Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pranzo all'Isola

Yesterday we decided at the last minute that we wanted to have lunch, pranzo, at Lago Trasimeno, the lake fifteen minutes from us. We jumped in the car and sped to the lake hoping that we were not going to be too late to eat in a restaurant. As some of you may know, lunch time around here is one o'clock...if you arrive later than that, you run the risk of them telling you the kitchen is closed!

On the way there, we had the bright idea of calling a friend to take us on his small pontoon boat to the island, Isola Maggiore, in the middle of the lake. To our surprise, he was at the dock already waiting for us when we arrived.

The lake was beautifully calm, the perfect time to cruise around.

I adore going to this feels like you have entered another world...even if just for lunch. Life is simple, slow and dares you to daydream the day away.

Ahh...inspiration heaven! A little break by the lake...just what I needed.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Madonna and Angels

Aren't they just stunning? They don't even need words.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I really was not sure I should tell you all about this, as I want to keep this journal upbeat, but I feel that since this is about my "everyday life", I must. I have just returned from my second funeral in one week. I am crushed and downtrodden a bit by what I have seen...too many wives and children left behind too soon and tears smeared upon too many faces.

The funeral ceremony in Italy is really not much different from in America. All those who knew you attend to pay their respects. The priest, this being a predominantly Catholic country, usually has some wonderful antidotes to say about the person...sometimes from childhood on...and everyone prays together for the deceased. After the church service, the entire congregation in a paradelike fashion follows the coffin which is carried down the hill to the cemetery. Then everyone stays until the end...sometimes watching a bricklayer close the mausoleum or the pall bearers shoveling dirt on the grave. It ends just the same with the harsh reality of goodbye.

My little town has lost many people in its very long to before Christ...but today I feel especially sad over the loss of a great and true Cortonese. He was a fixture in this small town...a painter, a philosopher, a jokester, and even called this straniera, foreigner, a friend. I feel blessed to have known him and had my life touched by his. When the priest spoke of him today, he said that probably all of us in the church have a reminder of him, a piece of his soul in the form of one of his works of art. He even admitted he has a painting hanging on his wall. I, too, have an original...

a sketch of my beloved Ciccia Maria...quickly done while sharing a glass of wine in the piazza. Something I will always hold dear. So grazie for all that you have taught us and all that you leave behind. Addio, goodbye.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


August 15th was the festival of Ferragosto in Italy. A day (and sometimes a whole week) where we all take time to relax and be with friends. We organized a little barbecue in the yard and invited a few friends for dinner. In festive style...we even decided to decorate a little more than normal. An Italian celebration wouldn't be complete without a few flags thrown in for color, right?

We dined on simple fare...everyone was in charge of not only bringing their own steak but also grilling their own. We also grilled some lovely eggplants given to me by a neighbor and garnished them with fresh sprinkled parsley and a dose of our olive oil. Next we sliced some deliciously ripe from the vine tomatoes and added a little basil, salt, and more olive oil for another side dish.

We finished with two delectable homemade desserts, a cheesecake with frutto di bosco and a tiramisu mascaropone. We had so much fun that the last guests left at 3:30 in the morning. I feel so lucky to have found a community of supportive friends here in Italy. The evening was picture perfect and pure heaven in my book. Grazie amici miei...thanks my friends!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Busy Busy

I have been wrapped up in just about everything this week. I have been making art in all shapes and forms. Spending my days painting, collaging, designing, taking pictures, sewing. I also have had some business to take care of that I cannot wait to share with you. Some really great things on the horizon. I got my haircut. You name it I have attempted and/or conquered it this week.

So above are some of the highlights of my week and some of the images I have added to my sidebar including things mi piace da morire...check it out when you get a chance.

This weekend on August 15th is our BIG holiday in Italy, Ferragosto. Everything and everyone is chiuso per ferie, closed for vacation, and ready to relax. Tomorrow night we will be feasting on the traditional meal of steak grilled in the front yard under the stars. Hope you all have a good weekend as well!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I can just imagine these sunflowers "girasoli" are full of gossip. Just like the Italians on their evening stroll through town "passeggiata". Look at that one on the left whispering...did you see what she was wearing?

And since I started it...I have to give you the gratuitous picture from Tuscany in August...all the little soldiers standing in a row. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Memories of Cortona

As some of you might know, I was a student at the University of Georgia's Art Program in Cortona...16 years ago this summer. Hard to believe it has been that long! This is, of course, what introduced me to this beautiful place I now call home and, not to mention, Dino. Nostalgic, I dug through some old photos...and at the risk of embarrassing myself (and Catharine, India, Nikki, & Sarah)...I look at these pictures and can see the years...gosh we were young.

Last week I attended the closing art exhibition of the UGA students in Cortona. A flood of memories came back to me about that special summer. A colleague of my brother-in-law's daughter is here as a student with the program now and very nicely invited me to attend. The work was wonderful (especially Stefanie's self portrait)...I was very impressed with the talent this year, and even more so that the art is taking more traditional turns.

I decided to have Stefanie and 3 of her friends...Faye, Lacey & Jess...over for dinner. I remembered my experiences with Italian cooking for an entire much meat and not many vegetables. So, Dino and I made them a dinner of fresh zucchini from my zio's garden, bruschetta, tuscan chicken with roasted potatoes, and fresh green beans, which we ate outside at dusk in the front yard. I wish I had taken a photo of these lovely girls. They were so sweet and honest and genuinely happy to be here in Italy. A shame how it takes another's prospective sometimes to jolt your own mind again. They even brought me some stunning orchids...

I was amazed to hear of all the wonderful changes that have been made to the UGA program. They have wifi and cell phones, computer labs, kilns for ceramics, a vegetable garden, and my personal favorite...a dedicated painting studio in a chapel. I was also a little comforted that some things have not changed at all...boys still chase after the girls, romance blossoms, they go out to dance occasionally, they eat gelato often, and they feel safe in my little town. Thanks girls for helping me remember the best of things!

For those of you in Atlanta that attended the program, they are having a reunion on August is here and on FB.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Festa della Rana

All over Italy in the summertime, every little hamlet or neighborhood organizes some kind of festival to raise money for whatever cause might be in need. These are usually large gatherings where they serve a particular food from the area...wild boar, pasta, have dinner together at family style tables and afterward there is dancing (as with all Italian get-togethers!) Sometimes they even offer games and rides for the children. We love to go, you really get a taste for the life here...not just with the food, but a big dose of culture as well.

Every year down the mountain in the valley, they have a festival that celebrates the frog, "rana". I have been very curious about they actually cook and serve frogs? Well, yes they do and...I ate frogs. Cannot believe I am telling you, but I did...and I enjoyed it. And it is true, they do taste like chicken. They smell a little like fish too. I wanted to take a picture, but then I thought I would really gross you out, so instead I give you the frog fountain...

and I am going back next year...anyone care to join me?
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