Friday, September 30, 2016

Our Adventure Under The Tuscan Sun....Cortona, Italy.....

Perhaps there's a romantic side to all of us that dream of moving abroad, falling in love with an old fixer upper house that we must buy, and never going back to our old lives? While that might sound like my life with Clyde exactly, that's not what I'm talking about here. Instead, it's remembering that old romantic classic movie, "Under The Tuscan Sun," that was loosely based on the author's real life. That romantic notion of a single woman who takes a much needed holiday in Tuscany, Italy, buys a home to renovate and starts a whole new life.

There It Is.....Me Heading Up To Take A Photo

Villa Bramasole....Under The Tuscan Sun

The movie was filmed in the historic little village of Cortona, surrounded by the lush, rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. The majestic hills are so lush with vegetation I could almost taste the fresh broccoli florets that they resemble in my mouth. The old house named, "Bramasole," sits high atop a hillside about two kilometers outside of the historic city center. Although I have not read the book I've been told that it's more about a women renovating an old house than it is about her finding a hunky Italian stallion and falling in love in Tuscany. But romance and sex sell movies so of course Hollywood had to add a storyline about love. Be that as it may the house was NOT easy to find and took us quite some time.  With the help of the internet, google maps and several websites offering up directions we managed to stumble onto the place. Away from the touristy part of the town had it not been for our directions we would have driven right past it, never knowing it was THAT house from the movie. It just so happened that I looked up at the right moment, spotted a small sign that said, "Bramasole," and yelled, 'that's it" to get Clyde to stop.

Cortona, Italy

Narrow Streets With Pedestrians And Cars

The View Looking Down...This Elaborate Thing Is A Cemetery

The historic village of Cortona sits high up in the hills of Tuscany, perched on a ledge overlooking the valley below. We spotted it from a distance knowing all too well that this would be another day of walking up steep hills for sightseeing.  A picturesque little town with narrow lanes, cobble stoned streets lined with shops and restaurants and some historic churches, convents and more.

One Of The Old City Walls

When it came time for lunch we walked a few blocks away from the tourist area until we heard no English being spoken. We wandered into a tiny little trattoria run by an older husband and wife team. The little man who had literally ONE tooth in the front of his mouth approached our table and greeted us in Italian.  Clyde asked if credit cards were accepted and the man said, "no."  When Clyde stood up getting ready to find another place to eat the man said in Italian, "no eat first and then you can find a machine at a bank to get money." As I seem better at understanding Italian than Clyde I got the gist of what the man was saying and relayed the message. Next we asked the man for a menu and he said in Italian something to the effect of, "I am the menu," and proceeded to give us our choice of food.
Our choice was PASTA or pizza, nothing else, just pasta!  He did offer us a choice of sauce and the type of pasta, "spaghetti or tagliatelle (a wide noodle that resembles an egg noodle).  We choose the tagliatelle with pomodoro (tomato) sauce and off went the man to put in our order. A while later he returned with a basket of bread, no butter or olive oil just dry bread is the way they eat it here, and some grated parmesan cheese. When the pasta arrived it was topped with sauce and some fresh basil and cost around 7 euros per plate. It was one of the better pasta dishes we've had here complete with the ambience of a Mom and Pap shop surrounded by locals speaking Italian.

After nearly a month here I'm learning about the menu. Offered at every restaurant is this: Antipasto (appetizers), Primi Piata (first course usually pasta with no protein), Secondo Piata (second course with protein added), Contorni (side dishes), and Dolci (desserts which usually include coffee). And a note about coffee in Italy. Italians like to drink their coffee's quick, standing up and move on.  To ask for just, "coffee" it means, "espresso," a tiny shot of strong coffee, chugged down quickly. Us Americans prefer a big cup of coffee with milk to sit and enjoy for a while.  We have to remember to ask for cappuccino or cafĂ© Americano, both of which are served with milk.

Dessert throughout Europe for many, at least for Clyde and I, is pretty much always gelato (ice cream). There is literally a gelato shop on most every corner here.  We merely have to look for the giant, four foot ice cream cone standing on the street that most every shop here has and then follow it to our favorite flavor.  Good thing there are big hills to climb and plenty of walking to do to burn off some of those calories.

Rocca de Pierle

A Little Village On A Hill

This One Was For Sale

Little Village Off The Beaten Path

On our way to Cortona we spotted this old castle and historic homes up above us so drove up to take a peek.  Surrounded by the green hills of the Pierle valley sits Pierle Rocca and an old castle that dates back to the 10th century. Just another of the many glorious old homes we find along our way here. Another fun day of exploring the sights, smells, tastes and beauty of Italy with my beloved partner in adventure.....along the gringo trail.

Terry and Clyde are able to "Travel The World House Sitting"  and so can you!  We have created a website to help people who want to learn about house sitting.    Information for both the prospective house sitter and for someone who needs a house sitter.

the New Website                          -->  CLICK HERE

How to Get Your First House Sit -->  CLICK HERE

How to find a house sitter          ---->  CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ascending Into Assisi The Birthplace Of St. Francis.....

About one hour by car from our present house sit in Umbria, Italy sits the mountain-top city of Assisi. Most famous for being the birthplace of St. Francis who founded the Franciscan Religious Order, the beautiful ancient city is a sight to behold.

Assisi From Afar

A Museum And Crypt

Born into a wealthy family of a silk merchant in 1181 Francis lived a high-spirited life and even joined the military. But it was after a serious illness where he had a spiritual awakening and a vision that convinced him to go back to Assisi. After a pilgrimage to Rome where he mingled with the poor he gave up his wealth and opted to live a life of poverty. Francis began preaching on the streets and developed a following. Today St. Francis is the patron saint of Italy and considered to be one of the most important religious figures of all time.

This Spot Used To Be A Stahl Where St. Francis Was Born
A Slab Was Found With An Inscription That Explained This

Italian Pastries

Frescos Everywhere

It was around 1000 BC that a wave of immigrants settled into the upper Tiber valley.  They called themselves Umbrians who lived in small fortified settlements on high ground. From 450 BC  these settlements were gradually taken over by the Etruscans. The Romans took control in 295 BC after the Battle of Sentinum and built a series of terraces high atop Mount Subasio. For anyone interested in more about Assisi please refer to the link below.

The Tomb Where St. Francis Is Buried

The Basilica Of St. Francis

Nuns And Friars Everywhere

Streets For Cars And Pedestrians

Panoramic View From Down Below

Assisi is not an easy city for sightseeing with plenty of hills to climb, narrow roads shared by pedestrians along with cars plus tourists. But climb we did to see the gorgeous buildings, breathtaking scenery and step back in time when St. Francis walked these cobblestoned roads. As usual let our photos take you along with us on our journey of today as we explored the streets of Assisi, Italy.....along the gringo trail.

Terry and Clyde are able to "Travel The World House Sitting"  and so can you!  We have created a website to help people who want to learn about house sitting.    Information for both the prospective house sitter and for someone who needs a house sitter.

the New Website                          -->  CLICK HERE

How to Get Your First House Sit -->  CLICK HERE

How to find a house sitter          ---->  CLICK HERE

A Somber Day.....In Auschwitz, Poland.....

From the moment we left our hotel for our trip to Auschwitz the mood was being set for this life changing experience. Clyde and I were the ...