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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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September 28, 2009

Monday - Back to Florence (or maybe I should say back home?)

My landlady and I had agreed that she would drive me down to Greve at 10:00 a.m. to catch the 10:30 bus.  So, I took one last walk around the village circle and discovered that somebody is starting some big work project on their house that involves much putting up of scaffolding and will most likely also involve much noise (the scaffolding sure did - and they never seemed to get very far.  They'd get some up and next thing I knew it would all be back down).  Anyway, that kept me from being sad to leave and, actually, I was ready.  It's a stunning area, but as I said, you really need a car to truly enjoy it.

So the first mishap of the day was that we left too late for me to catch the 10:30 bus and guess what?  It wasn't my fault!  How nice for a change.  And I didn't care anyway cause there was another one at 11:30 and I was starving and so had time to get a huge croissant, stuffed with chocolate pudding and slathered with a hard chocolate glaze on top.  It's good I'm walking as much as I am or I wouldn't fit in the plane seat going home.  While waiting for the bus, I took a couple pictures of vehicles driving and people walking up the early stages of the magnificent mile to Montefioralle.  Don't know if they'll give you any idea of the pitch of the road or not, but it was something to do while I waited.  (P.S. after downloading them, I'm disappointed that they just don't make the grade,)

And, actually there's been only one other "glitch".  The bus I took was to Florence just like it was supposed to be and I thought it would just do a return trip.  But we didn't go anywhere near the bus stop where I caught the Greve bus and I ended up at the Florence train station!  But I had seen it on the map and so knew basically where I was and started pulling my three ton (but small) two bags behind me and boy, when I finally got to a street I recognized, it was a good feeling.  But, in spite of the grueling pace, I managed to snap a couple of pictures of a church I hadn't seen yet.

So I stopped at my breakfast bar place, got a bottle of water, then kept on trudging.  Got to the hotel and they had already put my big suitcase back in my room; so dismal room or not, it really did feel good to be back.

I got things unpacked and sorted out, checked my IT (huh!  just realized that's the abbreviation for Italy) souvenir to make sure it was all in one piece still, and then went back out to pick up my wine-stained slacks that I had taken to the cleaners.  They look perfect so that was nice, then back to one of the little bar places that is closer than any one I've been to yet (but I only just discovered it today) where I tried a panzanella salad again and I'm so glad I did because it was much better than the one I had at the restaurant.  Then I came back to the hotel to take care of cancelling my reservation at the hotel in Bologna, read some nice e-mails, and have been typing here while Antonio tries to fix my falling-off door handle.

I'm trying to decide if I want to make the trek to Piazzalle Michealangelo and then up to the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte.  It is, of course, an uphill climb to what pretty much all the guidebooks agree is probably the best vantage point for viewing Florence, particularly at sunset. So I may get myself talked into that.  Although I just checked the weather and it's supposed to be completely sunny again tomorrow(!) so I could do it then.  But tomorrow I'll be out in Tuscany again for a full day wine tour and cooking class.  How neat is that?  So what to do, what to do?

Well, I did do the climb up to the Basilica San Miniato and about killed myself.  I think I finally reached my limit after doing the hill two days in a row and then this evening as bad or worse a hill.  Well, not worse, probably - it isn't as long, but, oh my gosh, it is steep!  And the view was incredible, but I'm having real problems with that famous Tuscan sun - the sky has been a brilliant blue almost every day and yet all of my landscape type pictures look real hazy and burnt out.  So, I'm not posting too many of the view, although I do seem to, as usual, be posting a lot of pictures.   The very first one is from when I was walking from the train station this morning, then the rest are going to and coming back from San Miniato.

When I got back down I stopped and bought some red raspberries and bananas at a fruit stand and then stopped and bought batteries for the camera at the store where I bought them the first time.  So now, I am prepared.

Then I stopped and had a nice dinner - spaghetti alla carbonara which I've made myself for years but this was quite different from mine.

And, I think that's everything.  I'm going to take my shower because after that hike, I could easily fill in as a salt lick in a cow field!

The Chiesa di San Salvatore  a Ognissanti - how's that for a name?
The Uffizi from across the Arno
The Porta San Niccolo - I Like this one...
And, there she is...
and again...
and yet again

Basilica de San Miniato established in 1097!
getting closer

almost all the way up...
Pretty, I thought
domed ceiling over the altar
and I forgot to mention - they were having 6:00 vespers when I was there so they were doing chants - beautifully moving in such a setting
intricate wooden beam ceiling of the nave (is that the right word?)
There's a cemetery at the top on both sides of the stairs with some fairly recent dates of death - I wonder how they decide who gets to be buried there?
another cemetery shot
down to the Piazzalle de Michaelangelo where there is yet another statue of David
Hey, kids - a real fixer-upper!
This is a first - a staute under a giant umbrella
More colors and, The End


Christopher said...

Even though it was sad to "leave Montefioralle" in your blog, I think this is my favorite batch of pictures so far... that basilica (San Miniato) is just beautiful, with that bold outlined decoration, and great formal staircase out front... my kinda subject matter! I can't wait to hear how the cooking class thing goes... looking forward to more mouth-watering!

January said...

These might be my favorite set of pics yet! Glad you made it back safely and with IT in one piece still :)

Mary Lynne said...

Isn't that strange? These pics are probably my least favorite. I think that's cause the view WAS so incredible and the pictures just aren't able to give an accurate impression of that...But I'm glad you liked them. That makes me like them a little more. :)

Mary Lynne said...

Oh, and Chris - I meant to say, if you're going to "do" Florence better start making sure now that you're physically fit. Those uphill walks are doozies! I did think coming down last night that it was now about the time I should have been going up - no direct sunshine and a delicious breeze...thata would have made it a little easier probably.

Mary Lynne said...

Oh, and Chris - I meant to say, if you're going to "do" Florence better start making sure now that you're physically fit. Those uphill walks are doozies! I did think coming down last night that it was now about the time I should have been going up - no direct sunshine and a delicious breeze...thata would have made it a little easier probably.

vrmichie said...

Weird, but my first instinct also was WOW, these (pictures) are the best yet!! And how could they build like that in 1097?!? Doubt it could be done today. I could never, ever climb those stairs; you are a marvel. And you've been so inspiring that yesterday I took Brunelleschi's Dome out of the library.

Jamie said...

Hey! These are breathtaking pics so I can't imagine what the real view was like. The sky is so blue! Sounds like you have had perfect weather. Love the "fixer upper". Is there much in the way of real estate for sale? Even the cemetary is so interesting. That Antonio sounds like a keeper! Can't wait to hear about the wine tour and cooking class!

Mary Lynne said...

Well, okay than, I guess I'll be happy with them - I must say they look better on the full-size blog than they do when I'm posting them on my little Netbook. And I do think I'm getting a little choosier than I was at first. I could hardly bring myself NOT to post one, now, I bypass several or in the case of Monday, numerous ones. Glad you've all enjoyed then and thanks!

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