Oh dear…another lake we can’t seem to leave…even to sightsee!
Made even harder as this morning we moved to our lakeside pitch!
Yes, we did it…noticed some packing up yesterday evening, so this morning, Rog went out on a reccky (well after coffee, I kind of kicked him out of bed to see!) and Yes, we secured a most wonderful south facing lakeside pitch, on this fabulous small site set in the grounds of the boutique hotel.
Our panoramic windows face the lake and our chairs/table are placed in front, lake view.
Sunrises in the east and sunsets to the west…it’s truly heaven on earth!
After finding the pitch and checking with it’s parting residents that they were leaving…I secured it with reception and we waited for them to vacant…meanwhile we prepared for the move of a few metres!
Finally in by 11.30, late breakfast, cafetière and a well deserved rest!!!
Being a bit of a fidget…I caught up on laundry whilst chilling…and swam!
At aperitif time…Rog bought us an Aperol spritzer…
Sunset by the lake…
…then a good walk into our local small town of Passignano …watched the sky changing and explored behind the main square and seafront.
Up to capture sunrise over the lake…from our spot!
Cafetière by the lake then a walk into Passignano to take the lakebus to Isola Maggiore, the larger inhabited island.
A good trip…walked around the whole island, with breaks, in a couple of hours.
Rog informed me that in February until June 1944, the island’s castle was used as an internment camp for Jews and political prisoners, sent there for their own safety by the Fascist prefect of Perugia, who should have sent them to a concentration camp, as he was under German command.
When the British arrived in June 1944, they were rowed to safety by the island’s fishermen. This brave deed was organised by the island’s priest.
Returned on the 14.30 lakebus and walked home, where we ate a late, pecorino and bread, lunch…chilled then out to the supermarket for supplies.
This can take us a while, in deciding on our purchases… usually a good sized piece or two of Italian cheese (my fav is Taleggio), some salami for Rog, seafood, salad, fruit, pannacotta!, tonic water and peach tea, sometimes a bottle of wine (not every day!) always fresh pasta or two, and dinners!
Tonight, we bought some freshly minced steak for a delicious ragu sauce mixed with our tagliatelle…was delicious!
Can’t always make from scratch, as busy or late, but we had time this evening…and was worth it!
A strange unsettling evening…a storm was brewing…you could feel it in the air…the night of the flying insects!
From the moment we turn on a caravan light, we are vigilant about closing the fly screens, if the windows are open. But this evening, nothing would keep them out…we were being invaded!
I can’t see how they can get through the fly screens…there must be a small gap somewhere as it was quite disturbing as to how many were flying around our ceiling and lights!
Rog dealt with them in a manner I’d rather not publish, but even then, they persisted in invading our space!
We then had hours and hours of hammering rain…all through the night…a very restless sleep!
After our cafetière (much needed…wakeful stormy night) I cleaned up dead insects…after the night before…hoovering and wiping every surface!
A dreamy, gentle, overcast day.
Sunday by an Italian lake.
After lunch, we hopped in to the car. I drove us to our destination, supposedly a Mushroom Festival, an hour south of our lake, through really breathtaking countryside, but…I’d made a mistake with the location!
So…change of plan…looked at the map and spent a lovely afternoon in Todi…another beautiful hilltop village/small town and then onto Assisi…an amazing town!
A stroll through streets, alleys, piazzas looking at fantastic views.
Shops selling the many local products! Would love to taste everything but no tasters!
Did buy pots of local honey for our Sweet New Year!
On to Assisi…
Quite a remarkable place. Many Christian tour groups and tourist shops selling religious memorabilia, close to the huge churches, but as you climb the steep paths up to the castle, all that gets left behind and you are rewarded with the most stunning and incredible 360 degree views over Umbria.
Assisi old town below and an enormous castle before your eyes plus sublime wooded mountain and country views.
Whilst high above the town, bag pipe music drifted up, giving a rather magical and surreal feeling.
Rog commented that perhaps we’d been transported to the Scottish Highlands!
Once down in the main square we discovered the source of the sounds were a Glaswegian pipe band founded by a Franciscan monk, and the band return to Assisi to play.
We learned these facts whilst chatting to the friendly band leader.
Truly suffering from beauty overload in Umbria…everywhere we drive or visit is breathtakingly lovely!
And the band marched off, filling the piazza with the beautiful yet eiry sound of bag pipes…in Umbria!
Home to a yummy meal of Cappellacci stuffed pasta, tomatoey sauce, Parmesan and salad.
Little sad not celebrating with my family…but can’t be everywhere…hopefully next year in Folkestone!
We will FaceTime and share apple and honey together later…for a sweet New Year.
My mother is seeing a friend and our girls are celebrating together, over a splendid dinner which our youngest is cooking for all four of them! Very pleased and proud!
Yesterday, in Todi, I bought pots of local honey for us all…sweet New Year!
We, on this first day of 5777, are off to the Grotto (again!), a 1.5 hour drive.
We arrived in plenty of time for our 15.30 English tour…no queues to worry about either…love low season! So picnic!
A bus took us from the car park and ticket office to the entrance of the cave, in the side of a mountain. This is a man-made entrance as the original one is way higher up the mountain!
There were only four on our tour…excellent!
It was a wonderful tour, firstly though a man-made tunnel to reach these remarkable caves.
This tunnel is sealed, only one entrance open at a time, as the caves are maintained at 14c and 98% humidity.
Our guide explained much about their discovery, geology and chemistry…it was fascinating.
This Grotto di Frasissi is 1.5 million years old and was discovered by a group of young cavers in 1971.
There are seven “rooms”, five we can see on this tour, the other two require specialist equipment and guides!
No photography is allowed but Rog and I did have this funny one taken…to buy!
I’ve visited caves previously, but never ever seen anything quite as spectacular as this.
The first room is the biggest in Europe and the first they discovered. It’s enormous and rather surreal.
High, wide and deep…so very beautiful and truly amazing…
Stalagmites, stalactites, crystals, fresh water pools, deep pot holes…it was truly wondrous…a magical experience.
We saw the five different “rooms” treading carefully on the wet, specially constructed walkway and stairways…the cave is very much alive and constantly drips water, forever changing the formation of these wonders.
What an amazing and truly memorable experience…yes, another!
A beautiful azure day…a day to catch-up on accounts and other bits…sitting on the shade of our trees with our lake view!
After lunch, at around 14.45 (it’s not worth going out until 15.00, as all closed!) we went for a drive, partly around southern side of lake…
…through a few villages and to a Vespa hire company just outside of San Feliciana , a small harbour town.
Looked around and arranged renting a 300cc Vespa tomorrow!
We have been discussing this in great detail, due to safety aspects, but would really like to have a fun day on a Vespa in Italy! Just have to be so cautious of these drivers!
Pottered around by car and ended up in a, new to us, supermarket, which had a great choice of everything but seemed a little more reasonable.
Spent a good time choosing our grocers and home.
A very “normal” day today…just what you need sometimes.
Made a double portion of delicious Ragu sauce…half with our Strangozzi (a thicker chewier spaghetti type fresh pasta, a speciality of and made in Umbria…actually Perugia! And we love it!) for tonight, half in fridge !
Cleared up and watched Netflix before an earlish bedtime…up early for Vespa day!
Up early with the sun…early for us these days, anyway!
Coffee, dried toasts and fig jam…a few picnic bits in a bag…off we set!
After all the legalities were completed, helmets fitted…we jumped on to our super 300cc blue Vespa for a great day!
All around the lake, up to walled hill villages and picturesque medieval hill towns, through verdant wooded hillsides, along narrow roads lined with olive groves and vines, cappuccinos in a hill café overlooking the lake, picnic lunch in Cortona watching a very stylish wedding, breathtaking views of Umbria!
A summary of our Wednesday on a Vespa !
I love riding pillion on any bike…you feel the countryside, smell the greenery, see sights you can’t from a car…I’d love to do it all over again!
Home, tired but happy…rotisserie chicken, artichoke and tomato salad, grains…a glass of Grechetto and Netflix!
A perfect day!
Awoke early to pit pats of rain which were soon hammering down on our skylights…a very different picture to yesterday!
It must have dropped by 10c overnight and we’re in jeans today…first time for months. Even popped on my sheepskin slippers!
A lovely morning together in the van then after lunch, on this overcast day, a trip into Perugia.
Rog drove to the car park from where you take the “minimetro” into the centre.
Only a 10 minute ride on this excellent modern cable car train…Perugia centro storico!
Perugia is the capital city of Umbria, rather smaller than we expected and after a couple of hours of wandering around the piazzas, cobbled streets and alleys, seeing stunning views at every turn, we were ready to take the minimetro home.
Couldn’t help but think of the Amanda Knox case…where she’d been in the city…where she’d lived…
Rog made a point about all these Italian cities…marvellous and beautiful as they all are, the Museums and Galleries charge anything from €5 to €15 entry.
So, as much as we enjoy wandering around these institutions, when we have to constantly pay for tickets…we don’t!
Florence we will have to plan ahead!
So, once home, a good meal and a cosy evening watching our Netflix series!
Gets dark…and I mean dark, by 7ish, so could be anywhere once our blinds are closed…in our caravan in our garden…for example!
I’ve gone from Havaianas to Hunters in one day!!! What a posey sentence…but you get it!
Happily spent this wet morning in our caravan, doing our own things, together…discussing future route and job plans!
Even did laundry!
Made a brunch of piadina filled with fresh Genovese pesto, mozzarella, taleggio and toms…yum!
A cafetière and off we went to Montepulciano…through the glorious Umbrian wine country into the equally gorgeous Tuscan landscapes.
We stopped at a beautiful range-style farmhouse/vineyard and tasted a couple of their wines…but didn’t buy…tasted better!
Montepulciano is a pretty steep cobbled town with many wine shops offering free tastings but we felt it was a bit touristy for us, so after a wander and a couple of tastings and canapés, we left to continue our afternoon in Siena.
Siena…love love love it!
Absolutely one of my favourite Italian cities/towns of this trip.
Love the feel, the architecture, the scale of buildings, the space, the cobbled streets, the people, the shops…everything!
The most impressive piazza is Piazza del Campo…a huge fan shaped public space on a scale unlike any you see in U.K.
Terracotta herringbone patterned tiled floor, beautiful old stone buildings around it’s edges with an enormous tower on one side. The best part for me was seeing young and old using it as a meeting place, a shared place to chill together or people watch!
Reminded me of a tiled park. Love it !
We tried a thin slice of the local sweet speciality…Panaforte…a sweet sticky cake, combination of dried figs and walnuts… delicious!
My family all know that dried fruit/ nuts/ marzipan are my fav! Reminded me very much of the Spanish date and walnut cake.
Walked into an ultra modern chocolate shop with a huge chocolate fountain in the window.
There, we were offered delightful almonds coated in limoncello chocolate and a soft crumbly cookie filled with choc/praline!
We were in heaven! Our girls love these cookies!
Rog said, let’s buy a box for each girl and my mother…then we realised it would be £30 for a few biscuits! A little OTT!
We strolled through piazzas, into enormous churches and bag shops!
We wandered back through the Piazza del Campo as the sun was setting, before we had to leave this delightful city.
Strangozzi pasta and ragu sauce…plus a glass of a very local Chianti.
Plus a small piece of Panaforte…love this sweetmeat!
A speciality of Siena…hopefully we’ll find it in Florence!
A rainy morning soon developed into a warmish sunny day.
The sun came out and so did the tiny lizards…scurrying over rocks, stones, beach decking!
Chasing each other…either fighting or playing!
Wasn’t worth walking into Passignano at 11.30 as everything goes to sleep at 13.00-15.00, so we pottered at home!
Lunch outside then the mile walk into town, in the sunshine.
An enjoyable wander and meander…
We bought a large piece of olive wood for our new house (I love all wood and whicker!) a few bits in the small supermarket, then on our walk home, the skies opened…we took shelter on the covered terrace of a closed lakeside restaurant!
The heavy shower turned into a fully blown thunderstorm… lightening, thunder, rain so heavy that it bounced back up again…the whole shebang!
After almost an hour, the rain wasn’t easing and it was getting chilly…so Rog, always with an idea, took our shopping bag pulled it over his head and shoulders and ran, in his soft leather NB trainers, along the flooding roads to get our car to collect me! Gallantry!
It continued to rain most of the evening…but we made it over to the restaurant for a super meal…only our fourth in Italy but definitely the best!
Beautifully cooked, just the right portion size and delicious!
Whatever you’d have chosen on that menu would have been good!
After yesterday’s sun then those storms, today was warm sunny and clear.
I got as far as Reception to pay our fees, but decided to stay an extra night!
Just one more day with our lakeside views!
We stopped packing up and enjoyed our spot…
At noon, I suggested a village festival in the surrounding hills.
Well, my success rate with festivals is pretty low…and guess what…it happened again!
We enjoyed a sublime journey…
…more breathtaking views of the lake and densely wooded hillsides, perched villages but when we reached the festival village…all looked asleep! Apparently, it wasn’t starting till 15.00!
You see, a few years ago we had a family holiday house in a Brittany village. Every late August, there was a village fête/carnival and it was riotous! We also used to love the neighbouring village fête…such great fun. I have good memories of these happy, crazy, very French occasions…would like to find them in Italy…not having much luck so far!
So we returned home…Italian cheese and tomato late lunch…a sit in the autumn sun, enjoying our ever changing lake views then at 17.00, a great bike ride!
We borrowed two of the hotel bikes and rode towards and through Passignano and into the countryside. Just under an hour each way and home safely, in time for dinner in the restaurant…yes, again!
Tonight I started with a prawn salad
Large macaroni with mussels
All was delicious!
Then two chocs from the waiter!
A lovely last day by Lake Trasimeno…great memories.