Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Arabian Connection

For the last 3 weeks I’ve been in Laguna Beach, California, working with my friends Greg MacGillivray (Director) and Steve Judson (Editor) at MacGillivray Freeman Films, where we are finishing Arabia, the 3D IMAX feature that will be released in theaters this February, 2010. Needless to say, it is another link in the chain to my Tuscan dream.

In July 2006, I was returning from a 10-day scout in Saudi Arabia, to Rome where I would meet Sally before another relaxing and productive stay at Podere Villore. It just happened that Mark Strand (American Poet Laureate and one of my favorite foodie friends), was in Rome at the same time. He invited us to join him for dinner at the home of Patrizia Cavalli (the Italian Poet Laureate) for a delicious meal featuring an amazing stinco (ox shin slow-cooked in wine all day) and more than one bottle of--what else?--red wine. When Patrizia proudly served the wine, she asked if anybody at the table happened to know it. By happy coincidence, I did. It was Il Bosco, created by my friend Massimo Alessandro at his vineyard in Manzano, near Cortona. Here we are among his award winning Syrah vines during a visit. Ciao Massimo!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


They don't have anything like this in Tuscany, so this may seem like a diversion. But before Sally and I decided to make our second home in Italy, we had to make a road trip out to the Great American West – 14,000 miles to be exact, 18 states in all. We were looking for a beautiful piece of desert on which to build a dream retreat in one of the other regions we love.

With my 1993 Ford Explorer packed to the gills, we rambled all over, camping most nights and eating fresh caught trout, wild mushrooms and foraged greens. We are especially fond of southern Utah and the arid Four Corners area. At the end of one long day's drive, we stopped at the remote campsite overlooking renowned Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef State Park where Sally wanted to photograph at dawn. It was dusk and we'd just eaten dinner when the incident occurred. To read one of the closest recorded cougar encounters without injury, just follow this link to the official mountain lion report and report with pictures.