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Spectacular Fall Blooms – Black- Eyed Susan’s!

In my garden I have planted to encourage butterflies, bees and birds to enjoy and pollinate.  At this time of the year it is important to keep food sources plentiful for these wonderful creatures.  Black-eyed Susan’s start blooming in late July and continue all fall in my garden in Zone 5.

Most common of the Black Eyed Susan’s is Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’. If happy, I find it seems to reappear in new areas of my garden as if by design.  Remember when your pollinators are busy plants appear where they are most happy.  If you don’t want this you will need to pull them out.  These look best when planted in masses or drifts.  Leave the seed heads and the birds will love you! Hardy to Zone 4.

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Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’

Rudbeckia hirta like most of the Rudbeckias are herbaceous perennials and is happy in Zone 3 to 7. It blooms from June to September with yellow or orange yellow rays and dark brown centers. The leaves are a little rough and hairy giving a nice contrast in the perennial border. It loves full sun and medium water.  It will naturalize!  That means spread!

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Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia fulgida var. ‘Deam’s coneflower’ has large daisy like flower heads in yellow or orange petals (rays) with a dark center. It tolerates either full sun to partial shade. Have clay soil, you’re good to go with this variety and for the most part all in this category.

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Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Deam’s coneflower’

 

Problems with deer? Then Black-eyed Susan’s are for you as deer typically don’t touch them.  BUT!!!! when hungry deer will eat anything! Forewarned!

Indian Summer is drought tolerant but don’t think the bunnies aren’t interested! This summer I have been battling with these determined guys.  Winter hardy to Zones 3-7.  All Black-eyed Susan’s need full sun and well-drained soils. I find that deadheading spent flowers helps prolong bloom time and encourage additional blooms. Given a spot they love they will self-seed. They have daisy like flower heads that appeal to butterflies. The flower heads are huge and add bold, stunning color to borders.

Black-eyed Susan’s are sometimes called Gloriosa Daisy.

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Rudbeckia ‘Indian Summer’

Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ is a tall beauty and one of my favorites and this summer a favorite of my local bunnies!  It can grow up to 7′ tall so I use it in the back of the border and support it. It starts blooming in June and goes all summer. It loves well drained soil in full sun. The large daisy like flowers having drooping petals (rays) with bright green center cones.

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Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’

Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ prefers medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun.  Deadheading here also helps encourage additional blooms. It typically grows 3-5′ tall so I use it in the back of the border to showcase smaller plants. It has stiff, upright leafy stems that hold these blooms straight and tall.  I prefer to support all of my very tall plants with decorative supports. The rays are rolled unlike the typical Black-eyed Susan’s so it has a quilled effect. The flowers bloom in clusters starting in July and lastly all the way thru September.

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Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers’

What pairs with these late summer gems? Well I love purples so in my garden I have Agastache Blue Boa, Russian Sage, Liatris, Daylilies, Phlox, Nepeta and Dahlias.  In one bed I have paired it with “hot” colors like red and orange daylilies and Dahlias as well as Red Persicaria.

What combinations do you love with Black-Eyed Susan’s?

Venice: Part Two – Famous Landmarks

While exploring Venice you will notice six distinct neighborhoods called “sestieri”.  This city is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world with its rich history of art, architecture, music, culture and of course, fashion!

Tourists are drawn to the many attractions like the Rialto Bridge and Market, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and of course the Grand Canal which is more than 2 miles long, nearly 150 feet wide and 15 feet deep.   This city is unique in that it is the largest urban car free area in Europe.  Did you know that of the more than 400 bridges only four cross the Grand Canal.  The Rialto is the oldest and most famous which is lined with shops and tourists day and night and originally dates to 1180. It is a stone arch bridge completed around 1591 and for 300 years it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot.

Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge

Known for its canals Venice transport is by boat.  That means all goods and people, deliveries, mail, ambulances, garbage, police, food and funeral boats etc. are handled on the water. The classic boat is of course the gondola although today it is mostly used for tourists willing to pay dearly for that once in a lifetime experience. This is truly an art and each gondola is unique to its owner. There is only one gondola factory left on the island.

Gondola

Gondola factory
Gondola factory

“Traghetti” are used by locals especially to cross the Grand Canal when there are no nearby bridges.  Did I mention there are more than 400 hundred bridges linking the different areas of  the city allowing travel by foot everywhere! Then there are the “Vaporetto’s”.  These are motorized water buses basically transporting tourists up and down the canal and like our local buses you can hop on and off and back on again later.

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Traffic jams are part of everyday living on the canals

The Grand Canal is lined by Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance structures as well as Palazzos. It is a wonderland for photographers with its landscapes, art, architecture and life on the water enhancing the light and color daily! Venice has long been known for glass and the world renowned glass industry lives on the Island of Murano in the Lagoon.

There is much to explore in Venice and it is almost too much to cover in one blog so I will try to highlight the city for you.

The city has a rich architectural history prominently Gothic in style which became known as Venetian Gothic Architecture i.e. Doge’s Palace and Ca’ d’Oro.  Venetian Gothic mixes the traditional Gothic pointed arches and round medallions and a four leaf clover with Byzantine styles showcasing the tall, narrow arches atop thin columns with Islamic frills.

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Ca’ d’Oro

The Piazza- St.Mark’s Square is dominated by St. Mark’s Basilica which is older than most of Europe’s churches, the 325′ Campanile and the Doge’s Palace. Walking here you are literally transported to another time. The Basilica has a little bit of every type of architecture. You see Byzantine mosaics, Gothic pinnacles, Muslim shaped onion domes and Roman arches over the doorways. Also in the Piazza are the 15th century Clock Tower and the Campanile, the highest structure in the city built in the 9th century and rebuilt several times. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks and has a great view over the Lagoon and Venice.

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Campanile
Basilica revised
St. Mark’s Basilica was based on a Greek cross plan with 5 big domes adorned with mosaics. It was a showcase for the wealth that was accumulated when Venice was a military power.

St. Mark’s square is one of the lowest areas in Venice and the only public square. Flooding is often an issue from October – March during high tide cycles and causes the square to flood.  (“acqua alta”) Planks are placed around to allow people passage through these areas. It is not uncommon for the lower floor of homes to be unusable due to high water.  The city continues sinking at a rate of 1-2 mm per year.

Doge's Palace
The Doge’s Palace -with its pale pink facade is a showcase for the Venetian Gothic style- was the center of power back when the Doge was the authority and is now a museum. The corners are decorated with 14th century sculptures.

Connected to the Doge’s Palace is the Bridge of Sighs, so named by Lord Byron the poet. It is said the people being sent to the prison on the other side “sighed” as they glimpsed their last look at the beautiful city of Venice.

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Bridge of Sighs

The Piazzetta faces the lagoon and has the Doge’s Palace on one side and the library on the other and houses the San Marco column and the San Theodore column.

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Piazzetta at St. Mark’s Square

Across the lagoon is the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore and the most amazing views back to St. Mark’s and all of downtown Venice, the lagoon and the La Salute Church. Take in Palladio’s architecture and Tintoretto’s “Last Supper”. Take the time to go to the top of the bell tower (there is an elevator- hold on!) the views are breathtaking!

San Giorgio Maggiore
Church of San Giorgio Maggiore is a 16th-century Benedictine church designed by Andrea Palladio built between 1566 and 1620 with its Neoclassic bell tower. Classical Renaissance style in white marble.

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Views from the Bell Tower
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La Salute Church

When in Venice leave plenty of time to wander, explore, get lost.  You can’t get lost, after all you are on an island!  It is truly magical!

On to Tuscany! This trip was a bucket list item for me as I have been planning it for 10 years. We walked almost 70 miles in 2 weeks touring Florence first and then made our base at Villa Bordoni in Greve in Chianti.  From there we visited the Val d’Orcia region- Siena, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Monticchiello, Pienza, Montalcino and Arezzo.  Then bidding “arrivederci” to our new friends from Villa Bordoni we left for Pisa and finally Lucca.

Next up: Florence. Stay tuned!  Did you miss Venice: Part One? Here you go!  Do you prefer the Amalfi Coast?  Here is link to that series! Transport yourself to another place even if only for a few minutes! Make sure to sign up to follow my blogs!

 

Venice: or “How to Survive in Venice with no luggage!”

2017 Sunflowers for Wishes

Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Connecticut
126 Monroe Turnpike
Trumbull, CT 06611
877-203-WISH, 203-261-9044
203-268-2168 fax
http://www.ct.wish.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Shayna Grassi
June 20, 2017 203-880-6964
sgrassi@ct.wish.org
14TH ANNUAL SUNFLOWERS FOR WISHES TO TAKE PLACE JULY 22-30
Buttonwood Farms to Donate Proceeds to Make-A-Wish® Connecticut
(Trumbull, CT)

Buttonwood Farm’s iconic annual event, Sunflowers for Wishes, is returning for its 14th year July 22nd through July 30th. What started in 2003 as a single acre of sunflowers, has now grown to 15 acres and nearly half a million of the towering blooms. Visitors can sample the farm’s homemade ice cream,—including a special “sunflower” flavored variety—purchase bouquets to take home, and enjoy leisurely tractor rides through the fields—with a special stop to feed handfuls of hay to the farm’s friendly cows. Over the years, the Button Family has donated proceeds from the event—totaling more than $1 million—to Make-A-Wish® Connecticut. Local wish kids and their families will be joining in the fun throughout the week to share their stories with visitors. One of those kids will be 15-year old Daniel, whose wish for a room makeover will be granted while he spends the day at the event on Saturday, July 22. Media are invited to take in the breathtaking views, interview wish kids, or even hitch a ride in Daniel’s limo as he heads home after the event for his room makeover reveal. Sunflowers for Wishes is located at Buttonwood Farm, 473 Shetucket Turnpike in Griswold, CT. The event is open to the public from 10AM until dusk, July 22nd through July 30th. For more information on Sunflower for Wishes, please call 860.376.4081 or visit http://www.sunflowersforwishes.com.
NEWS RELEASE
About Make-A-Wish® Connecticut
The Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Connecticut grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical
conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Wish-come-true experiences can
do wonders by providing a much-needed break from lengthy hospital stays and medical treatments. They
give back to a child what a serious medical condition can take away—the chance to simply enjoy being
a kid. Wish Kids often choose something that will inspire happiness, and allow them to spend precious time
with their families. The Connecticut chapter has made over 2,500 wishes come true since its inception in
1986. Learn more about Connecticut wishes at http://www.ct.wish.org, or join Make-A-Wish on Facebook
(search Make-A-Wish Connecticut) and follow on Twitter and Instagram (@MakeAWishCT).
###

Trade Secrets 2017 – The Major General Ashley House

This eighteenth century house sits on an incredible piece of property overlooking the Housatonic River. Mature sugar maples, black locusts and an ancient willow make this property one to behold. The property is naturalized with daffodils and ferns beneath these mighty trees as well as other spring bulbs. The lawn slopes down to the bend in the river compelling you to stop and take it all in!

A formal garden of boxwood parterres and brick paths frame the front of the house. Wooden tuteurs in the center are clematis supports with the beds being filled with tulips in spring and Peonies and Russian Sage in summer.  The garden is enclosed with the quintessential wooden picket fence and a spirea hedge with crabapples surrounding the garden giving some relief from the road.

Parterre

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Have you ever tried to espalier a tree? Look how beautiful!

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If this doesn’t say come relax and enjoy the beauty I don’t know what does!

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Housatonic River

Entry into the pool area is through this door a unique element in the privet hedge encouraging you to see what is beyond.

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The pool house

 

The gardens were filled with blooming bleeding hearts in several varieties and color variations

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Bleeding Hearts
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A child’s swing just waiting for you to play.

Did you miss the other Trade Secrets Open Gardens? Here is a link to Coltsfoot Garden 

For more information on Trade Secrets and Women’s Support Services see earlier blogs.

See all the Blogs on Garden Conservancy Days, trips to Italy, and stay tuned for my upcoming trip to Tuscany and Venice in the coming weeks.

Trade Secrets 2017 – Coltsfoot Garden

One of the private gardens open this year for Trade Secrets was Coltsfoot Garden in Cornwall, CT.  This is an enchanting cottage garden that along with the colonial home has been in this family for almost 100 years.  Upon arrival you are immediately dawn in by the multi-colored lilac trees surrounding the garden, the crabapple trees and the surrounding landscape.  This is Litchfield county CT at its finest.

Lilacs

The garden while formal in structure is welcoming and plants are encouraged to self sow wherever they can find a spot.

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There is a newly added second vegetable garden placed closer to the house, surrounded by a picket fence, gravel paths and artful colorscaping of vegetables like asparagus, lettuces, peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers and rhubarbs. Plants are staked using branches and twigs in artful and rustic ways.

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There are perennial gardens framing a neighbor’s old barn featuring boxwood, peonies, crabapple trees, dwarf Alberta Spruce, roses, irises, bachelor buttons, spurge,  and daylilies which create a delightfully soft, uncluttered effect.

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Coltsfoot Garden-3

Gravel paths are created in a geometric pattern to facilitate your winding your way throughout with their edges being blurred by lady’s mantle, nepeta (my favorite plant) and others.

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Coltsfoot Garden-8

This is another garden area with an ingenious method of taming climbing vines. This garden features, raspberries, vegetables, peonies for cut flowers.  I suggest if you love to have cut flowers in your home and hate the idea of cutting in your ornamental beds that you plant a separate area for cutting flowers both perennial and annuals for all season flowers.  Don’t forget to use your greens like hostas, astible,  solomon’s seal, grasses and branches etc. to fill in.

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This couple lovingly maintains the property coaxing dahlias, hydrangeas, lilacs and roses to thrive year after year.  The formal yet informal design of the garden allows for times of not too much fuss!

Thank you to the Hubbard’s for opening their garden to us for Trade Secrets Open Garden Tours 2017. Can’t wait for 2018!

I have written many times over the years about the Trade Secrets event which takes place in mid-May each year.  You can read more about this fabulous event in previous blogs.

Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets GardenTours

Trade Secrets Garden Tours part 2

 

 

 

 

Garden Conservancy Open Days – Cobble Pond Farm

The history of this garden goes back 250 years!  Originally an Olmsted design it was carefully restored and updated by Kathy Metz, the homeowner, with some inspired help from others. With its formal and informal gardens it is gracefully accented by stone walls, unusual species of trees and a sunken garden surrounded by clipped yews.  It is surrounded by the magnificent Sharon, CT countryside where Angus herds graze in the afternoon sun.

Cobble Pond Farm pool
The pool was added to resemble a reflecting pool accented by stone walls and a pool house and a giant Copper Beech
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Open pastures surround the property in Sharon, CT

The trees are worthy of envy by any gardener who is just starting a landscaping project. They include maples, columnar maples reaching for the sky, birches, Ginkgo and dogwoods.  The property owners have lovingly enhanced this property staying true to its original design while updating it so it works for them.  Gone are the annuals that were so popular back when the garden was originally conceived and they are replaced by low maintenance perennials and native shrubs.  Each area of the garden relates to another making for a relaxing experience while meandering around.  Of course, taking care of it all I am sure is a joy but a full time project.  A Labor of Love as most all gardeners will tell you, me included!

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Arbor and Peonies

The landscape is dotted with bulbs, tulips, lilacs with their fragrances enticing you to come closer.  There are pergolas, arbors, cutting gardens, a summerhouse garden and a sunken garden surrounded by clipped yews and is anchored with a central fountain. a brilliant tip for keeping yews healthy was to angle the hedge edges thus allowing light in on all sides.  This should be applied to most all hedges so they don’t die out at the bottom.  This was a particularly difficult winter here in CT and it is apparent the yews suffered greatly as did many of our boxwoods.

 

 

 

Cobbler Pond Farm
Sunken Garden with central fountain and yew hedges

I love the Japanese Maples growing in containers.  A great tip if you can’t get them to grow in the ground is to grow them in a container. In winter, in colder climates they can be moved to a garage or basement.

Japanese Maples
Japanese Maples in containers
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Pool House

Peonies are about to explode everywhere both flanking the gated entrance to the sunken garden and around the pool and cabana. I wish I could go back to see them in a few weeks when they bloom.

The original rustic gazebo just beckons you to sit and take it all in. There is a clever use of statutes in this garden.  Garden ornaments can make a garden feel loved and personal while adding personality and letting you see the homeowner’s whimsy.

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Boy statue

 

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Winding paths lead you around the gardens and the house showcasing Irises, Clematis, Roses, Solomon’s Seal, Hostas, Tulips, and Alliums just to name a few.

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Barney the Basset hound was standing guard, or maybe just waiting for someone to pay more attention to him than the gardens.  Sorry, Barney!

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If you are a gardener The Garden Conservancy has Open Days all over the United States and these private and public gardens are indeed an inspiration to all gardeners.  They showcase places to see how others have handled particularly challenging landscapes or just how to decorate a porch, maybe to highlight a plant combination you have been dying to try yourself.  Experiment! What is the worst that could happen?  If it doesn’t work out, move it or remove it! Gardening should be fun, not stressful!  Be sure to check one out this summer!

 

Wynwood Miami

Wynwood is a neighborhood in Miami, FL that recently has attracted a lot of attention and for good reason!   It has become a mecca for art, restaurants, bars, breweries and high end shopping.

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Rust Wynwood

This neighborhood dates back to 1917.  Happy 100th birthday this year! This was originally farmland developed by Miami’s first real estate agent EA Waddell before being sold to a couple of Miamians who were responsible for the modern day street names and numbers in downtown Miami and surrounding areas.  After the construction of Interstate 95 the neighborhood border was unofficially changed.  The western border of Wynwood is commonly considered I-95. It is roughly divided by North 20th Street to the South, I-95 to the North and I-95 to the West and the Florida East Coast Railroad to the East.

This was an area for working class families.  Eventually it attracted commercial business including Coca-Cola, an orange juice bottling plant and the American Bakeries Company. Then the garment industry moved in to the southern portion of Wynwood with both clothing retailers and manufacturers.  It is said that the Miami Fashion District was part of the largest garment district in the country according to an article in 1980 in the Miami News.  The fashion district is still a bustling community in Wynwood.  By the late 1970’s the area had gone into severe decline with drugs and unemployment playing premiere roles.

Art Installation at Wynwood Walls:

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In the middle 2000’s the area got a big boost when Goldman Properties took a keen interest in the area having been a force behind the revival of SoHo and South Beach.  They saw an opportunity for artsy neighborhoods.  Below Wynwood Block images:

Wynwood

Yoda

Wynwood Walls, an open air gallery opened in 2009. The entire neighborhood became a canvas for street art.  The area now boasts awesome restaurants, bars and retailers and there are plans to build condos, a hotel and many new retail establishments.  (see Slideshow below)

 

 

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It is worth the time if you are visiting Miami to venture over to Wynwood!  Located north of Downtown Miami and Overtown and adjacent to Edgewater, it is divided into two distinct areas: Wynwood Art District in northern Wynwood and Wynwood Fashion District along West 5th Avenue.

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I had the pleasure of visiting both districts!    I was amazed at the extraordinary talent of these artists at Wynwood Walls.  In one of the galleries there was an exhibit by an artist Peter Tunney.  I was blown away by his pieces. He is an Neo-Pop artist with a message; as you can see below.  He uses language and text and convey his message. His pieces are mixed collaged materials.

Don’t forget to look down at the street art!

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Of course don’t forget to make time for South Beach! But more on Miami another time.

Positano La Cambusa
Lowes Hotel, South Beach

 

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South Beach
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Brickel City Centre, Brickel, Miami
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Don’t miss Miami at night- Spectacular!

Borgo Egnazia NOWHERE ELSE

Recently I had the pleasure of staying at the Borgo Egnazia Resort and Spa in Puglia, Italy. They will tell you it is “far more than a resort but rather represents a new concept of hospitality.” Right on the Mediterranean Sea it offers magnificent rooms, The San Domenico Golf, an 18 hole championship course facing the sea, 2 private beaches, The Vair spa and did I mention the Mediterranean food!!! There are 3 large outdoor pools, one heated indoor pool, 4 tennis courts, swimming, cooking and ceramics lessons as well as water sports, game and reading rooms. Borgo is dedicated to providing a unique family experience. Kids play, parents RELAX!

The unique architecture of this resort is like nothing I have ever experienced.  The simple but unique design details emphasizing the repetition of an item were luxurious but welcoming and cozy.

Here is some history of the creation of this resort taken right out of their brochure. (Thank you Borgo Egnazia since I could not have said it better myself). “The Melpignano family had a vision: combining Puglia with luxury, refined hospitality, cultural richness and elite tourism.” “Borgo Egnazia was built entirely of tufo, a local type of limestone..” “The architect … Pino Brescia was inspired by Puglia’s farms and rural villages, from nature, and from simplicity.”

Keep following my blogs!  I am headed to Venice, Florence and Tuscany this summer so the journey continues.

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