The Charms of Aix

Late July 2016
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

As I gathered the photos for this post, I realized that nearly all of them were about music or markets – no wonder we were inspired to name our tour company Music and Markets while here in the summer of 2002! The charms that drew us then still do! Although my delayed flight kept me from arriving in time for the market today, there’s still music right next door, and even though I’m jet lagged, how can I resist?07281601 As I listen to the wonderful Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, and their guest soloist, I walk around and take in the beauty of Saint Sauveur Cathedral, pausing in the oldest part, the baptistry, its Roman vestiges combined with elegant additions through the centuries.07281601 baptistryFrance is experiencing a summer heat wave, which means I’m out early for errands on Friday – walking by the post office I notice many windows open to draw in as much cool air as possible before shutting tight in the heat of the day.07291601 bleached errands early windows open Our shutters are still open, but will be closed as soon as the burning sun hits them.
The market looks more beautiful than ever, and once again I’m amazed that this bounty and beauty is spread out EVERY day, just steps from Ambiance d’Aix!07291601 colors of marketI stay inside til the air cools a bit, then enjoy an evening walk, circling through the buzz of restaurant – filled Place Cardeurs.07291601 evening cardeurs resto buzz walk early and lateSaturday morning the BIG market returns (three times a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it spreads throughout multiple squares and streets,07301602 precheurs but there’s a produce market on Place Richelme every day).
First stop, the flower market, 07301601 flowers satthen home to plop them on the mantel, 07301601 glads on the mantel then back to shopand out again to shop for lunch and dinner before walking to meet Kirk, who flies in today. These zucchini beignets, 07301601 zuke beignetsplus a fragrant melon and paper thin slices of prosciutto will make a perfect welcome-back lunch.
One stall after another begs for a photo – look at me, look at me!07301603 beg for photoHere’s my haul: this bowlful of yumminess will do just fine for lunch and dinner, no?07301603 whats for lunch and dinnerSunday’s full of more Aixoise charms – an afternoon concert at the church, a stroll to Pavilion Vendome with friends07311601 stroll with friends before dinner at our house, then a walk to Jas de Bouffan, Cezanne’s family estate, for an open-air showing of The Horseman on the Roof, 07311602 dinner then moviesome of which was filmed right in Aix.
More market bounty awaits us, delicious for both eyes and mouth, at a Monday night dinner at a neighbors home,08011601 dinner chez jeans and the next day vendors tempt us with more summer tastes 08031601 market temptationsand colors. 08031601 market temptations1Just loving life in Aix en Provence!

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

A Frescoed Lakeside Village

Saturday May 28, 2016, continued
Lake Orta, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

We fell in love with petite Lake Orta, especially the alluring hamlet of Orta San Giulio, when we first saw it, so it’s definitely on our must-return list on this lake journey! Our journey from the Verbania side of Lake Maggiore gets us quickly to the top of Lake Orta, and the village of Omegna, where Alessi has been headquartered since the 1920s. 05281603 alessi hq top of ortaBright primary colors, flowing canals, and abundant greenery make up the compound, and we check out all of the marvelous design items in the factory store, crowned with an iconic teapot.
Orta San Giulio has become more tourist-friendly since we were last here…and a nice addition is a multi-story covered parking garage, where we find a spot and walk down to the enchanting village, looking up as we stroll to see all of the beautiful frescoes that we remember.05281603 fresco filled orta san giulioWe pause in the garden of the Palazzo Communale,05281603 from gardens of palazzo communale taking in the view of Isola San Giulio offshore,05281603 from gardens to island view went there last time link blog then meander through the portico on the side 05281603 gracious frescoes porchand out into the narrow lanes.
There’s that delightful balcony where we enjoyed an anniversary dinner 8 years ago! 05281603 memories diff resto same balconyThe restaurant name has changed – wonder if it’s even better than Antico Agnello?
Someone’s peeking out a window 05281603 peeking out a trompeloiel windowas we enter the main square, lakeside. And in front of this arcaded building, ancient heraldic shields fading in the sun,  05281603 uplook as we walka stage is being set up for an evening performance – wish we could stay longer!
The view from this rainbow row is terrific – 05281603 view of homes as pretty as view of lakeand we walk closer to shore to gaze out at the islet. 05281604 can taxi to monastery island link to previous blogWe boated out last time, today we’ll just look, perhaps with a bit of envy at those sailors. 05281604 enjoy perfect size of lake for a sail or driveUp the cobbled hill we go,05281604 hill up past more frescoes to seek out  some more frescoed beauties – a trio on this façade. 05281604 revisit trio of beautiesFrom a swooping Annunciation05281605 annunciation to a tender Madonna and Child, 05281605 sweet little madonnait must be a tale of Mary.
Aaah Lake Orta, you’re a fitting finish to our lake-ramble week. Back in our hillside apartment, a final sunset toast05281606 home in time for sunset to the beautiful Lake District of Italy!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Across the Lake

Saturday May 28, 2016
Lake Maggiore, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

That twinkly town we viewed across the lake last night? Verbania – and today we edge round the lake to explore it in person. Narrow streets are lined with vintage shop-fronts or colorful homes, elegant symmetry decked with blooms, 05281601 cute shops and pretty homesand the church opens out on to the sparkling lake.05281601 across the lake twinkling is verbaniaFrom the lakeside promenade (a string of lights along the shore from our perch on the hillside opposite) we figure out which is our apartment complex – above the large white building and to the right. 05281601 find our apartment acrossWe zigzagged up and up to get there yesterday, then from the parking lot climbed a couple of flights of stairs with our luggage to the first level of apartments – which seem miraculously attached to a rocky vertical hillside. You have to WORK for a view like that!
Does Italy have a Village Fleurie (flowery village) contest like France does?05281601 lakeside flower bedecked balconies If so, Verbania would be in the running!
Around the curve of this lakeside we continue, on to Intra, finding more elegant and flowery homes, 05281601 on to Intraand gazing in awe at men at work far above.05281602 at work menAs we look for a likely lunch spot, wanting to be outside, Kirk notes a sign for La Tavernetta, touting their giardino (garden)  – the menu looks great, and the leafy terrace very inviting – we’ll take it!05281602 kirk spies signs to la tavernetta giardino and its a winnerYes, it’s a winner – I could eat this gnocchi with gorgonzola and pears cooked in red wine every day!05281602 lunch could eat gnocchi with gorgonzola and pears cooked in red wine every dayWell-fed, we’re ready to continue our explorations –05281602 stroll back to car on to another lake on to another lake!

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone