Wednesday 23 April 2014

Villas and watch towers, farm houses and ancient gates

Thinking about our next visit to Italy has made me think of past visits and the gorgeous places that we have stayed in. They have all been special in different ways, mostly very old and all felt like home for the time we were there.

In 1983 we made our first trip to Italy, with two children, aged 12 and 9 years. In those days the flight from Melbourne, Australia to London, U.K. took 26 hours and had two re-fueling stops. 
We took a coach tour and saw the highlights of Europe. From that time we knew we would return to Italy to experience more.

The children enjoying the Piazza del Duomo in Florence

In 1996 we finally returned to Italy. An old watchtower formed the basis of 'our' farmhouse at Poggio alla Croce, San Polo in Chianti in Tuscany, and it had magnificent views over the Val d'Arno. The week here was the highlight of our trip.

This farm grew olives, grapes and especially irises that were sold to France for perfume making.

In 1998 we returned to Poggio alla Croce to celebrate a 'big birthday'

Who are those young looking people?

Then we moved on to a typical farmhouse on the Tuscan / Umbrian border, at Petrignano. Our friends Glenys and Ray joined us for a week of art, food & fun. It was from here that we discovered Panicale when we were following the Il Perugino Trail.

In 2001 we spent 41 days in Italy. We widened our circle and settled in to a converted tobacco drying tower in Urbania in Le Marche. A concert for future opera stars, museums with no English captions, great scenery and the coast are fond memories.

Following that, we returned to Umbria and a restored typical Umbrian farm house outside Orvieto. Surrounded by vineyards, beautiful gardens, a pinoli tree that was giving us endless pine nuts, and a fabulous view of Orvieto, we were sad to leave this treasure.

A winter holiday was on the agenda in 2003 so we chose a town location, and a 1000 year old former guard house in the fortified walls around the village of Cetona, Tuscany. Olive prunings being burnt and frozen fountains were a new experience for us.

2005 and we were back in Tuscany, in the village of Lornano, near Siena. Another change of pace for us, a modern garden apartment.

More birthdays to celebrate in 2008 and another new area to discover.
Along with our U.K. friends Pat, John & Angela, we rented the quintessential Tuscan house, the one you see on all the postcards and calendars - 
I Cipressini, near Pienza. Location, location, location!
We had fun when we heard some people buying postcards and saying 'Let's tell everyone this is where we are staying!' We couldn't miss saying that we really were staying there.

A tower built on Roman ruins near Monteleone Sabino in Lazio was our 'somewhere different' experience on this trip.

2010 - Cerbaia, near San Casciana in Tuscany and another working farm with olives and vines. It was so good to eat and drink the product made on location. Absolutely zero miles!

There is only one other place to mention and that is our favourite hotel in Rome. On almost every trip we have stayed at the Rimini Hotel in via Marghera. We have seen this family hotel change with time, we have sent many friends to stay there and we even ask for a specific room number.

You can see that we do visit the Trevi Fountain and throw in our coins on each occasion that we visit Rome.

Monday 21 April 2014

Olive Picking

Olive picking time seems to have come early this year. There isn't a lot of fruit  despite there being abundant flowers. No bees unfortunately, and our cherry crop ( one tree ) really suffered too.

Friday 18 April 2014

Italy ... Visit Number 10

Three months and three days until we depart for almost 10 weeks in Europe. The poor old brain does not take things in like it did once, but we are trying to revise and improve our Italian language skills.

In salotto ( in the lounge room)

In soggiorno ( in the living room)

In cucina ( in the kitchen)

In studio ( in the study)

In camera da letto ( in the bed room)

In macchina ( in the car ) 

Saturation is our only hope - read Italian, listen to Italian, speak Italian, eat Italian. 

Now the last one one we can do!

In Greve 2010

In Rome 2010

                                                           Home cooking!

Thursday 17 April 2014

Six months later and the roses are still blooming. They are enjoying an autumn flush of freshness after the dry summer heat.