Montepulciano for Families

The first time we visited Montepulciano was with our two daughters, then aged four and ten. It was a long time ago in the days of cars with no air-con or satnavs. We didn’t even have mobile phones or the Internet.   We have never actually stayed in Montepulciano preferring the less commercialised and quieter hilltop towns of Umbria near to Lago Trasimeno. But now, living  just a forty minute drive away in Castel Rigone, we love to visit the town just for an afternoon or for  a meal in the evening. 

Our daughters are now mothers themselves and recently we took our little granddaughter (then aged two) to Montepulciano for the first time.  


Although busy it’s usually easy to find car parking space on the roads or there is a good car park near to the Information Centre, above. Since everybody is always in need of toilets and a drink we always go to this bar before starting into the town. We have always found it to be a  very friendly bar with a good choice of cakes and sandwiches and normal prices. (Now that would be €1.20/€1.50 for a Cappucino and €1.10 for a basic cake in our regular bars. )


We prefer to arrive around 3 0’Clock or 4 O’Clock, late afternoon from June to October when the sun is  lower in the sky and the streets shaded. We have never tried pushing a pram or a pushchair but it is not a difficult place to navigate, the Main Street climbs gently uphill but, if you want to explore the side streets then there are lots of steps and cobbles to cope with.  It’s my experience that tiny children just love climbing steps and this was definitely the case with our Granddaughter last year. She found the little cobbled streets with their many steps and archways as compelling and addictive as swings and roundabouts would be at a fairground!!

Half way up the Main Street is the Torre di Pulcinella (newly painted) with a clown who strikes a bell on the hour and half hour. An obvious attraction!  Near to this is a bar so you can sit and have a drink while waiting for this very brief but magical moment to happen. 

Kids love animals and plants and so another attraction would be the Palazzo Bucelli in Via Gracciamo where they will find a selection of medieval plaques and some Etruscan urns carved with lots of creatures. 
For a two year old the underground Etruscan city with its maturing barrels of wine didn’t hold any attraction except for all the steps!  But older children of four upwards are usually entranced by these meandering caves and really enjoy tasting the cheeses and honey and bread and oil. 

We always played games with our kids when sightseeing. It kept them interested and motivated plus they learned a lot which was a bonus! The eldest loved to keep a Travel Journal. In it was stuck reminders of our days out like sugar packets and bills from bars and restaurants and postcards. She would record how long it took us to get there and what she liked and favourite buildings etc. We played I Spy kind of games and Montepulciano is good for this.  Try asking them to look for animal or plant carvings.  There are lots! 


Why not have a competition to see who can  find the next Water Tap or the next blocked n archway or window or the next Ape Van! 

Take chubby crayons and paper along. There are lots of interesting inscriptions and patterns on the walls and floor for rubbing,,

They can also be given puzzles dependent on age. 

For example, ‘What do they notice about the number of stones round a window or door?  Is there a common number pattern? Why?! Of course they will realise that the number of stones is always odd because each arch has a central stone at the top. 

Once you have meandered up to the top piazza they will want to go up this tower. 

Children cant try wines but they can try honey and salami and cheese and bread soaked in delicious oil! AND older ones will  definitely enjoy a trip down into the subterranean city which can be accessed here: 

Enjoy your visit to Montepulciano! 

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The Second in the Series, ‘Walks from Castel Rigone’. 

Love walking? Love photography? Love sketching? 

This second walk is just perfect! 

It’s one of the shortest, easiest and prettiest whatever the season. 

It’s also a fun walks with kids because they will have fun watching butterflies, collecting fir cones, looking for figs and blackberries and there are usually lots of lizards skittering about in the undergrowth. 

For more on Castel Rigone and the other towns and villages around the lake plus fun sightseeing videos for kids, look at the Playlist, I SPY TRASIMENO WITH LIZZIE WITCH on my channel: The Jumble Fun Channel

Look out for this booklet at Information Centres, bars and hotels. 


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This booklet is for families with young children traveling to the area around Lake Trasimeno and Perugia. It is available in Information Centres, Hotels, Bars and Restaurants around the lake. Free. 

(Email me if you can’t find one: jumblefun@gmail.com)

The booklet is set out like a treasure trail with Lizzie Witch challenging children to find different places and objects in four of the lakeside towns and on the two islands. 

I made it remembering the wonderful family holidays we spent around the lake with our (then) two small daughters and the games we played to take their minds off the heat and to make sightseeing fun. These two small girls are now Mothers themselves but still love to return here. 

Our family holidays were always taken during August and it was always very hot! We found it much more pleasant to play and swim in the mornings and then head off to explore the little towns, villages and the two islands during the afternoons. 

Many, like Castel Rigone are set high on top of hills and are so much cooler than down by the lake. But even the lower set towns with their narrow streets and tall buildings offer lots of welcome shade.  

It has been impossible for me to include all the really beautiful and interesting places to visit. There are just too many! Just the ones that are nearest to Lake Trasimeno. 

In the Playlist ‘I Spy Trasimeno with Lizzie Witch’ you will find lots of videos taken in the places around the lake and some much further afield. Some, presented by my toys, the ‘JUMBLES’ are for young children but there are many ‘General’ ones too. 

I made this booklet initially for our grandchildren but hope that you and your children or grandchildren will have fun using it and that it will make your stay in this magical area even more enjoyable.
Judi Brereton

Email:  jumblefun@gmail.com

http://www.jumblefun.net

Website for learning resources for young children (Art, Craft, Science, Nature and Learning through Play. 
http://www.loveumbria.co.uk

Website about Umbria, it’s places, traditions and festivals. 
http://tinyurl.com/funjumbles 

Channel of programmes, videos and resources for young children
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jumblefun

Twitter: @JumblesThe

48 hours in Catania 


48 Hours in Catania. Sicily.We have just returned after a wonderful couple of days in Catania, the largest city after Palermo in Sicily. 
            Click on this link to watch the video


We thought we would take advantage of the great low fares offered by Ryanair from our local airport, Perugia. 
Our flight from Perugia cost around €70 return for the two of us. It took just over one hour. 
I like flying but I am NOT a lover of airports ! The exception being Perugia!!  
To me the airport experience is usually tedious, stressful, expensive and pretty boring. Long queues. Expensive refreshments. Expensive parking. Stressful check-ins. Long distances to walk (or offen run!) ) Often not-very-helpful staff, Etc etc etc.
Flying from Perugia is GREAT! The airport is small and cosy. It’s like going home! Everyone remembers you. The staff, including the bar, customs, police, car hire, everyone …are friendly, helpful, accommodating. The appropriate word probably is HUMAN! I’ve yet to find an airport like this anywhere else ! Arent we lucky to live just thirty minutes away!!

  Above: We loved the area around Piazza Duomo. It was so full of life and character and culture. 

The flight to Catania took just over one hour and yet the Ryanair staff somehow managed to deliver their usual drinks and food and duty-free and scratch cards looking their usual smiley and stress free selves despite passengers finding it difficult to get organised! It was a late flight arriving in Catania about 9pm.

We had booked (with Ryanair) the bus … Alibus …to Piazza Stesicoro and that worked very smoothly. The driver was great and told us when our stop was coming up. It was a twenty minute transfer.

                   Above …our GREAT B&B

Getting off the bus, was, I must admit a bit of a culture shock! Coming from quiet, clean and peaceful Umbria to Sicily is well, WOW! Especially when arriving after dark. Maybe arriving from Liverpool or London or Milan would be kinder! It’s the noise and cars and litter and people and a feeling of ‘…are we safe here!’ But our concerns soon vanished . We were safe and everyone was very friendly and helpful and only too eager to help us find our B&B. In fact the people of Catania are really adorable ! It was difficult to tear ourselves away from bars and restaurants and the B&B because we just wanted to stay and chat!  

We chose B&B Stesicoro because it had such good reviews and because it was so central. We were NOT disappointed! 

Don’t be put off by the entrance down a short dark alleyway. It’s fine. The actual B&B fronts onto the piazza and it’s great fun before breakfast watching the marketeers set up every morning. 


        Above: Piazza Stesicoro. Right outside our B&B 

View of B&B Stesicoro Via Etnea is one of the busiest and most popular streets in the city, cluttered with shops and restaurants and bars. It leads to the Duomo and castle and market plus you can always see Etna! Unfortunately, because of the clouds I never got to take a good photo of this majestic volcano which towers over Catania and, according to locals remains active, erupting every summer for a week or so.  

Right outside the B&B is the Piazza Stesicoro complete with the ruins of an amphitheatre and some of the most magnificent examples of Baroque architecture you will see anywhere. Just five minutes away is a lovely green park . An oasis. Somewhere for people like me who really NEED a green break every day!

The Rooms and the location and the people are just amazing. We will definitely go again to Catania and we will definitely stay at this same B&B. The family are so lovely and do everything possible to make your stay a happy one. The rooms are large and very tastefully decorated and furnished. Everywhere is spotless. English is spoken. The air-con and WiFi works well. Breakfast is your typical Italian Prima Colazione with delicious fresh and hot pastries, boiled eggs, ham, cheese, yoghurt, fresh fruits,bread and freshly made coffee. 


    Above:  San Nicolò 

On our first day we had a good wander around the Piazza and the small roads leading from it taking in a few churches ( there are hundreds!) the university and ending up at the church of San Nicolo and the adjoining monestry. San Nicolò (above) is a very strange looking church. The bul dung began in 1702 but was never completed. It is possible to go up the tower where a wonderful clear view of Mount Etna awaits but unfortunately we arrived at the church when it was closed for the afternoon siesta and so missed this attraction. But the adjoining monetary was well worth a visit. 

       Above:  the Castle 

The Duomo On our second day we turned right onto Via Etnae and walked for ten minutes past shops and restaurants to the Piazza Duomo. This piazza is spectacular and so are the multitude of little streets leading off it. This area is so interesting and became our favourite. We really loved the huge street market which spreads out from the piazza and is open every day except Sunday. The sights, sounds and smells are incredible!  

The market From here it’s only a quick walk to the castle and to the Teatro Romano and the docks and so we were able to enjoy all of these in just one afternoon!  

We really enjoyed our two days in Catania but it was not enough! There’s so much more to see not just in the city but in the surrounding area including, of course a visit to Mount Etna. We will definitely go again and, next time, for longer! 

This is a very short account of our visit. For more I hope you will enjoy the video.
Click on this link to watch the video

Perugia and the Mini Metro with Georgie and Alfie. 


Perugia is famous for its amazing panoramic views, colourful history, its international universities, the many beautiful buildings and monuments and, of course, chocolate!  

But for visiting children the initial big attraction will probably be the mini metro! 


A ride on this mono rail is an experience not to be missed by anyone but especially if you are traveling with kids. 

The mini metro runs between the parking areas and the Fontivegge train station to the Centro Storico or the centre of the old town. Tickets are just a couple of euros. Keep your entrance ticket as you need it to exit at the other end on the station. The trams run every few minutes. The most popular and largest parking spot is at the stadium and the mini metro is well sign posted. But you can choose to take an ordinary train from your nearest station and then hop onto the mini metro at Fontivegge. 

I never take the car into Perugia. I can’t see the point. Parking is difficult and the streets are congested and you really do need to know exactly where you are going! Why get stressed out when it’s so easy to hop on to a train. 

In under thirty minutes from the stations around the lake (Passignano, Castiglione, Magione ) you arrive at the outskirts of the city from where you can take a thrilling short journey on the mini metro followed by a series of escalators through the foundations of the old  medieval fortress (La Rocca Paolis) up into the centre.  

My advice would also be to take the kids down the escalators as well as up,because it is something that they will probably not experience anywhere else and great fun! 

“La Rocca Paolis is the underground remains of an old fortress built by papal decree in the mid 1500s.

It offers an alternative route into Perugia is via escalators that takes you from parking at the city’s base, up through the foundations of this medieval fortress. During the Christmas season, this underground area is transformed into an arts-and-crafts market with music and entertainers. The kids will love it! 

Click on this link to watch the video: 

      An afternoon with Georgie and Alfie in Perugia

The video below gives a snapshot of the journey and a quick look at Perugia through the eyes of a child. It is only a snapshot! There is so much to see and do in Perugia! The museums, the art galleries, the shops, the Saturday market and last but certainly not least the amazing walk around the city walls. The views will astound you! 

If you happen to be here now then you should also visit the Chocolate Festival! 

Eurochocolate Festival 2016, at its 23rd edition, is from 14 until 23 October 2016.

Eurochocolate is the International Chocolate Exhibition. The largest of all the chocolate festivals in Europe. The event allows individuals to discover the different flavors of chocolate from cultures around the world.

For ten days every October about one million visitors will visit this event. The festival offers experimental tasting, cooking classes, performances, sculpting and art displays. 

The main attractions are: the Chocolate Show, Eurochocolate World and the incredible life size Chocolate Sculptures. 
A Chococard can be bought at the festival offering guests discounts, contests, prizes and free tastings. 

Apologies. ..if there are any mistakes on this post!  For some reason the WordPress app went crazy and it’s taken me absolutely ages to write and rewrite. Too exhausted to check any more ! Just want to publish before I lose the whole lot again! 

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