Tag Archives: Montone

She took my mother with her

My mother was of the Moon. Aren’t all women?

Each month, when the moon is full, my mother comes to visit. I know it’s her way of telling me that she’s still with me. And how lovely to know that we’ll see each other every month until I no longer inhabit the earth. Perhaps then I’ll be with her on our infinite journey.

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I usually photograph the rising moon or when it’s high in the sky. But this time, the first full moon after my mother’s death, I awoke early at 5:00 am and looked out the window. The moon was sliding down into her setting, and I said my final goodbye as the she took my mother with her.

The August moon is the most precious as my mom’s birthday is August 19th.

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Weekly photo challenge: Object

Which object? Only the shadow knows.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: One shot–two ways

Statuesque views, more or less, of the Montone countryside.

Morning ritual

A friend has been posting a painting a day. Such inspiration to get creative! Her theme this month is coffee and tea. So, as a little tribute to her theme, this is my morning ritual…how I love cappuccino!

I want to be in Italy when I’m 80

A caravan pulls up to our neighbor’s house and the music starts. Bells are ringing, people are singing and shouting joyous greetings. The house is lit up with all the outside lights (which is very special here since electricity is so expensive!) to welcome the local bandwagon of people, gifts, and good cheer.

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This Christmas Eve mission? To visit each and every house in this tiny valley where someone (or more) is at least 80 years old. And there are a lot of them! At least 20 people out of a population of 100 or so.

I stand on the terrace and watch and listen. My heart fills with joy, I smile. And I think to myself, I want to still be here when I’m 80.

Merry Christmas to all.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong

I’m standing on a tiny dirt road in the Italian countryside…

Capture the Colour

Capturing colors can bring wonderful surprises. So I decided to take part in the TravelSupermarket.com “Capture the Colour” contest to share some of my little surprises. Even if we spell color differently, capturing it is a gift!

I once painted a picture in elementary school with red grass and trees with blue trunks and violet leaves. My teacher asked what the heck I thought I was doing. I said I was imitating Gauguin, you know the guy with the pink sand, yellow ocean and blue/green/lavender horses? She told me to never pull a stunt like that again. Whew. Talk about blowing your enthusiasm for colors.

After I met and married my husband, who is a painter, my love of colors came back to me through him. Everywhere I turn now, I see colors. Here are my five:

#1

Feelin’ Kinda BLUE
Hotel Paříž, Prague

That was my first thought. The masses are outside, cramming the streets of Prague, which are filled with awful tourist-trap shops full of junk. Hidden in a spot that’s quiet, away from the tourists, our lady hangs her head and mourns her beautiful city.

#2

I got carried away! Sometimes it IS easy bein’ GREEN!
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

 One of the dozens of parades every week through the Jardin in San Miguel de Allende. This particular parade was very special to me as it was the last time my mother was able to get out of the house and walk to her beloved Jardin before she died. More on this trip on my post, I left my heart in San Miguel.

#3

I wanted to see the Christmas tree and all I could see was RED.
Old Town Square, Prague

 Turned the corner into the square and stopped dead in my tracks. It was a freezing night, but the red threw warmth into our souls.

#4

Did someone say WHITE? Well, here ya go!
At a park in the Czech Republic

He just couldn’t stop performing.

#5

“Silence is not always golden; sometimes it is YELLOW.” – Anonymous.
Montone, Italy (my home) 

On a cold March morning in Montone, the street lamps had been left to burn until almost ten. There had been a ferocious storm the night before, no one was out. I found myself alone, silent, with my little friends in this sculpture, who were bathing in their pale yellow light. More walks in Montone.

Bloggers I nominate (sorry, only 3 as so many have already been nominated!):

Janine – Destination Umbria
Anneliesa – Anneliesa Rabl Blog
Tiffany – The Pines of Rome

A walk in Montone – Una passeggiata a Montone

Every time I bring a friend up to Montone, I see new things through fresh eyes. Today, it was rooftops and chimneys and campaniles. Ogni volta che porto a Montone un’amica, vedo qualche cose con uno sguardo nuovo. Oggi ho visto tetti e camini e campanili.

And a few little odd friends that live in a beautiful, modern sculpture just outside the walls of Montone. E anche ci sono pochi piccoli amici strani che vivono nella bella scultura moderna appena fuori le mura di Montone.

I had the pleasure to spend the day in Montone with a fellow blogger and new friend. Janine writes the blog Destination Umbria and her passion for Umbria, especially Perugia, is shown beautifully through her own photographs. I hope she realizes her dream of living here one day.

Ho avuto il piacere di trascorrere la giornata a Montone con un altra blogger e un’amica nuova. Janine scrive il blog Destination Umbria e la sua passione per Umbria, specialmente Perugia, e’ mostrata in bel modo attraverso le sue foto. Spero che realizza il suo sogno di vivere qui un giorno.

Below are more treasures that Montone gave us today.
Sotto ci sono piu’ tesori che oggi ci ha dato Montone.

(Ai miei amici italiani — scusatemi tanto per l’italiano…non scrivo abbastanza in questi giorni!)

Awakenings…or I took a walk with a bee

It’s the small things one notices, and then the certainty. The season has changed. Spring is here, but it’s only just awakening.

Beginnings ripple throughout the countryside and suddenly there is color and sound and flight where there had been darkness and snow. I wonder if plants do have a secret life, secret from humans, that is. I just bet, when they’re flowering and leafing, they feel as excited as we do during our own awakenings.

I took a walk with a bee this morning. No kidding. I had gone down to the creek for my morning walk, and on the way back I started collecting sticks from the forest floor. They’re the best kindling for our fires as they’ve fallen naturally from the trees and have gathered lichen–great material for a fire starter.

So there I was, walking along holding my sticks, and I realized I had been hearing a buzzing sound for a few minutes. I looked down and sure enough, a brown, fuzzy bee was kind of hopping along just in front of my feet. The forest floor is oozing with moss and other strange mucky things from the recent rains, and it’s producing some beautiful white and purple flowers.

This little bee was ecstatic, jumping from one oozy mess to the next, then to the flowers, then back to the tips of my boots. She stayed with me for about 100 meters. Once in awhile I got ahead of her as she fell, intoxicated, into another patch of flowers. Then, she was back, hopping on my boot.

A breeze funneled down the path, whispering through the trees and making the world around me shiver. We reached the fork in the path, and I looked down just as she took off from my boot. We went our separate ways.

As I walked back up the hill toward our house, I thought, huh, I just took a walk with a bee. Well, it’s spring. Stranger things can happen I suppose. When I rounded the corner, I said, yep.

A winter to remember–the women of Montone

So, it’s a bit cold in Italy right now. And why not? It’s February! I look out my window at the white valley, listen to the tramontana (north wind) howling, watch the snow swirls. It’s beautiful.

We’re snowed in and probably will be for 4-5 days, but we’re warm and cozy with plenty of fire wood and provisions. We were expecting this storm and stocked up the morning  before it hit hard. It’s a little inconvenient that we can’t get out of our valley, but as long as we stay healthy, we’ll be fine.

Being snowed in, I took this opportunity to hike over to our neighbor’s house. I don’t visit them nearly enough and the two matriarchs of family are now in their early 80s. Their husbands are long gone, two of their grown children own half of the house, the other children, grand-children and great-granchildren have moved to various cities. They don’t want any part of the farming life that this family has endured for over 100 years.

We talked about the weather, of course, as we sat by the crackling fire in the kitchen, sipping their Vin Santo. The older sister had just come in from the garage and said with an embarrassed smile that she had just put her laundry in the dryer. The dryer! She smacked her forehead. She cannot believe what she has now: a washer and dryer, an electric garage door, heat, running water, electricity, the Internet for her grand-daughter, freezers, walls that don’t let in any air. They live in a modern house now on their property, their old stone farmhouse having been destroyed in the earthquake in 1985.

Then the stories started. Memories of past winters, their diga freezing and not being able to haul water, farm animals freezing to death, no running water, no electricity, no heat. They told these stories with hilarity, shrugs of shoulders, “what can you do…that’s the way it was”, isn’t our life completely different now…

And then came the story of the winter of 1944. Their husbands and brothers and sons were fighting the Germans as they rampaged their way through Umbria. They didn’t know if their loved ones were still alive–so many men had already died during the war. When the Germans approached Umbertide and the surrounding hills, most of the women of Montone had to flee to the hills.

It was a winter worse than today and it lasted for nearly three months. They hid in the mountains between Montone and Pietralunga for five months. They hauled what wood and water they could find, they slept under thin blankets in old stone hovels, they killed small birds and rabbits with stones to roast over their open fires, risking being discovered by the Germans. One woman gave birth to a little girl; she didn’t make it, she died a week later.

April 1944 brought the bombing of Umbertide, a sad mistake on the allies’ part. In June, the British troops, including the Indian 10th Infantry Division, arrived in Umbertide and liberated it. Fierce fighting continued in the surrounding hills, and Montone was finally liberated on 6-7 July with the British troops and the Italian Partisans engaging in fierce fighting against the Germans. Hand-to-hand combat, house-to-house searches, 20 Germans killed and 85 prisoners taken.

The women of Montone descended the hills on 8 July to be reunited with their village. My two grand dame neighbors returned to their farmhouse and land to rebuild their lives. Not many husbands of Montone returned; there was tremendous loss of life. But they looked forward to the warmth of summer, water in the diga, an actual kitchen in which to make pasta, a patch of garden to grow their beloved tomatoes and other vegetables, and above all, a fireplace that would be safe from enemy eyes for future winters.

It was time for me to go. The wind chilled me to the bone as I trudged up the 300 meters across the fields to our house. I was freezing…and then I stopped dead in my tracks. Freezing? In a down jacket with a fur hood? Snow boots with furry insides? Coming home to a house with radiators, a wonderful stufa, lights, rugs, eider down quilts, three incredible kitties, a loving husband. Freezing? Right.