Recently I was looking for a restaurant recommendation in the Tuscan seaside town of Porto Stefano, and the Trip Advisor review (always a source of wonderment) said, “My girlfriend wanted to try The Mediterranean Diet so we went to this restaurant...blah, blah, blah.”
Now, it’s The Mediterranean Diet...in capital letters. Honey, it’s not a menu item, it’s a lifestyle.
The Melis family, smack in the middle of the Mediterranean, on the island of Sardinia, is confirmed to be the oldest group of siblings in the world. The village of Campodimele, outside of Rome, is declared to be “The Village of Longevity.” And right here in Montone, some of the most beautiful women are in their 70’s and 80’s.
Sure, everyone eats fish, not so much meat, nuts, a lot of vegetables and pulses, all doused in olive oil. And they all attribute their longevity to belonging to a community and staying active and engaged. Personally, I feel the wearing of head to toe black might also have something to do with it, but that’s just a hunch.
Introducing our version of the Mediterranean Diet; it’s called the Del Verziere Lifestyle diet! If followed properly, it will lead to an increased level of personal satisfaction and well-being, maybe a longer life, and possible weight loss. If residing in Montone during the month of August, it is to be regarded as an endurance marathon, which can lead to a certain blogger taking nearly a month off to recover.
Cliff Notes Catchup: Del Verziere is the name of our rione or neighborhood in Montone. It literally means the rione of vegetable growers. In August we have our major festival, which means weeks of rehearsals that last until 1:00 am, working in the tavernas until you are about to drop, and the intense JOY at winning the Palio this year.
It also means strengthening bonds with our fellow actors, kitchen workers, tech crews, and everyone else involved in putting on this festa. Jeff and I are extras in the spettacolo, so we don’t have to go to rehearsals until about two weeks before showtime. And when you show up for rehearsals, it’s like a family reunion. The kids are growing up, even getting married, others are new grandparents, and there is the passing of the torch to the next generation to continue the tradition of writing and producing original theater pieces.
This year was particularly interesting. We have a sizable Muslim population for a small town. They come from Tunisia, Albania, Algeria, or Morocco and it isn’t easy for them to assimilate in a town dominated by the Catholic church; where wearing stiletto heels and alluring outfits is part of an Italian woman’s DNA.
This year, a bunch of the young Muslim ragazzi participated in the festa. Adam had a starring role in our spectaccolo. The young girls who live on our street played gypsies, and peasant girls, and then had to run back and change into serving wench outfits at the taverna. Rehearsal schedules had to be worked around Ramadan. As we stood around at these night rehearsals, Jeff talked with Adam’s father about the similarities between Tunisian and Sephardic cooking.
You see where I’m going with this, right? Suddenly, all of our lives were a little bit richer as we learned more about each other, we pulled together as a team and we survived the festa. Now the Muslim girls weren’t outsiders in the event....they were WINNERS, and they knew their contribution was valuable and meaningful. The judges gave us high marks for having people from ages 5 to 84. And every single one of us are a little bit stronger and healthier for being a part of this delicious community.
The Del Verziere Lifestyle Diet goes like this: eat fresh food instead of prepared food, preferably food from your garden, drink red wine, put olive oil into everything, and volunteer for anything that will keep you engaged in your community. And ladies, you should also learn how to walk in high heels on cobblestone because if you can do that, you can live to be 100...with great legs and a firm behind.
Lots more Del Verziere pictures here!