Archive | May, 2012

Andiamo al Mercato!

31 May

Getting the girls moving earlier in the day is easy when I announce, “Let’s go to the market!” First stop, however, cappuccini per cinque…cappuccini for five.

Sarah and Benita

Judy and Len


On Thursdays, the large market spreads its wares in Camucia, the city at the bottom of the hill. There’s something for everyone: food, kitchen, shoes, clothes, lingerie, toys, linens, flowers, every kind of stuff, and unlike the antique market that was in Cortona on Sunday, everything is new.

And shop we did, well, we girls did anyway. Shortly after arriving, Len and Mike found a caffe where they gradually moved from cappuccini to birra and panini while waiting for us, but they didn’t mind a bit.

Camucia Market

Camucia Market


Funghi crudi – raw mushrooms – you eat in a salad – the most expensive!

Bellissimi fiori

Arance and ciliegie

Sarah buying her purse

Some of our purchases!

We returned to Cortona for a light lunch outside at Cacio Brillo and were witness to another beautiful wedding.

On the balcony

This one added a new dimension where the bride and groom delighted their guests with a kiss, (this time after the ceremony!) on the balcony of the Commune.

And off they went!

Tonight we are going to relax at home with a large fresh tomato salad and a few pizzas from the local pizzeria. Perhaps later we will get some gelato. Len has figured out the washer and dryer, (unusual in Italy!)…the engineer in him always does! Just one machine at a time, however!

And finally, a nice thing happened to me on the way to the bus this morning. As we walked passed the home we rented last year, a woman leaned out of the second floor window. “Do you write a blog?” she asked. Could it be that she recognized me from my blog photos? Quite surprised, I answered yes! She said she had read the blog and as a result, rented the home for a week with her daughter. Wow…so happy to have helped!

All in a day’s fun – and it’s only 5:09 PM.



Cortona Weddings

30 May

Local Wedding:

On a Sunday morning at 11 a.m., a horse drawn carriage carried a lovely bride and her father to S. Maria Nuova Church in Cortona. The church of Santa Maria Nuova was built in the mid sixteenth century by Giorgio Vasari.

Italian weddings are not always destined for Saturday, and this one reminded me that  Len and I were married on a Sunday as well.

The carriage arrived to the thunderous roar and applause of the waiting guests. We heard and watched this from the top of the hill until I decided I needed some photos. Most of the guests had filed into the Church by the time I ran down the hill, but I was able to see the proud father help his daughter out of the carriage.

The simplicity and loveliness of the bride, her father, a flower girl and ring bearer brought a smile to my face.

Although I couldn’t really see her face, I’m sure she was radiant as she entered the Church and approached her waiting fiancé.

Destination Wedding:

Others travel far to wed in Cortona. This union took place in the Palazzo Comunale, built in the early 1200’s. I believe the bride is American and the groom British, from a military family. The wedding attendees waited with anticipation, as well as many onlookers such as us, in front of the massive staircase.

The beautiful bride emerged from Via Nazionale to the waiting arms of her proud fiancé.

And before entering the Palazzo, they delighted their guests with a kiss.

Who needs movies?

Congratulations to all!




29 May

Just returned from two wonderful days in Firenze.

Yesterday, we took the 1.5-hour train ride from the Cortona/Camucia station, dropped our luggage at a small B&B,

Ricotta fresca

and headed to Piazza della Repubblica for lunch at Le Giubbe Rosse. The pizza was delicious and the fresh ricotta and tomatoes… simple and delicious!

From our table, I could see the balcony of the room at the Savoy where we celebrated my parents’ 50th anniversary. On either side of the balcony is a statue – one male, one female. When I see them, I always think my parents are smiling down at us, happy that we are still celebrating their lives and the legacies they left us.

Savoy Hotel, balcony upper right

After lunch,  we walked to Piazza del Duomo, Firenze’s historical center containing the Cathedral, the Baptistery (correct spelling!) and the Campanile, or bell tower.  The magnificent façades consist of an intricate pattern of green, white and reddish pink tiles, which you can see better if you click on Benita’s photo.

Duomo facade

As summer months go, May is definitely a tourist’s paradise, especially on Mondays. Crowds are lighter as kids are still in school and the big galleries are closed, so fewer tour groups crowd the city.

That said, we were able to walk right into the Cathedral, also known as Santa Maria del Fiore. The cathedral’s dome, engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi and built between 1420-1436, is considered the most impressive feature. Benita is able to stitch shots together, providing this impressive view of the dome and altar.

Duomo altar and dome

The  Baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. Until the 19th century, all Catholics in the city were baptized in the octagon-shaped Baptistery. Some of the more notable baptisms include Dante and members of the Medici family. The bronze doors of the Baptistery include copies of 28 reliefs depicting scenes from the Bible. The originals are in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

Today we had reservations (no waiting in long lines!) for the Uffizi Gallery, world renown for magnificent works of art and the Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s David. So much art and culture in one city…truly overwhelming, each and every visit.  Both galleries now prohibit any photography, but did not years ago when I was a student in Italy. I am reminded once again to pull out the hundreds of slides I took back them and convert them to current media.

On a sad note, there was another earthquake today in northern Italy. When we were at the train station returning to Cortona, they were talking about the difficulty getting to and around Bologna. Fortunately, Firenze and its treasures were not affected.

On a lighter note, at the exit of the Accademia in the garden across from the bookstore, there is a David that can be photographed. I must admit that after being in the trance that David causes, I felt the outside David was a bit sacrilegious. But since this David is provided by the museum, I guess you should  see it!

Also at the Accademia!

A wonderful trip!



Happy Memorial Day!

28 May

Last summer, we were here for the 4th of July and I was determined to find an American flag. I’m happy to show this photo once again.

Today, I want to include a special note and link I received from my niece, Loren. “Nice reminder on Memorial Day of the good in the world and reasons to be optimistic about and for future generations.”

Good in the world and optimism…important things to think about, especially today.

The Editor’s note below describes the link, which is well worth the read.

Editor’s note: Fareed Zakaria recently delivered the commencement address at Harvard. While the audience was graduates, the message could apply to a great many of us, so we’ve reprinted a modified version below.

And finally, courtesy of Benita, a magnificent tribute in Cortona dedicated to those who have served. The bronze statue, by Cortonese sculptor Delfo Paoletti (1895-1975),  graces the entrance to the public gardens and depicts a soldier being lifted in the arms of an angel.  Our thoughts are also with those who continue to serve.

Cortona War Memorial



Saturday To Do List

26 May

1. Skip Italian Class: (note to my Italian teacher and classmates): Buongiorno a tutti! Mi dispiace io non sono con voi, ma devo ammettere, preferisco essere qui. Anche se non ho fatto i compiti della scorsa settimana, Giovanna sarebbe fiero di come ho praticare ogni giorno, per tutto il giorno. Ci vediamo in autunno. Ciao, Giuditta

2. Go to Market: Items for lunch for Trattoria Gingerella: let the pictures speak for themselves!

At the market

Roses from our garden

Roasted chicken, tomatoes and mozzarella, melon and prosciutto, antipasto and vino

3. Take random photos:

Benita and Sarah

Real mozarella!

Mike and the original Fiat 500

A 1910 wardrobe trunk

4. Dinner at Trattoria Toscana:

Goat cheese with balsamic

Gnocchi with leak and tomato

Tagliatelle con porcini

A wonderful day!

Ciao, Judy

Home Again!

25 May

Cortona. We arrived yesterday, tired but invigorated and anxious to see people from last year.  Ti ricordi di noi? we asked, wondering if they remembered us. The warm embraces, big smiles and wonderful double cheek kisses let us know they did. I learned recently that the first kiss goes on the left cheek…funny I never knew that!

Benita L-front), Judy, Len, Michael, Sarah

Sarah, Davide, Benita

We had dinner at Taverna Pane e Vino. Unlike last year, when it was just Len and me, this trip we have a cast of characters including son Michael, daughter Benita,  and her friend Sarah. Benita and Sarah are both minoring in photography and will graciously lend some of their wonderful photos to my posts.

Also, a photo with our server Davide… the girls attract a lot of attention!

Afterward, heading out for gelato, we bumped into a group of professional photographers we had met earlier. They are doing several photo shoots throughout Italy for a travel company…a dream job! They answered my Mac converter questions and I provided some info about Cortona. In Cortona, strangers seem to easily become friends.

Clay (L-front), Cornelius, Marco, Barney
Dining al fresco on Via Nazionale

Talk about feeling home again. This morning, while the others slept, Len and I went to Trattoria Taconi for our usual morning cappuccino. This is the five-table teeny restaurant where we enjoyed cappuccino each morning last year. They actually only serve pranz0, or lunch, and you eat whatever Graziella is preparing for the day, on crisp white linen table cloths, of course. Yesterday we stopped in just to say hello. This morning, while having cappuccino, I noticed four of the five tables had reservation signs on them. I asked Angelino if something special was going on, and he pointed to the largest of the tables and said, per voi…for you! Of course, a table set for five. They were expecting us for lunch. Home again!

Graziella preparing our lunch

Pasta ragu

Lingering at Trattoria Taconi (panorama courtesy of Benita)

Happy to report that the sun is shining and we are all rested and ready for adventure.



Leaving on a Jet Plane

23 May

“All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go”…

These lyrics bring back such fond memories…a picture forever burned in my memory. A large group of very hippie (not hip!) looking kids, mostly 21, were at Rome FCO airport waiting to board planes bound for the USA after having spent our junior year at Loyola’s Rome Center. We Campers, as we had fondly dubbed ourselves, were exhausted, sad to be leaving but anxious to reunite with family and friends stateside.

Sitting in a large group on the floor, a few people pulled out their guitars and we started singing Leaving on a Jet Plane, a song written by John Denver and made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary.

“Don’t know when I’ll be back again” was a sad lyric too true for many of us. Personally, it took 25 years before I returned but since then, I’ve had the great fortune of being in Italy many times.

To paraphrase a few of the lyrics, as I sit here, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. The taxi driver’s not blowing his horn yet, but will be soon. And unlike the song, I’m excited to be leaving on a jet plane and returning to Cortona for our next adventure. So, till I resume blogging again, which should be in a few days, arriverderci!

For those of you humming, here’s the link…



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