Bardolino

This is a beautiful place to spend a few days or more!
Today some great markets, a lovely lunch , an aperitif and dinner at a lovely little restaurant . Tomorrow off to Verona.

Narelle bought a great leather coat from Pasquale! He was the true Italian charmer. She couldn’t make up her mind. The coat was gorgeous but it was expensive. He was doing his best and then didn’t like it when I suggested she think about it and come back! He used all his charm and she finally agreed on a price and the deal was done! Check out the photo on Facebook!

Bought some lovely red loafers at the markets. Anne and I are having a scarf competition! Andwe all bought some colourful Italian china.

Lovely dinner at a little family run trattoria . Though we think they are over the summer and ready for a break! Not quite as friendly as they could be! Food however was delicious.

A wander along the water front, a little dance in the piazza near our apartment and bed.

Lake Garda

Today we changed locations and the difference between a charming hill town – Spello – and a smart lake side holiday place- Bardolino- is amazing. The drive took about 5 hours and was freeway all the way . I did all the driving ( wow even I’m impressed) and some of it was in the rain . Narelle and Anne are great to travel with and we had lots of laughs along the way. We arrived in Bardolino on Lake Garda and the sun shone.

Our apartment is big and right in the center of town, a  block back from the lake. We went for a long walk along the lakeside and spotted many German tourists, bike rider galore, joggers, lovers, duck feeder, a clarinetist sitting on a rock by the water playing a haunting melody, ferries arriving and leaving, rows of colourful flowers, decking going for miles, people sitting in bars sipping on the drink of choice for an aperitif – Aperol and Prosecco spritz . It wa all very charming. We returned to the unit to have a shower and off to a seafood restaurant next to the apartment and the heavens opened!

After a lovely dinner we are back in the unit preparing for a well deserved rest.

Just let me tell you about the parking at the Apartment. We had to book a spot before to secure one of only 8 spots. We couldn’t see how to get into it as it all courtyard in front of the apartment.
The lady said to drive in the gate and wait. She pressed a button and out of the ground came a garage rising from the floor like something from a stage show. It was hysterical to watch it appear ( with a table from the courtyard restaurant still on the top!
I then had to drive the car in , hop out and she pressed another button and the car slowly disappeared into the depths below and the floor of the garage all covered with  courtyard tiles settle back into position. What a show!
I then went down some stairs and drove it out of the garage and into one of the 8 spots! Italian technology. Wish I could post a picture.

 

Montefalco and Bevanga

After not tasting too much wine we had lunch and then moved off the the next village –  passing tractors for the parade as we went.

We arrived in Bevagna in the siesta hours and it was so quiet!

We walked and visited churches. They are very different here . We thought it seemed a very religious place and even found a beautiful B&B in an old cloistered monastery . We later heard there were 18 churches and 3 monasteries ! Very religious indeed.

We decided to visit the Palazzo Cort deli Angeli in the main part of town and had a personal tour. It is now a hotel in one Palazzo and the owners still live int eh second Palazzo. They are joined by a garden with gorgeous roses. We were taken though the houses and into the restaurant by a charming young woman and told about the history of the place. For 3euro we felt very special.

W returned to Spello and had a great dinner at La Cantina. I had grilled chicken and it was yum! It was interesting watching the locals and the tourists all in their various sized parties enjoying a night out.

The next day we went to Assisi. I’d been before in 2001 but it stormed that day and we saw very little . This time we saw “everything” . All the churches. We walked the tail of St Francis and St Clare. We had a lovely day and were so tired when we got home! We revisited our favourite little restaurant “drinking wine” . The host knows us now and we see him each morning as well. That’s what is nice about being in a small village . They get to know you!

The next morning we visited our usual coffee shop and the lady there greeted us like old friends. She is such a glamourous lady. Always dressed beautifully, aged around 40 long dark hair, usually a little ( or a lot ) of cleavage on show, always friendly even when chatting into her mobile phone which she does regularly – and she remembers our order and has started making us extra hot( for Italy) lattes.
Anne wasn’t feeling well so decided to stay at home so Narelle and I headed off to Spoleto after sending a box thought the post . Just a few things I’ve  finished with!

Drove half and hour south and arrived in Spoleto. Another hill town! Beautiful Duomo and quiet streets. Went up to the fort on the hill and explored the place. Most exciting was the “incidentee” We saw a police car and heard some shouting. 2 young men and a pretty girl where all talking at once and an older man was shouting. From what I could pick up

SPELLO

Wifi is difficult to get but found it today free in the lovely little piazza in Spello .

Sitting now with some very fashionable nonnas who are into their fashion. They are all beautifully dressed and are talking about their clothes. All have lovely leather shoes on, beautifully done hair, and big sunnies. They are gorgeous to watch and listen to.

Managed to collect the car and find our way out of Rome on a wet rainy day. Not too stressful and “Out lady of directions” as we call the nat sav is very quiet sometimes and gives directions at the last minute which puts us off.
Arrived lovely Spello in the afternoon only 15 mins late and got into our lovely apartment after walking down quite a steep rocky  path. All good going down but we are slightly worried about dragging the bags back up.
The apartment is wonderful and I could stay a month just here.
The first day we got to know Spello and then in the afternoon went to nearby Foligno for a big festival called Quintana . It is something everyone should experience but beware, they say it started at 9.15 pm so we got to the town in a booked taxi at around 5 to walk the town watch the preparations etc which was all fun. It reminded me of the festival we went to in Chuisi when with Ginetta and Wendy back in 2001. Only this one started late . 9.15 came and went and it became windy and cold we walked around , everyone else looked quite happy to line the barriers with nothing happening but we were getting a little anxious as we were being picked up again but the taxi and 10.15. Well the time passed and we saw them wandering around loosely forming into parade style in magnificent costume . The horses  were dressed and everyone young and old were parading and just as the main thing was starting we left! Never mind there is always another time.

Next day the weather was gorgeous so we headed off to the wine festival in nearby Montefalco. Is a lovely hill town and was packed with the young and gorgeous all with festival bag around their neck with their wine glass in storage for all the tastings.
Headed off to Bevagna another gorgeous little town. Had our usual gelato and toured the quiet Sunday streets. Came upon a palazzo that had been converted into a beautiful hotel and got ourselves a little tour around with a gorgeous young woman. Such a lovely way to pass the time.

Back home to Spello for a gorgeous dinner at our local trattoria. Heaven and many laughs with Anne and Narelle.

Fabulous Food Tour

Off bright and early in a taxi to Testaccio to meet a group for the walking food tour. Our guide was Sarah the American girl. The rest of the group were Americans. Very diverse group and we found out a lot about them!
We started with a walk to a near by bar for a morning coffee and cornetto and tiramisu  Then we continued to walk and took in pizza and then the deli and then found out about the cheese and meats then a visit to the cemetery – non Italian Non Catholic cemetery . It was so beautiful and peaceful . Keats and Shelley are both buried there. We moved on to the markets and tried the fresh version of bruschetta and then fresh buffalo mozzarella . Delicious . Now keep in mind we walking and the portions were very small!
So we then heard the history of this ancient area including the slaughter house – and how the hill of Testaccio was formed with the broken pots used for oil.
Then it was onto a new place for suppli – a form of arancini. It had beef cubes in a ball of rice then fried.  We then went to a restaurant  and had 3 forms of pasta and wine. It was around this time that we started to get the giggles. Our Ameican guide told us so much about herself….. That we thought she must be about 50 to have fitted it all in ! We were pretty much ignored as the other  became all chummy. It’s funny how some people are  not very interested in others!

Our last stop for he day was Giotti – the most wonderful old fashioned gelateria . We learned about flavours etc. I. Had fichi and banana. Delicious. Remember small serves!

We are now back at home- in the apartment in Campo de Fiori listening to the rain. We’ll head out soon for our evening passeggiata .
Later: what a night of the beautiful ( young models in Rome) and the not so beautiful -us in rain gear looking rather second hand!

Tomorrow a new adventure as we pick up the car. 

Rome in a day

Wed 12th
My poor friends were so tired after their flight we were slow to start today. When we finally got going we walked towards the Vatican along Via Guila and then the river. I went into St Peter’s again and I still never tire of it. The paintings, the light, the feeling. This is despite the crowds . Rome is very crowded at the moment. More so than Florence.
We walked around  and decided to do the bus tour to save Anne’s poor feet. That made it easier to see some of the main sights.
Later that evening we went to Armando’s for dinner. It’s near the Pantheon and I went there with Catherine and the girls several years ago. It was also part of the Masterchef show . So our meal there was very good .
A little window shopping a small glass of wine near Campo dee Fiori and off to bed.
Looking forward to tomorrows food tour.

Last day together in Florence


We had our last day together in Florence. It was beautiful. Strolling the streets , rounding a corner to see the glittering walls of the Duomo, the slow moving Arno River, the vespers zipping around the corners. A visit  to the Medici Chapel had me downloading a book about the Medici reign onto my Kindle. 
A little treat  was a visit to the Gucci Museum! It’s in prime position in the piazza opposite David and is in an ancient Palazzo. What a charming place. The history of the label spread over 3 floors. Fascinating social history. We got a little weary and stopped in the reading room for a glass of wine and a view over the Piazza. All really lovely. 
I had a little treat for myself as well. 
I bought ( after careful negotiation – skills honed in Beijing)! A beautiful ring , on the Ponte di Vecchio- a kind of retirement 
present to myself. It’s white gold with coloured stones around the ring. Really  lovely. 
Then back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. After dinner we were leaving the restaurant when I bumped into Mark Allen I naturally asked  where Annette was – to be told her father had
passed away and she had gone home for the funeral. Sad time for
them . She’ll be back in a week so Mark was still with their friends.
Annette and I taught at St Joseph’s together .

Back to the hotel to pack my slightly bulging bag, bed and a
restless night . Must be sad about leaving Cathering but excited
about seeing old school friends.

Catching the train at 10.48 to Rome. Catherine off to Bologna. Hope I get to meet the girls ok! 


Florence

I’m enjoying Florence so much more than I thought  I would. It’s not quite as crowded as I imagined and it’s so beautiful. We visited the Pitti Palace and were so early we got into the gardens before anyone else. It was glorious. We have walked along the streets in the footsteps of the Medicis .
I just downloaded a book about the Medici family so will be absorbed for a few days.

Sunday night we went over the river to find a restaurant a local lady we met had told us about. We  got to the piccolo piazza and found them setting up for a concert. We got a great table and were given yet another complimentary Prosecco ” gratis della casa” . The restaurant was called quatro leoni and the place was jumping. We sat outside with a view across the piazza and just watched the evening unfold with mostly locals dropping by for a drink or …….

Whilst they waited for the concert to begin. We thought it would start around 8 as the band were on and off the stage tuning, fixing lights, having a ciggi, drinking vino, chatting to locals etc. so we enjoyed our antipasti, our vino della casa, the pollo alla limone, vedura etc.  it was a constant floor show for us.
We saw lovers  kissing, children running, a man making pork rolls ( like a BBQ only better) waiters flying around, people choosing seats for the concert, oldies greeting each other with cascades of kisses, people of all ages licking gelato,  ladies in lovely linen dresses reserving seats for their friends, a lady with her dog taking up a whole seat and no one seeming to mind.

The camera man had the stage and at times the audience projected onto the white wall of the ancient building behind, just above the holy water font on the wall. We waited and waited and 8-8.30 and even 9 came and no concert , just a bit of tuning up by the various members of the band. The drummer was a George Clooney Italian style look a like, ( sigh)  a cute female keyboard player, male sax player in a Hawaii type shirt, a flute player looking like a sixties flower child, a long haired guitarist, and a groovy lead guitar with a little hat on.
Well the concert finally started with a L.  o.  n.  G.  Speech made by a good looking local followed by an even longer one by his off sider.  Finally it started at 9.50 and every one seemed happy  -except by now we were tired. Seats became scarce and someone wanted the dogs seat. So the owner lifted it on toher lap. Every one got up – moved  along and let a little old lady into sit down. They are so kind to their older people .
After several songs of a very Italian nature we decided the show for us was over! We walked back
through the streets still alive with those enjoying the wonderful weather along the river Arno.

What a night. 

Lovely Lucca to Fabulous Florence

After our great day with Sue and P-L in Torre del Lago and Via Reggio we had a final dinner at a courtyard restaurant where we ran into Frances and Jeanie from our Italian school. We returned home and packed and were ready to farewell Lucca by 9 the next morning. We successfully called a taxi to the bus and and hour and ten mins later were in Firenze. Our walk to the hotel was a little longer than planned. Yes we took a wrong turn! But it is a short 5 min walk in a quiet street .  Wouldn’t you know it the San Lorenzo markets are at the end of our street! We  went to lunch at a lovely little trattoria while our room was being cleaned.
The hotel – aptly named City Hotel is really good. Not too expensive , good location and rooms are clean and big enough for two. Breakfast proved to be a winner as well.
After lunch and unpacking we headed out in the heat for the Duomo.
We visited the Bapistry first and then noticed the Duomo was closed . Disappointed we wandered the nearby street until nearly 5 when the advertised Mass was about to start. Remembering  a similar thing in Prague, I suggested to Catherine we approach the guard at the side door and ask to attend the Mass. Sure enough he let us in while the other tourists stood behind the ropes wondering who we were and why we got in! Mass was peaceful and cool and lovely. As it turned out it was the weekly English Mass.
After Mass we had our usual Prosecco and people watching session before going into a nearby little tiny church where we had seen a sign advertising an organ concert. It was wonderful sitting listening to gorgeous music.
We walked home finding a very old little family owned restaurant and had a delicious meal. Ran into Anette Allen’s husband Mark. Small world.