The Colors of Italy

Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Voghera, Italy

I’ve been back for a few weeks from a recent trip to Italy. While editing my photos, I noticed a recurring theme – the wonderful colors of the buildings. In fact, if I had to use one word to describe this trip, I’d say: colorful!

I adore the colors of Italy: the myriad shades of terra cotta and ochre (from pale pastel yellow to intense rich coral), the greens (from mint to olive). It’s as though the crumbling architecture is enhanced by the colors.

Colors of Italy, terra cotta. @PennySadler 2013

Ever wonder about those colors? Where they came from? And how is that today, even the newer buildings are painted in the same or similar colors? The answer is pretty simple – mineral oxides and plant pigments. I am not suggesting that exterior paint is still made from mineral oxides, but in Italy, the tradition of painting exteriors in earth based colors has remained.

Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

One night a friend took me for a drive in the wine country, the Oltrepo Pavese, and we pulled over so I could photograph this eye-popping coral house. Many modern homes and public buildings are painted in more vivid versions of the original mineral oxide-based colors. Even though it’s a bit surreal, I think it’s fantastic! Color makes me happy.

in the Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardia, Italia

Color!

These photos were taken in some of the small cities I visited, and in the countryside, in Lombardia, a region in northwest Italy. Most buildings also have balconies filled with flower pots, drawing your eyes upward and adding to the kaleidascope of colors.

Pavia, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Maybe those colors were inspired by gelato?

gelato in Italy, @PennySadler 2013

Pavia, Italia. Province of Lombardai, Italia @PennySadler 2013

If you like this story you may like:

Cathedral del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Postcard From Voghera, Italy

and

Britz gelateria, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Hungry? Top Gelato Spots in Lombardia

All material copyright PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

Postcard from Voghera, Italy

Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2103

Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy

Surrounded by vineyards, set amidst rolling hills crowned with ancient castles, and steeped in history, Voghera is located in one of most beautiful regions of Italy and definitely worth a visit.

I chose Voghera as my base camp on a recent trip to Italy. The central location in Lombardia (on one of the main train arteries) allowed me to travel out for day trips to Milan, Pavia, Genoa, and many points in between. I enjoyed staying in a smaller town that was not overrun by tourists, and thus had plenty of opportunities to practice speaking Italian.

The Italian Lakes are an easy ninety minute drive from Voghera. You can get there by train, but it’s a bit of an ordeal, and luckily I didn’t need to do that. A car is definitely the transportation mode of choice around the lakes.

Because of its strategic position in northwest Italy, Voghera has been ruled by various countries and kingdoms – the Romans, the French, and Austrians have all occupied and influenced the history and landscape of Voghera. Napolean once made Voghera his base camp and stayed at Palazzo Dattilini on Via Emilia.

Cathedral del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Piazza del Duomo is the place to begin a visit to Voghera. Like most towns in Italy, it is the center of civic life. Here you can find shops, restaurants, bars, and of course gelaterias. It’s a wonderful place to sit in a small cafe like Barocco for an apertivo or take a gelato at Britz, and immerse yourself in the local culture and language.

I like the wide expansive feeling of this piazza, and the pastel and ochre colors of the old palazzos that make up the perimeter. Most of these buildings are now government offices, such as City Hall and the Mayor’s office.

I think the charm of Voghera can best be observed in the wide variety of architecture, from the tenth century Castello to the seventeenth century Cathedral del Duomo. Even the more modern buildings are colorful, and display window boxes with seasonal flowers and herbs. I think it’s a sign of a town that is proud of its heritage – and that feels like a nice place to me.

Piazza del Duomo, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Related posts:

http://adventuresofacarryon.com/2013/07/08/hungry-top-gelato-spots-in-lombardia/

All material copyright PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

Hungry? Top Gelato Spots in Lombardia

gelato in Italy, @PennySadler 2013

A perennial favorite, gelato seems to taste so much better when I’m in Italy than anywhere else. I sometimes go to a shop in Dallas that was started by a family from northern Italy, but it’s just not the same. I was told by an Italian friend it’s because in Italy, gelato is made fresh from scratch every day.

I think it might be at least a little bit that when you’re on vacation, everything tastes better. Or maybe it was because it was unusually hot in Lombardia when I was there? There’s nothing quite as delicious as a fresh, cold gelato to revive you. Whatever the reason, I gave in to the urge to eat gelato almost every day while I was in Italy a few weeks ago. I wish I had eaten more!

Here’s the scoop (pun intended) on where I ate gelato:

Top Milan Gelaterias:

Vanilla specializes in traditional Italian flavors like hazelnut, pistachio, chocolate, and pinoli. During the summer, they offer local and unique fruit flavors, too, such as prickly pear, goji berry, pomegranate, and mango.

Another unique ingredient used at Vanilla that I’ve never seen anywhere else is olive oil. The olive oil replaces the dairy and so is great for those who are lactose intolerant and have other digestive ailments. And, it’s good for your heart – why not have gelato every day?

I spent several hours wandering around near the Duomo in Milano, and noticed that Vanilla always had a line. Plus they had some pretty little bistro tables set with lace and umbrellas, and I was ready to sit down. Most gelaterias have no seating inside or out – you simply stand around outside, or walk away with your gelato.

I tried the coconut and watermelon. I often order coconut, but this was my first watermelon gelato. If you can taste summer in a food, watermelon would be it for me, it’s sweet and refreshing, and watermelon gelato – yum!

Vanilla Gelato, Milan Italy &#64:PennySadler 2013

I noticed most everyone took their gelato in a cone, but I always get it in a cup. I think I agree with the purists that the cone distracts you from the true flavor of the gelato. At Vanilla, the flavors are so crisp and true, I don’t want anything interfering.

The fellow in this photo knew what I was up to with my camera and gave me a clear shot. Thank you, kind stranger!

Vanilla Gelateria, Milan Italy @PennySadler 2013

Vanilla is located behind the Duomo di Milano.

Vanilla Gelateria
Via Pattari, 2 20122 Milano
vanilla-gelateria-italiani.it

Grom gelateria, Milan, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Grom has built its reputation on using only organic, fresh ingredients from around Italy: Sfusato lemon from Amalfi, and the Leonforte peach, for example. They have a central farm where all the raw ingredients are mixed, ensuring their high standards are met.

I did not eat gelato at Grom, but if the crowd of people outside is any indication, I’d give it a try next time. They started with one shop in Torino in 2003, and have since expanded all over the world. You can eat Grom gelato now in Paris, Tokyo, Malibu, and NYC. They must be doing something right!

There are seven locations in Milan alone, and of course there’s one near the Duomo di Milano. In case you’re wondering, Grom is the surname of one of the founders.

Grom
Via Santa Margherita, 16, 20121 Milano ‎
 grom.it

Britz gelateria, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Gelato in Voghera:

Britz. We went to Britz one night when it seemed like the entire town was out for the evening. Within two blocks I saw more gelaterias than you can imagine! Apparently gelato is the thing in Voghera.

My friend had the chocolate and hazelnut (two typical Italian flavors) and pronounced it “Very good!” I tried the lemon sorbetto and found it a bit too tart and lacking the creamy texture I was seeking. What do I know? Perhaps I just ordered the wrong thing?

The location in Piazza del Duomo, however, is excellent. There is no seating inside, but it’s more fun to be outside and people watch anyway. In Italy everyone goes out in the evening to walk (passeggiata) and visit with friends, family, and neighbors. It’s an experience you cannot duplicate anywhere else in the world.

Do you think the folks in the photo are wondering if the people to their left are checking out what flavor they got? LOL

Britz Gelateria
Piazza del Duomo,Voghera

Mojito Cafe, gelato colors @PennySadler 2013

gelateria, San Giulio di Orta, Lake Orta, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Gelato in Orta San Giulio:

Mojito Cafe. Here I found the lemon sorbetto (limone) I craved. I don’t know how they do it, because I don’t think they add any dairy as it’s a fruit flavor, but it was creamy, yet light – sweet, but not too sweet. I adore lemon sorbetto in Italy. I should have taken a larger serving!
An Italian friend told me, “You are an Italian girl,” because limone is the most Italian of flavors. (Those Italian guys always know what to say)

The location in romantic Lake Orta didn’t hurt, either…probably made it taste even better. I’ll certainly never forget it.

This gelateria with the improbable name offers drinks and coffees as well as gelato, and there is seating outside. However, there is a minimum of 7 euros per person to sit at a table. When we were there it was raining and every table was taken. We found a doorstep on a tiny side street and sat under the awning.

Gelato flavors from Mojito Cafe @PennySadler 2013

I don’t have an address or website for Mojito Cafe, but there’s only one main street in Orta San Giulio – you can’t miss it.

Mojito Cafe
San Giulio di Orta, Lake Orta

All materials ©PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

Postcard: Old Spanish Days, Santa Barbara

Mariachis in the Fiesta Santa Barbara, parade, @PennySadler 2013

Old Spanish Days, Santa Barbara, also known simply as Fiesta, is a week long celebration of the Spanish and Mexican cultural heritage of Santa Barbara, California.

Everyone loves a good parade and I am no exception. I return to Santa Barbara year after year for the Fiesta Historical Parade, one of the largest equestrian parades in the country.

There are rodeos, mercados, folklorico dance,traditional music, and of course, food, wine, and fun for the whole family.

If you happen to be in Santa Barbara before the official week begins, check out the website for pre Fiesta events.

For some more ideas on what to do in the area, read Explore Santa Barbara.

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2012-2013. All rights reserved.

Postcard: The Merc, Dallas

The Mercantile Building, Dallas, Texas @PennySadler 2013

The Merc

I discovered The Mercantile about the same time I discovered Main St.Gardens, an urban green space in downtown Dallas. Since then I’ve been drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I think it’s the neon clock tower and the fact that it is one of the few deco – inspired buildings left in Dallas. It’s especially cool at night when the neon on the clock tower is lit, as it is in this photograph. A fun note about the photo – it’s a drive by. I just rolled down my window and held up my camera while passing through downtown. I’d been out shooting all day because the sky was particularly interesting and was on my way home when I saw The Merc from this vantage point.

The Mercantile National Bank, founded by R.L. Thornton (one of the founders of the city of Dallas), is now a luxury residential high rise building in the Main St. Historic District.

Completed in 1942, the steel to construct the building had already been ordered when WWII began. At a time when new construction was basically at a standstill because materials were being requisitioned for the war, R.L. Thornton, was able to get an exception for the Mercantile Bank Building. The interior was apparently pretty swank and R.L. lived in a penthouse on the 31st floor.

Now called simply The Merc, the location is a dream for urban dwellers who like shopping, fine dining, and the arts. Neiman Marcus is a block away, and there are multiple options for five star dining in the area. The Dallas Arts District is also within walking distance as is the Farmers Market.

All materials ©PennySadler 2012-2013. All rights reserved.

Historic Los Angeles: An Architecture Walk

The Million Dollar Theater, Broadway St. Los Angeles, Ca. @PennySadler 2013

The Million Dollar Theater

On my recent trip to Los Angeles I walked the historic downtown area – a fascinating neighborhood packed with interesting old buildings that tell the history of Los Angeles from 1890’s to the present.

I was surprised to learn that there is a huge theater district built mostly in the 1920s and 30s and it contains the largest concentration of theaters located within on city block in the nation. Take a walk down Broadway St. – from beaux arts to art deco, it’s an architects dream come true.

The whole area was once the center of art and culture in Los Angeles, but was mostly abandoned by the 1990’s. However there is a movement to revitalize the area, and funding has been approved to install a downtown streetcar. There are rumours of big name retailers like Urban Outfitters moving into the area as well. Many of the buildings are already being converted into lofts, however there are still a lot of buildings that look only partially refurbished – it looks like a very long term project.

@PennySadler 2013 Detail of the facade on the Million Dollar Theater

Detail, Million Dollar Theater

A great place to start your walk is at the corner of Broadway and 3rd. On one side is the Million Dollar Theater and the Grand Central Market, and across the street is the famous Bradbury Building. The Bradbury is the oldest commercial building in Los Angeles, and it is working building so you can only visit the first floor. The beautiful French wrought iron, five story atrium, and wood and terra cotta details of the interior, were inspired by a futuristic novel from 1887 called, “Looking Backward,” by Edward Bellamy. Interesting anecdote, parts of the building were used in the science fiction film, Blade Runner.

The Bradbury Building, Los Angeles, @PennySadler 2013

Interior: The Bradbury Building

Adjacent to the Million Dollar Theater is Grand Central Market, the oldest open air market in Los Angeles and it’s still a hopping place. You can find everything from tacos to fresh fruit smoothies here.

Grand Central Market, Broadway, St. Los Angeles CA @PennySadler 2013

Grand Central Market

Walk through Grand Central Market to the other side and across the street you will see the world’s shortest railroad, the Angel’s Flight funicular built in 1901. Ride it to the top for just 50 cents and experience a bit of L.A. history.

Angels Flight @PennySadler 2013

Angels Flight

Go back to Broadway to continue your tour of the amazing theater district.

The Los Angeles Theater, LA. California @PennySadler 2013

The Los Angeles Theater was built in 1931 at a cost of 2,000,000 dollars! The owner went in the hole pretty quickly and Fox took over the theater until the 1980’s. Check out this link for photographs of the interior which is magnificent!

The Tower Theater, Los Angeles @PennySadler 2013

The Tower Theater

exterior the Palace Theater, LA. Cal. @PennySadler 2013

The Palace Theater

The Palace Theater was built in 1911 and was one of the first of the Orpheum Vaudeville Theaters.

There are many other buildings of historical significance aside from the theaters. If you can plan in advance (I did not), the Los Angeles Conservancy offers tours of the various neighborhoods and styles of architecture for only $10.00. Some include the interiors which I’d love to see!

The Chester Williams Building @PennySadler 2013

The Chester Williams Building

For more information on theater district visit Bringing Back Broadway

Farmers Merchant National Bank @PennySadler 2013
theater Broadway St. Los Angeles, CA. @PennySadler 2013

All materials ©PennySadler 2013

Travel To Escape Reality

Beautiful doorway with flower pots in small town in Chianti, Tuscany @PennySadler 2013

Have you ever booked a last minute trip to a place that was several time zones away, where people don’t speak English, don’t use the same currency – and if you’re truly honest with yourself about the whole thing, you can’t afford it?

Have you ever spent a ridiculous amount of money just to get away from your life and all the things that go with it?

I’m considering doing just that. I need to get out of my own head. I need a break from the person I’ve become the past few months, feeling like a hamster on the wheel.

I’ve tried breathing, exercising, talking to friends, making gratitude lists, and it all works for a little while, but not long.

Tuscan country house, Chianti, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

“Must it be out of the country?” I ask myself. It would be easier to stay in the U.S. I wouldn’t have to change currency, deal with the long flights, the plane changes, the jet lag from crossing several times zones. I wouldn’t have to worry about roaming charges or keeping up with my passport, and I could speak English. But of course, my thoughts generally go to Italy.

But I can justify all of those inconveniences. In my mind, speaking a little Italian is a pleasure, and the worst thing about the euro is my dollars are worth less. I can call my cell phone provider and have roaming temporarily disconnected.

I don’t love the jet lag, but I know I’ll live, I’ve done it before.

Charming street in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. @PennySadler 2013

So I’m thinking maybe the way out of my funk, maybe the way I get “my groove back” is to go to Italy. I can visualize myself walking down some ancient cobblestone street, camera in hand, thousands of years of history all around me. I notice everything around me, sculptures by Bernini, 17th century buildings next to 12th century ruins. I notice people and try to guess where they might be from – are they tourists, like me, or locals? I eat a gelato and I don’t think about the calories or the fact that it’s dairy and I shouldn’t eat too much dairy. Dairy be damned! I’m in Italy! Without even being conscious of it, I begin to feel better – more attractive, more a part of the world. I’m living life, not going through the motions.

The parts of myself that stress me out begin to recede. Along the way I find the better parts, the Penny who is fun, and funny, and spontaneous, and curious, and who knows, it is insane to resist what is. And sometimes all it takes is a complete stranger who smiles and says, “Ciao Bella,” – or a cappuccino.
Italian style cappuccino @PennySadler 2103

All material copyright Penny Sadler 2013. All rights reserved.