I have been remiss in posting about my vacation for reasons, not the least of which is, that I didn’t want it to end. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be home really from a country where I don’t speak the language, but it was really beautiful and I really didn’t want to come back to work. Really! Yet, here I am…and I’m now going to avoid the piles of paperwork and tell you all about Tuscany.
Day 1 – We flew out of the U.S. on Mother’s Day and into Rome. It was me, C., her brother J., and their parents T. and P. We packed all our belongings into a Renault Scenic and headed for Florence, or very near Florence. We were staying at an agritourism farm called I Greppi di Silli. Of course, by the time we got there, I was exhausted and not feeling well given my well-documented dislike of air travel. Plus, the hills of Tuscany are no joke and the car ride made me a little nauseous as well. So, I sacked out in a hammock between two olive trees and napped for a while. After dinner at a nearby pizzeria (there was a LOT of pizza in Italy), we settled in for the evening. I awoke sometime in the middle of the night with the worst headache I’ve ever had. The kind that has you laying on the tile floor hoping that the cool hardness will somehow alleviate the pain. Eventually I woke C. up and she got some Excedrin for me from J. which did the trick.
Day 2 – A breakfast of bread, cheese, fresh fruit and espresso started a beautiful sunny morning in Mercatale Val di Pesa. We drove to a city nearby and took the bus into Florence. The bus system in Italy is on the honor system at best. At worst it’s a free for all. I think the idea of bus tickets is a tourism scam. Nobody who lived there bothered with the ticket machine. Anyway, after some gelato, a quick carousel ride, and a walk across the Ponte Vecchio we headed to Palazzo Pitti. The Pitti Palace is a large art museum that used to be a residence for the Medici family and a power base for Napoleon. However, behind the Pitti is Boboli Gardens. I have always loved European gardens and this one was no exception. Always neatly manicured with various ways to get lost inside; filled with sculptures and antiquities that would look positively out of place in my backyard. We had a wonderful tour of both and following that we ate lunch at a little place along the Arno River. Mmm, panzanella and ribollita are both highly recommended. And, of course, no meal would be complete without a gelato.
Following lunch, we journeyed to Santo Croce Chiesa, a church that holds the remains of many famous Italians. Among them, Galileo, Machiavelli, Fermi, Marconi, Michelangelo and several others. Then, it was on to the Accademia, another art gallery, famous for its housing the sculpture David. Oddly enough, they don’t allow pictures of David. I don’t understand why you can’t photograph sculpture. I understand paintings, but not sculpture. Anyway, it is as awesome as you might imagine it to be. As we discussed among our small band, there was no bad angle from which to view him.
Later, back at the farm, we were treated to a wonderful home cooked meal featuring many of the farm’s own ingredients, including wine, olive oil, and honey. A five course meal that was absolutely tantalizing in every respect. Plus, we were able to meet the owners, the Alfanis, and several of the other guests. The meal lasted well into the evening and I was sated and exhausted by the time we turned in.
Day 3 – Today was another gorgeous day in Florence. Our first stop was San Lorenzo, another one of those gorgeous churches that Europe has going for it. But the main stop was the Uffizi Gallery which, like the Louvre, holds entirely too much art to enjoy properly. Still, we made our best effort, enjoying all that we could and I must say that Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and “Primavera” are scintillating in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” was on loan in Tokyo and was not available for viewing. After lunch (and more gelato), we enjoyed the Duomo and the Campanile (Giotto’s Tower). J. and T. opted for climbing up the Dome…after several viewings from the floor, I decided that my mind would not allow my body to do that. However, I did journey to the top of the Campanile which was much more closed in, all 414 steps. I did find, however, that it’s very difficult to take pictures when you have a death grip on the rail with one hand and the hand holding the camera is shaking uncontrollably and there’s only enough space for two people to walk around the top of the tower. So crouching in the fetal position along the wall wasn’t necessarily the best option. I think I did get some nice pictures though (all of which are available on the photo site to the right) and it was good for me to test my limits. After I came down, I visited the Baptistry with the infamous Ghiberti Doors.
Okay…so that’s three days. I have nine actual days, so I think I’ll split this up into small chunks so you don’t get Italy Overload. Plus, it’s been so long since I’ve written that I wonder if I even have readers anymore.
See you in the funny papers!