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, June 7, 2012

Isn't France delicious?


On the road again
Me voici (here I am) back on welcoming Languedoc  soil and wonderfully settled into le Muguet in Vers Pont du Gard, our property share on the Languedoc/Provence border . Admittedly  the  9 hour drive from Casa Leone was not a picnic but stops en route to buy a souvenir bottle of Umbrian red  as well as a gas stop in Provence made for two good breaks. I had one moment of absolute fright as I pulled into the rest stop near Marseille for diesel fuel. 
 It takes a bit to figure out which pump to use, where to insert the American Express card, etc.  When my American Express did not work (very common in Europe with their credit cards with a circular “puce” or thumbprint on them), I reached for my travel bag with passport, change and extra visa cards and… it was missing. “ Where could that be?” I wondered and started searching under coats, cookies, bottles of travel water and so forth- no travel bag! You know that feeling when the panic starts rising from your gut up to your mouth? I was there.  Struggling  to remember the last time I had seen this slender travel bag which slings across your body and can easily be concealed, I remembered hanging it on an Italian bathroom hook when using the facilities- a good 2 hours back.  By now I had been traveling by car 6 ½ hours and the thought that I would have to retrace my steps, probably get there around midnight and all my cash, cards and passport be gone.  I was feeling pretty low. ” Ok” , I told myself,  “Let’s give this one more look”.  I went back  to my trunkwhich was burdoned with an  assortment of suitcases, food, and house supplies  and  began emptying it out. UNDERNEATH my food cooler, the slim black travel bag emerged. What a HUGE sigh of relief!

Once arrived, my gracious friend and fellow Le Muguet owner,  Anna Marie, had lit a variety of candles in our vaulted salon. She brought out the crisp local white wine from Vers Pont du Gard along with a yummy assortment of black and green olives. So good to be HOME!  France, where one and all can understand what I’m saying… Home where I know exactly where to find an open bakery with hot croissants and pain au chocolate on a Monday morning... Home, where our week’s activities have been fun and amusing:

·         Dining out at a renowned restaurant with a vintage tracteur out front and a famous NZ culinary star dining inside (Petra Mathias).  Aptly named le Tracteur, reservations are highly recommended. It's a treat to only drive 10 minutes for such good fare.

·          Picnic’s on our rooftop terrace while watching our favorite French boules players in the square below us.

·          Exploring new properties  for sale in Peter Mayle country. This sharpens my sense of real estate in France and was also a treat for Anna Marie. I believe she more fully understands what a gem we have in our home in Vers Pont du Gard.

·           Some extraordinary “vide greniers” finds at the marche aux puces in nearby Beaucaire. Among our best treasure were some exquisite silver dessert spoons, a Laguiole carving knife and fork, a vintage set of vintage tin kitchen canisters and the perfect handmade wool rug for one of the Casa Leone bedrooms.  

  Isn’t   France delicious?  Oui.. in soooo many ways.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Down the Umbrian Rabbit Hole

Have you been wondering why I haven't been sending my newsletter lately? On one hand I want to share my Alice in Wonderland-type experiences with you (and have been keeping a rough journal of each days adventures) but on the other hand, there are simply too many sirens out there calling my name; the quaint and welcoming old town of Monteleone where my balcony neighbors on the back street smile at my garland of rosy colored flowers lit up each night as I dine with crisp white wine and some version of pasta or pollo. Later on, they nod and smile at my lack of words and yet manage to say "See here, we have some sunshine today". Very kindly, another sweet middle-aged gal accompanied me from the wee grocery past our door and wanted to know where I was from. "New York" I responded. "Oh my", I'm sure she said. Oddly, like a patchwork quilt, we can piece together what we want to say, including her upcoming journey to another town this weekend and how much progress I'm making in Italian- ha! barely...

So, please do accompany me on this new journey to create a warm, welcoming, affordable, and delightful living abroad experience for any who wish to join us in Umbria. Be patient with my BLOG learning curve! Like my Italian, hopefully you will "capire" or understand enough to appreciate!

By the way, Monteleone (the Mount of the Lion) has these doorknockers on many of the homes, as one might imagine. I learned that the lion is the symbol fo the Guelps, a Middle Age faction that favored rule by the papacy over rule by the Holy Roman Empire. The antique door knocker above carried a hefty price of $175 online. We found one in Canandaigua for only $20 (!) which I brought here to install- on my list of things to do...