What now?


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Always a question when you open your shutters in the morning and see scaffolding? 

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And here’s Costo with some giant beam and Leeka telling him something…

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There was a truck in the yard.  (so that is where that vehicle went that I heard early this morning….)  And the beam went flying in the air.  Turns out that William was somewhere on top of the scaffolding driving the crane.


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Costo seems to be trying to insert it in the house.


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Closer, closer…


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Well, it went in.  And since that went so well the next day they did another one.  So the roof is secure now.  We hope. 

End of summer garden pics


It’s been a long time since I posted any pictures of the garden.  I just know you have missed seeing it.

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My crape myrtle had a lot of blooms but it is just not as full and leafy as I would like.  Of course that might be…

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because the butterfly bush right next to it is sucking all the life from it.  I have already schedule Richard for pruning next spring. 

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The elephant ear forest looks okay.  It has been very hot and dry here this summer.  Anything being alive and blooming is only because I have watered and watered. 

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This is a new variety of vinca for here.  At the nursery, there were only 3 plants left and I didn’t think I would like the color but once I got the plants in the garden they really brightened up the place and look good.  I’ll definitely look for these next year. 

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The impatience look good as do the hostas.  In related garden news, in less than a day, 3 of the 8 chickens in the 2 flocks that are on the grounds (not any of Richard’s chickens) were beheaded.  Now the chickens are no longer allowed to roam free and are under tight security and away from my garden.  So I will no longer have to burst out of the door screaming ‘no chickens in the garden’ and throwing water all around.  The hostas and impatiences will not miss them. 


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The bottle brush is blooming again.  I’m real tickled with that.


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And this pink perennial lobelia finally decided to bloom.  The two red ones have been blooming most of the summer. 

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I have pulled up the coleus from 2 pots in the front and put in blue pansies for fall and winter.  Also pulled up some tomatoes and set out some lettuce. 

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I have a large number of airplane plants and I am thinking of putting them in the ground to see if they make it through the winter.  I got the start for these plants from the ground at a hotel in Nice a few years ago.  And I know that it gets colder here than in Nice but I just can’t absorb all these plants into the house.  It is either in the ground or wintering over in the garage.  Maybe I’ll just try both.  I really have a lot of airplane plants. 

Okay, that’s the end of the garden tour. 



Good Steak in Foiano


We discovered this steak sagra a few years ago and really enjoyed the steak.  Then we figured out that they did a Sunday lunch.  This year the weather was just right so we gathered a few folks and off we went.

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The nice thing about this sagra for us is that it is easy to get Ben to it and the pavilion where it is held is light and airy. 

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There were two different choices of steak, the usual thin cut steak from just a basic beef cow or the pricy Chianina (or Fiorentina) beef steak.  We decided to get the pricy one which was cut in front of us when we ordered and given numbers, 74, and 53.  The 2 steaks cost us 35 Euros and were about 2 pounds worth. 

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Steak being cut.

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This sagra has its own wine with the name of the sports organization that hosts the sagra.

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Our friend Allen enjoyed a hamburger.  Not just a hamburger but one made from Chianina beef. 

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My steak.  The picture was not taken from the best angle.  It was much better than this picture looks.  Both Ben and I brought some home and we got two more meals from these steaks, so 3 meals of steak for two people for 35 Euros was not bad. 

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This sagra also serves baked potatoes and baked onions.  So easy to do with a big wood fire.  Don’t understand why more sagras don’t serve this.

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Of course, Tania and Keith’s very outstanding truffle balsamic and extra virgin olive oil make anything taste good.  Olives will be harvested soon.  Take a look at their site so you will be ready to order  http://www.lartedellolivo.com/

Ida, Mushroom Hunter!


We finally had a little rain.  Ida, our neighbor was all excited!  “Mushrooms!  Martha! Mushrooms!”  She was off to hunt in the woods.  A few hours later she returned.

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Why she had to be in full ‘camo’ I don’t know.  Like the mushrooms were going to run off if they saw her coming?


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Anyway, it was quiet a haul and she got the really cool stick for her son. 

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Lago Trasimeno


Finally the movie, The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was being shown in English at the summer outdoor cinema in Lago Trasimeno.  Lago Trasimeno is across the valley from us, nearer to Cortona and Perugia.  It is about a 30 to 45 minute drive so we are not running over there everyday.  The lake was formed by a meteor and is quite large but not that deep.  The fortress/castle projects out over the lake.  Also on those grounds is the hospital. 

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We arrived early to enjoy a picnic dinner which we thought we would have at the castle.  It was closed after normal visiting hours, only to be reopened again right before the movie started.  So we set up our feast in the center of the hospital grounds overlooking the lake.  Opened our wine and enjoyed fried chicken.  (try to do something like that in America)

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Moonrise at the castle.  We watched the movie.  Came home and Nerone was mad that we had been out so late.  

Someone Else Turns 70


Big year for birthdays here,  our friend Allen, who lives in Toronto and Lucigiano turned 70 at the beginning of September.  He and Dinah have a nice house, well suited for giving parties and having their family come and stay.  The three children were there along with their spouses or partners and the 4 grand children.  To celebrate with friends, Dinah and family had a cocktail party. 

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Foie gras on brioche. 

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Peppered goat cheese

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The tower of ‘bread chips’ which are addictive

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One of the scallop dishes

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Another scallop dish over purple potato puree

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very good mozzarella with little tomatoes

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Our friend George played and the birthday boy joined in to sing along.

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The grand children also sang a few songs.


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Decorations were made by the grand children

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Allen in his younger days

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Thanks to Dinah and all the family for including us.


Happy Anniversary to us


We have just completed our 8th year here and are starting our 9th.  How cool is that?

The first person we met when we arrived in Monte San Savino was our neighbor, Ida.

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At that time Ida lived next door to John and Richard in Gargonza where we were going to live.  When we arrived, we called her and she drove down to meet us and had us follow her back to John and Richard’s house.  She gave us the keys and showed us around a bit.  Now, after both Ben and I and Ida and her boys moved from Gargonza, down here to ‘the valley’, she lives upstairs and we live downstairs in the same house at Fontarronco.  It is an odd quirk of fate that it worked out this way but it did. 

To celebrate our anniversary we had folks over for Duckappaloosa!  on Friday, September  18.  And also so everyone got to see Annalisa one more time before she returns to Mexico.  She planned her summer wisely and used us as a home base while she made trips to Florence, Germany, London, Bulgaria and Istanbul. 

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Annalisa with her vegetable ‘puppets’.  Strings of dried red peppers and eggplants.

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It’s a lot of duck!!!!


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And some nice Asian side dishes to go along.  Grace brought her coconut chicken soup which was really good and since I knew it was coming I was able to have enough matching bowls to serve it in, thanks to John and Richard.  Jules brought an apple crumble, very British.  Dinah and her entourage brought ice and lots of wine.  It was a lovely evening for everyone except the ducks.

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From the picture album of our move, September, 2007 with Siena at the border.



late Summer Sagra and Festa Posters


Starting to wind down

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Where ducks for Duckappaloosa! come from


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An antique market in Cortona

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Music festival near Siena

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Roasted pork in Monte San Savino


Town Dinner in Civitella


The town that our friends George and Jules live closest to has a town dinner at the end of the summer.  They are nice enough to include us  when reserving their place.  It is always great fun.  This year, Howard and Margaret were visiting too.  We were a lively group.

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Civitella is like Cortona, another hill town with difficult access if you have mobility issues.  We go early, so that we can drive up and get a handicapped parking space. 

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I enjoy watching the set up for the event.  And maybe a glass of wine while waiting.

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This year there was a marching band, not a full band, like a high school band instead a lively group that strolled up and down between the tables and added a lot of fun to the evening.

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We can always count on Howard to enjoy himself.


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And there was dancing!


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I think I need to offer to sew a poodle on Jules’ black skirt.

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Good food.  The best steak we have had this year.

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Well behaved dogs were there too.

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Margaret and George take a turn dancing.


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A good time was had by all.  Thanks Jules and George for including us.


Quick Sagra Round Up


We’ve been busy this summer.  One of Ben’s daughters, Annalisa is still visiting.  She has made a few trips to visit friends and places she wanted to see and then comes back to us.  And when she comes back we try to go to a sagra or two. 


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This is from one of our favorites, pizza in Marciano.  Just after I took this, the batteries in my camera died.  No pizza pictures.  But it was good.

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Another weekend we were off to porcini in Cortona.

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Cortona is a hill town and the park where the sagra is held has a great view across the valley. 

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And of Lake Trasimeno.  We were there for the mushrooms….

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It is a pretty focused menu, porcini in every dish.  Don’t come if you don’t like mushrooms.

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Mushroom soup

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Thin slice of beef with a mushroom gravy


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Fried mushrooms

All very tasty.  Bet you wish you were here.



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