Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Spider dog












As requested in  MY GUESTBOOK,  I was invited by an appreciated follower of my blog from Brazil, to repost a picture of my Swiss Bernese mountain dog sitting on the back seat of my Spider, that was published on my former website.

Along with  THE PICTURE INVOLVED  the accompanying text on my website was then:
Most dogs are just crazy about driving in a car with their head out of the window. Just as my Swiss Bernese mountain dog ' Tessa '  likes to do.
The unpleasant side of it is, that most dogs after such a drive in the open air, will catch some nasty red eyes or even a serious inflammation of the eyes. Just like my dog.

And, if on warm and sunny days ( on a bright country highway, COOL WIND IN MY HAIR , warm smell of mowed grasses, rising up through the air ) you want to get out for a drive without leaving your dog at home all alone, you got to think of something unusual.

In my situation I decided to visit a specialist shop for motorcycles and motorcycle accessories to try on a real motorcycle goggles for my friendly housemate. Thanks to her massive head and pronounced nose most goggles fitted her surprisingly well and ( after a lot of fun and laughter with the sales personnel )  I selected a trendy Italian type ( AN ORIGINAL BARUFFALDI ) because of the perfect fit.
After that, I bought in a pet shop an adjustable dog harness and with some tinkering in my Spider a solid anchored safety belt was mounted behind the back seat bench.

Although I know that she is not fond of the fumbling with the goggles beforehand, she endures all this because she knows that she is going with me in the open Spider. She is, like most dogs, so fond of driving in the open air, that for her it compensates all unpleasant preparations.

Sitting on the back seat, she towers - owing to HER MASSIVE SIZE -  just above the windscreen up in the wind. With wild flapping hair and ears and her cool motorcycle goggles she visibly enjoys the fast passing world from her new high perspective. And because of that pleasure I started all this, but now without painful and unpleasant eye problems for my beloved Spider dog !

FASTEN SEAT BELTS . . . . READY FOR TAKE OFF !

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Italian-Blog: Ciao Tutti











AN IMPRESSIVE, GREAT ITALIAN DISCOVERY BLOG (- IN DUTCH -)
EEN PRACHTIGE ONTDEKKINGSBLOG DOOR ITALIË
waarover de maakster - Saskia Balmaekers - op haar website schrijft:

Ciao tutti!
Welkom op mijn Italiëblog!
Ik neem jullie elke dag even mee naar Italië, om te genieten van de Italiaanse cultuur, de Italiaanse keuken en de Italiaanse taal. Uiteraard zal ik ook regelmatig restaurantjes, boeken, films en evenementen bespreken, zodat je het Italiëgevoel ook gewoon op een doordeweekse avond kunt opzoeken of zelfs in huis kunt halen!

Zelf ben ik sinds mijn eerste kennismaking met Italië helemaal verslingerd geraakt aan het land, de geuren, het heerlijke eten, de druk gebarende mensen op straat, de taal....

Met Ciao Tutti wil ik iedereen die deze passie voor Italië deelt (of die het gewoon een heel fijn vakantieland vindt) voorzien van leuke weetjes, nuttige tips, lekkere adresjes (in Italië en in Nederland) en het laatste nieuws uit Italië.

Andiamo!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Italian roundtrip 4












A FEW SUBJECTIVE OBSERVATIONS
AFTER THREE WEEKS IN ITALY AND 5.000 KILOMETERS ON ITALIAN ROADS
( apart from countless other amazing, staggering, impressive and brilliant Italian observations )

1a. The Autostrada's are superbly constructed masterpieces with their innumerable tunnels
      and their on pillars built highways
1b. The road surfaces of the rest of the road network is in a lousy bad state.

2a. I observed and saw only NEW cars, despite the deep Italian financial crisis
2b. I noticed only two ( ! )  older Fiat Panda's. Italians are not interested in old-timers.

3a. In most cases these new cars were all white
3b. Very rarely I saw a car in a color other than white, black or (less) grey

4a. I felt like coming from another planet adjusting my driving speed according to the traffic
      speed limitation signs
4b. Speed limitations? WTF . . . Italians don't care at all !

5a. Despite three weeks of continuous sunshine in June, I did not see any Italian in a convertible
5b. I noticed 2 convertibles in this inviting topless period ( 1 from Britain and 1 from Germany )

6a. I noticed just ONE Alfa Spider
6b. Although I looked out for it: I observed NOT ONE  FIAT 124 SPIDER !
      Additionally it was an anticlimax to learn from many Italians that they didn't recognize
      their own Italian made Fiat 124 Spider anymore. Apart from that, they didn't care.

7a. Without prejudices, Italians ( both men and women ) are the most handsome, good-looking
      and well-dressed Europeans in my opinion
7b. I saw several Mona Lisa's walking around like the one on the painting in the Louvre in Paris.

8a. Italians are - beyond all doubt - superior MASTERS IN DESIGN
8b. And besides that, in many ways they are real MASTERS IN THE ART OF LIVING.

9a. Don't learn the Italian language if you don't have to
9b. With "va bene", "molto bene", "prego", "mille grazie", "buon giorno" and "arrivederci"
      you can travel the whole country.

10a. Pasta dishes are far too overrated in the Italian and international cuisine
10b. The first course anti-pasti dishes are far too underrated.

11a. I observed a large number of African boat refugees all over the country
11b. Although I avoid to discuss any political tinted subjects here, in my opinion it is a
        great injustice that the rest of Europe just doesn't give a damn about this major Italian
        ( thus collective ) European problem.

The Italian cartoon animator Bruno Bozzetto thinks differently.
Watch his crazy exaggerated "Europe versus Italy" animations HERE and HERE.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Italian roundtrip 3












After I made the plan to stay 2 days in every of the 10 districts that I intended to travel across during my 3 weeks tour in Italy, I made maps of every single district with all the marked (Borghi) villages that I wanted to visit. With the help of these detailed district maps, I chose the most strategic location for my accommodation during those 2 days. In that specific region I searched for a pleasant address for bed and breakfast.

In most of these provinces I stayed in one of the wonderful so-called AGRITURISMO accommodations, right between endless vineyards, olive and hazelnut estates in the rural countryside, where having a car is a must.
A few Agriturismo accommodations where I stayed:
- in Lombardy in CASCINA PEZZOLO
- in Piemont in CASCINA GIARDINI
- in Tuscany in RELAIS PALAZZO DI LUGLIO
- in Veneto in VILLA SERENA


When I arrived in the afternoon at the PALAZZO DI LUGLIO in Tuscany, after driving 390 km from my BED & BREAKFAST accommodation in Liguria, I was surprised by all the activities in and around the gardens and swimming pool from this wonderful located residence on top of a hill with a breathtaking panoramic view.
So I asked the owner of the Palazzo what was going on and he replied that a big "matrimonio"-party was going to be held that evening and night with a lot of guests. And he added: in case you are interested to be invited, I'll take care of that, don't worry !

But first of all I will arrange something to eat and to drink from the catering-boys so I am able to say "Benvenuto" and "Salute" to you as my respected guest ! So a full plate of Anti-Pasti and a perfect bottle of white wine in a cooler were in front of me within minutes.

As a guest in the wedding party that night I was drinking too much champagne and I had to be very careful walking straight along the swimming pool ( because I can't swim ) to get my next portion of prosciutto, salmon or truffle ( there was a bowl with big black truffles! ) delicacy.

A guest in a great Italian wedding party in Tuscany.
I NEVER, EVER could have dreamt about such a unique event in my life !

A glass of champagne in one hand and in the other my camera, I made a serie of simple snapshots of the wonderful wedding party at Palazzo di Luglio in Tuscany .
A presentation of these pictures can be seen here:  A WEDDING PARTY IN TUSCANY

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Italian roundtrip 2












My specific personal points of interest were NOT the widely known tourist attractions in the major Italian cities, like Milan, Turin, Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Bologna and Venice (which I did not visit at all) nor the known northern lakes that I saw already countless times represented on postcards and in tourist brochures, but to discover and visit the rather unknown and fascinating hidden villages of Italy, as the Italians call it: Il fascino dell'Italia nacosta.

I made a unique tour along a large number of  BORGHI PIÙ BELLI D'ITALIA ( the most beautiful and precious villages and small cities of Italy ) in north-east, north-west and in mid-Italy.
Villages with this proud and honorable predicate were nominated by a select group of Italian well-known experts in the field of architecture, landscape, environment, cultural heritage, history and arts. National experts who started their unique initiative for an Italian Heritage List in 2001.

The aim of this selection was ( is ) helping to preserve, maintain, revitalise and grant the unique charm and value of these small individual villages, which - being outside the main tourist routes - risk, despite the great value, of being forgotten with consequent degradation, depopulation and abandonment.

Initially the group included a hundred villages, later increased to 211 ( in June 2014 ) nominated with the  DISTINCTIVE SIGN  I Borghi Più Belli d'Italia being elected as the most beautiful, most unique and charming villages of Italy with their attractive streets and buildings, exceptional squares, museums, churches, their long and impressive history and their photogenic perspectives.

With  MY LOYAL, PERFECTLY RUNNING 124 SPIDER ( here in front of the main gate of the FERRARI INDUSTRIAL PREMISES  in Maranello ) I drove along  THESE FABULOUS HIDDEN ITALIAN GEMS  ( and along about one hundred villages more )  OVER VERY NARROW, LONG AND WINDING ROADS  with pot holes, over many  MILES-LONG BUMPY FARM AND COUNTRY TRACKS  just wide enough for one car, over unpaved or badly paved dirt roads, along hundreds of hairpin bends, over the perfect smooth, superbly constructed  AUTOSTRADA  with hundreds of tunnels, I drove more than 3000 miles (approx. 5000 km) in 21 days, only in Italy.

NOTE:
You are only able to make an intensive tour like I did, if you are willing to have breakfast every morning between 7:30 and 8:00 AM, make your day program at 8:30 and start your car engine at 9:00 AM and go !

Without power brakes and power steering it was tough and hard labor, but more than worthwhile visiting  THESE AMAZING HIDDEN ITALIAN TREASURES ( I took pictures of only a limited number of them ). Most of the time I was the one and only visitor in these jewel-villages!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Italian roundtrip 1












Home again . . . .

The original plan I had, to make a roundtrip along the Adriatic Coast in Croatia and Bosnia in June with my 124 Spider was called off owing to the completely unexpected and dramatic waterflood in the Bosnia region mid-May last, in which region a few weeks later a large part of the return journey should have been taken place.
So I cancelled the entire Balkan roundtrip project, called off overnight all the well prepared hotel reservations at the end of May and changed the roundtrip direction towards Italy.

In the few days that were left, I worked out and organized a wonderful 3-weeks roundtrip through the Italian districts FRIULI-VENEZIA, Trentino-Alto Adige, Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, Marches, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto. And in every province a wonderful accomodation for 2 days to explore the rural region and to visit small pittoresque villages.