Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Italy

OK I'm doing it... re-posting an old blog article.  Some of you may know that I used to have a blog years ago - yep, I've looonng been a blabbermouth. 

Combine that with my dreams of travel back to Italy, and the restful part of this snow day affording me some tinker-time with the computer, and here it is:  the "Maserati" part of my inspiration for this blog. Enough about the Motherhood and Melanoma for a minute... let's talk Maserati.  :-)

In 2009 I wrote about my March 2007 trip to Italy (funny, only seven-ish years ago and I happened to notice in the photos that my hair was remarkably darker then than it is now).  Here goes... as I remember it:

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Ahhh Tuscany... it even smells like purple.  I had the memorable pleasure of exploring Florence(Firenze), Italy in March 2007.  Stephen had a three day business trip in Firenze, invited me to tag along, and we took a couple of days on each side to be tourists as well.  Several hundred photos remain of this trip, and I have filled a journal and two photo albums with notes and observations, but for the purpose of this blog I have included just a few of my favourites.  Another excuse to sit and daydream about my experiences there...


We flew from Toronto to Frankfurt, Germany, then on to Milan, Italy, arriving on a Sunday morning.  By early afternoon we had navigated our rental car to Pisa, in Tuscany.  While there we just HAD to see the famous tower, and of course, sample authentic pizza in Pisa, for the kids of course. After a few hours there we got to our hotel in Florence, on the Oltrarno side of the Arno river, away from the touristy downtown core.

 

Pizza in Pisa:
 

Monday we drove to Siena, found breakfast and an unforgettable morning of touring around the stone streets, savouring the pace of life there.  Laundry hung from window sills in the sun, and palm trees dotted the lush vegetation.  Siena is worth another visit, longer next time.

Siena streets:
   

                 Siena grocer:


 

 



Monday afternoon we drove into Florence downtown, and found the Duomo (you wouldn't think that such a large structure could be so hard to find), some lunch in a little ristorante (a real caprese salad!), and walked around the piazza.


  
I won't even begin to describe the food... that would take up the rest of this post.  I love to sample new foods, perhaps even more adventurous when travelling (I wouldn't try octopus in Meaford!).  To say that I have always been a fan of Italian food would be an understatement, so this trip was really a dream come true for me in the ristorante department.


 
That evening we walked from our hotel to a nearby ristorante called La Piazzetta, wonderful place, charming, cozy, hip, everything you might expect from an eatery in fashionable Europe.  We had an entertaining (and sort-of-english-speaking) server who helped us decipher the menu and order a beautiful sampling of local dishes. The pici pasta was unique, Chianti better than any I had tasted at home, and dessert was a surprise, two selections made by our server.  He seemed to know just what we would like and capped off the meal perfectly.  If you are in Florence and want a quiet but fun place to eat delicious authentic food, go to La Piazzetta.

 

We noticed this little car wash while walking off the Grappa. Perfect for their little cars:


Tuesday I was on my own, and I did some extensive walking around the city following my Lonely Planet travel guide to Florence suggested walk tours (excellent - I highly recommend those).  Found so many interesting things.  Ponte Vecchio is still my favourite!

Medieval gate to the city Florence:

Santo Spirito:
 


                    Back of Ponte Vecchio from a private balcony:

                           View Ponte Vecchio from Uffizi Gallery:

               Inside Ponte Vecchio, priceless modern day jewellery:




Wednesday morning I spent at the Uffizi Gallery - breathtaking, indescribable, highlight of the trip for me.  In the afternoon I found the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels).  After a fascinating tour of the interior of the chapels, including an incredibly close look at Michelangelo's marble sculptures 'Night/Day' and 'Dawn/Dusk' as well as some early - incomplete - sketches preserved on the walls, I dazedly wandered through the ancient jewels and treasures displayed on the lower levels.  I was glad I had taken the advice of the jewel merchant behind Ponte Vecchio to see the Medici collection.

                               Behind Medici Chapels:
 




Thursday I set out on another hike, had a few errands and another cashmere pashmina to buy, then up to Piazzale Michelangelo over-looking the city.  The weather was perfect for walking, sunny and warmer than March here, but not blistering hot like summer in Tuscany.  I walked past Fort Belvedere, along the road where Galileo lived for a time, 

<-------- Galileo lived here

and found the monks chanting at San Miniato al Monte, up on the hill above the medieval city.  This place is gorgeous!  Stephen and his Russian colleague met me up at Piazza Michalangelo, and we enjoyed the view before we descended to dinner again downtown.

                                         Fort Belvedere:
                             Exactly like in 'Under the Tuscan Sun'!

                   San Miniato al Monte - romanesque with contrast:
 


                               Remnants of medieval city walls:
 

                 View from Piazzale Michelangelo:


Friday we left Florence to spend a day in Verona before heading back to Milan to fly home early the next morning.  What a trip - as we drove north to Verona we saw incredible orchards and vineyards, unique (and new) architecture as a contrast to the historic vistas of the week.  Had lunch at a sunny caffe in Verona, then toured on foot the arena and several touristy stops.
 
Arena, Verona:

                 The famed balcony of Juliet ~ Romeo... Shakespeare:


Views from atop arena, inside it:
 




It was torture to be so close to Venice but not have enough time to go there - next time for sure. On the way back to Milan from Verona we hit a traffic jam, reminiscent of Toronto, except with way cooler vehicles - not a pick up truck to be seen.  Flights home were good as well, except that Air Canada fed us - of all things - pizza!  (yuck)      Wonderful trip overall, can't wait to go back! 

Bonus pics, love the vehicles...

                                NOT Maserati:




MASERATI:  :-)  :-)  :-)

http://www.maserati.ca/maserati/ca/en/index.html?__utma=262938640.550733385.1416355406.1416355406.1416355406.1&__utmb=262938640.2.9.1416355416288&__utmc=262938640&__utmx=-&__utmz=262938640.1416355406.1.1.utmcsr=google|utmccn=%28organic%29|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=%28not%20provided%29&__utmv=-&__utmk=154903099

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