Friday, May 24, 2013

Test post

I am trying out a new way to blog using my iPad. Blogsy is such a pain.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Last days in Italy...

ended with a bang rather than the whimper I feared. Friday night's dinner did not meet my expectations. We went out with one of Ned's coworkers and I was over ruled on restaurants. We went to one that Ned had gone to before but even he was disappointed. Oh well....the food wasn't bad, just not spectacular.
Saturday morning dawned clear and bright. Our plans were to just do some driving the back roads, stopping where we felt like and just taking it easy for the day. We were told of a local food and wine festival so we headed out that way. It was being held on an old estate called Villa Manin.
There were about 25 booths set up offering up local cuisine and wine. For the most part, we were not impressed but we did find a great wine that we were bringing as a house gift to Ned's sort of local boss who was making dinner for us.
Because it had been pouring for 2 days straight the ground was a bit soggy so we decided to head out. We wanted to stop at some of the local wineries and taste their fare. We didn't find anything great but the views were awesome.

We drove through a little town called is one lane to get in or out and is surrounded by old walls.
I love all these old buildings!
Ned's boss lives in a very old building that has been in his wife's family forever. It might be close to 800 years old but has undergone extensive renovation. Design is something the Italians excel at and I loved the decor. Nothing staid about this place!
Dinner was delicious and relaxed.
One of the views from near his home in Cividale del Friuli which is about 20 miles from the Slovenian border. You can see the Julian Alps in the background.
We had an earlier night than normal and were looking forward to spending Sunday in Venice before I had to fly home.
Disappointment abounded as we woke up to torrential rains Sunday morning. We had a leisurely breakfast and made our way to our hotel near the airport in Venice. We were prepared to spend the day at the hotel and only go out for meals. It was still pouring when we arrived so we parked ourselves in the lobby where the wifi was free. I noticed a break in the clouds and suggested that since we were going to go out for lunch anyway that we chance the bus into Venice. The sun came out and stayed out. I love walking around Venice...even though it was not tourist season yet, there were droves of people. There was some sort of regatta which brought out people from all over Europe in anything that floated. There were over 1600 entrants. I think we caught this same race about 5 years ago as well and it was still lots of fun to watch.

We took a vapporetto over to Murano as this was the only island of Venice I had never been to. Can't say it looked any different and I didn't find any glass I fell in love with.

We came back and strolled the little streets and enjoyed the fabulous day.

San Marco
We enjoyed the only early dinner we ate in 2 weeks as I had to be up at 4:30 to catch an early plane.

Sitting in the Frankfurt airport waiting for the next leg of my flight. Hope you enjoyed traveling with me.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm still here!

It was back to Buttrio for us for the next couple of days. We got in in time for dinner. I was getting tired of the more formal dinners so we hit up a local family run watering hole. We had the most delicious barley/vegetable soup, plain old pasta Bolognese, and the house red wine. It is amazing sometimes how cheap red wine tastes delicious with pasta. As usual, we have had the best meals here. The dining experience is so different than in the states. No one is in any rush and even a simple dinner can last 2 hours. I also like eating later as I don't wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Every thing tastes so much fresher and menus tend to be seasonal.

Buttrio is a small city but the area is very rich in history. It is in the Friuli -Venezia region. We are about an hour from Trieste, an hour from Venice, and very close to the Austrian and Slovenia borders. The countryside is rolling hills mostly covered with vineyards. The region has been known for its white wines but there has been some great reds produced here recently. It is very picturesque and dotted with old farm houses and villas. The area has been inhabited since before 1000 and has seen a succession of rulers and cultures. The region played important roles in both WWI and WWII.

No pics yet this go round as it was pouring rain all day yesterday and this morning. I was not terribly unhappy as I needed a day to relax and catch up. It looks like the weather may clear up this afternoon and I will take the car and go exploring.

We had a fantastic dinner last night at an old farmhouse. It is in Manzano and it is apparently a winery as well as a restaurant. They have applied for a license to rent out rooms as well. The views are spectacular as this sits up on a hillside. The name is Elliot. Surprisingly, the restaurant was pretty empty last night...perhaps Thursday night is slow as the place came well recommended. They started us off with a glass of Prosecco. I ordered a medley of asparagus as an appetizer and lamb chops for my main course. Ned ordered some kind of terrine of rabbit( shuddering) and sliced pork loin. They brought us a plate of very thinly sliced local ham with radicchio. I am not usually a ham eater but I have to admit this was delicious. If I had known we were getting this I might not have ordered an appetizer! This was not going to be a short dinner. We had white wine to go with the appetizers and red with dinner. The food was both presented well and fabulous tasting. No dessert for us!

Tonight's dinner is going to be equally as good. We are going back to a place we have been before and taking one of Ned's coworkers with us. Last time we went it was just the two of is and we spent 3 hours there. There is no menu and nobody speaks English. Tonight we will have a local with us.

Weather does not appear to be cooperating today. Bummer. I have been in this area five or six times over the years and there is nothing to do inside. There are no museums or art galleries. While I love exploring the little towns, it is not fun to do in the rain. Looks like I will be having lunch with hubby and coworkers and then reading for the afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Italy

Next stop was Cremona. Hubby had biz here. Cremona is best known for its rich musical history. It would become the center for the creation of musical particular the violin, viola, and cello. Amati, Stradivari, and Guarneri, all had their workshops in Cremona. Stradivari created 1200 instruments of which 600 still exist. There is an exhibit in the Civic Museum that houses some of them and others of his era.


Cremona does not have the charm of some of the more well known Italian cities. It is mostly a working class town although there are some very expensive shops in town. Like most normal Italian cities, most places close down for several hours in the afternoon except for cafe's and restaurants. The center of the city is closed to cars and most people get around on foot or bicycles. I would not want to drive here.
The weather has been glorious and I have been walking off all the pasta I have been eating!
Next stop is Ravenna. This is another non tourist city and it has left me slightly disappointed. Sigh, it really has no charm to it and while it has a few UNESCO sites, it just doesn't make the cut of its sister cities. If Ned didn't have to be here, it would not be on my radar. But it is spring and there are fresh flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables!


Places that sell Gelato are as ubiquitous here as Starbucks are in the U.S. Thankfully, there are very few places that sell dairy free Gelato or I would be gaining lots of weight. We only found one in Florence. I don't care for the fruit ones. I have not seen even one Starbucks.

We drive back to Udine tonight and will spend the next several days there. I will do some day trips while Ned works. We will probably spend one day in Venice doing some of the Islands we haven't done in the past and then I will fly home.

The weather is starting to deteriorate so I am not sure what I will be doing. We have had a nice run so far and we are returning to places I have been several times so I won't be too terribly disappointed.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tripping in Italy...again

Ned needed to be in Italy for 2 1/2 weeks and then in Saudi Arabia for a week. I hate when he is gone for so long so he offered me the opportunity to go with him for 2 weeks....of course I said yes! Most of where he was going I have been to several times but there are always new places to explore. While he worked I took day trips. Had to drive a stick shift...managed without stalling out or stripping gears. We had a long weekend so I took him to places he hadn't been. First was San Gimignano.( I hadn't been there in almost 20 years. It really has changed. The tourists have descended and it looks just like most of the other Italian towns that cater to's every other place and lots of touristy shops. Bah! The views are still spectacular though. I love the old medieval cites.




The sky is really this blue!


My knight in shining armor!

From here we drove to Siena, another Tuscan hill town. It was founded by the Etruscans. Spring has definitely sprung here and poppies grow like weeds all over.

Piazza del Campo


Duomo. Siena cathedral


Gelato is everywhere ...Ned found me lactose free so I could eat it. The fruits and veggies are so fresh.


There are street artists in most of the tourists spots. They are usually dressed in accurate period costumes and they hold their poses so well that at first glance they look like statues.


Happy Mothers Day!

Next stop is Florence. Florence is one of my favorite cities and I have been here innumerable times. This is just a short stopover as Ned has to be elsewhere tomorrow and we have a long drive ahead of us. We just have the morning. The Ufizzi Gallery is under going extensive renovations...I thought to spend some time here this morning but the weather was glorious so we just decided to stroll around.


Neptune's fountain


What a great butt!


Santa Crocce church




Looking at Ponte Vecchio from the Arno river.