domenica 10 maggio 2009

And We're Off!

Well! 2009 Blew by us so I want to publish this now- So many things have happened and I will post in more blogs. The 2010 addition of this car rally was over yesterday. But here are the pics of last year's race-

Well Summer is blowing by us! Here are some highlights of what's been going on around town. Carlotta has been shirking a bit on her blog work as she's been a bit busy making sure all our guests are happy.

The roar of the engines of the Epic Car Rally here in Cortona seems to kick off the flow of visitors who come to discover the beauty of Cortona. This loud cross of rumbling and whining has some sort of hypnotic power over the spectators, most often those who possess a Y chromosome, who are drawn like bees to honey. Personally, this noise seems to bring out a sort of axe murderer instinct in me. If I had an axe and was within earshot of a television broadcasting these events I think the results could be disasterous. However, I must say the cars are beautiful as far as design goes.

Most popular are the race car prototypes

But even these old beauties command attention.

25 Aprile - La Liberazione

The Liberation Day holiday of 25th April was celebrated with a parade

The city band isn't complete without Gastone and his bass drum. When they pass you look for him- I will try to retrieve the photo in my next blog. You can just see him in the background of this one.

Mayor Vignini follows the city banner, followed by the partisan survivors of the last world war

In reality it is a double liberation as Cortona was liberated in 1261 from hostile Aretine occupation on the very same day. Memory is long here.

On May 3rd there was a gathering of the ex- Bersaglieri of the Tuscan Region in Cortona (a division of the army which literally run into battle)-their unusual uniform hats decorated with glistening black/green feathers fluttering in the wind and presence of the Carabinieri in high uniform.

More memories of 2009 to come and one of the most surprising and life changing events of last year for Carlotta to be shared with you.

domenica 12 aprile 2009

The Swallows are Back!

Somehow they do it every year, all of a sudden they appear- Le Rondini- the swallows that have nests built under the eaves of our palazzi here in Cortona return. I always say that I will be more observant, because there has to be a specific day they swoop in, like the swallows of Capistrano, but they always sneak in on me and their distinctively shrill cries as they dive and and swoosh upward again against the morning and evening skies wake me up to the fact that Spring has Officially arrived.
Carlotta with our friend Mario at his flower shop
There are city "Rondoni" big, totally black birds and smaller country cousins who return to the houses in the valley below and most easily distinguished by their white feathered breasts. They are the original and unchallenged trick aeronautic show as they cry out in the morning and early evening as they daringly dive in formation then suddenly swoop to the left or right or straight upwards with their beaks open to capture their insect meals.

Cortona, therefore, is called back to life. Last weekend's Chocolate Festival and this Easter Holiday weekend have called back family and friends to spend "Pasqua con Chi Vuoi" - The Italian proverb meant to resolve the dilemma of where to celebrate the holidays is "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi" that is: Christmas with yours, Easter with whom you wish.

Easter in Italy is as big as Christmas, as the priest like to remind us, Christmas is just half of the story. The beginning of the celebrations here are somber with the Good Friday procession, nearly life-sized wooden statues which represent the scenes of the Passion Week are carried through the streets by members of various service organizations. The statues, carved of solid wood in the 1600's, leave their homes in the various churches at the top of Cortona, and the bottom of Cortona , the east and west of Cortona and are brought together to visually tell the story for believers and for curious onlookers. The highlight of the midnight mass on Saturday evening is the "Volo" as the effigy of Christ Risen is run through the church at midnight. In Cortona it is said that the smoothness and speed of this "flight" through the cathedral is an auspice for the year in course.

Ilaria with face painted as a Bacio Perugina

In anticipation of the Easter celebration, beautifully decorated chocolate eggs start appearing right at the end of Mardi Gras (just to tempt those who have given up chocolate for Lent) in the windows of the pastry shops of all the cities, who proudly display their handiwork in the weeks leading up to Easter. Grocery stores stock an array of colorful, shiny, paper wrapped eggs with surprises inside. Pencil sharpeners, charms, calculators, silver jewelry, key chains, plastic toys or stuffed animals are just a few of the things that can be found in commercially produced eggs.

Gianni Banchelli getting ready for a demonstration at the Chocolate Festival. Gianni proudly carries on the tradition of Banchelli's Pasticceria opened by his grandfather in Cortona. We get our morning pastries fresh each day from Gianni.

A custom made egg from the pasticceria can hold whatever one desires, from a love letter or marriage proposal with a diamond ring, wristwatch, pens, real jewelry which lead to many an urban legend of eggs or prizes that get mixed up at the pasticceria a Easter time.

There is always a giant Easter egg up for raffle at the grocery store or pastry shops and bars. Numbered tickets from 1-90 are sold for a euro or two and the winner will be the holder of number which is drawn first from the national lottery on a specified "wheel" usually the one closest to the town, in our case Florence.

Alessio Burroni of Cocoa Chocolate Shop (left)

Sabrina, Gianni Banchelli's wife (right)

Cortona is waking up again, and although we like to enjoy having the city to ourselves for a while, a true proud citizen of this city enjoys showing it off to appreciative visitors. What's the use of having an exquisite jewel which is hidden away and never sees the light of day?

The "Rondini" are calling-what are you waiting for? Come home to Cortona, Luciano, Jeanette and of course, Carlotta are ready to welcome you home to Casa Chilenne Bed and Breakfast.

mercoledì 8 aprile 2009

Loss of Love, Keeping the Faith and Hope

With the recent earthquake in Abruzzo, there have been emails pouring in from all over with worries and concerns that we in Cortona we're physically involved in the earthquake. Thank you for all prayers and good wishes. We are far enough from Aquila that we weren't physically affected. However, as the reality of this grave situation sinks in we can't help but be affected.

A great loss of loved ones, anyone's loved ones is always a tragedy. It is, however, heartening to witness the incredible power of humanity and charity which is pouring in from the community around us and around the world. A reminder that we are all connected. Appeals for solidarity and support for the people of Abruzzo have gone out, food, clothing and blood donations. Housing for the thousands who have been rendered homeless is being sought and offered. Rescue teams of professionals and volunteers are selflessly working gruelling hours to help reunite loved ones.

Loss of a love on a big or small scale touches us all. We must fill the void with faith in finding the strength to go on, inside ourselves, or reaching out and asking for it from others to hope for a brighter future ahead, no matter how dark it may seem.

We at Casa Chilenne send our love, thoughts and prayers to the victims and survivors of the Abruzzo earthquake.

domenica 22 marzo 2009

Hello Spring!

Well, Spring on the calendar has come, but old man winter just had to show off a little bit and we awoke to snow on Saturday. Big, fluffy, Christmas movies kind of snowflakes and Mt. Sant'Egidio was liberally sprinkled down past Santa Margherita Church. Spring is here however, and the days are longer. The sun is rising earlier, setting sooner and we've got lots of new things happening here as well. Some of you might be reading our blog for the first time as we are now linked to our official site which our Webmaster Simone Mozzorecchi published a week or so ago. We have nice pictures, maps to show where we are, the Cortona webcam is up and running again, although they've changed the angulation, so you basically just see the pavement, although our front door is still visible in the upper right hand corner.
Our first winter was filled with more action than we thought. We had a full house at new year's and even ran into old work colleagues from France among our guests. The "Cortona Inverno" promotion seemed to have some following and we were grateful for the offering of the theater and concert events. "Cortona in Love" the Valentine's Day event was well received and has inspired an encore to the chocolate market which will include demonstrations! on Sunday, April 5th.
The "Festa della Donna" on March 8, found Cortona filled with visitors and some nice pre-Spring weather. It left us with some great ideas for activities for our guests this summer.

Here are a few of the things that happened around Casa Chilenne this winter-

Luciano's dad celebrated his 93rd birthday! Tanti Auguri Oberdan!

Antonella's award winning St. Valentine's window displays!

So we're ready for Spring- April is filling-up fast and May starting to bring us many new visitors as well as repeat guests! September is always high season and we've been taking reservations since last year. OK Spring we're ready for you!

venerdì 23 gennaio 2009

The Power of Love

Well, it is official, it's that time of twice a year when Carlotta's charms are apparent even to the male dog world. Her popularity has swelled, and, as always, it is the arrival of Tappo the Ba-a-a-d dog in town that gives us the first and only sign (Photo by Robin Davis, on sale at La Tabaccheria del Corso). He pops up like clockwork and starts his courting sit-in outside our door. Taking a walk with Carlotta becomes an agonizing and comical (to others) affair. It seems that I have two dogs, one on a leash and the other tied by the leash of pheromones behind. Take two steps, "Tappo Vai a CA-SA!", another three, then "Tappo Go HOME!"--just in case he doesn't understand as he comes from a bilingual home as well. Sometimes he hides behind a parked car or ducks behind a potted plant, unaware that his crazy upward curled tail or pointed ears poke out and give him away.

Walking down Via Nazionale draws attention as Tappo is well known as being a key contributor to the gene pool of most of the dogs of Cortona and his hot pursuit is often cheered on by some of the meandering, pensioned men of the town. Others who are not fans of Tappo's questionable etiquette regarding his sanitary habits come to our aid and try to help us shoo him on his way. Of great help are merchants who have wares displayed on racks outside their doorways (for understandable reasons).

There must be something incredibly strong and desirable in the bloodline of Tappo, as it seems that he is the Canine Latin Lover par excellance-admittedly, he holds some sort of charm for Carlotta, quite to our horror. We imagine a new line of "Tapponcini" coming forth-a fate almost sealed last February when Carlotta slipped past the workers who were coming in to the door to work on the B&B and ran off with that peg-legged rascal. A terror fed chase ensued. As I called for her vainly, I was soon called on my cellphone by Enzo our taxi driver friend (see Cortona friends blog entry) who informed me that he had seen Carlotta dash through the townhall square (still wearing her Landsend jacket) with Tappo in hot pursuit. I back-tracked as I had head in the opposite direction-met Enzo in the square and we gave chase towards the top of town to Tappo's house (or should I say lair!) in his taxi. Alas, they were not there. Desperate, I decided it was time to notify Luciano at work-upon delivering the news I received a blue streaked earfull of Tuscan "bestemmia" D.O.C. followed by a slamming down on the other end of the line.

With nightmare images of the possible stumpy, curly haired, pointy eared, offspring which could be in the making at that very minute, I returned back down to the main part of town to continue my search. Back at Casa Chilenne she hadn't returned. I met up with Luciano at the house, he had run toward home to see if they had returned. We parted ways again. I going toward town hall on foot and him going towards the park. After 27 minutes of adventure they both came running down toward Luciano from Santa Margherita, Carlotta still with her jacket in place. Santa Margherita was looking down on us that day (she is the patron protector of wayward women) and procreation did not happen (to our immense relief).

One may say, why don't you get her fixed...I guess we selfishly and sentimentally,just can't bring ourselves to renounce having a little bit of our Carlotta carried on in future generations, of course fathered by an appropriate mate of our choosing. Perhaps Tappo is a little wiser than us as to the ways of love and the world and has other plans in store. And so, he lies in wait-

At Casa Chilenne this February we are honoring the power of love. The Comune has organized Valentine's Day weekend events and promotions including an artisan chocolatier event, concerts and our historic flag juggling company.

We know that love can't be scheduled so we're celebrating all month-contact us if you'll be in Cortona in February and we'll tell you about our "Power of Love" specials- very affordable love get aways in Cortona- We bow to the Power of Love ( or tel:+39 0575 603320)