Tag Archives: Pisa

Playing with my Christmas presents…

I’ve been having a great time playing around with some of the Xmas presents. Best of all, this one was free! It’s an app called Snapseed, and I’ve decided I love it.

Young lady

It’s sits on my ipad, and lets me manipulate photos in an amazingly intricate way.

Venice flooding

You just have to play, re-investigate the 000s of photos from over the years. Here’s some from about a decade ago:

Northumberland coast

Mother-in-law's lilies

Bamburgh Castle at dawn

Portraits come to life in weird and wacky ways:

Mrs P

and Ms P

Landscapes become mysterious and slightly age-less:

Pisa, of course

The Dordogne

Menerbes, France

Even cars seem to take on a new personality:

Blackberry photos of BMWs

But maybe my favourite is the abstraction to be given to the nude. Check it out: ‘Snapspeed’. You’ll love it on an ipad.

If there is a paradise on earth….. Tuscany!

I’ve blogged on Italy before – Venice in the flood, which frankly was a bit cold and damp. But here’s a different side to Italy. Tuscany in the warm summer!

From a pictures point of view I don’t think there is a more photogenic area than the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. It’s absolutely gorgeous. This is a little chapel, plonked in the middle of a field – stubbly corn when I was there – which just reeks of classical/Romano Italian nostalgia. It’s visible from the main road, but only across the valley (see the pic lower down), and is actually quite hard to get close to. So after much searching and driving down dead ends, I was chuffed to bits finally to get close to the Capella di Vitaleta:

Capella di Vitaleta - quintessential Val d'Orica, Tuscany

Capella di Vitaleta

Rain storm approaching

Now I try to be an early bird when I get my chance to indulge in photography, but that’s invariably during the summer months which means VERY early if I’m going to catch the light. Which is tough, and which is why I don’t have that many dawn photos in the portfolio. But here’s a misty view over the Val d’Orcia which shows I can get my lazy self out of bed occasionally.

Morning mist

rolling fields in the late afternoon

Here’s the classic view of a Tuscan villa.┬áDo you recognise it. It’s in so many films. Check out Gladiator for instance. There it is as the backdrop for the hero’s Italian home – the one Russell Crowe never gets to because he’s too busy fighting wars in Germania and then in Rome – but this is what he dreams of. And I can understand why!

Il Belvedere. Now that's what I call a country villa

But we weren’t staying in Il Belvedere, we were actually in a more modest farm house, called Montecucco, which sat overlooking a valley. Basic, simple and utterly delightful. Far from the madding crowd doesn’t quite capture it, it was completely lost in the wilderness. So much so that we had a 3 mile dirt track road to it where we regularly bumped into porcupine, deer and other creatures (we reckon we saw a pine marten…?!?!). One night we had bats inside the house. You know how bats rely on their hearing… Well, a bit of shrieking from the girls and the bats beat a hasty retreat…

Our home for the summer, Montecucco

View from Montecucco

But dig this view – we could see for miles across the valley up to the medieval castle on the far hill, and not a car or motorbike to disturb the peace. In fact the only thing that did was a huge thunderstorm which travelled right down the valley. We were at eye level with it, marvelling as it cracked and struck and flashed its way past. So awesome, the kids were struck dumb for half an hour….

Montechiello road

The road to Montechiello – a dream of a road for a sportscar – well, maybe next time.

But before we left we did the obligatory trip to Pisa. And in spite of the over-commercialism, the tower and the cathedral were absolutely delightful. Impressive in spite of the hype. I highly recommend.

No guesses for where this is...

Not a bad vase for the garden...

So ciao! from Toscana. Put it on your list of places to go. Great wine, food, lovely scenery. It’s simply a delight!