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  • Windy Payne

Day 9 Modena - La Laterna di Diogene

Updated: Sep 6, 2019


After waking from our food coma we get ready for the new day. We have set up a visit to La Lanterna di Diogene.

La Lanterna di Diogene is a restaurant and acetaia. The really amazing thing is that this is a farm supporting individuals with cognative disabilties.

See map: La Lanterna di Diogene

Before we drive to the farm, we decide to take a walk to the local Food Market. The market is held daily and is an indoor market. Here you find everthing from fresh flowers to cured and fresh meats.

Want chicken? You can choose from chicken or rooster and to prove it's a rooster they leave the head attached.

Beautiful cascading colors of fresh produce fill the aisles with customers filling their bags and baskets with goods. The selection of cheese is enough to make me green with envy.

Fresh ricotta, mozzarella and an abundance of other choices are sold by the kilogram. The pasticceria "bakery" draws us in with the sweet aroma of freshly made bread and sweets. Oh how I wish I could bring this all home.

Time for our drive to La Laturna. We return to our room and pack up the t-shirts and bracelets graciously donated to us by CIP "Community Inclusion Program" of Gig Harbor. CIP supports individuals with cognative disabilities in our community. Our son benefited from this program throughout high school and beyond. Thank you CIP!!

The drive takes us way out into the country and agricultural area of Modena. Fields of corn, wheat and fruit trees abound. We also notice that each farm has a vineyard of varing sizes, I assume for either wine or balsamic vinegar. Simple living at its best.

It takes us about 30 minutes to make our way to La Laturna and we are warmly greeted by Lulu the Black Lab. We see several young men working around the restaurant. One sweeping the leaves blowing in the wind, seems like this could be an endless task, another setting the dining tables for lunch service and several more in the kitchen.

Giovanni comes out and meets us with firm handshake and welcoming smile. After a quick drink of water we load into the Range Rover and head out to the acetaia "house of balsamic vinegar". I now understand the need for the Range Rover, as we twist turn and drive through a field to reach our destination. Can't say our trip has been boring that's for sure.

Along our drive Giovanni explains that the original acetaia was partially destroyed during the 2012 earthquake, and is now being temporarily housed in several small shipping containers on the property.

When we arrive at our destination Giovani takes us to see the Trebbiano grapes they grow for the balsamic vinegar.

He also walks us over to see the original acetaia. Currently it is under restoration with a completion date in October of this year.

Next we enter one of the acetaias and taste the balsamic vingar. We taste several casks of varing years and marvel at the complexity each year brings.

Back to the restaurant for lunch. We happen to arrive just as the entire estate staff are sitting for their lunch. What luck!

The young adults sit together chatting and waiting for their meal. The supporting staff sit at another table and the the Nonnas sit across from us. As a side note, I just loved the Nonnas. They were funny, engaging and seemed to really enjoy being part of this restaurant. Whether or not they were any of the children's Grandmother we will never know, but the young adults really loved them.

We order our lunch and wait for the OK to hand out the gifts. When it is announced we have gifts for them a loud roar emerges. The rubber bracelets were first and they all just loved them! Some of the other staff took one as well and everyone was smiling and talking about them.

Next came the t-shirts. These was equally received with a thank you and more smiles. Some were nervous and did not want to take our gifts from us directly. So we placed them on a table at the back of the room for them. We did see several quietly get up and take a shirt once they felt comfortable.

We sat and enjoyed our lunch with wine and good company. I had spaghetti with a wild herb pesto, no garlic, and finished with chopped almonds. So fantastic! It is made with whatever is growing on the farm and it constantly changes.

All of the pasta is made at the restaurant by the young adults under the watchful eye of the "Kitchen Nonna." She named herself this by the way.

Michael had the stuffed tortelli which is large tortellini. He had three stuffed with different fillings.

For our next course Michael had the goat in Lambrusco wine with potatoes. Simply stewed to a tender and flavorful dish.

I tried the specialty of the house which was ricotta pie with vegetables. This is meant to be dressed with balsamic vinegar. 100% of this dish was from the farm and made here. I will definately be trying this one at home.

After lunch we purchase some 12 year balsamic vinegar and say goodbye to our lovely hosts. Giovani gives us a bottle of sparkling Lambrusco wine to enjoy back at our hotel and we head back to Modena.

It was such an honor for us to meet these folks and see what an amazing life they are providing for these gifted individuals. Such pride and warmth shown by all. It was remarkable to see the fluidity of their day. Everything just moves along with no verbal queing just doing.

So back to our hotel for blogging and rest. Out for an early dinner then sleep. See you tomorrow.


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