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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 12, 2010

Tuesday and So Ends Another Italian Holiday

All right - it's Tuesday night, I'm all packed basically, I've paid the hotel, I remembered to get some euros for the cab tomorrow, I'm listening to the noises from the street, one of which sounds strangely like a woman crying, although I guess it's stopped now.  And I had a delicious dinner based, again, on the lady who runs the hotel - she and I seem to have hit it off.  Anyway, she told me about a little trattoria down the street which I've passed everytime I come and go and I had it in my head that I had eaten there when I first got to Florence and didn't like it and got the distinct impression they didn't like having a single diner.  But when I went in tonight I saw that this was a different one and very nice without being very expensive.  I ordered sort of a bruschetta with fagioli beans (which I bought some of in that Perugia bean store) and it came with three little pieces of thin toast with the soupy fagioli beans on the side rather than on the toast.  And it was all slathered in olive oil.  I grated a little salt and pepper on top and oh, it was good.  The beans were truly wonderful.  My waitress told me that they are just very slow cooked with a sage leaf and that it is the beans themselves which have such flavor, so we shall see when I get around to trying mine.  So a nice evening - I finished up with a pot of tea at "my" little place, told the man arrivederci because I was leaving in the morning and he said "maybe you come back!"  And I said "you bet your sweet bippy I will".  Tee-hee - fooled you!  I didn't really say that. :)

So, let's see what did today involve.  Oh, yes - I decided I would try again to see the Jewish Temple since last year it was closed for some special event.  There is a museum connected with it which follows the history of the Florentine Jews and apparently it is a long and sometimes good, sometimes bad history so I was interested.  I picked out a very straightforward route to get there which meant I didn't have to be always looking at the map and could look in shops instead.  Found a few little bits and pieces to buy and also found my little Christmas present to me.  Not as expensive as the IT piece I bought last year, but I really like this and will try and remember to post a picture of it when I get it home and framed.

Also, amazingly enough, saw things to take pictures of so, we'll just get started on some of those.

First are three pictures which kind of follow this huge line of people I came across and was thinking "good grief - is it a really good movie or something?" and then from a sign pointing down the street to where the line got hidden behind cars and such, I figured out that they were standing in line to enter the Accademia Museum where the famous statue of David is.  Of course, there's a lot more there than that, but I somehow have the feeling if it wasn't there, the lines wouldn't be so incredibly long.  And what a shame to spend all that time in line when old David is all over the city - replicas, but life-sized.  I guess that's why all the guidebooks say get reservations!

This shows the line headed down the street to where it at some point ends (I trust)...

Then here it is coming out from behind that tent-like thing in the first picture and wrapping around the corner, continuing behind the cars...

and after coming out from behind those cars and getting to the corner, it continues down that street until the end. Kind of a sad way to spend a lovely morning in Florence so I didn't.

Soon after that I came to another intersection, looked down the street to my left and there was a round building with a big statue in front so I went down to investigate.  It was the Rotunda di Santa Maria de Angioli.  I was seriously tempted to wander around to what was probably the front and see if it was something to go inside and look at, but I WAS on a mission, so I didn't. 

And maybe this is two separate buildings because I don't know why a rotunda for Santa Maria would have a man on horseback out in front of it...Down this way is where I found the little shop where I bought my Christmas present.  That does make it sound so expensive and it really wasn't - but I used that to justify buying it, after stocking up on the foodstuff yesterday.  And after telling the woman how I couldn't decide between one depicting the dome and one the ponte vecchio bridge, I walked outside, started up the street and there was the Duomo!  I'm telling you - it never fails to catch me unawares.  I had no idea I was somewhere where it would suddenly turn up.  So, yes, another picture of it:

Look at how it dwarfs all the buildings on this street and yet they're a fair amount closer to me than it is.

This is the dome of the Jewish Temple which I believe is about 200 years old now.  When I got there and went in, there was an entry fee, of course, but not too bad, and there were no photos allowed, of course, and nothing printed in English inside the museum.  However, there was a brochure tacked up on their bulletin board which gave a brief history and explained a little about what was inside and I asked the woman if I could have a copy of that for while I was going through it.  And she said NO!  I could have it when I was done!  She said that when I got inside I would be given a tour by an English speaking person and they would tell me all about the synagogue and the museum and I said, well, all right - thinking this was really kind of insane that I couldn't get the brochure until I came back out.  So, I went inside and into the synagogue because from outside I could hear this impossible-to-describe voice talking and talking.  This was the guide and she had already started with a group of people sitting there in what I can only assume was stunned amazement.  I did sit for a few minutes and then decided I just simply couldn't stand listening to her so went in search of a postcard of the dome interior which was beautiful and which they didn't have a postcard of and then went upstairs to where the sign pointed to the museum and it was there and locked up, waiting apparently for the very, very strange lady guide to come up with her surely stupefied group.  So I left.  Went back to the entry place to get my brochure, the woman and a visitor? scholar?  or ?? were having quite a discussion which at one point got fairly heated, then had to get simmered down, then had to go on since things had turned pleasant again, and on and on, all the while with me standing at the window and the woman knowing that all I wanted was my brochure.  Finally(!) a group of 5 people came in to pay and go inside and so she decided she could quit speaking with this person and turned to the window.  I said that I just needed to pick up the brochure and she held up her hands like "back off" and said "Madam, please just wait a moment".  I just sort of looked at her non-plussed and by then the buyer for the 5 people was at the window, she took care of them and then, with no other recourse, I guess, gave me my (excuse me) frigging brochure.  So, WRITE IT DOWN!!  I won't be going back there either.  That was a wierd experience...

So, here's the outside of the temple which I already took this picture last year too, but I was there so I took it again - maybe there's something better about this one - I don't know.

I decided that before heading to my cheap lunch place (from yesterday) I would walk down to the river, get on the Ponte Alle Grazie and take a picture from there of the Ponte Vecchio, which I did and also took one of San Miniato way up on the hill because that was such a pleasant memory for me. 

On the way there, I passed Santa Croce which was also a VERY pleasant memory for me.  After the Duomo, this was probably my favorite visit in the city.  It was nice to see all these places again and also nice (since I was in Florence for a short time this year) to have already seen inside of them and just be able to walk by and enjoy them.

Just another view...

Then it was on to the bridge...

And here's the Ponte Vecchio - the river is much higher and muddier than it was last year - last year, it about looked dried up.

And way up on the hill is the lovely San Miniato.

Heading back to the lunch place I took this picture mainly for Chris - isn't this how Mas spells his name or does his have to "a's" or something?  I think it's Mas so you'll have to ask him if he's moonlighting. :)

A men's outlet clothing store, apparently,

After my lunch I headed over to the Piazza della Signoria where the Palazzo Vecchio is.  That's where last year I took the pictures of the incredibly gorgeous pillars that are inside on the ground floor.  But I hadn't gone up to see the rest of the building and had thought that was something I could do this year and didn't remember until today.  So I went to see how late they were open and told myself I would go back a little later and I didn't.  I'm just really kind of worn out (in a nice way).  But I did take this picture (above) which shows the square tower of the Bargello Museum (another real favorite from last year) and the steeple of the Badia Fiorentina, a church.

Back near the Orsammichele again so I took this picture of one of the massive entryways with the beautiful fretwork above.  And the next one is just a close-up of the fretwork.

And, oh my goodness I'm sorry - but I'm like the "I've fallen and I can't get up" lady except I'm in Florence and I can't quit taking pictures of the Duomo.  So I will just post these four and that will be that - my last sighting until hopefully another time.

And with the sky we had today, how could I not take these, right?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that.  I think maybe our front desk man is slowly choking to death from the sounds of things.  But it's going on for probably half an hour or so, so maybe not.  It adds a new note to the general cacophony that is my room.  But I've enjoyed this hotel - the room has been nice (especially the second one), the man and woman who own it are friendly and very helpful, and it's in a really convenient location.

Arrivederci from Firenze!


Christopher said...

Brava, Brava, Bravissima! (I think...!) Congratulations on another wonderful trip, another fun-to-follow blog with beautiful pics, another overcoming-adversity... I can't believe the trip is over already---it seemed to fly by over here, as I followed along. But I'm looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night; I hope all the flights go on time!

January said...

Well-traveled and told, Mama! I kind of wish you had been able to record the voice of the lady at the temple...
Safe travels home tomorrow (tomorrow for me), and I'll see you soon!

From the Editor's Desk... said...

Even if I had been allowed to have my camera with me (they had lockers to put your bags in!), I doubt if I would have managed to think to do that, but yes, I wish I could have because it was really just kind of indescribable. I had thought a time or two that I should turn my camera on video and record an Italian conversation - I love listening to them talk.


vrmichie said...

What a bummer about the Jewish temple -- I do remember it from last year and it's such a beautiful building, it's a shame it's so uncongenial. On the other hand, you'll always have the duomo! I love it cropping up in your meanderings around the city and love the fact that you keep tucking photos of it into your blog. Makes me feel I'm going around the corner and seeing it for myself. And what's with these blond male models? First the Marlboro guys and now the Mas guys; not exactly what you think of when you think of Italian men. Hope your travels go well and welcome home!!

jamie said...

You must be exhausted - mentally, physically. But what an adventure! I love following the blog also. Love the little sidebars you throw in like "a man and woman fighting outside my window"! Love the references to WRITE IT DOWN! Gary will be honored! :) Can't wait to see your new treasure. Can't wait to just talk and visit! Safe travels for your return and have a good visit with your kiddies!



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