Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Archive for the ‘Gardens’ Category

New Zealand 2019 Day 2: Wellington Bus Tour – Mt Victoria Lookout & Botanic Gardens

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 7, 2019

As everyone knows, Wellington has a reputation for being very windy, with cold southerlies, often accompanied by lashings of rain.  But we have been blessed with beautiful weather, mild and sunny with a gentle breeze—and we know how lucky we are because we were told so by our tour bus driver.

As we usually do in cities we haven’t visited before, we took an orientation tour with Hop On Hop Off Guided Tours and our guide Dean was a mine of information about all sorts of things.  He says that Wellington owes its beautiful greenery to Australia, because as the hot air from the Red Centre makes its way across the Tasman Sea, any moisture evaporates—until it makes landfall and dumps it all as rain on Wellington. The forecast suggests that we might find out more about the wind tomorrow but for now it was a perfect day for visiting the Mt Victoria Lookout, with its 360° vistas all over the heart of Wellington.  The drive up there was interesting too because the narrow winding road features very pretty houses, mostly NZ timber, in what is said to be 1930s Californian styles.

Here’s the slideshow from the lookout:

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After that it was back on the bus, past the zoo and the Cuba Quarter—”the heart of Bohemian Wellington”, with cafés, bakeries, breweries and boutique shops.  (Wellingtonians are nearly as obsessive about their coffee as Melburnians are).

Wellington Cable Car 1We got off at the Wellington Cable Car and I just managed to get a shot of it before it took off down the mountain.  It’s actually a funicular railway, (so you’re never actually suspended in space) and Dean pointed out half a dozen private versions of funiculars going up and down the steep slopes from private houses.   But this one is a public one that commuters can take to work in the CBD if they want to.

There’s a Cable Car museum there too, but we admired only the lookout, and then took the walk down the pathway to the Botanic Gardens.

It was gorgeous.  Right in the centre of the city it was blissfully peaceful and quiet.  The style of gardens is traditional, and many of the plants are recognisable as exotics brought over by early settlers, but there are also unusual and endangered species.  Here’s the slideshow:


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The path curves round past the Lady Norwood rose garden, which is beautiful, but unfortunately protected from anyone getting close enough to smell the scent.  Lady Norwood and her Charles husband were great philanthropists: a self-made man, he funded all kinds of public amenities including a free ambulance service and a crippled children society.  When I Googled images of the rose garden the beds weren’t roped off as they were today, so maybe they’ve just sprayed with something?

We had the kind of lunch you expect to get in tourist venues like this, but Tim said his coffee lived up to the hype:).  It is getting harder and harder to get a nice sandwich for lunch: everything has got mayo and/or cheese all over it; you get masses of spinach instead of crisp lettuce; and everything has to be heated up (yuk) because it was made the night before and kept cold in a fridge.  Worst of all is that you can’t personalise these pre-made monstrosities: you can’t ask for No Dairy, or Pepper no Salt, or anything else.  It’s starting to make me grateful for Subway except that their bread is so soggy.  It’s a trend I hope will go away, it’s prevalent in Australia too.

OK, off my soapbox!

After lunch we strolled across to the Peace Park, created in memory of the atomic bombing of Japan in WW2.


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After that we sat idly in the sunshine, until the bus collected us for the last part of the tour. We saw the famous Beehive parliamentary building; the cenotaph; Old St Paul’s Cathedral (which fell victim to an earthquake safety notice*) and the Wellington and Te Papa museums which are on the agenda for tomorrow.

*NZ, as no doubt you know, suffers a lot of earthquakes, some of them catastrophic as at Christchurch. But fatalities are very rare here in Wellington because all new buildings have to withstand quakes as high as 9.5, and older ones are inspected after every quake and if the engineers say so, they have to be closed until they are re-engineered and declared safe. If they can’t be made safe, too bad if they have heritage values, they are pulled down because, they reckon, human life matters more.

Still, it is a bit unnerving to check out Wellington Quake Live and discover that the last quake was about five hours ago, just after we got on the bus. It was only about 2.1 on the Richter Scale, but still we have discussed the DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON strategy as advised in the hotel brochure and we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Gardens, Wellington | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

Botanic Gardens on Norfolk Island, June 27th, 2018

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 28, 2018

On Wednesday we visited the Botanic Gardens on Norfolk Island.  Entry is free, and you can buy inexpensive brochures that give you more information about the flora and fauna from the Park Ranger’s Office.

The slideshow speaks for the beauty of these magnificent gardens, the gift of Mrs Annie Eliza Moore.

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Posted in Gardens, Norfolk Island 2018 | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

In the garden at Jacaranda Cottages, Norfolk Island June 24th 2018

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 24, 2018

A lot of thought has gone into planting a beautiful garden here at Jacaranda Cottages.  My neighbour Gloreea (who is generously house- and dog-sitting for us) is a keen gardener and she would love it here…

I took more photos including one of a tiny little pink pigface, but I can’t load them all, upload is too slow, I’d be here all day.

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The views from the cottage are spectacular: we can see the sapphire blue of the sea, but my camera isn’t good enough to capture it in the bright sunshine – and I’m not complaining about that!


Posted in Gardens, Norfolk Island 2018 | 7 Comments »

Summer Palace at Peterhof

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 31, 2012

After visiting Catherine’s palace at Pushkin, we then went to the Summer Palace of Peter the Great.  Built to rival Versailles on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, the Palace Park is the most spectacular I’ve seen. It has the world’s largest system of fountains adorned with stunning gold statuary.

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Posted in Gardens, Historic buildings, Palaces, Peterhof 2012, Russia 2012, St Petersburg 2012 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Sergei Posad, and Kostroma Folk Dance, Moscow 26.8.12

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 27, 2012

We were met by Mikhail, a young seminarian not far off his ordination, and our tour guide Irina translated for us when his English failed him.  He was a lovely young man, still tossing up whether to become a monk or a priest, and the decision is a fateful one because in the Russian Orthodox Church priests must marry.  He is an only child, so I expect his parents would prefer the latter.

Moscow Sergiev Posad 001If he does marry, he and his bride can be sent anywhere in Russia, and it will be a case of the Lord will provide.  If he is sent to a remote village somewhere like Siberia, he will have a house to live in and a garden plot to raise vegetables and perhaps keep a cow and some chickens, but apart from that he will rely on the generosity of his parishioners, because unlike the wealthy churches of the west, the Russian Orthodox church has no funds of its own.  Tourists’ entrance fees and the permit to take photos help to raise funds for a monastery of historic significance like Sergei Posad, but there is no money to spare to support priests anywhere else.  (And it is highly unlikely that Mikhail would have a house like this enchanting one that we saw along the highway en route).

Moscow Sergiev Posad 008It’s a functioning monastery, and today was a Sunday so it was crowded with pilgrims and worshippers.  Services start at 5.30 am and continue till late in the evening, and I wasn’t the only one in our group who felt a bit like an interloper when surrounded by so many people who were there to light candles and to pray.  I felt more comfortable in the church where there were no services at the time, but I must admit that it was lovely to hear the congregation in song. Quite different to the professionals we heard yesterday, but very touching.

Moscow Sergiev Posad 020

The art works are lovely. Not all of them are originals; some are restorations, late additions and substitutes but in the end it doesn’t really matter, (or not to me, anyway).  They are lovely to look at, and they are symbols of a faith that means a great deal to the people here.  After all those years when these believers were denied their churches, when aggressive atheism meant that many of the churches were stripped of their artworks to be sold off or destroyed, and when the buildings were used as storehouses and museums, well, even a non-believer like me respects the value of these churches.

Moscow Sergiev Posad 014This rather unimpressive edifice is the tomb of Boris Godunov, the subject of Mussorgsky’s opera but also Tsar of Russia in the 16th century.  I can’t remember why he is buried here and not somewhere else, I’ll have to look it up to find out when I have more time.  but whatever the reason, you’d think a Tsar would have a statue at the very least but no, just this box which looks more like a potato storehouse to me.

Alas, I don’t have any pictures of the highlight of the day, the performance of the National Russian Dance Show, Kostroma.  The first half of the show was a series of tableaux depicting the history of Russia, and after interval there were traditional folk dances from all over the Russian federation. The costumes were gorgeous and the dancers were superb.  But if you hunt around on You Tube you are bound to find a clip.

Update (back at home)

Here are a couple of links:

It’s late now, very late and tomorrow we are off to see the Armoury and the Kremlin and then we’re off to St Petersburg on the train.  The plan is to upload this in the morning after breakfast!

Posted in Cathedrals & churches, Gardens, Historic buildings, LitLovers pilgrimage, Moscow 2012, Museums, Russia 2012, Sergei Posad 2012 | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Alhambra, Granada, 26.10.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 27, 2010

My goodness, it was cold hanging around waiting to get into the Nasrid Palace this morning!  The way the system works to manage the huge crowds that want to see this place is to allocate times for each ticket.  So (assuming you have been smart enough to reserve a ticket from Australia two months beforehand) you collect it from the ticket machine and then you can get into the complex.  (Actually, you can also get into it from round the back, for free, but you can’t get into the significant bits of it so there’s not much point.)

The trouble is, you need to collect the ticket an hour beforehand.  Quite why this is so I do not know, but we are compliant, low maintenance tourists and so we did what we were supposed to do.   We then took the advice of our host at the hotel and walked to where the entrance is (because that takes 20 minutes across some mostly evil cobblestones).

There were then 40 minutes to kill and  once we’d had a quick look at the inside of Carlos V’s palace we were back outside in the queue and it was freezing. Everybody was cold, especially the poor young lady whose job it was to hold the tourist hordes at the entrance till their allocated time. She was rugged up much better than I was but she was stamping her feet and pocketing her hands and obviously wishing she had a warm woolly hat as well.  Fortunately there was a handy souvenir shop, and if there is one item you can count on finding in an Italian or Spanish souvenir shop, it’s a scarf so I whipped in and bought one while Tim stayed manfully out in the cold and pretended not to care. (Well, he would have looked pretty silly in a pink scarf with little bells on it, which was the least girly scarf I could buy.)

Eventually it was our time and we were in. Is it ok to say that it was a bit of a let-down? Not at first, because the first time you see a chamber full of Islamic whatnots on the ceiling and the columns and the doors and the floors it’s all a bit of a thrill. The trouble is, they’re into repetition. Lots of it.  It’s like Indonesian music which repeats itself over and over again.  Fascinating the first time but a tad wearisome for those not familiar with whatever it is that makes it so special.  And there are, of course, no pictures.  Representation of the human form is not allowed.  This is a bit limiting from an artistic point-of-view, in my amateur art-lover opinion….

But judging by the earnest commentary we heard about us (especially from one character got up to look like Oscar Wilde) scholars and aficionados of this kind of art are probably mightily impressed because it’s all terribly clever and M.C. Escher showed how very mathematical it is. But after three or four chambers of it, all looking more or less the same to the untrained eye, I was ready for a nice bit of high Gothic Christian razzmatazz, thank you very much! Fortunately the Crusaders turned up in due course and further up the hill they built a nice friary with the kind of architecture I like and that was much more interesting.

(There’s an intriguing contrast between one guide book and another as to why the Christians left this Moorish pile intact instead of ripping it down. One says it’s because the people of Granada were tolerant and reasonable and good at recycling buildings – and the other says it’s because the winners regarded the Alhambra as a prize of considerable prestige, and they wanted to flaunt it to show the Moors who was boss.)

Anyway, alas for the friars, they got turfed out in 1835 when Madrid took control of all church property and the place fell into disrepair until it was restored in 1929.  Somehow it miraculously survived the Spanish Civil War and a lot of other destructive acts against church property too.  Historically speaking, (according to Robert Hughes in his terrific book Barcelona) the clergy in Spain were in cahoots with the rich, powerful and important rather than with the poor and dispossessed so when the poor were feeling particularly oppressed they burned down a church or a convent.  Lots of them.)

But they left this one intact so you can still see the tombstone of Queen Isabella who in 1504 very piously asked on her deathbed to be buried in a simple shroud in the monastery – but would of course being a loyal wife defer to her husband King Ferdinand if he wanted to be buried somewhere else.

Well, she died first so she got her wish, and a great horde of flunkeys and courtiers and slaves got the unenviable task of carting her body to Granada in one of the worst rainstorms and floods on record. Ferdinand likewise wished to be united with her in death as well as in life (because after all there was the unity of the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon to be worried about) so he was entombed in the monastery as well until his grandson (whose name I forget) thought he knew better and removed it to the royal chapel.

There are lots of lovely gardens with water features at the Alhambra, and it takes a good five hours to meander about and admire them all. But for me, the best bit was the temporary exhibition of Matisse paintings which showed how he was influenced by his fleeting visit to the Alhambra. Back in his garret on the French Riviera he recreated a kind of oriental room as a backdrop for his nudes and there were quite a few of them (drawings and paintings) on display in the Museo.   There were also some exquisite embroidered shawls in this exhibition but of course the women who made them remain anonymous.

After five weeks on the road our stamina is not what it was and five hours on foot knocked the stuffing out of us. We had some lunch, and spent the rest of the day loafing about.

Tomorrow we’re off to Barcelona, so I’d better get to bed and finish reading the last chapter of Robert Hughes’s book!

Posted in Art Galleries, Cathedrals & churches, Europe 2010, Gardens, Granada 2010, Historic buildings, Museums, Spain 2010 | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Art in Lisbon, 22.10.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 23, 2010

Did I say yesterday that I thought Lisbon was raffish? Perhaps that was an understatement.

Galleons on lamp posts

We took the Lisbon Sightseeing bus again, this time on their ‘orient’ route which took us to the north and along the coast of the estuary. In the city centre we saw the same curious mixture of beautiful old 19th century buildings side-by-side with concrete monoliths and glass and steel tower blocks, but everywhere we looked there was graffiti.   Nothing artistic or creative about it, it’s just dirty tagging and it is enough to make you weep to see the way it is plastered all over lovely old buildings. You can tell by the way it has faded that nobody makes any attempt to clean it off either.

The bus then hurtled its windswept passengers along and upwards towards the north and brought us to Oceanario de Lisboa, a brilliant modern complex of stunning architecture coherently designed on a maritime theme.

It was built to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s landing in India, and it is breath-taking.  Yes, I know I’m over-using that word, but what else is there to describe seeing building after building with elegant symbols evoking galleons, rigging, sails, waves and the prows of ships? There are also massive water features to represent the oceans of the world, and all of it faces out to the River Tagus (which is really an estuary). Pristine, stylish and new, it is home to a commercial precinct of banks and classy business addresses. It is what Melbourne’s Docklands could be if we had the same architectural genius to conceive the development with the priority on making something beautiful instead of making money. It is stunning.

And it is an extraordinary contrast with what came next on this bus tour. I do not understand how it has happened that Lisbon has (a) allowed so many of its lovely buildings to fall into appalling disrepair and (b) surrendered itself to the scourge of graffiti in the way that it has.  (Click here to see what I mean). Where in the city centre shabby old buildings in need of restoration remain as infill amongst the new, here street after street after street was full of apartment blocks with fallen masonry, windows broken or filled in with bricks, and rusted balconies. The buildings were filthy, there was graffiti on every available wall, the streets were full of rubbish and weeds and those silly tiles were all broken and dangerous and no attempt had been made to tidy them up and make them safe. I have seen poverty in Africa, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam but I have never seen such a sleazy, dirty, disgusting place as this in Europe. It made me very cross indeed. Nobody should have to live in such conditions and the Portuguese government ought to set up an economic stimulus package for the obviously unemployed young people to clean it all up.

We were pleased to get off the bus and take a restorative walk up through the King Edward VII gardens. This is a large park right in the heart of Lisbon, established to commemorate his visit here in 1903, and the quiet beauty of it helped to restore a sense of equanimity. We found a congenial restaurant (Cafe Esplanado) at the top of the hill where a friendly waiter recommended traditional fish for our lunch and his sense of pride in his culture made us feel that Lisbon was a lovely place after all.

Encouraged, we set out for the Museu Gulbenkian but mistook the Modern Art Gallery for it instead. We couldn’t find any of the pictures we were expecting to see and felt a little disappointed but (not realising that we were in the wrong gallery altogether) put it down to the way galleries lend their artworks to other galleries all the time. We decided that it is even harder to make sense of contemporary art when there’s no English signage or gallery guide – but were very impressed by some five year olds earnestly discussing some incomprehensible pictures of horses with their teacher. This little scene told us three things: school children here are very well-behaved; they all speak their national language (which is not the case with a prep class in Melbourne) and their school thinks that it’s worthwhile teaching them about art when they’re very young. (What happens to turn these little art scholars into graffiti vandals when they are older, I do not know.)

From the quiet of this almost deserted gallery we strolled out into another lovely park. This one is a series of paved walkways, intersecting with gardens, waterways and secluded places to sit quietly and enjoy the bird and plant life. The paths wend their way around a complex of squat modern buildings and it was from one of these that we spotted some very interesting art works. Could this be the Museu Gulbankian that we had been expecting?

It was, and it was brilliant. It is a superb collection of artworks from the ancient to the impressionists. There were gorgeous funerary objects from Egypt, Greece and Rome; wonderful rugs and velvets from Persia (Iran); exquisite porcelain and lacquer boxes from China; and glorious illuminated Books of Hours. There were magnificent French clocks (still ticking); some delicate tapestry chairs from the 17th and 18th century; sumptuous pieces of Sevres porcelain and a really good representative collection of portraits, still life and landscapes, including Dutch and Flemish masters, Rubens and Rembrandt. There weren’t actually many impressionists, but the piece de resistance was the Lalique gallery where there is a stunning collection of jewellery and small sculptures – and that brooch, the one that featured on the cover of A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book. I couldn’t help it, I know the suitcase will be overweight, but I bought the guide book so that I can admire them all over again at home.

So ends our sojourn in Lisbon.  Tomorrow we will try to find a post office so that we can offload some of the excess baggage, and then it’s a travel day. Two flights, with a boring wait in between, but then Seville!

Posted in Art Galleries, Europe 2010, Gardens, Lisbon 2010, Portugal 2010 | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Maritime Museum, Lisbon 21.10.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 22, 2010

Ok, I’m back from dinner, and if my spelling is wonky now you can blame the excellent Portuguese grappa which tastes like a very good brandy!

From the Jeronimo monastery we then went to the maritime museum, called Museu de Marinhu. It’s fabulous.

First of all, there is a huge map in the entrance lobby showing the routes discovered by Portuguese mariners in the 16th and 17th centuries.  People of my generation remember laboriously tracing world maps and plotting these voyages of discovery when we were in primary school, perhaps too young to really appreciate the courage, tenacity and imagination of these explorers, but certainly more likely to remember them than today’s children who merely photocopy a map, if they study them at all.  Does it matter? I think it does.  I think it’s important to acknowledge human endeavour in any form, and I think that these men who set off into the unknown without proper maps, navigation aids or even knowledge of how to keep sane and healthy on a long voyage are real heroes.

If you google Portuguese explorers there are 121 pages to choose from, and that’s just the ones whose names have made it onto Wikipedia.  At school we learned about Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Bartholomew Dias, and it’s quite possible that the Portuguese were the first Europeans to sight the western coast of Australia.  Henry the Navigator was among the most famous, and it’s not so long ago that Lisbon erected a monument called The Discoveries to commemorate his achievements.  There is an impressive portrait of him in the museum too, and this is an indication that contemporary Portuguese take an intense pride in their maritime history and the role it played in opening up the new world to Europe.

The museum has lots of terrific scale models of Portuguese ships of battle and discovery, a great collection of naval uniforms from times past to the present day, some magnificent royal barges – and also some flying boats from the 20th century.  The Portuguese ditched their monarchy back in 1910, but the museum hosts an intriguing display from the royal yacht Amelia, complete with his and hers bedrooms (each with own piano), a roulette table and some very swanky crockery.  Not all that different to the Liz and Phil’s yacht that’s on display in Edinburgh, perhaps a bit classier.

Museu Nacional de Arte antiga

Source: Wikipedia Commons

We had lunch in the Belem Cultural Centre overlooking the River Tagus but declined to inspect their modern artworks.  They might be great, but our feet were sore and we still had the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga to do.  We got back on the red tourist bus to get most of the way there but then there was a trek across roadworks, more of those perilous paving stones, a very high footbridge across a railway and then a LOT of stairs – not just to reach the entrance but also inside it – no lifts anywhere!


It was just a tad disappointing.  We saw The Temptation of St Anthony by Hieronymous Bosch (so now we’ve seen the trilogy – the other two are in the Prado) , a Bruegel and a Durer, but most of the other artworks were by artists we’ve never seen or heard of .  The porcelain was lovely and there were some stunning gold figurines which must be worth a mint, but we weren’t able to take full advantage of the collection without an audio guide or a guidebook to explain the significance of what was there.

Indefatigable tourists we try to be, but we took a taxi back to the hotel which turned out to be the most expensive of the trip (not counting Melbourne to Tullamarine) because it was peak hour and the traffic was chaotic.  I used to be scared of plane flights, but now I know that Lisbon taxi drivers are scarier still.  They drive fast and furious, but without the dashing flair of the Spanish who for some odd reason inspire one with confidence.

I was almost too tired to go out to dinner but we’d made a booking and I was glad we went after all.  Alma is a superb fusion restaurant which serves both a classic Portuguese degustation and an innovative one.  Tim had the classic and I had the new and they were both brilliant.  The ambience was elegant and the waiting staff were friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable about all aspects of the cuisine and the wines.  We met the chef, who turned out to have worked in Sydney for two years, and he was a lovely person too. If you go to Lisbon, this is a must-do experience.

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Posted in Art Galleries, Dining out, Europe 2010, Gardens, Lisbon 2010, Museums, Portugal 2010 | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Botanic Gardens Hobart

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 20, 2009

This morning we went to the Botanic Gardens, and caught them filming the first episode of ABC TV’s Gardening Australia in Peter Cundall’s vegie patch, with his replacement. It’s harder than it looks to be a presenter!

I took heaps of photos and will make them into an Animoto film when I get home. These gardens are exquisite!

In the afternoon Tim went on a Tasman Peninsula cruise and I explored Eaglehawk Neck and read the papers over coffee.

Time now to watch Party Animals on ABCTV.

Posted in Gardens, Tasmania 2009 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Sansepolcro, 22.10.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 10, 2006

 It was ‘Moving Day’ so we had to be out of the house and elsewhere while Donatella cleaned La Rocca after the previous tenants had departed, so we headed off to Sansepolcro, birthplace of Piero della Francesca…
At the civic museum we saw pictures by baroque artists Santi di Tito, Raffaellino del Colle and Luca Signorelli, and of course more wonderful paintings by Piero della Francesca. The most famous one is The Resurrection, with its very muscular Christ and sleepy disciples, but I liked the Madonna della Misericordia, which is on a large panel that features a massive Mary holding her skirts wide, above some devotees. It is perhaps rather odd to contemporary eyes, but it was apparently painted to show Mary as a protector against the plague.
 The weather fortunately stayed fine while we strolled around this lovely town, described rather ungraciously in the guide book as ‘industrial’. In a side street there were players rigged out in 14th century costumes, having a break from rehearsals, and other interesting things like the plaque recording the 1944 vote for the republic. This little commemoration made me wonder why we don’t do something similar at home. Australia is the only place in the world to federate and establish a democracy without a civil war or two, and we should perhaps be more publicly proud of it.
 There was also a very pretty little church called S.Agostino, but our favourite find was of course the statue of Piero della Francesca in a gorgeous herb garden – a botanic garden really – where there were American women peacefully painting the scene. Despite a fairly determined search we couldn’t, alas, find the house Piero della Francesca was actually born in.
We had lunch at a fine restaurant recommended by Donatella. Signor Ventura looked after us most hospitably, and Tina, Thorolf and I had truffles again, this time with agnotelli. Tim, perhaps saving himself for the few remaining shreds of truffle back in the kitchen at La Rocca, had a splendid carpaccio of veal instead.
Not content with a feast for lunch, back ‘home’ in Monterchi we decided not to experiment with a new stove on our first night, and had a fine dinner in the restaurant on the piazza instead. We had rustic Tuscan vegetable soup with cannelini beans, followed by fillet steak with shavings of truffle nero and a garnish of tiny onions. For dessert I had pannacotta with chocolate and Tim had creme caramel. Feeling rather mellow after an Apero as an aperitif and two bottles of wine with the meal, we finished off with a Bowman single malt Islay and coffee. It’s a good thing we didn’t have far to walk home!
La Rocca was more comfortable than La Duetta. Just across the corner of the piazza from La Duetta, it was also within the walls in the centre of old Monterchi. Because it’s an old fortress, it had sensational views of the Umbrian and Tuscan countryside in all directions. Inside, it was lighter, brighter, and, thanks to central heating, warmer. La Duetta’s log fire was enchanting to start with, but I was getting tired of mucking about with the wood and cleaning out the grate.
Inside and outside, we now had 360 degree views and the whole place was much more spacious for four people. The bathrooms were more modern and the bedrooms were comfortable, but the general style is the rustic Tuscan stuff you’d expect, simple stuff in dark brown wood, but not terribly well made. Cabinetry is perhaps not a Tuscan strength..

Posted in ArtLovers pilgrimage, Europe 2005, Gardens, Italy 2005, Sansepolcro (Tuscany) 2005 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »