#2 Oaxaca, Mexico, March 15, 2017

Dear Everybody,

Oaxaca is really wonderful——the weather is perfect, the food is outstanding, and there are lots of artisania shops with lots of interesting things to buy. We’re both trying hard not to buy things since neither of us has room for much more! However, Burt bought a hand made bag in the exact colors of his bathroom in which to put extra towels. It was for sale at a restaurant where we had breakfast a couple of times.

Still this is Mexico and not everything works so well. The second day we managed to plug up a toilet and the oven in the stove wouldn’t light so we had to call for help from our landlady, Laura. We also have a refrig that works fine, but it’s hard to open and when you jerk it to get it open, it moves, so eventually one has to pause and push it back in place. Then the drinking water has to be purchased in big bottles. We use a pump-thing to make the water come out. It’s amazing how much we use—-for drinking and cooking.

On the way home in a taxi the other day, Burt forgot his visor cap, so when we went to Walmart’s to buy some needed housewares, we also bought him a Bogart hat to keep the sun off his head. We think it looks pretty sporty. Speaking of taxis, they are so available and quite cheap so this works out much better than renting a car.

Burt has been reading up on the seven moles of Oaxaca and attempting to learn the different chilies. In our little market that is only a few blocks from our house we saw a whole area devoted to mole ingredients.

We were also able to buy three herbs that Burt wants to get to know, as well as some squash blossoms for the chicken soup that he is making. Here you have avocado leaves, Hierba Santa, the squash blossoms, and epazote.

It’s fun to walk around the neighborhood and see what’s available. We found a laundromat a block away and made good use of that. Luckily they do all the work!  Near it is a chocolate shop—-Oaxaca is very big on grinding their own cacao beans and making world class chocolate. We stopped in after delivering our dirty laundry, rewarding ourselves with a morning hot chocolate.

On Monday we had our dinner at the Casa Oaxaca. We had looked in on this restaurant earlier and Burt had photoed the menu with his iPad. We had studied it carefully and chosen our dinner. I explained to the waiter that we wanted to order three plates, but we wanted to share each of them. No problem—-what I really like about Mexico. Wherever and whenever you are eating in a Mexican restaurant, you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it, and however you want it.

We started with Margaritas—-Burt had his with mescal and I had mine with tequila. His was the more interesting, and later we ordered another to share. It was quite intense——Burt says “an iodine taste like Islay Scotch.”

Then a waiter came and made a salsa to our order (picante or not so) tableside.

A tlayuda appeared, gratis,—-a crisp blue corn tostada with queso fresco (fresh cheese)—-very good.

Our first course arrived, which was a fried tostada with agave worms, grasshoppers, chicatanas ants, guacamole, onion, radish and mayonnaise infused with chicatanas ants (so said the menu).

Following, preparations were made for our second course—-a traditional fish soup served with fish, octopus, clams, mussels and shrimp but cooked with a hot stone tableside.

The third course was suckling pig——luckily a small amount as we were getting pretty full!

What a wonderful meal, a beautiful setting upstairs outside, overlooking the Church of Santo Domingo and a friendly, competent waiter. Our walk home, about six blocks, gave us a chance to digest our over-the-top dinner!

Tuesday morning we took a taxi to the HUGE Mercado Central Abastos. We walked around in it for two hours and I don’t think we covered more than a fourth of it. A young girl was butchering a beef hind——and another lady was making beef tasajo. This is when they slice beef VERY fine and when they get almost to the end, they turn it around and slice back again; they keep doing that so they wind up with one loooong piece of very thin beef, kind of like an accordion. They salt it as they go.

Of course they have all the usual produce, chickens and veggies, but we prefer to buy those at our neighborhood market. We did see a big display of all the grasshoppers, ants, and bugs, but didn’t buy any, although we bought some sal gusano and sal chapulines (salt with ground bugs)—-to put on our fruit in the mornings.

Finally we did buy some ready-made tamales to bring home to eat tonight, which Burt re-steamed, just to be sure.

On the way out, we came to the live produce market—-there were chickens, turkeys, bunnies, doves, ducks and more!

Today we had breakfast out, and what a breakfast. We started with capucinni, and then we both had Huateque, which was a dish of two fried tortillas, two eggs, ham, black beans, string cheese, and tomato sauce with some very good chili sauce (picante) to put on it. That required a walk so we walked to a supermarket, but on the way came to a nice store that had the things we wanted to buy, so we popped in there and then took a taxi home.

On our walk to the store we encountered the Rincon del Aquaducto, a 400+-year old aquaduct. At one time it brought the water supply to the city.

More adventures to come!

Posted in 2017, Oaxaca, Mexico | 2 Comments

#1 Oaxaca, Mexico, March 12, 2017

Dear Everybody,

Since Burt and I met one and a half years ago, we’ve managed to travel together quite a bit. We are now in Oaxaca, Mexico, renting a house for a couple of weeks. The house is on a tiny pedestrian street, accessed through the ‘Arcos,’ a four-hundred year old aqueduct.

On our first day a trip to the market yielded a bottle of mescal, the old workingman’s drink made from cactus, but today made into a specialty of Oaxaca, in fine looking bottles. So we tried it out on our patio, and yes, it had a worm, and yes, Burt ate it!

The first morning we went out for breakfast. Burt had negro mole over tortillas and onions; I had ‘divorced eggs’—-one with red sauce and one with green sauce.

Burt has been cooking up a storm; one day we had wonderful shrimp cocktails; another day he prepared a half of a pig’s head, which yielded four kinds of meat——snout, ear, tongue, and ‘other.’ We ate it with negro mole sauce, rice, and beans with cheese.

We’ve gone for some long walks—- a couple of times to the Juarez market which is down by the Zocalo, the park that is Oaxaca’s living room. Burt got a shoeshine while we stopped and had an ‘agua con gas’ under the portales.

The Juarez market is huge and we enjoy it a lot, but we also have a small market about two blocks from our house along with a
tortilleria for fresh tortillas——um, good. We did buy a half a chicken in the Juarez market, and examined other possibilities for later in the week, including all the chilies and the myriad of herbs needed to make our own moles.

 

 

 

On the way back we visited the most beautiful and ornate Church of Santo Domingo, admiring all the detail, done several hundred years ago.

We’re really having fun shopping, cooking and eating.

Posted in 2017, Oaxaca, Mexico | 1 Comment

#1 Sardinia/Malta, Oct. 8, 2015

Dear Everybody,

What a hassle flying is getting to be; still I made it to Caglieri, Sardinia, my first Cagliaridestination. This lovely island in the Mediterranean is part of Italy. Its capital, Caglieri (pronounced Cull’-yer-ee—-roll the ‘r’) is a beautiful city.

The waterfront Waterfronthas lots of big cruise ships and many yachts.

The main piazza houses the train station, the City Hall, and the bus station, where you buy your tickets in a booth in the local McDonalds!.Town Hall

I’m staying in a very nice hostel near the main piazza; they serve an Italian breakfast of a croissant and all kinds of coffee. Yes, the coffee comes out of a machine with buttons, so it’s not perfect, but what is?!

I spent most of my first full day getting organized. I had forgotten my electric adapter so I had to chase all around to find one to buy. Then I bought train and bus tickets for some day trips, and also for when I leave, next week.

Spaghetti with ClamsFor linner, seafood rules, here. I had spaghetti and clams and VERY good wine at a restaurant down the street. There are sidewalk restaurants every 30 feet here—-the locals must eat out a lot!

I popped into the San Sepolcro church right next door, visiting a 4th century Baptistry in the crypt.4th C. Baptistry

On the Piazza San Sepolcro, just down some steps from my hostel, it’s fun to watch the locals at rest and Piazza San Sapolcroplay.

 

The next day I took a walking tour mapped out in the Lonely Planet to see the sights. Unfortunately it was the first hot, humid day, and the tour meant climbing up and down—-it kind of wore me out! Still there was lots to see.

 

 

I’ll spare you all about the churches, except the

Cathedral of Santa MariaCathedral of Santa Maria had two wonderful marble pulpits carved by Guglielmo da Pisa in 1312. Several of the buildings had been rebuilt after World War II—-I hadn’t realized that Sardinia was bombed.

2 Pulpits-Guglielmo da Pisa-1312

Roman Amphitheater

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the Romans were here, too,

 

 

and built an amphitheater but it had been badly pillaged for building materials so was barely recognizable.

 

 

 

Still they have concerts in this place in the summer!

Cagliari

Lion on Lion Gate

 

 

 

 

From the Castello, way up high, with its thick walls,
one has marvelous views of Caglieri. And the Lion’s Gate does have a couple of lions on it.

The next day I tackled the museums way up high in the Castello. Just walking up is a chore! The Archeological Museum was a gem! Neolithic-3200-2600 BCEThere were some beautiful cross-shaped females faintly reminiscent of the ones in the Greek Islands. Then there were the bronze figures that go back to the Neolithic time—-6000-3500 BCE. There are lots of them, all interesting. DSC03561Most are about three inches high, but some are as large DSC03555as eight inches. These nurighic bronzetti have been invaluable for archeologists to learn about the lives in this era.

Of course the Romans were here—-Roman-Antestook over the island in 227 BCE. They, too, built temples and left their mark.

DSC03571

 

 

Following that museum I went to the Pinacoteca, which had art from the 1400s to the 1800s. Prominently displayed
Cavaro-St. PaulCavaro-St. Peterwere four works by Pietro Cavaro who founded the Stampace School of art and is Sardinia’s most important artist. I did think the St. Peter and St. Paul paintings were special.

Van Gogh-The GardnerBut wait! There was More! In the San Pancrazio building they had a display of ‘recovered’ art. All of this art had been stolen or illegally excavated. The Italian police did an investigation and found over 5000 pieces in Basil, Switzerland, which they confiscated in 2013!. Included were many nurighic bronzetti, as well as a Gaugin and a Van Gogh! There was some wonderful old religious art, too, by some of the Florentines.

MusselsI staggered back down the mountain to a good restaurant where I had great seafood for my linner. My ‘starter’ was mussels—-well now I’m spoiled and won’t want the ones I buy at Whole Foods. These were so good! I suppose they were harvested that morning. I followed this up with pasta (with local sausage) and King Prawns.

Oh, I forgot—-the night before last I had decided to getEvening Stilt Walkers-Piazza San Sepolcro some air and as I headed down the steps to the Piazza San Sepolcro I heard music—-it was a free amateur show with stilt walkers, dancing to recorded music. So I had a small beer as I watched the show. Yes, Caglieri is a lively town!

Today I took an 8:00 bus to a town called Pula. On the way there I saw flamingoes in the backwater from Flamingoes on the way to Pulathe Mediterranean.

From Pula I got a shuttle toRoman Baths go to Nora, which has lots of layers of history. Nora was founded by the Nora-Roman Site-250 BCEPhoenicians in the 6th C. BCE; the Romans took over the island in the 3rd C BCE.  Virtually all of what I saw dated to Roman times. There were Roman baths and mosaic floors and there was a Roman Mosaic Floorsmall theater.

Small Roman Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the shuttle bus returning to Pula wasn’t coming for two more hours, and then, if I waited, I would miss my Caglieri bus. The Lonely Planet book said it was four km—-easily walkable but when we came, I noticed that it seemed much longer than four km. Then which way to go? I started walking and wondering if I were on the right road. Yes, I finally came to a sign that said, “Pula.” I kept going but it WAS more than four km and it was getting late. So I stuck out my thumb to hitchhike. I know, Europeans don’t hitchhike (nor any more do Americans, I think) and several cars went by. Luckily one stopped—-an older couple from Milan—-who didn’t look like ax murderers! They dropped me at the Piazza, but it was still an hour until my Caglieri bus. So, even though it was too early to eat, (only noon), I did anyway. I had a small draft beer and roast goat cheese. Was that good! On the way home I stopped and bought more fruit—-the cheese and bread with olive oil was pretty heavy!

After I got off the bus I checked into renting a car for a day, since an important World Heritage Site of a Paleolithic Nuraghe settlement—-in fact the most important one on the island—-isn’t reachable by bus with any good timing. I’ll probably do this on Saturday. However, the Sardinian drivers (like the mainland Italians) are skilled but aggressive. The way those cowboy bus drivers were slinging those buses around in the bus yard—-some were even double buses with the accordion connection—-didn’t bother them. They backed them up very fast, right up to a building, two feet away. I hope they don’t sling me off the road!

Anyway, all is fine and I’m enjoying Sardinia. I’ve been mostly alone in my dorm (I think the lady is ‘protecting’ me) so I’ve been kind of isolated. That’s why I stay in the dorms—-to interact with other travelers. I finally had three roommates last night, of which two were from France and one from Germany. Everybody is surprised when they find that I’m American. I think not many come here.

Posted in 2015 Sardinia/Malta | 1 Comment

April/May, 2001

April/May 2001

Once again I am in Partina, near Arezzo in Italy. It is the occasion of Claire and Roberto’s younger son’s Baptism, in the 16th century church in the small village where Roberto grew up.

Roberto, Claire, Marco (age 3 1/2) and Lorenzo (age 1 1/2) arrived to the joy of Roberto’s 9family. Burt, 10(Lorenzo’s USA grandfather) and Donna also made the trip. As is customary, we gathered at the restaurant, Il Casentino on the grounds of the 12th century Poppi Castle, for a lovely dinner. This included Roberto, Claire, Marco and Lorenzo; Claire’s father, Burt, and wife, Donna; Roberto’s sister, Roberta and husband Paolo and children Matteo and Martina; Roberto’s father, Vivaldo; and me.8

1-2

 

 

15

 

All preparations were made for Lorenzo’s Baptism, which had actually been scheduled for the previous summer, when he was six months old, but Claire had been suddenly laid off in the proverbial ‘down-sizing’ so the trip to Italy had to wait until she was gainfully employed once again.

There was a new priest in Partina, as their much-loved former priest had died suddenly, leaving the congregation in mourning. Another priest had been assigned, but due to the shortage of priests, this poor man had to serve three congregations, miles apart! Because of his many commitments he suggested having the Baptism on a Saturday, but that wouldn’t have been ideal, as Lorenzo’s grandpa Burt and Donna were due to arrive on Saturday afternoon and would have missed the ceremony. The word about this got around town, and the ladies who were cleaning the church (with Roberta present) were suggesting that the new priest was not meeting their needs. As one of the women was especially critical (right there in church!) she turned to the statue of the Virgin Mary, put her hands together in a prayerful pose and said, “Perdona, Madonna!” The Baptism was rescheduled to happen during Mass on Sunday so all could be present.

lorenzo-baptism-2001In the meantime, the little boys were the toast of the town, hanging out in the local coffee bar, with Roberto, Claire and Ducio, Roberto’s friend.

 

 

67They enjoyed interacting with their cousins, Matteo and Martina, and older cousin Giampaolo; also with much-older-cousin, Lucia.3

 

 

11

 

Sunday, Baptism Day came. Roberta and Paolo were the

sponsors; parents and godparents with Lorenzo were asked to come forward during the Mass, and, while it was a bit awkward for an 18-month old ‘baby’ to recline as the 13Baptismal water was being poured on him, all went smoothly! Lorenzo seemed to enjoy the whole ceremony.

 

12

 

The family gathered for a lovely dinner, again at Il Casentino Restaurant, and this time also included were Roberto’s sister, 4Luigina and her husband 19
Giovanni; their children, Lucia and Giampaolo, and Roberta’s parents-in-law, Renata and Bruno.

More happy times were spent by Roberto, visiting childhood 16chums that he grew up with, and showing his boys Partina, his hometown.

 

The following Sunday we all celebrated Giampaolo’s First Communion at his 14church. His paternal grandparents,

 

Bruna and Natale live right across the street from the church, and were happy to pose for pictures with two very active little boys and their 20mother, Claire. We all were treated to a wonderful many-course dinner afterwards, eating outside in the lovely Tuscan sunshine.

Alas, immediately after dinner, I had to be driven by Roberto to Arezzo to catch a train to Rome, as my ‘High School Friends’ were arriving a day later and I needed to be on hand in Rome to greet them. What a lovely family set of events, with all present to celebrate Lorenzo’s Baptism and Giampaolo’s First Communion!

Posted in 2001, Italy | Leave a comment

#4 (Final) Italy, Sept. 13, 2016

Dear Everybody,

Wednesday, we did some shopping at a couple of special stores for things (like olive oil and wine) to take home. Dinner that evening was a wonderful swordfish steak that Burt grilled. The fresh seafood that one can get here is amazing!

dsc07812dsc07831Thursday we went back to Arezzo to again see the dsc07855film presentation called “The Ages of Gold.” This was a study in Piero della Francesca’s jewelry items that were in his murals and paintings. The artist had constructed jewelry pieces that were on display, along with the film dsc07854presentation showing the relationships between the paintings and the pieces of jewelry. We had already seen this before we had seen any of the Piero paintings, but it was even more meaningful after we had seen them.

Guido Monaco-do re miWe made a quick walk around to see the statue of Guido Monaco (invented do re mi etc. in the 12th C), EtruscanEtrucan Chimera-copy Chimera (copy), and what’s left of the Roman Amphitheater.

Burt managed to buy another cookbook (Tuscan) to add to his 1200 at home.Roman Amphitheatre

That evening we had abbacchio (baby lamb with its kidney), beans and salad. For dessert we Baby Lamb, Beans, Saladhad Nocino, the walnut liquor that we bought at LaVerna, made by the monks. We managed to find another bottle in Arezzo to bring home.

Friday we made a walk around Partina, looking Partina Castle, Rear Viewat the castle and the old part of town;

 

 

 

then walking along the main street and over to the new memorial to the eight local partisans that Partina Main Streetwere shot by the Nazis toward the end of New Aprile 13th MemorialWorld War II.

 

 

 

 

People here are not expecting tourists, so we got many curious looks while we sauntered with our cameras.

Saturday was a ‘clean-up and organize’ day. We did look in on the 
antique sidewalk sale in Soci, and I will confess to buying six pretty
 martini glasses. Luckily we found some bubble wrap by the dumpster (I think somebody got a new mattress!) so we could wrap up our wine bottles and olive oil bottles, along with my new glasses to take home. We also brought over a few groceries to Roberta’s that were left over and said ‘arrivederci’ to the family.

Saturday night we again went to Soci to get a pizza, and found that our usual parking lot Soci 'Racetrack' for Kidshad been made into a ‘racetrack’ for kids on their motorscooters. They were just finishing up their week long ‘fest.’

Sunday morning we finished our ‘house closing’ duties, had a cappuccino and corneto in the local coffee bar and took off for Rome.
We had a dickens of a time getting to the Airport Hilton where we were going to stay overnight; we could see it, but couldn’t find the driveway! After driving around and around we finally managed. Turning in the car went more smoothly.

Then there was a big rigamarole for getting on the plane: A shuttle bus to Terminal Five; a line for checking in; a line for passport control; a line for checking bags; a line for security; a shuttle bus to go to the gate; another line for passport control (again); and another shuttle bus to get on the plane! The long (10-hour) direct flight home was fine, and Claire picked us up at the airport.

Burt and CarolThe whole trip was great! We had almost perfect weather; the food was wonderful, especially the many meals that Burt cooked; the wine was fine and we’re looking forward to going again next year!

Posted in 2016, Italy | Leave a comment

#3 Italy, Sept. 7, 2016

Dear Everybody,

Friday we bought some more supplies at the Soci Farmer’s Market, then had a lovely lunch at La Buca in Soci. Burt had pepposa, which he had cooked for us a few nights earlier, anddsc07509 I had cingiale, which is wild boar. Both were good, as well as a half bottle of Plan di Remole wine. When I asked for olive oil for the bread, the waitress brought Laudemio, which Burt says Surdyks carries at home for $40 a bottle.

A waiter was cutting up two huge Florentine steaks forCarving a Steak at Buca
five people at the next table. He had also been shaving off prosciutto for other guests.

Prusciutto in Buca RestaurantMost evenings we have dinner on the terrace at the house. Friday night Burt grilled two Dinner in Backyardveal porterhouse steaks for us and made another puntadella salad.

Saturday we drove a very long ways to finish off the ‘Piero Art Trail.’ It was through the mountains with hairpin turns; then an autostrada with no shoulders on either side, cars doing 100 miles per hour, with two single lane pieces for repair and one poorly lit tunnel; then more mountains again, until we arrived in 2 3/4 hours.

The FlagellationStill the town of Urbino was worth it. What a beauty! The gorgeous Ducal Palace made a wonderful museum, in which two paintings Sanigallia Madonnaby Piero della Francesca were displayed. The first was “The Flagellation,” the second was “Senigallia Madonna.”

La Muta-RaphaelThere was room after room of paintings, including one by Rafael called “La Muta.”

Burt overheard two people discussing visiting the CathedralCathedral—-they said no visitors were permitted that day, as they were checking for damage from the recent earthquake, centered in Amatrice.

We had a lovely lunch in a garden setting—-Burt had turkey with truffles! He also learned a new wine that he loves—-Bianchello from Urbino. We stopped at a grocery store near Urbino on the way home to buy two bottles—-one of which we enjoyed for dinner. It doesn’t seem to be for sale except near Urbino.

St. Francis' Cloak-1226Sunday we drove over the same mountains (not so far) to LaVerna, a monastery where St. Francis of Assisi lived in the 1200s. There is a cloak displayed which they say was worn by St. Francis in 1226 when he received the stigmata. The setting is magnificent—-beautiful woods with the dsc07598monastery set high on a hill. We bought a bottle of LaVerna Nocino, a liquor made by the monks out of walnuts. When we got home we discovered it was delicious; I wish we had bought another bottle to take home, but I think I will NOT drive over those mountains again, no matter how good it is!
Sunday night Burt made fresh scallops (in their shells) as an appetizer, followed by roast duck arancia, which we ate on the terrace just at dusk.

Burt and Carol at Castle-StiaMonday we went to Stia, a little town nearby that has two castles. We visited the Castle di Palagio, then stopped in a couple of Medieval Columnschurches, one of which had really old medieval columns.

Ancient FountainLunch in Stia was at the Trattoria Filetto on the main piazza next to the very old fountain, their main source of water in centuries past! We had some pasta and stewed goat.

Yesterday we went on an adventurous outing, first driving to Arezzo and parking the car near the train station; then taking a Train from Arezzo to Orvietotrain for 1 1/2 hours to Orvieto. I had always wanted to see the cathedral there—-it is supposed to be one of the outstanding ones in all of Italy. It’s quite near Rome, and I had thought to stop in sometime, either going or coming to Partina, but I never had.
Orvieto is built on a high hill (like many towns in Italy). When we arrived at the train station, there was a funicular to take us up, Funicular in Orvietoup to the town, with a shuttle bus to take us to the main piazza.

The Cathedral, which was begun in 1290 and took three centuries to finish, is stunning! Orvieto Cathedral-Started 1290The exterior has many mosaic scenes and marble carvings that tell many stories.
The interior has two marvelous chapels, one of which is the San Brizio, describing the End of "The End of the World"-Signorellithe World, by Signorelli in 1499.dsc07721

We saw many lovely things at the Museo del Mary Magdalene-Signorelli-1504Opera del Duomo.

There was lots more to see and experience, but for us, that was all we had time and energy for. We walked back to the Funicular, being treated to a view of Orvieto’s walls on the way; descended to the train 
Walls of Orvietostation; took the train back to Arezzo. While on the train it started to rain and blow, so when we got off and hoofed the three blocks to our car, we got pretty cold and wet. Since we’ve had perfect weather for over two weeks, we couldn’t complain. We did have to figure out the paying system for the car parking, though, which involved driving up to the gate, not having paid the ticket elsewhere, asking the driver behind me to back up (along with two other cars) so I could back up and turn around, then pay at a machine. Of course I didn’t have the right bills so had to return once to get some from Burt, then managed to get us out of there. I only describe all this, so you know that even though I have traveled a lot, there are still many conundrums to deal with!

We got home about 7:00 PM, and were quite worn out so we are having a ‘slow’ day today! That’s nice, too!

Oh, and by the way, the lampredotto that Burt cooked from the cow’s 4th stomach lining (which took parts of a couple of days) turned out great! We had it on sandwiches for lunch—-it was odd, but delicious!

I hope you are all fine—-we are, and really enjoying our trip!

Posted in 2016, Italy | 2 Comments

#2 Italy, Sept. 2, 2016

Dear Everybody,

Our dinner on Saturday (12:30 Pranso) for Roberto’s family went swimmingly. Roberto’s sisters, Roberta and Luigina, and their husbands, Paolo and Giovanni were here, along with Roberta and Paolo’s two children, Matteo (22) and Martina (19). We served Proseco in the living room while everyone gathered (Matteo came on his motorcycle) and then to table for bruschette, which was Burt’s liver pate on slightly toasted bread. The liver was from rabbits (coniglio).

The main course was roasted duck, sautéed fresh porcini mushrooms with onion, and friedPorcini Mushrooms potatoes, served with a nice Tuscan red 
wine. Following was Burt’s puntadella salad, with chicory, dressed with anchovies, garlic, lemon and olive oil. For dessert, Luigina had brought Vin Santo and biscotti; Roberta had brought a beautiful tray of sweets and this was followed by coffee.

I can speak a few words of Italian and Matteo can speak some English, but the rest was in sign language! Still, we were able to communicate reasonably well. We had so much fun that, in spite of us reminding ourselves ahead of time to take lots of pictures, we completely forgot to take even one!

Piero della Francisca-Madonna del PartoThe next day we continued on our Art Trail to see Piero della Francesca’s paintings. He was painting in the mid-1400s, so many of his paintings have disappeared. We drove to Monterchi to see his ‘Madonna del Parto’ which is exquisite.

We had planned to go on to Sansepolcro, Piero’s home town, but having gotten a late start and spending some time in Monterchi seeing a documentary film about Piero’s life, we decidedLunch-Rosemary with Silverware to eat lunch and call it quits. In the outdoor trattoria they served us on lace placemats with the silverware threaded Amatrecianawith a sprig of rosemary. They had a sign up saying that for every plate of Amatreciana ordered, they would give two euro to the victims of the earthquake. Amatreciana is the famous pasta from Amatrice; Burt enjoyed it for lunch.

The following day we made a loooong trip south to ‘take dsc07375the waters.’ There are many hot springs in Tuscany—-we went to Bagno Vignoni, getting slightly lost a couple of times on the way. The drive was magical as all of Tuscany is. We got there in time for lunch, which we had on a terrace overlooking a 16th century ‘tank’ dsc07370where Italians took the waters so long ago. After a pasta lunch with a wonderful Montepulciano red wine, we first bathed out Carol Soaking Feetfeet in the running waters; then went to a hotel to swim in Carol Taking the Waterstheir pool.

Feeling fully cured of what ailed us (especially since nothing ailed us) we set out for home. When we got to the traffic circles of Arezzo, Burt readied my camera to try to photograph a weird thing that we have seen twice, which is a billboard on a truck of Donald Trump! We thought perhaps Trump was looking for the Black vote in Tuscany! Looking for Donald TrumpWe saw the truck, but the billboard had changed. From now on we’ll have the camera ready in case we see it again.

Before getting to Arezzo, we got caught in a freeway traffic jam because of an accident. We were at a stop and go crawl for about 20 minutes, and we were running low on gas! Let that be a lesson to us——keep the tank half full!

dsc07398We have found some marvelous shops from which to buy cheese, pork sausage with fennel, and wine. The local wine is for sale in big vats that have hoses and displays of the cost just like a gas station! I guess you just bring in some large container and ‘fill ‘er up!’  We bought a 3 liter box of some wine made from a vineyard (Il Mausoleo) a half-km from Partina. Wine-Vats-Pumping Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Burt was cooking Lampredotto made from the stomach lining of the cow’s fourth stomach! It looks sort of like tripe.

St. RamouldLater we went to the Camaldoli Monastery, which is rightChurch at Camaldoli near Partina, up in the 
mountains. It was started by St. Remould in the 11th century. There are now two 16th century churches on the site. We were told that currently there are nine monks living there. The guide said things had changed a lot in 1971—-they no longer have to stay within the monastery and also can eat as a group! I’m Monks at Camaldolinot sure if these are the Camaldoli monks or not—-maybe they were just visiting.

 

Yesterday we made a 1 1/4 hour trip to Sansepolcro to continue on our Art Trail of Piero della Francesca’s paintings. We saw Polytriptych-Madonna della Misericordia
the wonderful ‘Madonna della Misericordia,’ and partially saw ‘The Resurrection,’ which Resurrection, Under Restorationwas being restored. What a lot of effort it takes to keep these old things vital!

We keep busy cooking and eating—-we had some wonderful battered and fried zucchini squash blossoms and sage leaves.

Posted in 2016, Italy | Leave a comment