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Extended Millers

Keeping close though far apart

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Mum and Dad in Italy - the story

Not something us kiwis can do. but many Brits can -- fly to Europe for a long weekend! Jeff's cousins, Sara & John Barratt, having recently purhased a holiday house in Italy, had invited us to spend a Bank Holiday W/E there with them. So, using cheap flights now available within and from Britain, that's what we did! And so to Ancona on the Adriatic Coast, and north a little to Mondavio, in the Marche region.

And what a beautiful mediaeval town it was. Built on a hill (as they all were, for fortress reasons), from narrow cobbled streets, the 3 storeyed brick houses rise directly, wooden-shuttered with tiled roofs, enhanced by geraniums & petunias in window boxes, on balconies, and in pots at the doors. And roses, roses, roses -- large and bright, red, gold... what a sight -- so many bigger-than-life roses on each bush!

Each fortress town had its medieval brick walls, [other houses around outside], and central church building, with bell tower silhouetted against the skyline -- often, incongruously, vying with a 20th C yellow crane for prominence!

In the gentle valleys between, crops of wheat were ripening, tall cylindrical cypresses punctuating the landscape. John & Sara's house was built at the turn of the century; thenadays animals were stalled below, with family home above. J & S have completely refurbished, keeping the style both traditiional and Italian, with 21st C convenience. Intriguing to close and lock the shutters every time one goes out! Peals of bells sounded at 7:00am each morning, and thereafter throughout the day.

Explored Mondavio and Urbino; viewed an exhibition of old Italian paintings at the Duke's palace. Another day we drove over the Appenines into Tuscany on the west, to visit Siena. Siena was once a capitial city to rival Florence -- at its peak from 1260 - 1348. Has a municipal bell tower 330ft high. The huge ornate Roman Catholic church building is most unusual with its black & white "stripes" all the way up in marble. Townsfolk were required to bring loads of marble each to build it. Thenadays set to become the largest in Christendom, but the Black Death
took a huge toll, leaving a great unfinished portion.