Friday, November 15, 2013

Italy Was Fabulous!!! -Part 4

Okay everyone, I promise that there is only one more post after this one. I appreciate you all commenting like you are, and I am so happy that you have enjoyed this recanting of my journey.

Day 7: Verrazzano Castle & Winery
The morning of this day brought us our last class with Tim. He showered us with more inspiration, goodies, and an exclusive stamp set of Tuscany, that he designed and drew himself and Stamper's  Anonymous produced. To say we were excited would be an understatement. The room exploded with happiness! Tim should us how to watercolor using the stamps, and the art that everyone produced with the technique was over the top fabulous! Each scene of Tuscany was different, and was laid out as each person saw it. I was so blown away by the talent in the room!
After class, some of the group went on their own journey, and several were off to the Chianti region of Tuscany, me included. I had no idea what to expect. I've not heard much about the region, so the sights I saw out of the window of the coach had me enthralled, entranced, inspired, and so it was with everyone else. We were doing the "Get it, get it, get it!" again! The tall hills here were more gentle and not as steep as the other slopes we had been seeing. They were rounder and had flat pastures beneath them where crops were growing, especially lots of grapes and olive orchards. They were not stacked up against steep terrain. Everything had space, and could breathe so to speak. If I could live any where in Italy, it would be here! I kept showing everyone all the houses I had along the way. A girl can dream, right?!?
This place not only fed my eyes and belly, it fed my soul! It was very moving to be among this beauty.
Verrazzano Castle and Winery was pure eye candy, and Gino the owner who gave us the tour before our meal was quit the entertainer as well.
This is Gino. It was so difficult to snap a shot of him, because he used his hands wildly while he talked. He loves what he does, and it showed in his actions and words. He was contagious, so inspiring!
And, then it was time to sit, eat, enjoy the company, and....
...the view out of the open french doors that were directly behind our table. I will never forget the food, the perfectly paired wines with each course, the people at our table, and the scene that was laid out in front of us. Pure joy I tell you!
The biggest bottle of wine ever I think!
I spent the remainder of my evening on the balcony of my hotel room, reflecting on the day, the trip, taking in "The Now", and I worked on my travel journal. It was a most fabulous day!

Day 8: Firenze (Florence)
We were up bright and early to go forth on our last tour together to Florence, as a group of 50. 15 or so people would leave us the next day to go back home, and the remainder of us were moving on to see more of Italy.
We started out above the city at the Piazza Michelangelo. We had fabulous views of the central part of the city.
The Basilica of Santa Croce, is here in the middle. It is the largest Franciscan church in the world, and many famous Italian people are buried there, like Michelangelo and Galileo. There are more photos of it later in the post.
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiori, or Duomo, trumps the skyline.
This is a replica of Michelangelo's "David", who is actually housed at the Accademia Gallery now, after years of being in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (or the Palazzo della Signoria), Florence's Town Hall, at the Piazza della Signoria, where it took beating from the elements.
We took our group photo here on the hill. What a great bunch of people. I'm in the very back.
Then we went down the hill to the central part of the city, and met our tour guide Christina, who gave us the scoop on so many places. We were overloaded with great information.
The Duomo
This side was in the process of being cleaned, so it was quite dirty, hence the black streaks on it.
This side was clean, and the green and salmon colored marble, statues, and paintings could be seen beautifully.
This is the San Giovanni Baptistery (Saint John),  which is directly across from the Duomo. It was made famous because Michelangelo walked by and looked at the east side bronze doors made by Ghiberti, and called them the "Gates of Paradise".
This guy atop the Duomo, kept freaking me out. He is just staring at you with a look of judgement. It's like he knows all the bad things I've been doing.
I loved this trio on top of the Baptistery doors.
It was hard to leave the Duomo. I took a gillion photos of was magnificent. The David was originally supposed to be stationed up by the dome part, but then they decided not to put him there. Interesting stuff!
The symbol of Florence is this iris flower, or giglio, or fleur de lis, and it was depicted everywhere in the city.
Just in the side of a regular wall. So cool!
This was funny...a nun was yelling at the police officers about something, and I think they were embarrassed.
The decor and architecture in this city astounded me!
Then we made it to the Palazzo Vecchio (or Palazzo della Signoria) in the Piazza della Signoria. It was sure crowded here.
This is why...the David in front, along with a bunch of other famous statues and a fountain.
Yikes! But it's cool that it is in iron rather than marble.
The Fountain of Neptune, was a big draw too. It was so interesting to see. I could look at it for a long time and see something new.
A bird in the hand and on the head! It cracks me up every time I see a bird on a statue's head. It's like it becomes part of the art! Love it!
We left there, and walked over to the Piazza Santa Croce, which was to be our meeting place after we explored on our own, which is exactly what I did. I think I walked about 7 miles total, after I mapped it out that night!
The Basilica Santa Croce, also had a beautiful front that was in the same style as the Duomo.
The Palazzo della Antella is also in this Piazza. Although not an architectural beauty, I found it fascinating because it had paintings all over it, and beautiful angelic like people. I found out later that is was painted by many different artists, and has survived a few floods, as had the Basilica next door.
I just love the walkways!
The white marble really stands out against the Frayed Burlap colored marble! ;0)
While standing on the edge of the Ponte Vecchio bridge, which is basically a shopping center for gold jewelry now, I took this photo of the muddy Arno River.  I think it was so muddy because of all the rain and flooding Tuscany had while we were there.
After we returned from Florence, we had our farewell dinner to those who were leaving us. I made some very special friends who were going back to Australia, so it was a little sad.

If you read through to here, thank you very much! Tomorrow's post will be the last of the journey, and I will show you the Travel Journal as well. Until then, arrivederci!


  1. Wow, Anita - good for you on all the historical details! Thank you for a wonderful remembrance of our trip to Florence. Beautiful job!

  2. These pictures are absolutely fantastico! What kiknd of camera did you use?-Karen Seidlitz

  3. Dearest Anita, even though I'm sorry I met you in person, I am very happy that your journey was so nice and fun! I'm so happy to see and hear that you enjoyed the beauties of my country! I really hope you'll come back here in Italy and the next time I'll be there! Thanks for sharing these wonderful posts! BArbarayaya

  4. I am almost overwhelmed with a longing to visit Florence, it looks incredible - all that amazing art in one place!! And the vineyard - wow!!

  5. A beautiful city! So pleased to hear what a great time you all had despite the weather, the jet lag etc :-)


  6. Oh wow Anita, what fabulous photos of your trip, I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one, looking forward to tomorrow already! Hugs, Anne x

  7. Oh Anita, I am loving it my dear. Each and every photo you have taken. I know you had a blast and even learned a little : ) Thanks for taking the time to do this for us. xoxooxox

  8. More beautiful photos Anita, your a great photographer. I love the photo of the spider web, beautiful and the birds on the statues, haha! I love it. I'm really enjoying hearing about all the wonderful things you did and saw, thank you again for sharing.

  9. I enjoy reading about your trip and seeing all those beautiful pictures.

  10. Loving all the photos, I like that I can keep going back to re-examine details. You did a wonderful photography job!! What a trip.

  11. Wow! More great pics. I love that you have shared your trip and experiences with us. Made us all feel a part of this great adventure! Can't wait to see your journal.

  12. Anita you did such a marvelous job of photography and journaling! Thanks for helping me remember everything!! I am ready to return!

  13. What a beautiful reminder of one of my favourite cities... When I went Inter-railing before University (back in the Dark Ages), it was the place we just couldn't bear to leave - we ended up spending over a quarter of our Inter-railing month there! The rest of Europe just had to wait...

    Thank you for all those glorious photos - it's clear to see you fell in love with Italy. Can't wait to see the travel journal.
    Alison xx

  14. Oh what wonderful pictures you have brought us - fantastic - many thanks so that you can share with us your journey - I am really looking forward to your travel journal

  15. Anita, I LOVE LOVE LOVE your travelogue! Great photos and info about this phenomenal trip of yours! Thanks for taking the time to share this!!
    Hugs, Laura

  16. Such amazing pictures and loved reading about the places. As a New Yorker, I loved seeing the Verrazzano Castle /Winery. The bridge is such a part of the city to see that was amazing. I really love he cherub in white with that grin above the heart. Just precious!!

  17. I went to Florence as a 17 year old in 1975. I was doing an Autotours 6 week Europe bus/camping tour. It was one of my favourite places. Seeing your photos as an adult, I realise it is one place I would love to see again.

  18. Anita...the terrain in the Chianti region very much reminds me of the landscape where I grew up in Vermont. Gentle, rolling hills ringed around verdant farm land. It's very soothing to the soul. I loved seeing Italy through your eyes! You captured so much soul was fed here today. Hugs!

  19. Florence looks like a place of dreams Anita. It's no wonder you wanted to stay on and have your own house in Italy. May that one day come true for you. Jenny x

  20. Amazing! Thanks for sharing all the little details.

  21. Great details....feel like I am ...almost...there


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