Friday, April 26, 2013

Before And After

  Arriving here in Panicale on February 28th, the season was still winter. Late winter, for sure...we missed any snow that may have fallen in town, and it was a sunny, crisp and clear day. But it was still winter. 

  Of course, out comes the camera for some early shots of the visit. So glad I did this. As I was looking at photos I've taken this year, I saw that I had several shots of great "Before & After" scenes, showing what a dramatic change I've witnessed over the past two months. 
  I knew it was happening slowly all around us, every's just such high drama to see the results side by side.
  Or in this case, above and below....

  Spring has most definitely sprung, and I'm so glad to have been an appreciative observer.

Just out side the walls of Panicale, the cobbled road that begins a great hike.
Notice the winter-dead vine on the curved wall...

Big change!

  Seemingly overnight, the landscape has gone from the soft brown/green of late Winter, to the velvety, luxurious greens of Spring. 
  I have loved coming out every day to see this view from the walls, to watch the changes in the hills and fields. 
  Even Lago Trasimeno goes through a myriad of color changes, which never ceases to amaze me....One day celadon green, the next turquoise blue....depending on the color of the sky, I know. 
  Because of all the foul weather here in March, it took awhile for the fields to dry out and come back to life. A few days of sunshine in the last couple of weeks, and everything pops.

Early March.

End of April.

  A favorite spot for everyone to take photos, "Stew & Midge's House" goes through a very beautiful metamorphosis in the Spring. A fantastic garden, one of very few inside the walls of Panicale, the wisteria here becomes a total show stopper.
  Today, our second to last in Panicale, I want to go see how the Banksia Roses are coming along. There is a huge display, just running along a pergola along the wall under the wisteria. I'll get a shot for later....

Pretty here.....

Show (and tourist) Stopping here!

  Our own little garden on the stairs to our apartment even went through a big Spring change. I couldn't help myself from having some herbs and flowers....

Upon arrival, with a few herbs I bought for cooking...

After a trip to the local nursery. I hope the next guests enjoy these.

  Last year, we stayed in this "little casa rossa", just outside of town. I loved having the big garden to play in, and we still enjoy checking it out as we walk along the outside walls. It's a real cutie...
  As it is tucked into the hills, we watched the surrounding landscape come to life in the past few weeks. The upper terrace kiwi vine pops out, and the plum and apple trees bloom...and everything goes green, green, green.
  Even the farmhouse behind gets all greened up.

"Villa Adriana", early March.

"Villa Adriana" late April.

  I promise, there will soon be a post just on wisteria I've photographed this year, all around the area. They have been magic. But here are a couple of peeks at what happened on the walls in Panicale....

I was so excited when I finally saw buds in early April. I didn't think we would
get to see the wisteria bloom this year, with all the cold and wet.


Early March.

           Cue the angels singing.....AND.....


  Just looking out the windows of our own apartment it's been happening. The little town park has really come into it's own. This blows my mind, it came so fast, the trees leafing out in just days, like they were all waiting for a little warm weather...which is true, of course.

  We hear that in Summer, they open a little bar (the small building in the back), set out chairs, and have live jazz here sometimes. Now that would be another change I'd like to see sometime!

I wanted a picture of our car... Early March.

Not our car, but
Just this week.

  We've been seriously walking several mornings a week this year ( why have I still put on, like, 10 pounds???) (oh, that's right...the pasta....the cheese....the bread.... the wine......), and even though we comment on all the subtle changes along the way, and the different shades of greens that have appeared, when I see these next photos together, I can't believe it all just flipped in the last couple of weeks....

10 pounds ago.

Now. Jeez.

  Anyway, it's been a glorious Spring to watch unfold, and as we are now packing for home, we are sorry to already be missing it all.
  I am very excited, though, to see what Spring has done to my very own garden back home..Really can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Some Panicale Love

As always, I start to get a little verklempt during the last week of our stay in Panicale. 
  First year here, I broke down and cried several times, always at odd moments. Seriously. Poor Johnny, being the type of guy who wants to "fix" things, desperately tried to figure out a way that we could stay forever. He just wanted me to stop crying....  
  Now he understands that it's just a part of my letting go for another year, pats me on the shoulder gently, and says things like, "I know, I know... " or "we'll be back, I promise....". These gestures are nice, and all, and I do appreciate them. I just need to cry a little. That's all.

  So, as usual, I have been taking way too many "last shots" of sights I will miss, so I can pull them up later in the year while sitting at work, sighing. 
  It works for me. 
  Especially when I put on some sappy music.

Panicale Skyline.

A peek of Bar Gallo through Porto Perugina, a main entry.

  All over Umbria, you can find little medieval towns sitting on tops or sides of hills. When we take drives around the area, we see them everywhere. We see the bell towers of the churches, and the walls that often surround the towns. They are each beautiful. They each have narrow, winding alleys and lots of stairs. They have cute piazzas with a bar.
  But this is Panicale, and we have come to love this little town the most. 
  I have walked these streets and climbed these stairs over and over, almost every day, and often several times a day.
  I like to imprint them in my mind, to walk through on nights when I can't get to sleep back at home. Those nights when I wake up at 2 in the morning, stressed out over work. I will start to walk the little streets of Panicale, and soon enough, I conk back out.

This years apartment, on the right with the flowers I planted.

  Within a few minutes walk, we can buy groceries, get a coffee at Bar Gallo, eat at one of the great restaurants in town, buy lovely gifts.....I love not needing to drive everywhere. 

One of the markets we like to shop at. 

A little peek inside Linda's market.

  The street with the markets and butcher shop, Via del Filatoio, is a busy little place, and cars sometimes block the way for a few minutes, while the drivers pop out to buy something quick. 
  It's never quick. I like this.

I love the butcher shop sign, although we have never shopped here, being vegetarians.

Just down the way, closer to the main Piazza,  the fantastic restaurant everyone refers to as
Masolino's.  I also love the telephone sign, an old one.

This market has great produce, gifts and specialty item foodie treats.
Olanda (I hope I have her name spelled right),  is very helpful.

  Some of my favorite scenes, below, we see day in and day out, but I still take a moment to stare, when the evening or morning light is perfect. We love to just walk all over town some times, checking out every set of stairs and every little garden. 
  Panicale is small, and has three concentric "rings" of streets. To get to the very top isn't too hard, and so worth the views. We like to go at night sometimes, just to see the lights across the valley.

Easily the most photographed house in Panicale, especially in the Spring.
Don't ask me how many pictures I have of this one....

Stairs leading to the top of town...

St. Michael's Church, just above the main piazza.

Looking down to the main piazza,
Piazza Umberto 1

A favorite little garden. Nice terraces, too.

A small piazza at the top of town.

Just another street I like a lot.

Piazza Umberto 1 at night.

  We spend a ridiculous amount of time at Bar Gallo, writing, eating, painting, drinking, people watching, video chatting with my parents...... It's our favorite hang-out, for sure.

An all around good place to be.

Another restaurant we like a lot, Gallo nel Pozzo.

 I didn't include the views from the walls of Panicale here, but I will in some later post, after getting home. I have to string these things out. This way, I have every excuse to go through my photos, reliving sweet moments here. 
  It' my way of being here and there, here and there. 
  Have I mentioned how much I love this duel life we have been living the last few years?

  All over town, the wisteria are in full, crazy beautiful, bloom. I will do another post soon, just on the wisteria around the area. 
  Right now, walking around the walls of Panicale, the sweet smell of these abundant blooms is just this close to overwhelming.
  Close, but heavenly.

The beauty of an outside wall in spring...wisteria are going nuts right now, and please
notice the white one dripping down a terrace railing, in the middle of this pic.

The little fountain in the park, with wisteria pouring down the walls in back.

  So, lying in bed on an early morning the week of our departure, can I just let myself well up a little? I'm not crying, just getting misty, ok?
  I'm looking forward to being back home...really. I can't wait to see my parents in real life, not on a screen. Also can't wait to see the garden. And friends... Even work will have it's own charms for me. 
  I will be happy to be in a "routine" again. Believe it or not.

  And then, soon enough, I'll be planning the next visit back. 

What it's all about.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Isola Polvese, A Day In The Sun

  Oh, the absolute joy of feeling warm sun on my skin! It really feels like a full body massage, after several weeks of cold, windy, wet weather.
  This past week has been heaven here in Umbria. Though we leave for home in a few short days, I am as happy as can be, seeing all the wisteria come into bloom, and the swallows circling non-stop around the piazza in Panicale. 
  So sweet, and just in time...

  So...since we have wanted to do it for weeks now, we decided to go for it on Monday, and hopped the ferry boat from San Feliciano out to Isola Polvese, about a 15 minute ride. 
  This island is the largest of the three on Lago Trasimeno, the lake we look at every day from the walls of Panicale.
  The lake is gorgeous this year, from the massive amounts of rain that has fallen since November. Fresh and clear, it is over three feet higher than last year. A spectacular time to be out on a boat, cruising the waves.

One exceptionally happy gal.

  As we pulled up to the docking area of the island, I was really taken by this line of trees on the near bank. They just looked so perfect with the rushes below, and the reflections.... making for a very photogenic shot.
  At least I think so.

Harmony in nature.

  There is a main area that features a hotel, sort of...I gathered that it is for hosting groups, conferences, that sort of thing. There is also an "ostello", or hostel, on the island, a short hike from the dock. The main attraction here is the natural beauty and a couple of castles to hike to. There is a beach area, too...and the requisite bar/cafe.

  We went to walk around, and for Johnny to paint. He loves the historical aspects, too.

Johnny is never as happy as when he is next to an old castle on an island.
 Must be a boy thing.

  While Mr. J was painting, I took my usual walk to see what trouble I could get into. I had seen on the little map that we had received before heading out, that there was an area with an aquatic plant garden. Interesting, to say the least. 
  It was really warm, and the hike was up, up, up....but when I arrived, I was so glad to have made the effort! This was an amazing find.

  Not what I had expected, I found a natural style swimming pool, with ponds surrounding it. The ponds were full of water lilies, water grasses and tons of frogs and toads. Green lizards everywhere, too.
  Of course, I was not supposed to go near it without a guide, but there was no one around, the gate was open....I couldn't resist going closer. And I wasn't really 100% sure what the sign was all in Italian (this would be my lame excuse, if I needed one).

So very, very tempting on a hot day.....

  Being almost good, I didn't strip down and dive in. But, man, did I want to. I didn't even put a toe in. I just slowly walked around the entire area, watching frogs dart and dash into the deep parts of the smaller ponds....
  I enjoyed hopping around on the big rocks myself.

  From what I could understand, the pool and ponds were created and constructed in 1959-60 by a famous Roman architect for the original owners of the hotel. But I could be wrong. They were built into an old quarry on the property. The pool area is surrounded by a very old olive grove, too.
  I just found the whole thing fascinating, as well as so unexpected.

Plus, killer views.

  After resisting the urge to jump on in, I hiked back to Johnny and we walked around the island, coming next to the hostel. Beautiful, we both agreed. 

  Fattoria Il Poggio is housed in a completely restored old farmhouse, and is one of the first environmentally friendly farms in Italy. It is large, and family friendly, with both private and communal areas for families to enjoy. 
  We both could totally imagine how peaceful it would be, with no cars or town noises around.... just birds and froggies.

Front door to Il Poggio, and just get a look
at that wisteria.

  Then we stopped to see another castle. There's always another castle.
  This is actually a very old church that is being restored, but from a distance we assumed it to be a castle..

  The views from the crest of the island were particularly stunning that day. It was so clear out, and the lake was like glass...

  After the heat of the upper part of the island, it was so nice to work our way down into the wooded area near the shore on the northern side. 
  I loved seeing the large stones covered in moss and new fern growth. I want one for my garden.

  We stopped for a glass of wine before hopping back on the ferry to head back home. I had to get a parting shot of the reflections as we cruised by. 
  Johnny did some nice paintings on Isola Polvese, and I enjoyed the sunshine more than I can say. A great day that really felt like a "vacation" day. 
  One for the books!

  Oh, and to make it Johnny's dream day? On the way home we stopped for his favorite medieval bread, Torta al Testo....
  Now that's what I call one happy artist.