Thursday, 12 November 2015

Rome days 3 & 4

The next two days were spent mainly walking around the city to see what we could find! The weather remained very warm and sunny and we were surprised at how many tourists there were at that time of the year. While not crowded, it was very busy everywhere.

There are major works being carried out in the general
area of the colosseum  - which had its own works going on
with large areas covered in scaffolding.

It was the 11th November, so there was a remembrance event.

Another lovely path along the river - completely deserted.

When we first saw this artwork on some steps in Trastevere, we couldn't get a photo and walked back to try & get one. Regrettably a car had been parked at the bottom of the steps and this was the best I could get of the very impressive portrait.

Public transport is very well used in Rome and trams/busses/metro are usually full.

A coat of paint on the front door becomes a major job when the
doors are this size!

A very smart entrance to some B&B accommodation.

At Pyramid station, there is a tiny museum with old rolling stock from one of the suburban
lines into Rome from the Lido on the coast. You could go inside this carriage and it
was pretty basic to say the least. I like the little post box on the side of the train.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Rome, first 2 days.

Plenty of walking around the city, not just to see the traditional sights but to get more of a flavour of the Rome the locals know.

The hotel had a spectacular vine growing up the wall

A forest of aerials!

The Tiber - it is quite extraordinary how they do not make anything of their river in the way London and Paris do. The paths, where there are any, are deserted & we didn't see a single boat.

A different advert for a plant nursery that was behind the wall.

The deserted Tiber again, even though this was quite an attractive stretch of the river.

Part of the market in Campo di Fiori - which is much more commercial than when we last in Rome, some 25 years ago.

These two were very full of themselves, although we didn't find out what they do.

The almost obligatory chestnut sellers were all over the city.

Sunset along Via Condotti - the posh shopping street.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Truffle Festival at San Giovani d'Asso

Every year the small town of San Giovani d'Asso holds a truffle festival over two weekends. This year the weather was sunny and very hot and there were lots of people attending. There is a special train from Siena which comes for the event and is hauled by a steam engine with six very old, third class, wooden seated carriages - and the passengers have spent nearly three hours on the train as it makes it's way through Tuscany.

The steam train from Siena rolls into San Giovani station.

There were a number of people in period costume on the train, who had been playing in a band on the train - some are seen here posing by the engine.

Much as I appreciate steam engines, this would have been a very hot, dirty & uncomfortable trip for the crew.

A local company producing high quality olive oil runs a pop-up restaurant for the festival. We had lunch there and sat right by the chefs. Here one is seen grating truffle onto a dish of pasta - and very good it was too!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Truffle Hunting, Vergelle.

On our third day, Peter & I were very privileged to go hunting for truffles with a professional hunter, Helen. Her family own several large areas of land and so hunting is not allowed for anyone other than the family. Helen's father and brother also hunt there for truffles. She took two of her four specially trained dogs, a breed from Emilia Romagna, around Bologna. The white one is called Cisco & the black one Gretta.
A very interesting morning spent in beautiful, autumnal, Tuscany countryside.

The first find of the morning and it only took about 10 minutes to find. Then Cisco sniffs them out and starts to dig for them, Helen has to be very quick to stop her and look in the hole  and dig by hand to see if there is a truffle, and exactly where it is. If you sniff a handful of soil, you can smell the truffle quite strongly.

The first one is found. You would never find one without the dogs - they are constantly sniffing the ground as you walk along and cover a very wide area quite quickly.

With the first one in the little sack, the dogs get a reward of a biscuit.

And another!

These signs are all around their land, this one had fallen down, but the message is clear in any language!

Another, good sized, truffle.

The simple tool is used a lot. the truffles are frequently growing amongst root systems and can be hard to retrieve. The tool will cut through roots etc., and make it easier to find and to take out of the soil

Truffles are found anywhere from just under the surface to 30cm deep - Cisco makes very light work of digging deeper.

Some of Helen's truffles with a cigarette packet for size comparison. It is a valuable day's work as they fetch up to €2,400 per kilo.

In the afternoon, we went to San Quirico and passed there trees - an iconic Tuscan landmark, with the sun moments from setting leaving long shadows and a warm light.

Locals waiting for the evening passeggiata to begin.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Tuscany, day 2

Day 2 and we visited San Quirico val d'Orcia, Monticchiello and Pienza. A very sunny, warm day - 20C

Our friend's olive trees and a good crop of olives - which will be turned into oil.

The view across to Montalcino, on the hill in the distance.

Another Fiat 500, in very good condition.

We had lunch on th terrace in Monticchiello and the waiter is seen 
selecting some wine on our way through.

The afternoon sun is just catching the top of this vine, giving a beautiful light.
One of the classic Tuscan landscapes with an evening sun casting long shadows.

These three images are of the Peccora (sheep) on the farm next to Our friend's villa. I have never seen new born lambs in November before! These were a few minutes old.
It was just after sunset, hence the odd lighting.