Archive | October, 2012

The Duomo Part II

31 Oct

So here are a few pictures of “Under the Duomo” all of which are labeled in Italiano so I have no clue what they really are. I do however have a skewed sense of humor, so while I mean no disrespect to the wonderful history, workmanship, and preservation of such works, well, I’m just ….. me. Here we go – my descriptions will follow each picture (or you can spare yourself and just look at the picture).

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This appears to be an important marker, probably Royalty of someone of the Peerage – but I just don’t know. It is just very impressive and arresting to gaze at.

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Another ornate beauty.

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This I am assuming is a keepsake box along side chain-mail – what’s left of it. Fascinating to view.

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Here’s a handy weapon don’t you think? I probably couldn’t lift it. I definitely wouldn’t want to “run” into this on a dark night – or knight for that matter!

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In the middle is an ancient rosary. I will spare you my commentary on the other two items. But please feel free to crack yourselves up! I know I did.

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I thought this was interesting although again I have no idea what the significance is except for my fascination with the artistry.

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This was at time a complete floor. It’s amazing that it’s lasted over so many years. I will stop here with the comments as I’m afraid I’ll get goofy(er).

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Another beauty. It appears special as it has it’s own stand.

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This was my favorite and I can tell you the picture absolutely doesn’t do it justice. All the textures, colors, and the workmanship. Very impressive

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This was kind of creepy so I thought it would be perfect for Halloween when this will come out.

So I think that’s it for “Under the Duomo”  There will be more to come in a day or two. Stay tuned, there is still so much we have to share – including some cool videos.

Ciao,
DJ*

The Duomo – Part I

29 Oct

How I missed posting on this earlier I’ll never know. The first evening we arrived guess what we saw out of our kitchen window? Yes, it’s the top of the Duomo all lit up. How did we get so lucky? The trees just added a spiritual mystery that we will never forget.

Night shot of Duomo from kitchen window

“Ding, dang, dong!” (Again, from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”). One funny thing we never did figure out was the method of when the bells would chime. Of course there were just a few churches around us. Surprisingly the bells never became annoying, partly because they weren’t overly loud. And when we did think we might be hearing them from farther away we would stop what we were doing and listen. Then grin foolishly at each other with delight at the sound.

Here is, finally, hubby’s perspective on the bells: “Bells from all of the churches going off all of the time.They do quiet them at night, thank goodness. Beautiful and we never got tired of them, but I still can’t figure out the “Bell Code”. Some on the hour, half, and quarter, but sometimes they did not seem to relate to the time.  Also, sometimes on the hour, for instance, you would get 27 ding dongs for 5:00pm.  Is it the Celsius system?  Need to research.  We just took the bells to mean that it is time to do something or not, time to eat and drink, time to appreciate that we are here, and that an angel got its wings.”

No, we never tired of the bells! I am so glad we were able to get a sample. What’s that? You missed the audio from the bells in that previous post? Well of course you’ll have to start at the beginning and read them all again, but let’s see if I can do it for you again real quick! I really should rename the file “Bells” instead of “Voice”! Or “Voice of the Bells”?

Voice_001

The Duomo is huge! I believe it’s the largest in the world – but here’s a quick excerpt from good old Wikipedia (although they are asking for help too!):
“The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (English: Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) is the main church of Florence, Italy. The Duomo, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris.

While we visit, there are many scaffolds outside and when we inquire, we are told that they are cleaning the exterior. You’ll see in some of our photos as in the one below:

Duomo

Here is another side of the exterior. It really seems to go on and on…..

Exterior

Can you tell we were craning our necks? The yellow building in the left hand corner truly is in no danger of falling over!

The above picture may be a repeat but larger. I just can’t get over the intricacy of the workmanship. And below is another….. how lovely. We were just snapping away!

Below you will find a sculpture in the side of the building. They seemed to like doing this and I for one am very grateful.

Statue in exterior of Duomo

Wouldn’t you love this as your front door? But where is the door knob? Who cares? Just sit outside and gaze at it, watching it in the changing light? I could do that. (Actually we did for a little while!)

A Duomo Door

The next is one of my favorites. It’s Sunday of course, and what a perfect shot – not even scripted!

Gathering at the Duomo

I’m not 100% certain, but I suspect they are trying to figure out what happened to the door knobs!

And last but not least, homage to the Duomo in all it’s evening glory…

Duomo at night with Moon

Now here’s something you wouldn’t expect and we almost missed. There is a space where you can go down a few steps, and for about 5 or 6 Euros gain admittance to something quite unique. “The Crypts”! Again, from my friend “Wikipedia”:

“The cathedral underwent difficult excavations between 1965 and 1974. The subterranean vaults were used for the burial of Florentine bishops throughout the centuries.

The archaeological history of this huge area was reconstructed through the work of Dr Franklin Toker: remains of Roman houses, an early Christian pavement, ruins of the former cathedral of Santa Reparata and successive enlargements of this church. Close to the entrance, in the part of the crypt open to the public, is the tomb of Brunelleschi. While its location is prominent, the actual tomb is simple and humble. That the architect was permitted such a prestigious burial place is proof of the high esteem he was given by the Florentines.”

Now I’m going to have to tease you with Part II tomorrow as there are more pictures of the interior and I would like to share the Crypt with you-that was a shocker (in a good way as the bodies aren’t in there any more!) and there are some ceiling shots you won’t want to miss. So I hope you’ll stay with me\us as we have lots more and I hope you’re enjoying our trip almost as much as we are!

Ciao, DJ*

 

 

The Pitti Palace

27 Oct

Coming out on the other side of the Ponte Vecchio is the Pitti Palace. At first glance it seemed a little dismal but the interior more than made up for it. Alas, again photos are not permitted.

Outside of the Pitti Palace

This picture is a little misleading as to the gentle incline leading up to the entrance. Yes, it’s just a tad steeper but by this time we had left the City Centre, visited the Piazza, wandered through the Ponte Vecchio and my feet were toast. And yet another beautiful building to explore. I figured I could have comfortable feet at home so I was going for it! Yep, we’re a couple of rebels! (Hubby’s feet were unhappy as well). So upward and onward and into the Palace.

This next picture is scanned out of “The Official Guide of the Pitti Palace”. We bought them at the Uffizi Museo, and the Accademia. It will make you lick your lips…..mmmmmmm.

RoyalApts_KingsStudio

I could scan forever out of this book (now that I have access to one) but I’m not going to spoil you – it really needs to be seen up close and personal.
The next picture is of a table top. I wonder how long it took to complete? The workmanship is amazing. Unfortunately there wasn’t a description of it in the guide book.

Ornate table top in the Pitti Palace

Another thing that disappointed me in the guide book was the lack of pictures and information on the “Costume Gallery”. Yes, ladies, they had clothing from the 18th and early 19th centuries. Even some as late as the 1970’s but the 1950′ and 1960’s were so Jackie O. Scrumptious! And the shoes! Very ornate and some looked more comfortable and the styles we wear today!

Now since you gentlemen have been so patient with me writing about clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. I am going to break my rule (isn’t that what they’re for?) and scan in a few shots for you car fanatics. Hey what do you think NASCAR would think of these beauties?

Yellow Carriage

Pretty wild, huh? I’m sure the next one is a ladies carriage, and it came with an interior shot! Any woman who has read a regency novel would love to see the inside. I know I was pretty intrigued.

Pink-Carriage-Exterior

Good grief. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t have sunglasses! But wait, there’s more….

Pink-Carriage-Interior

No leather heated seats, but not too bad. Of course these carriages are for Royalty.

Even their ceilings are outrageous – and not just here. Every building that was an attraction had crazy art work on the ceilings – but that a whole separate post. Here’s just one example:

Pitti Palace ceiling - one of many

Now it’s time for some exterior shots:

Room with a view - inside looking out towards the gardens

The above picture was from inside looking out toward the Boboli Gardens. Look at that huge courtyard! Below is outside at the gardens – similar shot but a little clearer I think.

Outside at the gardens

I know I told you I could have happy feet at home, but after all this in one day it broke our hearts not to be able to hike up to the Boboli Gardens. But I have a sneaking suspicion we just may be back for more!

More tomorrow, but for now –

Ciao – DJ*

Now where were we?

26 Oct

Ah yes, about to explore the delights of Ponte Vecchio. How could I forget?

Ponte Vecchio

After the delightful Piazza, how could we be prepared for the infusion of energy, light, humanity, and ouch! The glare of the sun staring us in the eyes! Ah well, such are the sacrifices we must endure and thank heavens for sun glasses! We needed those for the displays of the shops. I have never seen so much sparkly jewelry in one stretch of real estate before. It was gorgeous. I found a particularly fetching ruby and diamond set of earrings with matching pendant, however hubby and our bank accounts screamed out in protest like a well practiced duet so I gave up with good humor. The look on his face was worth the price of even mentioning it. He can be so easy sometimes.

Jewelry Display on the Ponte Vecchio

But to be fair, I can relate Euros to Monopoly money. The above pictures is just one of many store shops displaying fantastic pieces. If you think it’s a little out of focus, it’s probably for your own good. Oddly enough it was the only picture of jewelry I could get. Go figure!

We continue wandering across the Ponte Vecchio and here are some shots just for flavor. Before I get too far ahead of myself, this is at the beginning looking back at the Uffizi Museo.

Looking back at the Uffizi

And this shot is also looking from the Ponte Vecchio and I just thought it looked like a dreamy shot from years gone by.

Dreamy view from the beginning of the Ponte Vecchio

Now back on track..looking at these pictures again, after seeing them close up and personal, don’t you think that even though, or maybe because they are so old, they look so cheerful? They still give me that “dewy afterglow”! Is that too personal?

Shot from Ponte Vecchio

Ah, now to the nitty gritty! Serious shoppers!

Serious Shoppers!

And last but not least…..

The Locks of Ponte Vecchio

Legend has it that if you and your loved one attach a padlock to any surface of the famous bridge and then throw away the key into the Arno River below, your love will last forever. Millions of couples have come to the Ponte Vecchio for expressly this reason, to lock in their love and throw away the key for eternity.
Today, there is a hefty penalty to all who are caught locking or attaching anything to the Ponte Vecchio. These days, lovers simply come to the famous bridge and simply touch the remaining padlocks that have not been removed. Luck has kept them there, locked to the bridge, perhaps some luck will rub off on the hopeful couple as well, and keep their love alive for eternity.

You can find out more – like I did – by visiting http://www.firenzealbergo.it/EN/Experience-Florence/romantic-getaway/pages/leggende-amore-ponte-vecchio.aspx

We had been told about the locks and had planned on doing it, but with time constraints, etc. we never quite got around to it. Good thing! Very bad manners and a hefty fine. And I don’t think that would be Monopoly money!

More tomorrow – Pitti Palace time!

Ciao! DJ*

Piazza, Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace

23 Oct

Sunday we decided to play gladiators and see if we could get killed. By ourselves. Let’s do three times the activity in one day so far and see what happens. That would be me finally catching hubby creepy germs of the “Perils of Paul(ine)” fame. And I didn’t even buy anything except art work for our  cat. (You didn’t think she’d be omitted from this blog now did you?) Yes, we have a “Princepessa” in residence at home.

Anyway, I will be doing the three above “P’s in a series, between last minute dashing around and naps.

The Piazza Della Republic: we came through here going to and coming back from the Ponte Vecchio and Pitti Palace.

What a fun Piazza, it was hopping with farmers markets, street vendors, artists, tourists, locals all coming together to see what the day would bring. The following are some random shots:

I can’t resist the carousel off to the right in the previous picture. It gorgeous and I wonder how old it is.

Carousel at Piazza della Repubblica

Next we have the farmer’s market, on the right had side are outside cafes where you can sip cappuccino and biscotti’s.

Piazza Della Republico

This is just the tip of the iceberg for shopping the street vendors. Purses, scarves, I think I’ve mentioned them before. But did I say ‘FABULOUS!” Okay, maybe I did but I’m raring to go as this is our last day. And of course I have to say Arrivederci to Stefano! (Wink! wink!).

Tip of the Iceberg for shopping!

So when you come to Italy, it is always nice to bring presents to show appreciation and honoring their country. Well, being from the Southwest of the USA, we decided to bring (in addition to the Sedona Sandstone and postcards, etc. a Javelina, native of our home state? Okay, just kidding. He was already there! He has water coming out of his mouth (as you can see by that ever so attractive spittle hanging down) and you put a coin in his mouth and let go, and if it falls in the grate, the coin is supposed to bring good luck and then you pet him on the head to seal the deal.  I may have the details of the story mixed up and I’m pretty sure he has a name – I’ll have to look it up. My coin went right in, poor hubby took three tries. It appeared to be that way with most men. I guess we women has less trouble throwing money down the drain! Lol! (Did I say that? Shame on me!) Anyway, boy can he command a crowd – and sometime an unruly one at that. I’m talking locals, too!

And of course we had to run into local street artists – there were two young men working on this piece. Very intently I might add!

Street Artist on the way to Piazza della Republica

Next I will try to get to Ponte Vecchio soon – an adventure all on it’s own!!!!

Ciao, DJ*

The Accademia Gallery

21 Oct

Today we sashayed into the Accademia Gallery. I just love the Uffuzi card – waiting in line is no way to spend your vacation. This is a much smaller showing of incredible art but no less spectacular. Of course the main course is David, so awe inspiring, imposing, and majestic. Once again no photos are allowed. Once again everyone was snapping away with their phones. Urged on by two friendly tourists who sound like they might be from the UK we braved the wrath of the staff and took a few pictures. We didn’t want to be greedy, but how can you resist a handsome man in all his glory and fame?

Notice the lighting on his face. This comes from a window. Truly a breathtaking work of art. Unfortunately the universe once again and stepped in and made it impossible for me to manipulate the few other pictures we clandestinely took.  There was another David outside in the garden and guess what? He had been “colorized”! Honest! Just like the “Wizard of Oz”. I wish I could post it, but it was one of the few that bit me in the butt. I’m hoping that when hubby wakes up he will have superior knowledge of how to correct this challenge.

In the meantime….today is Sunday. If you are family or friends please sit down before reading further. I got up at 6am! I watched the sun come up with it’s delicious fall coloring and the hush of the neighborhood. Hubby (being the brilliant man that he is) was able to capture the church bells. I think it’s only fitting that I upload them for you as they are gorgeous. This was taken from our terrace.

Church Bells – Duomo      (Right click for PC)

Hurrah! Hubby is up and rarin’ to go – but not without solving the impossible. See? I told you so! Let’s start with the colorized David:

You didn’t believe me did you? I swear I did not alter this in anyway – he’s in a different location. Oh, and once again my brilliant husband has pointed out that he took a picture of the plaque for this statue:

I’m not sure how well you can read it but the artist is Hans-Peter Feldmann.

After enjoying the Accademia we headed for the San Lorenzo Piazza and came across an amazing musician. Did you see the movie “August Rush”? It was about a small boy who played the guitar in an unusual way. Well there is more to the movie than that, and it’s very good – we recommend it! Anyway, this musician is named Mose Oliviero (and Zoe – his little dog). We hung out and listened to him for quite a while and ended up buying some CD’s. What a sweetheart, a very kind, gentle man with an abundance of talent. We got to talking with him and he has a channel on YouTube. “MrRemaggiore”. Of course we took his picture for you and also the CD sleeve.

Little Zoe is sitting next to him in his guitar case. She was adorable as well. Here’s his CD:

We continued strolling around the plaza, so many amazing shops with a plethora of goods. Lots of leather – shoes, jackets, handbags and wallets, all in every color and design you could wish for. Then we finished up with dinner at ZaZa, which was quite lovely and the service “fantastico”! The streets of Florence in the evening are so charming, gaily lit, people mingling, or rushing to some important appointment.

We are so blessed to be here and have so many varied experiences. And guess what? We’re off to have even more!

More later, Ciao! DJ*

The Perils of Paul(ine)

20 Oct

Let me tell you a little story…..what do you suppose happens when your husband tells you he’s going out for a little stroll in the evening by himself? Sounds innocent enough don’t you think? Until he comes home with a pair of Italian shoes! Does this man not know that the wife gets shoes first? I mean, really? Well, here comes the universe to explain. He gets sick! Really sick. And I did feel sorry for him. How awful to be on vacation and be miserable. But it did introduce us to a new experience.

Si! Si! The Farmacia! And it’s pretty amazing what you can get there!

Hubby wanted cough syrup and Vitamin C. We thought the pharmacist would think we were nut is we tried to explain about “Vicks VapoRub” but you can see for yourself, normale! Johnson & Johnson no less. Who would of thought? And here’s is a brilliant thing – on the side of the cough syrup we noticed raised bumps. Turns out there are directions in Braille!  What an absolutely great idea! After a few days of down time he felt better (it was a bronchial cold – how I haven’t gotten it is beyond me) so we hit the town in grand style. However, before I go into that I have to reveal the charismatic gentleman who enticed my hubby:

So of course how could Hubby resist such and excellent salesperson? I have to tell you that this picture does not do him justice – he is VERY handsome. He’s one of the nicest, helpful and knowledgeable merchants I’ve met. So far he’s number one on the list. When hubby went without me he (hubby) gave him a piece of Sedona sandstone with a write-up on it and a postcard of Sedona. When we returned he told us he put the post card in his travel diary and the stone in a special pouch. I think I’m in amore (platonic of course) but my sister in law has already put dibs on him and we’re supposed to bring him back in our suitcase. (The extra one I wanted to bring but nooooo, that was nixed. We’ll have to think of something else. Maybe we can lure him over with a promise of a tour of OUR leather factory. Lol!  Oh and if you’re ever in the neighborhood, here’s his shop:

So Stefano of “Sabatini’s” won our hearts. And I plan on giving him a small token as well. And yes! I made a gorgeous purchase of buttery Italian boots at a fabulous price. (Don’t tell Stefano that!) There’s another pair I have my eye on.  The address of his shop is: Borgo degli Albizi, 75r, 50122 Firenze, Italia. And just to make you jealous, we have his cell number and his email! Can’t give that out without his permission.

Okay, on to bigger and I do mean bigger things! The Uffizi Museo. We decided to get the family pass to become member and the upside is it get’s you into almost everything – the Accadamia Gallery, Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens just to mention a few (of the things I want to see)!

We head to the Uffizi Museo. Sounds harmless enough, right? Do you have any idea how many intriguing shops are along the way? It’s almost criminal. And it almost was….hubby was on a mission to get there and his patience was waning with me goggling at this that and everything. But happily we made it. Now the adventure is trying to buy the pass and get in. There is door #1, door #2, and door #3. I felt like Monty Hall. Hey, let’s make a deal! Let us find the right one first and we’ll behave. But no, we traversed every single one and still were confused. Oh, you crazy Americanos! We finally made it to the entrance and voila, were able to bypass the queques (Yay!). You have to go through security as there are strict rules, such as no food or water, you can take in a camera but are not allowed to take pictures (damage to the paintings) and backpacks of a certain size must be checked. We had to take off jackets, etc and when I went through the sensor my watch sounded the alarm. The guard had been watching us bobble, juggle, and generally look totally goofy. He finally rolled his eyes and waved us through. We rented the audio tour so we could share the information which was really nice.  Then we noticed the four flights of stairs yet to climb. Oy! Half way up you’ll be happy to know we noticed a sign down below that said “lift” which of course is the elevator we neglected to see before THE TREK. Good thing we are exercise fanatics and are not the least overweight or have desk jobs. Not. Pant, pant. But it was worth every step. And steps there were. Oh, but the art. Starting with the 13th century, the paintings were breathtaking. I wish we had pictures to show but of course that is forbidden. However I did see quite a number of people taking them anyway with their phones. Now I don’t know if that is allowed or not, but it seemed like cheating. Most of them were young people so I am going to think that they are serious art students and forgive them. So on and on we wandered through the various rooms, each century incredible in it’s own glory. I must say that after awhile some of them melted into each other and I was a little bleary eyed. There is so much to see and so much information, it was a little overwhelming. And the detail in each painting was so captivating you can’t just whiz by. Some of the pictures took 5 years plus to paint. Amazing. Half way through (this place is huge) we hit the wall, leg and feet cramps, thirst, hunger, took it’s toll so we decided to explore the second half another day. So now it’s picture time. :  )

Oh! The first two are what we thought at first were art work – but they were humans in costume! They were perfectly still, but if you put a coin in the ornate box at their feet they came to life and interacted with you and let you have your picture taken with them.

He was so sweet and gentle. It took us awhile before we saw him move – we didn’t realize he was alive!

This lady was quite charming, and I dropped coins in her pot. She came to life and handed me an ornate headpiece to put on and hubby took our picture. I was very happy, but you won’t see that shot here! Can you imagine holding that pose for any length of time? Not I!

Next come sculptures. They are everywhere and then some. In walls, on buildings, stand alone, etc. Here are some of our favorites.

This is “David” outside the Uffizi. We will visit the original in the Accademia Gallery

This picture really doesn’t do justice to the statue. The gladiator\warrior looks very innocent in the face and my first impression was that if he could speak, he’d say “You talkin’ to me?” I truly mean no disrespect, it just tickled me. The detail and artistry in these pieces is almost unbelievable.

Here’s a happy shot. I can’t remember at the moment the title so you’ll have to look it up. One thing I did notice on most of the statues is that the feet are quite large. I will stop there. :  )

So I hope this will hold you for a bit. We have to get out and about again, so many things to do, sights to see, and people to charm and\or bewilder!

Ciao for now!

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