Photos of San Galgano in Tuscany


One of the most intriguing places in Tuscany is for sure San Galgano. I have been there 4 years ago, sleeping in the car, so I could see the sunrise over the old abbey without a roof.

I came back this year mainly to show it to a friend of mine who was with me in Tuscany for a week – and her very first time. The place is in my eyes a must-see. The abbey today stands in the middle of a field and looks really amazing.

As I already wrote an article about the Abbey of San Galgano and the Chapel of Montesiepi, I just let you see some more pictures I took this time. I think they are too beautiful to just forget them in a folder. That following weekend there was a rock concert in the old walls, I can only imagine the acoustic…

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San Galgano, Chiusdino/Siena, Italy:

For further information:
Abbey of San Galgano


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Living in a Cocoon – Walled Buonconvento


Buonconvento – from the Latin expression for ‘place of good luck’ – is located between Siena and Pienza. We ‘discovered’ the place when we were going from the Thermal Bath of Petriolo to Pienza. A little walled city, medieval and very calm.


We were looking for a place to have lunch and my friend wanted again melon with prosciutto, a very refreshing antipasto you can find everywhere in the summer time.

We stopped and parked the car right outside the walls. We walked in from a side opening which seemed to me not the original one. In fact, the main entrance is on the north side, called Siena Gate. The once second on the south side, the Rome Gate, was destroyed by the Germans after the Second World War.

The place is for sure older but mentioned for the first time in 1100. The most important event was 200 years later when Henry VII died after a visit here on the 24th of August. He was poisoned with arsenic he was administered for a disease called Anthrax.

The walls were built between 1371 and 1383. Until 1559 the walled town was part of Siena, before it was integrated to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and then 1861 to Italy.


Today it has a main road with a lot of little restaurants and shops. We had a perfect lunch with prosciutto and melon and later a nice ice-cream as well. I highly recommend a walk around the walls as there are more little shops ​to see.

The church of Santii Pietro e Paolo has a very interesting glass window and frescoes of the early 15th century. The bell-tower from the early 18th century shows the family coat of arms of the high families of the town and surroundings.

Outside the town center we saw a lot of villas and castles, most of them on private property, but nonetheless very beautiful to view through the gates.

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Buonconvento, Tuscany,/Italy:

For further information:
About Buonconvento


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A Pumpkin Bundt Cake for Coffee Klatch


Bundt Cake – I always thought what a strange name. And the spelling is even more interesting as it seems to be German. Which I found out, is right.

The Bundt cake is inspired by the German-speaking countries Gugelhupf cake. The name refers to the shape but not to any recipe. They were popular in the 50s and 60s when the cookware was made of cast aluminum.

The cake itself seems to be a gigantic brioche or a round bread pan cake with waves. It seems so that no one knows exactly where the word bundt comes from or what it means. Fact instead is that it is a very popular cake in the Jewish communities in Europe. And: because America loves to have every day a “National Day of” the National Bundt Day is the 15th of November.


My idea of the Pumpkin Bundt Cake I got from JoyFoodSunshine. Like always I made my own recipe out of it. The bundt pan just fell into my hand when I opened the kitchen cupboard and I thought it would be a great idea. I totally omitted the chocolate chips and I used ready pumpkin spice, bought last time when I was in San Diego.

The taste of the cake is great. I later covered the cake partially with chocolate and drizzled more hazelnut flour on the top for decoration – and taste.

It is a perfect cake for an autumn afternoon with coffee or tea and some girl-friends or a nice book!

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Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
20 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
20 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
20 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
20 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
Wet ingredients:
Dry ingredients:
Servings: slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
  2. Add all the wet ingredients in a blender, starting with the eggs and ending with the sugar. Blend until all is well combined and smooth. It will take until 30 seconds. Alternatively you can whisk also with a hand mixer or wooden spoon. Then it will take a little longer.
  3. Now in a small bowl you can add all the dry ingredients and stir just with a wooden spoon or an egg whisk.
  4. Add the wet blender mixture into the dry flour mixture and whisk again until all is smooth
  5. Grease a Bundt cake pan and fill it with the batter evenly. Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you put it in the middle of the cake.
  6. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before you take a plate and put it upside-down on the cake pan and turn it both over. Let the cake slide slowly out of the pan. Let it cool out well before you put any decoration like melted chocolate, icing sugar or cream.
  7. Enjoy with your girl-friends!
Recipe Notes

Try the cake with some butter cream I made for the pumpkin spice cake-bites. Cut the Bundt cake horizontally in 2 or 3 parts and put butter-cream between the layers. Make the butter-cream with hazelnut butter instead of the almond butter.

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The first Bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice – Rialto Bridge


When I think about Venice, I think also about the Rialto bridge. It is so famous that I couldn’t wait to see it in person. Photos give you a kind of idea but when you are actually in loco the feeling can be completely different. That’s what happens very often to me.


The Rialto bridge has a long history. The very first bridge was built in 1181 as a pontoon bridge (floating, wooden bridge). The name was different, too: Ponte della Moneta (like the One-Penny-Bridge in Dublin). That name was because before the bridge, one had to pay a quarter of a Venetian coin to cross the river by boat.

Over time the market at the Rialto quarter on the eastern bank increased and the bridge started to be too small for all the traffic of pedestrians and carts. In result the bridge was rebuilt as a wooden bridge just 70 years later. The bridge was well-conceived as it had two ramps that could be lifted for the passage of the taller sail ships. This was the time to change the name of the bridge, to what today is so well-known, Rialto Bridge.

Two hundred years later a row of shops were built on each side of the bridge. The shops were rented and with the money the maintenance of the bridge could be paid.

And soon it would be very helpful as the bridge was destroyed nearly completely in a fire in 1310 and collapsed in 1444 under the extensive weight of a crowd watching a boat parade. 80 years later the same happened again. In the first collapse no one died, in the second only two people. But the bridge was both the times heavenly damaged.

Already 20 years earlier there was the first thought of building a stone bridge instead of the weak wooden bridge. So over decades architects designed several proposals, Sansovino, Palladio and Michelangelo amongst them. But all of them involved multiple arches over the canal and it seemed inappropriate.

Antonio da Ponte was the ‘winner’ and built a stone bridge with one single arch only spanning over the canal. The construction was completed in 1591 and looked very similar to the previous wooden version. Vincenzo Scamozzi, famous architect at that time, predicted another collapse for the bridge. But still it is standing and today it is more than ‘just a bridge’, but a tourist magnet.

Some interesting facts: the arch is 28 meters long. For holding the foundation there are 24 logs of elm in the ground and all together 24 shops, on both sides of the bridge. There are three ramps on each side: one large one with a 10 meters wide stairway and two ramps of three meters wide before arriving at the top. Under the high middle arch there are some sculptures on one side. On the base you can read the date of the foundation of Venice (25th March 421) and the construction date of the bridge. To build the bridge Venice had to pay 250.000 ducats, which would be today a sum of around 2.5 million euro.


I had a closer look at the bridge the evening before leaving Venice. I didn’t even notice the bridge when I arrived. I guess because of the many people. Countless tourists were standing everywhere and taking selfies. Or photos of someone on the bridge from the shore. Moments when I think how nice our world was when we had no cellphones and only a few people had a camera. The bridge itself has nice, super expensive jewelry shops. But it’s even difficult to do some window shopping as so many people are actually on the bridge. I guess the only moment the Rialto bridge is really beautiful is late in the night or super early in the morning. Maybe also in winter in the morning mist. This warm summer night it was definitely something that got an ‘aha’ out of me, nothing else. Maybe I was a little disappointed, but honestly: Venice has so many beautiful more hidden gems that the bridge can be easily skipped in a second visit here. But I liked very much to know about the history which I think is very interesting.


Venice, Veneto/Italy:

For further information:
Tourism Board of Venice

Some books of Donna Leon I highly recommend:


Posted in Europe, Italy, ON TRAVEL, Veneto | Tagged | Leave a comment

Photographer at a Wedding in Český Krumlov


She is a professional Classic dancer, he is a professional physician, both are from the Czech Republic. They met because of their common love for trekking and nature. And they got married a week ago.

I’ve known my friend for a few years, she lived (I will miss her!) near to me and came very often to help me in the garden, to look after my cat when I was away and trying out my newest Paleo creations. She is so much fun, we had a lot of laughter, and we fell in love at nearly the same time with someone living in another country. She left her old life and managed to live with her husband in his home town


When she told me in summer they will get married, I was more than excited. They asked me to take photos of them to create an announcement card, and I was thrilled. Later in summer I was a couple of times with her to try on the wedding dress. And she asked me to dress her on her wedding day. I felt so honored! And she wanted me being her second (unofficial) photographer.

We got an invitation card and my lovely sweetheart was so excited to come over to Europe and going to a wedding in Czech Republic. He knows Prague but was never in Český Krumlov before. I had to look it up on the map, too.

So we drove over by car, already two days before the wedding, to sightseeing the place. For me it was also important to have a look at the church. As a photographer for an event it is good to know the locations. So in advance you can decide where to stay, how to move, and in my case how to avoid interfering into the official wedding photographer’s work.


In church, they had a full service wedding. For one and a half hour I was trying to get photos from the opposite side of the photographer. Then I walked with her through the whole little town for more photos. The fun was: the little town of Český Krumlov is full of Asian tourists that followed us in bulk to take the same pictures as the photographer did. So much fun!

Later we arrived in the restaurant. What appeared to me the day before as a cold, modern place today was a nice, cozy and well decorated venue. Around a hundred people were invited. With two menus possible: one for special diets and one for ‘normal-all-eaters’. My sweetie was on cloud 7, he loves the heavy Eastern/mountain food. Dumplings, potatoes, pork and gravies, and he is the most happy man on the planet. Well, he had a lot of it here. And he tried the special Czech ‘Schnaps’.

I particularly liked the harp music which seemed to me very traditional and an appropriate background music.


For the next day there was a brunch organized at her home. More great food like sauerkraut soup, sandwiches, cakes and cookies, coffee and tea and more ‘Schnaps’! We managed to stay the entire day before we had to leave Český Krumlov the next day. This way we drove in the afternoon a little bit in the country-side, relaxed and talk about the wedding.

I think, weddings are more or less everywhere the same in Western cultures. There are a few traditions like feeding the other one the wedding soup (in Italy it’s the cake), shatter some plates and the bride and groom have to clean-up, throwing rice or/and flower petals after church or what the bride has to wear (something old, new, blue, borrowed, donated). I didn’t see any differences. But I noticed many women wore also black dresses. That is for me still a no-go. Black and white is something a woman should not wear at a wedding, in my opinion. But I am old-fashioned.

I loved my friends dress! It looked so good on her. She was just an amazingly beautiful bride. And the groom in the blue suit matched perfectly, too.

I am looking forward to their first child’s baptism now!

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Český Krumlov, South Bohemia/Czech Republic:

For further information:
The official website of Český Krumlov
Website of the Czech Tourism


Posted in Cech Republic, Europe, events, ON TRAVEL | Tagged | 3 Comments