Monday, June 16, 2014

A Taste of Tuscany

Somewhat perversely we thought not to look at The Leaning Tower of Pisa. But that would have been to deny ourselves sight of the Piazza del Duomo, the artistic cradle of Pisa, with its glorious Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, its extraordinary Baptistery, its elegant Monumental Cemetery and, of course, its renowned and over visited Bell Tower. Instead we abstained from adding to the exposure of this over photographed structure whose lean, recently corrected by half of a degree, continues to act as a magnet for the thousands of tourists and trippers who descend annually on this most lovely of marbled cities.

corner of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Baptistery roof, Pisa 

Naturally we saw all. And much, much more for, guided by our darling Italian friends, Andrea and Carlo, we had the perfect introduction not only to Pisa itself, with its incredible and amazing artistic treasures, its palaces and bridges, its narrow streets and sunny squares, but also to the delights of the surrounding countryside where olive groves and cypress trees punctuate a landscape of rolling hills, towered hamlets, Renaissance villas and medieval churches. Perfetto Tuscany!

the Boys in Blue [Carlo Caverni, Lance Hattatt and Andrea Franchi] in Pisa

As any visitor to Italy will know, it is impossible not to eat well. So it was with us. Whether a simple lunch of traditional pizza, eaten in a student café, or the very best of fish dishes, Andrea and Carlo provided the entrée [to revert to French and with no pun intended] to a world of culinary delights.

a very splendid Pizzeria set in a country village and much patronised locally

a delicious lunch taken outside of a student café in the very heart of Pisa

One evening found us at the somewhat unlikely sounding 'Station Gallery' within a stone's throw of the sea in the little picturesque town of Castiglioncello where, among an eclectic array of collectibles, we enjoyed plates of mouth watering canapés before the most delicious pasta dishes imaginable. On another night, with the Arno gently flowing beside our table at 'Ristorante 7 Nani', we tasted the freshest of seafood and fish cooked to order by the Master Chef, known to Andrea and Carlo, and who especially for us sported her medal and who cooked wearing a string of pearls. Now how stylish is that?

Carlo Caverni and Andrea Franchi at the start of dinner at Ristorante 7 Nani

the delightful Master Chef and owner of Ristorante 7 Nani posing with medal and pearls

the electric neon sign of 7 Nani lights the entrance to this superb restaurant

Style and Italy are, surely, synonymous. Take for instance the Concerti in Villa Roncioni where, after a private tour of house and grounds, we joined others to listen to Pierre-Laurent Boucharlat play three Beethoven sonatas in a candlelit salon whose trompe l'oeil wall paintings added yet a touch more magic to an enchanting occasion. Afterwards, approaching midnight, we sped into Lucca to buy icecreams!

ceiling and wall painting in the salon of  the Villa Roncioni lit by candles

San Gimignano takes its name from the canonised Bishop of Modena and is a jewel among jewels. Following a hilarious lunch at the 'Ristorante La Mandragola', where we rather naughtily made up stories of the other guests, we climbed the steep streets to the Cathedral with its interior walls entirely covered with frescoes of the Sienese School of the XIV Century. Breathtakingly beautiful, they depict scenes from both the Old and New Testaments. As we had left the Cathedral in Pisa with prayers to St. Ranieri, so here we prayed to St. Fina for the patience she portrayed in her life of suffering.

on the staircase of the Palazzo Pretorio in the hilltop town of Certaldo [AF, CC and LH]

pigeon perched on a palace window sill in the walled town of Certaldo 

In more earthly ways we played statues in The Botanical Gardens, reputed to be the oldest in Italy, we took coffee wherever, posted picture postcards in the 1930s splendour of the Central Post Office, walked and walked and walked, and enjoyed life to the very full.

playing statues in The Botanical Gardens, Pisa  much to our own amusement

a bar sign seen in a Pisa thoroughfare and rather redolent of the 1950s

a simple little street café in Pisa serving the most delicious of lunches

shadows of the weary travellers caught in the afternoon sunlight

seen through the entrance doors of the Central Post Office in Pisa

a reflection of the photographer, Jane Hattatt, caught in the window of a wine shop in Pisa

And now the memories remain. Until the next time.

evening: Carlo Caverni, Jane Hattatt and Andrea Franchi [June 2014]




212 comments:

  1. Oh wow - you live life to the fullest!! Something we all can aspire too. Love all of these photos. What beautiful memories these will be forever :)

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    1. We are certainly most fortunate, Keith, to have the time to travel. Italy is one of our favourite countries and we had such a splendid time with our friends, Andrea and Carlo, who went to enormous trouble to take us to places of interest. And that is not to mention the restaurants!!

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  2. Dearest Jane and Lance
    To think we breathed the same air of Toscana at around the same time is wonderful to hear and coincidental. Carlo and Andreas look to be the perfect travelling companions. To go to the lesser known places and experience the local culture is marvelous. Nani radiates joy as she sports pearls and her medallion. How handsome they are too and I love the last image. The picture taken in Pisa with Lance and the boys in blue is so full of joy.
    So lovely to see you posting and knowing that life is full of joy for you.

    Helen xx


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    1. That truly is amazing, Helen. And if only our paths had actually crossed as indeed they must and before too much more time has passed. One of the great joys of being with Andrea and Carlo, and there are many, is that they have 'inside' knowledge of so many places which, left to our own devices, we should never have discovered.

      Ristorante 7 Nani was a superb restaurant right on the banks of the Arno and where, from our table, we watched the sun go down. We had a lovely evening with so much happiness.

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  3. I need to make friends with Carlo and Andreas... they look delicious.
    I am quite taken with the 50's signage. Very stylish.

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    1. Darling,

      They are delicious!! Rather strangely, or so we thought, we saw a number of examples of signs which seemed to belong to another era, such as the 1950s, and even some shop windows.

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  4. I have never been to that part of Italy where it seems there are delights around every corner. I love the fact that nothing is too 'tarted' up and left to grow old gracefully. Your photos indicate that a good time was had by all and well done to your charming boys for showing you a secret Italy.

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    1. Tuscany is, Elaine, simply wonderful in so many different respects and the walled, hillside towns are utterly magical. Like you, we love to discover places which are not, as yet, 'tarted up' and this really was the case of so many towns and villages to which Andrea and Carlo took us.

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  5. I have to say how lovely you look in that polka dot dress - I have a swimsuit almost exactly the same! I do adore that part of the world. You have such a way of recounting your trip and cajole us into the rhythm of you trip. A concert in such settings would have only highlighted Beethoven!

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    1. We are so pleased that you like the polka dot dress. Thank you. Your swimsuit sounds to be enormous fun. Perhaps from the same source?

      The concert, which took place in this rather dilapidated villa without electricity, was wonderful as were the grounds which contained a private chapel and an ancient, one time beautifully decorated, silk worm house!

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  6. It sounds and looks like Carlo and Andrea have been the most perfect hosts, and tour guide of this beautiful part of the world! The fun that you all had whilst there can be clearly felt through your post and will inspire anyone who reads it to visit the place.

    The elegance and old world charm of the area is undeniable. Fabulous photos and you all looked great!

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    1. We did, as you so rightly say, have enormous fun throughout our entire stay in Pisa and Andrea and Carlo were absolutely perfect guides.

      And thank you so much for the great compliments; they are much appreciated.

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  7. Wowww that look like a great trip to me.....enjoy have fun....love from me...Ria...x !

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    1. Tuscany is indeed a most beautiful part of Italy, Ria, and is an area we very much love.

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  8. Hello Jane and Lance, Your travelogues are always enjoyable because of the way you immerse yourselves in a place; there is no feeling of crossing destinations off a list. To get to know a place, participating is as important as seeing. I especially liked the constant reminders of antiquity--the idea that life has been lived there for a long time.
    --Jim
    P.S. In your evocation of Delsarte you have literally found your 'niche.'

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    1. What particularly delights us about your comment, Jim, is the wit of your P.S.!! Love it!!

      It is interesting what you say here about the approach to travel. Too often, it has to be said, places are visited simply in order to tick them off some world wish list. This is, something, we feel to be avoided and, surely as you, rather like to get to know somewhere from the 'inside', often making several returns.

      What is of course so wonderful about Italy is the antique which brings with it that sense of continuity of which you make mention.

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  9. What a great tour you've taken me on of Pisa and surrounding, I can almost taste the pizza and all the other culinary delights. I was particularly enamored with the chef with her medal and pearls and love all the architectural details and a treat to see the pigeon in the circle window.

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    1. The chef/owner of the 7 Nani Restaurant could not have been more delightful, Linda, and is an excellent cook having won many awards in what is, predominantly, a male environment.

      The pigeon just happened to move along the window sill at exactly the moment of taking the photograph.

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  10. Lance and Jane, What a wonderful Tuscan Tale you've told in this post, bringing back wonderful memories of food and fun we had there! And how interesting that Helen was somewhere in the vicinity as well. . .too bad you missed on this trip. Look forward to reading more of your adventures. . . happy travels and a good week ahead to you!

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    1. We are not at all surprised, Jackie and Joel, that you are familiar with Tuscany and feel certain that your travels will have taken you to many of the same places we will have visited. Yes, imagine if we had fallen across Helen. That would have been so wonderful.

      And our best wishes to you both for the week ahead [perhpas planning where to next?!!}.

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  11. Art, architecture, music and food. It all looks good to me and how about your Italian lads who showed you such hospitality!

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    1. All of those things, Andrew, and each one made possible through the kindness and generosity of Andrea and Carlo.

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  12. What a fantastic advert for Pisa with all its treasures - the smallest pleasures and the architectural big hitters. All best served with a side order of fun and friendship. How delightful!

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    1. Although if one were to judge by the vast crowds who spill into the Piazza del Duomo each day, then one would say that Pisa needs no advertising. That said, it is the most remarkable city with treasures around every corner.

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  13. Oh how I have enjoyed the sites and sounds of Pisa through the lens of your camera and words. It was wonderful to sign in this morning and find a post from you. Enjoy the week! Bonnie

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    1. How very kind of you, Bonnie, and we are so pleased that you have enjoyed this post. Of course there are so many riches which we have not attempted to show but which may readily be accessed via the internet.

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  14. WIsh I was there--I love Italy. I've never been to Pisa, but I was in San Gimignano many years ago, and it is a magical place in my memory. The way you can get a wonderful meal in the smallest of towns in Italy is one of my many favorite things. Jane, I love your polka dot sundress, and your friends are darling.

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    1. Italy is also one of our best loved countries, Jen, and happily for us it is relatively close allowing for frequent visits. San Gimignano is indeed wonderful and we were both hugely taken not only with the town but also the magnificence of the frescoes in the Cathedral.

      Andrea and Carlo are indeed darlings!!

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  15. Ahhh.. San Gimignano, The Town of Fine Towers. It's a delightful place.
    I once spent a cool million on a jacket there. Literally. Lira..

    I do love Tuscany, glad you had such a good time.

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    1. How splendid to have bought a million Lira [ can the Euro ever have the romance?] jacket in San Gimignano which is, of course, the most splendid of all walled, hill top towns. But then Tuscany is so very beautiful.

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  16. Looking perfectly stunning in your Polka dot dress Jane.. Once again, I another exciting post to read .
    How wonderful that you had Andrea and Carlo to take you around.
    I have been to Italy, but not to that part .
    The Italians are so hospitable, like you wrote their food delicious..and cafe's on every corner.
    You have visited some lovely places.
    Life is good.
    best wishes to you both.. Enjoy the rest of the coming summer.
    val

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    1. This is most kind of you, Val.

      Andrea and Carlo were the best of guides and always enthusiastic for, and interested in, all that we saw even though so much of it was already familiar to them. We agree totally about the warmth and hospitality of the Italians and Italian food we think to be so very delicious.

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  17. Ah, what a civilised life you lead, Hattats. Food, art, wine, music....and beautiful young men.

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    1. We live our lives, Stephanie, and consider ourselves to be so very fortunate and privileged to have the friends we have and the opportunities to travel.

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  18. Oh, My!

    What an adventure---it's as if you checked every BEST on the Baedeker, the Michelin, and that new Zagat, and voila! they all appeared at your fingertips, with no effort, no pesky lines, no check-ins or boarding passes or madding crowds. If you ever mention picking up your post at American Express or carrying letters of credit, I'll faint dead away into my covet-couch.

    Wine and music and such glorious things to see and taste and experience, along with such knowledgeable and companionable guides, plus each other's company to share it all---I hope the fall when you left that Heaven was not too steep.

    Ahhhh, the smiling chef---even sans pearls, medal and toque, there is a Woman of Substance. The ceiling and the fare and the antiquity of the everyday things---beyond my ken, and beyond touch.

    Eleven years ago right now, I was on my very first visit to England---I'd TRAINED for the trip---walking several miles on the park track every morning, doing forty or fifty climb-and-descends of our stairs a day, readying for all those follow-the-guide and those ancient steps to mystical, magical places.

    But if ever, if ever again---I'd follow that dashing hat anywhere.

    Thank you for adding so much vicarious joie to my vivre!

    r

    .

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    1. Dearest Rachel,

      To our shame it must be said that we relied almost entirely on Andrea and Carlo to introduce us to all the delights of Pisa and the surrounding countryside and all of the restaurants which we visited, and they were many and varied, were already known to them. Now the idea of collecting our mail from a 'poste restante' is so very appealing, as is the thought of letters of credit or, even, letters of introduction, but to date, alas, we have not gone that far. However, temptation, for which, dear Rachel, you must take some responsibility now lies in our path.

      Whilst in Italy we had delicious lunches and dinners with both the 'Station Gallery' and '7 Nani' immediately becoming firm favourites and to be revisited at the earliest opportunity. How well you describe the chef/owner of '7 Nani'. Most definitely a 'Woman of Substance' in possession of enormous warmth and charm.

      But you too are no shrinking violet with all that determined exercise prior to your visit to England eleven years ago. One does need huge reserves of energy, and to be fit, to sightsee and, like you, the best way is we think to walk. That way one sees so much more.

      Take care and have a wonderful week. xxx

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  19. You always seem to transport me to wonderful places. It's a new area to me and enjoyed my visit.
    I too had a wonderful visit yesterday to Wollerton Old Hall, a garden that feeds my soul.
    Love your polka dot dress Jane.

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    1. Tuscany, as you will know we are sure, Sue, is one of the most glorious parts of Italy and a part of that country we so enjoy visiting.

      How lovely to have spent the day at Wollerton. Lesley and John we count amongst our closest friends and we very much hope to be there later in the year.

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  20. You're always doing something interesting. You seem to live such a full life. Thank you for sharing your trip, it all looks wonderful!

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    1. We really do believe, Jennifer, that it is so important, if at all possible, to make the most of the opportunities with which life presents one. As in this instance it was all very good indeed.

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  21. Ah you've been to my very favourite part of Italy, isn't it just divine. I just love the architecture, food, wine, music, and most of all the people. I so envy your wonderful trip Jane and Lance and you've brought back beautiful memories of Pisa, San Gimignano, Florence and so much more. You must have enjoyed it tremendously by the look of your stunning photos and how lovely to have two young travelling companions to show you both around. Have a great week.
    Patricia x

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    1. How splendid is that, Patricia. Tuscany is certainly one of our favourite places with its wonderful countryside and medieval towns and villages and, like you, we think of the people as being so warm hearted and hospitable.

      We were indeed most fortunate to have Andrea and Carlo to accompany us; they are such dears.

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  22. Although I have spent nearly every summer on Sicily in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s and been to Tuscany only twice, it still remains the most beautiful part of Italy for me. Truly a world on its own! I have fond memories of an afternoon in the Siena Museo del Duomo, where I fell in love with a marble statue (shame its flesh-and-blood model died centuries ago), and of San Gimignano, where I found the story of Santa Fina rather touching. Maybe one day I shall visit all those places again, but for now, my focus must be elsewhere. All the more do I enjoy your posts of such wonderful places!

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    1. We totally endorse all that you say here, Meike, about Tuscany. In parts it is too beautiful for words and is filled with the most wonderful treasures.

      In San Gimignano we too were so moved by the story of St. Fina and thought the frescoes in her chapel to be amazingly lovely, perhaps the best in the entire Cathedral. We do hope that one day you will have the opportunity to revisit.

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  23. Ah, my dear friends, you have mastered travel as it should be with a perfect mix of planning and spontaneity, a liberal helping of charming friends, plated on a bed of art and music. Just perfect! I have been to San G. but have not seen Pisa. Tuscany is a beautiful, delicious area steeped in history and you found a treasure with your Master Chef, pearls and all!

    Chère Jane, love that dress!

    Bisous,
    Genie

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    1. Dearest Genie,

      If what you say is true, then we have simply taken a leaf out of your own book for you are the most consummate and discerning of travellers with an eye at all times for the unusual and a will to seek out that which is different.

      We too had not visited Pisa before and found it to be a city of many attractions and much interest. In particular we fell in love with The Botanical Gardens, an oasis of calm away from the crowds and with an atmosphere all of its own. It too of course is steeped in history. xxx

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  24. Welcome back Jane and Lance - I do suspect that we all make up stories about others, and if not shared openly, then certainly in our heads - tell me do you not do the same with blogs? I am sure we all do.
    You have enticed me to revisit Italy - the food, the ambience, the art, and the glorious architecture - so pleased that you both had a wonderful time with your lovely companions.

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    1. We are much reassured, Rosemary, that we should not find ourselves alone in the making up of tales of other people. And yes, blogs do give rise to a great deal of intrigue and speculation.

      Italy is so very lovely as you will know all too well yourself. It is certainly one of the countries to which we wish to return again and again.

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  25. Love Turcany. We rented an old castle with eight couples a few years ago near Siena. Your pictures were delightful.

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    1. Now to rent a castle in Tuscany sound to us a dream come true. What a wonderful idea and one which we shall now go away and ponder!

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    2. Jane and Lance.
      We leased it about six years ago thru The Parker Co. It has sold and is now a spa with a staff. We had the whole place. Eight couples...but there were 12 bedrooms and baths. You can have a look at it by going to booking.com the name of the place is now Castello di Sovicille. A short drive from Seine in Tuscany.

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    3. How truly splendid. That is exactly the kind of thing we think would be enormous fun to do and you were obviously in a very pretty part of the country. And such grandeur.

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  26. Dear Jane and Lance Hattatt,

    I would echo the words of Parnassus' Jim, and your reply to him, too. As for the charming gentlemen who were your hosts, I'm sure that their own pleasure was in large part seeing their surroundings anew through your eyes.

    I look at all the lovely and vibrant people who are attracted into your sphere and know quite surely that they are mirrors to your own loveliness and vibrance. Thanks for the sharing.

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    1. You are most complimentary, Mark. Thank you. Your words are much appreciated.

      Seeing one's own environment through the eyes of a visitor does so often allow for a new and fresh viewpoint of the familiar, something which you touch upon here and which, strangely, we also talked about in conversation with Andrea and Carlo.

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  27. It is far, far too long since I visited Tuscany.
    I took three weeks' holiday near Siena every year for seven consecutive years in the 1980's. It was a truly magical time and your post brings back wonderful memories. Marvellous photos, you obviously had a fabulous time.

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    1. You are right, Jean, one really needs constantly to revisit Tuscany. We do envy your time spent in and around Siena - what marvellous memories you must have - but you must feel that you are compensated now with your life in a most attractive part of France. And clearly you are at the start of new adventures!

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  28. Ah Tuscany, it just makes me swoon. No visit is ever long enough. I promise myself that some day I will just lose myself for a couple of weeks in one of those half-forgotten towns that crown so many of their hill sides. It looks like you had a mega-fantastic time.

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    1. That is such a good thought, Loree, to lose oneself in some remote, hill top town in Tuscany for some weeks and to be able to absorb it all completely and drink in the atmosphere.

      Yes, thank you, we had a wonderful time.

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  29. Such a wonderfully old fashioned looking wine shop. And you were right not to miss the Leaning Tower, despite the tourists, despite the postcards, despite everything.

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    1. There were in fact so very many interesting shops in Pisa, Jenny, and we particularly enjoyed those which specialised in regional products.

      We do have to admit that The Leaning Tower is hugely impressive and of great worth.

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  30. What a life you lead! Pizza is Pisa? Yes please! Love that last photo, Jane, you are so glamorous!

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    1. We enjoyed so many delicious lunches and dinners, of which the pizzas we ate ranked most highly.

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  31. Delicious post, in every sense! No question, you were in magical places, though I do think you make your own magic wherever you go. I enjoyed particularly the "statues," reflection, shadows, and oh, that pigeon in a pigeonhole of sorts. The Bardians have been to you by now, no? I do hope & expect that it was splendid!

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    1. The image of the pigeon, Susan, is certainly one of our own favourites and it all happened by chance. One minute we were looking at the view through the glass, the next the space was filled with the pigeon and then, almost as quickly, it was gone.

      Unfortunately we were unable to meet with the Bardians as we were already committed to another concert on the Saturday evening when they played in the Music Academy. However, Dávid said on the telephone that it had gone very well; we hope to catch up with him when he returns in July.

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  32. Your holiday sounds wonderful. Isn't it great to have such great guides? You get to see places you otherwise would never have discovered.
    Also, i don't know how, but I have never been to this part of Italy. It is now definitely on my list.
    Enjoy the sunshine dear Jane and Lance.

    Red

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    1. It is always good, Red, when away to have guides who know the 'home' territory and who can point one in the direction of things and places which might otherwise be overlooked. Andrea and Carlo were perfect in this respect, as in all others.

      If you do have the opportunity to visit Tuscany, then do. It is in parts breathtakingly beautiful.

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  33. I love popping over to see what new adventure you two have had... no disappointments ever... love that you went to Italy... it looks like such a beautiful country. My oldest daughter and her husband went there 5 years ago and fell in love with it... she said it is more beautiful than I can imagine.. :)

    These pictures are lovely...

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    1. And we so enjoy our contact, Launna.

      Italy is totally magical, as your daughter will have told you, and Tuscany particularly so with its wonderful countryside, ancient towns, amazing treasures and, of course, excellent food and wine.

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  34. Dear Jane and Lance, may I confess to have been one of those Pisa day trippers many years ago. I now wish that I had arranged to stay longer in that beautiful place.

    I agree with you that the architecture and food is fabulous, but I think I would truly love the Botanical Garden.

    Your photographs are a delight, with their story telling energy. Each picture seems to my eye to be an invitation to join a party that celebrates life. May I be yet another to compliment you, Jane, on that polka dot dress?

    Bravo to Andrea and Carlo for their expert guidance to the pleasures of Pisa.

    xo

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    1. Dearest Frances,

      We should NEVER consider you as a tripper ever. You are far too sensitive and discerning and your delight in detail and your intelligent, enquiring mind serve as an example to the rest of us.

      Certainly Pisa offers much to the traveller and we are pleased that we had the opportunity to spend time in this marble city which has something of interest around every corner. The Botanical Garden was an absolute joy. Somewhat neglected, on account of lack of money, it had a particular charm and atmosphere which we loved and we spent much time there.

      Thank you so much for the compliment; you are always most kind and generous in all that you say.

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  35. Oh my goodness! What a trip! Perfetto indeed!

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    1. 'Perfetto' does sum it all up so completely. We shall now much look forward to our return.

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  36. I suppose San Gimignano survived with its amazing architecture because is was small (why bother destroying it?) and was a walled medieval hill town (a bit harder to get to?).

    I realise that all the damage came with the Black Death, not military action, but the piazzas, churches and homes are still splendid. As is the wine!

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    1. Your theory of the survival of San Gimignano is most likely correct. It is rather a sad thought that the same cannot be said of so many other places in Italy and Europe in general.

      Strangely, as you will most likely be aware, Pisa itself suffered extensive damage during the Second World War.

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  37. Oh Jane you do look thoroughly splendid and sassy in those sophisticated spots! And Lance, ever handsome, as always.

    Now you two really have got this travelling thing down pat - to really spend the time to discover the layers of culture, and food, and architecture, and then to share it in a description which makes us feel we were there too.

    It always breaks my heart when people turn up to a famous spot, quickly take a selfie, then trot on their way to the next spot - what really is the point, I ask? Quite the opposite to how you two explore.

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    1. You are more than kind with your compliments, Virginia.

      AS you surmise, we do rather like to spend time in one place and, as far as is ever possible for a visitor, really to get to know it thoroughly and, whenever there is an opportunity, to meet with people whose home it is. On this occasion we owe so much to Andrea and Carlo.

      We do so agree with you about so many people's approach to being in a new place, particularly one made famous for its sights to be seen.

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  38. At last - someone gave Nani a pearl-necklace. Long overdue.

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    1. And we thought it so stylish. Shades of Fanny Cradock!!

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  39. What an amazing glimpse of such a lovely place! Your words and photos convey the delight of the trip and the sweet companionship of friends. I fell in love with Tuscany vicariously through our hometown author, Frances Mayes in her book, Under the Tuscan Sun some 15 years ago. Recent Newlywed friends shared photos of their splendid honeymoon in Tuscany and now you have added the frosting on the cake...your beautiful photos and memories from your Tuscan travels!

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    1. As you say here, Susan, our entire time spent in Pisa and the surrounding countryside was an absolute delight, made even more so on account of the generous company and on the spot knowledge of Andrea and Carlo.

      Certainly Tuscany is an area with which to be in love. Which one of us has not been there?

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  40. I keep promising myself that I will go one day. The photo of your statue imitations is my favorite. It seems like something I would do too, as the niche is definitely asking for a focal point.

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    1. If at all possible, then you really should visit this area of Italy, Lynn, for it is full of interest and so very beautiful.

      We had huge fun playing at statues, and not only in The Botanical Garden! But that niche, as you say, was crying out for something.

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  41. Dear Jane and Lance, what a delicious life you have! I have never been to Italy, and I feel I am missing out on a wonderful experience. I shall have to live vicariously through you (for now, at least) and enjoy these brilliant photos; the buildings, the food, the sunshine, and the stylish company. Love the posing (the boys are excellent models!) and Jane, that final shot of you is a delight! xxxxx

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    1. If ever you have the opportunity to travel to Italy, and in particular Tuscany, then do not hesitate for a single moment, Curtise. You would, we assure you, love it and it is a country which assumes style in absolutely everything.

      We are so fortunate to have Andrea and Carlo as friends and they make the most perfect guides and are excellent company at all times.

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  42. Oh I just love Italy. It's been so long since I've been there. Posing like statues and eating like fiends is required. Love the photos.

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    1. We too love Italy, Connie, and we are so fortunate that it is relatively close to Hungary and therefore not too difficult to reach.

      And the food and wine are always excellent!

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  43. Dear Jane and Lance,
    Since falling in love with Italy at the age of 12, I have never stopped to visit it and I have spent two years of my accademic life there. I was in Emiglia Romagna, in Ferrara but my favourite area is Tuscany.Thank you so much for bringing me back to the country I love most. Your photos have captivated this unique and charming atmosphere.
    Hope you always enjoy travels and life!
    Olympia

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    1. How wonderful, Olympia, that your love affair with Italy has continued through all the years. It really is the most beautiful of countries and you are indeed most fortunate to have studied there.

      Its relative proximity to Hungary means that it is reasonably close for us to visit, particularly Northern Italy, and so we try to go as much as is possible.

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  44. It has been many years since I visited Italy. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a few days in each city, including Pisa, but I didn't have the knowledgeable guides you had. Instead, I had my wee son with me - and found, to my delight, what a wonderful entrée (that word again!) a baby could provide to behind-the-scenes life in Italy.

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    1. Having knowledgeable guides does, as you suggest, make all the difference but we can well believe the fun that you must have had in Italy with your small son who we can imagine, with the Italians love of children, have opened so many doors to you.

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  45. Seems you both had a wonderful time in Italy.
    I do like your dress Jane.

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    1. We did indeed have the most amazing time and are now much looking forward to our next visit.

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  46. A delicious taste of Tuscany, Jane and Lance. I must also be perverse and have had doubts about travelling to Pisa for the Tower. However, the wonderful Baptistry and Cathedral, the palaces and other treasures would surely satisfy my every wish. How enthralling would be Beethoven Sonatas in a candlelit salon amid that lovely trompe l'oeil - bliss. Jane, I love a good polka dot, and that dress is a star turn! What an exciting post, thank you so much.

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    1. Alas, the area immediately around The Leaning Tower is thronging with people throughout the day, Patricia, but it is very easy to slip into a side street and to be immersed in the most wonderful architecture on all sides. And whilst the Cathedral is a must, so many of the smaller churches have so much of interest to see.

      The evening spent at the Villa Roncioni will remain with us for all time. Utterly magical!

      Thank you so much for your very kind compliments.

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  47. I haven't got a massive gong to hang round my neck, but next time I go to work, I'm going to dig out my pearls!

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  48. I so enjoy your posts, Jane and Lance! The photo of Nani made me smile along with her. And I agree - I love that dress on you! x

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    1. We are so delighted, Carol, and how very kind of you to say. The image of the chef/owner of 7 Nani is indeed very splendid. And she was/is the most amazing person.

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  49. Dear Jean and Lance,

    Wonderful post Thank You.

    How much we also enjoy a cultural and gastronomic escape to our neighbor country. Delightful everytime.
    Definetly an advantage of living in Switzerland to be surrounded by beautiful countries.
    Not mentioning the many Italien immigrants in Zürich Kanton who bring spice and variety to a country that is so " perfect".

    Looking forward to your next post in my inbox.

    Kellemes hetet kivan.

    Greta

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    1. Dear Greta,

      So very many apologies for not responding to your comment before now. For some reason it had gone into 'Spam' from where, happily, we have been able to rescue it.

      As with you, one of the great joys of living at the heart of Europe is that so many countries are very easily accessible. We try to take advantage of this whenever possible.

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  50. sounds like an amazing time in. i would love to experience this in person one day. definitely on our wish list! :) your writing is always a delight!

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    1. If you do ever have the opportunity, Jane, to visit Pisa then we should definitely recommend it to you. There is so much of interest to see and do. However, we did have the best of guides in Andrea and Carlo, we have to say!

      Thank you for the kind words about the writing. We do enjoy your blog as you have such a unique view if Life!

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  51. Darlings Jane and Lance,
    I would find a jaunt to a strip mall in Tulsa with you rwo fun and interesting but delighting in the off beaten path treasures of Tuscany assisted by the expert guidance of Carlo and Andreas is my idea of High Hattattian Style (HHS) to which us lowly but striving provincials can aspire to.
    Keep setting that bar ever higher Darlings J & L, we like that here in Chicago!

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    1. Darling G,

      We rather suspect that the Chicago 'bar' may prove far too high for we mere Europeans who are, if the truth be known, always somewhat in awe of all things American. After all, if we believe that when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold, so therefore, ergo, where America, and in particular Chicago, leads, the rest of us follow.

      That said, we are of course seduced by the notion of HHS [flattery will, darling G, get you everywhere] and only wish that you could be with us for our next adventure, scheduled for September in Budapest, with the divine Italian boys, Andrea and Carlo, when we could with combined style really give the locals something to think about.

      Meanwhile, where, oh where is 'The Lion's Den'??

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    2. I also have been waiting for the first post on The Lion's Den! Do stop teasing us, GSL, and deliver on your promise! A gal can only wait so long....but I know you'll be worth it.Claire

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    3. Yes, when will ' The Lion's Den' be putting out the welcome mat?

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  52. Italy at the very beginning of summer - what could be more perfect? I haven't yet managed to visit Pisa, though it's on my list, and this delicious post makes me even more determined to do so one day. You capture so beautifully the feast that Italy is to all the senses, so that I'm now homesick for Umbria and Tuscany.

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    1. Perpetua, you will LOVE Pisa. We found it to be the most interesting and attractive of towns, full of the most amazing treasures, and the Piazza del Duomo is rightly a World Heritage Site. That said, so many of the smaller churches are a must as is the somewhat neglected Botanic Garden, reputed to be the oldest in Italy, as much for its wonderful atmosphere as for its plant collection. Do try to go.

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  53. So charming! The food, the scenery, the camaraderie. I've never wanted to go to Pisa before - you've changed my mind. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. We had much the same feeling about Pisa before our recent visit having previously only experienced the airport and The Leaning Tower from a great distance on the road to Lucca.

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  54. Dear Hattatts, you really know how to enjoy yourselves it all sounds wonderful. I like the way you managed to be the filling in a Carlos and Andreas sandwich, Jane - in a very fetching dress, to boot! Claire

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    1. Dear Claire,

      We do try to live in the moment and Carlo and Andrea are the perfect partners in crime for us as they get pleasure from the simplest and silliest of things as we do.

      It was very hot in Pisa so a sundress was the best choice, even for the evening. The glittery bag, courtesy of a Chinese Princess,(long story) provided much amusement.

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  55. I fear I would come back fatter from a trip peppered by so many culinary delights, but I imagine you both far too restrained for such to be your fate.

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    1. We do have to confess, Annie, that we ate exceptionally well and probably rather too much. Happily we are enjoying lovely weather here in Budapest so salad and fruit can be the order of the day.

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  56. You all look so incredibly elegant and chic as you stroll around town, I always end up looking a friend in sneakers or jandals, a real tourist look. Loving that pic of chef in pearls and medal, just fabulous. Kevin and i had our first weekend away there and it was chocka full of wonderful food and sights. I was amazed how the leaning tower is kind of small and away from everything but actually is really really leaning (as name suggests)

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    1. This is most kind of you.

      The chef/owner of 7 Nani was an absolute delight and an exceedingly good cook who had, judging by the wall display of certificates, gathered up almost every award going. And that is something in what is still, very largely, a man's world.

      We are delighted to know that you and Kevin also hugely enjoyed Pisa. It is certainly a city well worth visiting.

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    2. Yes that's funny that's it so tricky for women in the culinary world of men when for centuries it's women who have done the cooking in the home. Just looked at your sidebar again - love your answer to what you "do" (I find that the eternal question here in the US and so hard to answer at cocktail parties). That is classic.

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    3. It is most odd when thought about for, as you say, generally it is women who most frequently cook, although perhaps less so these days, and yet the world of restaurant kitchens is essentially a masculine one.

      Another answer we often employ, and is most convincing living in Hungary as we do, is to say that we are spies!!

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  57. What a mouth watering trip it is! Good environment, good company and good food :)
    Best wishes, please keep having fun :)

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    1. Italy really is the most magical of countries. The more often we go, the more we find ourselves in love with it, especially Tuscany which is so very beautiful.

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  58. It's my sort of life you lead (or maybe I should say, the sort of life I would love to lead!!!), visiting glorious places with friends as guides, chefs in pearls and ice creams at midnight...
    Can't wait for the next instalment.
    Wren x

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    1. We really do consider ourselves most fortunate in having the opportunity to travel and in having such very good friends of which Andrea and Carlo are by no means exceptions The ice creams at midnight was entirely their suggestion and involved a drive of several miles..

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  59. Dear Jane and Lance,

    What a wonderful whirlwind escape you have taken us on today, to beautiful and magical Tuscany, with its leaning towers, tasty treats, cultural and historical commentary and fun and fabulous photos! It all sounds dreamy, especially the food and the views of places ooth pastoral and central. Thank you for sharing such entertaining highlights!

    Poppy

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    1. Words can never really convey the wonder of Tuscany, or so we think, Poppy. We had the most marvellous time and saw so much of beauty and interest during our stay. Needless to say, we ate [and drank!!] exceptionally well.

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  60. How annoying that your blog post did not pop up in my reader...slack work somewhere along the line, there, or the computers' postillions have been struck by lightning.

    What a superb visit you describe...and what superb guides you had! Anyone who seeks ice cream at midnight has to be a very special person.



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    1. Helen, we are so sorry. We often find ourselves that the posts of those who we 'follow' by email do not appear very often until several days after they were originally published.

      We had the most wonderful of times and could not have wished for better or more knowledgeable guides.

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  61. It's always a delight to read a new post by Jane and Lance. I was looking forward to visiting Pisa on a recent cruise, but sadly the trip had to be cancelled due to my maid's poor health (kidney stones). The first week of that wretched holiday I spent living like an Anchoress nun that gets bricked up alive in the convent walls, it's put me right off cruising.

    I wonder what the chef's face would have looked like if you had ordered egg and chips four times and a pot of tea.

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    1. Darling Mitzi,

      Poor you. And you really do deserve more than a long weekend in Scunthorpe!! As for 'cruising', put off, you!! Darling........do not allow the fun to go out of your life.

      Actually, since the watchword of the chef was 'simplicity', rather than the destruction of good, fresh ingredients, she most likely would not have been outfaced by an order for egg and chips. But a pot of tea, and doubtless ready sliced bread and butter, may just have tested her.

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  62. Oh my...as always your posts make me wistful...oh those stylish Italians. My only memory of Pisa is pounding up 'that' tower and peering over the side (can you still do that?)....shameful that I never ventured beyond its shadow. You both always find charm and delight in every corner. How lovely to walk with you and re-visit albeit vicariously.

    Best wishes
    Jenny

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    1. Italy IS such a stylish country in so many ways, Jenny, and we always enormously enjoy the time we spend there. Yes, people in droves do still 'pound' up The Tower and lean over to the extent that it is actually very difficult to take a photograph without including them.

      We do urge you, if at all possible, to revisit Pisa for there is so much to be seen in other parts of the City and The Botanical Garden is well worth experiencing if only for the atmosphere.

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  63. A fascinating tour of Pisa, one Italian city I've never visited. As you say, good food and good taste are evident wherever you go in Italy. I loved your photo of the guys playing at statues. I must try that myself sometime!

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    1. We had, on previous visits to Italy, rather neglected Pisa, Nick, which we now see was a great error on our part. It is a fascinating city and makes an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding Tuscan countryside.

      Do try playing 'statues' - it can be enormous fun.

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  64. What a marvelous trip this looks to have been, especially with local friends to show you the way. When last in this part of the world, we somehow managed to attach ourselves to the hip with a local Florentine fellow who insisted on showing us the sights. It was hilariously funny to see him in action. So enthusiastic. We even treated him to coffee and a sweet treat and tipped him handsomely for his efforts so we could escape at the end of the day. I swear he was about to follow us to Pisa if we had let him. In all fairness, our trip was actually enhanced by our unplanned tour guide, a very colorful fellow indeed.

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    1. We were so fortunate to have Andrea and Carlo as our guides in Pisa since as it is their home town they know every corner. Additionally, they are most knowledgeable and share our interest in so many things.

      Your Florentine experiences with your 'guide' sound to have been great fun and a cause for much amusement but probably more so after he had gone! But such things do add to one's enjoyment and make for a difference.

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  65. Stupid me....I accidentally deleted all the comments with my phone on today's post, would you be so kind to doit again ??..thank you! .. xxx!

    Domme ikke.....ik heb per ongeluk alle commentaren met mijn telefoon gewist op rein zijn post,wil je zo vriendelijk zijn het nogmaals te doen....??? dankjewel !!..xxx !

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    1. We shall certainly see what we can do. These things happen by accident from time to time and when they do are so very annoying.

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  66. What a marvelous trip! Italy is one of the countries that calls me back for repeat visits. Your lovely photos capture its charm so well. I'm getting hungry too.

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    1. Italy is in so many respects such a very civilised country, Sarah, and one which has so much to offer. We are most fortunate that it is relatively close to home.

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  67. It seems I am your only reader who has never been to Italy! I do feel that I've enjoyed a bit of your adventures with you though. Beautiful pictures and wonderful meals. When we travel, eating local meals is right up there with sightseeing. I've kept journals on the restaurants and dishes we've tried on trips all over the states. One day I hope to get to Europe. If not I have your blog to enjoy as an "armchair traveler"!

    Thank you for your visit today, Jane. Yes, my husband is quite proud of his BBQ grill. It's shinier than his beloved car! :)

    Jane

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    1. In all probability, Jane, we are the only ones who have never travelled to the United States [and we hear such good reports of Chicago]. However, there is hope as since our recent excursion to South America crossing the North Atlantic does not seem quite so daunting.

      We totally agree about the eating when on one's travels. Indeed, we always look forward to dinner in some local restaurant off the beaten track and where, hopefully, we shall meet local people.

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  68. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Your photos of Pisa are wonderful and looks like you had a fun time.
    Loved seeing all your fun shots of you all and how delicious the food is.
    You look fabulous in your spotty dress and cute hat.
    Hope you are having a lovely week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. We did indeed have the most wonderful time in Pisa, Carolyn, and in no small part on account of the generosity of both Andrea and Carlo who went to enormous trouble to plan a programme of things to do and see which would appeal to us.

      And, thank you, we are having a busy week full of fun things; we wish the same for you.

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  69. Dear Jane and Lance

    Isn't Pisa fun, you look like you were enjoying it! Pisa is not my favourite Tuscan town that honour goes to Florence. Predictable, I know. Did you stay at the wonderful 'Victoria Hotel' in Pisa? It is absolutely delightful particularly twilight rooftop drinks.
    Have a gorgeous week.

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    1. We can well understand why Florence should come first in your affections over Pisa but, that said, and here we are sure that you will agree, putting aside the crowds who throng around The Leaning Tower, there is much of interest to be seen and discovered in this second city.

      Alas, we knew not of the 'Victoria Hotel' and love the idea of twilight rooftop drinks. As good as speeding in the motor car to Lucca to purchase ice creams at midnight! We shall look up your hotel - perhaps next time.

      Do you by any chance have a blog?

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    2. No blog at this stage. What would I call it with The Lion's Den taken? The 'Kitty Litter' just does not cut it.

      Lucca is beautiful and I will travel any distance for Italian gelato. Did you walk on the walls surrounding Lucca?

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    3. Well, with or without a blog, we are delighted to welcome you. Do feel free to become a 'Follower' if you care to or see fit!

      As for an appropriate name for your future blog, 'The Cat's Whisker', 'In the Wake of Macavity' or 'Pussy Galore' [with apologies to Ian Fleming] are the best that can be come up with on the spur of the moment. Pleas ignore.

      Yes, in fact we did on another occasion walk and ride the walls of Lucca, something of which is described in a previous post 'Up at a Villa - to borrow from Robert Browning' [Monday, July 23rd. 2012].

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  70. I've never been to Italy, I've always wanted to go there and now I really, really want to go! isn't it beautiful? It's my 'when the kids are older we can just go away for a weekend' fantasy of adventure! in the meantime I will enjoy your travels, fun, statue posing, a fabulous Chef with pearls and Jane's beautiful outfits, you are both always such joy x x x

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    1. Yes, you really MUST take yourself to Italy, Sandra, at the first possible opportunity for it is, as we are certain that you already know, the most wonderful country in so many different respects and with a culture and heritage which are, in our opinion, unmatched.

      And thank you for such very generous compliments.

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  71. Hello Jane and Lance.
    You have taken me back to 1995 when we spent a fortnight that summer driving around Tuscany and Umbria. Beautiful. It was a summer full of joy and delights - and nine months later our precious son was born. We have a loved Italy ever since.

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    1. How splendid still to have memories of your summer spent in Tuscany and Umbria. Italy really is the loveliest of countries and has such a rich heritage to offer the visitor. We are often tempted to go to live there but content ourselves with its being relatively close.

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  72. Jane, that's a very fetching dress and so glad you, Lance and the lads had a great time. Love to you and Lance and loved this travelogue; brought back some wonderful memories of a trip to Italy Dave and I took.

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    1. Thank you so much, Sandra. We do very much hope that all is going well with you and that there is some progress with all the changes which are taking place in your life at present.

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  73. Ah, what joy! Love the photographs - so candid, so much fun.

    I'm dazzled by the kaleidoscope of places and flavours that this post is. There's just so much character in every nook and corner, and so many stories to them. This makes me dream and how! The slightest mention of Italy (and France) always has.

    And the Tuscan sun does seem to have that extra bit of sparkle, doesn't it?!

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    1. We are so pleased that you enjoyed the images, Suman. We deliberately decided not to show much in the way of the art and architecture of the places we visited, but rather to try to give to the post a somewhat more personal aspect.

      And we were so fortunate with that Italian sun!!

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  74. Oh Jane and Lance -----BIG sigh! I've never been to Italy though I've always wanted to. My brother and his wife were in Tuscany for a week two years ago (last year they were in Paris - another BIG sigh) but they are not the type to take pictures no matter how much I plead. Thank goodness for blogs. Especially yours. :) Incidentally my brother felt the same way you did about the Leaning Tower, Lance. He said, "It's a tower and it's leaning." Some people. Ha!

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    1. Yvette, we are certain that you would fall in love with Italy for not only is it a beautiful country but it is also in possession of a very rich heritage. And then, in addition, it has such a long tradition of film making - something else which we know you would find of interest. Let us hope that one day it may become possible for you to visit.

      We are completely at one with your brother over The Leaning Tower of Pisa - but we are in a very small minority!!

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  75. dear jane and lance,
    oh goodness, now i feel i have been to italy, even if only vicariously. what brilliant travel writers you are, i've so enjoyed reading. and your photos! lots of fun (doing things for ones own amusement, required!) you all look to be enjoying every bit of your travel adventuring, and so handsomely as well! thank you for sharing, it really feels like a privilege to be allowed to have a peek around your charming blog!
    xo lori

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    1. We are so pleased that you have enjoyed this post Lori ann and, for our part, we are looking forward to hearing of your travels when you set off next month.

      Thank you so much for your very generous compliments and for becoming our latest Follower. We are delighted to have you.

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  76. A really lovely post. I particularly loved the photograph of the pigeon perched in the window!
    matthew

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    1. The photograph of the pigeon on the window sill happened purely by chance, Matthew. It was just one of those moments.

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  77. Hi Jane, thanks for your comment on the 50 year old table, I often wonder what will happen to it once we pass on. lol
    I love to see your travels, we, believe it or not have never been out of u.k. and flown only once up to Scotland to see our eldest son.
    Nice put a face to the name.
    Briony
    x

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    1. But the important things is, Briony, that you are enjoying it for the present and that is all that matters. The future can, and will, look after itself.

      It is not always necessary to travel outside the British Isles for there are so many interesting and varied places to be seen without all the bother of boats and aeroplanes.

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  78. My smile was stretched out all over my silly face and by the time I arrived to, 'And now the memories remain,' my eyes were shining. I honestly can't decide which I like best: midnight ice creams to Lucca, 1950s-evoking signs, shadow play or the psychic zap of joy that transmits at just the right frequency from the boys in the blue.

    And that delightful master chef looks like she knows how to infuse a meal with just the right amount of elan!

    A gorgeous post, as always.

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    1. Darling FGD,

      It was all, to put it simply, wonderfully wonderful. We had such enormous fun everywhere we went and we both thought the suggestion at midnight to drive ten or more miles for ice creams so superbly decadent. And the ice creams were well worth the wait - utterly delicious. There is, as you will know, so much about Italy which verges on being out of this world it is so incredible, and then it is also a country of so many contrasts where a 1950s pizza sign can be tacked to the wall of a XV Century palace.

      You are absolutely right about the chef. A gem of a person. xxx

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  79. Dearest Jane and Lance,

    Thank you so much for taking us on your magical tour of Tuscany. I feel absolutely transported by your beautiful photography and words. How I long to be in this enchanting place where everything I admire and love; food, culture and art all unite in one place! It must be truly wonderful to have Carlo and Andreas as your travelling companions as nothing can beat the knowledge of the insiders such as unique information on where to go, where to dine and where to see the arts, etc. Oh my dears, I believe you were in your element!

    Did you stay at a hotel? I hope it is agreeable. I remember reading about your trip to Venice and that little quaint bohemian hotel, straight out from Visconti's romantic vision, where you stayed. You always travel in style and you went away from the most populated areas with the tourists to search for more tasteful and unusual places you visit are such educational to us all.

    I've been reading the latest book (published a couple of months ago, this year) a novelist that you admire. It's called 'The Prince's Boy' by Paul Bailey. It's one of the most beautiful novels written by a contemporary writer I've read so far in this year.

    I'd also like to thank you so much for your recent comment in my blog which I replied.

    Have a great weekend. I hope you both are having a splendid summer.

    Best wishes, ASD x

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    1. Dearest ASD,

      You summarise Italy, and Tuscany in particular, so well as a "place where........food, culture and art all unite". This is such a perfect description of a country which is so very, very rich in history and tradition and whose heritage is, or so we believe, second to none. Carlo and Andrea are very special to us and acted as superb guides with knowledgeable insight into many different and varied aspects of their homeland.

      We did indeed stay in an hotel thinking that that would give Carlo and Andrea some break from us(!!) although, in truth, it was rather lacking in any romantic appeal and instead verged on the pretentious.

      Yes, we have a copy of 'The Prince's Boy' and enjoyed it hugely. Paul Bailey is a close friend of a dear friend and so we have met him on occasion at dinner parties in London. We are so glad that you enjoyed it and would recommend all his novels to you.

      It is only ever a pleasure to read your posts and requires no effort whatsoever to leave a comment. We shall be in touch. xxx

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  80. What a fun visit to Tuscany. Love the posing and the smile on the chefs face is lovely.

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    1. Indeed, Marilyn, the chef/owner was and is a remarkable woman and one who went out of her way to make our evening very special.

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  81. Your beautiful photos have made me long to visit Italy again! GSL is right, however. It is the moxie and spirit of the traveler that shines through the travel pics.

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    1. One can never, or so we believe, Cynthia, have too much of, or tire, of Italy. It is a remarkable country and one which remains very close to our hearts.

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  82. Jane I adore your polka dot dress and your guided tour of some towns in Tuscany, Classy chef to wear pearls while cooking. The little bistros and pizza places and wine bars are often the best, as your photos show.

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    1. We too thought that the wearing of the pearls by the chef/owner of the restaurant displayed great individuality and style. Each place in which we ate was, in its own way, highly distinctive.

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  83. Oh I am in love! All that food, lovely Italians, games and pranks. Just sounds like a heavenly holiday. I think you need to write a book, telling people how to really live, you are just so expert at it. I love your wonderful polka dot dress Jane, which seems to fitso well with all the fifties signage. So glad you enjoyed your time in Italy.
    Many thanks for your lovely comments on my blog, I have left you a reply.
    I shall definitely take your advice about having a wedding post, hopefully on Friday. I am very much looking forward to seeing everything in place.
    All my love to you, Linda xx

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    1. We do so agree, Linda, all far too delicious for words. We do think that we are exceptionally fortunate and privileged to have the time to be able to explore new places. And when in the company of such dear friends, nothing could be nicer.

      The wedding sounds to be wonderful We shall certainly look out for your next post but, in the meantime, do not work too hard. xxx

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  84. Hello Jane and Lance,

    You can both relax now. For yes, your starstruck fan, Gary, has arrived, finally, with one of my highly collectable comments.

    Such an Italian flair doth carry me along with your words and photos. I love your adventures. I know have this urge for pizza.

    Thank you for this, my illustrious, charming friends.

    Gary

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    1. The Italians do, as you say, have great flair for so many things and that, combined with such a rich heritage, gives Italy the edge over so many other countries. Or so we think.

      We hope, if you had it, that the pizza was good, Gary.

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  85. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Sorry for my late reply! I already saw your post a few days ago, but did not reply yet, as I wanted to take my time do do it properly. Almost forgot :-)!!

    It looks like the two of you had a fabulous time with the Italian boys! Great photo's of the two of you! Jane, what a knock out dress. It looks like it is made for you!

    Much love from the three of us,

    Madelief xoxox

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    1. Dearest Madelief,

      Please do not apologies for anything.

      First our wonderful and unforgettable time with you and then Italy. We have been so very spoilt in the last few weeks and, before long, we shall, like you, be off to England as well. So much to look forward to.

      Our love to you all. xxx

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  86. My goodness, what a trip you've had! Breathtaking architecture, the food, the company, everything. And I do believe I see a silvery sparkly jacket in that last photo too. Aaaah. I too enjoy making up stories about other guests and sometimes imagine what it would be like to be marooned on an island with them - not always a pretty picture.

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    1. We really did have the most wonderful time, Melanie, and enjoyed every minute in the excellent company of our Italian friends. Making up stories is, we agree, all part of the fun as is people watching in general.

      The sparkle comes from a bag, as it happens a gift from a Chinese Princess!!

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  87. Oh I am so glad that I didn't miss this, what a truly festive feast for the eyes on what is a rather dreary rainy morning at my Mother's house in Michigan. I love how you both truly make the most of each occasion - and in fine company as well.

    I was fortuate enough to be included as part of the "American team" for an international theatre festival in Bagni di Lucca some odd 25 years ago. It was an exceptional experience with actors from Russia and England as well as the home Italian team. We were all workshopping Chekhov's "The Seagull" with each actor performing in their own language despite the origin of the actor opposite. Rehearsals were in the former villas of Byron and Shelley. How I loved all of it and yes, the food was divine.

    So happy for you both to have had such an adventure...
    Bisous,
    H.

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    1. So sad to hear, Heather, that you are having rather disappointing weather in Michigan where here, for the most part, we are enjoying a lovely summer.

      Your experience in Bagni di Lucca sounds to be more than a little interesting and something which has remained in your memory over the years. It must have been enormous fun with a mix of nationalities and the setting would have been superb. We both rank Chekhov very highly as a playwright.

      Meanwhile we do trust that all is well with you in the United States. xxx

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    2. Thank you friends. It is not quite as it should be but it will all work itself out. And I have many stories to tell from that trip to Bagni di Lucca, many great memories.

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    3. Take care and look after yourself. And do not forget Europe!

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  88. Life to the very full indeed! Viva la dolce vita! :)
    What a marvelous adventure....and I love to see (and read) how wonderfully playful you both are! Your joy, dearest Jane and Lance, comes through with every word and gorgeous photo.
    And to have such warm, fun-loving hosts to guide you and share in the trip....makes for even sweeter memories.
    Tuscany is an eternal gem....I have only stayed in Florence so far, but would love to go back.
    (I adore your polka dot dress, dear Jane!)
    Thank you for sharing your dreamy trip!
    Much love,
    - Irina

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    1. It is, but here we know that you will agree, Irina, so very important to make the very most of each and all occasions. And our recent time in Italy could not in any way have been better, particularly in the company of Andrea and Carlo.

      If you have the chance to spend more time in Italy at any point, then we should most certainly recommend all of Tuscany to you. And then of course there is Venice and.......xxx

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    2. Aaah...Venice! Yes, it is a dream for me...
      I spent literally 15 minutes there in the early morning hours...the mist was lifting as the sun rose...I was changing trains, but just that tiny magical moment was enough...I fell in love with it....(love at first sight, I guess!)

      Have a glorious weekend, dears!
      xoxoxo

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    3. Venice with the mist rising over the lagoon in the early morning, just as you saw it, is pure heaven. You must now promise yourself to go back, but next time for days and days!! xxx

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  89. dear friends, I am really glad to see a piece of Italy here !
    and to see you spent a good time, I am really happy about that, really good.
    a nice advertising for us :-) we really need it ...
    my best regards and thanks for visiting the Italian view .
    Buona serata a tutti voi !

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    1. Thank you so much, Massimo. We simply adore your country and so it is always so easy to write about it. And the history, culture and heritage of Italy are second to none. Then there are the Italians, the food, the climate..........we could go on, and on and on!!

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  90. Dearest Jane and Lance,

    Dear ones please forgive my tardiness to the “Party Hattatt” but I was unfortunately waylaid by cascading technical problems that finally facilitated the need to move to a different blogging platform. Hoping that you recognize the posting name and are not mistaking me for some strange interloper, well an interloper anyway.

    Oh! What a simply marvelous post on you Italian travels. I can only imagine the happy chatter your touring party had. It sound as though you tour guides on little outing were quite congenial and obliging. Which I am sure made the trip that much more wonderful.

    Concerning your post “Madelief and Her Dutch Garden, just wondrous I so would loving having a summer such as the one shown.

    As always, I so enjoy your posts. – gary

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    1. Dearest Gary,

      There is absolutely nothing to forgive. On the occasions, and it certainly happens to us with ever increasing frequency, actual life itself does overtake the Blogosphere and one finds oneself caught up in the real world. And now a slight change of name creeping in. What we wonder occasions that?

      WE are so sorry to learn that you have had technical problems. As it happens we have been 'off air' for a couple of days or so with Blogger problems. This morning we appear to be up and running again.

      Italy, as it always is, was perfect in every respect and we much enjoyed the company of our dear friends, Andrea and Carlo. They went to enormous trouble to plan things they knew we should enjoy.

      'Madelief'', who is the most delightful of people, we originally came to know through the blog and now she is also a friend in real life. The same could happen to you, so be warned!!!! xxx

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  91. You are fortunate to have darling friends in such darling places.
    Isn’t life grand (literally) when you share it with people of like mind.

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    1. We really do consider ourselves most fortunate with all of our friends. They matter to us more than anything else.

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  92. Such wonderful photos Jane & Lance, thank you for the tour of Tuscany lived vicariously through your photos!! that's it, then I'm putting on my pearls to cook dinner TONIGHT! heh heh

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    1. We are so pleased that you have enjoyed this post, Sally. We had such fun in Tuscany and did so many stylish things that the pearls, when they appeared on the chef/owner, just seemed perfectly natural.

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  93. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Your trip to Tuscany sounds and looks absolutely wonderful. And to experience it all in the company of dear friends - how lovely!

    Lucy

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    1. Lucy, you are absolutely right. To see and experience so many beautiful things us wonderful, but to do that with the excellent company of dear friends really makes it all the more delightful. We feel blessed to have Andrea and Carlo in our lives.

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