D-Day Remembrance

6 Jun

Today marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Seared in our memories forever, we commemorate the day when the U.S.-led Allied armada crossed the English Channel. They launched an offensive that would help lead to the defeat of the Third Reich.

In honor of those who died…the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

We must always remember and forever be grateful.

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medieval Market Cortona

4 Jun

June arrived in Cortona and brought along not only warm sunny weather but also the first of several annual summer festivals. Last weekend was the Medieval Market filled with games, costumes, food, shops and entertainment. Here’a a sampling…

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

And of course, great sunsets,

©blogginginitaly.com

and great friends!

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

My Unintended Language Lesson

29 May

A friend saw me on a walk today and said, “You haven’t posted in a while!” And she is right. “Blame it on the weather and my bronchitis,” I responded, and we proceeded to share funny stories of unintended Italian lessons. Now granted, her newly needed vocabulary, some 30 years ago, was much more exotic, as she was preparing for a c-section delivery of her second child in northern Italy. Mine is much more mundane – that is, dealing with a cold, cough and eventual bronchitis.

I’m sure in my Italian classes with Giovanna we covered many of these words, but I probably wasn’t very interested. I do remember paying attention to “pronto soccorso” or emergency room, in the hope that we’d never have to visit one.

But here I am this year, three weeks in, with a new and unfortunately useful vocabulary:

I have a cold: Ho un raffreddore.

I have a bad cough and I cough a lot: Ho una brutta tosse e tossisco molto.

Every Italian friend we know has said the weather is the culprit. They suggested I visit the doctor who would prescribe antibiotics (antibiotici) and cortisone (cortisone). Hmmm…cortisone for bronchitis? Never heard of that combo before.

After visiting the doctor, he confirmed: “I have bronchitis.” Ho la bronchite.

He also asked the color of my phlegm, (flemma), but I’ll spare you the details, only to say that my extensive knowledge of Italian colors came in helpful.

The prescription was just as I had been told, antibiotics (amoxicillina) for 6 days;  cortisone, which turned out to be prednisone (prednisone) for 5 days; and an awful tasting cough syrup (sciroppo per la tosse) 2-4 times daily.  I did some research and found that short-term steroid therapy does help minimize inflammation within the bronchial tubes. Made sense to me.

©blogginginitaly.com

So, for the week I was on meds, I drank tons of water and tea, knocked back hot honey-lemon-ginger shots, skipped all vino, and did my best to stay out of places where I could spread my germs. Over the subsequent days, I began slowly improving, knowing that the bronchitis cough can last a while. And then came last Sunday, finally med free, so we went to Tuscher for lunch.

Being a true blooded Italian, my personal choice of “meds” was simple:

Chocolate banana cake with whipped cream (panna)

©blogginginitaly.com

delightfully washed down with vino rosso!

©blogginginitaly.com

Still not quite 100%, but getting closer every single day!

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends and Sunshine: A Perfect Remedy

16 May

For the last four days, Len and I have been housebound. Seems as though we succumbed to the Italian “colpo d’aria” or a “hit of air” to our eyes, nose, or ears. In simple terms, we each got a very bad combination of cold, bronchitis, and cough. The other culprit, as the Italians would say, is the weather, and I’d agree. Hard to believe it is May and on some days, we are still wearing down jackets or vests and heavy scarves. But enough already as there is always a bright side.

Each of the last four days, we have received calls and messages from friends checking in to see how we are doing, offering to shop or cook for us, or dropping things at our front door. Seriously, the kindness is almost overwhelming. And today, since the sun was finally shining brightly, Fernanda insisted we go to her house in the country so she could cook for us as we sat in the sun. How could we resist?

The sun was shining brightly, lunch was delicious, and the vistas were spectacular,  

©blogginginitaly.com

including the spectacle of her roses in full bloom fronted by a row of lavender.

©blogginginitaly.com

The Italians have a phrase for all of this as well…

L’aria di campagna, la salute ci guadagna…  country air equals health benefits.

The day was just what a doctor might have ordered.  Even as we were leaving, I couldn’t believe the view in my rear view mirror. And yes, tonight we are definitely feeling better. 

©blogginginitaly.com

Friends and sunshine, a perfect remedy for all that ails!

Ciao,
Judy

 

Happy Mother’s Day 2019- Buona Festa della Mamma!

12 May

(A repeat of my annual sentiments with a few added photos.)

Mother’s Day is a special time to remember
how fortunate I am to be part of a long line of strong,
intelligent and loving Italian women.

Maude©Blogginginitaly.com

Paternal Grandmother Maude ©Blogginginitaly.com

Serafina©Blogginginitaly.com

Maternal Grandmother Serafina ©Blogginginitaly.com

 

Benita©Blogginginitaly.com

My Mother Benita (at my wedding) ©Blogginginitaly.com

My parents wedding 1947 ©blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

(L-R visiting Paris) Aunt Marilyn, Mom, Aunt Florence ©Blogginginitaly.com

Aunt Marion ©blogginginitaly.com

It is also a day to celebrate
my incredible sisters, nieces and cousins, (pictured and not),
who are not only amazing Mothers,

but also determined women who incorporate
the traditions learned from our ancestors as they create new ones.

©blogginginitaly.com

Poor quality but fun memory! ©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

To all of them, 
and to the dear friends/wonderful Mothers
I have met throughout my life’s journeys…
I wish you all a beautiful day filled with love, family and relaxation.

And to my Benita… my forever gratitude for giving me this special day.

©blogginginitaly.com

Happy Mother’s Day – Buona Festa della Mamma!

Ciao,
Judy

Productive Relaxation, Italian Style

24 Apr

In Italy, there is a sight commonly found in smaller towns – men sitting on benches, or standing in small groups, discussing everything from local politics to international sports events. Meanwhile, their wives are shopping, visiting, cooking, cleaning, etc.  What they all have in common is the phrase: Siamo in pensione, or, we are retired. 

We, too, take this retirement thing seriously. Take productive relaxation for example, not an oxymoron but instead an art.

Fernanda had today off, so our day began in her garden where she prepared breakfast – her delicious yogurt cake and cappuccino.

©blogginginitaly.com

After enjoying the sunshine and planning for our vegetable garden, we drove to Panicale, one of our favorite little borgos about 45 minutes from Cortona, and a first visit for Fernanda.

In 2018, Panicale, in Umbria, was listed as one of Italy’s most beautiful villages.

©blogginginitaly.com

Although it is small and easy to walk around, it is not the easiest of villages to find. But GPS has gotten us there every time.

The medieval hill town overlooks Lago Trasimeno, a site where in 217 BC, Hannibal and his legions ambushed Roman legions along the banks.

©blogginginitaly.com

As you can see from the map below, the streets are narrow and form concentric ovals.

©blogginginitaly.com

Panicale still retains its medieval castle, which was once surrounded by a moat,

©blogginginitaly.com

as well as other well-preserved charming buildings.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

It also has a few unique door bells!

©blogginginitaly.com

No matter which way you walk, all streets seem to lead to the historical center’s Piazza Umberto I,

©blogginginitaly.com

where there is a travertine fountain, (formerly an ancient cistern), dating back to 1473.

©blogginginitaly.com

The piazza is surrounded by a few eateries and shops, including our favorite – Bar del Gallo, (lower right).

©blogginginitaly.com

The staff is always friendly,

©blogginginitaly.com

and the melanzana (eggplant) is always delicious.

©blogginginitaly.com

Of course, there are other menu items, but for us, it’s too good to pass up. And Fernanda agreed it was one of the best she has ever eaten.

©blogginginitaly.com

Perhaps best of all at Bar del Gallo is the owner, Aldo Gallo, a man whose warm smile and genuine hospitality keeps one coming back for more.

©blogginginitaly.com

Today we learned that Bar del Gallo earned a gold cup award in a coffee competition, an award well-deserved. Complimenti Aldo!

©blogginginitaly.com

We said our goodbyes and drove the long way home, stopping at a nursery to select our plants: 10 tomato (three varieties), and nine zucchini.

©blogginginitaly.com

Why nine zucchini, you might ask? Well, last year, we had an ever-lasting supply of zucchini flowers, (actually too much of a good thing!) and very few zucchini, so Len did some research. Apparently, zucchini should be planted in “hills” of three plants, close together. This is because when the plants flower, they produce both masculine and feminine flowers, and apparently, they need to do their thing “nature-ly” (cross-pollinate) to produce zucchini! Who knew???

©blogginginitaly.com

Well, we’ll see what happens. Updates, and hopefully zucchini, to follow in a few months.

Grazie, Aldo, for another lovely afternoon in Panicale. See you again soon. 

©blogginginitaly.com

And that’s how we spend a very productive day in a most relaxing way, Italian style.

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Weekend In Cortona

22 Apr

Throughout Italy, Easter week is filled with religious and cultural traditions. Each town has its long-held ceremonies, and Cortona is no exception. Children who held their grandparents’ hands as they were first introduced to the Good Friday procession now carry those same heavy and beautifully crafted statues through the streets of town as their own children watch in awe.

©blogginginitaly.com

The solemnity of Friday evening fades Saturday morning as people gather along the streets and in the markets to shop for their Easter meal. Friends are greeted with Buona Pasqua and the double cheek kiss as they exchange pleasantries and best wishes while shopping.

One dessert staple is the Colomba di Pasqua, a traditional Italian Easter cake, which comes in various sizes and a few flavors, but is always shaped like a dove.

©blogginginitaly.com

On Easter Sunday, although most cook and eat at home with family, there are also many restaurants offering multi-course traditional meals.

And then comes La Pasquetta, Easter Monday, or Little Easter. This is a national holiday when families pack up Easter leftovers, head to parks or beaches for picnics, or stroll around towns like Cortona. And stroll they do. I always need to remind myself to slow down on these days.

©blogginginitaly.com

La Pasquetta is a time for relaxation, and a midday Aperol Spritz seems to be the colorful  beverage of choice for many.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Amid the crowds and festivities, we always manage to find time for quiet walks, alone or with friends, taking in some views that newly trimmed trees now offer,

©blogginginitaly.com

as well as the magnificent signs of spring.

©blogginginitaly.com

And then, of course, there are the sunsets, with or without aperitivo, no description needed.

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Happy Easter, Passover, and Spring!

Ciao
Judy

 

 

Re-entry!

11 Apr

We returned to Cortona over two weeks ago, and we’ve been busy.  While sometimes it seems as though we have the town to ourselves, 

©blogginginitaly.com

the weekends remind us that Cortona is a “happening” place.

Occasionally, however, there are “happenings” we’d rather avoid.

©blogginginitaly.com

We managed to get “fined” on a 10 minute bus ride from Camucia to Cortona. Longer story shortened, our to-and-from rides were all on one ticket, which we validated each way. However, we didn’t realize, or frankly just forgot, that we had to validate the single ticket twice each way, and consequently, we were fined by the very occasional inspectors who boarded our bus one stop from Piazza Garibaldi, our final destination. Yes, we paid for both of us, and yes, we thought we had correctly validated the ticket, but none of that mattered. Word to the wise: validate, validate, validate, or pay 60 euros!!!

But as always, our days and nights are filled with great friends and great food, some  shown here.

During our second week, we spent several days in Lucca. Although it rained each day, we were able to walk the wall, do some sight seeing, visit with a friend, and find some great restaurants.

On the way back, we stopped in Firenze as we had been invited to visit the Carabinieri Training School. Len just couldn’t resist.

m5ZK4vcXRKeBHFOz2WJ9NQ

©blogginginitaly.com

A few days ago, we drove with friends to a medieval town in Umbria called Narni. There are hundreds of towns like this in Italy, each with its own history and legends, and usually an interesting fact for which they are known. For Narni, it is being very close to the geographic center of Italy.

kfZ0A5HoTRic3tgnNJ5XVQ

©blogginginitaly.com

fullsizeoutput_d56a

©blogginginitaly.com

On Monday of this week, we picked up our car, this time a Fiat Panda.

9pJd7UtfSVGAgNDUCR8Rrg

©blogginginitaly.com

The weather has not been great, but mostly I feel like her… I’m here and I’m happy!

fullsizeoutput_d558

©blogginginitaly.com

And today, before the rains fell, we drove through the Tuscan countryside, as if driving through a painting, and witnessed, once again, the stunning landscape and the ever-spectacular views that always bring a smile to my face. 

fullsizeoutput_d565

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

Vortex. Bomb Cyclone. Frigid Temps. Enough!

2 Mar

Sometimes you learn about things you’d prefer not to learn about, especially when the learning is experiential. Such has been the case this winter.

The first experience was January’s Polar Vortex. For me, it was the least bothersome of the weather events as it was January in Chicago, a time I expect it to be cold and blustery. Besides, it was pretty sunny as we went about setting new weather records.

Then in February, Len and I were visiting family in Michigan when we received weather related warnings on our phones:

Detroit Free Press

Possible bomb cyclone, seriously? We charged our phones, found candles, and waited out the next event. Although very windy and cold, the biggest impact on us was our cancelled flight to Chicago rescheduled to the next day.

Then this morning, we were greeted with these weather headlines:

Chicago Tribune, ABC7 Chicago and WGN_TV

Enough of this frigid winter! But it is March and I know soon enough, with a few sunny days and a bit of warmer air, the snow crocus will rescue us from the long winter as bits of green begin peeking out of the slowly thawing winter ground.

Wikimedia

Vortex? Cyclone? Frigid temps? – thanks Hal Borland for reminding us that
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

Ciao,
Judy

Surviving the Polar Vortex!

30 Jan

Some people attend the Olympics hoping to experience a record being set. Today, I just had to walk out my front door to experience one myself.

©blogginginitaly.com

Now if that isn’t enough to freeze your bones, take a look at the “FEELS LIKE” temp…

©blogginginitaly.com

-49°, seriously?

I awoke to find several kind messages of “Keep Warm” from friends across the globe, so I’m adding the conversion to celsius:

©blogginginitaly.com

How does the “real feel” really feel? I put on a down coat, warm hat and gloves, and stepped outside for about 15 seconds. Granted, not enough for frost bite, which can occur in five minutes, but enough to feel the biting air, especially as the winds are 20-30 mph. My assessment? I think I’ll stay inside for a few days.

Our morning newspaper headlines were filled with caution:

©Chicago Sun Times:

©Chicago Tribune:

In case you are curious, The Washington Post provided a good explanation of why this is happening.

©The Washington Post

Oh well, -27 or -29, it doesn’t really matter, except perhaps for the meteorologists who just love breaking records.

Most transportation in and out of Chicago has been affected and nearly every academic institution as well as countless restaurants, businesses, etc., are closed today, and probably tomorrow. Warming shelters and food banks are busy welcoming those in need and people are encouraged to check on at risk neighbors and elderly. Let’s hope people stay inside so the first responders can as well.

As for us, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the refrigerator and wine cooler are fully stocked, we are warm, well, and weathering the weather, plus, I experienced a new record!

And, looking ahead, it’s supposed to reach 46° on Sunday, a great day for a long stroll in the park. 

©blogginginitaly.com

Ciao, 
Judy

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: