Sunday, October 15, 2017

It's Me!




  Here's the thing.
  I have been going through our new iPhoto program (is that what you call it?), and with the new operating system we had installed a while back, every photo that's on my laptop, Johnny's iPod, laptop and old iPad...are all on the gallery desktop computer.
  Thank you "Cloud"...grrrr.

  I know, I know... too much information...but there is a point here.
  The point is, I'm working slowly, but surely through the 15,000+ photos so I can separate the personal ones from the 'gallery essential' ones. It's a big job!

  While doing this, I've come across a bunch of photos that Johnny has taken of me...yes, ME! I'm the one who usually takes photos of him, and all other sorts of stuff.
  There are so many 'me' photos which I had NO IDEA existed. What fun to see these! They only span a few years, mostly from Italy...but such a trip for me to see.

  Many are of me taking pictures. Lots are taken from behind, as Johnny and I are walking wherever we walk. There are a couple I may have posted before...some delightfully un-flattering shots of me eating food...
  All and all, big fun...for me, at least. I thought maybe you would get a kick out of these, too.

  Plus, we're getting ready to head over to Italy again, and looking through old photos is always a fun way to get excited about returning.

  Here goes nothing-






I am so ready.




Nice light, but what am I taking a picture of?




On a morning walk.






In Gubbio.





My 'Step Garden' at the apartment we loved
and stayed at many times:
The Artisan's House' 




Day trip in Rome


  What I do notice is that I always wear the same thing...I need to do some thrift store shopping when we're back, man.
  I am so blown away by this. I just never knew he took so many pictures of little old me...




Using my mad language skills to chat with Marcello.
I am so happy I can speak with the locals... more and more each visit.





I guess it's what I do.




I love me some pizza.
A favorite spot. I especially love the pizza Margarita.




Shopping for springtime color.




Getting a close up shot 



  We took a little side trip to Bettona, on the way to Montefalco one time, and met this local gentleman that told us about the Etruscan rock wall that was part of the newer walls around the village.
  We found our way there, and then were approached by another local senior fellow that pointed out the real sight for we tourists, the 'Cinta Muria', which features a rock that has eroded into the shape of, well.... a butt.
From an official Umbria Tourism website:

 In this area the twelve visible rows have varying heights and a different state of conservation, some with perfectly fitting joints, others with obvious signs of the erosive action exerted from the elements on the sandstone, who left in some cases unusual shapes, one in particular known as "the ass of the nuns". 



You can just make out the butt rock up above us, sort of in between us...
Anyway, I've never seen this picture until today.




Me in Montefalco.




So damn tough, girl.




Knowing Mr. J, he wanted the photo of the cute 'ape'.





I love a good train ride.
Take me away.....




I adore this one, because I adore the woman I am sitting with.
Again, first time I've seen this. Today.
We are in the back room of Bar Gallo.



Veggie platter, anyone?
I guess I wanted a very close up shot.


A favorite watering hole.
With sparkle boots on. Never seen this one.




I like this one a lot.




Same day as the one above.
A wonderful little spot near Panicale.



Just getting' down to business here.
Simple is often best, baby.





Morning walk to Missiano.




I'm pretty sure this was taken on the walk back
from getting bread in nearby Paciano.
Never seen it before...


  Ok, if you are bored by all these pictures of...ME...you are welcome to check out now, because there's a bunch more.
  I swear, I will not hold it against you. But come on, who wouldn't want to see the next shot?!?!??





Totally caught in action!
You take a slice, fold, and chow down, sister.





I suppose I'm happy because food is on it's way.
Pienza, Trattoria 'Latte di Luna'.




Another very favorite place we love to hang out at.
View from Lucia's...




Remember this happening, just didn't
know he was taking pictures.
Picking wild tulips in the olive grove.




Looks like a walk, but why did I have my purse? That sucker is heavy.
Who knows.





Pescatore is Heaven.
You can see Panicale way over there, if you know where to look.




Don't ask me...All I know is there are dominoes on the table.
And wine.




I just can't get over these..
I guess he's a 'sneaker' photographer.
Rome.





Not fair. I was napping before lunch.
Waiting our turn for a table at a special spot.
Rome.




Basquiat exhibition in Rome.
Johnny is really good at taking pictures of the back of me.
Sigh.




Checking out the menu in Cortona.




I guess he loves me.


    And just so he doesn't get all pushed outta shape, here's a couple of my favorite shots of him.....






With the gang in Panicale.



Celebrating a rare (very) foosball win!
I love you, too, baby.
















Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Pilgrimage Visits Panicale



  When we are here in the late winter/early spring, the village is quiet, for the most part. Evenings are cold, and people stay inside. Inside their houses, or in our case, inside Bar Gallo...playing dominos, reading, watching videos, or just relaxing with pals.
  After Easter, there are more people around, and as May approaches, it can become lively.

  But...summer is a whole different animal. The heat keeps folks inside during the middle of the day, but at night the piazza is the place to hang out. We have been stopping in most evenings, around eight or nine, for a last sip of wine, and there are usually plenty of people around. We've been staying often until midnight, when it gets slower and Aldo & Daniele can sit for a moment to chat about the day and laugh at all the craziness.

  It's nice, but after three weeks, we both agree we kind of like the quiet time better, even if it is cold, wet and windy. That's the weather we are used to at home, and all the people and activities of summer make me a little anxious.

  To be honest, my favorite time of the day during these weeks in July has been late at night. We will have one last nightcap, sitting on our terrace...maybe one o'clock in the morning....there is a nice breeze, it's silent but for the crickets...perhaps a fireworks display will go off somewhere along the lake.
I especially love the late night train that winds through the valley below...if it's really quiet, you can hear it. It looks like a glow worm, moving along it's tracks.
  And the stars. Lots of stars.

  Anyway, I got off track, sort of....what with the train talk and all.

  Friday afternoon, we decided to go into the piazza to see what it's like during the midday heat (we have just been hunkering down at home midday, napping and waiting for it to cool down. We get chores done early...).
  We found a place to park (another big change in summer months! We can't park wherever we want...there are entire areas strictly for residents living in the walls, and loads of 'one hour only' spots. We have had to park way down below the school...and hike up. You folks who understand, well...it's tough to get used to!)

  So, we scored a decent parking place, by chance, near the little park, in the shade, even. Sweet!
 As we walked towards the main gate to the village, we heard music from the area below, where there is a sort of community center...what was going on, in the heat of the afternoon?




  Evidently, there is a large group of late teen-early twenty somethings that do a walking pilgrimage to Assisi every year, stopping at various villages along the way to sing, dance and get all inspired...

  We watched for a little while, admiring the renovation of the bocci court and park area, as well as the Franciscan Sisters & Brothers shaking their money makers...then moved on to the piazza, which was very quiet. Midday, nap time, after all...



Just the way we like it, but take away the scorching temperatures, please.


  After a glass of wine, some mandatory potato chips and a large bottle of fizzy water, we high tailed it back to The Nut for our own midday nap-a-thon.
  So glad to have a little breeze coming through the bedroom window...

  Way, way, way later, after doing this, that and the other....we stopped back into the piazza, only to find those same Sisters, Brothers and Pilgrims were still at it! What are they putting in their water????

  It was most entertaining to watch the group dancing, and just take it all in.
  What a trip... I was impressed by their infectious energy in the hot weather, knowing that they are walking miles and miles each day.






  It's amazing to see so many people jammed into the piazza..and loud, too. 










  I hope this gives you an idea of the energy/mayhem...





  Different, for sure, and everyone seemed to be having a fantastic time. The recorded music was super loud, and I had to wonder what it must be like if you live in the walls and were trying to sleep, read, watch a movie...but this is summer in this village, and I assume everyone is used to it.

  We made our way back home to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside, happy to have so many 'life options' in this home away from home we have created. So far, all the options have been pretty damn good.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wild Summer Weather And Lunch



  Well, the weather has been exciting the last couple of days here in the center of Italy. We have been experiencing hot days and very warm evenings, and then the storm fronts moved in...Summer storms are much needed here, as most fields of crops really relay on rain to get them through.
  Unlike home, where we go months and months without rain, it's unusual to have gone three months without, which is why things are especially dry.

  We woke at 5am to the sound of thunder, the day before yesterday... I was able to catch a little of the activity:








  Yes, me, in jammies, on our terrace...watching the storm. I'm trying to get used to thunder & lightning, which freaks me out, usually.








  We had planned to head over to Montepulciano, Pienza and Monticchiello. Johnny was thinking of doing some watercolor pieces. 
  After checking the weather online, we decided to head out. Figured we might get caught in a little rain, but no big deal.

  We stopped to have a glass of wine and enjoy the view from Caffè Poliziano...Nice.



Feeling very civilized, indeed.





Watching a little rain wash through the valley below Montepulciano.



  We started the steep trek up to the top of town, and were stopped short by the fastest moving storm cell ... ever!
  After ducking into a couple of storefronts, we finally gave up, Johnny ran across the street to buy an umbrella, and we found a balcony to huddle under until this monster blew through. It was quick, and massive, turning the steep slope into a river, for a few minutes, anyway.
  







  After it settled down somewhat, we decided to head back to the car. I had on sandals, as it was hot, and they were slippery..I felt like I was sliding out of them. Didn't want to risk the steep street and stairs.
  The rain finished, it became really hot again, and now muggy. Each. But we stuck with the plan, and headed to Pienza, where the fields were so dry, I couldn't believe the storm had just passed through.
  The heat just sucked up all the rain.

  These were taken maybe thirty minutes after the storm went through...



















  We did a nice walkabout in Pienza, which was crowded...still not accustomed to summer and so many people, then decided on lunch in Monticchiello.
  Everyone loves La Porta, a very popular osteria, but we prefer it's little sister, La Cantina della Porta.
  We hadn't been for a couple of years, and it was good, as always.


Porcini 'tortina' with pecorino creme and truffles.



Simple bruschetta. 





The interior.



Johnny's spinach and ricotta ravioli with marscapone and truffle sauce.
So good...


I had little 'gnudi', spinach and and ricotta dumplings in a garlic red sauce.



  There was another downpour while we enjoyed lunch...evident in the photo below.
  Very wet streets-


Johnny getting inspired by this tree bark.



  We always love the view of the valley from this spot-






  Back home (I totally conked out in the car on the way back), we relaxed and enjoyed yet another storm blow through our neck of the woods.
  There were amazing cloud formations, more lighting and thunder, colorful skies...what a beautiful end to the day.









Just down the driveway, looking up at Panicle.
Crazy clouds moving our way!






  This cloud bank just kept getting bigger and stranger...





Alien invasion above Panicle?
Hmmmmm....



What the?



  There were lovely moments, to be sure-















  Then, of course, a little light show-






  I wish I could show what happened later, but it was over the ridge, and I just couldn't capture it. A massive lighting storm, which we could only catch glimpses of in the clouds above. Thunder that was way big, too.
  We just aren't used to summer storms, but hey, I'll get used to them. It's all part of life here.
  Plus, everything smelled so fantastic afterwards.
  The mosquitoes were a pain, though.