Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Few More Moments...And A Fire

  I'll be writing about our little get away to Siena soon, but also had some photos I just wanted to share from last week.
  I've been a bit lazy about posting, I guess. The day to day is often uneventful. Just walks, a bite of lunch, reading at nap-time. Not very 'share-worthy'!
  This being said, I always have my little white camera with me, so the photos do stack up...

Morning walk that includes this favorite driveway.
I never get tired of shooting this view.

A very gorgeous kitty who took to the shade
while we were having a glass of wine by the lake.

Lake side wine stop...with books.
A favorite past time here.

  In the spring when we are here, there are lots of flowers available to make pretty 'pots of color' that we can enjoy for the weeks we are here.
  Now, it's a very limited selection that I have to work with...but I still managed to plant up a few pots for the terrace and pergola area. I'm happy with these, and the giant orange fluffy bees love the little purple daisies, too!

Nice texture combo...

 While heading out for our morning walk the other day, we saw this huge plume of rather scary black smoke...what the??!?!!

  Being the life long pyromaniac that I am, I insisted we go check it out.
  I'm glad it wasn't someone's home, just a Big Rig being burned to the ground...
  What the??!!!???!

While we watched, a tire blew up and scared the hell out of us,
so we got going pretty quickly. There were loads of people watching.

 Back to our morning walk, after the drama of the Big Rig fire....
 We love our long walks through the fields below The Nut.

Cauliflower, I think...and lots of it.

Hmmm...which way now?

  More to come, as the weather cools down and we really feel like autumn has arrived...

Friday, September 21, 2018

Day Trip To Florence

  Johnny needed some art supplies, so we hopped the very early train from Castiglione del Lago to beautiful Florence...and were there by a little after 8am. Sweet! 

  Fun to be there before the hoards of people hit the streets. Boy, September is a different world than March here. Way more people, of course, and quite warm, too.'s FLORENCE! FIRENZE!
  I'll enjoy her beauty anytime I possibly can. Art supplies is just one of many excuses to make the hour and a half train trip here.
  We started by grabbing a quick caffè, then stopping into the Medici Chapels and the Church of San Lorenzo to say 'Ciao' to Michelangelo's amazing sculptures.
  I'll admit, Johnny stops in here often, while I usually choose to stay outside somewhere nearby with a book. I am so glad I made my first visit inside...

The lovely cupola in the Chapel of the Princes.


  The main event were the sculptures, which I very much enjoyed. My favorite, by far, were Michelangelo's 'Day' and 'Night', at the Tomb of Giuliano, Duke of Nemours. 

He's Day. She's Night.
Don't ask me, you can find loads of info online, I'm sure.
I just liked it.

She does look tired.
I was captivated by the owl, Spirit of Night, as far as I'm concerned.

Isn't she just grand? 

'Day' is cool, too.
I love the way Michelangelo works with muscles.

  We walked all over the city, stopping here and there for this and that. It was just fun having no real agenda. We just needed to stop in at Zecchi, Johnny's favorite art supply store, at some point later in the day.
  We headed over to the Mercado di Sant'ambrogio to check out the clothes. There are a couple of vendors that sell used cashmere. I just love going through the racks to see if there is something I can't live without.
  Being that it was hot, I was surprisingly uninspired. I'll wait until October and go back when the temperature drops down a bit. We still had a blast looking around, and even stopped in for a prosecco at a favorite off the beaten track spot.
  It was slow and relaxing.

I love this little park.

 There is always good street art in Florence, and on Wednesday, I was not disappointed.

Art of our times...

  We had lunch at our favorite Volpe e L'uva. Someday we'll get gutsy and try somewhere new, but why fix it if it ain't broken?
  The usual crew were out on vacation, but we still had a great time just people watching and eating good, simple food prepared most excellently. A bottle of wine had us there for a nice long time. 

We will be internally grateful to Elizabeth and James
for turning us on to this place!

  We wandered about in a food and heat induced haze for awhile, stopping into this cool church and that air conditioned shop, then as things cooled down we found ourselves drawn to the Bardini Gardens, knowing that the views from the terrace bar/cafe might be pretty nice at this time of day.
  Plus, it was about time for a glass of something cool.

Not a bad view...and all the bells went off just as we sat down
to relax with a glass of wine.

  If you have not been to these gardens before, you should make it a must do. There is villa on the grounds that often has great art exhibitions. We always make it a point to see what's going on here.
  On this visit, it was just about the view in late afternoon. Perfection.

Heading back down to the exit.

  We had just enough time to go to the art store and make it onto the 7:50pm train. What fun!

  We actually toyed with the idea of staying over night, but quickly realized that the entire town was booked up, so we stuck to our original plan. We'll go spend a night in a couple of weeks, when it's cooler and there are a few less people.

  All in all, it was another great day in Florence!

  My parting shot....

Johnny loving his new roll of canvas...a little too much, me thinks.
Take it easy, big fella!.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Some Meals And Moments At Home

  We like to wake up early enough to see the sunrise...most days. It's a lovely way to start the day, and the freshness of the air at this time never disappoints.
  Also, there is nothing like being awake to hear the donkey say 'good morning'. It never gets old.

Sunrise from the terrace.


  Some mornings we walk, some we stay in bed and read for awhile, with a cup of coffee. 

  I don't often make a real breakfast, but this week we had all the perfect fixings. Eggs, good bread, fantastic ricotta salata (aged ricotta), and the best melon ever.
  Oh! I can't forget the homemade fig jam from Carlo, our landlord...yum.

Maybe we should do this more often...

  Last Monday, we went to the local farmers market and I bought some fresh borlotti beans. We shucked them together, and I found a recipe that sounded tasty and easy.

These are so pretty!

  I cooked them in a pot with chopped tomatoes, onion, lots of garlic and fresh sage, a little thyme and a splash of white wine.
  After they were done, I added salt and pepper to taste.

Did I mention sage? Lots of sage, for our taste, anyway.

  I had some beautiful small potatoes from the old guy with the vegetable stand over near Panicarola, so I steamed them up and we spooned the bean stew over the potatoes.
  It was pretty darn good.

Some more of that salty aged ricotta was nice with this dish.

  I woke up to the sunlight just touching the nearby hills and olive trees.
  What beauty...

All the green and silver foliage makes me smile.

Being surrounded by these old cypress trees is amazing.

The long view.

New olive growth being touched by the morning sunlight.

  We walk, we discover new hill towns, we find beautiful views to paint, we enjoy our friends in the piazza, we relax at home during nap time...and we eat.
  It's a good scene.

Love our lunch time at The Nut.

  Not sure what's on the books for today, but a morning walk is a must. It's perfectly cool outside right now...Come on Mr. J!
  Up and Out-

Sunday, September 9, 2018

First Morning Walk, September 2018

  Well, it only took a couple of days to get over the jet lag enough to rally ourselves up and out for a morning walk. We were out a bit late, so it was bright and warm...

The sun was out and shining as we started out.

  It's warm for sure, but not like July 2017. That was brutal. 104-105 degrees day after day. We are seeing high 70's to mid 80's at the most, which is not too bad for us. We are used to much cooler weather, but it's ok. I'm loving sitting in the piazza well into the night, with out needing even a sweater. Luxurious!

  This morning I was noticing what was blooming in the fields as we walked along...

Perfect little blue wild flowers.

  Though the flowers are mostly over, there are still fields full of sunflowers all around us. A few are still up and blooming, but most are bowing over and waiting to be harvested. 

Sunflowers gone wild.

  There are a few fields with these interesting plants that look like corn stalks, but are some other kind of grain, I think. I'll have to ask someone what it is. It's not wild; definitely cultivated...

Anyone know what this is?

  This weekend was the Wine Festival in town, and you can see the vines are ready to be harvested all over the area...

Tempting. Very tempting.


  The olive trees are full with fruit, too. I guess it will be a good crop this year.
  We have a date to meet with a local producer tomorrow to buy some of last season's liquid gold...I can't wait!


Today's walk took us to Paciano to buy bread. There is a wonderful German woman and her Italian husband that make the best whole grain breads and other treats. It's a great reason to hike on up the hill.

In town, I noticed this wonderful combination of variegated ivy and clematis flowers gone to seed.

  Heading back home, I stopped to take a photo of this field full of some purple blossomed plants. I'm  sure they are a cover crop adding nitrogen to the soil, but I don't recognize these... Awfully pretty, and loaded with hard working bees, too.

  Before heading up our dirt road, we stopped for a quick 'Mirror Shot".
  Why not?

Bag-O-Bread and Baby.

  We'll probably sleep in tomorrow and skip the walk. We need to do some house cleaning here at The Nut, and I have an urge to do something fun in the kitchen...
  More will be revealed.