Tag Archives: Florence

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:

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

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

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

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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*

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.

Image

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*

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