Leaving on a high!

We planned our last couple of days here to go back to Tarquinia for a ride with CRC adventures.  It was fabulous to be back to Poggio Nebbia Agriturismo where we spent such an amazing time last visit.  Our host Anna was so welcoming and staying on the farm is really special.  She has been developing the property for the past 13 years and it is such a beautiful place with rolling hills and vines looking out to the sea.  Of course my favourite thing there is Ulysses and Tiberio the giant maremma dogs.  And Wes is Anna’s number one fan of her cooking, as am I.

   
      Massimilliano and Alessia arrived at 9.30 the next day for our enduro adventure with four motos and all the gear we needed.  The day promised some rain in the afternoon and Italian weather forecasts are notoriously accurate.  The morning however was lovely and mild.  

   

  

 Our ride was varied and full of history.  At one point we were rolling along an ancient roman aqueduct. The area is filled with history going back to Etruscan times, and then we find our modern machinery winding its way through medieval villages.  It’s such a unique experience.  Max and Alessia are such wonderful guides, a heap of fun and very patient with me. I am slow and getting used to a new bike really warrants a longer ride, three days would be ideal!  Next time.  Might need to order a ktm free ride 250 2 stroke, just so I’m more familiar with the equipment you understand!

   
     

It’s 4.30 am and we are a few hours away from coming home.  Last night we enjoyed another fabulous meal with Anna in her house rather than the restaurant.  Bags were packed with a few tears, some over the amount of stuff we had to pack, some not!

We will just get in a couple more hours of Rai before moving on again.  There a couple of gaps in the blog to fill in between Rome and here where the wifi wasn’t available but I will rectify soon.  The blog is for us to remember the details of what gets lost in unused files in your brain over time. Of course the friendships made and reinforced are unforgettable.  Wes is looking over my shoulder now for me to press ‘post’ so I will do so now, until next time…

Cx

Go West where the sun is shining….

Within an hour of driving west towards Rome, the sun was out and the sky was blue.  Such an incredible contrast to the metre high wall of snow on the side of the road in Abruzzo.  With the chains on we were a force to be reckoned with!  As we reached the autostrada, chains were off and we had the road to ourselves.  Apparently this was because on the tele, the public was warned to stay indoors and to go out only in an emergency.  We carted snow on our car all the way to Tivoli on the outskirts of Rome.  By the next day it still had not melted since despite the clearer sky, the temperature wasn’t getting any higher. 

 
The Tivoli gardens at Villa D’este was a sight with its icicles everywhere!

   

  

 

We found an amazing B and B in the heart of Tivoli and despite the cold we enjoyed some great walks around the town. In the morning breakfast was served in a fabulous rooftop room with Windows on three sides with amazing views looking towards Rome.  The views actually took my breath away, as did an instrumental version of ‘My Way’ playing quietly in the background.  One of life’s  profoundly moving moments.

There was something about this little neck of the woods that struck a chord with Wes and I and we really enjoyed being here.

  

Winter wonderland

Here we are in Bucchianico Abruzzo.  Yesterday when we arrived we we looking at brown hills with bare trees and hill top towns in the distance.  And today this is the winter wonderland before us.  In 24 hours the view has been completely transformed.

 We are staying at our friends place from Melbourne.  They bought an apartment here a few years ago and now enjoying the best of both worlds.  Robert took us for a drive around his town where he was born and grew up.  I couldn’t help but feel a little envious of Tania, Roberts daughter.  How would I love to be driving around my Dad’s village with dad showing me all the places he would play , this is so and so’s house and this is the river where we used to hang out.  That would have been pretty bloody good!

While the snow is so pretty, we thought it best to move on while we could as the snow was predicted to continue over the weekend.  So with chains fitted were were off again on our next adventure.


  

A reunion 30 years in the making.

What a lovely morning spent with my old school buddy Maria from AMI.  Maria has lived in the Veneto region of Italy for around 20 years and firmly established a lovely life for herself with a beautiful home.  It was lovely to be welcomed into her home and then taken around her home town which is very famous for having wealthy and important visitors over hundreds of years, Asolo.  

  
What better way to celebrate our reunion than with grappa from Bassano, the birthplace of grappa so named after Monte Grappa.  It was only right for us to partake of some of the local brew on the Ponte Vecchio of Bassano.

 
Maria was very knowledgeable about the local history and gave us a wonderful tour.  It was lovely to see her after so much time had passed.  It was like no time had passed at all.  

Verona the City of Love

Seems like everyone had one thing on their mind in Verona, to get thee to Juliet’s house.  It was like a people train that you just had to jump on.  So we followed the signs and made it to the tiny courtyard to view that famous balcony of the most famous love story in the world.

   
   

Photo snapped and we were out of there.  Our photo bomber giving me a bit of a dirty look!  You can’t blame her really, how lucky for me to be in Verona with this guy…

In our usual style we took the city map and hoofed it to all the biggest sites in an afternoon.  This worked up quite an appetite. Eating buffalo mozzarella on the day it’s made is a new treat for us.

 
Our evening stroll revealed more beautiful sites.  Verona obviously had more to offer but in the morning we were on the move again. 

   
Some Shakespeare in Italian to close seems appropriate.

Ama, ama follemente, ama più che puoi e se ti dicono che è peccato ama il tuo peccato e sarai innocente.

da PensieriParole <http://www.pensieriparole.it/aforismi/amore/frase-39692>

 Cx

Capodanno in Aprica

Happy New Year from Aprica!  We have spent a lovely couple of days with our cousins in the mountains.  Although the temperatures are quite often sub zero we haven’t felt the cold with warm clothes, car and buildings.  In fact sometimes inside it has been too hot, especially in shopping centres.  

New Year’s Eve day we had an enjoyable drive to Bormio with the intention of driving the Stelvio pass.  It was unfortunately closed so our next plan was to one of the coldest places in Italy that has no taxes but a lot of perfumeries and camera stores.   It also has fantastic ski runs.  

   

  

 It was quite a long drive back although ver picturesque through the snow and mountains.  After a quick rest we were back in the car down to Cristina and Paolo’s mountain apartment for a New Year’s Eve supper plus fireworks.

Buon anno nuovo!

Go north, then turn right…

Before moving on I’ll indulge in a little more on Milan.  It was a big day yesterday.  After two days Immersion therapy here I am rocking out Milan style thanks to Italian capello style by Cristina!  Thanks to my italian cousin for making me fashionable!

  We took the train back to Como to collect our car en route to Aprica.  This is Milan station and here is Wes wishing he could get off the train at Monza.   

As foreigners with not quite as good a grip on the Italian language nor on technology , we find ourself doing some dumb stuff.  Yesterday blew out our budget on misunderstandings.  Firstly a one and a half hour trip to Aprica took four hours.  We may have  taken the road on the wrong side of the lake.  At one point our navigator told us to make a right turn and board a ferry.  Anyway the error was worth it as lunch was spectacular…
  
 
I’d go back in a heartbeat for that spaghetti and apple tart  not to mention the view over lake Como.

 
Finally we arrived at our hotel at Corteno Golgi.  If this isn’t the cleanest hotel I’ve ever been in I don’t know what is.  Which brings me to stuff up number two of the day.  We decided to have dinner in the hotel.  The lady of the hotel advises us of the meals since there is no menu.  We decide on minestrone and lasagna.   

 

What I failed to take into consideration was that I had chosen two starters and there was also a second course of roast meats and potatoes.  Not only that,the lady insisted on giving us a ‘small’ taste of the local speciality , pizzoccheri, a very rich baked cheesy pasta.  We declined  any more food and rolled out of the restaurant close to exploding.  My cousins were notified today that we hardly ate anything last night!

We managed to find room for this breakfast.

  
A lovely afternoon a evening was spent with our cousins.  Of course food and drink were involved.  In bed now with iPad perched on my bloated tummy, I’ll  end today’s blog with a picture of lovely lake Poschiavo in Switzerland, we slipped across the border for a drive, well because we could!

  

How to feel like an old dag

Just get yourself on a plane to Milan and in no time you will be feeling like you are the most unfashionable person going around!  I know I am not the most fashion savvy person but I do pride myself on having some style and pride in my appearance.  Milan has a wonderful knack of making you feel like you aren’t quite up there in the style stakes.  So I’m not liking my hairstyle or my clothes at this moment and for those who know me well, this isn’t a great person to be around!  Nonetheless I’m consoling myself with a class of French something or other on the rooftop solarium of our hotel.  Even our hotel is too cool to stock prosecco.

  
Speaking of our room, it’s amazing!  Bright stark white with grey velvet curtains and a black velvet chair and foot rest.  The bathroom is total marble with marble and copper sinks.  Of course there are no shelves. Or benches to put your stuff on!  Wes is over the moon about the telebox which is mounted high on the wall and takes up half the wall.  From up here on the fifth floor we can just see the top of the duomo.

 
Here is a little snippet of the snacks served with our aperatives last night.

  

We left early this morning to beat the queues into the Duomo.  No one explained to us that the elevator to the roof was not inside the duomo but Wes had it explained to him by a couple of machine gun weilding safe street commandos as he tried to come back into the duomo through a side door to retrieve me.  All good though, I explained we were together and Wes was looking for the lift.  Wes was not overly pleased with my explanation that they were just doing their job.  

Crisis averted we found the lift.  Who knew you had to get out at level 1.  Our lift man just looked at the five people in the lift when we arrived at first floor and after a long pause said ‘well don’t you want to get out?’  Maybe it was his first day, or more probably he just like messing with stupid foreigners.  It was worth the effort, the views up there were amazing.

  
  
This photo  (below) was taken yesterday, there were people everywhere!  There were also police everywhere.  They may have been fashion police but fortunately we have not been pulled up by them as yet.  More likely they have stepped up security after the Berlin lorry terrorist was shot in Milan a few days ago.  All in all it feels pretty safe.  

  

Milan is for sure the fashion capital of the world.  It’s been great.  Tonight we may go out and seek some risotto Milanese, and tomorrow en route to Aprica via Switzerland we will seek out Foxtown, one of the largest fashion outlets, with any luck that may be more our scene and probably within budget!

  

Greetings from Lake Como 

We have again been welcomed into Casa Frazzini Vittori and it is lovely to be back with our dear cousins.  We are like old friends picking up again after 18 months and before that it was more than twenty years since I met Cristina , Renzo and Cecelia.  It is such a lovely feeling sitting around the family table chatting away in bits of English and bits of Italian.  We had the most wonderful meal, antipasto of fabulous salami, prosciutto and Spanish Serrano jamon.  My brother would have popped his cork over the lasagna, the taste and flavours, the pasta I have never been able to replicate and can only be matched by that of my aunties at home.  A family recipe I really should try a bit harder to learn.  Our main course can only be described as Michelin star!  And what is amazing, we were so involved in enjoying the meal and the moment, we didn’t take any photos!  Just like the old days!

After such an epic meal, a passeggiata is mandatory.  We recalled watching Francesco da Mosto’s Top to Toe and how Italians put on their best outfits and head out for the evening walk.  This was true of Como last night.  The Italian families out in force, immaculately dressed,  enjoying the crisp winter air and just taking in the sights and sounds, meandering along, chatting and strolling.  It’s a beautiful part of Italian life, one I could really get used to.

 


So we thought after we headed back to our hotel it was about 9pm.  It wasn’t , it was 6pm, nevertheless these two Aussies went straight to bed much to the shock of our cousins who couldn’t fathom why we didn’t want to have any dinner.  Paolo explained to a concerned Cristina that we would have dinner later.  Yes we would eat later, but that will be breakfast.  And we were awake at 3am desperate for coffee!  We are adjusting…..slowly!

Days like these!

We started the day with the most amazing view from the dining room.  As if the view wasn’t amazing enough, as the sun rose it lit the mountain bit by bit, changing the scene every minute making it more beautiful with each glimpse.  

  

The blue skies inspired us to brave the gondola and up to the Courmayeur ski area.  There were two options, one that cut across the valley from the village, but the less scary option was the smaller gondola that cut through the trees and was quite pleasant as long as you focussed on the destination and not look back to see how high up we really were.

What a day!  Blue skies, not a breath of wind and sweeping ski slopes with snow so dry it was like sand.  It is the most beautiful place I have ever skied. The snow covered granite mountains rising all around us and for a far as the eye could see.  The runs were long and sweeping and it didn’t take long for Wes and I to find our feet!  But not before a quick caffe! 

 
There were not many snowboarders thankfully and every skier seemed at expert level.  We saw a few monumental collisions.  Fortunately helmets are also in fashion so I’ll be getting one before our next skiing expedition.  Here is Wes enjoying another coffee in the ‘solarium’.  I am chowing down on an apple cake, for energy…

   

We ended the day with a fabulous meal in the hotel restaurant with such a ritual of wine decanting we have never seen before!  The service is the old fashioned kind, the way this hotel would have done for years and years.      A walk in the crisp mountain air around the streets of Courmayeur finished off a perfect day!