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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…

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And of course, great sunsets,

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and great friends!

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Ciao,
Judy

 

September Days in Cortona

18 Sep

Autunno, or autumn, is my favorite time of year in Cortona. The days are shorter, the winds are cooler, and the tide of tourism transforms.  It is a calmer time of year that lends itself well to contemplating all that meets the senses.

Parterre Changing Colors©Blogginginitaly.com

Parterre©Blogginginitaly.com

Saturday Market©Blogginginitaly.com

Saturday Market©Blogginginitaly.com

Fall Harvest©Blogginginitaly.com

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Fresh Porcinis©Blogginginitaly.com

Porcini©Blogginginitaly.com

Lavender Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Lavender Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Choco Festival©Blogginginitaly.com

Art Exhibits©Blogginginitaly.com

Art Exhibits©Blogginginitaly.com

And endless antiquities:

Via Santucci, Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

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Via Santucci, (Our street), ©Blogginginitaly.com

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Signorelli Arch©Blogginginitaly.com

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Autumn – The third season of the year, when crops and fruits are gathered and leaves begin to fall.

A good time to take time to ponder.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

My Here and There

29 Jun

Whether in Chicago or Cortona, Len and I try to walk everyday, or as we say in Italian, fare una passeggiata. During our walks, my senses take in beautiful sights, sounds (no ear buds for me), and the vast array of smells from fragrant flowers to pop-up food stands. The differences are striking, from the moment I step outside my door…

Via Santucci, Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

Via Santucci, Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

And not surprising, as Chicago is a relatively new city…1833

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Chicago ©Blogginginitaly.com

While Cortona is an ancient town… 7th century BC.

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Cortona©Blogginginitaly.com

And while the differences are striking in many ways, it occurred to me that there are some interesting similarities.

Both cities have incredible parks where we take  our walks,

Lincoln Park©Blogginginitaly.com

Lincoln Park, Chicago ©Blogginginitaly.com

Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

with beautiful fountains,

Lincoln Park©Blogginginitaly.com

Lincoln Park, Chicago ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

incredible monuments and memorials,

Lincoln Park©Blogginginitaly.com

Lincoln Park, Chicago ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

seating for the weary,

Lincoln Park©Blogginginitaly.com

Lincoln Park, Chicago ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

And cats to entertain.

Lincoln Park Zoo©Blogginginitaly.com

Lincoln Park Zoo ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Parterre ©Blogginginitaly.com

While Chicago borders beautiful Lake Michigan,

Lake Michigan ©Blogginginitaly.com

Lake Michigan ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona is just a short drive to Lago Trasimeno.

Lago Trasimeno©Blogginginitaly.com

Lago Trasimeno ©Blogginginitaly.com

And both provide relaxing settings for walking and biking.

Lincoln Park©Blogginginitaly.com

Lincoln Park Chicago ©Blogginginitaly.com

Lago Trasimeno©Blogginginitaly.com

Lago Trasimeno ©Blogginginitaly.com

Now if stopping for ice cream/gelato is your thing, no problem…

Lincoln Park©Blogginginitaly.com

Chicago ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

or shopping at a local market.

Lincoln Park Market©Blogginginitaly.com

Lincoln Park Market ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona market ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Market ©Blogginginitaly.com

Need fast delivery? Both locales have you covered.

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Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

Looking for entertainment? Races on foot or on wheels?

hicago Marathon©Blogginginitaly.com

Chicago Marathon ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Bike Race ©Blogginginitaly.com

Or annual traditions?

Chicago Air and Water Show©Blogginginitaly.com

Chicago Air and Water Show ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Archidado©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Archidado ©Blogginginitaly.com

Feeling like spectating or donning a costume?

Lake Michigan ©Blogginginitaly.com

Lake Michigan ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Archidado ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona Archidado ©Blogginginitaly.com

And finally, when we need four wheels, …well, got that covered too!

Big City Safety

Big City Safety

Small town parking©Blogginginitaly.com

Small town parking ©Blogginginitaly.com

Ok, ok, don’t ask about such things as tomatoes, wine, cheese, pasta – no contest – but a very good reason to keep returning for una passeggiata in the land of my ancestors.

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Beautiful Italian Birthday!

23 May

44 years ago, I celebrated my 21st birthday at Gino’s restaurant in Rome with a wonderful group of friends/fellow students. Shortly after, I would return to the US with my badge of honor – a driver’s license showing I was 21.

Yesterday,  I celebrated my birthday, (you can do the math!), with a wonderful group of friends at Tuscher Cafe in Cortona. Soon, I will return to the US with another badge of honor – a red, white and blue Medicare card!

Yesterday was the kind of day one would order – sunny, warm, and filled with blue skies and wonderful greetings from family and friends, near and far, including this:

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Len decided we should start the day at Tuscher with brunch and a prosecco toast – sounded good to me.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Afterward, we went for a long walk and enjoyed vistas that never get old.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Time for lunch – back to Tuscher for Edoardo’s new fish sandwich with fries… we split one, and enjoyed people watching as we sipped some vino.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Feeling the need for another walk, the antique fair in town was the perfect venue. Finally, we headed home for a rest before dinner.

At 8pm, we arrived at Tuscher, (yes, it was definitely a Tuscher kind of day!) to a beautiful table and waited for our guests to arrive.

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Massimo and Niccolo took care of us as Dani and Edo worked their magic in the kitchen.

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Although the invitation said no gifts please, our guests claimed to not understand English!

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Len had already given me a relaxing day at the local spa, and Benita surprised me with family tickets to see James Taylor at Wrigley Field this summer.

Dinner began with Champaign and appertivo.

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Often interrupted for photos and toasts…

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I brought hand-made honey candles for each guest and created a bit of a game around their choice.

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First course –  spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil…delicious!

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Second course – beef filet cooked to order, roasted rosemary potatoes and sautéed artichokes. Perfect!

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Sometime after dinner and singing and stories, and feeling we couldn’t eat another thing, the lights went out…

And Dani and Massimo entered with this incredible wine cake with whipped cream and strawberries. Wow!

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After all other customer were gone, Dani, Massimo, Niccolo and Edo were finally able to close the doors and join us. Applause! Applause!

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Many thanks to all, either with me or in my heart, who made my day so special, and a very, very  special thanks to Len. A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Molte grazie a tutti, sia con me o nel mio cuore, che ha reso il mio giorno così speciale, e un grazie molto, molto speciale a Len. Una conclusione perfetta di una giornata perfetta!

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

Pollo Arrosto

25 Feb

One of my favorite things to buy at the market in Italy is the pollo arrosto, or roasted chicken.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Simply prepared and cooked on a rotating spit, it’s always crispy and delicious.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

So yesterday, when the weather service issued a warning for Chicago, I thought, why not roast a chicken? Since I didn’t have a rotating spit, I decided to spatchcock my chicken, aka butterfly it.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

I dressed it with a bit of olive oil and a bunch of herbs and put it on a v-shaped rack so that the entire chicken rested above the pan. I surrounded it with chopped onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, and green peppers, then let the whole thing sit uncovered in the frig for a few hours, supposedly to produce a crispier skin.

At 5pm, it went into a 325° oven and roasted slowly for two hours.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

We kind of guessed from the wonderful aroma that filled the house that we were in for a treat, and yes, in fact, we were. Buon appetito!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Makes one almost wish it might snow again soon.

Ciao,
Judy

 

ChocoCortona

20 Sep

This weekend, Cortona is hosting ChocoCortona, La Grande Festa del Cioccolato Artiginale, or festival of handcrafted chocolates.

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And what a selection there is. You can sign up for chocolate making lessons,

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observe various chocolate cooking shows,

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or simply wander the tents filled with chocolate delicacies.

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Some of the chocolates are especially creative:

Various cheeses or a antipasto platter ©Blogginginitaly.com

Various cheeses or an antipasto platter ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cars, purses or shoes? ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cars, purses or shoes? ©Blogginginitaly.com

While others are just plain tempting…

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White, milk and dark chocolate discs ©Blogginginitaly.com

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Fresh waffles or hot fudge covered fruit skewers ©Blogginginitaly.com

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Covered nuts and fruits ©Blogginginitaly.com

Look no further for that kid in a candy shop…

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Or a happy messy one…

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Thinking of an after dinner liquor? So many flavors to choose from.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

But then why wait till after dinner when you can have a shot in a chocolate filled cup!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

However you like your chocolate, you’re sure to find it at ChocoCortona.

Ciao,

Judy

Italian Tradition – Home Cooking

26 Feb

One of the very best things to enjoy in Italy is the food. But what makes it so special? In a word, local. Italians pride themselves on eating and cooking what is locally available, and in many cases, home grown. That means that menus not only change with the seasons, they are also based on long standing regional traditions passed on from one generation to the next, and, of course, dictated by the terroir or environment.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

When I first began traveling to Italy, I always wished that I would be invited into the home of a local. I wanted to experience the lady of the house cooking for her family, to learn from her and then eat what was prepared. It’s hard to walk the narrow streets of small towns and villages and not get caught up in the delicious smells and banter bellowing from the windows at lunch and dinner.

Luckily for us, we now have native Italian friends who invite us into their homes and give us this opportunity.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

But as we travel to other parts of Italy, is there a way to have similar experiences?

Meet Le Cesarine, a group of  “landlords chosen through a careful selection by Home Food in order to preserve and promote the heritage of wisdom, tradition and culture hidden in the thousands of recipes of our regional cuisine.” According to their website,

Home Food has built a network of “Cesarine” all over the peninsula in order to offer the possibility to find in many places in Italy a cosy table, rich of food prepared and maintained for the members only. For the reason that the “Cesarine” do not manage a restaurant in their houses, but invite you to their tables as a guest of the family who shares the passion for the tradition, the land and its tastes, values, which constitute the mission of Home Food.

Home Foods, founded in 2004, is a collaborative effort among several groups in Italy whose goal is to “spread the culture of traditional food interwoven with the culture of the typical products and the particular area.”

If you think about it, Italy has thousands of informally trained household cooks who, without recipes, create incredible meals from starter through dessert. Home Food has tapped into this resource and created a network of cesarine – grandmothers, mothers, aunts and daughters, who are knowledgeable of their local area, passionate about cooking, and willing to share their traditions as they host events in their homes.

Through Home Food, registered members have the opportunity to learn traditional culinary methods, eat traditional meals, and truly experience regional Italian culture in the home of a cesarine.

I learned of this organization through an article by Irene Levine in the Chicago Tribune, dated February 1, 2015. She and her husband had the opportunity to experience a cooking lesson in the home of a cesarine from Bologna. Although I have not yet participated, Irene’s story presented a way for travelers to experience the flavors and culinary traditions throughout Italy as guests in a local home. If your Italy TO DO list includes a mini cooking class, or eating in the home of a local, this might well be your opportunity.

Their calendar includes event dates, locations, recipes, a bit of history, and pricing. And if you partake, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Buon Appetito!

www.homefood.it/en

Ciao,

Judy

 

Piazza Life

15 Sep

Recently, I read an article in a Chicago paper about a local community that created a new and different type of outdoor space. It’s a place where restaurants, shops, pedestrians and vehicles commingle. While this may be new to an Illinois community, it is a way of life in much of Europe, something that I have long referred to as Piazza Life.

What is it about Italian Piazza Life that is so appealing? Just about everything.

Each piazza has its own borders, if you will, created by beautiful ancient buildings that have been repurposed. An old prison is now a museum, a villa now a bank, and a stable now an enoteca.

The center of the piazza may have a fountain or statue, or be empty and provide a stage for any number of diverse events. Nowhere is this better seen than in Cortona, where Piazza Life is a way of life.

While there are several piazzas in Cortona, the two main ones are Piazza Republicca and Piazza Signorelli. They are physically adjacent to one another, yet each has its own identity and events.

You know you are in Piazza Republicca when you are facing the grand staircase of the Municipio or Municipal building.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

While it is used for several city functions, it also provides a beautiful setting for many weddings where everyone in the piazza seems to join in the celebration.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

In this piazza, you can sit in or outside of a number of cafes; shop at a grocery store, fruit market, wine store, or florist; and buy  shoes, handbags, linens, and even a borselino, all actually made in Italy.

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People gather, some doing their morning shopping, others stopping for a chat with friends.

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Cars and cyclists navigate through pedestrians of all ages, and pop up performers are a common site.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Celebrations commemorating historical events are held here.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

And while the piazzas are significantly quieter in the winter, they still draw people together for such delights as the incredible Christmastime lamp lighting celebration.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Piazza Signorelli, the adjacent Piazza, is also breathtaking in its beauty, whether bathed in sunshine

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©Blogginginitaly.com

or glowing in the moonlight.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Piazza Life provides a daily local gathering venue, be it day or night, for spontaneous and scheduled events, including

kids playing soccer;

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local musicians;

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vintage car enthusiasts;

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food and antique vendors;

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annual traditions;

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marching bands;

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and avid sports fans.

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Whether you find yourself almost alone in an ancient Piazza, (and yes it is possible!)…

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or surrounded by friends you have not yet made,

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just be prepared to be amazed by the sights and sounds.

Piazza Life – wonderful! …and no reservation required.

Ciao,

Judy

 

A Typical Thursday – Camucia Market and Tuscher Caffe

26 Jun

If it’s Thursday in Cortona, it’s market day in Camucia, the town at the bottom of the hill. As usual, we strolled for hours amongst the clothing, housewares, shoes, jewelry and food stalls.

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

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Camucia Market  – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market - blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market -  blogginginitaly.com

Camucia Market – blogginginitaly.com

Len and I returned to Cortona about 2 PM and had lunch at our very favorite Tuscher Caffe on Via Nazionale. We eat here almost everyday, and usually try to be a little heathy, but today we really splurged. We shared the special, a pasta prepared with light cream sauce of prosciutto, onions, and melon, (yes thinly sliced melon! as only the Italians know how), and it was not only beautiful but incredibly delicious.

Tuscher Cafe - blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe – blogginginitaly.com

We also shared our daily tomato salad – very healthy!

Tuscher Cafe -  blogginginitaly.com

Tuscher Caffe –
blogginginitaly.com

Then for dessert, which we usually never have at lunch, Edoardo, the chef and our friend, convinced us to try his special tiramisu with fresh cherries. Well, it ranks among the best desserts I have ever had. No drenched cookies with liquor here. Instead, a light, smooth, lovely dessert with the fresh cherries – simply amazing.

Edoardo's Tiramisu Tuscher Cafe blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo’s Tiramisu
Tuscher Caffe
blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Cafe blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Caffe
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Tonight we have been invited to a friend’s home, so Edoardo is making me his delicious apple torta to take to my hosts.

Edoardo's Mela (Apple) Torta -  blogginginitaly.com

Edoardo’s Mela (Apple) Torta –
blogginginitaly.com

As for tomorrow’s agenda? Extended hiking, then more eating, of course.

I know, it’s a tough life. So glad it’s us that “has” to do it!

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

Treasure or Trash?

22 Jun

Every third Sunday in Cortona, the antique market comes to town. Trash or treasure, it’s in the eye of the beholder, yet it brings many antique followers to town. I keep hoping I’ll find a da Vinci, but alas, none so far.

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Children’s books:

children's books, blogginginitaly.com

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Remember the Brownie?

Remember the Brownie? blogginginitaly.com

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Victoria No 2 – 1825 small sewing machine, still working!

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Serving bowl?

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Actually this is Snoopy but the Madama looks right~

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And then our long walk, with vistas like this everywhere… makes exercise enjoyable.

blogginginitaly.com

blogginginitaly.com

Heading to a party tonight. As I close, someone is playing lovely music outside, and it is flowing in with the summer breeze.

Ciao,

Judy

 

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