Graceful living in Italy and France...

The smell of jasmine winds its way down our 16th century cobblestone street in Umbria as I step outside to greet the day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Passersby on the narrow pedestrian street pause to chat when you’re preparing something tantalizing.

Despite Francesco’s current weakened state (due to a bad infection he got in the hospital while recovering from eye surgery) we have been active at Le Muguet with various projects to make the house even more beautiful than it already was when we left in April.

Jacques Antzak, a local Vers upholsterer, has been sewing and hanging curtains and bed canopies stitched up from magnificent toile fabrics we found during our last visit. There are now curtains in the salon of the brilliant gold & red toile that compliments the ochre and yellow accents in the room; bold blue toile spattered with palm trees and oriental scenes on the antique wooden ciel de lit in the bedroom; more subtle blue & white birds on the toile in the guest bedroom that we have christened, in their honor, the ‘chambre des oiseaux’.

We mounted nine antique Montereau ‘vieux Paris’ plates – cream-and-black scenes of Paris – on the long stonewall near the front door where they make a stunning array, and two Edwardian plates in brown & cream next to the old ‘comptoise’ clock that graces the corner of the little stone mezzanine.
After four coats of paint we finally achieved the right color and texture on the wall showcasing the eight antique colored prints of Renaissance courtiers of the reign of Henri II. (The first coat was dark ochre painted over with a rose color, highlighted with various grays and browns, and finally covered completely with the same tone found the local Vers stone. The result exudes the warmth and depth of butterscotch.)

Various pieces of Ginny’s great collection of Circulon cookware (that she packed and mailed over in April) are now hanging under the antique brass utensil rail we purchased at a flea market, along with an assortment of old funnels, hand mixers, and kitchen bric-a-brac. The room is a visual delight but is also a cook’s dream – plenty of counter space, good small & large appliances, sunlight flooding in through the large window where passersby on the narrow pedestrian street can (and do) pause to chat when you’re preparing something tantalizing.

The terrace is especially nice at this season for anyone longing to roast in the sun and is perfectly heavenly for sitting out at night sipping wine and star gazing. The barbeque works well and the large table is a fine place to eat dinner while listening to the clink of petanque balls in the park in front of the house. (Petanque is played there all day long and into the night; you can hear the so ft murmur of the players’ voices well after sundown.)

To me, the greatest change at Le Muguet has been in the so-called ‘Oiseaux Room’that was, when we found it, nothing more than a small white room with a forlorn looking day bed and a rickety wood & canvas ‘closet’ bought (probably) from a dime store. The sofa bed and clothes-hanging contraption are history and the room now shimmers with curtains and a small ciel de lit of blue & white fabric, wall s graced by butter yellow paint that coordinate nicely with a Vers stone wall facing the bed. We added a real closet by chopping off a bit of the adjoining bathroom and this tiny bed chamber – once so under utilized – has taken on a zestful spirit. It will be a pleasure, I believe, for those sleeping in this room to be so near the large open terrace with its cooling breezes.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

France bound via ferry from Rome.

After a much longer delay than anticipated ( nearly 2 months), Dan, Francesco, and Arcadio are heading back to le Muguet to put the sparkling touches on her decor. Sadly, several unexpected complications following surgery put Francesco very much under the weather. Here's a note from Dan:

"So we have decided to head to Vers tomorrow after all. To avoid driving we will be taking the ferry from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Barcelona, then drive the 3.5 hours north to Vers on Saturday afternoon. This will save me having to drive the usual 16 hour trip by myself and we hope will be a much more restful way to get there than usual. The drive from here to the coast is less than 2 hours and ferry ride is 20 hours but mostly overnight and we, of course, have booked a cabin and a 'berth' for Arcadio in the kat kennel. (He has already been on ferry rides, back & forth from Civitavecchia to Palermo, and we sneaked him into the cabin and he loved it. Watched the white caps all night through the porthole window.)

 Cost is excellent as we have spent around 750-800 round trip before and the ferry, cabin, cat, car totals to 560. We will divide the cost with you (if that is acceptable) so this one way cost for you will be 280. We don't know if we will come back the same way - maybe try going from Marseilles to Corsica, then Corsica to Civitavecchia. (Unfortunately there are no direct ferry routes between mainland France or Italy.) But we think this is a good solution for this driving problem and hope you agree. And it now gets us FINALLY to Le Muguet to sort out things, maybe box a few ears, etc. I will be assembling our travel stuff, including our paints, brushes & stencils, so we can get cracking on our decor ideas!