Tag Archives: Tuscany

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!

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!

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


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 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*



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*

Wanderings and more food

18 Oct

Sometimes it’s hard to get started writing. I don’t know where to begin, my thoughts are racing and jumbled with no cohesive order to make this interesting. So I dive right in praying that I can edit before hitting publish and even know that if I accidentally publish, I can still edit. Yes, I’m procrastinating.

So I promised a picture of dinner after the Market. Well, that was eaten. We were ravenous but I do have one picture of the ingredients. Cross your fingers that it uploads properly.

Dinner after Mercato Centrale

We have apples and red grapes (with seeds – that will teach me to assume!). In the back are spinach and ricotta filled raviolis which took us forever to find, oh but there is no escape now! Pistachios, Parmesan, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, basil, and beets.We cooked the pasta, drizzled olive oil over it and sprinkled the Parmesan on it…..divine! A wonderful garden salad with all the trimmings tossed gently with olive oil and balsamic and voila! A delicious meal.

The lettuce had been picked that morning in Tuscany. The sweet little man who sold us this and the tomatoes and basil was quite a character. He was explaining to me that there had been rain the night before and the lettuce was therefore quite muddy so it had to be rinsed quite well. I agreed but without further ado he went to the stall across the aisle and washed it himself for me, smiling, gesturing and talking while bagging up everything for us. I had been drawn to his stall when I saw him and another man with a bull horn singing, joking, and laughing away. It was such a lively, happy stall I couldn’t resist. I am very glad I didn’t. I believe the produce was so wonderful because of all the love and joy.

We wandered around some more, making small purchases, and bought slices of pizza with tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil to fortify ourselves. You’d think we’d be tired of eating the same thing so regularly but I think I could live off of it. We also found a stall where they did balsamic tastings – we didn’t have time but were invited back – you can be sure we will.

Wandering back home we took some pictures around the Duomo area:

The next shot is a close up of the picture above the door in the previous picture:

Close up

Of course the pictures don’t do the buildings or architecture justice. It’s amazing how intricate the work is and how long the buildings have withstood time. It’s really quite humbling in the grand scheme of things.

On a lighter note here a picture of an apartment I just thought was adorable.

Neiborhood Apt.

I like the doors and the cheerful flowers on the balcony.

That’s it for now. It’s almost 4am here as I write this. We go to bed around 10pm or 11pm and I only sleep for about 3 – 4 hours. So up I get, eat a snack and when I start to feel drowsy, back to bed I go. Same with hubby but he can sleep at the drop of a hat. Freinds and family back home are probably shocked as I am normally a night owl, then sleep in late (when not working) and am so NOT a morning person. Maybe I was a baker in Italia in a previous life!

Ciao for now! DJ*
P.S. I was able to correct the picture in the last post. Hurrah!

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