Italy travelogue, part XIII

We taxi over to the Pitti Palace as it’s quite a ways from our  hotel, and we know there’ll be a lot of walking involved there. Oh boy, was  there.
 
We opt for the garden tour, which includes the silver and porcelain  and costume museums. The ticket clerk says it takes about two hours. Sounds  perfect.
 
Let me say unless we’d power walked through the whole deal we  couldn’t have managed it in two hours. But it was worth it.
 
There’s no silver for quite a while in the silver museum, but what  there is, is amazing, unbelievable ivory carvings. I’ve never seen such work. We  didn’t do this half of the tour when we were here before–opting that time for  the Medici apartments. These works of art are impossibly delicate and intricate.  One has a kind of spiral staircase winding around, hardly big enough for fleas.  So tiny and beautiful. We marvel it could still be in one piece after all these  years.
 
Some are statues–again intricate and beautiful, but many are just  objects d’art, displayed in glass cases under a fantastic trompe d’oeil ceiling.  The ceiling is so beautiful and wonderfully done you can’t tell if there are  real banisters, or if the ceiling’s domed in part. It’s not–just the skill of  the artists. One of the ivory pieces is carved out with a tiny portrait painted  inside, another has a little chandelier suspended in it. It’s impossible to know  how the artists created these little masterpieces.
 
Then a room with cups and bowls and tables made of jasper and agate  and onyx, amethyst, lapis. Some cups are translucent they’re so thin. And the  gold work on them in stunning. The inlaid tables are marvelous, but there’s a  big chest, with the stonework fronting the drawers–and there’s little scenes  painted on the agate if you look close enough. Topping it is a gold clock. 
 
There’s almost too much to take in, every display is more beautiful  than the last. And the ceilings in each room are marvels of their  own.
If I do a heist book, we might have to steal something from  here.
 
There’s jewelry, cameos, and some so thin, again intricate. They  have a display with light under it so you see the stones glow. Rings, bracelets,  earrings–such brilliant craftsmanship.
 
It goes on and on–rooms with bowls and pitchers and objects d’art  made out of shells. Kat’s favorite is the gold snail with its delicate white  shell. Some long ago artist had a sense of humor.
 
We spend over two hours in this area alone before heading out to  the gardens.
 
Now we tackle the hills. Long and steep, the wide stone terraced  steps, to tall hedges, a little maze, statuary along a high wall, and up and up  to Neptune’s fountain, a garden area that’s just baking in the sun, and  views of the hills and cypress on one side, and the wonderful red-tile roofs and  domes of Florence on the other.
 
Stunning views wherever you look. I sit on a bench in the shade for  a bit just to look and look. A group of three woman come sit as well. They’re  not speaking Italian, not Spanish, not French. We finally consider Portuguese.  One is wearing a short leather skirt–she has absolutely gorgeous legs, but a  leather skirt in the hot August sun–I’d have fried.
 
We walk up and up and up, more stunning views, then around to a  kind of look-out. BW and Kat end up on the low road, Jason and I on the high.  Jason and I just stand and look and wait as Kat and BW go into the pretty  building. They report the Medici dwarf–one who was famously painted front and  back on a single canvas, is inside in marble. Riding a turtle.
 
We walk and walk, and the two roads finally meet up so Jason and I  can go down a set of rough steps. We circle around to Cyprus Alley, and the  pretty green park, the big, beautiful trees. People and stretched out on the  grass here, some having picnics in the shade.  Some of the trees are  gnarled and twisted like pieces of art themselves.
 
There’s a vending machine, and as I haven’t eaten anything–two  hours has already stretched into over three–I buy, for a Euro, Freaky  Fries. Pretty freaking freaky. They’re shaped like French fries but with a  square hole in each end, and taste a bit like really stale Pringles. But they  did the trick.
Oh, we also see a HUGE stone tub. Like if you were going to have a  big orgy and invite half the neighborhood. It’s empty, but I think it must’ve  been part of a fountain.
 
By the time we go down, down, down and down again to the rear  courtyard, we’ve taken about four hours here. Wouldn’t have missed  it.
 
There’s an enormous pot filled with intensely pink lantana. I’ve  never seen it in quite this color, and it’s just beautiful.
 
We’re going to skip the other areas, and walk following the exit  signs. We come to the Medici Grottos. Amazing, fantastic. The exterior of what  must have been a large cave is painted and tiled and all of the art is worked  around what looks like underwater stone. Gobs of it, used as part of the art.  The walls inside, partially smoothed and fresco’d use this same treatment for  portraying people, animals, trees. Sheep, goats, a goatherd. It’s eerie and  wonderful.
 
Two low stone walls front narrow tiled trenches I imagine were  filled with water. In the corners are deliberately unfinished sculptures. It  looks as if those the figures are forcing their way out of the stone. An  archway leads back to a lovely statue of–I think–Venus.
 
We walk back, navigating the busy streets in search of food and  wine. We stop at the place we had lunch our first day. I’m too beat to think, so  go for a pizza. Easy and always good. This is the wine Kat liked best of all  we’ve had, so she asks for the house red again (I do, too), and asks the server  what is it.
 
The best he can do is Chianti.
 
We eat, drink, recharge, rest tired feet. A couple sits at the  table next to me. Has their meal in absolute silence. I can FEEL the tension  between them. I don’t think their day’s gone very well.
 
Kat signals the proprietor, asks about the wine and if they have  bottles. Happily they do, so now she has a bottle, and knows exactly what it  is.
 
We head back, and as Jason and Kat have more shopping to do, break  off from them. I just want two more scarves for gifts, and that’s easy. We find  the exchange Kat and I couldn’t find a couple days ago–and when I change twice  as much as BW–the woman smiles and says: Your wife does more  shopping.
 
Yes, I do!
 
Along the narrow streets, winding through, and back to Piazza Santa  Croce. I find two pretty scarves, and my day is done.
 
Must pull it together shortly and pack for tomorrow, and the drive  into Tuscany. We’ll probably eat late, in the piazza, and tomorrow say ciao to  one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
 
Nora

Italy travelogue, part XII

I went out for about an hour solo. The early evening light was so  beautiful, and the piazza less crowded. Many dogs out. I watched a woman kick an  empty plastic water bottle for her leashed German Shepherd. He’d leap after it,  fetch enthusiastically to his own delight, and the delight of several  children.
 
Wandered into a jewelry store. It’s almost a crime not to buy gold  in Florence, and I do love jewelry. Lots of pretty, pretty things. I’m very  attracted to a wide, white gold bracelet. A tight mesh band, and a lovely,  glittery central clip. But it’s far too big for my skinny wrist.
 
Fun to wander around looking, though–and the clerk who helped me  (a Brit who’s lived here for years) shows me more pretty things. No, no,  no–like the jacket it has to jump out and say: Nora, I’m yours!
 
And a gorgeous ring does. A wide white gold band, Florentine-made.  A delicate filigree with thin bands of yellow gold framing it and a small  central sapphire. I love it–and it fits!! So it’s obviously mine. 
 
Delighted, I wander out, and find a pretty, breezy dress at a  stall. One size, I’m told–which I hope accounts for the American ass. But at  the price if it doesn’t fit me, it’ll fit someone I know and  love.
 
When I get back, Kat is arranging all the bags and belts purchased  for a little photo shoot. LOL. I knew she’d figure out how to best display them,  using her artist’s eye. Between her and BW we have a great  picture.
 
Photos by Bruce Wilder
Photos by Bruce Wilder
It’s off to dinner, and we go back to our first and favorite  trattoria. Pasta, salad, wine, all so good as night slowly slides in, and the  light changes. Santa Croce is so stunning against the bold blue of the day sky,  but even more beautiful against the deep purple of night.
 
All through the meal, we’re serenaded by a musician who sings,  plays the guitar–occasionally the harmonica. He mostly covers American or Brit  ballads–the Stone’s Angie, Lauper’s Time After Time, Simon and Garfunkle, The  Beatles, Pink Floyd, etc. He’s got a Dan Fogleburg vibe to him. A lovely tenor.  He gets applause from people in and around the square, and plays throughout our  very leisurely meal, about three hours.
 
We bought his CD–and I think he sold many. I hope it was as good  an evening for him as it was for us.
 
This morning I think I’ll do a ballet-inspired workout DVD for its  cardio, core and leg work. Not sure what we’ll do today, our last here in  Florence, but it has to include packing (all those bags!!) for our departure to  the Tuscan countryside tomorrow. Also think I need a couple more scarves as  back-up gifts–and Kat realized out of ALL the bags, she bought not one for  herself. That must be remedied.
 
Nora

Italy travelogue, part XI

It’s officially the year of the bags.
 
Before we left, and as I was prepping for my yoga session, the  woman across the way and I opened our windows at the same time. An exchange of  smiles and buongiornos. And the parakeet sings and chatters happily while I do  my up dogs and down dogs and half moons.
 
We toddled out late morning, on a hunt for champagne. I just can’t  handle the sweetness of prosecco or spumanti. Scored that, so I’m laying some by  for our second week when we head into Tuscany.
 
My secondary hunt for a leather jacket is over! It was one of those  I must see it, love it deals. And I did. A rich ruby red–rather than the  Michael Jackson red I’ve seen a lot of here. And no boob zippers. Hip length,  nicely fitted–and the one on the display fit me perfectly. Double pockets with  zippers at the hip, nice detailing. And now mine from David 2 on the way to the  Piazza della Republicano.
 
Browse through a big tented bookstore, and found Homeport in  Italian. BW wants to take some pictures so Kat and I wander over to the  stalls.
 
Big scores for her! Bags and more bags–so her Christmas list is  also heavy in this area. Really lovely bags of soft, soft leather than will  crush and roll easily for packing. I grabbed a new, crushable sunhat–it’s good  to have one here, and talked BW into one for himself.
 
Wandering on, and more bags! LOL. Jason, who’s been conflicted re  the man bag–not quite big enough to hold his laptop, not quite the thing–finds  this amazing briefcase/man bag/backpack. Can be used three ways, and will hold  his laptop, etc. Mama buys it for him as there have been no sandals that call  his name. And he buys a gorgeous wheeled overnight bag in merlot leather. Kat  finds more bag gifts! And these fit easily inside the wheeled overnight, along  with the briefcase/backpack.
 
We find it interesting that over by the big cafes, the two guys out  hawking for business–though both side-by-side places are pretty packed–are  arguing as they protect their territory. And in the stalls, the guy next to  where we bought the carry-on continued to hype his version (Jason didn’t like  the texture) even after he bought his. Competition is fairly fierce in this  area.
 
We pick one of the cafes, have a nice lunch. Jason finally finds a  calzone–and it’s HUGE. It’s a busy, bustling place, very nice food, more  upscale misters.
 
There’s a carousel near the big Roman arch here, that moves at a  sedate pace and seems to amuse the kids. It’s a bit quieter today, maybe due to  the holiday, but it still seems to me there can be no one left in Asia. I know  it’s a really big place, but two out of every three tour groups we see are  Asian. It has to be the big time to come to Europe from Japan and/or  China.
 
BW goes off the take pictures and the rest of us haul our trophies  home. We go a new way, winding along the streets–many shops closed for The  Assumption, which is also a bank holiday. I wonder how the shopkeepers decide to  open or close. Even though the choices are more limited, we did very well. 
 
No gelato today–yet, but it’s so nice and quiet here in the room  we might just laze awhile. Someone was playing the piano in reception, very  well. A nice little bonus.
 
We may stir ourselves to do The Pitti Palace tomorrow, our last day  in Florence. Or not. We’ll check our moods in the morning.
 
Nora

Italy travelogue, part X

We continue to have the most glorious weather. A balmy evening,  perfect for outdoor dining. After some debate, we return to the little trattoria  where we ate last night. Pots of sage on the table for us  tonight.
 
A long, leisurely meal, sitting elbow to elbow with a young couple.  Not American, not Brit, but the common language with the waiter seems to be  English. They’re both tall and blond and pretty, so I wonder Scandinavian maybe.  I should’ve just asked them. They get some gorgeous cheese plate to share,  served on a stand like pizza.
 
A guy comes by, sets up and plays the clarinet for awhile. He has  some backpack deal that adds other instruments to his. I expect he goes from trattoria to trattoria picking up coins as he goes.
 
We’re too full for dessert, but the waiter brings out a  bottle–obviously from the frost out of the freezer. Tiny glasses. It’s STRONG  and interesting, and Jason points out it tastes a bit like Nyquil. And it does!  LOL. We find out it’s made from herbs, so maybe that counts for the medicinal  taste. But we manage to drink it–it’s pretty good Nyquil. And it may account  for the excellent night’s sleep.
 
Going to take it easy today–that’s the plan that’s not a plan.  Plus I believe lots of places will be closed today to honor the BVM’s  Assumption.
 
I think I’ll do the full 75 minute Yoga flow with Zirka Landwitt–a  favorite and an excellent stretch for body, mind and soul after the 12,000 steps  (five miles!) of walking yesterday.
 
Nora

Italy travelogue, part IX

Another day full of art. We walk to Santa Croce through wonderful  almost wild breezes. It’s close, and the line’s short–and I remember how lovely  it is inside.
 
My memory doesn’t fail. Those high ceilings, the stained glass, the  pantings and sculpture. All the floor tombs. It always feels a little  disrespectful at first to walk over someone’s tomb, but as the floor’s covered  with them, there’s no other way.
 
I love Dante’s big elaborate wall tomb–the statues around it, the  reverence of them. And Michelangelo’s. The main altar’s under restoration and  covered with scaffolding. When do they work? I think they must work at night,  and how fascinating that would be.
 
I love the arched niches with the small altars, the pieces of old  frescos.
 
People are quiet and respectful as they wander here.
 
Macheavelli’s buried here–or as Jason said: Or IS he?  LOL.
 
There’s a plaque out in the lovely begonia covered courtyard for  Florence Nightingale. I’m not sure if it’s because of her name or if she had  some connection to the city.
 
We go into another area through the outside, full of wall vaults  from the 1800s
 
There’s a chapel attached to the main church that took over a half  century to build–a little delay in there when the Medicis fell out of  favor.
 
Out to the piazza and the wind, and a walk that takes a closer to  the Accademie–and lunch.
 
In the shadow of The Duomo again, but a new place, and it serves us  very well.
 
We walk on and arrive to queue up right on time. Beautiful displays  of art, starting with the tempora, all that gold leaf, vivid colors. Mary is  once more the star, often with her infant snuggled in her left arm, with various  saints or angels looking on.
 
We wander into an exhibit of musical instruments. I don’t remember  this from our previous trip. It’s wonderful. Harpsichords, violas, cellos,  pianofortes–brass and flues. And hurly-gurlys. They’re so  beautiful.
 
More religious art–some of it depressingly dour, some brilliant,  and out to the main room and The David.
 
He’s just as glorious as I remember. Almost impossible to believe,  in size and scope, in every amazing detail–the cut of muscle you can all but  see ripple, the veins in the hands, the shoulders. The calm, heroic detail of  the face, even the ears. He’s so perfect you wouldn’t be surprised to see him  turn his head, step down and walk.
 
The image is so ubiquitous the sheer magnificence of the reality  makes only more of an impact.
 
I go back go him a number of times, comparing him to the  half-finished work on display, even to Donnatello’s David–a favorite of mine in  bronze. (The one with the hat and the, to me, cocky yeah, I can handle this  expression.) Michelangelo’s David simply stands alone.
 
An impressive afternoon.
 
Walking back, still sort of scouting for sandals for Jason–and Kat  finds some adorable ones in a soft, sagey blue for herself. I haven’t spotted a  jacket that says BUY ME, so I’m holding off until I do.
 
But there was gelato–a mix of strawberry and mint for me. Just the  prefect thing after a cultural day.
 
Kat and I head off, with the guys heading back, to find the cash  exchange place with the excellent rate. We KNOW where it is, but it’s just not  there. We decide it must’ve closed for the day, so settle for the second best  rate, then back home to recover from a full day on our feet.
 
Just Facetimed with our two oldest grandkids. What fun and  silliness. Now we’ll take it easy.
 
I think it might be pizza for me tonight.
 
The hardest decision I’ll have to make all day!
 
Oh! We have the windows open and hear the little parakeet across  the street singing away.
 
Nora

Italy travelogue, part VIII

Lovely evening–it gets repetitive, but there it is. Tried a new  trattoria, and weren’t disappointed. I liked the charm of pots of rosemary and  thyme on the table. And the spicy tomato sauce for my penne. A pretty insalada  mista, and since the desserts were so tempting, we all indulged. Much happiness  all around the table. Walked to the nearby market for more water, and my cold  caffeine.
This morning I finally saw the little green parakeet in the cage  through the apartment window across the narrow street. He seems very happy in  his situation. I’ve only seen the human occupants twice. Once at night as the  couple sat together watching TV, and once when the woman shook a colorful rug  out the window.
This morning it was a sweaty session of pilates with some  resistance since I’ve only been lifting shopping bags, or a fork. That should  set me up for the day. It was interesting doing so much on my back mat work  looking up at the painted ceiling. The centerpiece is a young angel holding a  long tassel. He’s smiling. I don’t know if he was amused by my workout or  approving of the effort.
We’re off to see the David this afternoon, but I’m after some  walking beforehand due to all that fork lifting.
Another pretty blue sky today, and the light coming through the  windows is bright and vivid. It shines on the yellow stucco and dark green  shutters of the building next door.
Nora

Italy travelogue, part VII

florence-002
A long day full of art.
 
We head out and minutes after hitting the Piazza San Croce I spot  the prefect things for my last two granddaughters. An adorable pink backpack/bag  just the right size for 5-year-old McKenna. And a bigger, bag that converts to a  backpack and will hold an iPad in purple for 11-year-old Kayla. Jason and Kat  also find some Christmas gifts, so Jason trots everything back to the hotel.  Literally a couple minutes away, and why carry all that stuff all  day?
 
Grandchildren gifts for I went to Italy and you didn’t, checked  off!
 
We walk to the Uffizi, and since we have plenty of time, pick a  trattoria for lunch in the busy Piazza della Signoria. Kat orders a side of  Florentine peas, which I discover are basically done with butter, pepper and  herbs–like I make at home. Who knew?
 
We relax and eat, and toward the end of our meal I see the  accordion player I gave a Euro to by the fruit stalls yesterday has wandered in  to play for the lunch crowd.
 
We still have time to kill so opt to walk around a bit more. Score more Christmas stuff. At this rate I’ll be left with only my immediate family,  and what I don’t do before, I’ll likely finish up when we go to NY in Oct.  Nice!
 
Around to the Uffizi, and door number one as directed. A short  wait, then we shuffle on in. We climb, climb, climb to the top floor, so Kat’s  fitbit should register several flights of stairs today. It’s sculpture for the  most part here. Incredible marble. I wonder, always, how the artist makes the  folds on the togas so fluid, so perfect.
 
The ceilings here are an art show in themselves. Jason wondered  they don’t do some sort of reclining wheel chair run so you could just marvel at  the gloriously painted ceilings without craning your neck. In marble, there are  Roman warriors, important (I assume) political figures, gods, goddesses. I love  Cupid and Psyche as they always look happy and playful.
 
The paintings in the first stretch are the bright colors and gold  leaf religious works. So bold and bright–lots of lots of BVMs and Baby Jesus.  And the first I’ve seen of Mary nursing her baby. Sweet.
 
Some of the ceiling art is whimsical–a satyr and his companion on  four panels of a section, and in the last the companion is bent over, toga  flipped up while the satyr prepares to shoot an arrow at his butt. All on the  painted section seem to be having a rollicking good time.
 
We move on to another room with paintings, and the focal point is  unmistakable a Michelangelo. God, God, magnificent color, light, movement. A  round, religious study, our Madonna again–and you see instantly even if you  know nothing much of art, why he was the master. I can’t possibly describe it  and do it justice, but I could have stood for hours just looking at  it.
 
Unfortunately so could everyone else in the Uffizi.
 
Other paintings in the room are truly beautiful, but nothing comes  close to this.
 
Another room–and you can only go to the doorway–was added on in  (I think) the 1500s. I’ve lost the name of the architect now, but he went all  out for the Medici who commissioned it. Shells sunk into the plaster walls so  they glimmer and gleam, gilt ceilings, crystals, lots of red. The room is a  small masterpiece of art and opulence.
 
I come across a HUGE painting, one BW tells me is pretty gruesome.  I guess so as it depicts the slaughter of the innocents–all those male babies  killed by Herod’s decree in his attempt to off the infant Christ. I don’t know  why anyone would want to paint this or have it. I simply can’t look at it,  though I imagine it was brilliantly done.
 
But I also find a personal favorite. Poor, baffled San Sebastian  with the arrows that martyred him poking out of his thin body. I don’t know why  I feel such amusement and pity for this particular saint, but he always strikes  me the same way. More martyrs–San Lorenzo, Saint Margaret, lots of a  hippie/hoboish John the Baptist. And one of a sly Salome holding his head on a  platter.
 
Much death and destruction in the art, and I prefer the happier  ones of The Annunciation, or Madonna and Child, the BVM’s Corronation–or the  canny sculptures of centaurs and goddesses.
 
We wander down to an exhibit of the Medicis–portraits or art  purchased by them. The portraits are just lovely–one of a happy baby Medici  just makes me smile. I have no idea what kind of life he led, but as a baby, he  had the happiest face.
 
Then that era of art that’s so dark with some portion of it  illuminated. And somewhere along the line a big painting–an allegory, I  suppose–of a king (we speculate King Louis) in the bottom corner with a lion,  and many men in dark clothes apparently fascinated or appalled by a small dog. 
 
I find a still life of flowers I think is lovely–until I spot the  rifle and the dead rabbit.
 
Fascinating, gorgeous, educational. About three hours well spent. 
 
We finally make our way out, and my next goal is gelato. Kat and  Jason stop at a market for some lemoncello for her dad, and other fun food. BW  and I wander until we find gelato–pistachio for him, chocolate for me. I can  attest the chocolate was rich and wonderful with little bits of chocolate mixed  through.
 
Jason and Kat catch up, get theirs, and it’s back to the hotel. An  adult beverage, well earned. And plans to walk toward San Croce and a trattoria  for dinner about eight.
 
Tomorrow is the Acadamie and the master’s David.
 
A fine day. Shopping, culture, food and drink. Really, what more  could you ask for?
 
Nora

Italy travelogue, part VI

Everyone needed to recharge with looooong naps. I never nap, so the  fact I went out for two hours means the walking, walking, walking of the last  couple of days earned one.
 
We polished off the recharge with room service. Just perfect. 
 
Added more recharging this morning with yoga to work out all the  kinks and power up.
 
We have the windows open. I just heard what had to be a big family  walk by–chattering in Italian, over and across each other. Then someone  strolling by whistling a happy tune.
 
Today’s main goal is the Uffizi this afternoon, so I expect we’ll  get a late start out of here this morning. Main shopping goal for me is to find  something for Kayla and McKenna as I’ve covered the rest of the grandkids. 
 
It’s a very fortunate thing I left lots of room in one of my  suitcases for purchases. But most have been gifts. Well, except for two pairs of  sandals, two handbags and a scarf for me. But what can you do? But it’s pretty  great to have whacked down my Christmas list so well in August.
 
BW’s heading to breakfast, my signal to hit the shower. And hope it  doesn’t hit back.
 
Nora

Italy travelogue, part V

Nora and family are in Italy for two weeks and she’s sharing the experience with us all.  Sit back and enjoy!
Laura

Another gorgeous day. We head out late morning for the walk to  Palazzo Strozzi where there’s a Renaissance exhibit. First we’re going to change  money at the bank on the corner. You can only go in through a tube-like door one  at a time–and you can’t take any sort of bag. Once we figure that out, I go in  only to find they don’t change money there.

But it was an interesting and surreal experience.

Along the way to the palace we spot a fruit and vegetable stall.  It’s tucked into a kind of dead end along one of the narrow  roads.

The colors are so incredible. I swear the strawberries didn’t look  real, they were so deliciously red. Plump tomatoes, zucchini with the wonderful  flowers still attached. Kat hadn’t seen damsons before–we had a tree in the  yard where I grew up. So she buys a couple to try. I’d have done the same if I  hadn’t just eaten a huge plum from the hotel fruit basket.

We walk on, with BW navigating with the map, across piazzas, down  little streets–and there’s a shop with the most adorable baby clothes. Hand  knit, crochets embroidery. The sweetest dress for my youngest granddaughter, Quinn, and the cutest little hooded sweater/jacket for her twin, Colby.  Incredible workmanship, so very special.

We realize we need stamps after we spot a post office, so Jason and  Kat go in to deal with it, and I wander the stalls outside. Score another  Christmas present.

On we go, and BW winds us around to the Strozzi. The entrance leads  to a wide, interior courtyard with a cafe. Lots of people sitting on benches in  the cool. We check our bags, get our tickets, and start through the  exhibit.

Amazing art. 14-1500, but there’s a stone bust from the second  century. Lots of Donatello–bronzes, marbles, wood, terra cotta. Religious and  classical heroic figures, and just out there. Not behind glass. I see  Donatella’s St. George and the Dragon. Fantastic. A grinning boy with a hole at  the end of his penis–he was a fountain. Peeing fountains, the plaque tells us  were very popular.

I suppose the amusement factor for such things is, was and will be  part of the human condition.

Many, many Madonnas with Child–and she always seems to be holding  Jesus on her left arm. Jason imagines she had a gun of steel on that arm. 

I love the ones where she’s cuddling him and they both look so  happy.

It’s absolutely wonderful, from the sculptures to the paintings,  all displayed in big, airy rooms with benches for those who want to sit and  absorb.

At the end of the exhibit there’s a long table set up with tiles of  stone, wood, leather, marble, bronze. You’re invited to sit, touch, consider the  textures, what you prefer. You can fill out a postcard with a drawing or  thoughts on your feelings. They’ve displayed many, and I enjoy looking through  them.

Back out we go, and wander toward the Duomo, decide to have  lunch–a lovely salad for me with a dressing of melted gorganzola.  Delicious!

I see more girls/women with black tights or leggings under their  dresses. WHY??? It’s not only hot but if it’s fashionable it’s still  unattractive–and just silly when the temps are in the 90s.

It’s nice to sit, eat, drink, talk–and have the little mists of  cool water trickle down now and then from the awning to cool us off. 

Kat spots a woman with a bundle of scarves, and one is simply  beautiful. The sale is done over the rail between the trattoria and the piazza.  Nice work!

As the line for the small tour of the Duomo isn’t long, we go for  it. Takes us little time to get in, and I remember so well from my first visit  here how lovely it is. The intense colors of the stained glass, the stunning  painted ceiling  over the main altar area. It’s a reverent space despite  the wandering tourists, but I think as reverent toward art and architecture as  religion.

Once we’re done, we hit the gelateria across the piazza. Mint for  me today–glorious, refreshing, with those little chunks of chocolate to add a  touch of rich.

Another belt stall as Kat’s buying gifts, then the men are tired of  us. LOL. As we’ve another stop to make–a return to a shop–they head back to  the hotel, and Kat and I clean house!

I think I bagged nine more Christmas gifts which basically covers  all my girl pals–and the proprietor, who has no English–is so sweet. Kat finds  a fabulous bag for her laptop.

We haul it all back where I find BW asleep on the  couch.

Tomorrow the Uffizi–and tonight I think very casual and easy again.

Nora

Italy travelogue, part IV

Nora and family are in Italy for two weeks and she’s sharing the experience with us all.  Sit back and enjoy!
Laura
Another gorgeous evening, so warm and breezy. After a long day of  walking–12,000 steps by the end of it according to Kat’s fit bit–the little trattoria nearby is perfect. I’ve got a hankering for Florentine steak, but know  I can’t fit an entire T-Bone in. But they have a smaller deal–steak strips done  in a balsamic sauce with rosemary–and rosemary roasted potatoes.
 
What an inspired choice, even if I couldn’t eat all of it. The  potatoes taste exactly like the ones I often do at home, which is pretty damn  good if I do say so myself, but the steak! I don’t think we could duplicate it.  Just marvelous.
 
And we splurge on a bottle of Barolo. Absolutely  gorgeous.
 
There are shooting stars the next three night, but the sky over the city, at least, was too overcast. I make due once we’re back with a little  sky/people watch from our little balcony. People come and go, come and go, and  near midnight I see an old man shuffling along with a shopping bag and a  briefcase. I wonder what work he does that brings him home so late. He slowly,  slowly, lets himself into the outside door of the apartments across the street.  Fatigue is in every movement.
 
I hope he got as good a night’s sleep as I did.
 
Up late for me–vacation!!!–and start my day off with a mix of  pilates/yoga/ballet moves courtesy of one of my Jennifer Kries DVDs. BW’s down  at breakfast, so I’ll clean myself up and get ready for the day.
 
We’re going to visit a nearby museum and its exhibit of Renaissance  art, and I want to go back to the lady and her shop with the many pretty bags.  We have reservations for the fast track through the lines of the Uffizi tomorrow, and will do the same for The Academie later this week. We hope to get  ourselves up and out early one day for The Duomo, as our marvelous concierge  recommends. Then there’s the can’t miss Pitti Palace. Lots to see and do! 
 
It looks like another perfect blue sky to explore under  today.
 
Nora

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