Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche

I know that I have written about this town before, but I am in love with it.  It is about 2.5 hours from Umbertide through the mountains and deep in Le Marche. The town has a history that is older than Rome's.  It was originally on the salt road that took salt from the sea down to Rome. It's history is too long and complicated to recite here, but suffice it to say there were many battles, rulers, and fights with their neighbors.  It is now a city that has some industry, Barilla, the pasta company, but still depends on farming and quarries.  It is not easy to get to, which is probably why most Americans have not discovered it, but if you have a car, and the time, it is worth a detour on your schedule.

This is a bar that Hemingway frequented. It was recently restored and feels like a cafe in Paris.

This is the inside of the cafe.  If you order an alcoholic drink you get a lovely little snack, water and cocoa gets you a smile.

This picture so reminds me of Italy, so beautiful and just beyond reach.  She is eating Ascoli olives, which sound disgusting but are fabulous.  They are stuffed with meat and the breaded and cooked.  She is alone, and never turned toward us.

This piazza is one of the most beautiful in Italy.  So elegant, so well proportioned.

This is the other end.  In the summer the piazza if filled with laughing students and tourists.

Not only women's clothes were on sale, but men's as well.  I love the little boy clothes, so elegant.  This is how these Italian men learn an early age!

A very unexpected site around the corner from was quiet and a bit eerie.  We looked and left.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Justin Timberlake and Puglia

Ok.  How many of you have heard of Justin Timberlake?  Apparently he is not very well known in Italy or in an age group such as mine....I seem to remember he was in the Mickey Mouse club, but he has grown up. Apparently he is a singer and sometime actor.

He recently married Jessica Biel, and they chose Puglia for their wedding.  I was quite intrigued and wondered where they went.  This is it.  If you have the time, and money this is a remarkable place to stay.  I think it is the most interesting architectural hotel I have ever been in.  The interior design is fabulous, the service was top notch and the food, of course was fantastic.  We were there in January, their lowest price time.  The weather was cold and windy, but really to stay in such a beautiful place, we didn't mind.  The resort is in Fasano and is called Borgo Egenzia.  Here is a link

Here are photos from the Stoic One.  Enjoy:

The entrance to the hotel is behind me.  The check in is behind and to the right, as you walk in, this is your first visual of the place.

As I said, the hotel is interesting from an artistic point of view.  Everywhere you look, it seems like you want to take a picture or wonder what you looking at.  This is one of the hallways on the floor of our room.

This is looking down at the entrance. The architect designed this so that people would get lost, and discover new things and sights.  The numbers on the rooms are really difficult to find, but even I became relaxed with this idea of exploring.

Empty wine bottles were used everywhere as decoration. The lobby level is filled with nooks such as this to sit, have a cup of coffee, read or talk.  It is like an Arabian nights place without the color.

Although it was too cold for us to use, there are two pools, one for adults and one for children.  There is also an indoor pool, which we never found.

This is Adelle and me as we are getting ready to leave.  We are bundled up because it was cold! Once we save enough money we want to come back in warmer weather.  This was an enchanting place.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Car accident

Sigh....indeed we did have our first accident on this trip.  It was the fault of the maniac in front of us not the Stoic One.  So here is what happened.  We were merging onto a two lane road, and an Alpha Romeo came up behind us like a bat out of hell.  The Stoic One continued his merge.  The maniac driving the Alpha thought we should have stopped and let him zoom past, I guess, anyway he started screaming at us.  We could see his face turning purple as he looked as us through his rear view mirror.  Then he looks in the rear view mirror and flips us off.  The Stoic One ignored him.  He flipped us off again.  The Stoic One ignored him again.  He flipped us off the third time, and we all have our limits, so the Stoic One responded in kind.  This caused the maniac to slam on his brakes and we crashed into the back of him.  Sigh...

So the maniac gets out of the car, and starts jumping up and down like a us all the finger.  It would have been funny except we thought he was nuts.  Then the maniac asked me if the Stoic One had been drinking, I said no.  (It was 9:00 am!!!)  Then the maniac calls someone on his cell phone. Then we call our friend Simone on our cell phone.  Then Simone talks to the maniac and gets him to calm down a bit by telling him the car is insured. Then the maniac calls the police and then the police show up.

Two very handsome kind men.  I ask them if they spoke English they said unfortunately not. I said I am sorry my Italian is not better.  They said Italians needed to learn English.  I said we were in there country and we should all learn Italian. We were having a great time. The maniac was not amused. Then the police asked us where we were from and we said the US.  He said he loved Americans.  Then he asked where in the US and we said California and he said he loved California even more. Then the police decided to help us fill out our insurance forms.

OK some lessons about car accidents.  Simone thinks the maniac called the police because we were foreigners and the maniac thought we didn't have insurance.  We of course did have insurance.  The forms are in the glove compartment.  This form stuff is very important.  In Italy you exchange insurance forms not driver's licenses and insurance information like in the US.  So if you are in Italy make sure you have the insurance forms.  Simone says that Italians have so many accidents that they usually just exchange the forms and then go on their way.  He said usually the police won't even show up for the fender bender.

Here is the picture of the car with the dent.  That is the maniac filling out a form.

So this is a story that could only happen in Italy.  The maniac could only be Italian and the police could only be Italian.  The Stoic One of course could be many nationalities...

Oh, by the way, Italian law is if we crash into someone it is our fault...Am not sure what that means exactly...The police said it was nothing and after filling out our forms, they went on their way.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Besides making decisions about the apartment, we also wanted to go to Umbria in January because the entire country is on sale.  I'm not even kidding.  It there is a store, there is a markdown of from 20 to 70%. It helps to make up for the difference between the dollar and the Euro.

Here I am trying to unbuckle my belt, getting ready to try on clothes in Perugia.  Every thing was marked down...cashmere sweaters for 20 E., scarves, blouses, coats.  We didn't buy anything because it was the first store.

An entire store of handbags.  Big ones, little ones, square ones, round ones, pink, orange, polkadots, you name it.  Too overwhelming.  We didn't buy anything here either.

Adelle and I finally found our store.  The sign says, winter sale, follow the colors, 20 to 70% off.  We found beautiful clothes, which we bought.  Mainly sweaters, although I bought a coat and gloves which will show up in future pictures.  The sales people are so helpful.  If you ever get a chance to go to Le Marche, this is the place to shop.  It is called di Sabatino.  Beautiful things for both men and women. Highly recommend it.

Marble and windows

This was the trip that we were supposed to get many decisions done (which we did) and make final arrangements to have the apartment finished...right!

Okay, so the first thing was we went back to the marble place to make sure the marble we picked we were still happy with...we were.

These are some of the big slices of marble that we walked through.  The marble store is on one of the back streets in Umbertide.  We talked about the difference between marble and granite.

Because marble is softer than granite, it is the stone of choice for workers who want to do things with it, like carve statues, made headstones for the cemetery, these things are not possible with granite...unless you just want a block.  We are having the sinks carved into the marble, so marble was the choice over granite.

Here is the marble we chose for the guest bath.

It is very beautiful.  We made the final choice on it and it will be installed.

Next up were the replacement of 13 windows.  The windows now are single pane that lets in every draft and noise that comes up from the piazza.  We are having newer double paned windows installed that will cut down on the noise, and save us on the energy costs.  The windows  are also made on a back street in Umbertide.

Everything here is done by hand, which is a good thing, because according to Manule, we don't have a 90 degree angle in the entire apartment.

The guy in the red suit has a sprayer/mop that he is using to stain the windows. It looks like a method that has been used for hundred of years.

The windows are now put on hooks to dry. Next step is the glass is put in and then they are mounted in the window space in the apartment.