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.

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.

Ossaia

After a lazy afternoon at Il Castagno, we decided to dine in the nearby town of Ossaia. Rather than driving, we walked the easy 2km on a perfect spring evening.

1.road to Ossaia

The countryside was peaceful, scattered with gorgeous rustic farmhouses.

2.chapel3.farmhouse4.farmhouse5.farmhouse

Ossaia literally means boneyard. There are apparently thousands of Roman soldiers who were defeated by Hannibal in 217BC at the Battle of Trasimeno, buried under the town.

The small community was enchanting, with some beautiful homes.

8.town9.town

I’m not sure about this driveway, though.

10.town

La Tufa had been recommended to us and we found it easily.

11.La Tufa

We wandered through

to the inviting restaurant

14.La Tufa

but on this warm night we opted for a table outside.

15.La Tufa

The pizzas were delicious

and we had just enough room for nonna tart and flaming crème brulee.

19.flaming creme brulee

The walk home was a little slower.

Camucia

Camucia was the nearest town to our rented villa, Il Castagno, and the ideal place to stock up on groceries and, of course, vino. Nestled at the foot of the hill on which Cortona sits, the town is small with beautiful streetscapes.

1.Camucia2.Camucia

Thursday is market day in Camucia and we spent a gorgeous, sunny morning meandering amid the stalls.

3.market

There was everything imaginable for sale from clothes, shoes, toys and linens

4.market

to flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables.

5.market

I was too busy salivating at the array of fresh produce to take photos of it. Roasted pork was very popular, served from vans on Tuscan bread with the most exquisite crackling.

6.crispy pork by Piero

We returned to the villa for a lazy afternoon, I even had my first siesta.

Montepulciano

It was after siesta before we reached Montepulciano, another town I had longed to visit. Renowned for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a red wine produced in the surrounding vineyards, it is also a major producer of cheese, pork, lentils and honey. Entering at Porta al Prato,

1-town-wall2-porta-al-prato

it wasn’t long before the magic of this ancient town revealed itself.

3-belltower4-montepulciano5-montepulciano

The 16th century Palazzo Avignonesi has a handsome smiling lions head either side of the entrance.

The intricate façade of Palazzo Bucelli is made up of sculptures, added in the early 1700s. Etruscan tombstone fragments, funerary urns and frieze plaques combine to create a magnificent feature.

8-palazzo-bucelli

Chiesa di Sant’ Agostino was built in 1285AD and was completely renovated in the 15th century.

11-chiesa-di-sant-agostino

Above the imposing doorway is a beautiful carved portal featuring the Virgin and Child flanked by St. John and St. Augustine.

The shops were enticing

15-il-canestro16-shops

and the sight of a bus traversing the narrow streets seemed out of place.

17-bus

We explored as much as we could in the time we had

19-street

20-steps

and our final discovery was the oldest shop in Montepulciano.

21-oldest-shop

It was superbly rustic with fabulous leather goods beckoning from every nook.

22-oldest-shop23-oldest-shop

The clock had beaten us and after a last gelati indugence, we made our way back to Il Castagno.