Toscana

Benvenuti in Toscana! Now get washed at 40

The task at hand: lure Badfish, and everybody, to Tuscany.

Wherever you go around here, there is a direction board pointing to Terme Saturnia. This alone could tell you that it is something special, but not exactly how special. If you don’t mind a bit of sulphur in the air. Even though the latest visitor said: “What a nice smell!” For the curious:¬†The chemical make-up of the water is sulphur, carbon, sulphate, bicarbonate-alkaline, earth, with the presence of hydrogen sulphide gas and carbon dioxide.

Murky water

He appeared all of a sudden from the depths.

I’ve been a few times but have never seen it as empty. The lady was in luck.

She was pleased too. ūüôā

The images in this post, taken two weeks ago (except for my uncle), show a part of the Terme that is free to visit and bathe in. There is quite a huge free parking space and one very easy-going bar that has refreshments, toilets and showers for a fee. There is no other infrastructure.

What there is¬†is one hot stream,¬†at¬†37.5¬įC (99.5.¬įF), that after a waterfall forms¬†little pools and flows away almost a river. There is also the official spa a bit further up the road but I have no experience with it, neither¬†do any of my visitors.

The experience is very relaxing, and right now especially eye-pleasing since the field opposite is lush green. And nobody chases dogs away either.

Since my uncle knows all this already, he is coming over right this minute.

And to round it up, a little funny story from the day of the shooting, April 27. It was about 6 pm. All day long I kept hearing compatriots, first in Siena then in the Abbey of St. Antimo and finally in Saturnia, which happened for the first time in three years. Slovenians are unobtrusive like that. Must have been an agency trip, even though I saw some bikers as well.

The girl in the images below comes swimming by.

Unaware that everybody (well, three of us + bestia) can understand her, she¬†exclaims¬†in the dialect of my hometown: “Don’t you know it, in Ljubljana there is 10 cm of snow and it keeps falling heavily!¬†Na polno!”.

Which is how we¬†first¬†learnt of the latest “NATO weather manipulation”. If you believe it.

P.S.: I’ll tag Badfish so that¬†Google will have even more hits to display, hihi.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

WPC: The Earth brings forth by itself

The sentence in the title is from my university translation exam. The images are from around here and wider Maremma, taken in the last two weeks, and the photo above is from Terme Saturnia, the true Earth wonder.

The sentence was in Slovenian (“Zemlja poraja sama od sebe.”), and we had to translate it into English. We were allowed dictionaries but advised against the¬†practical little green two-way dictionary as it was not deemed quality enough. As it is, it was exactly there that I found the collocation¬†to bring forth.¬†The professor was mightily pleased.

And I am pleased when my eye rests on these earthy colours.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Earth

WPC: Who put ad in admiration?

Admiration. Let me count the ways.

Mom. Dad. Grandparents. Uncles. Sister. Everybody in my lifeline who came before me. They must have done something right to lead to me. Amore.¬†Astrid Lindgren. TomaŇĺ ҆alamun. Slavoj ŇĹiŇĺek. Jeanette Winterson. Charles Bukowski. Milan Kundera. Ian¬†MacEwan. Margaret Atwood. Tom Robbins. A legion¬†of other writers.¬†Pearl Jam. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Joan Baez. Bob Dylan. A handful of Slovenians, Marcel ҆tefanńćińć jr., Miha Mazzini, Tadej Zupanńćińć, Svetlana Makarovińć. Nejc Zaplotnik. A fistful of teachers. Maja Turnher. Philip Burt. A couple of friends.

A whole lot of fellow bloggers and people who¬†I’ve found online and will probably never meet. Everybody who dares to share.

People who stay true to themselves. Who fight for their rights, and for the weak. Who dare. Who tell it like it is, but keep their voices down (well, some refuse and yell instead). Who are humble in their greatness, and gentle when victorious. Who do what they say they will. Who are reliable, determined, transparent and full of integrity. Unbreakable and unputdownable. My kind of people.

There is an ad in admiration. But there is mir too (=peace).

As for places, the last town to¬†yield my deepest admiration was Siena last week. I’ve been in Tuscany for¬†three years and this was the first time I saw it. Its ups and downs, brick colour and arches transported me in time, to some place like Portugal or Morocco (have yet to visit either). Or possibly I returned to the time of playing with grandmother’s postcards.¬†I never tired of sorting them by colour vs. black and white, country, city, number of stamps, sender, recipient, whether there was a single photograph on it or multiple. In a way they were¬†my¬†first step towards blogging and admiring the views and words you all post for us.

Not just architecture, the people were very admirable too. I have never seen so many stop and wait for me to take the photo (not of them). A woman stopped on her own accord to explain to us the use of a giant electric charger (nope, not meant for phones, rather for electric cars). And, as it’s a custom in Italy, everybody not just didn’t mind but truly loved our pouncing bestia (except my visitors who managed him for me); a Russian tourist pushed the¬†trolley with his toddler¬†right into the dog, saying that he had three dogs at home. A kiss-and-greet¬†followed.

I bet there were some of Siena in that box of postcards. For an unknown city it felt too familiar.

‚Čą Manja Maksimoviń欆‚Čą

Photo: a © signature mmm production

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Admiration

Year 3 Anno Domini

Three years ago today my prince in a dark Ford snatched me away from everything I’d known, together with most of my belongings, and delivered me from Slovenia to the south of Tuscany where I’ve stayed¬†till this day. You who were willing to bet that I’d return quickly, I wonder how many cases of whiskey this makes by now.

We kept cramming the car. So many boxes and bags. Slowly packing and waiting for amore I was sure that I had too much stuff to fit in the car. Therefore I packed winter stuff separately. After all, I¬†was southbound. And it’s true – from April to November there is no need for socks, let alone anything else.

Highway stop near Trieste showing the first stage of our travel and the directions of winds. We are headed to where libeccio blows.

When amore told me via skype to measure my round table that I kept on my porch, which I’d already called “Tuscany table” much earlier than any talk of Tuscany was born, I didn’t have any measuring tape at hand so I took an A4 paper sheet and measured it with that. After that I had to google the measurements of an A4 sheet. I forwarded¬†the results to amore and he proclaimed that the table is too broad to fit in the car by the palm of his hand (10 cm).

When he arrived and saw the situation with his own eyes, he immediately knew that the table would easily fit. It turned out that I’d been¬†wrong in my¬†calculation¬†for exactly 10 cm. But by then I’d already said goodbye to the table in my mind.¬†It is poor form to take the Tuscany table all¬†the way¬†to Tuscany.

As we were cramming the car, with back seats folded, I could not help but admire how much space there was. Everything fit: all my boxes and bags, even the winter stuff. We put my orchid in as well. Must be a potted plant when moving, I saw it in American films.

Orchid at the end of the road after much dust had been raised.

And in the end, since the car still seemed half full, I pushed my office chair in as well. (The orchid died a while ago, whereas in the chair¬†I’m sitting right now.)

And off we went. Actually, it was me behind the wheel so we can’t call it whisking away. And I drove all the way to Florence, about 480 km, where he took over for the remaining two hours and a half.

Finally in new home: our volcano (nah) and the ford which could do it all.

And now? In a sense, it is still exactly like it was three years ago: I’m happy, not too homesick (especially since I visit about three times a year and I’ve got visitors even more often), exploring my surroundings, taking it easy. And yet it is completely different too: a few months after my arrival we got bestia, which changes everything and now I can’t even imagine not having him.

The first things I have unpacked in my new home. The framed photo is of one of the three dogs that our family brought up by the bottle. The story of how we found them is touching and you can find it in my blog if you are lucky (hint: it was posted in March last year).

Okay, I know a bit more Italian now (here I’ve written about my early¬†language learning). Enough to explain to the vet any trouble, and defend myself when people think I don’t understand them. I find it typical that the words I use most often are allora, va bene, eccolo, and my favourite, tutto a posto.

So here I am, 260 photo folders later (not to count the photos but there are a LOT), with two years of blogging behind me (and one year on FB!), with red painted nails, on my hands too (!), with an e-reader (and I was SO against them!) but also with many new books, and with newly acquired taste for melanzane, zucchini and this fruit:

I took this photo on the day of¬†my arrival, thinking¬†–¬†how cute, tomatoes are indeed considered fruit here: they put them in the fruit bowl! Then I saw the skull and bones, chuckled at the thought of my theory that natives let the settlers have all the plants from the nightshade family forgetting to inform them they were poisonous, and ran to take the photo.

Little did I know that in no time at all I’d learn to enjoy the best ragu,¬†melanzane parmigiana (which is a COMPLETELY RED DISH, something I used to run away from)¬†and¬†pasta with tuna in tomato sauce. The only thing I (still) don’t eat are¬†raw tomatos in salad. And cetrioli. Too much chlorophyll. ūüėÄ

In short, it’s been good for me here, and I’ve been good for it (that is to say¬†he and him, well, bestia is alright too). There is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be just so. Grazie per tutto!

First photo shoot on the roof in 2013.

(And you who had to say in the typically Slovenian malevolent, down-putting, jinxing, jealous manner how you were¬†willing to bet that this wouldn’t last and that I’d return in no time – beware that I don’t return¬†for real if¬†only¬†to collect those cases of whiskey you owe me by now.)

As the poet Rade ҆erbedŇĺija says (I’ve translated the entire poem here):

we are still here
we have yet to be scattered by beasts

‚Čą Manja Maksimoviń欆‚Čą

You and me – best of all worlds. ūüôā

Photo: a © signature mmm production

In fact, I’ll keep it!

It was two years ago today that I posted my first Manja Mexi Movie blog post.¬†I can’t believe it’s been two years already.

(I know this, even though WordPress has stopped informing me about the number of posts or anniversaries and things like that¬†a while ago. I don’t know what happened. – ADD-IT: The notification came at 11pm. WordPress never forgets, thank you!)

To think that the main impulse for starting the blog was lack of feedback from my family and friends upon sending them heaps of emails with photos from my new life in the new country!

To keep us company in this post, here are some of my favourite already published photos:

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Obviously the world is indeed big enough to find a variety of people who are not too lazy to tell you when you make them smile, busy schedule notwithstanding.¬†Thank you all so much for that!¬†I know how precious this is: even I¬†with¬†all the time in the world¬†have trouble following everybody I’d like to. There are just too many brilliant people around!

It’s not just laziness, some friends back home are saying they don’t understand my blog because it’s in English. Hmmm, as little as I write? Photos are in English as well, are they? Whining like some Italians! Aren’t Slovenians known to brag how good we are at English? Because, compatriots, no matter how much you whine, this blog is NOT turning Slovenian any time soon.

And lest we forget, at the beginning, for much of the first year really, there were just about 7 followers, all family and friends. Only after I started joining photo challenges, many more of you came over and some stayed. Among the challenges that have achieved this are (in each line three links lead to three posts for every challenge):

and the latest I have joined:

Soon I will reach¬†the upgrade limit¬†for this one¬†and will start another WordPress blog. Nothing much will change (other than the theme), I quite like it as it is. I hope – I always hope – to do more writing, but just like¬†the rest of the world I’m getting lazier in this regard, posting more photos and less words. They are easier on the eye, it seems, or is it brain. It’s not that words are lacking, I always have a bunch, they are lurking JUST behind the corner. Beware.

Here is a recap of my writings that I posted¬†last¬†June. I find it very telling that only father, Snow Somewhere Else and Badfish commented. Well, I do say it’s for the organised and the mad¬†ones. ūüėÄ (Love you!)

What is alarming is that I’ve only added very¬†few writings to Own Words category since.

Among them are:

In short – nobody has a truly good excuse for not following me. But I cannot and don’t want to force anybody either. Everything I said on this day last year in my first anniversary post¬†is still true: we have strawberries and if you don’t want them – your¬†loss.

And as they say in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: “It’s a deal, it’s a steal, in fact…

…I think I’ll keep it!” ūüėÄ

Truly, from the heart, thank you all for every minute spent in my virtual company.

‚Čą Manja Maksimoviń欆‚Čą

Featured photo: The header of my upcoming blog: MLK in Ljubljana. 

Photo: a © signature mmm production

“Pasqua is close.” This is what amore said when I told him about the many baby sheep I’d seen. Ever a romantic.

When driving in the countryside like this, we often encounter flocks of sheep.

They go well with the surroundings and remind me of all those National Geographic photos I marvelled at as a child and used for the protection of my notebooks until they faded. We become what we surround ourselves with when young. As for the coming Easter – love your neighbours so much you could eat them.


Photo: a © signature mmm production

SL-WEEK 36: Women of Niki’s Tarot Garden

Today I bring you the unmistakable femininity of Niki de Saint Phalle’s statues from her Tarot Garden, Il giardino dei tarocchi, which I by some strange strike of luck have in my immediate vicinity. Since Sylvain said Women. Do I hear like attracts like?

The Garden is free every first Saturday in the months from November to March and I do my best to visit each time. Sometimes with an extra¬†Devil. Whereas Ninja still has to be made into a tarot card. What can I say… it’s refreshing. I especially recommend the visit to any female who has ever struck her hip bones wishing they would just disappear, or wiggle her sedere in frustration because it ain’t going anywhere. This is our¬†place of worship. Thank you, Niki!

More information on the statues in the captions. Here is an interesting paper on Niki and the Garden that I have just found.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

For Sylvain Landry’s SL-WEEK 36: Women

MM 2-46: Monochrome Madness d’Orcia

This week I’ve submitted my Monochrome Madness photo a bit hastily, I admit. It made me wish I’d¬†actually shoot in monochrome for a change. I’ll give it a go soon, promise.

Below is first a similar, just differently cropped colour image, followed by¬†more photos taken that day. It was last year (see for yourself¬†if my editing skills have improved), about this time, mom was visiting and she is about to again. The town of Pienza and Val d’Orcia valley are yet¬†to greet me with a sunny disposition. I’m patient.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

For Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness 2-46

WPC: My life normally doesn’t imitate art

…but sometimes my camera gets painterly in a way I’d never thought anything of mine would. Maremma helps. Benvenuti!

Photo: a © signature mmm production

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Life Imitates Art

MM 2-44: Monochrome Madness Moon

La luna is one of the statues in the Tarot Garden, Il giardino dei tarocchi in the south of Tuscany, the home and artwork by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

Above¬†is my contribution to this week’s Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness 2-44, and below is first the same image in colour and then¬†some other images of La luna taken during my many visits to the Garden. If you¬†wish to go there with me, just follow the Il giardino dei tarocchi¬†tag (well, for now).

Photo: MM