Category Archives: Adventures

Writing 101 : A Room with a View (or Just a View)

 

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

So here goes.  The place to which I shall refer is the very small, rather strange apartment I occupied when I was in Florence last year.  I have told you how I sold the house, packed my belongings, said goodbye to family and friends and embarked on an adventure to the other side of the world.  To a city, I didn’t know, where I knew nobody and nor did I know the language.  Well as Mother used to say “God looks after fools.”

I arrived in Florence on a Sunday night when all the taxi drivers were taking the night off.  Well, that’s how it seemed to me for after finding the well-hidden taxi stand I had to wait in line for about 20 minutes for a cab to appear.

Having shown the taxi driver the address of the apartment we started on a long journey seemingly from one side of the city to the other.  I had been told that the fare should be around 20 Euros and it was 21 so I was happy.  So now I am outside the apartment building with not a soul in sight as the taxi driver takes his cab off into the night.  It was a very quiet area, no tourists, no bars or cafes and the door at which the cab driver had deposited me was not the right one.  So checking that I was in the right street, I quickly found the right apartment building.

I was met by Ornella the mother of the apartment owner.  Unfortunately, she spoke little or no English but with my little or no Italian we managed to make ourselves understood to each other.  She showed me around the apartment and then gave me a very quick tour of the neighbourhood and after introducing me to Guiliano my next door neighbour she took off carrying the basket containing her two chihuahuas,  I was left to my own devices in a strange country and I was all alone.

The apartment was on the ground floor of a five storey building.  There was no elevator and I could hear people running up and down the stairs, speaking and laughing and I just knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life.  I couldn’t even have coffee because there was no electric jug to boil the water and the lighter for the gas stove had run out of gas.  So after a glass of water, some grapes and a tomato I went to bed.

London and Florence 062

After a good nights sleep, I investigated the apartment.  It was quite small and at the front of the building.  The bedroom window was on the footpath and secured with shutters.  Unfortunately, it didn’t obscure the noise from the busy street outside.  The city had decided that this was the day to start repairing/resurfacing the road outside my bedroom window.

Florence Day 3 2013 001

As well as the rather large bedroom (perhaps Christiane the owner has parties or dances there) there is a living room with kitchen and dining facilities, a bathroom with shower hand basin loo and bidet.  Then in the corner of the living room, there is a staircase leading up to a mezzanine floor where there is a bed.  But one would have to crawl on one’s knees to get to the bed – there certainly is no standing room unless one were a hobbit. The French doors opened onto a rather neglected courtyard.  This was a suntrap and could have been a lovely place to sit and write my posts each day but..nowhere to sit.

I never did manage to use the washing machine nor did I have much success with cooking and most times the shower ran only tepid water, but I enjoyed the 3 weeks I spent in this quaint apartment.  It was unlike any other that I had been in and added greatly to the experience of an elderly lady, living alone in a suburb in Florence where everybody spoke Italian and very few had a few words of English.  But what an adventure.

I went back to the apartment in June with my partner.

Guilianno and family 1

Guiliano and family

With the girls at the pasticerria

We caught up with Guiliano and his family and with the girls at the patisserie where I had breakfast each day during my sojourn in Florence.  My neighbour was overcome with joy at seeing me again and the girls in the patisserie remembered me too.  So that was a great afternoon.

And while this was a very pleasant place to stay, now that I have been back I shall keep it in my memory store and bring it out from time to time over the coming years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Having Fun in Italy

Men in boat

I omitted this photo from the last post.  It shows two men rowing on Lake Como in a typical rowing boat and in a typical stance.

We have been so busy with friends and sightseeing that there seems no time to write my blogs.  So here is a condensed version of the last 11 days.

Week beginning 5 May (what a long time ago that seems)

Galleria Milan

Galleria, Milan

Monday morning found us on an early train from Como to Milan.  I have only ever spent a day in this city many years ago with my late husband so I was looking forward to rediscovering its joys.

Of course, we went to the top of the Duomo and admired the view from such a height.  They are busy cleaning all the stone parapets and adornments – a virtual hive of activity.

Duomo Milan

Duomo Milan2

We took the lift u as far as we could and then climbed the remainder of the stairs.  I wish I were 20 years younger.  Wandering around the roof area we s the men working, suspended high above the street as they cleaned the facade.

Then we went into the Galleria – a wondrous building in which were all the fashionable shops of the world.

Prada Models - Milan

Display window – Prada Shop

And of course, the stunning mosaic floor in the centre

Galleria Mosaic floor Milan

We ate lunch in a rooftop restaurant and looked down on the city.

 

Street in Milan

We were enchanted by the narrow streets once we got away from the hustle and bustle around the city centre.

La Scala Milan

Of course, we went to see La Scala – but what an unimposing building for such a world famous Opera House.

Oh and the crowning glory to the day?  I insisted on a drink in the Galleria – E28 for a G&T and a beer – $NZ44 and $US38.  Not something to be repeated often.

So tired and happy we caught the train back to our friends/family in Como.

Wednesday found us wandering the back streets of Como on our own.

Lane in Como

Como side streetNowhere escapes the scourge of the graffiti artists.

Statue in ComoMy partner, the architect, was entranced by this statue.

Friday found us boarding the express train to Venice.  How I looked forward to this trip – third time lucky for me to visit Venice.

We visited the Rialto Bridge, St Marks Square, the Bridge of Sighs and all the main tourist spots but most of the time was spent in the little alleys and backstreets far away from the hoards of tourists.  One day there were three huge liners docked close in and they each disgorged a couple of thousand tourists.

St Marks Square

St Mark’s Square

Another small canal

A small canal

A quite back street canal

A quiet back street canal

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

We spent several hours at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and I was entranced by the statue garden.

Savour Kindness PG museum

The plaque at the entrance to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum

Another statue PG Garden

In the Peggy Guggenheim Statue Garden

Henry Moore in the Peggy Guggenheim Statue Garden

Henry Moore in the Peggy Guggenheim Statue Garden

Woman statue Peggy Guggenheim Statue Garden

Woman statue Peggy Guggenheim Statue Garden

One day we went to the Jewish Ghetto established in 1516 established under special laws of the Government of the Republic.  Jews were confined to this area and could not leave from sunset till dawn.  The area was closed in by gates watched over by guards.

The Ghetto existed for two and half centuries until Napoleon conquered Venice and tore down the gates allowing Jews the freedom to live wherever they wanted.  Many still live in this small enclave containing houses, restaurants and businesses particular to the Jewish people.

Shops and apartments Jewish Ghetto Venice

Shops and apartments Jewish Ghetto Venice

 

Plaza - Jewish Ghetto Venice

Plaza – Jewish Ghetto Venice

And some 1000 more photos to bore our friends with when we return.

And now we are getting ready for our foray into Spain.  This time our friends in Como will accompany us for the first 12 days, leaving us after Granada.

I hope you are enjoying this trip as much as we are.

Note:  The photographs with dates are mine, all the rest are courtesy of my partner, Jon Craig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Italy Calling

Como 1We are still with our friends in Como and having a really good vacation.

May 1 is a Public Holiday in Italy – Labour Day.  The day dawned bright and clear and it was decided that we would go to the Cernobbio on the lake for coffee and a little look around.

station at ChernobbiThis is a beautiful small place and as we know George Clooney spends much of his time here.  No, we didn’t see him.  We are told that the locals do not make any special fuss for him.  Fortunately, we were with our hosts who knew just what would happen at the lake on such a lovely day – crowds of people flocking there on a mid-week holiday.  So we went early in the day, found a car park and a lovely outdoor cafe for coffee.  Our hosts refer to 10.30 am as cappuccino time.

Market at Chernobbi

Open air market for May Day

We then walked around this lovely small town in the sunshine, people watching and more particularly for my architect partner, building watching.  He is an avid photographer and took many photos.

Shop keeper just opening for the day

Shop keeper just opening for the day

We left before the town became really busy and had a leisurely drive back home for lunch and a leisurely afternoon complete with a siesta.

A very wet day and a very bad head cold kept us housebound for the next day except for the necessary visit to the supermercado.

On Saturday we were invited to dinner with friends.  As they live a short distance away around the lake it was decided to leave early and visit Bellagio on the way to Erba.

Narrow road

But as we know ‘The best laid plans…”  We rounded a bend to be confronted by

cars at crash scene

A walk around the next very narrow bend showed us the reason for this long line of cars

car crash 03:05

This is such a narrow road that all traffic in both directions was at a standstill.  We waited (im)patiently for the police and ambulance to arrive

L1000406i

and after having conversations with various other travelers, we decided to reverse (with difficulty) and take the alternate road high above the lake.  This is not a drive for the faint hearted.  The road drops many metres down to the lake on one side and is two way all the way.

We eventually arrived at our friends house and were all very grateful for the drink that was handed to us as we arrived.

Friendship isn’t a big thing
— it’s a million little things.
Anon

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins

Thursday, April 24/14. 

At last, after a fairly hectic few days, we are at the start of our journey.  To get to Como from Wellington we have three flights.  Wellington/Auckland – 1 hour; Auckland/Hong Kong – 12 hours and Hong Kong/Malpensa, Madrid – 13 hours.  This is followed by a 40-minute car ride to Como.

The adventure is just beginning and a charming young Asian steward brought a glass of champagne before the plane took off.  Then the purser appeared with a beautifully produced menu for lunch.  I chose salmon with apple and wasabi mayonnaise salad, followed by stir-fried prawns with XO sauce, jasmine rice and vegetables.  Delicious.  But before lunch, the same young Asian man brought me a perfectly mixed Bloody Mary complete with a small bottle of Tobasco sauce as he didn’t know how much to put into the drink.

We had fully flat beds and after such an early start they looked very appealing.

It is a few years since I was last in Hong Kong and the changes to that airport are amazing,

And the Cathay Pacific lounge has to be seen to be believed.  It is without a doubt the most beautiful airline lounge I have been in.  Carrara marble on every surface and while that sounds awful it was absolutely beautiful.  They call this lounge The Bridge as it bridges two areas each complete with bars and cafes with every type of food imaginable.  But who really wants to eat after a 13-hour flight?  We had some broth and a cup of coffee.

We had four hours wait in this fabulous lounge.  And even at 12 midnight, the shops were open offering high-class goods.

Friday, April 25

Then it was time for the next leg of our journey.  This time I slept most of the way – all through dinner and the next round of snacks.  It is great to be able to stretch out in full-length beds and sleep the hours away.  Breakfast was served and suddenly we were beginning our descent into Malpensa.

Our friends were at the airport to meet us and drive us to their home for a few days rest and recuperation after our long flight.

In Italy, April 25 is a public holiday – Liberation Day.  It marks the fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, towards the end of the second World War.   This is also a public holiday in New Zealand – ANZAC Day.  It commemorates the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at Gallipoli, Turkey, during World War I in 1915. This event, also observed in Australia, remembers all New Zealanders who served their country in wars and conflicts. Links to posts written for Anzac Day 2011, 2012 and 2013 are at the end of this missive.

As everybody was on holiday the whole family came for lunch on a glorious spring day.  Small children, adult children and their spouses all gave us a great welcome to Italy. It was such a lovely spring day that we ate outside in the gazebo. But once the family went home, we retired to our beds for a welcome siesta.

Saturday, April 26

Another lovely warm spring day and so after breakfast we went into Como to parade around, look at the lake and do some people watching.  But first, our host had to have coffee.  What a beautiful old city this is.  The church, Duomo, is 12th Century and we decided against going into it as there were so many people around.  Instead we chose to just wander around for several hours.

Then back to our hosts’ house for another siesta.  We were becoming very used to this custom by now.

Sunday, April 27

All the family came to lunch again.  As it rained heavily we were all in the house and the children became a trifle grumpy as they couldn’t get out to play.

Monday, April 28

Today it rained as if it would never stop.  Typical spring weather in Italy we are told.  Good friends of our hosts came for lunch which went on well into the afternoon following which we had another siesta.

Tuesday, April 29

A wet start to the day but it improved to hot sunshine later.  We went into Como for the necessary espresso and to acquire Italian sim cards for our phones.  But we didn’t have our passports with us and so we had to go back home to retrieve them.

We did some window shopping, bought another suitcase and had lunch in a restaurant atop a four-story building affording fantastic views of both the Duomo and the lake.

Buying sim cards and a USB for the internet proved to be more difficult than we expected.  Vodafone would not take a credit card or cash for the USB and after trying several of our cards our host came to the party with a cash card to pay for the connection.  With the difficulty of language, their not taking our credit cards or cash this transaction took over an hour.  So we were all pleased to find somewhere for coffee and then go home again.

“The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
― G.K. Chesterton

Links to ANZAC Day Posts

 

Home Again

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver, 1935 –

Well now a change in lifestyle for me.

I arrived home safely from my European adventure.  And what an adventure that was.  After almost 11 weeks I was happy to be back home and ready to begin the next phase in this life.

I have lived alone for 15 years since my Dashing Young Scotsman died and thought I would spend the rest of my life so.  I was happy with my family, friends and a little dog and then into this settled life came another Dashing but older man, to take me to pastures new.  He has a passion for music, for travel and as an architect, for beautiful buildings.   Of course, we plan to go back to Florence together in the New Year.

So lots of pluses to this new life.  But there are some major changes to get used to when living daily with another.  For so many years I made decisions, appointments and plans with no thought for another.  Now there are two of us to consider.  I think when living alone one does become rather selfish and so it’s very good to have to stop and think before I say “Yes” to an invitation.  The other person must be considered too.  I am learning here.

We are very involved in selling this current house (see the garden view into the beech forest as the header to the blog) and building another house.  Daily I am involved in decisions on the new house and it’s very exciting.

And I am so excited.  My sister in London has agreed to come for a visit in the New Year.  None of my family has ever been here so I shall enjoy showing her this beautiful country and introducing her to my friends and my special friend when she gets here.

So much to look forward to and so much to be grateful for.  Each day I note all the things for which I am grateful my health, my lifestyle, my friends, my family.

I have been absent from the blogosphere for a few weeks while I become adjusted to this new way of life, but now I am back.  I hope/expect to have more adventures in the future (and at present) that I should like to share with you.

“…and there was a new voice which you slowly
recognised as your own, that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do –
determined to save the only life you could save.”
Mary Oliver – The Journey

Tie a Yellow Ribbon

The siren call of home has sounded and each day it is getting   louder.  It is now 10 weeks since I kissed my family and special friend goodbye at Wellington airport and set off on this adventure.  And what an adventure it has been.

Wellington August 2013 040

First I visited my sister in London and we did things that sisters would do if they saw each other on a regular basis.  We don’t but we make up for it when we do meet.  We visited family, and aged aunt with Alzheimer’s (although we discovered she is only a few years older than us), cousins, nieces and a special blogging buddy in Oxford.

Sisters

Originally our plans were to both go to Florence, hut these plans were dashed when my sister had to have a series of tests after suffering what was thought could be a heart attack.  She wasn’t allowed to fly so I went on my own.

I felt rather shaky on the day I left London.  I was going off alone to a country where I knew nobody and didn’t speak the language.  But what a great time I had there.  I found my way around very easily and quickly felt at home in this wonderful city.  Paris is described a the City of Light but for me now Florence will always have that soubriquet.

I discovered all the wonderful buildings and artwork that I had read about so many times in the past but I also discovered the back streets where lesser known wonders were housed.  I discovered the joys/benefits of living in an apartment in a suburb as opposed to living in a five-star hotel in the centre of town.  And there is a certain freedom in being somewhere where one is not known and one knows no-one.

I have waxed on and on about the wonders of this now my favourite city in earlier posts and so wont bore you here, but if you have missed them or if you are a new reader of this blog please click here to read of my adventures.

Il Duomo

Click the photo to read some of the posts on my visit to Florence

After almost three weeks the call of family and home was becoming stronger and so I left Florence and went back to London to decide on the next leg of this journey/adventure/experience.  The decision was made that I should return home and resume normal life albeit slightly differently because now my partner and I have decided we want to spend the rest of our lives together.  So another chapter in this long and colourful life is beginning.

Wellington city and harbour.

Wellington City and harbour. Via Wikipedia

Changes to the airline ticket have been made and I am now going home on Saturday 2 November – that’s only “four more sleeps” and I am getting excited about seeing family and friends again. Oh I shall miss my sister,the interaction, laughs,stories and jokes but it is time for normal service to be resumed.

China Southern Airlines

Because of the mix up on the way to London the airline has upgraded me to First Class travel home.  I another reason to be looking forward to Saturday.  I am looking forward to it.

So I will be off-line for a few days, but watch this space.

“Is it possible for home to be a person and
not a place?”
Stephanie Perkins,  American author

Day 19 – Farewell Florence

“We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go,
we take a little of each other everywhere.”
Tim McGraw, American singer, songwriter and actor 1967 –

Yesterday I was up quite early to finish packing and tidying up the apartment before I left.    I did allow enough time to go for a final macchiato and brioche at my favourite pasticerria.  As I was leaving I said goodbye and in halting Italian I said that I was going back to London.  This caused a flurry of ciaos, and what I took to be good wishes as I left promising to return.  What a lucky find that little place was and how friendly all the staff were – the owner spoke not a word of English and two of the staff knew enough to understand what I what I was asking for but I did feel a genuine rapport with these people.

Packed ready to leave

Packed and ready to leave

Then back to the apartment to await the taxi.  At 10.25 the neighbour knocked on the door to tell me the cab was due any time.  We took out my bags (note here what started as one bag morphed into two because of all the Italian leather goods I bought as gifts) and waited on the pavement for the cab.  We had a pleasant conversation and then he left having kissed me on both cheeks, shaken my hand and telling me that if the cab didn’t arrive to come and knock on his door so that he could sort it out.  I marvel at how two people who don’t speak each others language manage to communicate.

It reminded me of one time when we were in Hong Kong staying at a friend’s apartment the air conditioning didn’t work.  My friend’s Amah and my late husband managed to communicate and we were told that the maintenance man  would come that afternoon to fix the problem.  I would think that understanding Chinese is rather more difficult that understanding Italian.

Taxis waiting at The Duomo

All roads do lead to The Duomo.

Anyway back to Florence. The cab duly arrived and the cheerful driver made some comment about ladies not travelling light and humped my suitcases into the back of his cab.

When we arrived at the airport he went off and got me a trolley.  I would never have found one if left to my own devices.

It was quite warm 24 degrees Celsius and the airport was awash with people.  I had to purchase an extra bag because my ticket only allowed for one.  So 70 Euros($NZ116/$US96) later I joined the long queue for bag drop off for Air France.  I am glad that I arrived at the airport early because this took a loooong time.

And my partner says my bag is too large

And my partner says my bag is too large

There are no air-bridges at least for these short hop flights and so we were taken out to the plane in a bus – standing room only.  We then had to climb a flight of stairs.  A really beautiful young French steward took my in flight bag and then asked if I was travelling alone.  When I answered in the affirmative he gave me a seat in the Business Class section.  He had the most beautiful smile and a wonderful accent.  I think I am in love.

So I had s very pleasant flight to London.

On arrival the customs hall was empty and so even though I had nothing to declare we went straight through.  Simple, easy arrival.

London taxis

Next job find a cab.  This was easy as there were many Black London cabs lined up.  I got into one with a garrulous Cockney driver.  Unfortunately, he didn’t know where my sister’s address was and his satnav was no help.  Eventually after driving around for a time, I saw an intersection I recognised and directed him from there.  His satnav was still telling him to turn left when we turned right.  My advice to him was to throw the thing out of the window.

After a reviving coffee accompanied by laughs and catching up what we had each been doing for the past few weeks, we had dinner – fish and chips as only the British can make them.  Great.

Then it was time to visit Marianne’s family who were all at the local hall enjoying a children’s Halloween party.  Noisy, rambunctious, over excited children and their mothers, but what fun these people were all having.  I have never been involved with a group of like-minded but very different people.  Some travellers (read gypsies) live locally and they apparently join in with all the activities.  The party was supposed to finish at 8pm but the mothers decided they wanted to dance and dance they did.  Then some of the fathers arrived and some of the boxers (the party was held in the Pedro Youth Club which supports local youth and promotes and encourages boxing).  Please click on the link – my two nieces are involved in the club, one does all the administration on a volunteer basis and the other is also a volunteer.  It is a worthy cause in a deprived area and James Cook who heads the club is a well-respected person in the area.  The party finished around 10.30pm after all the mothers helped to tidy and vacuum the place ready for another party today, Saturday.

So another busy day ended. My sister’s “recycled” but shy cat has decided that I am alright and is sitting watching me as I type.

“Women and cats will do as they please,
and men and dogs should relax and
get used to the idea.”
Robert A. Heinlein, American novelist and
science fiction writer.  1907 – 1988

 

Florence Day 18

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver,  American poet
1935 –

Pig

One must stroke the pig’s nose to ensure one will return to Florence

This morning I had no internet access, nor could I send or receive text messages.  I felt totally alone in a foreign environment and thought about how we have all come to rely on technology to make our days run smoothly.  The internet is pretty patchy here and seems to work well for several hours and then like today it will go off.  So patience is called for.  But I am so glad when I am traveling alone that I have access to this technology.

File missing

Now this stay in Florence is being cut short and this is the last day, as tomorrow I shall catch a plane to London and my family there.

Sisters

I have enjoyed finding my way around this most beautiful city, learning a few words of the language and mostly managing to make myself understood.  But I shall miss jumping on the buses to get around.  The public transport system is amazing; I have never waited more than 10 minutes for a bus.  Taxis are a little different.  One cannot just hail a cab here as one does at home.  They have to be picked up at the taxi stands which are few and far between or alternatively ordered by phone.

Bus

So today was a day for packing and tidying up and getting ready to leave.

Courtyard

Courtyard

 Entrance hall

My friendly and kindly next door neighbours have ordered a cab to take me to the aeroporto domani.  I resorted to writing out my request for them.  I knew I could never make myself understood if I tried to say the words.

An interesting interlude followed as Guiliano told me that I wouldn’t need to order the cab until tomorrow.  I want it at 10.30 am so he said to come tomorrow to his house (next door) at 9 am to make the booking.  Then some time later he rang the doorbell and told me he had booked the cab in his name for tomorrow.  So I think, he is going to knock on my door when it gets here.  I do so love these interactions where neither party speaks the others language.  Somehow we manage to communicate.

Florence Day 3 2013 007

I went out for macchiato and brioche as usual.  I told the folk in the pasticceria that I was leaving tomorrow – they seemed to understand as we smiled and wished each other arrivederci.  I did buy an apricot turnover and a brioche to take away with me.  They were to be part of lunch or dinner.Lunch

Lunch today was a scratch meal using up what was left in the apartment.  Quite satisfying but not as good as some of the lunches I have eaten since I arrived here.  Oh well …

“I had surprised myself this year by
jumping in to reshape my life before life
stepped in to reshape it for me.”  Alice Steinbach

 

 

 

 

 

Florence Day 17

“Life is like that I thought, as I turned the corner to my building.
Freedom has its danger as well as its joys.
And the sooner we learn to get up after a fall, the better off will be.”
Alice Steinbach

This is the notice I found stuck on the front door of the apartment building yesterday when I returned.  Have absolutely no idea what it says, but whatever it is happened on 22/23 October.

Notice on apartment building door

Notice on apartment building door

I decided on another day wandering around this city I have come to love.

Carabinere at statiom

Carabiniere at the station. There was a lot of them – what’s going on.  Notice the ever-present Golden Arches

Percy Byshe Shelly placque

The plaque showing Percy Byshe Shelley lived in the building

City market

Original city market opened 1874

Entry to City market

Here’s the entry showing the date

The market was a chef’s dream come true.  Everything imaginable as on sale for the chef.  Fresh meats, fish, vegetables and fruit,  as well as many dried items.

Inside the market

Inside the market

Flower stall inside the market

Flower stall inside the market

Great display of cheeses, salami etc

Great display of cheeses, salami etc

More goodies on display

More goodies on display

And more

And more

Pasta making on site

Pasta making on site

An endless variety of goodies

An endless variety of goodies

Fish

Almost sold out

Very large fish

Very large unknown fish

Display of fruit

Having feasted my eyes on all these goodies and great displays I wandered outside again.  The first thing I saw was this dog in a food shop.  We, well most of us like dogs in New Zealand but they are not allowed in shops of any kind, on public transport or in the centre of town.  Very different to Florence where dogs are everywhere.

Florence Day 17 030Owner’s dog in shop doorway

Opera in the piazzaOpera in  the piazza

Carousel in squareCarousel in same piazza

Busy cornerAnother busy corner with an interesting building

LunchLunch at Trattoria San Lorenzo
Tagliatelle AlfredoHouses on the River ArnoI ended up at the Ponte Vecchio again and took this photo
of the houses on the River Arno

GelattoGelato selection – Yes I succumbed and had a small one

Back where it all beganBack to where it started when I first arrived in Florence.
Church of Santa Maria Novella

Coming home I got on the wrong bus and ended up in a different part of town.  A leafy suburb but I had no idea of where I was.  If one (me) gets lost in a city there are always points of reference  – here the dome of the Duomo, the stazione, etc – but in the suburbs there is nothing.  Fortunately I met a woman and her adult son both of whom spoke a little English.  The bus I had taken was a 17 and they told me to get a 17 going in the opposite direction.  To pick the bus up in the centro via not at the side of the road.  So I duly boarded another bus but again I recognised nothing and so seeing a Taxi stand I jumped off the bus and got a cab.

This was a very exciting ride.  A garrulous, highly temperamental, yelling woman driver who I am sure called all other drivers on the road imbeciles and possibly worse.  But she deposited me at the door, even though once again I saw nothing I recognised.  Just another incident  to record on this adventure.

I am getting ready to leave Florence at present and am going back to London to meet with my sister  and plan the next stage of this adventure.

But I shall return to Florence and to make doubly sure I went and stroked the pig’s snout again.

Pig 1

And thanks to Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way  for the following Mark Twain quote
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry,
and narrow-mindedness.”

The internet is a trifle temperamental, rather like my taxi driver yesterday and it comes and goes as it pleases which is why this post is late.

Florence day 16

“As I set out each day, I felt like a young child again. One who hadn’t yet learned the rules of manmade time; the rules of clocks and calendars, of weekdays and weekends.
― Alice Steinbach, Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman

A couple of years after my husband died I decided that rather than wait for the world to come to me, I would go to the world,  At that time I read Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach and it has remained one of my favourites ever since.

So to today.  I started out not knowing what I wanted to do.  Would I go into the city and wander around, would I see if I could get into the Bargello that had been closed on each of my earlier visits or would I find that particular restaurant where I had risotto the other day for lunch and have not forgotten it.  The restaurant won out.

I had the card with the address on it so it should have been an easy place to find.  But not all streets are named here in Florence and not only that, but they change name half way along for no apparent reason.  So I wandered around for a while before I found the restaurant.

World Cycle Championship logo

Because the World Road Cycling Championships have just been held in and around Florence the place is awash with tourist things depicting the race; hats, sweat shirts, tee shirts, bags etc.  The street vendors are selling little battery operated bicycles with pedalling cyclists whizzing around the footpaths.  I asked on vendor “Quanto?” to which he replied “Venti” (20 Euros).  I began to walk away and he said “Quindici” (15)  I shook my head and asked what was the best price for two and ended up purchasing two for 15 Euros.  He smiled as he took the money so I guess he made a profit on the deal.

Another view of the Duomo

Another view of the Duomo

I noticed that each day the crowds seem to diminish.  No long, long queues to get into the dome or the campanile today.  The restaurants aren’t nearly as busy as they were last week.

Doors to Baptistry

In an earlier post I described this as a screen in fact these are the doors to the Baptistry.  There are three sets of these doors., two sets of which were designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti after winning the competition to decide which artist would do the design.  Brunelleschi, the designer of the dome, was among those who made submissions and lost out. The doors illustrate Old Testament scenes and the door frames contain busts of 24 of the leading Renaissance artists, including one of Ghiberti himself.

All roads lead to The Duomo

The octagonal building on the right of the picture is the Baptistry.  The doors now used to enter the church are shown below.

Entrance to Baptistry

Entrance to the Baptistry is restricted to those going into Mass

Scooters are everywhere lined up in long, long rows when not being ridden.  And it’s of interest to note that unlike in New Zealand, neither scooter riders or cyclists seem to wear helmets.  Helmets are compulsory in New Zealand.

A chosen form of transport

A chosen form of transport

Another form of transport

Another form of transport

Eventually, I found the restaurant in Via Dei Neri and ordered the risotto again.

Lunch

Risotto asperegi e gamberi – asparagus and shrimp

Sometimes it is a mistake to return to a restaurant and order the same food but this time it was equally as good as the first.

Another statue

Another statue

More door decoration

More door decoration

Fewer people today

Fewer people today

Considerate parking

Considerate parking

Rows of vendors selling leather goods

Rows of vendors selling leather goods

nother view of the Duomo

All roads lead to The Duomo

So another day in this city came to an end.  I must say that all this walking is strengthening my thigh and leg muscles.  The first couple of days here I was very aware how much I was walking.  But now I just take it in stride.

“What adds up to a life is nothing more than the accumulation of small daily moments.”
Alice Steinbach