Friday, September 30, 2005

Pizzomunno - Mancore

This area is considered by many to be the most suggestive of Italian landscapes. I found this area while traveling with one of my business partners, Antonio Mattei, nephew of the great businessman, politician, and ex-president of the national oil and gas company, Enrico Mattei. Antonio was great in his own right and was the most influential individual in my career development. He taught me the “rules” of Italian business including one of the most important concepts of any successful venture, “Perception is Reality, the Truth is only the Truth”. During one of our trips from Senigallia to Foggia he took the scenic route, about 5 hours longer than by traveling the expressway. As we arrived in Vieste he told me the story of Mancore.

Enrico Mattei was returning by helicopter to Senigallia from the port of Manfredonia where ENI had a large storage and chemical production plant. As they came around the promontory of the Gargano, breathless, he placed his hand on his heart and stated that this was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. This area became know as “Mancore”, local dialect for “hand on your heart”.

In the 50s and 60s there was a strong communist movement in Italy. Enrico Mattei was very communist. Companies would provide vacation structures for the employees at significantly reduced cost. Eni built a company-owned vacation colony on the spot he found so beautiful. Today most of these structures have been sold and the area has one of the most luxurious hotels I have ever stayed at. This is not because of the physical environment. In fact the hotel is contemporary, the suites are extremely comfortable, but it is hard to outdo the ambiance created in a renovated 15th century palace (but that is another topic).

The primary hotel at Pizzomunno is top in luxury for its service. The food is great is every sense. Primarily fish however, wild game, hunted by the locals, is available in season and cooked in the according to the traditional Umbrian recipes. I strongly agree with this position. Any recipe perfected over the last 500 years probably does not need to be made contemporary. If you are big into the new tastes of international food attempting to match new Chinese and new Italian into a single plate then, this is not the place to be.

The chefs, who have the advantage of great talent from one of the top cooking trade schools in the country, adhere to the highest standards of traditional cuisine. The waiters can tell you about how a dish is made, why it is made that way, when is the best time of year to order it, and which wine, of the extremely well furnished cellars, should be consumed with each part of the meal.

Just a note on wine, this is Italy; some of the finest wines in the world are produced here. Most producers still use the traditional methods of preparing the wine: natural yeast, very little or no micro-filtration, no pasteurization, no additives, just good grapes and thousands of years of practice. All this to say please, do not order a French, German or Californian wine. Food and wine are a delicate mix. Usually a local wine will be the best with local recipes.

Pizzomunno is located at the base of the cliffs of Vieste. The fine white sand extends right up the cliffs. From the hotel built on the beach you can walk the steps up to Vieste or take the very tight roads. Generally, the roads have a brick retaining wall on one side and buildings on the other. The streets continuously turn back on themselves as they wind up the cliff so do not attempt to drive this as you will surely leave a side of your car on one of the walls. As the road comes to turn back on itself you will find little nooks. At one time these were defensive positions, today they are a great place to stop and enjoy the view.

There are many small cities to visit, shop if you want, or just to wander. Stop in the churches, eat at just about any local taverna, take a motorboat trip to see the “grotte” and the “faraglioni”, that is big lighthouses, formed out of pieces of the Gargano that did not quite make it to the mainland and the sea has eroded over time. You will come away after three or four days with a different aspect on life.


Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home