Tag Archives: Lake Trasimeno

Soundtrack Of A Holiday

Brando Lives On! Florence,Rocking Dog

Brando Lives On! Florence

Having just arrived back from Umbria I still haven’t been able to rid myself of the soundtrack of the holiday! Do you find that there is always a tune that is playing whenever you jiggle radio stations, or step into bars or cafes? Often these songs are slightly annoying or indeed very annoying. In years to come you hear the tune again and it immediately transports you back to the holiday destination where you couldn’t help humming or singing it at full pelt. Our soundtrack this autumn in Umbria was somewhat embarrassedly Bruno Mars’s “Versace on the Floor”! Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” takes me to my teenage French exchange trip and to a cafe with a juke box. Newquay, “I’m In Mood For Dancing” by the Nolans, and my first holiday with Andyman in Umbria (1981) Barclay James Harvest’s album “Eyes of the Universe”. There were holidays with The Proclaimers “Lord, I Want To Be a Christian”, All Saints with “Never Ever” and The Bangles “Eternal Flame”etc.. I expect it will be a few days before I lose Versace from my head. Very hopefully I won’t lose the memory of our girls dancing around the Umbrian kitchen with baby Doug’in arms!

We found our Umbrian garden incredibly parched and somewhat resembling Little House on the Prairie. We have been reassured that our “grass” will somehow green up again. The poor Italians have had a scorchingly hot year and it has had a devastating effect on the crops. Vines hung heavy with fruit which I photographed last year tell a very different story this autumn. It has been difficult for the locals to irrigate crops and many wells have completely dried up. In our garden we are lucky to have some olives to pick when the start of November comes. There was leaf clearing to do and a pomegranate and fig tree to plant. Thankfully heavy rains came on our last day and watered those tender new trees. Alas with all the botanical tidying there was no hammock swinging, no sitting in my oak leaved reading nook and no star gazing. One day!

Wonderfully there were little toes in the pool, an inflatable avocado, some luxuriating, and serious lengths done in the cool of the pool.

There were vintage linens to launder and dry in the sun, a chimney to chat about for the woodburning stove, and lovely food to eat both at home and away.

Liv’ and I ventured to Florence and we all loved the lake (Trasimeno) especially the bonfire set up for a wedding. There were delicious custard filled Aragosta’s (lobster claws) to eat, thank you Michele, and refreshing Aperol Spritz’s to drink at Bar Gallo in Panicale. There is the small matter now of working off all that delicious Vongole and Scampi Gnocchi eaten at da Massimo’s! Why is Umbrian food just SO delicious?!

It really is lovely to be back to the green of England in September, with fresh inspiration for new projects.

Have a great week Rocking Dog x

PS Happy 30th Birthday to our boy Alex’. Have a wonderful time celebrating in France. At least there is no embarrassing cake today Alex! In a year gone by (16 years ago) I was seriously inspired by a trip to Amsterdam, in particular a visit to De Taart Van M’n Tante (My Aunt’s Tart). Many of their cakes were bold and risque. What possessed me to think it was appropriate to send a boxed cake with Alex on a geography school trip which was topped by a rubber gimp doll?! Sorry Alex.

Apartment In The Sky,Rocking Dog

Apartment In The Sky

Tiny Toes,Rocking Dog

Tiny Toes

On Dry Land,Rocking Dog

On Dry Land

Vintage Laundry,Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

There Will Be Oil!,Rocking Dog

There Will Be Oil!

Chimney Chat,Rocking Dog

Chimney Chat

Down At The Lake,Rocking Dog

Down At The Lake

Cake Break,Rocking Dog

Cake Break

Planting For The Future,Rocking Dog

Planting For The Future

Our Very Own Olive Trees

Centuries Old Olives, Rocking Dog

Centuries Old Olives

Buongiorno from Rocking Dog! Anyone who knows me will know of the passion Andyman and I have for picking olives. For the last five years we have had the amazing privilege to stay with our gorgeous friends in Umbria and to help them pick their olives. They have generously shared their unctuous green and delicious olive oil, shared their friends, and shared all their favourite places with us. It’s been a truly wonderful way to see in the winter. Thank you Baz & Dee, together with Derek and kitty holding Wendy. xxxx

So….when the rare opportunity arose to buy a little property just across the path from our hosts, it was just simply too tempting! In the last sun setting days of August, Andyman and I found ourselves in the Notary’s office  in Castiglione del Lago to listen to twelve pages of deeds read in Italian, and then translated and read in English. There was even a special deed relating to the ancient pizza oven and the stone built laundry shed! We are now the excited owners of a bijoux  two bedded apartment a few minutes drive from Lake Trasimeno. Set in a small friendly village with one bar and one well stocked shop it’s not for those lusting after a noisy vibrant clubbing scene! The one bar is more likely to be the scene of a group of locals contemplating the first mushroom, the vines or the olive harvest. All these contemplations are done whilst nursing  a singular small beer over a card hand.

Andyman and I adore the peace, the starry skies, the food, local festivals, markets and the local wines. Then there is always the continuing exploration of charming sunbaked medieval hilltop towns.

Rome can be reached by train in 2 hours and Florence 1 1/2 hours. The beautiful cities of Cortona, Sienna, Arezzo and Perugia are even closer. For the athletic there is mountain biking, wake boarding, golf, a host of activities on the lake and even a  small water park for kids or those adults who simply don’t want to grow up!  Lazy days can be spent crossing the lake to one of the islands for lunch or simply staying at “home” by the pool. Gently swinging in a hammock or swing chair contemplating the views is always a blissful prospect after the bustle of a busy market trip.

I think visits to Medieval hilltop towns will have to wait for a little while, there is a large garden to tend, and living space which needs a Rocking Dog stamp put on it! There is also the small matter of the 2016 olive crop to pick, including six old trees of our own.

Andyman and I are so looking forward to sharing Number 5 with friends and family. We hope that we too can treat our guests to freshly brewed coffee and Panettone before they arise, and then to  share with them the numerous delights of Umbria and bordering Tuscany.

We are looking to do holiday lets for our little piece of paradise in 2017, so please contact us if you would like further details. lizferg@btinternet.co.uk

Stansted-Perugia (45 min drive to No 5) Bristol-Pisa (Approx 2 hours drive to No 5). Rome and other  Italian airports are also definite possibilities.

The biggest challenge lies ahead…..to learn Italian. A linguist I am not, but I really can’t get by with Ciao bella and Grazie forever!

....& Ancient Oak, Rocking Dog

….& Ancient Oak

Bijoux Upstairs Pad!, Rocking Dog

Bijoux Upstairs Pad!

Before Renovation, Rocking Dog

Before Renovation

Table For Two, Rocking Dog

Table For Two

Twilight Dip, Rocking Dog

Twilight Dip

Poolside View, Rocking Dog

Poolside View

Room With A View, Rocking Dog

Room With A View

Vintage Laundry, Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

Village Shop....., Rocking Dog

Village Shop…..

& Village Bar, Rocking Dog

& Village Bar

Local Hilltop Town, Rocking Dog

Local Hilltop Town

Lovely Lake, Rocking Dog

Lovely Lake

Local Crop, Rocking Dog

Local Crop

For The Athletic, Rocking Dog

For The Athletic

....& The Passionate Cake Eater!, Rocking Dog

….& The Passionate Cake Eater!

Feeling The Heat In Umbria

Umbrian Sunset, Rocking Dog

Umbrian Sunset

We certainly did feel the heat in Umbria over the weekend. With temperatures in the high 30’s and tipping into the 40’s, it was meltingly hot! I certainly feel more in control of my complex heat regulatory system in the spring or early winter in Umbria. A siesta is an essential part of Italian life, shutters close, shops close up, streets empty, market stallholders pack up, and the nation sleeps or eats, converses or rests.

After a truly delicious lunch under a leafy sun dappled pergola with our hosts, we sought refuge from the searing midday sun. Lloyd Loom chairs in a cool stone portico allowed us to stay outside, but inside. Incidentally, the lunch platter was amazing and included grilled lemon leaf wrapped Scormoza (a smoked mozzarella style cheese). Tomatoes, Parma ham, Ligurian olives, melon, figs and other Italian yumminess made the 4.30am dash to Bristol Airport absolutely worthwhile.

The landscape of Umbria in summer is so very different from that of the beloved olive picking season (late October/early November). The noise of happy and busy Cicada’s fills the air from the time the sun climbs into the sky until the air cools after dusk. Umbrian gardens’ are filled with fragrant lavender, Oleanders, Jasmine and showy Agapanthus. Meanwhile, fields are burgeoning with crops of towering Sunflowers, maize and wheat. Vegetable crops depend on lavish and frequent watering, and tomato plants do not require the protection of glass houses. Swallows swoop down over the pool refreshing their busy sculptural wings. Lizards bask in the sunshine, enjoying the warmth of the thyme frilled paving. Any interruption, and they dart into cool dark crevices seeking solace and protection.

Olives are tiny, they have four long months to plump up, blacken and ripen. The promise of a plentiful harvest is the hope of the entire nation. Nets will be unrolled and laid out, rakes and crates will be gathered, and the camaraderie of another olive picking season will begin.

Monday and Tuesday bought unrelenting heat. The only tangiable escape was to stay in the pool… or to retreat to the house.

A late afternoon stroll in the local hill top town of Panicale took us through shaded winding streets. I loved the tiled orange Madonna and child gracing one of the towns’ houses, its colours seemed to echo the heat of the day. Aperol Spritz’s were enjoyed in the town square- Umbrian sunshine in a glass!

Monday evening and with temperatures gently dwindling, we ventured out to a Lakeside caff’for food. Knowledge of the ordering system was preferable, if not essential. Pull ticket, await number call, hurriedly select food from a large covered glass cabinet. Steak, Calimari, battered vegetables, torte and non battered vegetables chosen, most were given a fiery baptism over charred wood. Another counter, another function, order and collect wine. Other counters, other functions, puddings, cheese, gelato. Pay. Head out to a Pine canopied lake view, tear your own tablecloth from banqueting roll. Eat, chat and watch the sun go down. Total cost about 45 euro’s for the four of us! Sunset truly beautiful and priceless, no digital retouching whatsoever required.

Fleeting visit, hospitable friends, lovely food and gorgeous scenery, molten temperatures and heat filled lethargy!

Welcome Lunch, Rocking Dog

Welcome Lunch

Seeking Shade, Rocking Dog

Seeking Shade

A Dip Perhaps?, Rocking Dog

A Dip Perhaps?

Orange Madonna, Rocking Dog

Orange Madonna

Orange Drink, Rocking Dog

Orange Drink

Busy Bees!, Rocking Dog

Busy Bees!

Lakeside Transport Caf', Rocking Dog

Lakeside Transport Caf’

Golden Veg', Rocking Dog

Golden Veg’

Moonlight Dip Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Moonlight Dip Anyone?