House Hunters Int episode was great

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Just saw the HGTV episode of House Hunters International with our clients Bob and Carolyn finding their new home in Umbria with Giancarlo. Complimenti a tutti e tre. Well done, nice 20 minute tour of the area and some properties. And nice cameo by Aldo of Bar Gallo too. If you missed it on first run, it looks like it will be on again very early in Dec. For dates and times, see the link on an earlier blog

I could almost see our house and some of its wisteria in one scene where they were being interviewed outside. And you may recognize many places in Italy in the course of the show. We could certainly see Panicale, Paciano and Castiglione del Lago.

All about Umbria

Kathy McCabe of “Dreams of Italy” subscription newsletter about, yes, Italy – asked us to write an article about about the area around Lago Trasimeno for her June issue that was completely focused on Umbria. So, i did! And she used several of our photos. Got to mention many names of many favorite people and places.

If you’d like a copy, just let me know and I’ll send you a pdf of it, in living color.

and we have tickets in hand for Italy in October.

if you will be there then we really can say:

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

At home in Italy. And on TV.

PACIANO, Umbria, Italy –Carolyn and Bob had a home in Seattle and worked in Germany. But one day they decided Hey, we’re retiring and as long as we’re at that, lets retire to Italy. That’s where we met them. Not long after that we found out HGTV was going to be in Italy looking for stories about people buying in Italy for their House Hunters International show. We asked Paciano’s newest homeowners if they thought it was time for their 15 minutes of fame and they said “Yes.”

It is quite a process but the crew filmed them last year when they were house hunting and buying. then they filmed them in their home in the US in February and then a couple weeks ago they filmed them all moved in and at home in their new home.

These are just a few of the shots during the last session of filming

Can’t wait to see them on TV. Hopefully, we’ll get a schedule and get to see their lives pass before our eyes. They were good sports to do it and I’m sure it will be fun for them to have these memorable moments documented.

The shot under the lush arbor of wisteria is in Italy. The shot with the long coats is in Seattle area. Just saying. I think I see perfect motivation for a move!

Thanks for sharing your photos Carolyn and Bob!

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

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Food and Wine comes to Panicale

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PANICALE, Umbria, Italy–Our friends Peter and Sarah are packing as we speak to head off to their lovely, newly renovated house in Casamaggiore, in Umbria. They just called last night to ask if we had seen the March ’09 issue of Food And Wine Magazine. It features our Umbrian hilltop castletown of Panicale. Sarah is a great and inspired chef and baker so she has a subscription. It isn’t in the newsstands yet. We’ve checked. But the How to Cook Like You Own an Italian Villa article IS online already.

Matt Molina, a chef at L.A.’s Osteria Mozza stayed at his boss’s house recently. That would be the Panicale home of Nancy Silverton. She is a co-owner of Osteria Mozza and the story line is about Matt’s food adventures all around this part of Italy. I’m getting hungry just reading about Panicale. And all nostalgic as well. But, we are taking action!

LOOK OUT ITALY. HERE WE COME. THE $700 CLUB?

We have plane tickets in hand and happy to have them. We chased prices up one side of the internet and down the other. We’ve made this trip hundreds of times and it’s an adventure buying every time. This time we found very good and reasonable $700 something on Alitalia. Boston to Rome direct. An overnight flight is an overnight flight. Direct flights makes life so much simpler and so much less room for that “Oh, sorry your connecting flight couldn’t wait and oh look there it goes without you” business. Plus, this non-stop flight gets into Roma at 7 AM. I’m good with that. Landing at say 10 or so after pulling an all-nighter finds me much less coherent than at 7.

Our car rental charge for three weeks were in the low $700 range. We went through, as we usually do, Auto Europe. No, this is not an ad. I WISH I got paid for mentioning them! Alitalia? Same non-lucrative deal. Anyway. We ran through our car needs and the bottom line kept coming in just under $900 – for three weeks. Part of the problem, one issue, was that we were coming into the country at 7 AM one day and leaving at 10 AM on the way out of country. So that Three Hour Day became a full day’s charge. Talk about not enough hours in a day. I could pay the charge or hang out watching the clock for three hours. After being up all night? I don’t think so.

So I called Auto Europe back and said “But what if we put our early-morning, post-arrival time to use and headed North by train to Chiusi. And picked a car up there at the train station? Chiusi is easy to get to by train and only ten minutes from our house. No sweat, they were all about that. That not only chopped a day off our bill, but they said they were also able to take off a “Rome airport delivery charge.” That was a new one to me. And in the “That Doesn’t Make Any Sense, But I’ll Take It” category they then said if I picked their car up in Chiusi I could return it to Chiusi or at the Rome airport-–for the same price. Our choice. Here’s what I got out of this exercise: I asked a few questions, had them email a couple written proposals to me, and didn’t take the first rate they gave me. And after a couple five minute phone calls, I had somehow saved almost $200. Highest and best use of my time all week!
springtime in Siena, Tuscany and Panicale, Umbria
LA PRIMA VERA IN ITALIA.

MA! Va le la pena. As they say. Umbria in Spring. In my mind I can almost see it, touch it, feel it. Whatever effort it takes to get us to the promised land is worth it. So, now that the airline and car rental planets have been so nicely aligned, we are holding our breaths and happily counting the days until our mid April touchdown.

Spring is one of the best times in Italy and we can’t wait to see our all our friends there. What a breath of fresh air it will be after a bundled up winter of snow to see the Umbian countryside in all its many shades of green. The fruit trees will be in bloom. And dozens of kinds of flowers, the early bloomers. We especially love the forty-foot-long yellow rose bouquet our house and garden set out on our pergola to welcome us home at this time of year. Grazie, grazie infinite, Casa Margherita.

Non vedo l’ora and I can’t wait, either.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

The purple and white spring flowers shown above are from Spannocchia outside Siena, Tuscany and the yellow ones are from our garden in Panicale, Umbria

Money can’t buy happiness? How about chocolate? How about zucchini pasta? Picking olives with friends? Can they buy happiness?


Even faux euros can bring a taste of happiness if they should happen to be wrapped around a piece of real Italian chocolate, hand carried from Bar Gallo.

chocolate from Perugia, Umbria, Italy
PANICALE, Umbria – WILDS OF MAINE–Our friends Bud and Susan just got back to Maine from their adventures in Italy. Their son got married at Spannocchia outside Siena and then they stayed in Panicale for a few days. We weren’t too jealous when they confirmed what all our Italian friends have been emailing to say/rub in – that the weather this October has quit being autumnal and returned to the balmy days of summertime. Nothing but soft breezes and blue skies for days on end. La dolce vita in fatti. So. That didn’t make us jealous. And Bud, a bit skeptically I’m sure, took our advice, got his hair cut at Biano’s and it changed his life, as I knew it would. And they ate wonderfully with all the Belficos at Masolino’s next door to our house and no, no, REALLY, not at ALL jealous. But! Everything was all better when they brought back a stack of our Italian maps, tour books, etc. On top of the stack was the 500 euro chocolate from Aldo and family. With a note on the back of a Bar Gallo card.

All is right with the world. What did we do to deserve friends with candy? We felt missed, we felt the love and we felt the green eyed monster slinking away.

LATER THAT SAME DAY
We get a raft of magazines at our office. I really have no idea why we have National Geographic TRAVELER magazine, I didn’t order it, but it seems to be coming and I picked this one (Nov/Dec 2008) up to bring home and read because right on its cover it had this well-I’ve-got-to-check-this-out story hook: “World’s Sexiest Small City (HINT: IT’S IN ITALY) Page 98”. Hmmm. What that is all about? Midge got to it first and looked at me over the top of it and wagged her eyebrows a couple times “Want to guess where it is?” she said. “You’ll love it” Quit teasing me, let me see that! What a treat. 12 full color pages on one of our favorite neighbors, ever-chic, ever-Etruscan Perugia.

I’d love to give you a link to the article but that isn’t how TRAVELER is set up, so you may have to take my word that it is a great and engaging article or find a copy in your local magazine shop. Their web site does let you see some great Perugia photos. And like the chocolate bar from Aldo took me to Panicale, this took me back to my days at the Universita’ per Stranieri in Perugia. In a heartbeat, the soles of my shoes were polishing the stones of Corso Vannucci scuffing my way up that promenade to meet friends for a midnight gelato. Con Frutti di Boschi.
olive harvest in Panicale in Umbria in Italy
AND RIGHT NOW.
Right while I am writing this, our dear friend Elida dropped us an email about the olive harvest. Earlier in the week she’d sent us a couple pictures warning that our wisteria was trying to digest our house. So I wrote Dily at Linda’s store and she told her dad Bruno and he’ll teach that wisteria to mess with Casa Margherita! But back to the olive harvest. When it is nice weather, there is no finer way to spend the day than helping friends pick. And then helping yourself to groaning tables of food for hungry farm workers. She mentioned apple tart and zucchini pasta were on the menu today. I remember picking and eating and eating and picking, walking home and falling straight over into bed and sleeping like the proverbial pascha. At seven pm. Like we did the last time we were picking olives at Elida and Guenters. Oxygen and fresh sunshine overload will get you every time.

Ah, I wish we were there. And in my mind, we are.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland