Postcard from the summer, Ai Casoni

Italian summer

Autumn is upon us, and I love it. Candlelit evenings, large cups of tea, the lemon/honey combination, the crisp air, the wind, the colours; autumn is definitely among my top four favourite seasons.

We’re adding a room to our house. The garden’s a mess. The living-room, kitchen, office and entrance are currently combined, and that room is also a mess. I want to buy flowers, I want to add some prettiness, but the furniture is stacked, layered, or crowded, there’s no room for a vase. So I look back at the days in Italy. This is from the Ai Casoni Agriturismo near Treviso in Italy. A tranquil little spot with flowers in abundance.

The land at the end of our toes…

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, the room is dimly lit by one ceiling lamp and two small candles. Make that one candle by the way, one just went out. A small coffee plant is showing small vibrations in the leaves caused by my movements as I’m writing. My son is whispering in the dark just above me in his bedroom, the sound of his whispers are sometimes drowned by the howling wind outside. Tall evergreen in my neighbours garden are dancing to a beat that I cannot hear, while a large uncut shrub of some unknown, maybe even undecided, kind is bending over our fence, stretching it’s long thin arms through my recently repotted herbs. My nasturtiums seems to have surrendered to its aggressive attack already, while little rosemary gallantly stretches upwards and forwards as if to dance herself away. It doesn’t look much like summer. I’m contemplating a cup of tea, but it’s already quite late. This morning I was out picking tomatoes in the front garden, it feels like the wind has stretched my conception of time, and that the tomatoes I ate, fresh from the plant, were picked many days ago.

We have had a long summer this year. It started already in April. I cannot remember ever having a summer like this, even the long sunny summers of my childhood had rainy days where we picked berries in the garden in our wellies, jumping into summer-warm rivers with raindrops dancing in the water around us. This year the only rain I’ve had was in Italy. Or so it seems. Maybe it’s just me getting older, my memory becoming selective and picky about what it decided to store for the future. I am definitely getting older. I have a full time job now, for the first time, starting next week. Until now I’ve done a bit of this, a bit of that, not ready to define myself and ‘what I want to be when I grow up’. But now I have, sort of. I cannot guarantee that it’s permanent. It will be for quite a few years, but for the rest of my life? No, ‘the rest of my life’ is a definition and thought that scares me more than the howling wind outside ever has.

The land at the end of my toes an early morning a few weeks ago, on my way to buy breakfast. A small country road in Italy a kilometre or so from the shore of lake Garda.

The land at the end of my toes an early morning a few weeks ago, on my way to buy breakfast. A small country road in Italy a kilometre or so from the shore of lake Garda.

I’ve spent the last days and weeks with my family. Both extended family and our little family. It’ been tough coming home after having been gone for almost five weeks. But both the kids and I have enjoyed getting into the routines at home. Routines that will dramatically change the coming week. There’s so much happening this autumn. Every autumn has alway brought something new into my life. I’m very excited this year, very excited. I’m trying to prepare for it, all trying to get ready, without really knowing what I should and could do. But I’m calm and mentally prepared for it all. Very ready to meet many new and wonderful people, broaden my horizon and adapt my way of thinking. I love the influences of new friendships and social groups. It will be a good year.

I will take you with me, sporadically as I always do, and I will change along the way. Adapt, improve, and change as the land at the end of my toes goes on and on, and on and on.

Home is on the horizon

IMG_3766

The setting sun as we leave Denmark. On the ferry going home

August is here again, and so am I. The past five weeks I’ve spent only a few nights at home. I was planning to write an ‘I’m home’-post, but I’ve left again. I’m close to home though, and it’s good, it’s good to be (close to) home again.

We started with a few days with bestemor and bestefar, my husband’s parents in the south of Norway. Then early one morning we took the ferry to Denmark, over to Hirtshals and the same day drove to Hamburg. In Hamburg we took the train to Munich, the Autozug, before we drove via Austria to Italy.

We had four stays in Italy: first we spent two nights at Ai Casoni, an ‘agroturismo’ near Treviso; second, we spent a week in Cavallino, just north of Venice; third was a hotel in Tuscany along with mormor and morfar (my parents), two of my brothers and their girlfriends; fourth and last was a short week by the Lago sea. We had one more stop in the very south of Germany, before taking the train back to Hamburg and then the ferry from Denmark.

The journey has been amazing; memorable, fun, and exhausting. The children have been wonderful and they have seen and learned much. We spent just about four weeks abroad and we have and still are visiting family before and after our roadtrip. Pictures and more bragging to come. This summer has been absolutely wonderful!

Breakfast in Cannobio

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 20.52.55

Living in Cannobio was a dream. Every morning I would go for a short walk to the local baker where I bought freshly baked bread for breakfast. There are a few bakers along the main road, but I talked to someone at the hotel to hear where they would buy their bread and I was directed to a small narrow street behind the church. In September the town was no longer crowded by tourists and it was nice to see where the Italians themselves went to buy their food.

Eating out in Cannobio – the hidden gem

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 20.52.31The restaurants by the lake were similar and offered much of the same food. We tried a few and can no longer remember their names, but we were satisfied with what they had to offer and they were cooperative in finding food that our baby girl, then 9 months, could eat. But then
, we visited a well hid restaurant for lunch one day. We had been given an address and set out to find it. We were very insecure when we found the street and street number. We could not find anything that looked like a restaurant. But looking closer, the gravel-covered parking Hid a building with a gate that looked less private than the houses around. We entered a courtyard with tall trees that cast shadow over most of the open space. On the walls around us hang memorabilia from past farming and vintage images. At the tables sat Italian men smoking, eating and talking. They were mostly workers on their lunch breaks, all locals.

We didn’t get much attention, except for the glances from the people around us who were not used to tourists invading their space. Even the staff didn’t seem thrilled to see us. And nobody spoke English, anywhere, when we did they answered in Italian. When I tried German, they answered in Italian. When I tried French, they answered in Italian. When I tried in Italian, they were a little more cooperative. They warmed up to us after a while. But the breaking point came when they served us a small basket of bread. And the bread is the reason for this post! We didn’t try anything special at the restaurant (the insalata mista was nothing to brag about, the gorgonzola pasta was good, the pizza was delicious, but it was not what the locals ate). But the gem! The bread! It was baked in a stone oven. It’s been given time to rise, time to develop that amazing flavour. Heat enough to set a crust so crispy, and resilient, and savoury, and… well, you know exactly what I mean. Huge air-bubbles in the crumb showed off a gluten web so intricate and beautiful that nothing but love and patience can create. A drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt made the bread truly a divine experience. We complimented the bread and they gave us some more, along with that came a smile. A ciao for the kids while they ruffled their hair. We felt well taken care of. And the bread, yes, that bread.

 

Residenza Patrizia, Cannobio, Italy



IMG_9320

We spent four pleasant nights and four gorgeous days in Cannobio in early autumn. Fours days of walking barefoot by the lake, eating Italian ice-cream, soaking up the sun, seeing new places and faces. And thoroughly enjoying life. We stayed at Residenza Patrizia. A hotel I would very much recommend if you’re in the area. It was clean, pretty, and colourful. The staff was very helpful and very polite.

Travelling with two small children was throughout our stay a positive experience. Of course it helps that our children are somewhat well behaved and both have big, blue, eyes. But they are still children and we let them roam around and understand that they cannot be expected to sit still. Still they were always met with smiles and friendly faces. High chairs and cots appeared as if by magic during the first hours of our stay.

IMG_3839Sitting waiting for lunch outside the restaurant the children were hungry and far from patient. Son was running around and was not eager on taking order. However, a few minutes after ordering we received a plate with something that had him sit down quietly while he waited for his expected dish to be served.

IMG_2277

If ever in Cannobio don’t hesitate to stay at Residenza Patrizia. We were not disappointed (even if we could not find it at first and were worried the hotel did not exist at all…)

IMG_2282

 

Heading south, summer 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 20.19.51The outline of the 2014 summer vacation has been sketched little by little this year, before Husband suddenly took out the magic marker and drew with bold lines. The vacation is consequently now planned, booked, and waiting to happen.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 19.42.43

We’re going by car again this year. Our own car, but using a bit of Deutsche Bahn’s (German railway company’s) fuel from Hamburg to Munich. We, and our Skoda, are spending a night each way on the Autozug (cartrain) reducing the mileage and the number of days we would need to travel to Italy.

img_7419

This year we’re planning a week by the coast with a group of friends, some nights in Tuscany with our extended family, about a week near the beautiful Garda lake, and a few nights in culinary heaven at the foot of the Alps. I can’t wait!

Pictures are stolen from the hotels’ websites, Le Volpaie, Agriturismo Ai Casoni, and the Cavallino information site.Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 19.51.33