Saturday, October 27, 2007

View from the Hillside

Passignano Tiny back street

Exploring Tuscany

Suggestions from the Tour Book

When we were in Cortona, our plans were to drive and explore the countryside and hill towns.

The drive was beautiful through back roads, past towered hill towns with the chiming of church bells ringing through the valley,calling you to come and climb their steep streets,wander the lanes and find something that has been waiting for you to see for thousands of years!

As we drove along the road the views of towns perched on mountain sides including ours in the distance was spectacular!
Olive trees shimmered and sparkled with the sun hitting the leaves and the wind making them dance as we passed each grove.
I had wished that I had a box of crayons to capture these exciting colors that were before my eyes. The lake that we traveled around took on different hues of seafoam green to aquamarine to almost a lime color. Very vibrant!

Usually we were never up and out early so we would enter these towns at around 11:30 and the town would be closing for siesta. Lunch is a long break from 12-about 4. Shops open again until about 7:30. Bars and restaurants are usually open during lunch and then close, the bars staying open. One can get a "snack" in these bars, pannini or a slice of pizza, but usually the town is deserted as if it were a ghost town save the lively conversation coming from the shuttered window above the street. Therefore my pictures usually are people barren. I actually like it that way, because the natural beauty shows forth. I can take a picture and then when I get it back and actually look at it again, there is so much more I discover, because I am caught up in the emotion I am feeling when I see the shot.

As we discussed the Cortona expierence, we decided that Camucia, at the bottom of the hill from Cortona is ideally the best place to have a home base if "One"were to want to spend a few months renting a place. There is a train station here and a car rental. It is ideally situated with train connections to all the major cities. Rome about 2 hours, Orvieto 1 hour, Florence 2 hours, Milan 4 hours. You could call this "home" and make day trips, rent an car and see Tuscany! Sienna, Assissi and Arezzo are all reachable by train or car.

One week here and it is time to say Ciao! One last cup of Capuchino sitting watching the townspeople and tourists mill about, and we are off to Florence.


An English Garden View Into A Tuscan Dream

Our Tuscan Cottage with Farm House

Friday, October 26, 2007

Smoke Ashes and Hope

For the past week we have been glued to the television set watching as San Diego was evacuated around us.
We invited several people to come to our home and wait out the evacuation as flames licked, crept and sometimes rolled toward their targets. At one point it seemed like we would be next as the smoke seemed so thick.

Luckily our guests were very blessed in that their homes were spared and they were allowed to return to them.

Others not so fortunate are now returning to see the state of their properties and to clean up the mess that the smoke ashes and wind delivered.

The fires are not all completely contained and some are still on the rampage, but at this moment the birds are singing and we have clear air to breathe.

Our Missionaries to Mexico owned a mobile home in the mobile park in Fallbrook in which 200 out of 250 homes were burned. He thought that they had lost their home but today he was allowed to go in and see. His was spared. We breathe a sigh of relief as we see this as a blessing for them. We will have to see what is next for them as there is complete rubble around their home.
Two other friends were not so lucky. They found that the fire has ravaged their property.
One couple was returning to San Diego as they were evacuating the area they lived in , and was never allowed to go and gather belongings.

This is the story of all who are living through this calamity. One home saved another gone.

I thank the quick work of the Fire Fighters and Law Enforcement and National Guard for their commitment to us in time of need and danger.

God bless those who have lost their homes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Diego's Burning!!!

Yesterday morning I was woken to a call at 6:00 telling me that some friends of ours were being evacuated.
From that point on we have been glued to the television watching the movement of the fires in the area.
The Fallbrook fire is spreading as I speak and they have evacuated Rim Rock above Lawerence Welk's where a friend of mine is evacuating to my home.

We are smoky here and the wind has picked up.

Yesterday I had 3 evacuees from San Marcos here but thankfully they were able to return home.

Steve is down in Bonita near the Chula Vista fire spreading near his father's home to evacuate him. It is actually smokier here that down there. It has caused us to think our plan and gather things to move to Carlsbad.

The mobile home park off of Mi9ssion has been hit as well as Pala Mesa Resort. Several friends
homes are in that area. The Daivs' home is in there as well as my Quilting teacher's home. All of Fallbrook has been evacuated.

What do you take?

Please pray for us all. Love to you all.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Home Again, Home Again.... Tuscan Dreams Come True Part 1

We are home a week and finally catching up with our life.
The saying "It's good to be home" is so true after 24 hours of travel to get back.

We had a marvelous time, saw many beautiful and wondrous sights and met great people!

La Faina: Cortona, Tuscany

This is the name of my "little dream cottage" in Cortona where we stayed.
We arrived safely to our destination.( It always surprises me that we can follow directions in a totally foreign land and find our destination!!)

La Faina is situated on the hillside and there are 4 acres of terraces of mostly olive trees.
After setteling in we went for a walk up through the olive grove toward town. La Fiana produces it's own olive oil yearly. The trees are hand picked and cold pressed with no additives and are harvested in October. I was hoping to get a bottle to bring back, but Douglas our host forgot to bring it down to the cottage.We used his oil through the week and it was delicious!

When getting directions to walk to town I found out that the cottage was actually near to Bramasole, the home of Francis Mayes, who wrote Under the Tuscan Sun. We walked by the villa on the way home from town.
It is truly stunning and I was happy to see it from outside the gate.

Later that evening I read a book that Douglas' wife had compiled when they first bought the property. She is no longer living, but she left a wonderful handwritten book for visitors to read about the area and the property.
Jenny, Douglas' wife had met the Mayes while visiting the cottage and farmhouse when they were purchasing it from an American writer, Anne Corneilisen.
The Mayes were staying in the same cottage we were now staying in while Bramasole was being negotiated. Under the Tuscan Sun is dedicated to her.
The Mayes had thought of buying La Faina but had their hearts set on buying a Villa.
That's as close as I got to meeting them.

The cottage has a beautiful English garden and a patio where we sat out and ate dinner by candle light. The trellis above was covered with a vine with tiny white flowers that would sprinkle down and cover the table so that it was completely white like a dusting of powdered sugar, the bees humming busily gathering pollen to take back to their hives.
It was a wonderful spot to take in the spectacular view of the valley and relax.
We spent the week in town exploring and driving the countryside.