Our short stay in Chianti in Tuscany was a chance to catch up with friends – some Italian locals and some Kiwi’s on tour. For three days all we seemed to do was eat and drink and tour the small villages of Chianti.
The base for our stay was the delightful Relais Vignale in Radda in Chianti. Spread across a number of traditional tuscan buildings, this hotel is a great way to enjoy a break without being limited to the “Saturday to Saturday” villa booking cycle. The service is excellent – in fact the manager Serena went out of her way to help us when our booking was affected by our overly long stay in Hong Kong.
We met up with friends from New Zealand who were staying just up the road and our good local friends Olga and Dani. Meals were had and stories relayed.
As always when in Chianti, the surprises were off the beaten track – the small village restaurant we stopped at for lunch and the gallery where the artist told us the story behind the small print we fell in love with and bought.
But after a shortened stay we packed up our rental car with our already expanding suitcases, farewelled friends, and headed north to Camogli for a week by the sea.
Last week in Chianti we were lucky enough to dine in style at Osteria Il Papavero in the hills above Gaiole in Chianti.
We visited Il Papavero with our friends Dani and Olga two years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the food, wine and company and when we discussed a dinner venue this time there was no doubt – it was Il Papavero again.
This is not a restaurant that gets “passing trade” as it is located in the hamlet of Barbischio – high in the hills above Gaiole in Chianti. The views are expansive and on a warm summers night there is seating inside and out.
It helps that Dani and Olga are regular customers so we were greeted like locals. We discovered that following our last visit we had become part of Tuscan legend as one of our party (you know who you are Jean) was the only person who has ever ordered one of Papavero’s steaks “ben cotta” – well done. Two years after that, it was still remembered.
Despite this we were allowed in and enjoyed a great night.
The wonderful thing about Papavero is that their menu is supplemented by as many special dishes again, all produced using local produce that is seasonally available. So last night we had everything from anchovies and pesto through to Calamari shaped pasta with pork and olives. All washed down with fine wine and finished with a local digestivo.
As part of our break in August we are staying a week in Chianti in Tuscany. Our dear friend Olga with her local contacts managed to find a beautiful villa for us called Il Diaccino. It is a villa located on a vineyard and olive farm and is just down the road from the village on Gaiole in Chianti.
With a pool just a short walk from the terrace and a very local vintage to sample, what more could anyone want?
It was a fun old year at our place. As always there seemed to be a lot happening but when I look back at the photos we’ve taken, our trip in August and those puppies – well Bella mainly – seem to dominate.
Rosie sitting on her bench in the garden
Wellington City across the harbour
Mount Victoria across Evans Bay
Our two at home
How not to park a 356 – paint missing and dented
The most photogenic house in Nelson
We decided to paint the house – one of these colours …
… then endured weeks of this
Jean’s lap in demand
Coming home from work to this … Bella!
Bella fascinated by a bug
911 in parking garage at work
Rosie with Poppie and Bella enjoying the afternoon sun
Jean baking up a storm
Poppie in front of our fire in a wintery July
The girls out walking in the UK
Neil and Jayne’s back yard on a sunny English summers evening
Relaxing at Hotel Eden Roc in Positano
You can build almost anywhere in Positano
Restaurant Bruno in Positano – the road is thrown in at no extra cost
As the holiday season comes to its inevitable end, the team at our place want to thank all our friends and family for a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Whether it was spending time together in Wellington on Christmas Day or catching up in Auckland for a few days, it was a great holiday break. Thank you all.
As they say in Italy – Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo.
The weather in England while we were there was most un-English. The temperature hovered around 22 degrees and the sun was out almost constantly. Ideal for enjoying dinner sitting outdoors with friends. Neil and Jayne and their 4 boys live in … Continue reading →
After 32 hours of travel, and a 12 hour time difference the perfect cure for jet lag was a dinner with friends, a decent sleep and, the following day, a walk through the English countryside. So that’s what we did … Continue reading →
Mt Etna erupting with Catania behind in 2001 – courtesy of photographer Carsten Peter
What do you know about Sicily? Probably more than we do.
The furthest south we have ever been in Italy is the Amalfi Coast just south of Naples. But not this trip because this trip we are spending a week in Sicily – the island known for Mt Etna and the Cosa Nostra.
We fly into Catania which lies in the shadow of Mt Etna (which is still classified as an active volcano). From there we drive south for 2 hours to Noto where a villa and our friends Gill, Andre, Josh and Jordan are waiting.
We have a week to discover our corner of Sicily. What should we do? Where should we go? Make us an offer we can’t refuse.
Last weekend the family travelled to Nelson for a family birthday. Bella had her first flight while Poppie clocked up a few more miles for her frequent flyer account.
Moving the four of us is a military operation involving 2 suitcases, 2 dog cages, 2 cabin bags and, of course, us.
As always Nelson was warm and sunny – most of the time – and inviting. The birthday boy was turning 3 so Saturday was spent in the company of other 3 year olds of all ages. Vast amounts of sugar were consumed in a short space of time with the resulting laughter, tears, fun and chaos of a kids party.
By the end of the day the house resembled a toy shop with a strong “Cars” influence.
We arrived back home Monday afternoon with two tired dogs who immediately fell asleep on the bed. The humans weren’t far behind them.
Our little puppy who used to fit in the palm of our hands is now a gangly 18 week old teenager with a mind of her own.
We’ve had a dog trainer come in and help us to wrangle her into line. She’s much better behaved but still has those moments of total abandon when she laps the couch repeatedly at full speed with no regard for anything in her way – whether it be me or Poppie or any piece of furniture that she runs into as her turning circle increases.
In the last couple of weeks she has worked out how to jump up on our bed and Poppie’s last haven of peace and quiet is now gone. But Bella seems to know that the bed is not a place to misbehave and it’s not unusual to find them both side by side, surrounded by their toys, sound asleep.
Making use of a Beatles song title seemed the most appropriate way to herald the arrival of the good weather at Pohara – and hopefully the start of a long hot summer break.
I got the chance to head out around the coast yesterday with a camera and accompanied by my photographic assistant to take a few shots. Although we’ve been to Pohara a couple of times in the past, this is the first time I’ve really had the chance to discover the coast. It really is worth seeing.
As I write this the rest of the team are at the beach swimming, jet skiing, building sand castles and soaking up the sun. Just like when we were kids – except for the jet skiing bit of course.
The umbrella drys under blue sky
The coast to the east of Pohara
An unusual land mark
The photographers assistant at work
Pohara Beach stretches into the distance
Daisies cling to a cliff face
A man clings to a cliff face …
No, it’s actually a climber
The wind drives waves to the shore
The coast looking towards Abel Tasman National Park
The view from our place to the sea – missing the sea because of the mist and rain
After weeks of glorious weather the day we arrive in Pohara the rain started. Well in truth, the rain started in Nelson and followed us over the Takaka Hill. The hill is a challenging drive in fine weather but with a mix of rain and mist it becomes doubly exciting – particularly as the traffic includes numerous camper vans and cars towing boats. It’s only the raw power of the mighty Falcon ute that means we can keep up a decent pace.
We arrived at “our place” for the next few days with light rain falling. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I recall that, according to Maori mythology, rain is seen as tears of the gods which is good luck.
Hopefully good luck that brings fewer tears and more sun over the next few days.
For the next week or so we are on the road – heading south for a traditional kiwi Christmas break. A few days with relatives in Nelson and then on to Pohara, a small seaside village nestled at the base of Golden Bay, at the top of the South Island.
There is a whole mix of friends and relatives descending on Pohara – by my rough count 5 rellies, 12 friends, Jean, me and Poppie. That’s 14 adults, 5 children and one dog. Nothing more to do than relax, eat and drink. It should be a great few days.