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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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October 05, 2009

Monday - All Good Things Must Come to an End

And it sure has been a good thing, and yet, I'm all right with it ending.  It's a long time to be gone from all things familiar!

I woke up to quite a gray morning today and figured that was all right cause I didn't have much planned anyway.  But by the time I got myself dressed and going, by darn, there was that beautiful blue sky again!   Apparently, out of consideration for its visitors, Florence only allows rain at night, which is really considerate, I think.

So I went and had my little breakfast which was, as usual, quite tasty – and I love my pot of tea in the morning.  I told the girl there that I was leaving tomorrow morning and she managed to understand what I was saying and was quite smiley and nice, so that left me feeling good.  Then I went back to the hotel cause I was supposed to be meeting Antonio to pay him, for one thing, but also to have him order me a taxi for tomorrow and to set up a thing that will call my telephone to wake me up.  Which is kind of silly, cause I'll be awake, I'm sure, but if the alarm wasn't there, then that might be when I would decide to sleep like the dead.  I worked on Sunday's post while I waited and got it finished up.  He finally arrived and we got everything taken care of and then ended up having a real nice chat – about the economy, about what switching to the Euro did to the Italians, about his couple of visits to the states, about what we did and didn't like about Florence – just real interesting.  I don't know how other people feel, but when I meet someone and have a little chance to talk  with them, I just always wish I could say "tell me your life story".  But I didn't...

Instead I took off for my first stop today which was to see the Brancacci Chapel at the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine.  It was/is(?) a convent founded by the Carmelite order many centuries ago.  Don't know if my sister will remember that Carmelite monastery they built in our little tiny hometown back when we were kids.  We, or at least I, thought it was quite exotic – had no idea what it was all about.  The Chapel is absoutely glorious – it's a side chapel in the church and the church itself is beautiful too.  Everything but the Chapel was roped off, but I took some photos of the church areas from behind the ropes which at least will remind me of what it was like.  I just continue to be amazed at how many churches there are and how, no matter what they look outside, they are always eye-opening inside.

a pieta before you enter the chapel
This is part of a large frescoe - I keep meaning to comment every time I post photos of these frescoes that until I came here and actually read about them and what they're saying and portraying, etc., in my Rick Steves guide book (which is one reason why I've really liked it), I didn't realize that very often the painter put various and sundry people in the pictures.  In this instance, the three men in the corner doorway are Donatello, Brunelleschi, and the artist himself (he's the one looking toward you).  And always, if someone had hired the artist to paint a specific scene, the donor and his wife were usually among the spectators kneeling reverently in the front of the scene.

You can see the frescoes cover the entire walls and when you know the stories they're telling, they're much more interesting than they may look.  And look how brilliant the colors are!  And these are from mostly from the 15th century, I believe.
This is the entire frescoe of the one with the three artists in the corner.

the altar surrounded by frescoes

and next are the pictures I took of various parts of the church - mostly the ceilings - got a stiff neck from gawking at them so long!

going outside you enter the cloisters, the area in all these convents/monasteries that always make me think it might have been a nice life.  The birds were singing up a storm in this one.

After that very pleasant interlude, I took off across the river  to look for a hotel that my son is thinking he might be staying in next year if he decides to do a photography tour.  I told him, after I saw the hotel that I thought it was kind of cruel and unusual punishment to send me off to find such a nice place when I have to then come back to my room.  And the thing is, it turns out he pretty much knew all about it already, of course, from reading all the tour information!  I'm not going to show you the pics - he'll have to do his own blog.

Started back and got across the river to my side and decided I had to get off the very busy street I was on and ended up in all sorts of little backstreet areas I hadn't been.  Although every now and then, there would be a block or so that was familiar.  I have a number of photos from that too because I saw a courtyard and it was open, so I wandered in and it seemed to open into other courtyards and finally ended up in a beautiful small garden.  And once I got into it, I realized it was sort of in the backyard of the Chiesa di Santo Spirito.

the courtyard in the courtyard
and into the garden - it was circular with buildings all the way around

a statue of Pan

an ancient looking grotto


and the back of Santo Spirito from the garden

Next I found a new sandwich place back in that warren of streets and bought what is probably the best one I've had.  I bought some potato chips too and took my lunch to Piazza Santo Spirito to eat it.  I call the piazza my Italian Pullman Square.

one end...
and the other
Is this a picture, or what?  I came across them as I was leaving the piazza and that woman is going to have a very hot face tonight!

I did visit the Chiesa di Santo Spirito again later this afternoon and I must have been in a daze the first time.  It is huge inside and I had a memory of it being a little dark cavern, sort of.  And the altar is gorgeous - has marble columns and a metal, lacy canopy over it.  No pictures allowed, so I can't show you any of it.  But I'm glad I went back.  Oh, and my guidebook said there was a painted wooden crucifix that Michealangelo made and gave to the church as a donation for allowing him to use their morgue (why did they have a morgue?!) to study anatomy.  If it is his, he created it when he was in his late teens or early twenties and it's very different from his later very muscular and big figures.  Makes Christ look like a young boy himself...

And that is pretty much it, folks.  I'm really going to miss doing this - it's been so nice to be able to share it all while it's happening.  I appreciate your taking the time to keep up with it and to send me little comments as the mood struck

Arrivederci from Florence!


Anonymous said...

I love the frescoes! Have really enjoyed reading about and seeing the sites. Not sure about the tomb idea, ML; we will see. (-:
Have a smooth trip back to the states; see you soon!
-Cindy B

Christopher said...

Ah, another lovely bridge & reflection shot---a fitting end to a lovely Italian adventure in Florence! I'm really impressed that you just follow your own path, through the inner courtyards as they connect with eachother--I guess if there is no outer gate as you first enter one, then rest of the connected ones are fair game, no? Good to know...
And thanks for walking by my potential hotel, if I sign up for that 2010 photo tour of Florence... I knew it had a tower, and that it was a small hotel, but that was about it. I should have asked you to check out the showers, and see if I'll have that billowy curtain too!! :) One more thing to remember to pack on future European trips---duct tape for taping down the shower curtain every morning ;)
Arrivederci, and an early "welcome home!"

kacki said...

Mary Lynne,
You leaving makes me a little sad. You have had such a wonderful time and will have many beautiful memories! But as the saying goes, There's no place like home!! Have a safe trip and just maybe we can get together.

January said...

LOVE the sunbathers. Classic and classy! I can't wait to see you tomorrow :)
Safe travels!

Heather said...

Hi Mom,

Just catching up on your last few days of blogs. LOVING the pictures. I had forgotten, or at least they were buried in my memory, how beautiful the frescoes are in Italy. The church you visited today was beautiful and I also liked the courtyard inside courtyard (with statue of Pan? was it in that same courtyard?)

I am so happy you made the trip and have enjoyed it so much, but I am more so pleased that you are coming home. I sure have missed talking to my mama. Have a safe and UNEVENTFUL journey home and I will see you soon! Love you.


Mary Lynne said...

Chris - I think about duct tape each time I shower! Might be more bother than it's worth. Rooms like this sure make one appreciate one one has. I'm not complaining though - if my room had been a nice and more expensive one, I wouldn't be bringing home the cheese, oil and vinegar!

Kacki - I'll hold yo to that "getting together" - it's been way too long.

January - and now it's Tuesday and I'll see you this evening! I was pretty pleased with the sunbathers also.

Heather - will be seeing you pretty soon too (if I get a car). The garden was what I came to after going through the little batch of courtyards. I don't know whose or what it was and sort of felt like maybe I was trespassing, but no one seemed to say "get out". And there was a couple in there with their little baby (first Italian baby that's smiled at me) and they were just visiting too. I don't really know that I could ever find it again. It truly was "the secret garden".

Marlene said...

Thank you for the photos and commentary, Mary Lynne. It's been so much fun traveling with you. My husband has also followed your blog and he commented on how well you write and make it seem as if you are "talking" to the reader. Have a safe trip home and I look forward to your participation in Petitpointers. Warm regards from Marlene in California (sorry about that other Californian on your tour!)

Diane Adams said...

Mary Lynne: I have truely enjoyed my vicarious visitation of Italy. All the pics have been wonderful! Have a safe trip home.

Di Adams

Mary Lynne said...

And to Marlene and Diane, thanks for such nice comments!

Jamie said...

I am so happy that you got to do this trip and so proud of you for not letting any little set-backs get you down! But I sure miss you and will be glad to get you home! I figure Starbucks is not quite the same without your visits!

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