Paris in Winter Part Two: A Left Bank Neighborhood Walk
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
1w ago
The Abbey of St. Germain de Prés, Paris One of the best things to do in Paris is to simply wander the neighborhoods, each of which has its own unique atmosphere and history.  And while there are museums, churches, galleries, and famous sights to see in each neighborhood, there is also joy to be found in skipping all of those in favor of a slow amble, basically aimless, just to get a feel for an area.  And that is pretty much what I did on a day of wandering in Paris. One of the many bridges across the Seine. This one connects the Île de la Cité with the Latin Quarter on the Left Ba ..read more
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Paris in Winter (Part One)
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
2w ago
The Eiffel Tower on a cold winter day Paris in winter.  Yes, it is cold.  Very cold!  A bit gray.  Sometimes misty and rainy.  But still - it’s Paris and less crowded than in peak season.  And, as the saying goes, Paris is always a good idea! With that in mind, I recently packed my warmest coat, gloves, scarf, hat, even my winter-silk long underwear. Then I grabbed a friend and jumped on a flight from Florence to Paris for a long weekend of fun, French style. Walking across some of Paris’s ornate bridges was definitely on my must-do list. Here, the view towards ..read more
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Inspiration from an Italian Spice Market: Chai
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
3w ago
Does anything taste better on a cold winter afternoon than a cup of chai? Hot, peppery, spicy, sweet, milky - it is the perfect winter warm up. Brewed Chai is not a typical offering in Italy, and the available Chai tea bags just don’t approach the taste of the real thing. There was only one solution, I needed to learn to brew it myself ! A trip to an outdoor holiday market in December gave me just the inspiration I needed to work on my chai brewing skills. A big basket of star anise and another of tiny cubes of candied ginger first caught my eye. There were also displays of cinnamon sticks, w ..read more
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Paris at Christmas
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
1M ago
A Christmas Carousel at the Tuileries Garden Christmas Market, the largest Christmas Market in Paris. One last holiday post – this time from Paris!   Traditional Yule logs in a Paris Bakery Paris is magical at any time of year, but especially so during the Christmas season.  There are beautifully decorated shop windows, sparkling lights all around the city, and an abundance of Christmas markets.  Add in the Eiffel Tower, a museum visit, stunning Parisian architecture, and wonderful French delicacies in pastry shops around town and it is all pretty perfect.  Along wit ..read more
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Changing Seasons in Tuscany: Autumn into Winter
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
2M ago
A foggy November evening along Lucca’s historic walls. Sometimes the calendar plays tricks.  October, an autumn month, seemed more like late summer in Tuscany this year.  The temperatures were mild, there was plenty of sunshine, and outdoor cafes were still in full swing.  It was hard to even imagine cold weather. Blue skies and fall color along Lucca’s walls. Colorful umbrellas brighten dreary days. But then the end of daylight savings time arrived, bringing shorter days and early nightfall. By mid-November temperatures were much cooler and the rains began.  This should ..read more
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Making Pici at Cretaiole
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
2M ago
Our pici making group at Cretaiole One of the highlights of any week spent at Agriturismo Cretaiole is the Pici class. Pici are strands of hand-rolled pasta, a sort of fat spaghetti, common in the part of Tuscany in and around the Val d’Orcia. At Cretaiole, be prepared to don an apron and participate! And bring an appetite for the big group dinner that takes place after the work of pici making is done. Nicco teaching us how to make pici Nicco Moricciani is the grandson of Luciano, Cretaiole’s founder, and the son of Carlo who tends the vines and olives. Nicco has recently taken over teaching ..read more
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An Autumn Weekend in Pontremoli
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
2M ago
Fall color along the Torrente Verde in Pontremoli For 5 days at the end of October and beginning of November my Italian hometown of Lucca hosts the huge Lucca Comics and Games event.   Picture 75,000+ people a day descending on the small, walled city and a series of white tents lining the historic walls and filling the piazzas.   It is an important economic event for the city and a big deal for afficionados of costumes, gaming, anime, superheroes and the like.  Lots of people love it, but for some of us it is simply crowds and chaos.  This year, after two pandemi ..read more
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The Rasponi Gardens in Ravenna
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
3M ago
Cripta Rasponi e Giardini Pensile, Ravenna With all of the important historic sights and stunning mosaics to see in Ravenna it is important to take some time out. A stop for a coffee or a leisurely lunch provides time to reflect and organize one’s impressions and memories. Even better is to stop by a pretty garden for a few moments of quiet between all the monuments. On a recent trip to Ravenna, two small gardens provided a much needed break in my sightseeing. Both were created by the Rasponi family, who were important economic and political forces in the years between the 1500’s and 1800’s ..read more
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Agriturismo Cretaiole and Luciano's Farm
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
3M ago
Sunrise at Cretaiole. The valley below is filled with early morning fog and the bell tower of Pienza can be seen across the valley. It’s definitely worth getting up early for this view! Some places, and some people, are special.  Agriturismo Cretaiole is one such place and Luciano Moricciani, its founder, is the special person who started it all.  Son Carlo and grandson Nicco, both of whom are pretty special too, have taken over much of the day-to-day operations at the Cretaiole with the help of the delightful Fernanda who is a whiz at organizing everything for guests. But it is Luc ..read more
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Ravenna Part Two: Basilica di San Vitale and the Galla Placidia Mausoleum
Two Parts Italy
by Joanne Bartram
3M ago
This week, more about Ravenna and another two of the city’s important historical sites. One is quite small and the other much larger. First, the smaller of the two, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Galla Placidia, born around 390 AD, was the daughter of a Roman Emperor (Theodosius I) and wife to both Ataulf, king of the Visigoths, and the Roman Emperor Constantius III. She was also the mother of an emperor. She was powerful in her own right, playing a major role in Roman life and politics. Her contributions to society included construction and restoration of churches, including the mausoleum ..read more
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