Trippin’ to Tuscany – Part 2

This week is a continuation of our Tuscany Trip. If you haven’t already, head on over to the Trippin’ to Tuscany – Part 1.

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

Alleyway exhibition of moccasins by Sara Lovari.

A planter outside a Gelato Café

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.

Splendid architecture.

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,
Baer Necessities

Enjoy some Parmigianino cheese, olives, and a glass of Chianti.

To those in the States, have a safe and filling Thanksgiving.

Trippin’ to Tuscany – Part 1

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.

Tuscany and Nature,
Baer Necessities

Food: Beef Barley Vegetable Soup
Daily Funny:Image result for funny thanksgiving










Adventures in Germany

Today we’re taking a break from the written word. I’ll be sharing some random pictures from a few explorations we did this year in Germany.

In August, we took an English walking tour in Cologne. It was great because we were the only people who showed up-our own private tour.

 Then we went to a British Flair in Krefeld.

And last month, we were spooked in a haunted zoo.

What interesting things have you done this year?

Life Experiences,
Baer Necessities




Plenty to Do—Plenty to See

Today’s a continuation to our summer vacation in South Wales, UK. If you didn’t get a chance to stop by last week, you can check out Oh How Lovely to start at the beginning of our journey.

Not far from our cottage was the Carreg Cennen Castle. I never tire of castles. While I roam the ruins, I think back to those difficult times, how much manpower was needed to build and protect, and how easily one fell prey to punishment.

This castle was one of the more impressive ones. At the site of the castle, remains had been uncovered dating human activity to prehistoric times. It’s assumed the first structure built here was around 1197. Due to feuds and wars, including the Wars of the Roses, for control over England, the castle endured damaged. During the Roses’ War, the Lancastrian (House of Lancaster) took hold of it, but a York (House of York) force won the battle and demolished it with 500 men.

We had to keep Shakespeare outside the fenced in area or he would have gone after every lamb. This is a result of his carrying on, wanting to get to them. They ran up on the hill and looked down at the little crazy creature barking at them.

An interesting bit of information about the Carreg Cennen Castle. The second Earl Cawdor owned the castle and began renovations in the 19th century. Ownership shifted to the Morris family, who owns the farmland near the castle. In the 1960s, Cawdor’s legal team worded the deed wrong, including the castle as part of the farm. Today, Margaret and Bernard Llewellyn privately own the castle as they collect 5 English Pounds for every person interested in seeing it.

Our next big adventure was through the Brecon Beacons National Park. These are mountain ranges within the central Beacons and the Black Mountains to the east and west, which make up the National Park.

In the 2000s, on one of the hills, a barrow was excavated. Using Carbon dating, they tested the ashes in the cist, which dated to around 2000 BC. The Beacons have many walking paths and roads that curve in and around the hills. Livestock wanders and grazes.

Here we visited the ruins of Talley Abbey. The White Canons (Premonstratensians) Order was established in 1120. They founded this monastery in 1185. In 1193, the Cistercians began an unholy war because they were envious of the Talley estate. Due to the order being broke, the church wasn’t completed; only the graveled area of the church.

The rest of the pictures were taken in the car, driving back to the chunnel. The first is a tree with feet and the others are from a town called Mayfield.

And that wraps up our vacation pictures.

Where did you vacation this summer? Or do you have any trips planned in the near future?

Outdoors, Old, and Preserved,
Baer Necessities







Oh How Lovely!

That’s how it was in the UK. It also is what a Welshman said to me when he asked the name of our dog. When I said, “Shakespeare,” he responded, “Oh how lovely!” I couldn’t help but smile after that response.

Between my husband and me, we took over 500 pictures during out South Wales vacation. Instead of putting you to sleep, I thought I’d share only a few pictures with you. This will probably turn into a two-week share.

For those who don’t know, we went to South Wales, UK for vacation this summer. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the best but we still enjoyed ourselves. My husband is so wonderful. He did all the driving since I don’t know how to drive a manual (which I hate) car. I’m hoping we get an automatic car next year. Anyways, we drove from our place through the Netherlands, Belgium, and into France. From there, we took the Chunnel from Calais, France to the Cliffs of Dover, UK.

Before arriving at the Chunnel, we stopped at a coastal town in France called Escalles. The first picture is of a WWII bunker in a field. The next is a cross on the side of the road in Escalles, and the third is the beach.

We finally made it to the Chunnel—the 31 mile train that runs underneath the English Channel from Calais, France to Dover, UK.

Once we arrived in the UK and a good night’s sleep, we decided to explore before arriving at our destination. We drove through the Cotswolds known for its villages and historical towns made of stone. Take a peek at a few towns we stopped by; Burford and Lower Slaughters.

On our first full day in South Wales, we went on a waterfall walk. The area was beautiful, but extremely muddy. Good thing we brought our boots, although Shakespeare looked like he was dipped in ink.

We traveled to the coastal area to Cardigan Bay and walked along the Ceredigion Coast. There were several rainy days on our trip.

While driving around, we came across several reservoirs, and browsed a few towns. The first two pictures are by a reservoir, and the second is the Brecon canal in the town of Brecon.

I thought I’d end this post with another beautiful waterfall.

Stay tuned for next week, when we explore a castle and the Brecon Beacons.

Nature and Appreciation,
Baer Necessities