with a glass of white and two reds then left with several bottles of our favorites.

Starting outside near the grape vines.

Starting outside near the grape vines.

Lungarotti Vineyards produce two and a half million bottles a year.

Lungarotti Vineyards produce two and a half million bottles a year.

"The Library"  These wines are stacked according to the year they were made.  Many  are from the 1960s.  I had to take this picture through the window; we weren't allowed inside.

These wines are stacked and labeled according to the year they were made. Many are from the 1960s. I had to take this picture through the window since we weren’t allowed inside the room.

Grazia offers an olive oil tasting.

Grazia offers an olive oil sampling.

Grazia taught Luca how to "open up" the flavor of the oil before tasting it.

Grazia taught us how to “open up” the flavor of the oil before tasting it.  We sandwiched the plastic cup between our hands then rotated our palms back and forth.

Sampling the wines:  the Torre di Giano, the Rubesco and the Rubesco Riserva. We loved each one. We bought them all.

Sampling the wines: the Torre di Giano, the Rubesco and the Rubesco Riserva. We loved each one and bought them all.

We didn’t get a chance to visit, but just down the road, Lungarotti has a wine spa called Bella Uve Spa where you can schedule therapeutic wine baths, grape scrubs, wine tasting massages and other types of vintherapy.  The website boasts the healing and relaxing powers of wine both in the body and on the body.  Hard to believe, but very tempting.

My language classes are over for the week; I have six hours next week, and Matt starts an intensive course on Monday.

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