Italy

GREAT SWIMMING ACCESS

I just wanted to post this fabulous image from Denmark, as I think the Pugliese  'beaches' have some missed opportunity. 

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The Adriatic is so gorgeous, clear turquoise water teeming with little fish and no big waves to tumble water loving kids. But most of the water access is handled much better for boats (guest mooring sitting empty). Swimmers are largely allocated to hobbling and sitting on seaweed covered sharp boulders. 

One of the Bisceglie beaches. 

One of the Bisceglie beaches. 

Don't get me wrong we had a great time. But even the locals agree that the water access is not the best. 

EATING LUCREZIA BORGIA'S BREASTS

How is that for a grand title for a post? In a tribute to the staggeringly outstanding pastry in Italy I thought I'd share this Bisceglian specialty called 'Sospiri'.

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Now 'sospiri' actually means 'sighs' and the story goes that the pastry is - hmmm - representing the shape of dear Lucretia's breasts. I am a little unclear why, but she certainly was one special lady. 

Firstly, she was the daughter of a pope - an unusual and powerful starting point right there. She was married three times and her second husband was Alfonso of Aragon, who became the Duke of Bisceglie. He died under suspicious circumstances only two years into their marriage, probably poisoned - apparently by Lucretia or her brother.

There are wild stories about the parties and life led by the Borgias. Lucrezia had at least ten children (with many different men I might add) and I like to think that maybe this impressive scale of motherhood had something to do with her mammaries being thus immortalized as cream filled spongy mounds with delicate sugary skin.

Happy Sospiri, folks. 

 

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AUGURI SERGIO

In yet another amazing turn of events on this trip we met an absolutely lovely family at the Molfetta riding stable. Corrado and Ninfa have an eight year old son Sergio who was riding at the same time as Lili, both doing pony games. 

So there we were, two sets of parents at the gate to the field so of course we started chatting, and at the end of the thirty minute lesson we were not only being offered a ride home, but also invited to dinner. Talk about Southern Italian hospitality!

Enjoying a dinner at Corrado's Molfetta house. It has been in their family for several generations and sits in the middle of a large olive grove. 

Enjoying a dinner at Corrado's Molfetta house. It has been in their family for several generations and sits in the middle of a large olive grove. 

And here some true twenty-first century stuff: the kids (Lili, Viola and Sergio) playing with a drone.    

And here some true twenty-first century stuff: the kids (Lili, Viola and Sergio) playing with a drone. 

 

Two days later it was Sergio's birthday and we were so happy to attend his party! 

Two days later it was Sergio's birthday and we were so happy to attend his party! 

This is Peppina, a personal chef from Bari. She is making panzerotte, deep fried Apulian pastries. My favorite were the radicchio and gorgonzola ones, and I am absolutely not disclosing how many I ate.

This is Peppina, a personal chef from Bari. She is making panzerotte, deep fried Apulian pastries. My favorite were the radicchio and gorgonzola ones, and I am absolutely not disclosing how many I ate.

The handsome birthday boy. 

The handsome birthday boy. 

Lili also made a friend in Anila, a neighbor.   

Lili also made a friend in Anila, a neighbor.

 

Sergio had the coolest birthday cake. It had Minions on it!    

Sergio had the coolest birthday cake. It had Minions on it! 

 

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A mountain of cream puffs with Minions.

At the end of the evening there was an absolutely wonderful moment when we released eight paper lanterns to the sky from the roof patio of the house.  

At the end of the evening there was an absolutely wonderful moment when we released eight paper lanterns to the sky from the roof patio of the house.  

Thank you for a wonderful evening! Tanti auguri Sergio. 

Thank you for a wonderful evening! Tanti auguri Sergio. 

RIDING IN MOLFETTA

We looked for a place for Lili to ride and found a stable in Molfetta, the next town over. The owners are the Minervini family and boy do they have an interesting story! The father Greorio lived in the States for ten years, and is famous for riding a horse, solo, for ninetynine consecutive days from the Mexican border to Washington state. (He said the Sonoma desert part was 'very difficult' - I can only imagine).  His story has been written into a book, and it may be made into a movie as well!

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The stable only does Western style riding, and we learned about completely new things to do with a horse such as reining and cutting.   Gregoriano's daughter Caterina was the teacher at Lili's lesson. She is wearing the 'Italia' cap in the photo above. 

The stable only does Western style riding, and we learned about completely new things to do with a horse such as reining and cutting. 

Gregoriano's daughter Caterina was the teacher at Lili's lesson. She is wearing the 'Italia' cap in the photo above. 

IMAGES FROM BISCEGLIE

I noticed that I have not really posted many images from Bisceglie. It is a small fishing town on the Adriatic coast in Puglia. Here are some pictures and comments.

This is th center harbor of Bisceglie. We live in Palazzo Ammazzalorsa, the big building with five white windows next to the pink building under the tower on the left.  

This is th center harbor of Bisceglie. We live in Palazzo Ammazzalorsa, the big building with five white windows next to the pink building under the tower on the left.  

The courtyard at our building.    

The courtyard at our building. 

 

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Dusk image and a night shot of the harbour. Our building is at the extreme right on the dusk image.

Dusk image and a night shot of the harbour. Our building is at the extreme right on the dusk image.

It takes a while to get the Italian business hours. Stores may be open until noon or one. Then pretty much everything closes, and re-opens again around five thirty or six. In the middle of the day nothing is open - except maybe a coffee shop or two.

It takes a while to get the Italian business hours. Stores may be open until noon or one. Then pretty much everything closes, and re-opens again around five thirty or six. In the middle of the day nothing is open - except maybe a coffee shop or two.

A view from the old city where we live. It is very authentic, and buildings are being renovated all the time.

A view from the old city where we live. It is very authentic, and buildings are being renovated all the time.

This picture shows how well some of the renovated apartments blend in. 

This picture shows how well some of the renovated apartments blend in. 

I really like this street furniture on the main shopping street. The stripe on the ground is an uplight which works really nicely in the evening.    

I really like this street furniture on the main shopping street. The stripe on the ground is an uplight which works really nicely in the evening. 

 

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Here is an evening image. 

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These pictures are from the Ethnographic Museum. The bottom one shows how horses were used to press olive oil. 

These pictures are from the Ethnographic Museum. The bottom one shows how horses were used to press olive oil. 

DAYTRIP TO TRANI

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Trani is a port city a bit north of Bisceglie. We took the bus there with Dante's friend Vito.  It is right by the 'heel' of Italy if you think of the country as a boot.

The days are hot here and any sprinkle of water is always welcome. 

The days are hot here and any sprinkle of water is always welcome. 

The inner harbour is very similar to that of Bisceglie, only bigger. 

The inner harbour is very similar to that of Bisceglie, only bigger. 

The medieval cathedral is very beautiful and the white limestone is calmly devoid of decoration. The wood beams and roof structure are also typical. We happened to visit at a time of a wedding and as we listened to the service we noticed some of it was given in German. An EU marriage most likely! 

The medieval cathedral is very beautiful and the white limestone is calmly devoid of decoration. The wood beams and roof structure are also typical. We happened to visit at a time of a wedding and as we listened to the service we noticed some of it was given in German. An EU marriage most likely! 

Nice sit down lunch in town. 

Nice sit down lunch in town. 

Sitting by the water's edge right outside the Cathedral. If you look carefully you can see boys jumping somersaults off the rocks into the water in the background.  

Sitting by the water's edge right outside the Cathedral. If you look carefully you can see boys jumping somersaults off the rocks into the water in the background.  

Mommy can you give me a push? 

Mommy can you give me a push? 

LILI'S INUKSHUK GARDEN

Well here's something you probably did not expect to see but here goes! 

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And this following picture explains where this thing of beauty was built - the community beach of Bisceglie in Puglia. You can see Lili, Dante and his friend Vito walking to the beach in the left. 

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The beautiful beach stones were perfect for playing with. 

The beautiful beach stones were perfect for playing with. 

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The swimming was awesome. 

The swimming was awesome. 

I also gave Lili a long warm stone Shavasana with head massage on the beach. She loved it. 

I also gave Lili a long warm stone Shavasana with head massage on the beach. She loved it. 

BYE BYE SAN GIMIGNANO

Our time in San Gimignano came to an end. Here are some images of our stay. 

This is what tourists in San Gimignano look like: bending backwards and looking up to photograph a tower! 

This is what tourists in San Gimignano look like: bending backwards and looking up to photograph a tower! 

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Lili also went for a trail ride at an Agritourism place called Il Vecchio Maneggio. We took the local bus there and as it only ran four times a day we were two hour early. No problem we had a salad and then Lili went to help brush the horses to get them ready.

Happy horse helper. 

Happy horse helper. 

There is an Ornithology Museum with a bird collection that is over 100 years old! Lili found the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest animal on earth. She said it looked smaller than she thought. 

There is an Ornithology Museum with a bird collection that is over 100 years old! Lili found the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest animal on earth. She said it looked smaller than she thought. 

On our last night, we went for an evening walk through the city. On the way back we heard horse hooves and sure enough this handsome Italian dude was galloping home on his mount. We loved seeing that. 

On our last night, we went for an evening walk through the city. On the way back we heard horse hooves and sure enough this handsome Italian dude was galloping home on his mount. We loved seeing that. 

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At Casa del Poggio - best goodbye hugs from our hosts Daniela and Margherita.  

At Casa del Poggio - best goodbye hugs from our hosts Daniela and Margherita.  

Waiting for the bus to continue our trip! 

Waiting for the bus to continue our trip! 

VISITING SIENA

We took the bus to Siena today. It is one of the bigger Tuscan cities and it is very famous for its Piazza del Campo, a shell shaped plaza that is the scene for the annual Palio de Siena, a bareback horse race. 

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The Palio will be held in two days (the dates are July 2 and August 16 every year) and the city was abuzz with preparations. The plaza had bleachers ready and there were people and vendors all over the place.  

The horses represent different sections of the City and victory in the race leads the winning quarter to show off their flag. Flags were prominently displayed all through the City and also for sale. Each flag has an emblem of the block, e.g. Panther or Eagle. 

At the Panther quarter. 

At the Panther quarter. 

Flags at Piazza del Campo. 

Flags at Piazza del Campo. 

Lili and Dante checking out the bleachers. Minutes later staff came out and put several 'Do not Climb the Bleachers' signs all over them.    

Lili and Dante checking out the bleachers. Minutes later staff came out and put several 'Do not Climb the Bleachers' signs all over them. 

 

This picture shows the blocks - blue flags on the left and yellow ones on the right.  

This picture shows the blocks - blue flags on the left and yellow ones on the right.  

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Siena also has a beautiful, huge and unfinished cathedral. 

Siena also has a beautiful, huge and unfinished cathedral. 

 

TOOTHY BREAKFAST

Here we are at our peaceful B+B, sleeping in. Then we went down to the outdoor kitchen to make a lazy breakfast.

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Lili advised that her tooth is coming out this morning and a good thing that is too, since in the afternoon Lili is going riding!

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We like outdoor kitchens! Here Lili is eating Nutella from a small package to build up the courage to pull her tooth out. We said it would be good to get it out before she goes on a horse this afternoon.  The building behind her is a chicken coop.

We like outdoor kitchens! Here Lili is eating Nutella from a small package to build up the courage to pull her tooth out. We said it would be good to get it out before she goes on a horse this afternoon.  The building behind her is a chicken coop.

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Now I have a tooth...   and now it's out!

Now I have a tooth...   and now it's out!

FIRENZE PICS

Some touristy, and some not,  pics of Firenze:

 

This is the Duomo. It is mind bogglingly huge and does not have a big plaza next to it so it feels even more huge. 

This is the Duomo. It is mind bogglingly huge and does not have a big plaza next to it so it feels even more huge. 

Another dome - the cupola of the Medici Chapel.

Another dome - the cupola of the Medici Chapel.

Lili and Michelangelo statues. We both thought his representation of the female breast was a bit odd. 

Lili and Michelangelo statues. We both thought his representation of the female breast was a bit odd. 

Happy traveling family at Piazza Michelangelo. 

Happy traveling family at Piazza Michelangelo. 

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Ponte Vecchio is full of goldsmiths. Side by side, one next to the other.   We looked at earrings but did not buy any.

Ponte Vecchio is full of goldsmiths. Side by side, one next to the other.   We looked at earrings but did not buy any.

Awesome dinner at Brac, a hip vegetarian restaurant that is also a bookstore! 

Awesome dinner at Brac, a hip vegetarian restaurant that is also a bookstore! 

GUESS WHO IS A WELL DRESSED CHILD

My aunt Eeva visited us in Torino and sported a different GUESS t-shirt pretty much every day. Now I am somewhat clueless about current name brands but do love good looking design wherever it comes from. And Dante truly has the best eye when fashion shopping.

So on our little walk to see the Firenze Duomo we walked past the GUESS Kids store and stopped in to see what they had. A half an hour in the dressing room later we now have a very well dressed child with not one but two GUESS jackets and one dress.

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VENICE FAMILY PHOTOS

Maybe it is because I have been taking so many photos of Lili on this trip she is sometimes tired of posing and smiling. Or maybe it is because she is nine. But she does at times want me to take what she calls 'not smiling photos' and then she strikes a serious pose. 

Lili doing her serious 'model-y' look. 

Lili doing her serious 'model-y' look. 

I was allowed to smile in this photo that Lili took. I like it! 

I was allowed to smile in this photo that Lili took. I like it! 

Lili also took this picture of me and Dante. 

Lili also took this picture of me and Dante. 

Here we are all at St. Mark's. 

Here we are all at St. Mark's. 

TEN THINGS ABOUT VENICE

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  1. Venezia was formed on a bunch of muddy swamp patches in about A.D. 400 as the Venetiae (who were Celtic) fled invaders. We enjoyed learning this because Lili thought Venice had come about because of a flood.
  2. Currently there are about 50,000 residents in Venezia and about 80,000 tourists visit daily.
  3. There are 423 bridges. Originally, the bridges had no railings but during the Austrian rule railings were added. There is one bridge left in the original shape - I have attached a picture.
  4. A 35 minute evening gondola ride costs 100 Euros and there is no shortage of takers.
  5. The island of San Michele is the Venezia cemetery. Famous people buried there include American author Ezra Pound (who lived in Venice for over 20 years) and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
  6. Venice is not known for its green spaces. Gardens are mostly private, behind walls and gates. We stayed in Cannaregio, in a building that used to be a convent, and it opened to a lovely old park.
  7. The Venezia Jewish ghetto is the first ghetto in the world. It is a thriving cultural community these days. (The word ghetto comes from Venetian word 'getto' which means foundry. The Jewish people were sequestered in the Venice foundry area in the 1500's.)
  8. Bicycles are forbidden in Venice.
  9. One of the islands is Murano, famous for its glass. The glass is so beautiful and I did buy a little plate for my yoga room.
  10. The best way to go to Venice is to take the bullet train. It brings you right downtown to the Grand Canal.
In the Jewish Ghetto.

In the Jewish Ghetto.

Murano glass.

Murano glass.

The one bridge that still does not have railings.  

The one bridge that still does not have railings.  

FARM VISIT

Now a relatively impressive display of incompetence: I deleted my own post. And I can't get it back. So now I am reposting it.

In Torino, we visited Lidia's cousin Fiorella's farm. This was really nice because Lili is such an animal lover and farms can always have animal babies too...

 

Quick relief for missing our chickens in Canada - Torino chickens are cuddly too. 

Quick relief for missing our chickens in Canada - Torino chickens are cuddly too. 

A day old calf! It's mom was looking on a bit suspiciously as we got to interact with her baby. 

A day old calf! It's mom was looking on a bit suspiciously as we got to interact with her baby. 

In Piedmont they mostly grow beef cattle (dairy comes from e.g. Alto Adige). The calf in the front here is about a month old.

In Piedmont they mostly grow beef cattle (dairy comes from e.g. Alto Adige). The calf in the front here is about a month old.

Lidia with Fiorella's daughters Roberta and Cristina. 

Lidia with Fiorella's daughters Roberta and Cristina. 

Lorenzo and Fiorella. 

Lorenzo and Fiorella. 

FAMILY IN ITALY

We had so many lovely moments with family in Torino. Lili has two cousins: Amedeo who is 24 and currently in medical school - soon it will be time to choose a specialization; and Giuliano who is 19 and will become a composer - he has already completed the first year of Conservatory while still in high school.

It has been seven years since Lili saw his cousins last and obviously she did not remember much from that encounter. This time there was time to create many new memories!

Believe it or not we went to have some sushi in Torino and it was great. Here we are with our bellies full! Lidia with Lili, Manuel, Giuliano, Sonia, Amedeo and Dante. 

Believe it or not we went to have some sushi in Torino and it was great. Here we are with our bellies full! Lidia with Lili, Manuel, Giuliano, Sonia, Amedeo and Dante. 

 

Amedeo's girlfriend Sonia was a new acquaintance for us and as she is a language major it was very easy for all of us to communicate.

 

My aunt Eeva came from Finland to join us in Torino for a few days and as she is an enthusiast of any things Italian (including language) she was like a fish in water right away.

We threw a big dinner get together one evening as we had rented a spacious apartment in the old centre of Torino, and also Dante's cousins Susanna and Simonetta came to meet us. Susanna's daughter Amarilli is now 16, a young lady. Happy eating and chatting went on till late.

I am attaching a few images of the various family things we did.

Simonetta with Lili. Did I mention that pastries in Torino are to die for? 

Simonetta with Lili. Did I mention that pastries in Torino are to die for? 

Lili and Amarilli. 

Lili and Amarilli. 

Lili and cousin Amedeo. 

Lili and cousin Amedeo. 

Lili and cousin Giuliano. 

Lili and cousin Giuliano. 

An earlier pasta dinner at our place: Dante, Eeva, Giuliano, Lili, Amedeo, Manuel, Lidia.

An earlier pasta dinner at our place: Dante, Eeva, Giuliano, Lili, Amedeo, Manuel, Lidia.

Out for pizza with Eeva. 

Out for pizza with Eeva.