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The Cream of the Cotswolds

The Cream of the Cotswolds

Wednesday September 23, 2015
The Cotswolds, England

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?

It’s one of those special birthdays…ending in a 5…and where in the world have I chosen to celebrate? In the peacefully gorgeous Cotswolds in England! And in one of the most beautiful places in which we’ve ever stayed, Lords of the Manor in the tiny hamlet of Upper Slaughter.09231501 Arrival Lords of the Manor From the first glimpse of the golden stone mansion tucked into luxuriant gardens, I was absolutely delighted.
And then the gracious hostess walked us through the cushioney and inviting sitting areas, 09231501 inviting seating areasand down winding hallways to our room as the delight continued. 09231501 our room thanx for bday upgradeIf there were anything available to eat this late in the afternoon, we’d just stay right here! But getting out of Heathrow took too much time, as usual (longest passport control lanes we’ve EVER been in!) and with the nearly two hour drive on top of that, it’s waaaay past our lunchtime! The closest place to get a bite to eat at this time is Bourton-on-the-Water, not far from the Manor, so off we go. 09231501 starving took hours to get out of airport to bourtonThis area and our beloved Aix are both filled with buildings of a honey golden stone, its color shade-shifting as the light changes through the day. 09231501 town golden stone like beloved Aix and gardensWhat could be more satisfying on a crisp fall afternoon than a cream tea? 09231501 treat cream teaOh how I love that dense clotted cream – there’s just nothing like it! Slathered on a raisin-studded buttery scone, topped with a smear of strawberry jam….just what I wanted on my birthday 😉
A stroll around Bourton-on-the-Water confirms the fact that we’re here at the most beautiful time of year, with fall hues09231502 blooms prime time and fall color joining the lush flower-filled window-boxes09231502 blooms prime time and gardens – heavenly! 09231502 blooms prime time everywhere we lookHave you ever seen so many colors of hydrangea on one bush?!09231502 blooms prime time oneWinter’s coming…and this home is well-prepared with a hefty stack of firewood by the front door. 09231502 but cold weathers on the wayBack to Lords of the Manor for a cozy nap to help us get over jetlag,09231502 lords of the manor nap enjoying the fragrant lavender as we pass.09231502 stop and smell the lavenderThen we’re off again09231502 out to lower swell pub dinner for a pub dinner in nearby Lower Swell (loving these names!), before returning for a good night’s sleep09231503 so cozy and inviting – we’ve got lots of fun to pack in the next few days!

 

 

Orvieto – Charm on a Hilltop!

Orvieto – Charm on a Hilltop!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Orvieto, Italy

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?

We’ve left the seaside behind, and after dropping off 2 of our guests at the Naples train station, we’re on our way to Tuscany, passing gently rolling fields on our way to the first stop, Orvieto.07211501 amalfi goodbye hello inlandNo, not quite in Tuscany, but in neighboring Umbria the “Green Heart of Italy”.  A minimum of four hours driving, which is what it takes from Maiori to here, is enough for one day – we’ll complete the journey to Tuscany tomorrow. And of course we’re ALWAYS happy to include hilltop Orvieto in a tour itinerary!  Dropping our bags and the car at the lovely Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini, we begin to show off this marvelous town. 07211501 hours of driving then a tour on footThe glorious Duomo was uncovered when we were here for our New Years Jazz in Italy Tour (which we’re offering again this year – come along!) but once again part of the triptych facade is under restoration – often necessary! We watch workers coming up and down in the bright yellow elevator, 07211501 orvieto duomo was uncovered at ny jazzthen walk over to the nearby cliffside for a breezy view off the side of the pinnacle that is Orvieto. 07211502 breeze and viewA few shops call our name as we walk back to the hotel…one, a high-end clothing boutique, is in a remarkable palazzo. The building’s more gorgeous than the clothes! 07211502 gorgeous palazzo now high end clothesOf course we have to stop at Bartolomei’s in-town shop – remember our trip to their farm in December? The link above tells about that day.07211502 winter to farm summer to shop A tasting, and a tin or two to take home…as usual, our souvenirs of this trip will be edible – we’re getting low on Bartolomei’s superb olive oil and it’s time to restock!
After a rest break in the hotel, it’s time for dinner, and a stroll through the quieting streets as the lowering sun tints the stones in Burnt Umber – so THAT”S where that crayola color came from! 07211503 evening walk to 7 consoliIt’s been a few years since we’ve been in Orvieto in the summer, and we’re eager to enjoy our dinner in the garden – when we’re here for New Year’s Jazz in Italy, it’s WAY too cold to be outside!07211503 garden gazebo dinnerThe multi-course feast at Sette Consoli is, as always, exceptional…07211503 multiple coursesespecially when relished in such a lovely location. 07211503 sunsettingGood night, Orvieto, what a pleasure to see you again!

 

Captivating Capri

Captivating Capri

Monday, July 20, 2015
Amalfi, Italy

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?

We’ll speed on the sea to Capri, but first we have to get to Amalfi from Maiori..along the barely-wide-enough-for-2-little-cars Amalfi Coast Highway…will these buses make it by each other? Not without a LOT of manoeuvring! 07201501 buses can 2 pass only with major maneuveringI continue to be in awe of these patient and skillful drivers – I can’t imagine driving a car on this road (although Kirk does it expertly), much less a huge BUS!
The sea is wide open – no challenge to avoid other boats here – and soon Capri comes into view. See that dot of white about a third of the way down the ridge? 07201501 capri in sightThat’s our destination – who knows what it is?!
We quickly load into a taxi and head up the rock from Marina Grande, 07201501 in we pileand soon we’re walking the peaceful paths of Villa San Michele in Anacapri,07201501 to villa house and gardens Dr. Axel Munthe’s exquisite house and gardens built over the ruins of a Roman emperor’s palace in the early 1900s. We love how he incorporated Roman relics discovered during construction – a marble face here, a bit of a pillar there…07201502 axel munthe homeThrough the shaded gardens, 07201502 exquisite gardenswe stroll to that white spot we saw from the sea on our approach…07201502 f by the chapelour group has expanded a bit, with the addition of two of the marvelous musicians of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival, 07201502 group has expandedpianist Boaz Sharon and flutist Nancy Stagnitta, who’s taking the photo.
And there, far below is where we sailed in, with this red granite sphinx gazing down on us – we could see the white building, but not this red speck from so far away. 07201502 where we came from from the end look up and seeOlga and her daughter have been relaxing on the rooftop cafe, and we join them there 07201503 back to cafebefore browsing the shops on the way back to Anacapri’s main square, 07201503 capri sandalsthen making our way07201503 lunch ahead to lunch at Il Solitario. 07201503 lunch under the vinesSharing a toast, we all agree that a Caprese Salad tastes best in Capri, 07201503 why not begin with capreseand imagine the fishermen catching our lunch early this morning. 07201503 why not continue with seafoodThe only way to get from the marina, and Capritown, to Anacapri until 1874 when a road was built, was a still-usable stairway zigzagged into the cliff. The ride down, along the side of Monte Solaro, is as scary as that staircase! 07201504 cliffside roads to capritownAnacapri is the quieter, less-glitzy town on the island, Capritown is the one FILLED with high-end shops07201504 jewelry – including a grand total of FIVE Ferragamos! 07201504 ferragamo one of 5But as you know from our stay here earlier in July, the entire island is filled with beauty – keep looking around and up as you shop and stroll!07201504 keep looking around tooA quick funicular descent, 07201504 to marina grandeand we’re back on the boat towards the mainland – arrivederci, Capri! 07201505 bye byeOh how much beauty that rock hides in its crevices! 07201505 rock hides much beautySoon we’re pulling into Amalfi, 07201505 to amalfiand we meet again for a final dinner in Maiori. 07201505 goodbye dinnerChatting with Edith, the charming mother of Leslie, the festival director, we’re the last to leave…and tomorrow we’ll say goodbye to this gorgeous coast and head for Tuscany!

 

Amalfi Revels

Amalfi Revels

Sunday, July 19, 2015, continued
Amalfi, Italy

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?

What better place to celebrate a significant birthday than the gorgeous Amalfi Coast? We’ve all been enjoying getting to know Maria, Olga’s lovely daughter – what a treat that she could join Olga here for this milestone birthday! The celebrating continues in Amalfi,07191505 ez back to amalfi first a shopping and sightseeing stroll, 07191505 first some shoppingthen dinner, where we’re seated with the directors of the festival, and the music begins,07191506 evening amalfi dinner video of musicians and the dinner proceeds, with a grand finale of a a birthday cake for Olga!07191506 happy birthdayA night-time stroll through those vaulted Arab Bath corridors is fun, 07191506 streets arab baths before concertthen we return to the similarly Arab-influenced Duomo for the evening concert.07191507 amazing cathedralLeslie gives us a tour of the highlights of the museum 07191507 amazing museum leslie points out masterpiecesbefore we’re astounded with the mastery of young Chinese students from the Shanghai International Piano Institute  – 07191507 amazing young pianist China video too4 of whom present a program including Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and Chopin in the intimate surroundings of the museum. 07191507 as we are surrounded byStill in awe, we slowly walk through the cloister, 07191507 cloisterand gather on the Duomo steps before returning to Maiori. 07191507 goodnightWhat a birthday to remember!

 

Castles and Ceramics

Castles and Ceramics

Sunday, July 19, 2015
Maiori, Vietri-sul-Mare, Italy

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?

After that August interlude in France with our grandaughter, let’s return to Italy, picking up where we left off on the Amalfi Coast.
On this summer Sunday, a few of us want to fit in a morning hike07191501 am hike to the Castle of San Nicola de Thoro-Plano above Maiori. In reality the old ruins cannot be considered a castle in the literal sense, but a protected area consisting of a fortress built (beginning in the 800s!) as a bulwark and refuge for the population against the frequent attacks of the outlaws from Lombardy and later the Barbary pirates.07191501 am fortress 1

The three of us are joined by a couple of playful pups,07191501 dogs and as we pause for a look at the town and sea below,07191501 paused for view they rest for the final climb.07191501 took a break Inside the fortified perimeter there were once barracks and shelters able to house a large battalion and hundreds of citizens seeking shelter, but today just one man lives there  – here’s his mailbox. 07191502 castle ceramic and mailboxWe pass him on his way down for morning coffee and newspaper. Wow – he must stay in shape with this at-least-once-a-day trek up and down!
Kirk and Jenny go all the way up,07191502 two went all the way and walk around the fortress as far as there is a passable path. 07191502 walked around as far as possibleI chicken out on the last part of the hike, and enjoy the view, along with a cat taking a morning stretch. 07191502 catAs I sit, a young teen comes up, unlocks the storage shed under the stretching cat, and hefts out several jugs of red wine, then takes them down, two at a time, multiple flights to a car parked below. 07191502 wine under the catSoon Jenny and Kirk join me, and as we begin our descent, we’re stopped in our tracks as sunlight tinges the town below 07191503 bells and sun tingedand Sunday bells ring out over the valley.
The descent goes more quickly, of course, than the ascent, and soon we’re back in Maiori,07191503 flat ground maiori where it’s time to pile in the car for the winding drive to Vietri sul Mare,07191503 go to vietri famous for ceramics since Roman times. 07191504 ceramics since roman timesOne artisan has designed a wall of tiles telling of the history of the village, pirate attacks and all. 07191503 tale of the townA bit of shopping, a bit of posing,07191504 shopped and posed then back to Maiori for lunch by the sea.07191505 el dorado El Dorado has quickly become a favorite, and although I plan on a healthy salad for lunch, I can not resist the lemon ricotta ravioli. 07191505 el lemon ricotta ravioliWe’ll soon be leaving the coast, and where else would I find such luscious lemon pasta?!
The smoked swordfish and eggplant parmesan is also delicious – as is everything we order. 07191505 el smoked swordfish eggplant parmWe’re celebrating today – it’s Olga’s birthday, and her daughter has traveled long and far to join us for a few days. More festivities this evening…to be continued-