Tango in the midst of olive groves
by Britta Loebell
Sheep bells from the opposite hill. A cloud of white dots sets in motion, disperses between the olive groves’ silver splotches. Silence. Only the singing of the cicada fills up the flickering air. The monotonous chirping is broken by single new sounds. Yoom, bah, yoom, bah. Pugliese sounds over the terrace, the rose beds, becomes entangled in the treetops, vanishes over the hills into distant spaces. Couples finding each other, steps, turns, pausing and starting again.
Tango-Workshop in Umbria. Although not situated as remote as an Argentine hacienda, it is still far away from any hectic pace and noise. Completely forget your everyday life You will find yourself in a little paradise, once you have driven the bumpy road to La Rogaia to its very end. Two old stone houses embedded in a large garden, surrounded by blooming lavender and rose fields, olive groves and meadows. The guests are welcomed to lovely renovated apartments and rooms. Each apartment has its own characteristic style: simple and modern with marble and glass or playfully nostalgic with arch stucco and old pieces of furniture. You will discover a lot of nice details like paintings, sculptures, fresh flowers from the garden, the bottle of wine on the kitchen table. The well-considered arrangement of apartments within the compound of La Rogaia will make you enjoy lots of privacy. The garden offers numerous hidden terraces and corners. And those of you who want to refresh your feet tired by the tango can do so at the pool, whilst glancing over the rolling hills of Umbria, listening into the silence.
The Tango lesson starts after a late breakfast. Step, step, turn and now all of that following the rhythm. Sweating characters in the cool dance hall. Rings set into the wall are the only reminder that the dance hall used to be a stable. Now watercolour paintings are hanging on the white lime walls, translucent marble sculptures are catching the sunlight. You can hear the quiet sound of leather soles on the tile floor, the couples practicing new step combinations. Sometimes the house owners’ two little daughters follow the dancers with interested eyes from the door frame.
In the late afternoon mediterranean fragrances find their way from the kitchen to the dance hall. Once the last turns are done, the sweat is washed off and the sun has sunk behind the hills Ornella, the cook, has her big appearance. "Avete fame?" and of course everybody shouts "Si!!!" Then she brings mountains of pasta, umbrian roast pork with herbs, vegetarian vegetables soufflé and recently harvested salads. And of course her famous tiramisu and other dolci – nothing to loose weight. The gentlemen daring to take on Ornella and her pounds on the dance floor can do so after coffee and grappa.
The owners Annette and Wolfgang have met in the mid 90ies in Munich while dancing tango. In 1998 they dared to realize a dream they had had for a long time: to establish a venue for people to meet, a place for encounters with art, dance, music, in an Umbrian country house in the hills above Lake Trasimeno. Tango enthusiasts from all around the world come to attend the workshops since 1999 and many come again and again. What is so special about La Rogaia is its familiar atmosphere where the teachers and students stay for a chat on the terrace after the lessons, grab a guitar after dinner or play the piano. Every participant finds what he/she is searching for, from introductory courses for beginners to master classes. The number of participants is always limited to 8 couples, hence individual attention at lessons is guaranteed. Wolfgang and Annette take care to offer also a wide range of Tango styles: Those of you who prefer salon tango will want to take lessons with Yvonne Meissner & Eduardo Aguirre or with Ines & Ulrich from Berlin. If you like the innovative Tango: in the coming year La Rogaia will offer classes with Fabian Salas & Carolina del Rivero, Los Hermanos Macana or Brigitta Winkler.
Farewell party on the last evening of the workshop: Candles light up the dance hall, the stars are twinkling over the terrace. Tangueros from Perugia, sometimes even from Florence, Milan and Rome find their way to the Umbrian mountains to join the party, to dance and watch spontaneous performances by the teachers. If you want more than „just“ dancing tango you can go for long walks in the midst of olive groves and honey scented broom. Or have a cappuccino in the little bar in Castel Rigone, 4 kilometers away from La Rogaia, with a panoramic view of the Lago Trasimeno down in the valley. And there is culture everywhere you look. Perugia is near and Assisi is another must. Or Arezzo? Or Siena? Or you find yourself a cosy place in the garden of La Rogaia and enjoy the sun. The cat chases a grasshopper, the dogs come up to your sunchair to get caressed. It’s just too nice sitting around being lazy, when the light wind carries away the summer heat.