Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Italy: Joy

I love a lot of things... popcorn shrimp, Two-Buck Chuck, kittens, dirty jokes, and B-grade movies.

I can now add one more to the list.


Cortona makes me this happy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Italy: Family Style

My favorite night in Italy happened in Cortona.  Sebastian and Megan invited us to a Ghezzi family get-together at Sebastian's parents' home about 20 minutes outside of the city, a legit Italian dinner.

Upon arrival, communication seemed daunting.  Sebastian's family only spoke Italian and Ben and I only spoke English.  But, interestingly, after several courses of home cooked food and endless bottles of wine, we understood each other perfectly fine.  Hugs, handshakes, and laughter abounded. Amazing, how fermented grapes can do that.

We ate dinner outside their several hundred year old home, surrounded by olive trees and vineyards.  Sebastian's uncle brought homemade prosciutto and olive oil, which I added to every bite because of its deliciousness and its ability to prevent wrinkles (a rumor I once read somewhere). Sebastian's mom carried out endless courses of food - pastas, salads, meats, and breads.

I foresaw an expanding belly and purposefully wore a dress with an elastic waistline to dinner. I did not want to limit my gluttony when surrounded by a plethora of good food. Priorities.

Below is a picture of the Ghezzi family and myself sans Ben (he was behind the lens).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Italy: Under the Tuscan Sun

The title of this post references the book (later made into a movie) written by Frances Mayes.  She moved to Cortona and bought a house just minutes outside of the city walls. Frances lived in a fixer upper, but we stayed in a place fit for a king.

Sebastian and Megan put us in one of the local B&Bs just blocks from the Piazza Repubblica. The B&B, Dolce Maria, rocked.

Ben and I giggled with excitement as the owner, Paola, led us through archways and around century old furniture to reach our room. We tried to act like staying at a place that nice was customary for us, but let's be real. I squealed loudly when Paola threw open the window's five foot wooden shutters to reveal hundreds of clay roofs and the Tuscan hills.

Every morning, Paola and her mother baked enough Italian goodies to cover a table.  Paola's mother, who spoke only Italian, conversed with Ben during every breakfast. I listened and tried to follow along, but my constant chewing on the endless supply of pastries often dampened their voices. So, I didn't learn as much Italian as planned.

Below are some room pics.

Frances Mayes' house post renovation. We drove by to check it out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Italy: Another Photo Shoot

Cortona offered some pretty spectacular views.  And, you know what that means... photo shoot.  I can hear my dad sighing right now.  He once said that he would vomit into his morning bowl of cereal if he read one more blog post that included a photo shoot of Ben and I. Ha ha, dad!  Barf away.

Every turn onto a different cobblestone street yielded a more perfect backdrop.  Every nook and cranny begged for a picture.  Okay, that last statement was a tad dramatic, but I made my point.

Below are some pictures from our walks around Cortona.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Italy: Baubles, Baby!

Since Megan and Sebastian own a jewelry shop, Ben thought it best to surprise me with a little something special for our 4th wedding anniversary, which happened shortly upon returning to American soil. Of course, I thought that was a most excellent idea.  (Cue big smiles and hands rubbing furiously together in heightened anticipation.)

Striking designs and shiny jewels abounded.  I could hardly, HARDLY, contain my excitement.  I feared the 3,000 year old Etruscan stone walls that surround Cortona would explode from my elation.

I ogled.

Sebastian worked on a sweet deal.

Megan kept a careful eye on me.

 Sebastian convinced Ben to buy the whole store for his incredible, wonderful, and deserving wife.

Ben escaped the store and enjoyed coffee (?) or perhaps a little something else to calm his nerves.