Sunday, July 31, 2016

Vernazzano And It's Leaning Tower

  Most folks know that my hubby, Johnny, is an artist. What many don't realize is that he is also a major history buff to the core. When it comes to history, anything and everything piques his interest.

  This makes for some fun and educational outings when we're in Italy. Johnny will go through loads of books and websites for the months leading up to our travels, finding new and interesting places to visit. Usually these places are within driving distance, so it can make for a good "day trip" adventure. It kind of blows my mind how many sites there are to see,  just in our small area.

  I'm not certain how he found out about this particular spot, The Vernazzano Leaning Tower, but I'm betting it was from one of the local interest books he picked up at the tourist info office in Panicale. 

  The tower is a bit hard to find, but with just a little effort, we figured it out. It's down this way, then go right, then up a narrow winding road...etc, etc, etc.
  The little group of houses at the top is charming, and it was easy to see the tower from the small road.

That tower really leans, man!

  We parked in the area next to the church. There wasn't a soul around, so we figured it would be ok.
  Plus, the church itself was nice....though we couldn't get inside. 

That dang Saint Lucia again, with her creepy plate of eyes!
She keeps popping up....

Here she is on an entirely different day trip.
Poor thing had her eyes gouged out before she was executed.....

  Anyway, back to the Leaning Tower.

  So, car parked, we walked around, looking for some way to get closer to the tower. Finally, I spotted a teensy-weensy sign that said 'torre' and had an arrow pointing 'this way', so we went for it.
  The path was somewhat dicey in places, but totally walkable. 

There was a small creek down below that sounded so sweet...

After going up and down a few times, we finally came to the creek.

  The path is narrow in spots, steep in other spots, and there are areas where it's really uneven. Just a warning....we had no problems, though it was damp, so it got a little slippery in a few places.
  When you come out at the flat area where the tower is, it's quite lovely. The day we visited, it was overcast and just a little drizzly, which made the mood perfect.

Pretty impressive!

  The tower is almost seventy feet tall. It's the remnant of an ancient castle that was built before 1089.
  In 1202 it fell under the power of Perugia, which then gained control of Northern Trasimeno.

Johnny wants to fix it, I think....

  The tower was further damaged by wars in the 15th century, and then a couple of centuries later, by an earthquake and the aftershocks. 
  The actual leaning was caused by water and erosion in the 18th century. The tower was then abandoned for almost 300 years. Poor thing.
  To avoid further collapse, steel reinforcement was recently added...

The wires and plates are used to help stabilize the tower.

I believe she's barely hanging in there!
I was amazed by the old ivy branches that must have been there
for decades before being cut to die off.

  The views up here are great, too. A different vista across Lago Trasimeno. I just wish it had been a clearer day. We'll have to return again, just for photos.

I thought the textures of this group of trees was pretty cool.
Looks like a cliffside, but it's all trees...

  This old rendering of what was once the town of Vernazzano is on display. The town has actually relocated to the more convenient valley below. I guess the other building on site was once part of the old village here.

At the base of the tower, another beautiful ancient structure.
I'm guessing it was an old church, seen below and to the left of the tower.

  We headed back to the car after kicking around the whole place for about thirty minutes or so. 
  This would be a nice spot to have a picnic, maybe.

The path back to the car.

  I'm not sure we would return, but it's well worth the effort to go see the tower, if you're in the mood for a walk in the woods.
  On the way back down the hill, I made Johnny stop the car so I could capture a photo of this roadside shrine....

I love a sweet shrine.

  Then I made him stop again so I could take pictures of the lupine field, red poppies and olive trees...
  A nice finish to a fun day trip.

Great color combo.

  I am looking so forward to finding more new, out of the way....and interesting places to explore the next time we head over to Umbria. There seems to be a never ending list, thankfully!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Before And After 2016


  Now that I have my tickets in the bag for 2017, I can once again get excited about returning to Umbria. 
  (that is unless the entire world continues on it's way to self-implode, in which case I hope it waits until we are actually there, in Umbria, so we can at least experience the end with a glass of wine and a bowl of chips, sitting outside at Aldo's) 

  My idea of getting excited is to look at the photos I took from the past trip, and figure out what I want to share here on my bloggy. This is hard work.....I take way too many photos, and believe me, there are a slew of 'duds' in the mix.

  I have learned over the years to make little desktop folders for various ideas, which I put the photos in, and this is one idea I especially enjoy...
 "Before and After" refers to the amazing changes the local landscape goes through in the weeks we are visiting. We normally stay from late winter through mid spring, and every year I love watching the shift happen. 

  This area, above Lago Trasimeno and on the border between Umbria and Tuscany, is beautiful anytime of the year. There's the lake, the nearby hills and fields, and distant mountains beyond. It all changes, like everything.....

Close to home, a favorite spot to sit and stare.
Here at the start of our visit...

...and here at the very end.

  I can't get over how much the light changes...let alone the incredible lushness of the greenery...

Early days....

...and later.

  These shots, together like this, blow my little pea brain!

A slightly different angle,
but you get the point.

  After the seventh visit, you would think I'd quit taking the same shots over and over. I know, I know....but I just can't help myself. Plus, Every time we head out on our morning walk, I'll tell Johnny that I don't feel like taking my camera. He'll get all fussy and explain how peeved I'd be if I missed something (read: the elusive hedgehog sighting), and I'll hem and haw, and take the damn thing.
  Here's the rub....I never regret it. 

The classic 'Morning Walk' shot, early....

...and after all has filled in.
Ma, che bellissima!

  We were out for a drive in the nearby countryside when I spied this lonely, but beautiful tree, all in it's spring glory. I knew I would want to return to see how it looked after the fact.


A bit less impressive, but a big change over the whole area.

  I have done many posts and shared lots of pictures of the various astounding wisteria we see in the 'hood.
  These are so fun to watch, because when we arrive they are basically bare branches, then we watch as they come into amazing full bloom, which lasts about ten seconds, then they just leaf out into a lusciousness of soft green.

  There are several I obsess over, this being one, below...

Before full bloom....

...and during!

Same area, different angle, which shows the bottom half.

I can almost smell the sweet perfume, baby!

  Just outside, and to the right of our apartment windows, we watch this tangle of wisteria and a massive yellow banksia rose go off. 
  I love opening the kitchen window on a warm day to let the fragrance wander in....

Our windows are out of the shot, just to the left.
(Ciao, Diletta!)

Same spot, well after the blooms have gone.

  Just a couple more shots of wisteria porn…. in bloom.. and after the bloom is done..

Notice the caper plant hanging onto the wall, too.

  And just around the corner.....

  Our view outside the kitchen window is wonderful. The small public park...which goes through such a dramatic transformation, I have to post three stages of change!



Seriously green! Green on green!!

  Well, I guess one of my favorite changes is the one I create myself. 
  It would be the little garden I make every year. It gives me so much pleasure, and it seems to put smiles on the faces of folks who walk by. I look forward to doing this every year!

Plants just planted....

...looking all filled in as we are heading home.
I know the next guest will enjoy them.

  Next trip, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for some good Before and After shots from some places I haven't seen yet.
  This will be a challenge I look forward to very much.

  See ya soon, Panicale...(not soon enough, though!).