Sunday, October 23, 2016


Dear Art Lover,
     Today is the last of three Sundays for “LA SAGRA DELLE FRUGIATE DI VELLANO” or ‘The festival of the roasted chestnuts of Vellano.’  We are in Tuscany, Italy, in the hills north of Pescia, between Florence and Lucca.  A friend and I went early on the first Sunday after a good lunch at the nearby restaurant Da Manero with large windows overlooking the valley. 

Castagna Chestnuts from the tree springing from their porcupine case
Castagna / Chestnuts springing from their porcupine-like case

Italians have specific words for everything food-related!
The lovely Vellano, in Valleriana, Tuscany, Italy
The lovely Vellano, in Valleriana, Tuscany, Italy

     After looking at all of the home-made goods and foods, we walked through Publio Biagini’s museum that features the rock harvesting tools used in this region (Valleriana)’s history and many great examples of a variety of rocks and gems.   We headed over to Cava Nardini to see the stone sculptures.

      You, too, may have that experience today! Festival hours from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Castagna (or ‘chestnuts’ in English) grow in abundance here.  The wood is used by farmers and such perhaps almost as much as the harvest of the “fruit.”  While I was at the quarry on Friday, it rained in the morning.  During the little break, quarry owner Germano Nardini showed me the castagne and told me how to prepare them the easy way.  Basically soak the nuts in water with a wee bit of salt for about 40 minutes or an hour.  Then just open and eat.  I may try that since I can usually put stuff in water without issue.  Hahah. 

Castagne / Chestnuts in Cava Nardini Vellano Tuscany Italy

Castagne / Chestnuts in Cava Nardini Vellano Tuscany Italy

Autumn is arriving in Cava Nardini quarry of Pietra Serena (stone)
Lovely contrast grey stone yellow leaves
     I must admit, though, that while I can only eat about 3-4 roasted castagne before I no longer like the taste in my mouth.  What I DO like is the flour (farina) made from chestnuts.  I have cooked with that last winter and it is very good (a sweet flour).

     In the picks of Germano’s hands with the castagne, I should tell you that he was clear that the little pan these were sitting in at the quarry was NOT the right sort of pan to use to cook them.  The rest of the images I took around the quarry.  Germano is 83 years old and still crunching rock!  He wore red that day and was very photogenic against the yellowing acacia(?) trees.

Enjoy the recent scenes from the Cava Nardini.  I will post the after shots once I have finished the stone ballerina, probably in a future art newsletter.  Subscribe if interested.


detail of Rock Towers and Frogs future bronze sculpture
Detail of Sculpture
P.S.  Remember, I am offering a pre-casting discount on the price of the new bronze sculpture "Rock Towers and Frogs" if you place your order before 1 November 2016.  This copy in the edition has been sold, but I will send you progress pictures of your sculpture being made, just as I am here.  In the case of a “future” artwork, we work out a payment plan that works for you and the casting process, meaning that after the initial payment, you pay installations based on the progress of the work, paying in full before the sculpture is shipped to you. I have sold many bronze sculptures in this way and am grateful to those who can envision the finished bronze when all they have seen is clay or wax! 

Portrait of Germano Nardini Stone Quarry owner 83 years old Italy

Portrait of Germano Nardini Stone Quarry owner 83 years old Italy

Portrait of Germano Nardini Stone Quarry owner 83 years old Italy

Autumn in Cava Nardini Stone Quarry Vellano Valleriana Toscana Italia
Autumn in the quarry-Face Sculpture by Kumiko Suzuki