I like to drive. In fact I've penetrated my way, by car, through large swaths of Europe. I've cruised through two, sometimes three countries in one day, from one address to the next. From Rome to Prague, Amsterdam to Bucharest, Geneva to Venice, or longer distances, say, from Sicily to Paris, perhaps adding a ferry or a flight in between if the journey was extra long, like when traveling from Malta to Lyon. Then, a layover's necessary before arriving in Le Lumier.
Either with my husband, or alone, I like to drive. In Europe crossing her borders is so visually absorbing, impressions so vivid, sliding by, exposing her innermost cultural realities. Each entirely unique from the previous via the innocent act of riding from one road to the next, from one flag to another.
I'm always surprised more people don't rent a car when they travel to Europe. Just this past week I've driven from Piemonte to my in-laws near Nice - twice, it's only 3 hours each way and the drive is so pretty, it goes by so quick. I leave the house, drive along the vines that are well on their way here in Piemonte, cross through Hazelnut territory in Cortemelia, through Savona, arriving at the Med, which never disappoints. Then there's Liguria, which is long, e voila, you're in friendly France.
My in-laws are now in their mid 80's, still playing golf and traveling, enjoying life, which is nice because they've earned it.
Probably heading back soon enough...buy hey, next time you're here, think of renting a car, it makes all the difference.
My favorite butcher shop/macelleria, is located in Nizze Monferrato, called Vittoio e Loredana. In a world of change, this place hasn't, still packaging their meat with care, same as ever, since 1877.
Italians, like the French, care so deeply for food, and you see it on display, in places like this. Quality as good as any place on the planet.
Piemonte, the secret that needs to be told.
I may live in the middle of nowhere but everything appears to be here. Luciano, a neighbor, not only plays a harpsichord; he made it. As well as the salterio.
Nothing like a bit of medieval music before noon. So spiritual, alters the entire mood, as do these Italian artisans.
Outside our back door, in our sundaville plant, a nest is built. I wait and watch for two weeks while the sparrows jump in and out of the nest, across my lawn, swooping along the pool, while the eggs turn incandescent. Then they hatch.
Goethe on Nature: "She has no language or speech but she makes tongues and hearts through which she feels and speaks..."
I consider myself one of the least competent sailors to ever cross the Atlantic in my own sailboat ( at least I did it, right?) so it was great fun to sit next to one the world's best sailors and laugh about it...and yes, he just thought it was great that I did it...
And he brought a lovely bottle of Champagne...
Whenever I think I live in the middle of nowhere; I don't. There's a fest going on every single weekend, somewhere, nearby. Celebrating something, fantastic wine, food, life, anything and everything.
Even though our commune, our little town, is one of the tiniest around, everyone comes to our annual party, it's packed. Why, just because, it's magical.
Some of the most interesting people I've ever met either live here or pass through, not to mention the fact our commune's over 1400 years old.
Piemonte is the secret that needs to be told...
Calvino as a writer was himself tirelessly absorbed in minutiae (maxima in minimis, the smallest facts are the most significant)
for instance. Around Mr. Palomar's house there is a lawn. The lawn consists of three kinds of grasses. And weeds. Mr. Palomar is weeding. Why is he weeding? Pull up one weed and he immediately sees another, then another, and another. Mr. Palomar briefly flirts with what might be called a scientific census of the blades of grass, the intruding weeds, perhaps by sectioning off a single square meter of lawn and devoting himself to its study. But the boundaries of the imagined square meter burst. The lawn itself adjoins the wild. Artificial and natural merge. What is natural? What is artificial? Mr. Palomar's mind has wondered. He is trying to apply to the universe everything he has thought about the lawn, "the universe, collection of celestial bodies, nebulas, fine dust, force fields, intersections of fields, collections of collections..." The lawn is infinite.
And my lawn looks lush with all the recent rain, clouds giving cover, before all that Italian sun has its way...packed with wonderful weeds to make medicinal teas, like dente di leone and piloselle...
Ginestra in full bloom this time of year. Celebrated by Leopardi in the namesake poem “La Ginestra”, in Italian folklore the shrub is also known as “Christ’s whip”, due to the shape of its branches. Its blossoms and green shoots are said to have diuretic properties, and relieve cardiac oedema. Broom blossoms represent humility.
Lake Garda has been a home away from home ever since we sailed across the pond. The apartment is small, but perfect. However, just down from our place you'll find Lefay Resort. It's probably the most beautiful resort I've ever stayed at, but then, I'm biased when it comes to Lake Garda.
We stayed just for a couple of days, but that's all you need to clear the head at a place like this. It's relatively new, built in 2008, but what they did with the landscape, in that time, is unbelievably gorgeous. Highly recommend...it's expensive, but it was my guy's birthday and he wanted to go to Lefay.
It's been a long time since I pampered myself like this, when I was working full time, I'd take a week and hit the spa at least once a year. Places like La Costa in LA are fantastic, and the baths at Terme di Saturnia in Tuscany are extra special, but nothing quite like this...
It restores the faith, knowing within two weeks my brown lawn is now green again. Ten days ago is looked as if it was beyond repair. Sure, it took two cuttings, 3 days of concimi/fertilizer and lots of rain, but it's back. And it's beautiful. It happens so quickly. Thankfully spring is unfolding slowly, last year it seemed to pounce.
Opening the pool takes one very long day. Tarp has to come off. Tubes must be emptied, there's at least 18 surrounding the pool, keeping it secure throughout the long winters here in Piemonte, filling it up with fresh water from our pozzo/well takes another few hours. Cleaning and adding product is less than scientific because that's another one of my jobs.
As always; it's worth all the effort. Cycles and rituals, reminding me of time...
Went to hear David Byrne speak at Fondazione Prada in Milan last night.
Apparently Mr. Byrne needed a bit of self-therapy, what with all the despair and fear found in surround sound. So he started looking for positive movements and ideas, innovations and healing-through-music events, popping up across the globe.
It took time, but he found them. Without any hype, having little to do with his upcoming tour, he took his findings on a 5 or 6 city European tour this month.
The tickets are free, you just have to hear about it, trip over a hidden or cryptic notice, or hear it from a friend over the phone, as I did, say the day before. And show up, early.
I was lucky to get a ticket. I was happy to hear this guy, this unusual artist, not the sort accustomed to speaking quietly in front of 150 people, specifically in a museum like setting.
He was in serious mode, then he'd just laugh out loud, for no apparent reason. He was sartorially elegant, still boyishly handsome with his shock of white hair, holding a couple of notecards, flipping through a laptop, 'not' performing his own version of a ted talk.
He didn't jump around or try and get the audience engaged, in fact he didn't move at all. I suppose he just wanted to give himself and others, a 'reprieve from the madness'. He succeeded.
It's called "The Cheerfulness of Things". It was surprisingly short, and cheerful. I highly recommend checking him out online.