Monday, May 31, 2010

Fabulous Rental Series:

Beachside in Monterosso...

I am really pleased to announce a new addition to our rental family. Casa Serena is a comfortable beach house located in a private residential area in the “new village” of Monterosso. It is just steps away from the beach, restaurants, bars, shops and everything that the Cinque Terre has to offer.

The house features two living areas:

The upper level consists of a well-equipped kitchen, living room leading out to a large sea view terrace (perfect for dining al fresco!), a bedroom with queen bed and a bathroom with shower.

The lower level has 3 bedrooms (one with queen bed, one with 2 twins that can be made into one bed, and one room with 3 twin beds), 2 bathrooms (one with shower, one with tub), a living/dining area and full kitchen.

The entire house has a light and airy feel and provides plenty of space for up to people. Perfect for families or 4 couples traveling together.

There is also a private garden space around the house for children to play without worry of cars. While a parking space is available, a car is not necessary as you can easily travel around by train or ferry.

NOTE: Casa Serena can be rented out as two separate units.

The upper unit is perfect for 2 people,

while renting the entire property is great for families (up to 7 people max).

I think one of the things I like best about this property is that although you are well located to everything, you are slightly removed (less than 10 minute walk) from the non-stop “hustle and bustle” of the centro storico, making this a rather relaxing and “serene” place to stay. The views aren't bad either!

For more info and photos,

please check out Casa Serena on our website:

Italian Villa Rentals by Bella Vita Italia

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Morning Walk to Lerici...

A couple of weeks ago, our dog Lucy (you all know who she is by now!) was put on a diet for obesity (!). Ok, she may be a bit “cicciona” but obese really is an exaggeration. But we want her to hang around as long as possible, so we are sticking to the vet’s strict program of gross diet food and at least a one-hour walk each day.

At first I thought, “Oh dear how am I going to do this going into my busy season?” I would need to get up earlier (and I am not always so good at that), need to adjust my day, etc. Yet I was determined to do this for Lulu. It did not take me long to realize: 1) I was being a bit selfish thinking I could not organize myself well enough and 2) I was looking forward to our morning walks!

I was discovering Lerici in a different light. The mornings are calm, clear and filled with good smells (and yes, Lulu likes that too). The village and the boardwalk are not packed with tourists yet, just locals having their morning caffè, workers delivering product to the restaurants and people like me, a resident enjoying the morning sun.

Here are a few photos from a daily morning adventure:

The Piazza

Making Friends

The water's clarity

Portovenere from the Lido

Raking the sand at the Lido

One of my favorite buildings

Tromp L'Oeil at its finest

Our borgo of Solaro (right smack in the middle on the hill)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mangialunga in Levanto

My friend Kate over at Little Paradiso already wrote a nice piece on her hometown’s fun “eating hike” so I will just share a few photos from our very fun day. I am marking the day as the official beginning of spring since we were not rained on during our hike (a couple of drops afterward but even that was minimal)...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Alla Madonna del Piatto

My room with a view...

Last week I have the pleasure of staying at my friends Letizia & Ruurd’s wonderful bed and breakfast overlooking the Umbrian hill town of Assisi. I had been wanting to stay there for a long time and with my parents in town (who had never been to Assisi), it sounds like the perfect place for us. Oh and it was!

Mom, Dad and the view from the terrace...

Alla Madonna del Piatto is a charming small country inn located on in the hills behind Assisi. The property is blessed with amazing views of the San Francis as well as the Umbrian countryside beyond. There is a strong sense of peace and tranquility at the inn. So much so that is can be a challenge to actually leave the property in order to explore the area! But once you do, you will find so much to do and see (Assisi, Perugia, Lake Trasimeno, Bevagna, Montefalco, Cortona and more!), that your days will be quite filled and fulfilling. Still that longing to return to the wisteria covered arbor with view for a glass of wine is even more enhanced!

St. Francis of Assisi...

The rooms are comfortable and simply furnished with lovely wrought iron beds and furniture. The bathrooms are well-equipped, meticulously clean with a fantastic mixture of tiles and “Venetian-style” floors (loved mine!). There is also a communal room for with plenty of books, guidebooks, Wifi and even a refrigerator/storage space for snacks. Additionally, each morning, Letizia serves a yummy breakfast of freshly made bread, home-made jams, juices, coffee, etc. - enough to keep you going well past the lunch hour! She also makes herself available during the breakfast time to hep you plan your day, even assisting with reservations, maps, and her very own “travel kit” for visiting Assisi or the villages beyond.

Comfy rooms...

Alla Madonna del Piatto is not a 4-star hotel. There are no TV’s, iPod docks or other “gadgets” in the rooms, no pool or poolside service and breakfast is the only meal served (except if you participate in one of Letizia’s fabulous cooking courses!), but you receive so much more quality and warmth here than many luxury hotels I have stayed in. At 90 euros a night, you are getting a steal. This little family run country inn is a gem located in an outstanding position. It’s the way a Italian B&B should be!

Me & the lovely Letizia...

"Alla Madonna del Piatto"

Via Petrata 37, Pieve San Nicolo'

06081 Assisi (PG), Umbria, Italy

Tel.: + 39 075 8199050

Cell phone: + 39 3287025297


Monday, May 03, 2010

Super Simple Shrimp

Mom and Dad are in town and that’s why I am a “missing in action” from blogging. Promise to be back regularly in a week or two. In the meantime, here was their first night’s meal:

Super Simple Shrimp (see below)

Sauteed Artichokes

Cannellini Beans “alla Meggy”

Recipe for Super Simple Shrimp:

1 cup of olive oil

1 cup of white wine

1 lemon, squeezed

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Peperoncino & salt to taste

30-40 “butterfly” shrimp

Stick all of the above ingredients in a big baggy (thank God Mom always brings over the zip lock bags!) and let marinate in the frig for the day.

Preheat oven at 200 degrees celsius (395 degrees fahrenheit). Place the shrimp in a somewhat orderly fashion so they are not completely on top of one another, on a cookie sheet (with carta al forno under it). Bake for 12-14 minutes.

And that’s it!