Nicaragua – Volcano’s, Colonial Architecture and Welcoming People

•January 14, 2017 • 4 Comments

The country with its dramatic landscape, lakes, rain forests, jungles, volcanoes, markets and welcoming people is in transition. Its colonial cities such as Granada and Leon are colorful, a photographers paradise.

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The population is 95% catholic and there are many churches; a colorful country with buildings, doors and dwellings painted in bright tones. Tourist are discovering the culture and beauty of the country and there is a transition under way.

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Those who are not afraid to experience adventure, traveling the country by car can be very rewarding. The landscapes with cone shaped volcanoes, lakes, beaches and pastures are dramatic.

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Although the infrastructure is only just beginning to be developed, there are a few good highways and many of the roads are challenging but drivable. We traveled from the North-west to the South-west of the country, parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast line, visiting the major inland cities.

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Although the driving is slow it also allows you to see  rural life and stop at the small food stands along the way. I highly recommend renting a car and experiencing the country and culture.

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It should be said that speaking Spanish is a must. Although you can find a few people in the cities, particularly in the hotels that can speak English.

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I can’t say enough about the warm nature of the people. In general they live in dwellings that are built from any type of material that can be found, many with dirt floors and within their property they are cleaning and sweeping to maintain an orderly environment constantly.

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Their dwellings are often built in the jungle under trees for shade, smoldering fires are lit to keep bugs away. They are friendly, and more then willing to engage in an attempt to converse, or have you take their photo.

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They love music, dancing and being together with family. Their neighborhoods are a close community of people and they are hard  workers.

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It also must be said that the common areas are filled with trash and my guess is that the country doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle trash removal. The beaches, crowded with locals all the time, are not well maintained. High-end condos for foreigners are in the process of being constructed along the coasts, but the small villages, small hotels, restaurants and roads are inadequate to handle large numbers of tourist.

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Having said this, we ate in the local restaurants and found the food to be not only delicious and fresh, but we totally enjoyed everything about them including all the local activity and entertainment.

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It was fun to spend  time being  locals for a little while. The food is very inexpensive and there is no need to eat at higher end restaurant. We visited cantinas, small little eateries, beachfront restaurants and the local markets and never had a problem.

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It is always best to be aware of eating in local places, it can be risky, but although we brought along all the medication we needed, we never had the need to use them.

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Adventure travelers will find hiking, volcano sliding, zip lining, surfing and many other sporting adventures to explore. There are 25 volcanoes, 9 of which are active. Hiking them opens dramatic panoramas in every direction.

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It is time to visit Nicaragua now and enjoy this interesting country before progress changes it.

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Panettone: A Traditional Sweet Bread is a Symbol of Christmas Greetings

•December 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Piacere - Food & Travel without rules!

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A traditional sweet bread made at Christmas time, panettone was created in the Lombardy region of Italy and is the undisputable holiday favorite. Scholars have traced panettone back to the middle ages. The dome shaped sweet bread is traditionally made with candied fruits, zest and flavored with liquors. Today you can find it with chocolate chips and other ingredients. It is less like a cake then light fluffy sweet bread. The use of natural yeast results in a dough that rises slowly. The rising time can be as long as 48 hours. The long leavening contributes to the long shelf life, which can be as long as 6 months. Italian bakers take pride in the age of their leavening and some are maintained over many years.

It is eaten in Italy with a glass of white wine and in earlier time generally served as a dessert. Panettone is recognized in…

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An Italian Christmas Tradition and Pizzette for dessert

•December 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Piacere - Food & Travel without rules!

My grandmother would make biscotti for days before Christmas and hide them in an armoire in her front hall under lock and key. If she allowed any of us to get close to them, they would have disappeared long before Christmas. But if we asked her nicely, she never said no. She took the key out of her apron pocket and unlocked that treasure chest filled with sweet, spiced biscotti and handed you some of your favorites.

She had a small white sideboard with a roll-down top. Here she made all her biscotti and that sideboard was our first stop when we entered her kitchen. We could never understand how so many wonderful desserts could be prepared on such a small surface. When I was young I remember her cooking on a black iron stove and blocks of ice being delivered for her wooden icebox. She was in her element…

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Glugg, Spiced Wine for Holiday Greetings

•December 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Since I have so many hits for this recipe during the holidays , I decided to post it again. Hope you have a wonderful holiday and enjoy my Uncle Vic’s recipe.

Piacere - Food & Travel without rules!

Every year on Christmas Eve, we gathered at Uncle Vic’s house for our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. As family and friends arrived, he would greet them with a cup of his famous Glugg. The aroma of Glugg filled the house with the wonderful scent of spices. Coming in from the cold New England winter and greeted with a warm cup of Glugg instantly made you feel that you were home. With the fire glowing in the fireplace and the family gathered around snatching a piece of fried fish, the festivities began.

He always had the biggest Christmas tree that he cut down himself. Covered with old antique ornaments and everyone’s gifts stacked under the tree, we could hardly get into the living room. The house was open to anyone who didn’t have a place to go and filled with fun as each person arrived bring their homemade biscotti as…

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International Black & White Spider Awards

•November 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The International Black & White Spider Awards were announced November 5th in a world-wide presentation online. Two of my photo’s were nominated.

11th Annual Jury members included captains of the industry from National Geographic, Washington DC; The Armory Show, New York; TBWA, Paris; Victoria Film Festival, Canada; Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels; Studio Hansa, London; Fratelli Alinari, Florence; Australian Centre for Photography; Young & Rubicam, Lima; and Anthem Worldwide/Marque Branding, Sydney who honored Spider Fellows with 627 coveted title awards in 31 categories.”It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 7,556 entries we received this year,” said Basil O’Brien, the awards Creative Director. ”

The Gelmersee Bridge

Located in Oberwald, Switzerland above the Grimsel Pass is Gelmersee (lake). The bridge is situated at the entrance of the Gelmerbahn mountain railway to the Gelmersee. It is a pedestrian bridge suspended over the Handeggfall with a spectacular view of the dramatic falls.

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The Raymond & Maria Stata Center

The Raymond & Maria Stata Center was designed by Frank Gehry. Located at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts is the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Departments as well as student dorms on the upper floors. The exterior tiles reflect the surrounding landscape and creates a visual picture of the activities of student life in the area.

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The Wimmlet (Wine Harvest)at Jürg Obrecht Winery in Jenins, Switzerland

•October 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This year’s harvest is in full swing in the Bünder Herrschaft.

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Last year I had the fortune of photographing Jürg Obrecht and his team harvest and process the grapes.

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With urgency and passion, the activity was intense as the temperature in the evening was beginning to drop.

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Not a minute could be wasted in getting the grapes into the crushers and vats.

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The moment to harvest is decided with experience, gut and closely watching the weather.

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Jürg took over his father’s winery (Weinbau & Weinhandel) in 1997. Along with his young family he built a team of talented people to develop and create innovative and traditional wines.

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Added to the production of his own 17 acres of vineyards he buys the harvest from another 50 acres of vineyards in Jenins and Maienfeld.

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Surrounded by spectacular views of the Alps he produces excellent and award winning red and white wines.

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Jürg modernized his production with the newest techniques and equipment to generate top quality wines.

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Eighty percent of the grapes he grows are Pinot Noir, the rest are mainly Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling  and Sylvaner.

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I thank Jürg and his team for tolerating my camera and me and for the lovely glass of wine.

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It was hard to shoot and drink at the same time, but as always I found a way and completely enjoyed the experience.

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For more information of the Fünf Dörfer – The 5 villages along the Wine Route of Marienfeld Switzerland https://wordpress.com/post/turosdolci.wordpress.com/601

Umbria, The Land of Hilltop Cities, Olive Trees, Wine and Black Truffles

•June 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Umbra’s hilly landscape is known for its many medieval hill-top towns that are surrounded with olive groves and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Stretching from Perugia to Spoleto it is a rich agricultural area producing olive oil, black truffles and wine. Tourists will also find beautiful textiles items such as scarf’s and linens produced in the region.

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I was impressed to discover the renovation of some of the hilltop towns that today are being occupied, not only by part-time summer residence, but are beautiful vibrant communities. This trip we set out to visit Spoleto, Montefalco, Trevi and some of the restored towns such as Campello Alta and Castello di Postignano.

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We found the lovely Argriturismo Pettino in Campello sul Clitunno, after driving along a windy road overlooking the valley, on top of a mountain. The food was outstanding with homemade pasta, perfectly grilled meats, local specialities and black truffles collected by the family around the surrounding mountain. However a warning, after drinking wine and eating large and delicious meals, driving down the mountain could be a risk, so staying at  Argriturismo Pettino is a good idea.

 

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Nonna, who was there before breakfast and stayed until after the dinner service was a joyful woman who loved to talk to the guests. I got to know her a little during my stay and one morning she was making homemade ravioli, I really wanted to stay and help her, but we were going to visit Spoleto that day and I had to make a choice, Spoleto it was. But I was in heaven at dinner eating the best ravioli I have ever had that evening.

 

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As I left Umbria, a plan began totake shape in my head about how I was going to return, but that will be another trip and another story.

 

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Enjoy some of the photo’s I took of the landscape and look for a future post about Montefalco and Spoleto.

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http://www.agriturismopettino.it

 

 

 

 
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