parcheggio Italiano

It’s no secret that driving in Italy is not for the faint-hearted. It is fast, crazy and a lot of fun. Parking in Italy is something else, an art form that takes years to perfect. The rules are quite simple and the zones are colour coded to assist the unwitting tourist. Blue zones are for paid parking, you can buy your ticket from the machine, display it on your dashboard and be sure to return to your vehicle in the allotted time frame. Alternatively, you can purchase a disco orario, a blue disc that represents a clock, from a bank, tourist office, post office or tobacconist (except for the bank we went into, although the lovely ladies wrote a note in Italian for us to use in place of a disc). You set the hands to show the time you arrived and you can park for free, usually for 2 hours. Parking is free in blue zones during lunch time and on Sundays. Having said all that, it seems parking within the lines is optional.

1.Le Grazie2.Pienza

7.Grotte di Castro

White lines mean parking is free but there may be time limits. If this is the case, it is a good idea to display the time you arrived on your blue disc. Travel advice warns that it is essential to park within the lines to avoid a fine, however, free spaces are often limited and so, creativity prevails.

8.Seggiano9.Orvieto10.Orvieto

It seems to be universal that parking areas marked with a yellow line are reserved for handicapped drivers and delivery zones.

11.Acquapendente

Some towns have pink spaces especially for expectant mothers and those with infants. Parking is not permitted in green zones on working days between 8 – 9.30am and 2.30 – 4pm. Often, there are no parking squares marked and it seems to be a free-for-all.

12.Grotte di Castro

It only takes one to start a trend. Don’t let a roundabout on the main thoroughfare deter you, just follow where others have led.

13.Le Grazie14.Le Grazie15.Le Grazie

If there is no parking spot available, just leave the car in close proximity to your destination in the knowledge that passing motorists will avoid your vehicle.

16.Acquapendente

17.Pitigliano

If all else fails, don’t even pretend to look for a parking spot, just leave the Mercedes in the middle of the road while you go about your business.

22.Pitigliano

If your neighbour encroaches on your space, you are entitled to squeeze him out.

23.Orvieto

Sometimes there are zones that are just too confusing, the colours are random and there is no indication of time limits. This is what you do.

24.Acquapendente

Lake Plimsoll

Our trip to Pumphouse Point earlier this year gave us the opportunity to travel a road we hadn’t been before. Anthony Road, built as part of the Hydro Tasmania scheme, leaves the A10 five kilometres south of Tullah and reconnects just north of Queenstown. I had been advised by a work colleague to stop at Lake Plimsoll lookout for some spectacular views, it was very good advice.

1.Lake Plimsoll

In 1994, the Anthony River was dammed by the Hydro-Electric Commission and the 340 hectare lake was created.

2.Lake Plimsoll

Named for Sir James Plimsoll, the Governor of Tasmania from 1982 to 1987, it was the last major dam constructed by the Commission.

3.Lake Plimsoll

Beyond the lake lies the Tyndall Range, an area marked by the course of  glaciers in the last Ice Age. It seems fitting that it is named in honour of Irish physicist Professor John Tyndall, who had a special interest in glacier motion.

4.Tyndall Range

The sharp peaks of the range contrast with the gentle arch of Mount Tyndall, composed of Owen conglomerate from the Ordovician era, about 480 million years ago.

5.Mount Tyndall

We wandered down to the water’s edge, the sunlight sparkled on the surface. Stocked with brook trout, the lake is a popular fishing spot. I can imagine spending a few hours afloat, though I prefer the company of a good book to a fishing rod.

6.Lake Plimsoll

Ponte a Moriano

An easy walk from Villa Boccella, the lovely town of Ponte a Moriano had everything we could possibly need. A butchers shop,

1.Macelleria Pierotti

bakery with stupendous custard tarts

as well as another pastry shop we didn’t sample.

4.Pasticceria Furio

On the opposite side was a rather impressive gelataria that we again, sadly, didn’t try.

5.Gelateria Sauro

Further down the road was a bar next to a small supermarket

and heading out of town, the Melody Caffè advertised live music along with good food, beer and wine.

8.Melody Caffè

Of course, the collection would be incomplete without a $2 shop or, in this case, a €1 & €2 shop.

9.Uno,Due Shop

A very unassuming façade disguised the presence of a fabulous restaurant, Da Pinzo, where we enjoyed a delicious meal or two.

10.Da Pinzo

Tuesday was market day and we wandered down to Piazza Cesare Battisti on a beautiful, sunny morning to see what was on offer. There were colourful plants

and clothing

and more plants

and vegetables.

Satisfied with our purchases, we explored the town further and came across an old wall with steps that led to the other side.

21.old wall22.old wall23.old wall

From the top of the wall we could see the Ponte di Sant’Ansano. The bridge was built in 1828 to replace the original medieval wooden structure, built in 1115, that was destroyed by floods in 1819.

24.Ponte di Sant’Ansano

Ponte a Moriano means, ‘bridge in the Moriano locality’ but the actual bridge is named after Saint Ansano, the patron saint of Siena who died in 304 AD. In the centre of the bridge, there is a statue of the Virgin and Saint Ansano.

25.statues of the Virgin and Saint Ansano

The view downstream is peaceful, the gentle sound of water tumbling over rocks a salve for the soul.

26.Serchio River27.Serchio River28.Serchio River

This lovely home has prime position.

29.riverside house

Once across the bridge,

30.Ponte di Sant’Ansano

we could look back at the town and the riverside homes upstream.

31.Ponte a Moriano32.Ponte a Moriano33.potting shed

The magnificent Convento dell’Angelo was clearly visible, the white walls contrasting vividly with the green of the hillside.

34.Serchio River upstream

The church and adjoining monastery was built in the 1820s for the Passionist Fathers and is now home to the Academy of Montegral.

35.Convento dell'Angelo

There were so many things to appreciate in Ponte a Moriano, one that really stole our hearts was this little Fiat. I want one.

Guinness is good for you

I was never really keen on Guinness before our trip to Ireland but I certainly developed a taste for the dark brew while I was there. To consolidate my learning experience, our first port of call in Dublin was the Guinness Storehouse. There was no shortage of signage to help us find the door.

The building was constructed in 1902 as a fermentation plant for the St. James’s Gate Brewery and was used for this purpose until 1988 when a new fermentation plant was completed.

2.nearly there

Converted to the Guinness Storehouse in 1997, there are now seven floors to explore surrounding a glass atrium in the shape of a pint glass. It is the largest beer glass in the world and would take 14.3 million pints to fill.

4.made it

Starting the self-guided tour on the ground floor, we were introduced to the four ingredients in beer; water, barley, hops and yeast. Contrary to popular belief, Guinness is not made from Liffey water even though the brewery is right there on the banks of the river. The crystal clear water is pumped from the Wicklow mountains to the south.

5.Wicklow waterfall6.Wicklow waterfall

Roasted malted barley gives Guinness its dark colour and unique flavours, along with a generous helping of hops.

7.hops

The extra ingredient in Guinness, the fifth, is the most important. In 1752, Arthur Guinness inherited £100 from his godfather and set up his own ale brewery in County Kildare. Seven years later, he moved to Dublin to try his luck, signed a 9,000 year lease on a property at St. James’s Gate and the rest is, as they say, history.

8.to Arthur

As our tour continued through the other floors, we passed copper fermenting tanks

9.Copper

and an old copper lid that was installed in the Guinness Park Royal Brewery when it opened in 1936.

10.Copper lid

Kegs travelled past on a conveyor belt

11.kegs on conveyer belt

and barrels were stacked, full of the famous brew.

12.barrels

A whole floor was dedicated to the world of advertising.

13.advertising

The Guinness harp was adopted in 1862 and is modelled on the 15th century Gaelic harp displayed at Trinity College in Dublin. It faces right instead of left to differentiate from the Irish coat of arms.

14.harp

We reached Nirvana on the seventh floor, the Gravity Bar, with fabulous views of Dublin and a free pint of nectar. We had heard that Guinness tastes better in Ireland, particularly in Dublin. Why is this so? One theory is that it is always fresh, the tap flows all day and it hasn’t sat in the pipes for long. Another is that the locals know how to serve it at the right temperature, in the right glass and with the right head. They have perfected the two-stage ‘double pour’ which should take exactly 119.5 seconds. So, what is the secret behind that creamy head? In 1959, Guinness began using nitrogen instead of CO2 which produced smaller bubbles and therefore, a smoother consistency. Whatever they have done, they have done it right. Cheers!

15.Gravity Bar

Villa Boccella

When we returned from our first trip to Italy, we couldn’t help sharing our experiences and our fascination with this wonderful country. Our friends’ daughter was starting to think about her future wedding and the seed was set for a Tuscan location. Of course, we made it quite clear that we would be attending, what better excuse for a return visit? Nevertheless, we were very excited and honoured to receive the invitation, not only to the wedding, but to stay for a week in a villa with the bridal party and other guests. After our two nights in Lucca, we collected the hire car and drove the ten kilometres to Villa Boccella.

1.Villa Boccella

It sounds simple but we had great difficulty finding the entrance gate and, finally asking directions from a local, we were the last of the party to arrive.

2.arrival

There are six properties on the estate and our accommodation was to be in the two limonaie where, originally, lemon trees in pots were moved to in winter to avoid damage from the frosts. Limonaia Grande is the larger of the two

3.Limonaia Grande4.Limonaia Grande

and became the hub of activity with its fabulous kitchen

5.kitchen

and dining room,

perfect for a wedding feast.

11.wedding table

The enticing sofas in the sitting room

12.sitting room

were bathed in the light flooding through the French windows.

13.sitting room

The ample bookshelves were well stocked and quirky ornaments adorned every surface.

There were two options for al fresco dining, one with barbecue and pizza oven

22.al fresco

and the other overlooking the swimming pool.

23.al fresco24.pool

Across an orchard of peaches, plums, figs and cherries, Limonaia Piccola faced Limonaia Grande and was equally as opulent as her big sister.

25.Limonaia Piccola

The large windows downstairs captured the light no matter what the time of day.

26.sitting room27.sitting room28.dining area29.kitchen

Our upstairs bedroom was gorgeous

30.our bedroom

with a magnificent view across the orchard to the mountains beyond.

32.view from bedroom

Between the two limonaie, we could see the 17th century main villa in all her glory

33.main villa

and a glimpse of Boccellina, the original gatehouse to the estate.

34.Boccellina

For outdoor relaxation there were several settings to choose from.

35.garden chairs

The rose covered pergolas were in full bloom.

37.outdoor seating38.outdoor seating

Terracotta planters scattered colour around the garden

50.planter

51.planter

and the orchard still held some surprises.

56.garden

A pair of blackbirds were lucky to have such a beautiful home.

As well as our wonderful memories, we have a special gift to remind us of our time at Villa Boccella. The bride & groom had commissioned an artist in Darwin to create an illustration of Limonaia Grande as a memento for the guests.

62.illustration

Thank you all for an unforgettable week.