Monthly Archives: November 2015

Italy 2015 ~ Arezzo Antique Fair, Tuscany

The monthly Arezzo Antique Fair in Tuscany fell on our dates to be in Tuscany this year, and Monica and Denise were excited about visiting their first Italian antique fair. Arezzo was about 45 minutes, and we had a beautiful day for the fair. The entire historic district is blocked off to cars and all the streets are lined with vendors. Besides antiques, there are also artisans and food vendors. Plan to spend an entire day or several!

IMG_0093Denise fell in love with two silver champagne buckets at one of the first booths.

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Denise also picked out a gorgeous vintage Dolce and Gabbana bag. Tiime for some food and drinks…

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There were a few available tables outside Vita Bella Restaurant and Coffee Bar on Piazza San Francesco, so we parked and ordered. The pizza and carbonara pasta were sooooo good!

Makes my mouth water looking at these food pictures. ahhhhh…

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This is one of my favorite pictures from the day! Looks like the little girl is running from the alligator…

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The main piazza is so amazing! You feel like you’ve stepped back in timeIMG_0070 IMG_0579 IMG_0581

There are also many permanent antique shops in Arezzo that feature a bit of everything.IMG_0587

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We picked out some meat, truffle sauce, bread, cheese and honey from the food vendors

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Next up, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and Montalcino

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Categories: Travel: ITALY | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Italy 2015 ~ Day trip to Pienza & Montepulciano & my birthday dinner

For our first day in Tuscany, we decided to stay close to home and visit some of the small scenic towns. Pienza, renowned for their pecorino (sheep) cheese and small town charm was about 15 minutes from our “home” for the week, Lucignanello Bandini.

We followed the ridge roads and admired the view along the way of the Tuscan countryside. Most of the crops had been already harvested and the fields were plowed awaiting their next sowing.

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IMG_9929The main gate into Pienza

IMG_0250Just inside the gate was an artist who specialized in watercolors and etched-type drawings. I picked out a lovely drawing and Monica and Denise picked out their favorites.

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IMG_0252There are lots of fine linen shops in Pienza

IMG_0009A sampling of pecorino cheeses. We bought several to snack on back at the casa.

IMG_0031Side streets lead to panoramic views

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IMG_0259The main piazza features their civic building and several churches

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IMG_0274I love the iron rings on the building walls that were probably hitching rings for horses in the past but serve well for fido today.

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IMG_0290Next stop was Montepulciano, and we stopped at a pull-off on the side of the road to get a shot of it in the distance.

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IMG_0035The main gate into Montepulciano – it’s amazing they drive inside these ancient cities!

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IMG_9939Wally waiting patiently on the church steps for us women to catch up from our shopping.

IMG_0037A mosaic artist at work

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IMG_0040Monica bought this gorgeous hand made address book in one of the shops. The paper was marble dyed by the proprietor and the girl tending the shop was applying the leather binding – a perfect “locally made” reminder to take home!

IMG_0357They were covering the Piazza Grande with sand, and had antique wagons scattered around the piazza. We found out the next day that they were preparing for a television series filming that featured Dustin Hoffman and Richard Madden in “Medici: Masters of Florence“.

IMG_0337Just down the hill from Piazza Grande is the famous Cantine Contucci wine cellars, a winery that has been producing since before the Renaissance (1008). Learn more about their history on their website:  http://www.contucci.it/en/

This was one of our destinations in Montepulciano, so the girls could sample the Cantina’s famous “Vino Nobile” wine.  IMG_0335

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IMG_0330Adamo Pallecchi, the celler master was in the same spot he was two years previously when we visited, standing in the doorway to greet guests.

IMG_9940We greeted him and he happily posed for pictures before sending us into the cellars for our tour. He later joined us for our wine tasting, guiding us through their selections. Denise ordered a case to be sent home so we’ll have to go visit her when it arrives…

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IMG_0322Into the cellar…

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IMG_9942Time for an espresso…

IMG_0355On the opposite side of the Piazza Grande from Contucci is a courtyard with a panoramic view and public restrooms.

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IMG_0353Just down the way we noticed a sign for a wine cellar and took the steps downward into the cellars to explore. It was the de’Ricci Cantine Storiche, and their cellar was impressive! There was no charge to tour the cellars, but if you want to sample the wines there is a fee. It is deducted if you make a purchase, which we did, buying a bottle for the evening. The soaring ceilings in the cellar are really impressive, and it also features an Etruscan well. Learn more about the cantine and history at:  http://www.dericci.it/

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IMG_0051Dusk was coming, so it was time to head back to our village to rest and get ready for my birthday celebration dinner.

IMG_0345Goodbye for now lovely Montepulciano!

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IMG_9937The girls had picked me a lovely bouquet of flowers for my birthday, and when we arrived back at the apartment we had a toast with our bottle of wine from Lucignanello Bandini.

IMG_0362We rested a bit and then got ready for our dinner in San Giovanni d’Asso at La Loconda del Castello. Located in the castle built in the 1500s, the restaurant offers an upscale elegant dinner. Our hostess had called ahead to make reservations for us. We took pictures a few days later during the day so you can see what the castle looks like. http://www.lalocandadelcastello.com/

Here’s the Castle of San Giovanni d’Asso from below the town

IMG_0073And this is from inside the town from the parking area below the restaurant.

IMG_0099On the right side of the castle is the truffle museum, Museo del Tarfufe, however they were closed when we visited. http://museotartufo.museisenesi.org/

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IMG_0105Inside La Locanda del Castello… it’s time for my birthday dinner – Sept 30th!

IMG_0368We ordered a fried sampler tempura to begin with that had different sauces

IMG_0192I think I had the pappardelle with boar ragout – it was delicious!

IMG_0374A rich tasty soup

IMG_0373Denise ordered the ravioli and it was divine

IMG_0370Our charming host Massimo brought out my birthday dessert – I had learned last year that you do NOT attempt to blow it out!

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IMG_0379And then he treated us to a wonderful bottle of Italian bubbly…

IMG_0384Another fabulous birthday spent in Italy!

IMG_0380Next up is the Arezzo Antique Fair…

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Italy 2015 ~ Lucignanello Bandini, Tuscany

We awoke to a beautiful morning to explore our hilltop medieval village located about 20 minutes north of Montepulciano and five minutes to the small town of San Giovanni d’Asso. The infinity pool is perched on the very top of the hill and is surrounded by comfortable chaise lounges, chairs, olive trees, flowers and herbs. Monica and I took photos throughout the week, so you can get the feel of this amazing place.

Here’s the link to their website for those of you that might want more information:

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IMG_9995You arrive in the little hilltop village and check in at the office, located just under the archway on the left.

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IMG_0058   Entry to the office and lounge areaIMG_0527

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IMG_0400The village store and kitty. The store offers fresh coffee, snacks, fresh produce, wine and liquor, local cheeses, meats, assortment of toiletries and things you might need and more.

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IMG_0059The village crier…

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IMG_0192The village sign gives the history…

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IMG_9997And the pool! It must be heavenly in the summer. It was a bit too chilly for us to swim or sunbathe.

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Monica’s morning cup of David.

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We loved the harvest table that has a panoramic view across the Tuscan countryside. IMG_0231

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Our apartment was formerly a farm tenant home and located just below the pool. The spiral staircase leads up to the pool and dining terraces.

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IMG_0172Here’s a peek inside our 2-bedroom, 2-level apartment, Casa Amedeo. It was fully furnished with everything you could have needed from kitchen items to books and even firewood for the fireplace. The living room is quite comfortable and we spent lots of time around the kitchen table.

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Downstairs was another comfortable lounge area

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The view from the terrace by the poolIMG_0185

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Italy 2015 ~ Orvieto & Arrival at Lucignanello Bandini in Tuscany

This was our third fall trip to Italy, and this year we brought along Wally’s sister Monica and her friend Denise. Monica had been wanting to see Italy, so we volunteered to be their tour guides. We love the food, wine, history, gorgeous scenery, and the friendly Italian people.

Our dates the last weekend of September through mid-October conveniently fall on my birthday, as well as the Arezzo Antique Fair in Tuscany. Our itinerary included a week in Tuscany, five nights in Positano on the Amalfi Coast and three nights in Rome. We chose to fly from Nashville to Charlotte to Rome as Charlotte is usually hassle free with short lines coming in through customs (we hate Atlanta’s airport!). Monica loves to take photos too, so our trip pictures are a combined effort.

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After arriving in Rome, we trekked up and down the terminal for way too long before we finally found the car rental offices and got our car. We stopped off in the hilltop town of Orvieto in Umbria for lunch, and it was disappointing to see the Duomo under repair.

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The outdoor Enoteca Al Duomo called to us with their wine tasting advertised on the chalkboard and it was the perfect welcome lunch to Italy. We sampled local wines and ordered up a variety of appetizers.

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The girls were ready to sample gelato, so after lunch they got their fix at Gelateria Pasqualetti just a few doors up.

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A bit farther up the road we stopped off for a bathroom break and snacks and the girls were thrilled to get Coke and Italian “Cheetos”

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We arrived at our Tuscan destination for the week, Lucignanello Bandini at dusk, just in time to watch an amazing sunset from our hilltop infinity pool.

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IMG_9872 IMG_0150Love my shadow on the horizon reflected in the pool…

IMG_0157We had dinner at Osteria delle Crete in the small town just a few minutes away, San Giovanni d’Asso, and it was delicious. I would recommend them if you are in the area! http://www.osteriadellecrete.it/en/index.php

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Next up we’ll be daytripping to Pienza and Montepulciano…

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Savannah, GA to Daufuskie Island, SC ~ August 2015

We decided to take a quick getaway at the end of August to one of our favorite Southern beach and golf destinations, Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. After doing a quick search, we decided to try out the Cotton Sail Hotel located on the Savannah riverfront for our first night’s stay. http://www.cottonsailhotel.com/

Our drive from Nashville to Savannah takes around 8 hours, so its easier to stay the night in Savannah and then catch the early morning ferry to Daufuskie Island. Plus we enjoy getting our fresh oyster and seafood fix in Savannah! We arrived at the Cotton Sail to a dreary, drizzly afternoon and got checked in. The hotel has valet parking or you can park just a block around the corner at a public parking garage for cheaper (which we did).

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We love having a balcony, which was why we chose the Cotton Sail, and it had a nice view right on the river. The room had two big windows and was bright and cheery.

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The view from our balcony and windows…

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The back view of the Cotton Sail shows the balconies for the rooms.

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We dropped our luggage and headed out to stretch our legs and find food. The candy store always lures me in just to see and smell all the goodies.

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We awoke to a bit of sunshine and drove over to the Westin across the river to catch the Bloody Point ferry to Daufuskie  Island. IMG_9775

We had booked last minute, and chose one of the Sandy Lane Villas that is owned by Bloody Point Golf Course. They offer a package deal that offers the ferry service, golf cart rental, golf and the villa. When you arrive at the Bloody Point dock they meet your with golf carts or a van, and take you to the club house to get checked in and get your golf cart. www.bloodypointresort.com/

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Here’s the Sandy Lane Villas from the beach. Our villa was a spacious three bedroom, three bath and was huge for us, but lodging is limited on the island, and we really like being right on Bloody Point’s beach.

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The beach beckoned, even though it was rainy. There were tons of sand dollars this time and Wally even caught a live whelk, which he put back.

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We had one pretty day, so Wally took advantage of that playing at the Bloody Point Golf Course. I like photographing all the birds that hang out on the course.

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We bought some fresh-caught shrimp from a local and it was sooo good!

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The rain brought out a symphony of tree frogs – we even had to capture a few that snuck into the apartment when we left the door cracked.

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The beach after the storm during the night. Time to head home – maybe we’ll get better weather next time!

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Until next time!

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