Saturday, October 20, 2012

{Cinque Terre} worth the wait!


You probably think by now we fell off into the Atlantic ocean on our way home, with the way my blogging abruptly ended mid-trip! Well, we did make it home safely, thankfully, but I was without a WiFi connection the last few days and then I broke the adapter I was so proud of that transferred the pictures from my camera to the iPad! So now I will attempt play catch up...



So we had one day left in Italy in my last post, and we were kinda feeling a mixture of emotions. The previous day was spent sightseeing in down pours of rain & sitting in cafes waiting for it to let up! Although it added a level of romance, walking the cobblestone streets huddled up under one umbrella, having water slosh around in our shoes wasn't the ideal way to tour any town! 


Between being bummed from the rain and really missing our boys we considered just calling it good and catching the early flight out the next morning. I know, call us fair weather travelers, but I won't get into the fitful time we had sleeping on the beds in our hotel that made the floor sound like a reasonably softer alternative! The reality was, we were thousands of miles from home and with one day to go, we figured we could make the best of whatever was left! What was there really to complain about anyway!? :)



And were we ever glad we didn't skip this beautiful gem of Italy! We toured the Cinque Terre, which means "five lands", best described as ancient little fishing villages built in the side of the hill and at one time only accessible by boat! There is only about a 10 miles span from the first village to the last, and you can either walk the seaside path that connects them all or take the train that tunnels through the hills between them!


The early inhabitants of these villages spent years terracing the cliffs around them by creating miles and miles of stone walls, to enable them to grow vineyards in the land they had available. Not only was the work to build the terraces grueling, but the effort just to maintain and harvest the vineyards is unfathomable! 

 

The weather was a bit hit and miss, and ironically would change at about the same time we left one village to go onto the next! The main streets in each town are tightly lined with shops and eateries like all the other towns we've visited so far in Italy  but minus the cars. It was mostly foot traffic, with the occasional bike and maybe a cat or dog here or there. Thankfully we were at the end of the tourist season and traffic was light, but we overheard someone saying it's shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the summer.


Our last night there was ended with a seafood dinner overlooking this beautiful harbor. The week went all too fast, of course, but we came away with some lifelong memories! Most interesting was observing the people and the life they live in this land. You feel a long ways away from home, because the language is foreign and the culture is so different...but the people, I've concluded...we're all the same!

{Now hold that thought...because I'm going to continue on in another post! }

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Onto the Sea...


As Americans it's difficult to fathom the age of these towns and the history they have to tell! To see a building that has been around for 1000 years is beyond unbelievable! Yesterday morning we left our quiet villa and headed for the coastal town of Santa Margherita, which is about a 3 hr drive by car! 



We broke up the drive by making a couple stops on our way over, and got to take in some of this magnificient history! We visited Badia d  Passignano, a mediviel hamlet founded in 395 A.C, where there is still monks that reside and are keepers of its cultural treasures! 


In the cellar of this abbey is wine that belongs to the surrounding vineyard owners, the famous Antinori family! We got a little tour, history lesson as well as olive oil tasting, which the family makes as well! A very interesting morning, but I still just stood in awe of the architecture!




We arrived at our hotel in this port town on the Mediterranean Sea, and are once again awe struck at the beauty of this country! Man can build some spectacular buildings but nothing compares to the beauty of the land handcrafted by our Creator! Something about standing at the edge of a body of water as this, make you feel pretty small!



We have one more day of sightseeing, and then it's back to the states to gather up the peeps! We've had the time of our lives, but we're missing them and I'm sure they are us as well!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bucket list moments


Pinch me, because I still cannot believe yesterday was for real! It was one of those moments that I've had at the top of my "bucket list" for a long time, and it was everything I ever dreamed it would be! Although I was a little nervous at first, I could not wipe the smile off my face the entire time, and it won't be something I forget anytime soon!


Your probably thinking it was some high adrenaline moment like skydiving or bull riding, but sorry, not for this girl! It had more to do with sautéing, kneading, and reduction techniques! I got to pretend I was Julia Child for one blissful morning, in a kitchen equipped with tools & appliances I dream of! 


I have to confess, I considered myself an intermediate in cooking, and the basics were for beginners! I'm blessed to have a mother that is a wonderful cook, and taught me how to work my way around the kitchen at a fairly young age! Basic or not, I knew the Italians had some secrets to their most simple dishes (particularly their pizza) that I was dying to know! 


Let me just tell you, I quickly realized I was just a mere novice and their "secrets" are so simple and a matter of time rather than technique! The most admirable thing about their dishes, is that they always start with the freshest ingredients, and many of them they grow themselves! Processed food is completely unheard of! My idea of "cooking" was completely revolutionized!


Executive chef, Ricardo was my teacher and though his English was exceptional good, his Italian accent was thick! He emphasized words like "marinade" and "vinegar" in a way that I have never heard, and it took me awhile to interpret what he was saying! One thing is for sure though, I hung onto every word he said and was like a sponge to the instruction and knowledge he was giving!


While I was living my Julia Child moment, Mcdreamy was checking off a top a bucket list moment himself! Unfortunately it wasn't driving one of these classic European icons, but rather chasing around a little white ball on the brilliant green turf, amidst the rolling Tuscan hills! Men truly are from mars, and women from Venus! :)






Monday, October 8, 2012

Truffles and Mozart


Bonjourno', me friend! I've finally come out of the jet lag haze enough to thoughtfully post an update that will hopefully capture the adventure of our visit so far! We were blessed with a relatively smooth travel expeirance with just a slight delay in Munich, Germany...but we tried our hardest to remain patient despite the sleep deprivation and anticipation! When we were on our final approach into
Florence, the scene displayed below was enough to make my heart beat wildly!


Once we claimed our luggage and found our arranged transportation, we still had about an hour and a half drive to the Villa we are staying at! To acclimate to the local time zone we forced ourselves to stay awake through the rest of the afternoon & evening! After a magnificient pasta dinner and a glass of wine, sleep was not so easily put off!



This morning, of course, we woke bright and early! Our itinerary included a unique expeirance that turned out to be both informative and very memorable! The Tuscan region is famously known for many things, but the "truffle" is a delicacy that is found underground and is a highly demanded commodity! It is a type of mushroom that requires perfect growing conditions, from the soil to the humidity of the air! We visited a farm where they tenderly prepare the soil by clearing the land, ripping the ground and planting particular trees to promote the growth of this fungi!
They are hunted with trained dogs and have a very strong smell! I can't say I particularly enjoyed the aroma that they put off, but that is probably a matter of opinion! I could type so much incredible information that we learned about these mushrooms, but if your really interested, I encourage you to google it as my facts might not be completely straight!

Our next stop was a winery that is not your ordinary vineyard! The owner is an very passionate winemaker that is either crazy or brilliant! Based on a study from the university of Florence, he has his entire vineyard serinaded with Mozart, 24 hours a day, via Bose speakers installed throughout the whole place! Crazy or not, the wine was fantastic in our non-conassuier opinions!

The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping in the local town, Montecino, which is as charming as the rest of the ancient towns with its town center lined with mercantile, cafes and gelato shops! I've decided these people are onto something with their theory of simple yet quality way of life...but more on that later! :) For now, we're off to find some dinner before we call it a day...and what a splendid day it was!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Midwest stopover


So we're not quite to the rolling hills and handmade pasta yet..hit the pause button for just a minute for a quick stopover in the beautiful Midwest! Although I'm excited to see the breathtaking landscape of our final destination, upon landing in Dayton, seeing the fall color and smelling the harvest air was soothing to my soul! :) The first sound I heard when unloading at my childhood home was the sound of the dryer on a nearby grain bin and I had to smile to myself thinking about all the cool autumn evenings that I was lulled to sleep by that sound in my youth! Now, Mcdreamy and I are sitting in Washington DC awaiting the boarding call for our travels abroad, and I'm praying that very sound will gently lull our two babies asleep for the next 6 nights as they spend some quality time with grandpa & grandma! So, we have 4 hrs of travel time behind us and 8 to go...the anticipation is un-containable!! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tech test


This is a "test post" of my tech-abilities! I am successfully blogging from our iPad! I don't pride myself in being tech-savvy, but strangely, I actually do kind of enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to operate + navigate new devices! So after a couple app downloads and small hardware purchases, I am now set to download pics from my dSLR and blog from abroad!!

In less than 24 hours, I will be boarding a plane (Lord willing) and taking a journey, with my McDreamy, through the countryside to which I say my heart beats to the rhythm of! I have a passion for the sun soaked, rolling hills that are so gracefully adorned with rows of vibrant grape vineyards and silvery groves of olive trees! The rough-hewn architecture formed by weathered stones and terra cotta roofs aged by years of exposure to climatical elements! The delectable flavors of handmade pastas mixed with the freshest tomato-ey herb sauces and so thoughtfully paired with the most complimentary artisan breads and cheeses! 

If you haven't already figured it out...you'll have to wait and see! :) Although I plan to share some pictures and highlights of our adventures, I won't be editing photos and typing is slow on the iPad ..so this is a disclaimer in advance! 

CIAO!!




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