Italy 2014 Part 1: Colle di Val d’Elsa

Our 2014 Italian adventure is complete, and what a trip it was.  Though I started posting from “the road,” it became clear there was only enough time and energy to “live in the moment.”  There WAS enough time and energy to take a ton of photos though…phew.  The first half of the trip was with the lovely alumni group from Willamette University, as noted in the last post.  They were intrepid, funny, nice, interesting, lively.  Varied.  The Alumni trip does more “cultural exploration” and less art-looking than the Hull/Birnbaum “Studies in Florence” 1979-2005, but they got to Sienna Cathedral and Museum to see Duccio’s Maesta, Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Publico, and finally, a long and intense Hull tour through the Uffizi in Florence. Note on art photos:  Italy absolutely doesn’t allow photography in museums and churches…what I took was on the sly.  Interestingly our guide mentioned litigation in play now that might  make it illegal to keep people from photographing.

There is no coherent way of organizing this really so just come along if you can…I’ll try for the usual text-light, image-heavy.  Other people’s vacations can be pretty deadly…it’s just an archival habit I have.   Once I’ve set this in motion I’ll move to just images and let you guess what we were doing.  The plane left late…and flew over familiar territory…

plane 2plane 1aplane 3

Over the next week we visited a cheese factory where they made Pecorino Senesi…a sheep’s milk cheese milder than Pecorino Romano that we mostly get in the US.  We visited the Monsanto winery where the most amazing thing was the encyclopedic cellar including a small niche for each grandchild…100 bottles put down on each child’s birthday and held until they are 21…we saw lead crystal being blown at Colle Vilca, we saw an interesting very old fresco just unearthed with people grouped around the fertility tree…don’t miss what the hanging fruit might be…here we go:

Colle:our street

colle:our room


cheese tour guidePINZANIpecorino senesi

cheese tasting

Monsanto 1

Monsanto cellar

Monsanto LuigiMonsanto Ales

goodbye top Colle

garbage 2

view from Colle window

view from cheese

colle vilca blowingcolle vilca momentycollec vilca tools

Colle vilca drawing

vino 1

ertility tree

drawing 1









Rollie in Florence 1rollie in Florence 2

San Gim...Benozzo Gozzoli

view from the Baglioni


group farewell

coffee stopcoffee 6coffee 4

coffee 3coffee 1COFFEE ?

coffee 2

…and off go our new friends.  We repack and head to Umbria.





  1. Great photos, Bonnie. I could comment on each one! I wonder if that fertility tree is a precursor of the Christmas tree. It certainly has its own set of ornaments!

  2. Great photos of a great trip. Your photo of Salvatore made me chuckle. I have a similar photo of him, plus a few more. One of my favorite memories is listening to him and Natascia converse while driving through bella Italia.

  3. Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie, Again you have taken my breath away. Anxiously awaiting the rest of the story. Thank You.

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