Italy, Travel

Foodie Adventure V: Spello

Spello is another of Umbria’s medieval towns, and it has won my heart.

Everywhere are colorful pots of flowers hanging on walls making Spello seem such a happy place.

Even the pets appear enchanted to be surrounded by such beauty.

Handwork is part of what defines Spello whether it be textiles

or pottery with designs unique to the area.

In addition to what we think of as typical to Italy, this artist also does some wonderful contemporary pieces. No way was I leaving Spello without making a purchase. The hard part was deciding what!

It wasn’t just textiles and pottery that were handmade. So was the clothing at this shop where we ladies went crazy. The shop owner designs what she sells and works with seamstresses and weavers to have it made. Talk about my kind of place!

I couldn’t get enough of the friendly faces and the small shops packed full of good things to eat and drink.

Putting a perfect end to the visit was a wine tasting and dinner at Enoteca Properzio where a charming father/son duo kept us Foodies entertained with their presentation about the products made by their family. With all that we bought to ship home we made the evening well worth their effort!

Yes, Spello put a charm on me, and if you are ever in Umbria be sure to take the time to ferret it out. It’s one of those very special places.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Italy, Travel

Foodie Adventure V: Assisi

As many times as we’ve been to Italy, we’ve not been to Umbria so I was delighted to learn that this Foodie Adventure would include side trips to towns not too distant from Cortona.

For a number of years, the medieval city of Assisi has been high on my list of go to places, and it is now a place I’d definitely return.

I so enjoyed wandering its cobblestone streets where there is much to take in.

With all of its textures, the architecture is reminiscent of a time long past.

As you are probably aware, Assisi is best known for being the birthplace of St. Francis who is honored with a basilica and monastery bearing his name.

No photography is allowed inside where the walls and ceilings are adorned with frescoes. Many were done by Giotto whose work influenced that of many artists who followed.

Outside, I was fascinated by the colors and textures of the construction materials.

Studying these, I marveled at the skills possessed so many centuries ago when building was done without sophisticated equipment. It is doubtful that the same could be created today.

Assisi is also the birthplace of St. Clare remembered for ministering to the poor. In the cathedral bearing her name, she is interred.

From the outside, one doesn’t notice anything but the beautiful design of this window, but inside, with the light shining through, is revealed a creation of stained glass.

These are the highlights of my visit to Assisi, but with more time one could find more to explore and enjoy.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Italy, Travel

Foodie Adventure V: CORTONA

If you have followed Lulu’s Musings for a while, you’ll know that one of our favorite travels is Chef Michael Salmon’s Foodie Adventures. The hubby and I have joined him and his wife in France, Spain and three different locations in Italy to enjoy touring and cooking.

Always one of the treats of the adventure is where we stay. This trip our base is a lovely villa near Cortona in Tuscany where the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed. Right outside outside my window are glimpses that remind me of the film.

What happens on a Foodie Adventure is that we see the sites during the day, and if you’ve ever been to Italy you know there’s no shortage of fascinating places to visit.

After a full day, the group, usually 16 to 20, returns to join Chef Michael in the kitchen to prepare the evening meal. Believe me, it takes all of us to prepare the four courses, and somehow Chef Michael keeps an eye on all and gives helpful hints so that we get everything just right.

Presentation is ever so important to Chef, and by the end of the week all of us improve our plating skills.

In addition to everything else, ladies find some time for shopping. Every little town has something tempting to drain the wallet of euros to the chagrin of hubbys.

No place is more costly than The Mall, a famous outlet for designer clothes. Even at discount prices Armani, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Valentino, etc. are priced higher than I am comfortable paying.

While the shopping is going on, you can be sure the men find a good place for gelato!

As the week goes on I’ll share with you some of my favorite parts of the Foodie Adventure and maybe even a recipe or two from Chef Michael’s kitchen. I hope you will join me.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Art, Travel

Roma: A Quick Stop

These days when we travel a long distance we give ourselves a day or two to recuperate and adjust to the time change. This trip involved flying into Rome, a great place to get your feet on the ground.

This being a short visit, we didn’t want to spend hours waiting in line for some of the major attractions, so we opted to visit Galleria Borghese where we’d never been. The gallery is located in the villa begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V. The cardinal used it as a country villa at the edge of Rome.

Borghese was an early patron of Bernini, and the sculptures in his collection are amazing.

From every angle there is such detail.

Up close the expressions tell a story of their own as seen here between Daphne and Apollo.

Just as there is great strength represented in Bernini’s creations,

there is grace and beauty.

While it was difficult to pick a favorite from such magnificent creations, David preparing to slay Goliath may have been it. Again, a story is depicted so powerfully.

In addition to sculpture, there is a great collection of paintings with works by such names as Carvaggio, Raphael and Titian.

As much as I liked the paintings, what fascinated me were the ceilings in every room.

It wasn’t just that the work was beautiful, it was that it was so three dimensional as to make some of the work seem more sculpted than painted.

Finished marveling at the work inside Galleria Borghese, we began walking back to our hotel with a slight detour to the Spanish Steps. There you can always count on merging with masses of humanity which reminds you of all the people who visit Rome to experience the wonder it has to offer. If one has to make a quick stop, this is a wonderful place to do it.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Tablescapes

Seeing Red

This is one of my favorite table runners made by the hands of a Vietnamese person with disabilities working in a state run workshop. Funny how it has been used dozens of times and I’ve never paid much attention to the red.  Usually, it is the blue and orange tones that dominate my thinking.

Not today!  Red has totally grabbed my eye which was reason enough to pull out the crocheted placemats made by my mother-in-law.  I smile as I think of her trying to teach me how to crochet.  My hands were so awkward with a crochet hook, and I didn’t get much farther than casting on with a chain stitch.  Red is not a color I use much on a table, and I’m not sure why because it is one of my favorites.

Maybe it was the flowers on the runner that drew my eye and made the red seem more important.  Whatever the influence, it made for a very happy table.

There was no need to add more color, so white dishes provided the finishing touch.

Later, when chili was dished up, I had to laugh when even it had traces of red.  On this day, red was meant to be.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

musings

How Things Change

West UWhen we built our house 26 years ago in a style influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, our sanity was questioned.

IMG_0564Here we were in the midst of very traditional homes, many dating back to the 1930’s, and we were introducing a totally different style.

To make matters worse, during construction I was running for office. Someone who apparently objected to the look we had chosen wrote a letter to the editor questioning my abilities considering my taste in architecture!  After that there was never a time when we came by to view progress that we didn’t find curious people walking through. That was a pretty easy way to meet folks and I’ve always laughed thinking that the house provided a successful campaign outcome.  

IMG_0560Well, that was then and this is now.

IMG_0578In the last couple of years, new construction indicates a changing taste in architecture.

IMG_0561Since the 1980’s when redevelopment in this area began, decades have been defined by home styles so these may well be the look for the second decade of the 21st century. 

IMG_0576 (1)I am glad that our house no longer stands alone when it comes to architectural style. It is reassuring that it is as relevant today as it would have been had it been built in the 1930’s which was our intent.  No matter one’s taste in architecture,  an important criteria is that it withstand the test of time.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind