Friday, December 29, 2017

Hillside Towns of Umbria

Umbria and Spello were much more picturesque than I anticipated. I could have spent hours or even days in Spello just walking up and down the winding stone streets taking beautiful photos.

This was the view from one side of the town looking into the Umbrian fields.
When Hubby D and I went for our daily walks, he went fast. It was very hard to keep up because I kept finding something to capture. It was all so very beautiful.

On Sunday there was an outside cooking class in one of the piazzas.

I could not resist this door knocker. It was very unique.

There was an olive festival going on in Spello and roaming singers stopped right in front of our apartment to sing and entertain. It was amazing and so much fun! This is a video of the singers. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog to watch the video.

Our first trip outside Spello was to Assisi. Driving there was extremely enjoyablel and the cathedral was beautiful.

We stopped along the way at a very local restaurant for lunch. The view was out over the valley and an olive orchard. It was gorgeous.

Having our own car was terrific on this portion of our trip. We could wind through the towns, stop along the way to enjoy the view. We were able to come and go at our leisure. We were relaxed and having the time of our lives.

Back in Spello we had another fantastic evening enjoying the wines and the company at Enoteca Properzio.  On this evening the Angelini family shared a holiday tradition with us. We dined on escargot cooked in the most wonderful wine sauce. Again, Roberto paired these with some fabulous wines!

The escargot was cooked by a local chef and only served by the Angelini family once during the holiday season. FANTASTICO! (I tried to learn a few Italian words.)

A wonderful ending to another beautiful day in Italy.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Italian Wine Country

The Internet has been a challenge on this trip. If ever you want to travel for extended times to areas you have not visited and away from big cities, I highly recommend purchasing your own hot spot to take along.  In some places we had very limited amounts of data we could use and in Spello we had no Internet at all in our apartment. It was only available in the wine store around the corner.

However, it was well worth it. Spello was FABULOUS.

Our drive from Como to Spello was interesting. The highways were very nice and after a while we understood the signage and our GPS in the car. The Audi we rented had a touch pad that you used your finger to write letters. Very cool once Hubby D got used to it.

We left the mountains and drove through long stretches of green pastures. Then we went back into the mountains. One mountain tunnel seemed extremely long. It must have been a couple of miles. When we entered we were in green mountains. When we came out of the tunnel the hillsides were covered in snow.

We went back into another long tunnel and exited in green mountains again. 

Here is one of the many hill side villages we saw just looking outside our car window.
Typical hillside villa.

Along the way we stopped at a gas station and rest stop like none I have ever seen. It was a huge super market. There was even an escalator. However there were only a few gas pumps. It was very busy as the locals we're having their espresso and a pastry.

Hams and cheeses abound.

This mistake will have to be forgiven. We could not resist having a fast food hamburger when we passed this McDonald's.  Awe, a taste of home.  LOL (REALLY LOL)
We were looking forward to our stay in Spello. It is located in Umbria close to Assisi. Umbria is an area of Italy completely land locked.

I knew this was going to be a great week the moment I saw Spello sitting on the side of the hill.
As DK Eyewitness so beautifully wrote on their website -- Umbria has beautiful rolling hills and fertile plains with picturesque towns, castles and monasteries. 

Recently there has been the arrival of a breed of “New Umbrians”, neo-settlers who have migrated here, perhaps from England or large cities in the US. It is not unusual, while exploring the region’s splendidly scenic roads, to find American couples enjoying the view, monks, or Italian ex-urbanites who have chosen a new, more relaxed way of life in this idyllic, largely rural setting.

Spello was unbelievably beautiful sitting on a hillside just off a nice local road. The streets wind around the hillside going up to the main square. We were to meet Irene Angelini at the Enoteca Properzio and we entered it into our GPS.  

However, our GPS kept taking us down one-way streets the wrong way so finally we gave up, parked and walked. It was not a long walk, but extremely steep. 

After we finally found the Enoteca Properzio and met Irene and her father Roberto, they showed us where to park off the square just outside our apartment.

Roberto Angelini greeted us like we were old friends. He said, "My casa, your casa!"
Very secure parking.
The living room for our apartment was located where the window shutters are open.
The door was located inside an archway.
Roberto Angelini and his family run a wine store, a restaurant, a scooter rental shop (in the summer) and a store selling Irene’s own line of cosmetics. They also have several apartments around the village that they rent out to visitors. Our accommodations were in their newest apartment just around the corner from the wine store, Enoteca Properzio.

Enoteca Properzio is not just any wine store. The Angelini family has lived in Spello for seven generations. They started being producers of wine and then became wine merchants. As one of the many newspaper and magazine articles written about the store states, “Enoteca Properzio is perhaps the best wine store in all of Italy.” 

That is not an exaggeration.

The outside patio dining was packed over the weekend. Roberto worked the crowd serving wines to taste.
The walls outside the store were covered with articles and reviews written in the most prestigious publications. 
The walls inside the entrance were lined with boxes of wine ready ship all over the world, China, London, California, Dubai and on and on.
As they say on their web site, over the years, the Angelini family has never lost sight of the priceless value of its land or the concept of Made in Italy, successfully exporting these ideals all over the world with honesty and integrity. They are all the members of this visionary Italian family who, with their passion and respect for tradition, are spreading the name, quality and unique nature of Enoteca Properzio around the world.

They were a wonderful family and our stay with them was FANTASTIC --  like visiting a long lost uncle, a VERY INTERESTING uncle and his family.

Our apartment was lovely. There were two floors with the dining area and kitchen on the first floor and a large living room and bedroom on the second floor. The ceilings were all original dating back to medieval times. Very quaint and extremely picturesque, very Italian!

Even the kitchen had Medieval ceilings.
The shower was very small but Hubby D said it was worth it.
After settling in our apartment, we returned to the Enoteca Properzio for a wonderful evening of information about the history of Enoteca Properzio,  good food, and some EXCELLENT wines.   Dinner was like sitting down with old friends, sharing memories and enjoying wonderful wines.

The wine store had two gorgeous Murano chandeliers. Irene told me it took 5 men to hang them when they were installed. They were stunning.

Roberto poured tastings of several wines as he learned what we liked. Soon he was sharing his favorites with us and we were loving it. We quickly found out that we had a great deal in common. 
Fresh meets and cheeses were sliced right at the table. 

We sipped wine and enjoyed delicious food surrounded by boxes and walls filled with wine.
We came to Spello because our friends from Bahrain, ES and NDL had told us about Spello and their friends, the Angelini family. ES and NDL have even hosted a wine tasting in San Antonio with Irene and Roberto. Members of the Angelini family travel all over the world holding private wine tastings.

This was so much fun!

Another couple from Washington, DC who were also guests of Enoteca Properzio  came in and we had a nice conversation. They had purchased a villa in Spello and were in the process of renovating it.  When purchased it did not have electricity or plumbing so it is a huge remodel. It was very interesting to hear their stories about the process.

After all the food, fun conversation, and great wine, we were off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

6AM the next morning.
Our first experience on our first full day in Spello was the ringing of the church bells. Our apartment was located directly next to one of the many churches in the village.

The bell tower was right beside our living room (note shutters of our open window to the left of the bell tower).
Let’s just say, we did not need an alarm clock during out stay in Spello.  It sort of reminded me of the “call to prayer” in the Middle East. This is a video of the bells ringing as I opened the window to our apartment. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog to watch the video.

The bells rang at 6AM, 6:30AM (all of the churches in the entire village bells at 6:30), 7AM (again all the bells), 7:15 (just the other churches and not the one directly by us), 7:30AM (all the churches), 7:45 (just the other churches), 8AM (all the churches), 8:30 (all the churches), then through out the day they rang on the hour and half hour.  However at 10:15AM when church lets out on Sunday, they ring for a long time playing music.

During the day there are other times they ring all the bells on the quarter hour but I did not pay much attention.  The church next to the apartment rang on the hour and half hour throughout the day, until 10PM. None of the bells ring after 10PM and not again until 6AM. Hubby D says that you have your 8 hours sleep and then at 6AM it is time to get up and get going.

Our first full day in Spello we took it very easy.  I washed some clothes and we went on a very long and steep walk to top of the village. I wrote and Hubby D read a book sitting in the sun down on the piazza.  

Lunch was fresh pasta on the patio with (you guessed it) GREAT wine.

Dinner was in the Enoteca Properzio again.  It was a lively group this evening and our new friends from Washington, DC arrived to tell us about how their new apartment was coming along. We had passed by it on our walk and did not realize it.

They only had a piece of wood for a door so I could peak through and the view was STUNNING! I hope someday I am back in Spello and can see how the apartment comes out. I bet it is amazing.

The food and wine were great again. The wine was definitely over the top. This was going to be a wonderful week.