A terrace with a view

view-of-sienaAs our thoughts turn to Italy, a look through the photo album reminds us of time spent around Siena. This photo is taken from the front terrace of the cottage we called home for 6 months at Casavacanza Vesta and is looking towards Siena on a warm October evening.

When we arrived the view was almost completely obscured by trees but while we were away one weekend the kind owners thinned the trees – providing us with this fantastic sunset show each evening.

The house on the cliff

Cliff top houseEvery time we walked from the villa to the village of Positano we passed a house that simply had to be photographed. It is actually three apartments that are built, quite literally, on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea and above a private beach.

The setting is stunning and the way the house is fitted into the hill seems to sum up the relationship Positano has with its surroundings. They work in harmony, like that’s the way things have always been. The Italians have a word for this – simpatico.

Si, simpatico.

 

Good morning Positano

Early morning in PositanoThose of you who know me, know that mornings and I aren’t the best of friends. Even with the added incentive of lingering jet lag, I still manage to miss a fair bit of this magical time of the day.

Luckily the lovely Jean is an early riser and this morning, from our veranda, she captured this early morning view of the bay. A view which I have never been up early enough to witness.

That this shot exists at all is tribute to the camera in her iPhone 6 which managed to capture the image in the pre-dawn darkness.

Bella meets our bath

Bella in the bathLittle Bella has never really been fascinated with our bath – up until this evening when she jumped in. Luckily the bath was empty but even then she discovered that jumping in the bath is a lot less scary than jumping out.

So she sat there, and sat there, and sat there until she was finally rescued. But not before the obligatory photo had been taken.

Plans are afoot

Positano from Villa Greta's roof terrace

Positano from Villa Greta’s roof terrace

Our Italian holiday is less than a month away and we are in the final planning stages. Rome, Tuscany and Sicily are all places we will visit but our base will be Positano.

Ahhh, Positano.

We have booked Villa Greta for a week in August to coincide with the Festival of Our Lady of the Assumption on August 14th and 15th, which is one of Positano’s most important festivals. To quote the Positano.com website:

The festival both honors the town’s protector and commemorates the ancient legend of how a ship carrying a Byzantine icon of the virgin Mary was beached in the bay of Positano. Not until the sailors gave the icon to the local inhabitants were they able to set sail once more.

On August 14th, the celebrations begin with the so-called “Alazata del Quadro” (“The Lifting of the Painting”) in front of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.  In the evening, a spectacular procession of illuminated boats heads to the “Mamma e Figlio” rocks by the beach of Fornillo before returning to the Spiaggia Grande beach and the Cathedral.

On August 15th, the festivities continue late into the night and conclude with a magnificent firework display over the sea, which lights up much of the Amalfi Coast.

We will be watching from the terrazzo of Eden Roc hotel – one of the best vantage points in Positano.

That house in Nelson

Every time I pass through Richmond I pass an old run down house sitting in the middle of a field. I always mean to stop and photograph the house but there has inevitably been a good reason not too.

Until recently.

On the drive back from Pelorus Sound, I stopped and risked life and limb crossing the main road to captured a shot.

Another stormy day remembered

Having successfully survived Wellington’s recent storm, we started to think of other storms we’d been through – and the one that sprung to mind first was, funnily enough, an Italian storm.

It was during our stay in Positano in November 2011. After unusually good weather we were warned by the locals that the weekend was going to be stormy. It happened to be a weekend when we had visitors from the UK and New Zealand staying with us at Villa Greta.

Now, please understand, by storm we mean weather that was less than idyllic. Which involved wind (a bit), rain (not a lot) and seas that were rough (all to be taken in context of the Med just being a giant bath).

Our Saturday started with a visit the the beach at Positano and a late breakfast at Buca de Bacco. Apart from a strong breeze and the overcast conditions the only clue that there was a storm was the surf hitting the wharf. But despite the poor weather the resident beach artist was painting – as he does every day – a beautiful sunny vista full of blue skies, blue seas, bright sun and Bougainvillaea cascading down the sides of houses on the hill, somewhat at odds with reality.

In the afternoon we drove down the coast to Amalfi. The roads were treacherous and largely awash in places. The Amafi Coast has no real storm water drainage system  – other than the water rushing downhill towards the sea as fast as possible – down streets, across roads and over cliffs until eventually ending up in the sea. This system meant we were often driving along roads more like rivers and through villages where every lane was a steam cascading towards the sea.

In Amalfi the sea was crashing against shore and the sea side carpark that we had used only a few months previously in summer was now forming the breakwater and largely underwater. The wonderful thing was that, by the time we had driven up from Amalfi to the top of the cliffs to Ravello the weather had cleared and we had magnificent views looking east along the coast towards Salerno. Normal transmission had resumed.