Monday, October 25, 2010

The Poppy Farmhouse! Italy!

Our days at the Poppy Farmhouse were spent working out, drinking, cooking, walking, relaxing, laughing, and really getting to know one another!!

Here is a peek at one of the bedrooms... so pristine and yet so cozy!

We had an early morning rooftop session of Gyrotonics ~ a great way to wake up!
Julie, our Gyrotonics Instructor, really had us working our core to stay warm on this misty gray morning!
We worked on staying focused ~ really working hard now!
I think we made her smile a few times with some of our crazy comments!!
Robyn and John, our hosts at the Farmhouse had the table set for breakfast when we came in ~ so warm and inviting!
There was always a line at the espresso machine! Frankie, Audrey, Meigan ... first in line!!
John explains road directions for a group walk. The girls even took the house pups for a walk!

Group shot~ Left to right~ Meigan, Trudy, Frankie, Julie, Audrey, Bonnie, Debbie, and Julie!
Scenery so breathtaking!
Time for the first Pilates sessions! I took this shot thru the windows at Meigan, who was awaiting her private session!
The Poppy Farmhouse from down stairs... behind chairs are doors to the studio!
Trudy hard at work!
Frankie working with Julie on the reformer. Group class time!
Audrey and Julie with Frankie...

Meanwhile, Julie waits for her first client!

Here are some shots of the views from the Farmhouse! John and Robin grow their own grapes and make wine in their own Cascina!
Roses start each row of grapes!

The view from the deck outside the house! Stunning!
On our second day, many of us choose to have massages! Tina, the therapist, was wonderful! I caught Frankie as she came out of the massage room! We called... Paparazzi, and she looked up!
Ciao Principessa!!

John welcomed us into his Cascina Papaveri to learn about the wine making process!
He explained the equipment to us!
John told us how this decorated crock holds the wine for a year before he bottles it! Debbie leans in to smell the fragrant scent that is left in the empty crock.
Meigans' turn!
The wine press...
Just look at Ellen... she is fascinated by the process.
Trudy, Debbie, Julie, Audrey and Frankie also listen and learn!
Julie is wondering..." When do we taste it?"
Audrey and...
Bonnie are right behind her!! Let's Taste It!
Back inside the Farmhouse, John pours some for us!

It was so very good!!

We all enjoyed the wine tasting! But really we must get going... We are going on a TRUFFLE HUNT!
We arrived at the site of the hunt! We learned a thing or two about this families history of Truffle Hunting!
We met the dogs.
We sat and learned about the dogs routines and about how expensive a white truffle could be!
We met our guide and we each got a walking stick!
We hiked up the hill into the woods, with our guide and his best truffle hunt dog... DIANA!
This dog was brilliant! She would stiff out the truffle. If she dug with just one paw, we knew it was nothing. If she went at it with both paws, we had a hit! The guide would hold her back and he would reach in the hole and pull out the mushroom!
Diana found a black and a white truffle that night! Here, Audrey smells the white truffle which smells like chocolate!
Good job Diana!
We headed back to the house, where we enjoyed some more wine and ate our truffles with some bread and cheese! Delicious! Julie and our guide!
The morning sun ...
Shopping Day!! We drove into Alba to do some shopping!
We had a breakfast sweet and coffee first!
Robyn showed us the map and sent us on our way to browse the street shops!
Fresh produce everywhere...
and tables and tables of goods! From sweaters to boots, purses to jewlery... You could find something to treasure! Audrey, my favorite subject to photograph, looking lovely as she models a beautiful hair bow!
Back at the Farmhouse, its time for more working out! This is a pilates~gyrotonic retreat, after all! Julie teaches Audrey the proper form!
Love this photo of Frankie, the drill instructor! Ha~ not really! She is a great teacher of pilates!
Just look at our forms!
And the smiles on our faces!

The concentration!

What a great workout for all of us!
When finished, we head upstairs where the table is set for lunch! All our lunches were prepared by Robyn and John! The soups were so wonderful, everything so fresh and right out of their very own garden!
Trudy, Ellen, Audrey and Frankie look at the map of Italy! Diana asked Meigan one night as she turned the tv on... " Do you think all stations will be in FRENCH?" To which Meigan answered... "I doubt it, since we are in ITALY!" HA! It became the running joke... so here Frankie says...
"Where in FRANCE are we?" Poor Diana, she will never live that down, or the fact that the luggage was checked all the way to ROME! Don't ask!

Another view from the deck ...
Cooking Time!! Gino was our chef. Gino was so very patient and good with our group of wild women! Gino assigned jobs to the women!
Diana did some dishes!
Not sure what Frankie was doing?? Julie is hard at work and she became Ginos favorite assistant chef!

Debbie tried her best to be good... but Frankie didn't help!

Gino spent 3 nights cooking with us. We made wonderful recipes, including breads, and desserts! Good thing we did pilates every day! One night in the kitchen, we did some individual photos with Gino!
Doesn't he look like the star of Beautiful Life? Frankie teased him and we got this cute smile!
Great shots...

Did I mention that we would drink wine as we cooked?
We still stayed focused and followed Ginos every direction!
Making the Gnoochi!

Group shot! Diana, Debbie, Julie, Julie, Gino, Trudy, Ellen, Meigan, Audrey, Frankie and Bonnie!

Trudy setting the table for one of our fabulous dinners!
Ellen serves...
Meigan smiles!
Frankie and Audrey video tape!
We walked to the outdoor market on Sunday!

Did I mention, it was a long walk?
Did I mention we got lost?
No worries... we found our way back! We came around the back of the Farmhouse and found John in his garden!

A view of the deck from the bedroom window~

Email checks...
relaxing... were just a few of the activities at the Poppy Farmhouse!
John sets the table for our last lunch. We know its our last day here at the retreat!
We are so glad we took this adventure! Happy to have made new friends!
Happy to have become closer friends!
We enjoyed each others company, and we vowed to meet again...
Toasted to each other, and the memories we made!
And we drank a little more of John delicious wine!

After lunch, its time for pilates and gyrotonics again! Julie works with Audrey!

Julie, Audrey, Bonnie, Trudy, Meigan, Frankie and Bonnie pose for a photo in the studio!
Ellen and Meigan...
Ellen tries her hand at gyrotonics!
Frankie spends some time with her sister, Diana!

Frankie also takes a turn at a private session with Julie!
We all want to thank Frankie and Julie for the fun workouts and excellent instruction as we mastered new skills!
5 o'clock finds us back in the kitchen wtih Gino! Meigan was called to clean the fish... We wondered if she liked doing that?

Time to make the pasta!

Gino showed Ellen, Frankie and Julie how to make the cheese bowls!
Frankie mastered the parmesan cheese bowls!!
Julie learns to run dough though pasta press!
Gino shares his techniques for rolling the pasta!
Diana preps the dinner plates!
Beautiful table~
Roses from the garden!

Our dinner is served...
John and Robyn thanked us for visiting the Poppy Farmhouse and gave us each an apron! We gathered for a group photo with Gino! Audrey, Diana, Trudy, Ellen, Frankie, Gino, Bonnie, Julie, Meigan and Julie... all smiles!
John and Robyn, our hosts. Robyn did not want her picture taken, she said something like, "I don't have a cute American smile like you ladies!" This cute couple have been married many years, they "retired" here in Italy, leaving New Zealand behind.
Thank you John and Robyn! We have sweet memories of you and your Cascina Papaveri Poppy Farmhouse!