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"the past...& the pasta"

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Order your signed copy of "Fontana del Papa The past ...& the pasta"

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Everyone in this world has a dream, or many dreams. But how many of these dreams are actually achieved? Fontana del Papa is the compelling story of an Italian family who could vividly see their dream and were willing to sacrifice almost everything in order to achieve it, only to find that they risked losing it all. Even if you have never had the opportunity to visit Italy, this story will endear you with the history of the beautiful Etruscan town of Tolfa; it will inspire you with the story of the restoration of the beautiful Fontana del Papa; it will anger you with the Italian governmental bureaucracy; it will sadden you with the story of a family fighting to stay as a family and fulfill their dreams; and you will cheer for those who appreciated the beauty of the dream and helped to save Fontana del Papa. There are no words to describe Fontana del Papa, the place that has become the Italian home away from home for many people around the world; and for Assuntina, Claudio, Luca, Emma and Andrea, the family that makes it the special place that it is. Here is a story to inspire all, and, for those who have visited Fontana del Papa, it is a story that only increases the beauty and uniqueness of this heaven on earth.  (Laura Owen)

I am pleased to call Assuntina Antonacci my friend. She has written a book about how she and her husband, Claudio Pierotti, came to own Fontana del Papa and it is an astounding story. If you have ever read “Under the Tuscan sun", or seen the movie, then you know how difficult it was for a foreigner to buy and restore an old home in Italy. Assuntina's story is so much more than that. There are so many challenges they had to overcome and the actual renovation of the property was the easiest part. For a local resident it is, at times, alarming what she and her family had to overcome in order to make their dream vision an unbelievable reality. As her story unfolds, you will find some gems of history, architecture, and old world ways that are still used today. And perhaps as I have done, you will begin a love affair of your own with Italy. I can see this as a great premise for a major film. I told her as much and suggested that George Clooney play the part of Claudio, even though the real main character and moving force in the story is Assuntina herself. I so enjoyed reading about how this slightly built dynamo of a woman took on not just the town of Tolfa but also the regional and "state" governments. What is even more enjoyable is visiting this unbelievable place. The beauty of this story is that Fontana del Papa actually exists. (Torre Newman, Washington, D.C.)

Excerpt from Assuntina Antonacci’s

Fontana del Papa

The past ...& the pasta

Home at Fontana del Papa

Time has gone by the penal and administrative problems are now old stories, life has taken a regular course, the olive grove is luxuriant and rich with fruit, the garden blooms and gives us every sort of Nature’s gifts for our table. The wild orchids, the cyclamen and violets embroider the fields of the chestnut grove in spring and in autumn the porcini mushrooms go directly into the pan with parsley, garlic, wild fennel and our oil and the perfume of these natural ingredients invites everyone to the table.

Every October we begin the olive harvest. The large nets are laid under each tree and the compressor with the olive pickers is attached to Domè, the tractor as we call our faithful tractor. The olives that fall on the nets are put into well aired cases and that same evening are brought to the olive mill. The first phase is the removal of the leaves and then a careful washing. The milling, or crushing of the pulp and pit, is followed by the gramolatura that mixes the pulp and pit separating into the water nearby. The mill man has many responsibilities; the temperature must stay low, the light should not arrive and he must be careful with the timing of the whole procedure. The last phase is the extraction of the oil that can be done with a vertical press or by centrifugation. The oil is stored in steel drums in a dry place far from any light source. Our oil is on the table by November every year!

A short stone path which in the past centuries brought people up from Casal dè Frati to the source of Fontana del Papa has been brought back to light and uncovered while other excavation works will be done in collaboration with the Archeology Superintendent for Etruria.

The lower land, which was famous for its high building index, has thus become the site for archeological digs. After an investigation by satellite and on the ground, many objects dating from prehistoric times, including the Copper Age have been found. The site dates from before the Etruscans, so life, past and present, continues at Fontana del Papa, the “golden triangle “of studies by archeologists. A mine, a paradise in which our family, our children have become “History”.

The Fontana del Papa has become a home away from home for a wide range of people from all parts of the world, so in reality the world has come to us.

In every part of the world, in every faraway place there is someone who remembers us, our family, our home and the serene moments passed here together and chatting with Claudio about Italian wines. We can count thousands of friends from different cultures, of different colors and races spread all over the world.

More than just the work we do with our guests with great passion, we have opened our hearts to hope. Each of them has a story, a culture different from ours. If only for a few days, they have become members of our family. Many of them are Italo- Americans who come to search their past roots, the far away memories of their grandparent who immigrated to American during the early 19th century and who never learned to speak the new language. They were proud people and although they brought with them suffering and poverty, they kept their family united. The grandchildren were taken care of by the grandmothers who also taught them Italian, or an ancient dialect. Many of the guests still remember the dishes that their grandmothers cooked for them and ask to eat them again. It’s not difficult for these poor and simple foods are our natural diet. Ben wanted “macaroni”, Janet asked for “pasta e fasule”, Tricia insisted on “I fiori è cuguzza”. No problem, for the kitchen garden is a triumph in summer with these ingredients.

Joseph remembered how his grandmother called him, “Giuseppino mangia, mangia”.

We cannot forget Joanna who came for two days and stayed more than ten. She wanted to paint and she did. The third day much to our surprise, she began to speak a language that was incomprehensible, but familiar. What had happened? She was using the colorful Campanian dialect sprinkled with archaic terminology. She just started to speak, and speak, but how could this be? She felt so much at home, in family, that she had returned to the time of her infancy.

Her mother had immigrated to America at seventeen as had Joanna’s father, when he was eighteen. The father was a worker, the mother stayed home and had lots to do with the eleven children she brought into the world. Joanna was the youngest. Joanna’s mother never learned English and spoke to her children in her native tongue, the dialect of her homeland. The dialect had lost a bit of its vivacity and some of the words were twisted so the children grew up learning the mother’s language. Joanna learned English at school and had a hard time fitting in. Joanna’s mother died at 92 and right to the end she only spoke her ancient, mother tongue. Joanna is now a wealthy, important manager of a chain of hotels and with us she found again those pleasant ancient memories of long ago.

Dan instead remembered that when his father would hear him speaking in Italian, the language he learned from his grandmother, he would get a beating. His integration into the new society had to be quick and Italian was getting in the way. Yet Dan remembers with great tenderness and gratitude the grandmother who took care of him and prepared him pasta and gnocchi.

And Linda, with her little Joseph, who searched for her roots and found them in Tolfa, at the house in Via Annibalcaro where her great grandmother Ofelia was born.

And so many others. One by one we remember each one of our guests, each with a different story.

But this is another story, one that started with a project, a dream, the love for life and fraternity of all men in the world and that became a reality at our house, at Fontana del Papa.

“An enchanted place where I found again the sense of silence in intense and long moments of serenity, the deep joy and laughing at nothing, the fullness of the eyes embracing huge remote images, the heat and joyful snap of the fire, the vital and solitary murmur of running water. Dawn with its uncontrollable, violent colors that announce the day that is coming…and the stars, yes, I discovered that the night sky has stars, many, bright, vivid, not reachable but near me…” F.L.R.


- Loved reading the book and am so in awe of everything you and Claudio and your beautiful children went through to achieve your dream! - Naomi Veldt Dvorachek

Well, just to read the whole story is indeed amazing. You are an amazingly strong woman with a huge heart. Together you and Claudio have made a miracle with your hard work and great sense of business. Auguri on the National Graphic nomination, the book and Claudio's return to health. I miss all of you! I remember the second time ...I visited with Meg and it was raining so hard. The cops and town officials and surveyors were all over your property like ants. Everyone was under an umbrella. We went to lunch with Claudio in town and he was so upset. This is all behind you now. You deserve all good things. ....Victoria Burke

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