Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Last Morning Walk, Umbria 2018

  Well, it's late...almost midnight...and I wanted to post this tonight because we leave Umbria tomorrow to head back to California.
  Yesterday the weather was brutal, but we were lucky to get in a last morning walk today. 
  These are just some highlights of the walk. 
  Beautiful scenes after the massive rain and winds...

Everyone who lives here knows this place...

The view of the valley below town.

Our walk starts and ends here...

Johnny checking out the scene.

A 'Caki" tree. We call them persimmons.

It was lovely light this morning.

The weather was perfect for a walk.

I love the early morning light on the olive trees...

Johnny is a happy guy, enjoying the colors of autumn.

A favorite scene...

More autumn color.

Heading back up the hill...

We'll be back before we know it!
Ciao, Umbria..See you soon...!

October Rain Storm

  And then sometimes it's like this...

Friday, October 26, 2018

Olive Harvest At The Nut

  All around the area we stay in here in Umbria, you can see and hear the olive harvest going on. 
  For the last two weeks or so, it's gotten busy. We watch trailers full of olives go by, on the way to the mill...we watch folks picking by hand or machine...young and old. It's fascinating!

  Here at The Nut, we had a long, hard day of picking ourselves. Fifteen trees in about seven hours. Carlo our landlord, Johnny and I worked our fannies off! There were moments when I wanted to call it a day and quit, but we just pushed on until sunset. 

  First, you have to drag these massive nets and arrange them under the trees to catch all the olives...

Me on one end, Carlo on the other...

  Once the nets are laid, we started picking. Johnny and Carlo took turns with the electric 'shaking machine'....I just picked by hand or with  rastrello, the small stiff hand rake you comb through the branches. 

 It was a lot of hard work, with some frustrating moments, but tons of fun, too.

Carlo with the shaking machine.

Johnny with the rastrello. See all the olives in the net?

Johnny taking his turn with the shaking machine.
I tried, but quickly realized it would not be good for my neck or shoulders!

Go, Johnny, GO!

Watching the guys work from the terrace after lunch.
Then back to it for me, too.

In the end, we had ten or eleven crates full.

A couple of days later, we met Carlo at the local mill to watch the olives get mashed and turned into oil. I'm so glad we saw this part of the process!
  We were in line to have ours done at about eight o'clock at night. It's a busy time at the mill, and they run very late, trying to get everyone's oil done asap.

The mashing machine. It spins around, squishing the olives into a paste.
Then the paste is run through a machine that gets all the excess water out.
Centrifuge, I am told.

Next, we watched as our oil slowly came out!

Carlo was so happy to fill his beautiful container!

It smelled so good in there!

Pure 'Green Gold"!

It was a pretty good haul, I think.

2018 oil tucked away to be enjoyed for the next year.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Antiques, Art, And The Beauty Of Umbria

  Every time we trip over here to Umbria, we try to make certain that we visit one of the several antique markets that pop up around the area. These markets can be a lot of fun for us now, as we collect this and that for our apartment here, lovingly dubbed.... 'The Nut'.

  Before, we would see something that we would fall in love with, but had nowhere to keep it here, and it's such a hassle to get something home on the plane. So now we have started acquiring 'stuff' here, as we try to get rid of 'stuff' back in California. Geez. 

  Luckily, 'The Nut' is a small place, so we can't really do too much harm...
  For instance, these wonderful bikes and motor bikes are pretty much out of the question:

Really fun to look at, though!

15 euro? Hmmmmm...

Tempting, tempting...One for me, one for him...

An interesting group here.

  I always love looking at the tables and tables and tables of old tools. Some of the guys, always guys... take loving care of these beauties. They are cleaned and waxed. Others are just dumped into a cardboard box on the ground.


You'll never know what you'll find, that's for sure.

Johnny would love these in his studio!

I, of course, loved these!
These guys are everywhere...

I always enjoy old light fixtures and lamps.

  This particular market goes on forever, and midway through, there are some ruins that Johnny always enjoys visiting. A small break from the 'stuff' is always good.

  We did score big on this visit. We found a beautiful old oval mirror in a walnut frame that will work perfectly here at The Nut. We have been looking for a small scale full length mirror, and we now have one. Beveled glass, and all! It's really heavy, though, so for now we are 'leaning it'...

A good day at the market.
It will be hung eventually.

  After spending the morning at the market, we decided to stop into Trevi, a gorgeous hill town located on the way back home.
  We've stopped here a few times before, and love it. On this day, the clouds wanted to rain, but really didn't. It was perfect for this high drama shot....

The stunning Trevi, in all her glory.

 We had to stop into the church, "Madonna delle Lagrime" to see this fresco by one of the local art stars, Perugino. It's a real beauty...

"Adoration of the Magi"

  After a sweep through Trevi, we headed home and the late afternoon light was just amazing. I almost was hit by at least two cars trying to get these landscape shots, below.

  I think it was well worth it! Umbria at her finest....

  That's it for now. I'll try to post more soon, as we are getting ready to head back home...boo hoo.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Tripping To Siena 2

  More from our little side trip to Siena last week...
  Our little room had a big view. In fact, we were inspired to get up and out early, listening to the bells going off at 'Il Duomo'...

Room with a view!
Buongiorno, Siena!

It's been so long since we've been here...sigh.


  We knew we wanted to tour the Duomo, so we headed up the hill to get tickets early, to beat the crowds. It was windy and quite chilly walking through the narrow 'vicoli' (streets), but we worked our way to the top...

Empty of people so early...nice!

Perfect street art for Siena...famous for it's insane horse race,
the 'Palio'....

Interesting views as we got closer to our destination.
The marble work inside and out is spectacular.

The tip top of the Duomo.

Impressive fa├žade...

  We waited for the doors to open, and had a fantastic look around, without too many people jostling about.
  I am always stunned by the sheer work that must have been involved to create such a space.
  Johnny is happy to believe it was all done by aliens. 

Pretty darn awe inspiring.

We loved seeing Hawky-Hawk etched in marble.

  I was raised Catholic, so I always get a little wonky in these big old churches. It's been a very long time since I've attended church, so there is that teeny trace of guilt involved. It comes with the book, I guess.

  Here, I just tried to admire the beauty of it, and put all else behind.
  (I gotta say, though...I can't pass the alter of any church without doing the old 'sign of the cross' thing.)
  I loved the marble-turned-fabric on some of the sculptures...

  The  inlaid marble floors are gorgeous...

  The interior pillars always blow my mind.....

Nice Pulpit, too.

  I try to find a touch of whimsy, and in this case it was this fellow, who brought a little 'Wallace and Gromit' into the morning...


  Johnny wanted to see the Piccolomini Library, a side room here, with it's frescoes by our own Umbrian artist, 'Pinturicchio' (Bernardino di Betto). 
  We've been before, but the beauty does inspire him, and that is always a good thing.

Also here, 'The Three Graces' sculpture.

The Three graces checking out the work.

  I just love the colors and the hint of the Umbrian landscape in these frescoes...Is that Lago Trasimeno there? Hmmmm......
  This little angel was my favorite, though. His attitude is everything!

  Later in the day, we headed out for dinner, with stops along the way to just enjoy the day to day life of Siena....
  We did take time for a wee nap, too.

Mirror Shot!

Apertivo in Il Campo.

The best people watching.

  Dinner was a surprise. We hadn't made any reservations (bad me!), and there were places all over just packed with people, so we wandered out into a less travelled area. It was getting later and later, but we found a small osteria that had a nice little menu (no english translation, which is always a good sign), with a few vegetarian dishes.
  We each started with a soup...

'Pappa al pomodoro' for me.
Bread and tomato soup. Good, and spicy!

Johnny had the thickest 'ribollita' (also a bread soup) ever.
He was so happy! It was yummy on this chilly night.

The buzz was good in this place. We were happy to be waiting for our pasta to arrive.

A very content me.

A very content him.


Johnny enjoyed his 'pici aglione'.
Me, too...creamy, but not too rich, with a subtly sweet garlic flavor.

I had 'trofie con verdure', a twisty type of pasta served with eggplant,
peppers and asparagus. Yum.

 Our waiter was just perfect, and his style got me from the get go....cute, too, of course!

  We did enjoy another dinner on another night here, but I felt odd taking photos, and decided not to share that one. 
  I am finding it harder and harder to take out my small camera and do the whole 'recording the meal' thing...odd, since this is what I really enjoy doing. Oh, well, I'll do it when it feels right.

   Thanks for a great couple of days, Siena! We'll be back in a few more years, no doubt.

Siena, you are a lovely lady...

...but it sure is nice to be back home.