Thursday, August 16, 2007

Giancarlo's Estate

During our time in Italy we've become good friends with a fellow named Giancarlo who knows dad through work. Giancarlo works in telecommunications and was responsible for getting our internet and phone service connected when we first arrived. We were invited up to his house about an hour outside of Rome for the day, and had a great time.

Here's a shot of some of his Kiwi vines. I didn't know Kiwis grew on vines....

....but apparently they do.

The main thing Giancarlo grows is Hazlenuts. He has a small farm that has been in his family for several generations, and now supplies companies like Nestle, Bacci, and Ferrero Rocher. He showed us some of the equipment used to harvest the nuts, a process which we intend to see happen in September.

Here is one of the motor-rakers used to brush the fallen nuts into rows. They are then vacuumed up, cleaned, sorted, and blown into big trailers by another machine.

We have been looking for a place to get Alex's graduation announcements made, and Giancarlo knew of a local place, so we walked down the street and had them made. This is a shot of the owner using the cutting machine to cut the cardstock after the invitations had been printed.

The printing shop had an antique Heidelberg press, which was quite interesting.

It uses the old kind of type, which you can see here in this drawer. Look at all those letters!
Here's a lowercase "f". What a job it must have been to set a page of that....
Next we meandered over to the hazlenut trees. Here is a shot of part of his grove. As you can see, he keeps the area around the trees cleaned of leaves and debris to facilitate the harvesting of the nuts once they fall.
A cluster of hazlenuts, still in the husks.

On an antique farmhouse on the property Giancarlo showed us this sundial, which amusingly only works from May to September because of the fact that it's on the South wall.
Giancarlo also has a few olive trees. His dad is an excellent grafter, and explained the process to us a bit. If you look at this picture closely, you'll see two massive stumps. What GC's dad has done is chopped down two wild olive trees. The wild olive trees had massive root systems, but were not high yielding, and did not yield a kind of olive that made good oil. So what he did was chop the trees down, then allow them to grow back a little bit. Then he grafted a domestic, high-yielding olive variety onto the new growth. In this way he gets to take advantage of the root system of a very old tree, but gets to have that tree produce the kind of olives he wants it to. As you can see, he's got 4 new trees here. The one on the top left is the old olive growth, the three others are the new variety, as you can see by the difference in the leaves.
A close up of where the new stock was grafted onto the old growth.

A picture that shows the annual vacation the Italians take every August for "Ferragosto". They usually close their stores for two weeks, and go to the beach, the mountains, or abroad. Right now Rome is like a ghost town. Our dry cleaners is closed, so is the post office, as well as the barbershop, the bakery, most grocery stores and restaurants, and the tobacco shop.
A shot of Lago di Vico, the volcanic lake near Ronciglione, Giancarlo's town. Thanks GC!


Aunt Pat said...

I did not know that Kiwi grew on vines either... but I dont know that I really thought about it. How do they know when to pick them? the ones in your pix looked ripe.
Hey, does anybody have to go to work> You sure seemed to spend a lot of sightseeing time!
GOod for you.

Aggie said...

What a treat that visit must have been. It's so great that you make the time to go do unusual things. Seeing the nut harvest in Sept will be memorable.

Hey I like your new barber Alex and Gus