Tag Archives: Tuscany

Florence Days 14 and 15

“it is a serious thing just to be alive
on this fresh morning in this broken world.”
Mary Oliver American poet 1935 –

Day 14

Today was the day for Sienna (note the Italians spell this place Siena).  The train duly arrived and left on time.  Quite a change from the last abortive effort of going to Sienna.

On the train I met a delightful American couple from Stockton, California.  Talking with them made what could have been an uninteresting train ride through uninteresting countryside, interesting.  They were both retired, he a statistician and she a school teacher.  It’s great to talk and share with people  you meet while on vacation.  They had been the victims of a pick pocket on the railway station at Rome and so he had lost his wallet and his phone..We joked that now she had him in her power; she had the money and the access to the rest of the world.  At the end of the journey we went our separate ways having exchanged names addresses and phone numbers in case we ever found ourselves near to each others homes in the future.  Stranger things have happened in  my life.View from the stationThe train from Firenze arrives at the station in Siena on a level well down the hillside and to get to the exit we had to climb about ten sets of escalators and travelators.  I thought we would never get there.

Then my guide book had told me which buses I could get into the centre of the town but not which direction.  So I approached a woman getting out of her car.  “Scusi Senora.  Parla Inglesa?” to which she replied “Yes I do”.  So she pointed me to the nearest bus stop and told me which bus to get on.

At the bus stop I met a couple from Sydney, Australia ho were at the end of an 8 week holiday.  The bus duly arrived and we got on it and were taken to the centre.  After a few more scusis to different people I found my way to the square.

The Square

Il Campi 1

Il Campo, the square, spreads out in front of the Gothic Town Hall with a fountain at its tip. As it was Sunday the crowds were everywhere, talking in a variety of languages, laughing, eating and having fun.  A group of young people were playing a game the rules of which seemed to be known only to them, shrieking and laughing and really enjoying themselves.  All around Il Campo are restaurants with outside seating, souvenir shops and also specialty shops.

Diners around the square

Panforte shop

One of the delicacies particular to Siena is Panforte* and I discovered a little shop selling this sweet among other Tuscan delights.  I asked for a piccolo piece and the kind lady sliced me off a sliver and refused payment;  I walked out with my foil wrapped sweet which I ate as I wandered the streets of this quaint town.  Of course, I went back and bought this larger piece.

Panforte

I decided that I didn’t want to visit any museums and so just strolled around people watching and enjoying myself.

Pizza for lunch

Pizza for lunch and

Lunch finished!

Lunch finished!

Another late lunch found me having a huge pizza at one of the outdoor cafes ringing the square –Quatro Stagioni (Four Seaons) Pomodoro formaggio, jambon cuit, champignons, artichaut e olives (or cheese, ham, tomatoes mushrooms, artichokes and olives).  I am really no great lover of pizza but when in Rome etc.  It was enormous and I managed to eat only half.  My grandsons would have been sorely tried with a pizza this size.

Harvest Festival

I saw a display of locally grown vegetables and fruits – I think it was a group of local growers.  This display attracted a lot of interest.

Museo Civico

Museo Civico

Apparently this building is considered one of the most beautiful in Tuscany.

Then it was time to head back to the station but on the way I passed the Post Office.

Post Offce Siena

This time at the bus stop I encountered a man with his wife and her friend and husband.   The man was German and they all live in Canada but he and his wife have a house in the hills locally.  As they spend a considerable amount of time here he was able to tell me which bus to get to the station , having first shown me how to purchase the bus ticket from the machine. He then kept us entertained with his laughter and story telling not only until the bus came but also all te way to the station.

I arrived back with plenty of time to catch the train back to Florence.  And what a surprise when my American friends came into the carriage.  So we spent the return journey learning more about each others lives.

And at last, the train pulled into the station in Florence, we said our goodbyes again and went off they to their hotel in Florence and me to the apartment.  Another long (10 hours) day and so once I arrived home I had a shower, a banana and a cup of tea and after a short Skype call to New Zealand I called it a day and took myself off to bed..

Notes:
*Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembles fruitcake It may date back to 13th century in Siena.

2. According to my guide book and my friend in New Zealand Siena is famous for its horse race.  This takes place twice a year and lasts just 90 seconds,  This race around the square has been held since the 13th century.  Originally it took the form of a bareback race the length of the city but from the 17th century it has been run around the square.

Day 15

Rain on leaves

I awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain and thunder and lightning, so it made the decision of what to do today very simple.  I would stay inside.  This is one of the benefits of being in an apartment rather than a hotel.  One can lounge around all day if one wants.

The downside of the bad weather was that the internet, never the most reliable here in Florence, was down for a part of the day.  So the Skype call was not very successful and writing my blog had to be put off in favour of reading.  Oh dear – how sad is that.

Lunch today was made of things already in the apartment, served and eaten on the coffee table as I was reading.

French brie, cracker, banana and apple,

French Brie, cracker, banana and apple

The rain did let up in the middle of the afternoon and I thought I should take myself out for a breath of fresh air and a wander around the neighbourhood.

Local Pet Supermarket

I just had to go to take some photos -I’ve never seen such a large pet shop

Pets accessories

This is about one-third of the wall with toys for pets

Florence Day 15 008

A large cage with bright colourful birds

Sexy shop

Wasn’t game to go and see what they sold in this shop

Dinner - salad, eggs, and smoked salmon

Dinner – salad, eggs, and smoked salmon

And I just love the Brie made in France.  It is so much better than the Brie made in NZ.  I have been eating it all day, with crackers for breakfast, with fruit for lunch and with coffee after dinner.

Brie Made in France

And as Marcel Proust said:
“My destination is no longer a place,
rather a new way of seeing.”

I am most definitely discovering a new way of seeing – beautiful objects, buildings and art, and lovely interesting people.

 

The White Dress

White Dress

Occasionally one comes across a picture/photo that speaks volumes and at the same time raises questions.  This picture was included in an invitation to the opening of the summer season for one of our well-known dress designers, Trelise Cooper  Included in the opening will be a showing of photographs by Melanie Mason several of which have been printed onto parchment and will be offered for sale.  This is one of Melanie’s photographs.

The photo speaks to me of some of the villages I saw in Tuscany, set on hillsides with steep roads leading up to the houses.  The houses have deep, sloping roofs and as in this case, many have windows opening over the street and some have very small balconies projecting above the street.

So this photo immediately posed the question of why was the white dress hanging outside the window?  Was it there to dry having been washed, to air before being put away after having been worn, or was it there as a sign?

Perhaps here lives a damsel in distress who needs rescuing by her knight in shining armour.  Her much older husband is very rich but uncaring of her.  He spends his nights carousing with his friends and with harlots and she feels neglected.  And so this married woman has sought love and understanding in the arms of a younger man.  It may be that her husband is away for the night and therefore, this dress which in this case becomes a nightdress, gives the information to her swain that the coast will be clear this evening.

And what will be his response?  Will he arrive after dark so that nobody sees his arrival?  Will he boldly walk through the front door of what I think is a palazzo owned by the husband’s family and therefore, manned by his trusty retainers?  If this is the case, the lovers will have to be particularly careful not to raise any suspicion.  How will they do this?  And would it not be easier to arrange to meet at an hotel or another place away from prying eyes?  But wait, maybe that is what the white dress is saying – “Meet me at the hotel on White’s Road”.  No doubt there will be less likelihood of the tryst being reported back to the husband.

So I vote for the message being to meet at the hotel.

But perhaps after all the more mundane answer to my question is the right one.  No lovers’ message here.  Simply it tells us that the lady of the house wore the dress last night and it is now being hung out to air or dry before being put away to wear again.  Maybe she is greatly loved by her older or even young husband and has no need for trysts with knights in shining armour.

Do you see a message here too?  I would like to hear it if so.

BREAKING NEWS – I have just returned from the showing.  Fabulous clothes but more importantly I met Melanie.  What a truly delightful person she is and I hope to see more of her in the future.  I also bought a copy of her book, Goodbye, which contains a collection of photos with accompanying prose.  I was wrong – the photo was not taken in Tuscany but rather in St Remy de Provence, France.  the accompanying prose is by Colette.  As the book is “for times of sadness and loss” the prose deals with loss.

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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