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Guess who’s going to Florence? (Part One)

24 Feb

And has returned!!!!

Way back at the beginning of this blog when we were in the planning phase, our very dear friends were going to make the trip with us. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be the case as other commitments, etc. came up and the timing was just not working. And that was fine. But now for the rest of the story….

Come to find out, quite by accident they went to Florence in December! Ouch! No, not really. They have or  (had) a family member in school in Florence and other family members decided they needed to visit him so they did. But we were in a puzzle as to why they didn’t mention it to us. Well shut my mouth, and I probably should have, but on evening when we were visiting, my friend mentioned the possibility of going after all. I innocently and in a funning manner said, Oh ho,  I’ll have to break your legs if you do! Much to my surprise and chagrin there was uncertainty as to whether they were in bodily danger or not on their part. OMG! Just shows to go ya that one must be ever so mindful of what comes out of ones mouth, whether in jest as was my case, without follow-up to make sure what we say is taken in the vein it was meant.

However, as with hubby buying Italian shoes before me, (see previous blog posted October 20th) it would have behooved them to let us know and help with travel and packing. But let me explain:

1) My girlfriend decided to fly in comfortable clothes. She wore cotton Capri’s, tennis shoe mules with no back and no socks of any kind. They flew into London Heathrow airport where of course it was freezing cold.

2) Their connecting flight to Florence had been cancelled, but only after being told about 20 times not to worry, it was just delayed.

3) Hours later they were bused to the other airport – London Gatwick airport and flown to Bologna. Then they had to take a train to Florence. But first you must understand that her husband very understandably was freaking out at one point before they got on the flight and she had to take him aside and explain that he needed to calm down, that he looked very anxious (which he was) and looked like he was a terrorist and probably had a bomb strapped to him (which he most certainly did not) and to please take some deep breaths and calm down. You had to be there when they told it, it was simply hysterical and we laughed and laughed)! (He is the most gentle, kind man imaginable!)

They finally arrived, found their hotel and fell into bed. Guess what the first thing she bought the next day? Okay, coffee of course, but after that? Italian boots! Fantastico!

They of course had a marvelous time, spent great quality time with family and saw many sights not previously seen. However, our previously anxiety ridden friend also seemed to have made quite a hit with the local gypsy’s. No one else in the group seemed to have this problem, so it was decided that while in Florence, do as the Florentine’s – have a make over. Perfection! He embraced it and is quite the European handsomer man, from hair to clothing.

Their return flight wasn’t much better.

The good news is that they shared some quite wonderful pictures – mostly of food which I am going to share with you! However there are also a number of quite lovely scenic pictures, Christmasy, foggy, etc. So here we go:

Spices:

Spices

More Spices

More Tasty Treats:

Do it yourself sandwich

Desert

Biscotti

Sandwiches

Seafood

Now I did say December didn’t I? Well, let’s see a little holiday festivity:

t
Even the rain couldn’t keep people off the streets for a some gaiety and last minute shopping.

IMG_XmasInFlorence2012_4sm_0896

I thought the above picture was innovative and interesting. That’s just me.

IMG_XmasInFlorence2012_5sm_0891

I thought this was a lovely shot but am hesitate to see what is in the shop! I’ve learned my lesson!

IMG_XmasInFlorence2012_6sm_10884
Even the restaurants get into the swing of things. This is one of all our favorite restaurants. When my hubby and I went last October, it was our “big splurge, the big night out!” Unfortunately shortly after we had our appetizer – Oh! anti pasta (how quickly one forgets!), ordered wine and were happily sipping it, ordered our entrée that I became …..obnoxiously uncomfortable and ill! So we had to wrap up our dinners and take them home. It was the oddest thing as I never got violently ill, and it passed in a couple of hours. Weird. Maybe just too tired from tramping around all day (and we did have the loveliest of weather – oops – sorry!) but the leftovers were fabulous! I know it wasn’t the food and the service was rival to none. We ended up going back for souvenirs and had the paper placemats laminated for our friends. That was fun! They gave us all kinds of goodies and were so good to us.

So the moral of this story (Part One) is stay tuned for Part Two. Tons more pictures – lots of food, haute couture, scenery in Winter, etc. And of course my version of their trip- Lol!
And of course the moral of Part Two!

So then……

10 Feb

Where to start, where to start…okay how about this. Thank you to all the people and bloggers that read my last post “Driving & Driving”. It was my second most read post and for this rookie I am ecstatic! A little concerned perhaps that the subject matter was so popular, but reassured that the first most read was food. Obliviously an audience of fabulous taste. My kind of people for sure!
So this is a shorter blog with some bits and pieces of some varied pictures. I have found that since returning from our trip it takes me longer to organize, categorize, and optimize the photos we took. We both work full-time and other commitments that take up a lot of our time. It’s also the reason that I’ve probably confused you with when the next post will come out.
I plead rookie-izm and hope you’ll bear with me. (Was that a word? Let’s roll with it, okay?)

Upward and onward. When you buy bottled water how do you know it is truly purified, filtered, clean, etc? Well, Germany (at least at the airport – when we were leaving) had a fool-proof way of reassuring us. Behold!

This water is OK!

Whew was that ever a relief!

Wudy - A different kind of hot dog?

How could we cut off the price? And it’s 40% off! And why didn’t we buy some! Oh my! Sheesh! I guess we were laughing too hard! This is a hot dog with a vein of cheese inserted in the middle, I guess like a pig in a blanket? It is a snack. Why is that not in Italian? Okay, I am SO no going there. What?

Balsamic Tasting

She is so gorgeous we both forgot to get her name. I think we got her card, somewhere. Probably hubby is hiding it. Can you blame him? She does balsamic tastings at the open market (see previous posts).  The stall was the kind that even if she wasn’t there you would just spend thousands….and I mean Euros, American, whatever. Good grief they were good!
As an aside my sister wanted to know how I could possibly gain five pounds when I was walking 10 + miles a day. Then I met a co-worker who had a friend who went to Tuscany for 6 weeks and gained 28 pounds. I felt so much better, yet cheated. Next time 6 weeks for sure!!! You Have To Vote On This!!!!! Go to comments, come on!!!!

More soon! Originally written in November! Life got in the way!

Drinking and Driving…..

12 Nov

No, this is not what you think. Not irresponsible, not a recommendation, but separately, and carefully, ….fun! Read on:

If you’ve been following this blog you know that we rented an incredible apartment and walked everywhere. And some places we walked to……sold wine. Mmmm. The nice, no the great thing about Italian wine is it doesn’t make you feel all stuffy, and sneezy like some wines do. Here are some of the yummy and quite affordable finds we tasted. The first is our favorite.

San Martino Chianti Classico

Mulino Dei Frati

Cielo

Cupido

How, I ask is it possible to resist Cupid? Yummy!

Piccini

Piccini? Why that sounds close to Porcini, as in the mushroom so they must go well together. And indeed they did!

Rubentino

All of these wines were quite delicious. Don’t you think it’s a little odd that each bottle leans just a bit? Wonder if it was the photographer! Anyway, we have found some of these here at home. I think I like the prices better in Florence though!
Now we come to some of the fun vechicles we thought you might enjoy. The first is for our pals at UPS.

UPS Van

Now we’ll start by size and weight, I think. Anyway……..

Segway Tours

We did see some fine people (although not many) on these. And once we saw two young men on one segway towing a second segway. It looked a lot easier and safer than towing a car, especially in the narrow streets.

Scooter and motorcycle row

I love this shot. Between the scooters, motorcycles, a few bikes, and even the shadow. Most were so sleek and shiny.

Pasquali

Another favorite – there are three shots of this. I especially love the handicap placard in the front dash! But it gets better!

Pasquali 2

How versatile is this little guy? See the figure in black at the far end of the right side? If it breaks down, there is another mode of transportation?

Pasquali 3

So it’s a three wheeler. (I wasn’t sure about protocol so I altered the license plate just to be safe). But how cute is this little guy? But wait, there’s more!

 Red Electric?

I suppose I should have found out more about these vehicles. We think this model is electric. I like the color. And for some odd reason (maybe because I’m odd the seat belts cracked me up. This little guy was time. But a great solution for the area, nicer when it rains, that’s a plus, not to mention the energy savings if it is indeed a non petrol vehicle.

Red Electric 2?

So that it for our drinking and driving post. Do not do these on the same day. My advice is to walk around, take photo’s that make you happy, stop by the store to pick up a little vino, go home, eat, sip, and review your day on your computer. Unless you use film – you’ll have to wait, so just watch Italian TV. The commercials are great!

Ciao! DJ*

Could it be a Sign?

5 Nov

Sorry I’ve been absent but that little bug that hubby adopted early on in our trip decided to jump ship and landed on me. At first he was quite polite but by the time we started home he gleefully jumped into fully swing and has led me on a lively dance. The little brat!

We left off with the Duomo which was pretty amazing to me. I may have gotten a little heavy handed with the pictures but they were so gorgeous and incredible I got a little carried away. Today I think we’ll go back to the lighter side – some pictures that tickled our fancy or just cracked us up. A bit frivolous today if you don’t mind. A few at the end are not, just interesting don’t you think? Here we go……..

Street sign by Clet Abraham in "Via della Venezia"

My husband started taking a few pictures of these street signs. We had no idea what they were, or meant, but enjoyed the humor of the artist. I have since found out through Google and other bloggers that this is the work of Clet Abraham. One blog was “Livorno Daily Photo” and the other was “Tuscany Arts” which has an interview with the French Artist. Be sure to check them out. There are quite a few that we missed, but here are 3 more (and I suspect that others have added to them).

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m posting the next picture. Well, with the increased use of cell phones, public phones are on the decline. We thought it was brilliant to find one in Italy (where they are also on the decline) and the method of payment is credit card! Very handy. I especially like the “OK” button!

Public Phone

The next picture I believe is a pet store. And the one below is a close up of collars and toys. We almost bought a little dress for our friends dog, but the prices were a little to rich for us. Very cute though.

Pet Store

Pet Store Display

The next two pictures “Frey Wille” and “Geronico” in our minds were plays on a whale movie and a Native American, which is course not the case but they made us smile. I was definitely not laughing when I Googled them and discovered what they really were. I could have quite happily spent some time and money in those establishments! Jewelry and leather goods? How on earth did my shopping nose let me down? Sheesh!

Frey Wille Jewelry

Geronico

I have saved my two favorites for the last. I’m not even sure of the name of the store as we were so taken with the display. The first is a full shot and just look at the gorgeous crystals on either side of the mannequin. They are also scattered artistically throughout the display and many at her feet. But the close up of her face in the last picture is stunning (I think!) with her eyebrows done in crystals.

And for the piece we couldn’t resist:

Crystal Brows

Oh and by the way, the jacket was only 9600 Euro! (Hubby got me two – Not!)

We’ll have much more coming, hang in there with us. And hubby is doing some pretty incredible videos. You won’t want to miss those!

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*

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