Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ready, Set, Go.....

  Bills paid- Check
  House sitter lined up- Check
  Gallery help ready- Check
  Garden taken care of- Check
  Bags packed- Almost...
  Extra pounds lost so we can chow down on fantastic pasta & pizza- Check
  I am so ready to hop on that big silver bird and fly away. 
  Though it seems like we were just in Umbria yesterday, the 10 months have been long and longer. So much has been going on the last couple of weeks...all of a sudden it's time to take off.
   I have been so busy that the chance to post anything here has been difficult, for sure, but I have really wanted to. So, this early, early morning, I'm making a little time to share just a few photo memories from (could it be??? Last  year??!?) our Spring, 2012 trip to Umbria. 
  After all, this was the main reason I started my I could relive and review photos, memories, & stories from these wonderful adventures we have been so bloody fortunate to experience. It's as much, if not a whole lot more, for me as it is for friends and family- What I didn't expect was that I would have a small, and growing fan base in Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Australia...what a trip.
  We will soon be sipping cappuccini and wine at Bar Gallo, walking to Paciano, enjoying the views over Lago Trasimeno, taking day trips to new hill towns, making new friends, and soaking up the Umbrian life as much as we can. All the while Johnny will be creating a new body of work, as only he can.
  So, until that plane drops into Rome and we hop on the train.... I'll enjoy sharing these little scenes:

Along the walk to Paciano, behind the beautiful ruin, work still goes on.

An Easter bouquet, collected from the garden and near by.

Johnny getting close and personal with this massive wisteria,  in Castiglione del Lago.
I like the green shirt with all that soft purple..

  I am excited to see the country side again, with all the luscious views and the unreal light. Today it is raining big in Panicale, and we may get some cold, wet, even snowy days...but watching the change as Spring turns on will be magic. The pretty days are so pretty.....

A classic Tuscan scene.

View along our walk back from Paciano.
The olive trees just slay me...

A sunset with wine, near Panicale.

  On the way to San Casciano die Bagni, a small hill town across the valley, we came across this trippy garden/recycle/salvage/antique store. Everything from tiny trinkets to huge farm tables and armoires.
We actually found a great little "perfect green" hanging light fixture, with just enough rust, to hang in our garden. Johnny rewired it when we got home, and we love it. I want to revisit this place.

The great find, now in our garden!

  What I didn't expect to find at this wacky salvage/antique place were:

More Setti Nani!!! (and their odd green friend...)

  Because it will be one of our first stops for dinner, I have to include these shots of yumminess from Il Pellicano, one of the local night spots near Panicale. Pizza to die for, with a crazy atmosphere and all for the best price ever. What's not to love?

Yes, we each order one, and eat the whole dang thing.

  Ok, I need to get out of bed, do the last load of laundry, put all in order for our lovely house sitters (thanks, Anna & James...enjoy the garden!), and call it good to go. And I do mean go!
  I look forward to posting while we are there, so stay tuned.

Just for fun.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bar Gallo..Our Home Away From Our Home Away

  Ask just about anyone that has spent time in Panicale, and you'll soon know that Bar Gallo is the heart beat of the town. We are both so looking forward to walking through those doors again, to hear the sweet sound of cappuccini being made and the hum of locals chatting about the day ahead, or the night before. For Johnny and I, this really is our place to connect back to our "other life" in Panicale. 

Early morning at Bar Gallo. Waiting for the sun.

  The vibe is super relaxed, with a mix of locals popping in to down a quick espresso before work, or  visitors that may choose to hang out for a couple of hours over a glass of wine in the afternoon. You will quickly figure out who the regulars are, with the sing-song of "ciao...ciao" as background music. 

The morning scene. Standing at the bar for a quick espresso, and out the door they go...

 Owners for more than 3 decades, Aldo and Daniela Gallo are hardworking and hands on. Sporting his classic look...v-neck sweater over shirt and tie, Aldo seems to know everyone and what they will order before they speak a word. Daniela, always dressed so beautifully, is radiant, and a warm bit of sunshine. They have both found a little spot in our hearts, honestly. Son Simone and his wife Lorena have a great osteria just across the piazza, Il Gallo Nel Pozzo, which is a must visit.
  I love going by in the late afternoon to tell Aldo where we have been and what we've seen that day. He's always ready with recommendations of things to do and places to go. I like to think that he gets a kick out of some of the off the wall stuff we get into, with the white road adventures and all....he must think we're nuts.

 I wish my language skills were better. They both speak some english, but I just struggle so much with my intentions of real conversation in their native Italian. Try as I may, I tend to be a little lazy on the practice with my Rosetta bad.

Aldo & Daniela Gallo...I wish I could tell them how much we appreciate them!

  Most time we spend at Bar Gallo is the leisure time of late afternoon, early evening. Weather permitting, we'll sit outside with a glass or two of wine, either reading, visiting with friends, or in Johnny's case, working on something. 
  Then there's the always entertaining people watching....In such a small place, you really have a chance to watch the day to day dynamics from a court side seat. Some days there won't be anyone around, and other days there may be a festival going on, bringing hoards of people into town. I just love it, and soak it all in.

A very busy day in the piazza.

Not much going on this day, but we're smiling and enjoying every minute.

  Aldo knows our routine by now. He knows it's usually "due bicchieri di vino bianco, per favore". Our glasses of white wine are accompanied by a tasty something. Sometimes chips, or nuts and olives, other times a lovely small plate of bruschetta. 
  I also love Campari on ice, or an Aperol sprizt, on a warm day. These classic bitter aperitifs are favorites of the Italians. Light and refreshing. Mmmmm.

A little treat in the afternoon.

While I read or visit, Johnny works on a gouache. Local kids play in the piazza, their
voices bouncing off the inner walls.

Aldo, in the blue sweater, taking care of a group of visitors.
 We like to watch.

  On cold or wet days, we'll grab an umbrella and hoof it to Bar Gallo, as always. On these days we like to hang out in the back room, where there are couches and big tables to sit around. We'll sometimes bring books and dominoes, for long, leisurely stays. Lunch can be an option, too. When the weather is bad, we don't drive around as much. We like to stay in town.

Johnny enjoys his latte enough to add a watercolor of it to the sketch book.

  The back room is a great place to just relax, away from the busy counter service area, and with outstanding views from the big back french doors. We'll tuck in sometimes at night, after we've had dinner at home, or on a cold day, for a couple of hours sometimes. It's a great place to meet up with friends, or make new ones.
  Then there are times when it's just us, playing dominoes. And no one else around. It's all good.

Ready for business.

  After many, many stops for coffee or wine, Johnny asked to see a menu one day. Who knew? Aldo makes an awesome salad for us, the vegetarians!  

Zucchini, tomato, fresh mozzarella and walnuts, drizzle of balsamic reduction...Thanks, Aldo!

And a perfect bruschetta, crunchy bread, just enough good olive oil, salt and dried oregano.

  But the real treat? The treat we can't wait to have again...of course it's the basic, wonderful and addictive as all hell...cappuccino.

  Aldo, Daniela... Ci vedremo presto!!