Sunday, October 24, 2010

A night to remember

il Latini  it means tradition: a means of discovering Tuscany and its people.

Il latini restaurant 2 

This was our favorite restaurant in  Florence, serving its customers family style with dishes typical of the Tuscan tradition.





Il latini restaurant 1


It was a wonderful dining      experience.



As we walked the cobbled streets, heading to the hotel, nothing could have prepared us for the entertainment we were about to partake in…..rather, one of us participated as the other three were sure to capture “the moment” on film, laughing ourselves silly with the rest of the crowd that gathered.

Currently I am having difficulty uploading the “video” . I am sure Rich was hoping I lost it……stay tuned….I’m working on it…..

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leaning Tower of Pisa


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Something we just had to see…..John had the energy to climb to the top..we three waited below….see us waving to him?

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We took the road less traveled back to Florence…GIGI (the gps) had a fit of course, but by doing so we went through a mountain village and saw a beautiful sunset!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Out of the city

DSCN1505 DSCN1499 We were ready to drive out of the city and head to what we heard is beautiful countryside.   Cathy and I were great back seat drivers…..oohing and ahhing at every turn either because of the “fast turns” that brought on stomach distress or because of the beauty that surrounded us.

                          My sister Cathy loving the view of TUSCANY.IMG_1274 IMG_1175 IMG_1259

We stayed in the heart of Florence….so we could walk everywhere…and walk we did!!! Georgeous architecture filled with history, art and a fun marketplace……

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Florence is often known as the “Jewel of the Renaissance; a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time.  The centre of the city is contained in medieval walls that were built in the 14th century to defend the city.


The best-known site and crowning architectural jewel of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known

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This cathedral is by far thee most beautiful structure I have ever seen anywhere.   We stood in awe looking at and photographing the intricate craftsmanship and beauty!

The historic center of the city is split by the Arno River.  It is spanned by eight bridges….the most central and most celebrated is the Ponte Vecchio  (Old Bridge)  It is lined with overhanging jewelry stores….very unique!   We didn’t buy any jewelry (can you imagine????) however, I met this watercolorist, Amor Dekhis painting at the bridge and purchased a painting he had just completed…of the bridge.  DSCN1593 DSCN1598 DSCN1600

So much to see…

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The Coliseum was used to host gladiatorial shows as well as a variety of other events.  Another popular type of show was the animal hunt. This utilized a great variety of wild beasts, mainly imported from Africa and the Middle East, and included creatures such as rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, elephants, giraffes, aurochs, wisents, lions, panthers, leopards, bears, tigers, crocodiles and ostriches. Battles and hunts were often staged amid elaborate sets with movable trees and buildings. Such events were occasionally on a huge scale; Trajan is said to have celebrated his victories in Dacia in 107 with contests involving 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators over the course of 123 days.

This sounded pretty gruesome as the guide described the scene for us….most of us women in the group revealed much distress in hearing this, our eyes watering up and puckering faces, including Cath and me.


We took a tour that included not only seeing the Coliseum, but the Palentine as well.Recent excavations have shown that people have lived on the site since approximately 1000 B.C.

DSCN1497 The Palatine Hill is some 70 meters high with views of the Roman Forum on one side, and the Circus Maximus on the other. The site is now a large open-air museum which tourists can visit during the daytime. The entrance can be found near the Arch of Titus in The Palatine became the place where the powerful and wealthy retreated to build their homes and relax With the development of Rome and the continued embellishment of the Forum, the Palatine, due to its close proximity to the seat of power, it became "the place to live". Here the air quality was much better. It also has the benefit of splendid views. So it became the place for the very powerful and wealthy chose to build their homes.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

A day in Rome

Roman baths, bus trip around the city, Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, an evening walk and fantastic dinner!

We had stayed outside the city, so drove in to find  a parking spot using the Coliseum as our point place.  We found an excellent spot on a side street maybe a 4 block walk….to our destination, and found ourselves in front of   ROMAN baths….not even on our “tour” list!  It was a fantastic “find”…….


The Roman Emperor Caracalla built baths for the public on a grand scale. It was built between A.D. 212 and 216 , covered about 13 acres and could probably accommodate 1,600 bathers.

The baths included:

  • a hot bath
  • a warm bath
  • the cold bath
  • a swimming pool
There were also changing areas, exercise areas and a sauna in the bath complex.

Inside the baths were  libraries, art galleries, and gardens.










We found ourselves in awe as we walked our way  through taking in the massive accomplishments of so very very long ago.

Cameras are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel.  With great passion, our guide shared with us her knowledge, of what to anticipate seeing, once we entered the chapel.

In 1473,  Pope Sixtus IV ordered the  architect Giovanni dei Dolci to build him a chapel.The building was finished in 1481.

The Sistine Chapel is still being used by the Pope, mostly for official ceremonies. After the death of a pope, Roman Catholic cardinals from all over the world gather in the chapel to elect a successor. Today, the building is part of the Vatican Museums.






At the days end we were ready for  some REAL ITALIEN food.  We were not disappointed. Caffe Martini Rossi offered us a view of the Coliseum as we ate homemade pasta, and drank our red wine.





The friendly staff, made sure we had a good time!  I was served a flaming strawberry topping on my vanilla ice cream!

So much fun and so much more to experience. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

“Open my heart and you will see graved inside of it “Italy”.”

A quote by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, that conveys so well how I feel upon my return from visiting Italy.

My sister, Cathy, and her husband, Rich, met John and I in Rome, Italy for  a remarkable vacation together.  We rented a car and found our way  through the countryside from Rome, to Florence and then to Venice.

Between us we took over 1200 pictures….so desperately trying to capture the sense of awe we felt as we walked ancient streets and took in the sights, the smells and tastes of this beautiful country.

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We had at three cameras clicking away at all times.


We met at the Rome airport September 26th…dropped our luggage at the hotel and we were off……


The Appian Way was our first destination.  After the long flights, we were ready to be outdoors and walking.  Via Appia (Appian Way) is  the first and most famous of the ancient Roman roads, running from Rome to Campania and southern Italy.It was begun in 312 bc   At first it ran only 132 miles  from Rome south-southeastward to ancient Capua, in Campania. By about 244 bc it had been extended another 230 miles southeastward to reach the port of  Brindisi, situated in the “heel” of Italy.


According to Christian tradition, it was along the Appian Way that an escaping Peter encountered the vision of Christ, causing him to go back to the city to face subsequent martyrdom.) The road's initial stretch in Rome is lined with the great monuments and ancient tombs of patrician Roman families -These tunnels, or catacombs, were where early Christians buried their dead and, during the worst times of persecution, held church services discreetly out of the public eye.


I just love seeing and learning this stuff!

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A stop at a local deli for some snacks.

More to come…….Ciao!