Apr 24, 2010

Old Town Masserano Italy

It never is a good idea to go to an old medieval town at lunch time. It will inevitably be deserted. With the grey skies as a background, it had an even sorrier feel, a world crumbling, fading and abandoned. I still find it attractive though.

This old complex, one end abandoned, and the other still occupied, sported a sun-dial on its wall. Restored, but still evidence of a time gone by. The chimney top is rather charming, a work of art to demonstrate an artisans hand and decorate a what would otherwise be a boring rooftop.


A's daughter had not been to Masserano before, and I doubt to any medieval town. It was wonderful to hear her gasp in surprise at discovering how low the arches had been made. Borgosesia has been transformed into a newer town and all the old has been stripped away so this was a new experience for her.

Talk about detail...on the railing as well as the door. 

The main square in the old town.

Apr 19, 2010

Life is Crrrrrazeeeee, but good

It's been crazy here lately and I am hardly at home, hardly plunking away at the keys to leave messages and keeping in touch. Not writing one single bit it seems. I'm bummed. Life sometimes picks up speed and if your legs don't abituate soon enough, everything gets rather messy.

I decided to buy some bath foam to relax in the evenings....so you can guess, my legs didn't keep up the beat.

For those of you who know I am waiting for a little black puppy to join the family ranks...I am still waiting.
I haven't written a single word more on the story I was writing, which is a shame.
I have been creative and made an outdoor cushion for a seat outside...waiting for summery weather to stick around.
I did go to Masserano and have photos to show. It was a bleaky day so I don't know that they show really well, but that is to come. And as is the case these days, I am in a rush and took a moment just to throw out a blogger greeting to all and to say I'm still alive.

That's all for now.

Apr 17, 2010

Tango at Torchio, Grignasco!!!!

The search is finally over. There's tango lessons nearby at Torchio in the Grignasco area on Friday evenings.

Photo from Tango in Buenos Aires site

I live about 5 minutes from Borgosesia, one of the hubs of this area, where most people come from the surrounding villages to do business. It's fairly large, but not only is it not a very pretty place, I can't seem to find anything that interests me here.

So, after looking for tango for over two years, I was chomping at the bit to get to Michela's class. It took me two weeks after discovering there were lessons to actually get there. But last evening, after passing the last 1/2 hour of waiting at a nearby bar with a nice glass of Nero d'Avola, a favorite of mine, I got to take a twirl or two around the floor.

It's a pity that A doesn't dance, won't dance, and I had to go by myself....but I had a blast and it was an awesome way to end a very busy week.

Apr 12, 2010

Candelo, one of Italy's most beautiful villages...

Candelo, noted as one of the 100 most beautiful Italian villages, happens to be "just around the corner" from where I live. I decided to drive the hour or so to find it and see for myself. That view has to count for something.

At first I thought they'd hidden the old center - I saw only one sign and nothing more. I passed condominiums, and other modern buildings, several churches, and must have toured almost all the streets before turning down a narrow one way and suddenly, I knew I'd arrived. It would have helped if I knew what the word "Ricetto" meant but it doesn't show up in my dictionary!

Anyway, the Ricetto is a walled medieval village, at least it once was. Now it is under various stages of restoration and during the summer, the doors are flung open to invite tourists to part with their cash in exchange for goods...wooden, ceramic, crocheted..all hand made.

It is also known for a marvelous display of flowers at the end of May that completely transforms the cold, monotonous gray into vibrant life. From the 22 of May through June 2, this old stone medieval village will metamorphose. So these photos will not do it justice...

Left: The entrance, from inside the courtyard
Right: Enoteca just at the entrance. I was tempted to buy a bottle but forgot to stop on my way out.

Left: The walk along the far wall. Deserted
Right: An optimist has his wares out for sale.

Me an my door fetish. These are some really short doors!

Proof that I wasn't the only one there. 

I told A that I was a little disappointed and he said I should go to Masserano, which is  a couple of towns over from Candelo. You KNOW I am going to go back and see what Masserano is all about.


Apr 10, 2010

Springtime cleaning...outside

I can tell spring is in the air, my eyes are starting to itch, along with my nose and throat. I'm not sure if I'm happy or not. It's time for the drugs.

I know a lot of the rest of the world is in bloom, but around here, apart from a few daffodils and four tulips, this is the only bit of striking color in my hood. Ha, this is more like my neck of the woods, almost literally.

Those trees are not dead in the background.

Well, considering the leaves have not come back in force and neither my allergies, I decided to pull out the brambles that had taken out the backyard. This is one part of the backyard.

It's near the doghouse, and continues to the left, not photographed. The entire slope, top and bottom, was covered and should be bramble free until, who knows, another week?

Here is the upper part, to where those stairs lead...I wanted to mow before it got too long and seeing A has time to cut it with the weedwhacker every two or three months or so, I decided the time was NOW.

The mound isn't cut grass though, it's the dry grass and sticks I raked out of the "lawn". I am yet to mow.

View from where I was working. Satisfying looking back on the work already done, but after working on this project for DAYS, I really wanted to finish.

You can see what I've already mowed...AND....

...this is my new friend.

Zeff ( the neighbor) came by and his first remark was, "E' piccola", (It's small). Tiny is more like it, especially when you consider all the work it has to do. But I can lift it to take it up and down the stairs. That was all that mattered to me.

In a short time, it should be completely green again, especially with the um, rain that is scheduled for next week.

Yes, this is what I've been doing with my free time.

Apr 5, 2010

Yesterday we headed out to celebrate Pasqua, Easter, at a restaurant about 2.5 hours away. We chose it for the setting as the Monferrato area is known for its beautiful hills and generous sprinkling of castles. Unfortunately, the landscape was obliterated by a crystal wall of water and finally with a soft white mist. It was apparent there would be no view and no need for a camera.

We arrived at i Tre Poggi and settled at a table near the heater. We gazed out the floor length windows onto a gravel courtyard with an old olive that stood near the center. Framing the courtyard was a wooden path that led to the agriturismo's rooms and off on a tangent to a pool with a view of the valley below. 

I liked the feel of the place: wood, stone and iron elements always appeal to me. A and I had had a debate as to what material was used to build the upper balcony. He said it was cement painted to look like wood, but it had the grain and knots in it that I didn't believe him. It was too real to be cement.  
The owner, Massimo Argonauta, came by our table at one point and in addition to the casual conversation asked us what we had been looking at (at the ceiling). A was right. Of course.

Lunch was magnificent. I ate everything except the risotto which I don't like anyway. Lunch started with an aperitivo, then carpaccio (raw meat) and robiola (cheese), risotto with bacon and creamed onions, lamb chops with a side of potatoes. It was all washed down with i Tre Poggi's own wine, Freisa d'Asti and the dessert of apple parfait was followed by a sweet moscato. Absolutely delicious.

Here is that awesome pool at the side of the building. There is also a spa center on the ground floor that also looks out on the valley.

We are ready to go back although on a day when the weather cooperates a bit more...no alot more!

(All photos taken from the i Tre Poggi website)

Apr 3, 2010

And then there were Three

There is a new dog in the family, a setter of 8 months, an uncoordinated mass of fur and boundless energy. Furio has come to join us as A's new hunting partner. Argo just doesn't have the interest and Macchia has put in a good 15 years of an awesome partnership and it is time to retire.

Here is Furio, running like there is no tomorrow behind A.

All that running makes a little dog thirsty, very thirsty.

Seems like a good time for a swim too.

Getting in was easy, getting out was another story. Furio did not succeed in getting out here; he slipped back in and yelped and struggled to get over the rock instead of going around it. He's just a baby yet.

A fox-hole, just one of the many holes joining the tunnels burrowed everywhere. April is the time of year they have their cubs and since this hole is still being used, it is very likely the little ones were well hidden underground. We have a couple that live near the house and every so often we throw out left overs for them. In winter, I'm sure they don't mind the freebies.

Apr 2, 2010

April Fools

Thursday was a day to take everything with a grain of salt. I don't remember adults playing April Fool's jokes in the States as much as kids did. Here, it seems all of Italy gets into it somehow.

At the end of the day, I told A about the news I'd heard on TV including a story about breast implants.  In France, thousands of women had had this surgery and due to a fault in the product, the implants were on the verge of exploding. A didn't believe me and suggested I check it out again....another day, not on April Fools.

Well, it IS true and not only did I discover that there are thousands of women all across Europe who might suddenly deflate at any given moment, I discovered that female jihadis use this very procedure to hide explosives for non beauty enhancing purposes. Here is the story on that twist.

My attempt at a trick didn't quite succeed. From A's habits I should have known it wouldn't work. I short sheeted the bed and waited for him to turn in first.Then  I ended up trapped on the phone when he headed upstairs so I wasn't there to see it all unfold. However, his habit is to flap the cover sheet as he gets in. (If I am already tucked in this baffles me to no end because it lets all the warmth out.)

From the kitchen I heard his footsteps lead into the bedroom. He called out "buona notte" and after a few seconds silence, I heard a whoosh as for some reason he decided to lift the sheet like a sail billowing in the wind. (I heard it from downstairs!!!!) And now I have to watch out, because A has never needed April 1 to play a practical joke on someone.

Apr 1, 2010

Mix of Old and New

I looked up from the table and on TV I saw Tiziano Ferro in concert somewhere here in Italy and I thought "It's one thing to go to a stadium for a concert, even if it is a great set up for the stage and audience.

and it's another to go to a concert set up in a piazza,

or an ancient arena....

with the old stone soaking up every beat, every vibe....the mortar probably crumbling faster than it would under normal conditions. But you can't beat the atmosphere.

It really is an unusual mix of old and modern that we don't get to feel in the States...at least not like this.