Monday, June 28, 2010

Giethoorn, Venice of the Netherlands

This is a village in Holland where you won't find a single road.

All transportation is by boats along the canals.

It's called Giethoorn, located in the Dutch provence of Overijssel. The old part of the village has remained the same with canals and footbridges, although there is now a cycling path.

It has been called "Little Venice," or the Venice of Holland. It truly is a fantasy-like place.

These cottages and farmhouses are so beautiful with their thatched roofs and gorgeous gardens. This is classic 18th and 19th century Dutch village architecture.

I and can only imagine what it must look like inside these quaint and charming homes.

Wouldn't it be fun to rent one for a week?

How gorgeous is this!

I am definitely putting Giethoorn on my list of places to visit before I die!

To learn more about Giethoorn, visit this online travel guide here!

I'm linking up to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.
I'm also linking up to Watery Wednesday.
Thanks Ladies for hosting!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Wine Tour of the Italian Swiss Colony

Our home in the wine country is located in Asti, home of the Italian Swiss Colony, which was founded in 1881.
The original winery is still here, although it is now called Cellar 8. It was closed for over 20 years and reopened the same time we bought our house just up the hill.

Recently, I found this old jug with the original label at an antique store.
It is a reminder of the history and rich heritage of Asti, California.

I remember the television commercials of the little swiss winemaker. At one time, this winery was the second most visited destination in California, next to Disneyland!

Whenever we have guests, we take them here for a tour. This wall is original, circa late 1800's.

I took my daughter and her boyfriend here a few weeks ago for a tour. They are interested in the local history of our area and found the winery and grounds as fascinating as I do.

Inside the lovely tasting room, you can see the original stenciling on the beams, Swiss style. There is also a great gift shop here.

An original sign on the wall. "Mellowed in Redwood!"

A little history:

The origin of Italian Swiss Colony is in great part the story of Andrea Sbarboro, who came to San Francisco from Italy in the early eighteen fifties as a youngster to work in his brother's grocery store. Twenty years later, by working hard and saving, he bought his own store and turned builder and financier.

In 1881 he founded the Italian Swiss Agricultural Colony with the purpose of aiding Italian and Swiss immigrants to settle in their new land. Many of these were vineyardists by trade and a 1500-acre tract was chosen in Sonoma County, suitable for the planting of vines. The land was named Asti after the town of that name in Piedmont, Italy. Each immigrant was provided with room, board, and wages, in return for which a contribution was expected toward building up an equity in the land and eventually becoming an independent farmer.

What I find fascinating is this villa that Andrea Sbarboro built in 1902. He called it Villa Pompeii. I was recently given permission by the caretakers to visit this deserted home. It is sad to see it in such a state of decay.

Upon entering through the portico, you can see the entry is actually a breezeway with a living room on the right, dining room on the left and master bedroom above.

After walking through the portico, you enter the courtyard. Bedrooms are on the left, the kitchen on the right. It's a very unique design layout.

Surrounding the home are many rock structures. This one is a shelter for eating al fresco.
Notice how the whole structure was built in the shape of an old wine cask.

There are also many small structures as well. They were built as "meditation chambers."

Or perhaps to escape the heat during the summer.

The train stopped here! Mr. Sbarboro brought his friends here from San Francisco on weekends and entertained many dignitaries too.

Ashley in the vineyard.

This is the road from the winery to Villa Pompeii. It is a gorgeous allee with the date palms dating back over a 100 years.

The "kids" loved the special tour. We were lucky to have been given permission. Apparently, no one gets to tour the old home for insurance reasons.

Another old Italian Swiss Colony wine label.

This is a vintage commercial from the 1960's for Italian Swiss Colony. It will take you back--if you are as old as I am!

This is a recently produced video about the history of this wonderful old winery. I hope you can take the time to watch it--it's quite good!

I'm linking up to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday!
Thanks Susan for hosting!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Table For One Please

Last week Mr. A went fishing for four days and left me "home alone."
So, on Friday evening, I decided to set a tablescape for one using my favorite majolica plate.

The chargers I ordered from Nell Hill's were delivered that afternoon, so that was my inspiration for this rustic table for one.

A pitcher of freshly picked garden flowers and a compote of strawberries pulled it all together.

Although this vase looks old, it's actually a reproduction.

My dessert!

My dinner! Chicken, polenta and salad. Simple and good!

An ice cold "Arnold Palmer" for my drink to go with.

Meanwhile, Mr. A is fishing the McCloud River and comes across this fantasy castle in the middle of nowhere. It was built by William Randolph Hearst. Designed by Julia Morgan, he called it "Wyntoon." Very few people actually get to see this castle. You can read about it here.

Nice fish!

Speaking of fish! Tonight we are going to a movie premiere of The River Why.
I'm very excited as I read this book over twenty years ago and loved it.
It's about a young man who leaves the big city life to live in a secluded cabin on a wild river.
It's being shown at the George Lucas's Digital Arts Center in the Presidio. Can't wait to visit this special place as well!

I'll be joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday
And Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.
I'm also joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Fridays.
On Saturday, I'm joining Laurie at Bargain Hunting with Laurie for Favorite Things Saturday.
Thanks ladies for hosting!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Cottages at Nick's Cove

One of my favorite places to visit is Nick's Cove on Tomales Bay, about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The cabins at Nick's Cove are absolutely adorable and beautifully appointed.

Above is "Bandit's Bungalow." It is my favorite! Imagine waking up to a 180 degree view of Tomales Bay. Oh, and I love those gorgeous alabaster lamps.

"Bandit's Bungalow" has it's own sitting room and private dock. It has a great view of the pier.

Above is "Al's" cottage. I love the pine paneling and luxurious linens!

This cabin is called "Nicolina." It is shaped like a boat and is cantilevered right over the bay.
Sleeping here is the ultimate maritime experience!

This is the "Big Rock" cabin and it comes with it's own hand made copper soaking tub in the master bathroom.

This is what the four original, circa 1930 cabins looked like before restoration by Pat Kuleto.

And after with their new paint and decks. There are now five on the bay.

"Nicolina" was inspired by a 1930's hay scow that sat moored on the pilings at Nick's Cove for decades.

Look how cute they are from the road. Love the picket fences.

They all come with gorgeous master bathrooms. Like this one in the "Fisherman's Cottage" located across the road.

What a gorgeous sunset!

It is so quiet here. Nick's Cove is located on Highway 1 in the tiny village of Marshall.
Besides the five little bayside cottages, there are seven new cottages across the road.

The restaurant anchors it all. It is the quintessential roadhouse restaurant, specializing in oysters and fresh seafood.

The inside is decorated with an outdoorsman feel. Lots of deer trophies line the walls.

After dinner, before retiring to your little cottage on the bay, a walk on the pier is a must!

A few years ago, my best friend Maureen and I celebrated our birthday with our husbands here. Although we didn't stay in the cabins, we enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch overlooking Tomales Bay in February.

For information, room rates and the history of Nick's Cove and Cottages, visit their website here.

I'm linking up to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.
Thanks Susan for hosting!

I'm also joining Watery Wednesday.

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