Thursday, 7 December 2017

Pollutri - now that's a cook up

We have experienced some incredible places in Italy, but the reason we are here is Pollutri, a village a few kilometres inland from Vasto and the place where Maria's father grew up and where her two of her cousins still live. with their extended families.

Pollutri is home to Anna and Giovanni, wonderfully hospitable and gentle people who have made us feel like we belong here. A happy coincidence is our visit being at the time of the biggest village celebration of the year, the San Nicola bean festival, a key feature of which is a massive cook-up of locally grown beans which are then eaten as part of the family celebration. Maria's father was named after 'Saint Nicholas'. Having already visited the houses where he lived in the narrow roads below, it was difficult to imagine him as a boy in the medieval streets of the hilltop town centre.

Imagine rows of massive pots (the kind used in historical movies in which people where cooked alive!) full of broad beans, and the local lads stoking fires in preparation for a competition to see which pot they can get to boil first. Today we head back into town to see the beans being seasoned and eaten, although we did take a sample home to Anna's place last night to sample with home made olive oil, year old (yes) bread and a touch of salt.


Vasto has taken our breath away and stolen our hearts, in part because Maria has yet again nailed the accommodation.

But it is home for Maria's cousin Vincenzo and his family who live in what we have fondly been referring to as the DiCooco compound, a cluster of homes that has been in the family for generations and now renoovated into beautiful modern homes surrounded by their orchards, veggie gardens, vineyards and olive groves, from which they produce fabulous home grown food and drink. Guisippina's gnocchi, which Rachel helped make, was worth travelling to Italy for.

Monday, 27 November 2017

inside and outside the villa

We will always remember our time gathered in a villa in Abruzzo. It was our base from which we began to explore Abruzzo and connect with family. From the living room the local village sat on a nearby hill, the Adriatic Ocean covered the horizon out front and the Gran Sasso National Park's snow capped mountains completed the vista to the left.

The villa was our home, we cooked, talked, slept and reconnected with the world via our devices at the end of the days adventures.

We've all arrived

morning exercise with an incredible view, even if it was 5 degrees!

anyone for eggs?

breakfast is served

minestrone brewing for dinner

the Renault and Citroen chariots that carted us around Pescara and Abruzzo

morning sun on the villa

mountain backdrop

outdoor eating would be good if the temperature was greater than zero!


dining space off the kitchen


more lounging

daily washing and drying routine

sun drenched porch

Rache doing what Rache does

appetiser platter

what's hapenning in the world?

left overs soup - not too bad


It is always special when our mob is together, these days mostly for special occasions. This morning we are gathered again after being scattered across the globe. The breakfast view that draws us out of bed is of snow capped mountains to the left, our 'local' mountain village on the right and the ocean coast inbetween. Special doesn't do the moment justice. Rare and beautiful.

There will be more photos to come for sure ... the light is stunning. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Roma pics

Some pics from Rome:

Having never been to Italy but lived near Carlton for decades I always wondered if there was an authentic local version of what Brunetti's made iconic. The answer is yes.
The view from our apartment.

And some with us ...

obsessive genius

When I was in primary school we learned to read with class copies of old fashioned 'readers'. Of all the stories I remember just one called The Boy Who Wanted to Fly. Ever since then I have been fascinated by the extraordinary talents of Leonardo Da Vinci. It was therefore a 'must do' for me when in Florence to explore more of this strange character who seemed to be centuries ahead of his time in his imagination of science and technology.

I picked up a little book that includes a translation of some of his notes, and have learned so much more of this enigmatic, shadowy figure. What is common knowledge is that he was a master in many fields;

  • painter
  • sculptor
  • architect
  • inventor
  • anatomist
He seemed obsessed with automation. He invented a robot, he created machines that ranged from hydraulic saws to military tanks. Most of all, he wanted to fly. He designed machines that betrayed an understanding of flight inconceivably ahead of his time.

What I have learned is that he was the child of unmarried parents and had a strained relationship with his family which some would say is a reason his life was spent seeking (and mostly successfully gaining) approval from people he perceived as significant.

He made thousands of pages of notes; observations and ideas which he wrote in a script he invented himself, perhaps to protect the IP from others. I have understood, although shouldn't have been surprised that there was fierce rivalry between artists and cities. Some of the notes of Leonardo's I have read describe his criticisms of other painters' 'weak' attempts at creating depth in their painting.

He was dyslexic. He was openly gay and centuries before it emerged as a 'thing' he was vegetarian. He was notorious for starting things and not finishing them and in his notes shared his fear that his legacy would be his pile of written notes. But his brilliance made him something of a human tourist attraction in his time.

A truly remarkable man.