Today we’re taking a break from Tuscany to prepare you, the reader, for an awesome monthly experience of prizes and introductions to new Indie Authors. The holiday season is a perfect time for readers and writers to get to know each other.
Kay Macleod, an Indie author, is sponsoring the Indie Advent Calendar on her blog, which will feature authors and daily prizes. I’ve offered to giveaway (5) copies of my romantic comedy adventure, Fogged Up Fairy Tale. For a sneak peek at the daily features, stop on by her Program page to see the listed books.
The season has begun! Indies are getting into the spirit of the holidays!Join us for a month filled with Indie authors and prizes. A gamut of genres, you might just find a new favorite author, and if not, it is the season of giving. We’re all a bit naughty throughout the year, but sharing this with others just might get you on Santa’s ‘nice’ list. HO! HO! HO!
Remember, you can never have too many books! They are good for the soul!
In the first week of our vacation, after Siena, we did a day trip to Cortona, Le Celle, and Montepulciano. Cortona is small town set on top of a hill in the Chiana Valley, which offers great views of the valley and Lake Trasimeno. Dating back to Etruscan and Roman times, it’s a little slice of beautiful Tuscany with its remains from the Etruscan period. Outside these ancient walls is the house where they filmed, Under the Tuscan Sun. The restoration of the house was not done during filming, but in 2006. If you’d like to see the film’s version vs. what it looks like today, visit Hooked on Houses.
When we arrived, we parked down below and took an escalator and stairs up to the town.
A view from a small piazza where we entered the town.
Square in Cortona
Worn stone buildings balanced and jutting out up and around the city walls.
Taken from the ancient walls is a cemetery; the first big cemetery I’ve seen in Europe.
Not far from Cortona is Le Celle Hermitage, a Franciscan hermitage. St. Francis of Assisi and some of his followers built a few of the cells in 1211, which is how the place received its name. After the death of St. Francis, Brother Elia restored works to make sure the place remained property of the Franciscan order. He is believed to have broken stone from the cave to create a chapel, and behind it, the cell where St. Francis lived. As of today, seven friars inhabit the place, practicing St. Francis’s teachings.
Here are a few pictures of the grounds.
Stairs leading up to the church and cell where St. Francis lived.
The cell is small, so I was only able to get half of it.
And Shakespeare stepping on Martin’s aunt’s foot.
From the monastery, we drove south to another small town called, Montepulciano, also located on a hilltop with panoramic views. Famous for its wines, one can always self-medicate any aches and pains from walking the steep streets with a few glasses. Montepulciano dates back to the 4th Century B.C. It suffered during the 13th Century from the struggles between historical enemies, Florence and Siena for the land. The center of commercial and artistic life helped establish Monte Pio in 1467, the first bank in the world.
The town is a great place for anyone wanting to learn about the Renaissance Period. Unfortunately, we didn’t do much research prior to going so we didn’t capture the prime places of the town.
A statue of a horse at the front of the city.
Inside one of the wine stores, we took a free tour underneath it that consisted of old artifacts and the wine barrels used to store their wine.
A lamp store
We arrived in the mid-afternoon, so it was perfect for panoramic views of the sunset
Another end to a fabulous Tuscan day. Stay tuned for a couple more posts of our Tuscan travels.
Tuscany and Nature,
Enjoy some Parmigianino cheese, olives, and a glass of Chianti.
To those in the States, have a safe and filling Thanksgiving.
Are you ready for some history accompanied by pictures? Well then, get yourself a cup of tea, coffee, or if it’s that time, something a bit stronger and relax as I take you through some hidden Tuscany gems. This journey will be in a few parts. I tried to narrow it down the best I could regarding the pictures, and choosing those that represent the places we visited, along with objects or people as well.
Our road trip started from western Germany, heading south toward Austria, and then Italy—approximately a 15-hour drive. We arrived in the evening, so the later part of the journey through the mountains was in the dark, and when I say dark, I mean dark. There are no street lights to guide you on the narrow roads. And, as a warning, drive at your own risk. I believe Italian drivers consider speed limits are suggestions.
After a good night’s sleep, we woke to a sunny Tuscany. This is the place and area where we stayed.
We chose the town of Poppi in the Province of Arezzo, which is on the eastern side of Tuscany; east of Florence and Northeast of Siena. I pictured rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves, but Tuscany is more than that. Poppi is rugged with mountains and forests, whereas other parts of Tuscany taper off into the vineyards and olive groves. Ruled by the Guidi Family from the early 1000’s until 1289, Poppi’s medieval town still embraces years gone by.
First mention of the Castle of Poppi was in 1169. A picture of an older couple looking out onto the hills
This man was painting over old lettering. I don’t know if this is a craft or what the process is called.
The next day we decided to do some hiking in the Pratomagno mountain range. The Arno River runs on both sides of this range and its highest peak is approximately 5,226 feet. Of course, we drove through the mountain range and walked 600 feet up.
This is my husband, his aunt, and Shakespeare hiking up the mountain.
And this is what we were walking toward.
There were wild horses roaming around. To my surprise, they were friendly and kept following my husband’s aunt because she had an apple in her backpack.
We did a day trip to Siena, which is about 2 hours from Poppi. The historic center is part of the the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like many areas in Tuscany, Siena was first settled by Etruscans, approximately around 900 BC, by a tribe called the Saina. Local legend believes the town was founded by Senius and Aschius, who were the nephews of Romulus whom Rome was named after. They fled Rome after Romulus killed their father. This pottery store was built within a cave. This is a sculpture on the wall. This is the University’s courtyard. And last, a tired Shakespeare ready to crash in the car.
And this ends this part of our trip. Stay tuned for a few more Tuscany travel posts.