Cantigny Park Summer

Wow, you’ll be delighted by the flower gardens at Cantigny Park in St. Charles, Illinois. I took one look at these flower beds and exclaimed, “I want that at my house!” While that’s mostly a pipe dream as I live in Phoenix, I was able to take home some ideas about color combinations. Look at all the reds, oranges, pinks, and yellows!

I am going to do some research to see if I can add these small yellow sunflowers to my garden. I just love how they look against the green hedge in the back.

I’d also like to add a birdhouse to my garden–whether it’s an all white number or a bright pop of color as in the pedestals above. The ones pictured are by Lazy Hill Farm Designs.

I love orange flowers, and echinacea say summer to me like no other flower does. I love them in the tall grass. The Cantigny Park flower beds also featured them with snapdragons, a new love of mine.

Pink and orange in one flower, oh my! This snapdragon really does it for me. Plus, I’m learning that a pop of yellow in a garden really highlights the other flowers.

The rose garden did not disappoint. Here are a couple yellow roses for you.

What’s not to love about a pink dahlia with black foliage? I love how one petal in the flower below is waving hello.

I love all the reds and oranges in the flower beds. Perhaps a bit more blue salvia for interest would be nice. I just love all the color.

If you are visiting Chicago and would like to make a day trip out to visit the garden at Cantigny Park, they have a nice little cafe, Bertie’s Bistro, where you could eat lunch. Although, if I am in that area, then my most favorite restaurant is Riganato Old World Grille in Geneva. They have the best calamari I’ve ever tasted, but that’s a topic for another blog.

I have a few “keepers” from this day in my portfolio, Midwest Summer Blooms. Check it out and let me know if you have a favorite.

Where to Go in Tuscany: Pienza

Driving north from Rome, this picturesque view is the first glimpse I had of Pienza.

Pienza provides charm galore and makes for the perfect hub for your visit to Tuscany. Not only will you find amazing landscapes in the area surrounding the town, but you’ll also have a chance to explore the historical town, see and photograph charming flower-filled doorways and enjoy delicious food at a number of restaurants.

Where to Stay

I had a wonderful stay at the Piccolo Hotel La Valle on the edge of town (outside of the ZTL). I really appreciated the helpfulness of the staff at the desk. Not only did my room and the patio (see photo below) have a gorgeous view, it was also a very convenient to walk into town at night for dinner. I like that feature a lot. After a day spent driving around scouting photography locations, it was nice to have a short walk before and after dinner. Plus, if you’re traveling solo as I do, you might like to know, I felt totally safe walking alone at night back to the hotel.

Tuscany landscape
View from Piccolo Hotel La Valle, Pienza
Pienza doorway with flowers and bicycle
Pienza Doorway

How to Get to Pienza
You can rent a car at the Termini Train Station and drive north out of Rome on the expressway. It’s a little nerve wracking getting to the freeway, but once you get there, it’s just like driving on expressways here at home. Occasionally you have to stop and pay toll by cash or credit. Conveniently, there are gas stations with cafes along the way just like rest stops here at home.

When you get to Pienza, it’s pretty easy to avoid the ZTL traffic zone. It’s well marked, and there are a few public parking areas at the edge of town.

A pop of yellow flowers and a brick wall. What more do you need?
Perhaps, magenta flowers are more your taste?

Where to Eat

Buca delle Fate – This restaurant had the most delicious gluten-free pasta. I tried several varieties including the truffle pasta. They were all really good. Plus, I had a steak with arugula that was quite nice. I also appreciated the kind service of the staff.

La Mensa del Conte – This restaurant is very knowledgeable about gluten free dining. I enjoyed both the pasta and steak here. They have a very good olive oil with peppers in it, but the highlight was the gluten free cheesecake served in a small jar. So good!