Tag Archives: duomo

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:



More Spices

More Tasty Treats:

Do it yourself sandwich





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

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


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


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

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!

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).


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.


Another ornate beauty.


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


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!


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.


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


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).


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


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


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.


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”?


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:


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


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*



We’re Here!

15 Oct

I can’t believe it! Finally. Although I do miss those lovely days of anticipation, the present far outweighs the past!
The trip started Friday night with final packing and a lovely 2+ hour ride to the hotel arriving at midnight, a four hour cat nap and then off to the airport. Board the short 3 hour flight, everything lovely, nice crew but not very communicative. What’s that you say? We’ll be arriving a little over an hour late? No problem – I’m sure our INTERNATIONAL connection will be more than happy to wait for your sorry arse.  But we made it with time to spare so all is good.

Now we board Swiss for the Lonnnggggg flight…..dum, dum, dum….I LOVE THIS AIRLINE! Fabulous crew, friendly, no request too trivial, great snacks, great food, more snacks. We had a quite lovely glass of red wine with dinner. I had vegetable lasagne, hubby had the chicken and rice with veggies, and it was Good. Are you sitting down? It was all free. Now, in my past experience “good” alone was a miracle. But in this day and age free is just a revelation. Oh? You didn’t hear that? FREE! And of course the individual TV screens with movies, music, TV shows, etc. And they even passed out ear plugs. Did they know that poor little 3 year old girl was going to be a nightmare throughout the trip? Well, she was. 8+ hours was not her idea of Disneyland and she let it be known every. single. second. And poor Dad. I hope they are doing better now.

And then we land, we change planes for the short hop to Florence. Very short, again great crew, nice beverage service, again free, which boggles my mind, and we are in Italia.
But first I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how gorgeous that short flight from Zurich to Florence was. Very pretty soft morning light. The landscape was lush and green, trees, trees, and more trees. And then there were Alps (or very large mountains covered with snow that I have decided are (my) Alps). So very majestic. We are native Californians and yes, we have the High Sierras, Tahoe, Mammoth, and other snowy places, but momma mia! The (my) Swiss Alps are simply breathtaking! I am so loving everything Swiss. This may be our next trip. Oh! And then there were the crazy clouds! We had normal clouds, very cute. And low clouds where the mountains would stick up through them, the color of the clouds – I’ve seen pink clouds before, but have you ever seen blue? (Here is an opening for some brave soul to make a comment!) It’s probably a light, reflective, water thing but I’ve never seen anything like it before and it dazzled me. I think to myself “How blessed am I to have the opportunity to experience and see such marvels?” Very blessed.

Okay, so we land. We have two options:  a) go here if you have stuff to declare, b) go there if you don’t.  We don’t, so we go there. And, find ourselves out on the street. What happened to customs? We’ve been through Switzerland, and now Italy, and no one a) has cared about our luggage and carefully labeled liquids in see through containers – okay, twice my carry on was searched due to a nefarious electronic device which was quickly pooh-poohed as “Oh, Keendle, pah!”  So it’s not the new “Fire” – jeez! I want my passport stamped with Italia! We had to be persuasive with the Swiss (did I mention they are very good looking?) to get the stamp. I don’t think anyone else got the stamp. But it’s happened to me before in a previous lifetime when I was vacationing and I did go through customs and almost missed out on the stamp. They said oh no, not necessary. And I quickly explained why it was oh so very necessary and they changed their minds just as quickly! So to be robbed in our country of current choice of the beloved stamp and now we can’t even figure out how to get back in the airport (this should make a good story upon departure!) I am temporarily crushed. I am determined to have it stamped twice (on different pages even!) when we leave.

Now we have to notify Apartments Florence that we have arrived and to meet us to let us in, tell us the in and outs and a few local tips and we’re off. My brilliant hubby has secured Italy cell phones and we dial away. Doesn’t work. Try again. This time we get a message in Italian and a disconnect. Obviously we miss dialed and got a recorded message telling us we don’t need the area code or something. (No we didn’t use the country code!) So we decide to head over and call from outside the apartment. We get a Taxi and the driver doesn’t speak English. He looks a little afraid of us so he  calls over another driver, we explain where we are going and that we’re having problems reaching our party. He whips out his cell phone dials the phone, reaches our party,  talks a while,tells us we’re all set,  assures the other driver we are safe, and away we go. How nice it that? (He was good looking too!) We arrive and in five minutes- if that- our greeter (another good looker!)  arrives and shows us our apartment and is on his way. The apartment is better than I imagined. While being completely renovated, updated, whatever, it’s not all sleek and glossy like a big city US apartment – it’s Italian, with loads of charm, and cosiness. I feel completely at ease and at home. We look out the kitchen window and see the top portion of the Duomo. The bells ring often, I haven’t figured that quite out. Oh, but they are heavenly! “Ding. Dang, Dong!” (From Under the Tuscon Sun movie).

We unpack, then take a short trek out and about. We find a local grocery store and stock up on local meats, cheeses, vino, bread, oil and balsamic, and greens. Food of the gods. We ogle all the shops, find 2 gelato shops, (yay!) and wander a bit, then home to dine, snooze, sip wine, then decide to take a nap. My nap ends up “down for the count”. Poor hubby tries to wake me but a train could have come through the apartment and I’m still out. He gives up and joins me. We wake at 2am and have another feast. We laugh and talk and I decide to update the blog, but after the first paragraph I’m sleepy as is he so we decide to to bed. We’ll get up early and explore. And then it’s noon. And pouring rain. We decide this is perfect and get organized, putter around. He goes back to the store to stock up and I sit down to write a  quick update. Yep, this is quick all right! I’m sure I won’t put you to sleep with long blogs like this after today. Too much too see and do. I make no rash promises however.

Not a bad start to the dream of a lifetime. I am surely blessed and in heaven. Plus I get to do all this with my best friend\husband whom I adore. Love to the family, our friends, and all of you out there following me\us.


6 days and counting…..

8 Oct

At this point I must confess I’m feeling a little nauseous. Do other Travelers feel like they are endlessly chasing their tails, running marathons etc.? Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very excited. And I think I’ve gotten over the “what if we forgot?” syndrome. Of course this was only achieved by ordering everything imaginable off the internet. Sorry, we live in a small town and shopping is a challenge so we do more than a bit of online shopping. If you need something for traveling  I’m sorry to say it’s probably gone!

As I mentioned before I am an over packer. I decided yesterday to “practice packing”. So I had hubby drag in all our luggage from the garage. If there is something that I have an abundance of, believe me it’s luggage. Well, apparently not! Somehow during the transition from my single state to married state half of it has disappeared. Hold on! I am not blaming him! I probably (in a blissful state of happiness) pitched them to make room for his belongings when he moved in. Of course that meant more shopping! Okay, That is so not a hardship for me, especially when it is for me. (However, you have to be very proud as I have not bought ONE pair of shoes. Of course that would be ridiculous,  considering our destination!) Anyway, so now I have to wait until Tuesday night to practice packing. I am figuratively biting my nails over what clothing to take. I am watching the the weather and it seems to be trying to merge from summer to fall, but not really sure. I’m thinking it’s going to be between 65 -75 F during the day and low 50’s F at night. This is my favorite type of weather, layers, baby, layers! But more to pack. But what the heck, no problem. “Normale”. (My new favorite saying)!

Now I’m going to play around with some photos of what I hope to see. My friend’s sister took these shots and graciously allowed me to use them. But all credit goes to Lisa Mollusky. Thank you Lisa.


I (we) hope to add may more photos. Shopping, food & markets, all the sights and adventures we can jam pack into our allotted time. I’m especially looking forward to the art and architecture. I hope our pictures do it justice.

Now I suppose I better practice my “virtual” packing! Lol! Should be interesting without my carry on! Where’s there’s a will there’s a way!

P.S. Don’t forget to comment! And thank you to all my followers!


Our apartment (For 11 days)

17 Sep

Our apartment (For 11 days)

Heaven, we’re in heaven….

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