Tag Archives: villa

Home — and some notes

We left the villa and Tuscany on a gorgeous morning.  But first there were hugs and goodbyes–and a recipe from Antonella for her  amazing tiramisu. Kat has promised to make it for our New Year’s Day open house.  Yummmm! 

Our ladies would be greeting new guests that  afternoon–a party of thirteen–eight of them children!! I could make a kids electric cars list of brands and models by the time they were doing bringing in all the toys – as we loaded up our luggage
Kat didn’t sign the guestbook. Instead she did the  most amazing pencil sketch of the view from the bedroom window–with the window  as the frame.
Off we go for the airport with our printed directions  and our GPS. Sunshine and blue skies and the gorgeous hills, farmland and  gardens and pretty houses.
We only got a bit turned around once, in the town that  boasts the little airport we’re using–narrow streets, many turns, more traffic  than we’ve had the last week.
But there it is, the small regional airport. 
We’re surprised when we pull up and get out. It  appears to be closed.
One slight moment of panic, then Jason wanders off a ways, sees the plane out on the tarmac. It’s a bit of a distance, but I see a  guy in an orange vest, see the white shirt of the pilot. We wave and call, but  it’s too noisy. I, however, always travel with the skill I inherited from my  mother. I put my thumb and index finger between my lips, and blow. My whistle is  awesome.
The figures turn, return our wave. The orange-vested  guy finally comes up to the fence, tells us he’ll open up in a  minute.
And he does. We have to wait for a cop to clear our  passports, so he calls one. He puts our luggage on a cart. I ask about the Vat  return. It’s Saturday, he says, so we can just put the unsealed envelopes in the  box. On Monday they’ll stamp, seal and mail.
Okay then. When I do, I notice the box is stuffed with  envelopes. I’m sure they’ll get around to it eventually.
Onto the plane, headed by the same crew that brought  us to Italy. Since we’re, literally, the only ones there, we take off without  delay. The advantage of a tiny airport that’s basically closed on the  weekends.
Long, uneventful flight, a quick stop in Bangor for  Customs, then back up for the shorter leg home.
More hugs. We had such a good time traveling with  Jason and Kat. Lots of fun, lots of relaxing, lots of walking, shopping, eating.  A truly fabulous vacation all around.
Excited dogs greet us–Where have you been? Of course,  it’s pretty much the same greeting if we’re gone ten minutes. 
Managed to unpack one suitcase last night, then said  tomorrow’s soon enough.
All done now, and fun to organize all the Christmas  gifts, to put away all the pretty things.
I have sunflowers of my own out my kitchen window. Not  the stupendous oceans of them I left behind in Tuscany, but they make me  smile–and the view out my office window now is thick and green with summer.  It’s nice to be home.
And now, here are links to some of the things mentioned in Nora’s travelogues.
In Florence, they stayed at the gorgeous Relais Santa Croce.  In Tuscany, they found IL Palazzi by working with Via Villas.  Locally, the villa is known as IL Cocetto.
Nora’s workout library included the following titles (you can google them or go to You Tube for clips to see if they would work for you):

Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga – Total Body Workout

Kari Anderson Center Floor

Jennifer’s Kries’ Three  Dimensional Workout and Flow Power Yoga

Ten Minute Solutions: Pilates Perfect Body.

Zyrka Landwijt Yoga Flow, Saraswati  River Tradition.

Seane Corn Detox Flow Yoga

Denise Austin’s Hit The Spot  Pilates

Thanks for reading!



Italy travelogue, part XVIII

Pilates, I discover, is more challenging to do on soft, cushy,  bumpy grass than yoga. But I got it done. As our Kat is under the weather today,  the gang just hangs out.
The lemon and garlic infusion tea Lucia made seemed to help–as did  a solid day of rest.
I got a nice chunk of writing done, despite the distraction of the  view. Also saw people working in the vineyard today–and the big, odd tractor  that goes over the rows. I’ve yet to see any of the deer or wild boars that  we’re told wander hereabouts–but I’m hoping I will.
Lucia makes us an amazing salad to leave for our lunch–as we have  leftovers–and picks it all straight out of the garden. That fresh, fresh  lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers. I try some of the red pepper olive oil on  mine–a good and delicious bite.
Read, wander, take a nap(!) Naps are so out of my routine I wake up  thinking it’s morning. Nice that it was only afternoon, and there’s more time to  plop down in the shade and read some more–and now with a glass of wine. 
Before I know it, it’s time for another amazing sunset. Tonight as  there are more clouds (rain’s coming) it’s even more spectacular. The  overlayment of clouds is burnished gold above the red ball of the sinking sun,  and the horizon is brilliantly layers in pink and red streaks. The light gets  softer, softer, the colors more intense and luminous. Then the sun sets but  leaves what looks lake a simmering fire over the peak of the distant hill. It  just holds there, and holds, keeping the big cloud over it all shimmering gold  on its underbelly.
On the other side of the sky, the moon’s nearly full. As it rises,  it hazes with the clouds that may bring a storm tonight.
Then it’s time for dinner. God, I’m so spoiled now, I want  Antoinella to come live with me, and cook every day. Potato and carrot soup with  sage, then a pasta, then meatballs and chicory right out of the garden. Followed  by some amazing sort of whipped cream with chunks of chocolate.
I can’t eat all of any of it, but that’s not the cook’s fault. It’s  all just wonderful. And the wine we had tonight is made from grapes we can see  just down from the front of the villa.
We secure everything that’s under the awning, in case we get that  storm. If I had the energy–and it wasn’t totally, country dark, I’d go out and  walk a few miles just to work off that meal.
Must do a serious work-out in the morning!
But tonight, it’s relaxing with the sound of busy cicadas, and  nothing else.

Italy travelogue, part XVI

We watched the sun set, gloriously, over the western hills. A ball  of red that spread streaks and smears of color as it dropped away. The light  goes very soft. Our three ladies are here to prepare dinner and see we’re well  taken care of. There’s bread and cheese and thin slices of cold-cut meat. I  could’ve made a meal of that alone. But there are wonderful scents wafting  through the big kitchen.
They’ve picked tomatoes fresh from the vine, served them in big  chunks with basil just as fresh.
We’re eating on the patio at the big wood table with the hills all  around.
Fresh pasta, cooked to perfection set off with a lovely Chianti.  Night lowers–the moon rose on one side of the sky as the sun set on the other  and all the hills go into silhouettes.
Now there’s strips of steak–sauted, I think, in oil and balsamic,  with thin slices of grilled eggplant, roasted peppers. It’s gorgeous, but I  can’t do justice to it after all the rest. We’ll have marvelous left-overs. To  finish it off, a fruit parfait, a kind of almost melted ice cream, but richer,  with chunks of fresh fruit.
I don’t think you can get more relaxed. If there’s tension left  after a few hours in Tuscany with beautiful food, wine, and scenery, you need  serious help!
A good night’s sleep in our pretty room, and I wake up to that  vivid sunshine over hills of green and gold. Different from my deep summer green  woods at home, or the drenched shining green of the Irish hills I love. This is  intense and stunningly baked. From my window here, I see olive and cypress  trees, and the vineyard just across the little dirt road. Then the rise of  hills, the shadows of mountains.
There’s a cluster of brown stone buildings topping a high  forested rise. Asia said it was an abandoned village, and someone bought it. He  built a hotel and cafe. It must have awesome views.
From this window, I can see about a half a dozen houses scattered,  and all look as if they might have grown there. From the other window, I see the  front garden, and one house on a distant hill.
It’s a very fine place to be after a bustling week in  Florence.
I may do my yoga outside in the sun.
PS. Here are some of BW’s photos from the Pitti Palace
Photos by Bruce WIlder
Photos by Bruce WIlder

Italy travelogue, part XV

Getting all our luggage in the car proved a puzzle, but one  eventually solved. The two bellmen worked together, with us, and were so proud  once we got everything in for our trip into the Tuscan  countryside.
The car guy programmed the GPS with our coordinates, and we had  printed directions.
We got lost anyway.
But boy, what beauty. Once you navigate out of the city–easier  than navigating into the city, the world starts to open up. Pretty villages with  narrow winding streets, yes, but then the hills that roll and rise. Dusky green,  rows of tidy vineyards, olive groves–and further out the acres of sunflowers,  so gorgeous and cheerful.
We drive and drive–turns out the car guy didn’t click the deal  that allows toll roads, but we finally ignore the polite, female Brit voice of  the GPS and merge with the Autostrada. She’s obviously annoyed and shut off and  ignores us.
We make much better time, and try to follow the directions. It  seems we’ve making strides, and stop for lunch in the big–and still  charming–town of Satreano. I think that was it. Snag a couple of tables in a  little pizzeria.
Fabulous food! I got a simple green salad, but the balsamic was  amazing–and fries on the side that were wonderful. BW’s sausage pizza was  beautiful, and though I don’t generally like it, I had a skinny slice, and  MMMMMM!!.
We walk around a bit, then get back in the car–restart the GPS.  Follow her directions.
The hills are so beautiful–dusty greens, deep greens, intense  golds, rich browns. We turn on a steep gravel road as directed–and we’re  supposed to turn on a steep gravel road.
We pass a farm, lots of equipment outside, a very dilapidated  house, but she says keep going, so we do. Then in what’s essentially the middle  of a field she claims we’ve reached our destination.
God, I hope not!
Turns out, after some fiddling, the longitude and latitude were  entered incorrectly back in Florence. We’re close, but have no real idea what to  do.
Kat comes to the rescure. I still have no earthly idea how she took  the printed directions–we have two copies, with different coordinates–figured  it out, and wound us back–to the town where we stopped for lunch, and on  through. More roads, more glorious hills, but it’s been awhile now, and I’m  pretty nervous. Plus I’m completely out of my depth.
But she’s confident, tells us what to look for, where to turn. And  lo and behold, we find the road, the gate, and our lovely, lovely villa where  Asia the manager is waiting.
It’s unbelievably beautiful. The views everywhere of the hills, the  colors, the sky. And the gardens of the villa–tomatoes red on the  vine,  bushes of rosemary, roses, trees, vineyards.
It’s rustic, but also boasts WiFi, comfortable rooms, gorgeous  baths and bedrooms that open up on those breathtaking views.
She takes us through, the common rooms, the bedrooms to choose  from. We both pick the first floor–above the main. Ours has an enormous and  beautiful tub, and a separate shower, a pretty bed. I’m using the third bedroom  up here as a little office, and looking out now at the hills, the vineyards, the  olive trees.
The kitchen! We have a cook who’ll come in every day if we want to  make us food. It’s HUGE, and fun, and rustically gorgeous. I want to play in it.  And think I’ll go down and watch her cook and get tips.
Beautifully terraced with those views everywhere, and the light so  brilliant and gorgeous. It’s unreal.
There’s a pool–one of those infinity deals–you walk up the hill,  among the trees, and there it is–dark blue water–with a patio above–and an  ice machine and fridge so you can have drinks. Even a little kitchen if you want  to cook there.
We enjoyed an hour or so just winding down up there.
I could stay here a month. Working with the views outside the  window, taking some time to walk the gardens, snag a plum from a  tree.
It’s in the middle of nowhere–Asia’s term–and just exactly right.  So beautifully quiet.
There are villages to explore, restaurants and shopping not that  far away–but I don’t know if anything can get me to move away from right  here.
I could just sit and look for days.