Archive for November, 2008


Quando mia Mamma ha arrivato da Firenze siamo andate a San Giovanni Valdarno e siamo andate una classe di fresco con la scuola.  Mia Mamma ha fatto una fresca bella, certo, lei era modesta ma e’ veramente brava con l’arte. Brava Mamma!

After my Mom arrived and we dropped off her things at the Bed and Breakfast we were off to our Fresco class at il Sillabo. It was a two part class, first we laid down the sand and mortar mixture and then a week later we applied another smoother mixture which we painted into.  Here are the results, Mom’s first:









Went to Lucca again, this time on a school trip with Orazio guiding Elaine, Jan, and I.  Even in some ugly weather Lucca is near the top of my list of Italian cities I love.  And I can’t be all wrong because Orazio was saying it’s one of the highest ranked places for quality of life in Italy.  I wonder how they judge that.

I tried not to repeat photos from last time; I focused a bit more on the details and people.  Enjoy:

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I went with my school to Perugia a while back, it was my second time visiting the city (the first time 3 years ago for the Chocolate festival when it was over run with tourists). We had wondeful weather and beautiful views and of course Orazio explaining all the architecture and history to us which is wonderful.  I wish I had time to write more but I’m going to have to go with mostly photos:

Ho visto Perugia per il mio segunda volta con la scuola.  Abbiamo avuto una buona gita, sempre con Orazio aveva i viaggi bene. Ma, adesso non ho tempo libera per scrivere e allora i foto:













My Mom is arriving today and even though it’s pouring buckets I couldn’t be happier.  Hooray for Moms!


Flora e Fauna


Oh plants, they’ve always been so good to me.  Not only for making the air that I breathe cleaner and creating the food I eat but also because they remind me of the greater picture.  As some of you know when I was a little girl my favorite place was in a giant laurel tree, which I named Laura and referred to often as my best friend.  Every time I go back to Whidbey I see her, one year the neighbors over pruned her but in the last few times she’s still as full and glorious as ever.
I bought a plant here in San Giovanni, at the market more than a few Saturdays ago.  I know it’s a bit selfish since after four months I have to leave it but after Anna, Aneja, and Alex left it seemed essential to my stay here to have a constant.  Plants are really reliable friends.
Through all my travels they have given me joy and provided small reminders in their own way that I have friends everywhere.  So go let a plant bring you happiness and check out some of the ones I’ve met so far:


Someone loves in Chianti loves Geraniums.  This especially reminded me of you EEE.


Doorway in Rome


A Sunday Breakfast




Flowers that were bigger than my head (and my head is quite large)


A parting gift from Spain


In a small town near the Balze a little vine on a big adventure


Around San Giovanni, someones garden and a bag with a message (Defend Nature, Don’t throw out this bag, Reuse it)


And last but not least the plant that happily lives in my room in SGV.


Back to SGV

My train left from Trieste that afternoon, we had another wonderful breakfast at the house and went into the city a bit early to walk around.  Here are some photos of Trieste:





dsc_0198EEE this Elisabeth in the park reminded me of you.


And finally even though they had to wait ten minutes, Aneja and Vlada waved goodbye to me and we promised to visit each other soon.  I hope so!

Slovenia by the Sea

My last day in Slovenia Aneja and I went to the coast to visit some small towns, unfortunately the rain was still coming but we enjoyed ourselves none the less.  We stopped for a wonderful breakfast in the first town where we people/rain watched for a bit.


The Adriatic Sea was gorgeous and despite the weather we could still see Croatia in the distance.





Just as we climbed to the church on the hill of the second town the weather got better.  We saw yet another rainbow and enjoyed the rich colors drying in the sun.






Then we stopped to have lunch in the third little town of the day which was the biggest.  I promise to add the names later but for now I don’t have my notes with me.  I didn’t take many photos there but I did like this statue.


Then we drove up a very windy road to visit a gorgeous castle with a view.  I felt the need to spread my arms as wide as I could just to take in the enormity of it. At a safer distance from the cliff I spun around and skipped, new places get me all excited.


The fourth and final little town was not on the coast but had a beautiful view of the rolling hills.  The dark clouds returned but by then we had seen weathered worse.  We strolled around the empty town and enjoyed the park.



That night the whole family went out for an amazing Slovenian dinner, everyone ordered something different and we each tried the others plates.  My favorite were the mushrooms, native to Slovenia and especially fresh, all of the food was delicious not over complicated with too many flavors but made with careful choosing of the perfect ingredients.


The whole weekend was really wonderful, Aneja and her family were such wonderful hosts and in a time when I really needed it.  I think every traveler will tell you the best thing about traveling is the people, you and your interaction with them determines your experience.  We had horrible weather the whole time but I will always fondly remember this trip because I really felt so welcomed and cared for by them.

While Aneja and I were packing Vlada came into the room with two beautiful glasses of Slovenian strawberry wine and a smile on her face.

Bled, Posojna Caves, and More First Time Experiences.


In the car, early that morning on our way to Bled.


Bled is gorgeous, even in less than perfect weather.  There is a castle in the top right and on an Island in the middle of the lake there is another beautiful smaller castle like building.  There’s also a Spa on the other side of the lake which Aneja told me is much cheaper than Spas in the states.



It all reminded me of a place families go for summer trips. It made me want to be 13 and with my parents, pretending it was awful to be forced into a vacation with them but in the end really enjoying myself.



Then we walked up to the castle and admired the view.  I really prefer walking up to these beautiful vistas, when you’ve worked for it it’s sweeter.  Also I really liked walking amidst the tall tall trees, reminded me of home.





A detail from the castle church above and below a photo of some mushrooms we noticed on the walk back down to the lake.


After the castle we had some delicious desserts and coffee, so delicious, in fact that the distracted me from taking a photo of them.  Then I took a nap in the car while we drove to Postojna where we bought tickets to see the caves.  Then we drove to a nearby castle IN A CAVE.  It was so amazingly crazy that I made this face:


Miss Amanda this castle reminded me a lot of you, I felt myself experiencing the Amanda type of excitement, where you smile and bounce with awe like you’re five and don’t care who’s watching.

Below, a garden of a house nearby the cave castle, that I liked a lot.


Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the caves because it’s bad for them but I snuck this one senza flash.  I must say the Postojna Caves are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, if you ever get the chance I highly reccomend visiting them, they’ll take your breath away.

First we took a train down into the caves and then we went on a guided walk (in English, I wasn’t quite up to Italian) with this older guy who kept making corny jokes (Amanda, you would’ve loved him).  It was so gigantic inside, it’s hard to describe without a lot of hand gestures.  You see that little figure in the left corner of the photo; that’s a tall guy.  And this was one of the smaller parts of the cave.  Grandissima!


Later after driving back and having another wonderful dinner at the house we went to see Aneja’s grandparents (Vlada’s parents) in their house in a small hill town nearby.  They speak Italian fluently and had an Italian friend over at the house; it was amazing for me to watch them all joke and laugh in Italian.  And I found myself laughing at the right times even though if asked in English to explain I wouldn’t have known how.  A lot of the time you know before you know how to explain why you know, I’m starting to trust this more and more.

After cookies and laughs I was shown the hunting room, Aneja’s grandfather is an amazing hunter and is rather famous for having killed a giant bear among other things.  It was fun to point to the different animals and learn their names in Italian.  Also it’s not every day you get to see a hobbiests personal collection of favorite things, I felt privilaged to be shown.



Then back to the house where I tried a few firsts.  The jug is home made apple juice from Aneja’s neighbors, they had just dropped it off for them and I of course had to try it.  It was really good.

Then the Slovenian wine that Vlada had told me about earlier, very good, and a rather strange first Watermelon Chocolate with pop rocks which was better than I expected but mostly just strange.  I had to take a photo because really when am I going to see that again.




Then we went to bed early, exausted and satisfied.



The Italians are just as thrilled as I am, another pro Obama American that’s studying here and I high fived this morning.  I can’t stop smiling.  I’m watching all the coverage and wishing I was home to celebrate.  Hooray!

At Least Six Rainbows in One Day

We woke up early with coffee and foamy milk, perfectly browned toast, and home made jam from banana and strawberries.  While driving into Ljubljana, the capitol, we saw at least six rainbows.  When we arrived at Aneja’s apartment I took this photo from her back yard.

Aneja was off to her University, where she is studying constantly to become a doctor, and her Mom, Vlada and I were off to see the sights.  This was in the main square.


Church Doors

The Market

I came the same weekend of their day of mourning the dead, when Slovenian families usually go to the cemetary to pay respect to loved ones.

The Park

New friends, the squirrels look different here.

Dragon on the bridge, the Dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana

Aneja and her Mom Vlada looking lovely.

It may not look delicious but it most certainly was; buckwheat perogi like raviolis filled with a mix of ricotta and local herbs with a cranberry scauce.  All with fresh ingridients from the market, yum.

And Vlada had polenta made of three different types of flours and corn topped with prociutto and grilled mushroms.  She was kind enough to offer me a taste, Aneja told me they were the type of family that tried each others dishes, it made me happy.

Then we rode up to the castle, you know, totally normal.

After the castle Aneja had to head back to school for another class but Vlada continued to show me around the city and we went back to speaking Italian which made me very happy.


We stopped in one shop with specialty items from the salt marshes in Slovenia and I bought this lovely aloe salt scrub and some interesting salt chocolate for my sister and I to try when she arrives.

This is the public library and a really beautiful building.


The doors of the library:


This is one of the University buildings and Miss Katie this is the building that reminded me so much of you:


After a long day of sight seeing we left Ljubljana and headed to the mall.  It was really strange to be in such an American idea that was executed in such a European way, nonetheless I stopped at a photo booth and did my thing; for those of you who don’t know I will always stop at a photo booth to make a photo of myself with or without company. Then Aneja showed up and we all went for coffee and dessert before heading back to the house where Vlada made shrimp scampi and fettucine, it was delicious.