Party! Party!

There comes a time of year here in our little corner of Tuscany when you really have to beat the bushes to find a year round American, Canadian or British resident.  Like the snow birds of cold northern states in America they all flee somewhere.  Lots of reasons.  Their holiday letting season is FINALLY over and they can go somewhere on vacation themselves.  Olive harvesting is FINALLY over and they need to go sell that oil.  They just have to spend the holidays with their family back “home.”  “It’s just too cold and damp here.”   So before the exodus began Grace collaborated with Nancy and gave us a going away party.


Grace’s long table was set.  John and Richard came to pick us up so that I could have more than one glass of wine.  Everyone (except us) contributed to a seasonal menu.


The very tasty puree of chickpea.



George sang, songs about North Carolina and an original that he and Jules wrote.



Thanks everyone.  We are going to miss all of you but hope you will come to visit us in beautiful North Carolina.  (photo credit, George Hardy)


Plant of the year

Cooler temps and a little rain signal the start of the beauty pageant, also known as the garden in fall.  This year’s competitors….


The super confident Four Seasons Hydrangeas (known as Endless Summer in the US).  (They were over heard boasting about how “we’re just so pretty all the time.  That’s why they call us Four Seasons.  Of course we’re going to win.  Blah blah blah)


“We had to struggle to get where we are” group, who wintered over in the garage and with a little help burst forth to fill this space nicely.


The very dependable, exuberant, perennial lobelia (I think)  which had to be restrained to allow the elephant ears a chance at some sun and air.


The elephant ears,  whining, “that lobelia!  No one even notices us!  We’re not coming back here next year!”


The very scantily dressed crape myrtle, but so many blooms this year.  I don’t know what happened to all its leaves.  It will be much happier since it is moving to a pot and a sunny terrace, away from the butterfly bush.  The butterfly bush will probably remain and will receive the full “Costo” haircut I’m sure.


The inpatients, now that the chickens are gone and no longer nibbling on them they are doing well.  They use some trick of light when being photographed.  They are not this pink in real life, much more red.  The hosta are not participating in the competition this year but are merely observers.  (a tragic slug invasion dampened their enthusiasm.)


And always a contender, the coleus.

Well, the jury is still out, but I think all of them were beauties.



Steak and Porcini

Well, the first Sunday in October we managed to get a crowd together for lunch at the Porcini sagra in Noceta, a little town outside Castiglion Fiorentino.



Ben and I each had a steak, fried porcini, one salad, water and wine for 50 some odd Euros.  Some of the steak came home with us and we had two more meals out of it.  Steak and mushroom quesadillas and steak with broccoli in oyster sauce.


The calm before.  It is a very popular one.


Well organized and managed.  Always decorated inside and out.  This one where you get a sense of the community,  that folks worked together to make this happen.


Our rowdy group of expats.  They wisely put us at the back of the tent.


What we came for, fried porcini.  Very tasty!


A few Italian shots

It has occurred to me that I won’t be living here soon and the vistas that I see every day will soon be much different.  So I thought I should take some everyday shots,  for when we need to look back and remember.




The pharmacy in Monte San Savino



The narrow streets with tight turns in Monte San Savino.  (Won’t miss these at all)


Views all the way to Siena



Well tended Italian gardens


Buildings older than the United States



With a wasp nest to protect them.



Less than 75 days

Ah, yes, time is ticking away before our big move back to the US.  Look what the mailman brought.



We each received one containing  4 luggage tags. HA!  Like we’ll have just four bags.  That’s alright my copy machine can make pretty good substitutes.  This did reveal that there are 3 formal nights on board.  Ben is okay, he does still have a dark suit.  I think ‘formal’ could be a problem for me.  I don’t think that overalls could be called formal.  And there is the whole shoe issue.  What?  I can’t wear my tennies?   Ohhhh, it could be difficult.

We have met with Enzo who will be driving us to Southampton and worked out the bigger details.  A few small ones have to ironed out.

Last week was especially sad as the chicks moved.  Yes Auntie Martha’s Holiday Hen House is officially closed.


I tried to break it gently to Carlotta.


I don’t think she was happy.

Last Saturday, someone came and picked up a good many of our books.  She is going to open an English language library outside of Modena.  This Saturday someone else is coming to get some of my baking and art supplies.

I am gradually trying to clean out drawers but it is hard.  Came across this.


Yes, it is a receipt for a lunch that Ben and I had in France in 2002.  I was wondering why I had kept it, so of course I had to look the place up.  When I saw the pictures I realized that this was the place where I had the oysters in cider and cream.  Oh my,  I can still remember that dish.  It was so good.  Of course this leads to all kinds of other distractions.  Packing is going to take a long time.


Something new


No it is not out of focus olives.  Guess again





Yes, mini kiwi.  They were really tasty.  Very thin skin that could be eaten.  Very, very tasty.  I will buy them again if I see them.

Many Italians have kiwi vines on their property and grow their own.  They seem to be a much loved fruit.  In the grocery it is not unusual to see someone buying 3 or 4 pounds of kiwis at a time.  One is usually enough for me, but I could have eaten the whole container if I had not bought them to share with the boys upstairs.  Now, I’ll just have to buy them again.

Random Shots


All this produce from right down the road for lee than $5.


Leo and Lorenzo’s turtles came for a visit.  Wonder who the turtles will stay with next year?



on top of the main church in Monte San Savino



A quick shot, taken on a rainy, cloudy day in Florence



And a freaky moon shot.


The small village that we are part of Montagnano has a duck sagra every year.  It is very popular, gets crowded and in the past has not been well organized.  One year after attending and being less than happy with the experience I realized that I could just go buy the duck, invite folks over and we could sit and enjoy it comfortably.  So, Sunday, September 18 our house became ‘party central’.


Ida had a lunch for 10 while I was busy setting up for a dinner for 10.  Here she is, one of the many trips up and down the stairs she had to make.


There must be a table cloth in here somewhere that I like????



Rain showers and cooler temps forced us to be inside.  Fortunately, Richard came over to help me move furniture out of our main room and we were able to bring in another table and have enough room for 11 people without being too crowded.



On Saturday night I went up to the sagra and bought 4 whole roasted ducks.  One I picked the meat off the bones, twon of them were cut up in to pieces and this was the “Beauty Queen”.   She got a platter all to herself.

The roasted duck lends itself well to being paired with Asian dishes.  I made a Thai yellow curry vegetable dish, Grace brought her outstanding chicken coconut milk soup, George and Jules brought an Indian potato and lentil dish, Richard made his Indian tomato curry.  We started with nutty snacks from Dinah and finished with  Italian Cream Cake.

It was such a fun event that I forgot to take any pictures.









Sagra and Festa Posters

The season is winding down.  Here are a few posters from events happening in southern Tuscany.














Porcini Time

In mid August, we were in Cortona for the porcini sagra.


It is held along the Roman road which is park most of the time.  For this event (and the steak sagra, held the week before) the road up to the park is opened and with Ben’s handicapped sticker we are able to drive right up.  From there it is a wonderfully flat surface so it is easy to get to this one.  We joined Grace, Gian Carlo, Tania, Keith and his relatives for dinner.


porcini soup, which has a lot of croutons in it.  It is pretty tasty, but very hardy fare for a hot August night.


Fried porcini.  There was also “country style steak”  with a rich porcini gravy.  A very tasty meal and a fun night.