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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Pisa December 6th 2018

We had a nice day in Pisa and Florence today. We had some morning and early day showers, but it was 62 degrees and really no wind, so it was a very comfortable day. We took the train from Rome to Florence and then switched trains to get to Pisa. We walked to the leaning tower and paid our 18 euros each to climb up to the top. Kasie was happy that we got to do the climb to the top as we did not have time on the last trip. We had lunch in Pisa after the climb. Sriracha enjoyed her meal of unique eats. We took the train back to Florence and wandered the city. Every street was lit up for Christmas. Pedro was also in his element. There was gelato on every corner. ... read more
Pisa
At the top of the Tower of Pisa
Pedro and Sriracha in the Tower of Pisa

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena October 7th 2018

As our travels in Italy come to an end, we wanted to share the places we found that are definitely worth visiting on your next trip. In Siena we recommend: · VRBO Flat - Palazzo Giorgio, Vicolo del Bargello, 5 Siena – owner Rossella Donato. Great location and terrific space. Good for Palio but noisy at night leading up to Palio. · PorriOne, Via del Porrione, 28 Siena 53100 Tel 0577 221442 ristoporrione@gmail.com. Very elegant food and wine selection. Taste treats all around. It is expensive but worth the taste sensations. · Archivio del Gusto, Via di Monna Agnese, 8 Siena 53100 Tel 0577 601676 www.archiviodelgusto.it/. Wonderful location near the duomo with seafood specialties. Lobster linguini and good wine selection. ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 7th 2018

John was up early and took a long walk to get some pictures of Florence empty. He discovered that there were others who were up, still partying at a number of all night bars near Santa Croce. And of course there were people awaiting the start of the schedule at the train station. John stopped for a coffee and sweet roll at the only café open other than McCafe (MacDonald’s café) across from the station. Upon awaking to her birthday Peggy discovered some fleur de lys earings from Volterrani e Raddi jewelers just down stairs across from our hotel. Peggy’s family has gone there for gifts for generations and John is keeping up the tradition. After breakfast we walked to San Lorenzo Chapel where the Medici are buried. It is an amazing building in that the ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 6th 2018

Up late and out with plans for the Palazzo Vecchio but disappointed as it was totally occupied with a special conference closed to the public. Went to Ors San Michele, the building/church built by the guilds as a meeting place. The church is on the first floor, with meeting rooms on the second and third. What is amazing is that each of the floors has 30+ foot ceilings. Quite beautiful and a real challenge to climb the stairs from floor to floor. Amazing pictures of the major Florentine sights from each of the windows of the upper floors. From Ors San Michele we made our way to the Museo Duomo del Opera, the museum of statuary and other art from the Duomo and Baptistery. We have not been into the museo in a number of years ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Fiesole October 5th 2018

Today we go to Fiesole and San Domenico de Fiesole where Peggy went to school during her junior year abroad. Hoofed it to Piazza San Marco and took the No. 7 bus to San Domenico and walked from there to the Badia Fiesolana. It was a California University boarding and classroom center back when Peggy was here and is now European University with conferences and study programs for students from all over the world. No boarders just classes and lots of students. We made our way up to Peggy’s “cell” (it was a monastery in the Renaissance) which is now an office for administrators. It was locked so we wandered down the hall and peeked into one of the rooms where a very nice woman, Chiara, was working. She was the student coordinator for programs and ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 4th 2018

Up early to be sure we made it to the Ufizzi and “skip the line” priority. To be sure that we were sufficiently energized we stopped at Rivoires for coccolata compana and got really jacked up. Thus fueled we got into the line for entry and swiftly moved up the stairs to the gallery. As expected, it was incredible, especially as they have spread some of the most important pieces out rather than having them crowded together in a few rooms. We went around the floor in about 90 minutes and then had a pick-me-up at the café overlooking the piazza (and all of Florence). This allowed us to revisit many of the pieces (Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Pintorechio, Durer, Tintoretto, Da Vinci, Fra Lippi, Montagna, and others). Upon leaving the museum we went to pick up ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 3rd 2018

We had a 10AM appointment at the Accademia to view the David and his friends so we decided to visit San Marco and the work of Bartolomeo and Fra Angelico before we went to see David. Perhaps not the best decision as the frescoes in San Marco are overwhelmingly beautiful and make a deep impression on your eyes, mind and heart. Over the hour or so that we were in the abbey we came to a new understanding of Fra Angelico’s view of human choice about perception of purgatory and heaven, something that may not be achieved in an afterlife but rather something experienced in this life. Lots to unpack and little time to do it in front of the art, so we left and went to the Accademia where we joined the mass of humanity ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 2nd 2018

Peggy slept in while John went out for a ramble around the centro storico, taking pictures of the Duomo and the main streets and piazzas. After meeting up for breakfast atop the hotel (overlooking the roofs of the city and the Palazzo Vecchio (city hall) we walked to Café Rivoires for coccolatta compagna (sp), Peggy’s favorite from when she was a student here in Florence. According to legend, one cup will keep you going for five hours. There certainly is enough chocolate and whipped cream to make this a reality. Buzzed we arrived at the Bargello, a wonderful medieval fortress, to take in some of our favorite statuary. This fabulous building has a great pedigree, as city hall when the guilds ran things (they locked up those in charge for a year so that they couldn’t ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence October 1st 2018

Took the early morning “rapido” train to Florence arriving at 10:00 AM. The taxi line was almost 100 yards so we hoofed it to our hotel on the Arno at the Ponte Vecchio (quite a ways with our luggage over cobblestones). Got into our room and changed for a hot day in the city, then hoofed it over to Santa Croce for a visit and to chat with Barbara Gori, the woman who runs the Leather School, Scuola del Cuoio. This business was created by the Franciscans to teach the poor a skill back in the Renaissance. Now it is one of the foremost creative leather product producers in Florence. Had a nice visit with Barbara Gori who runs the place now that her sister has retired. She is very savvy about the business, about the ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Pisa September 30th 2018

Early morning train to Pisa, the “locale” which stops at 7 stations before Empoli and 9 stations to Pisa, with two minutes to change trains! We were movin’ fast and happy to make the trip in just under 90 minutes. Checked into our hotel, Royal Victoria, and contacted our son-in-law, Matteo, to meet up and have lunch with his sister, Magdelena, and his parents, Sergio and Laura, as well as our granddaughter Maya. They generously invited us to the beach where we had a great lunch of various seafood dishes, along with a local white wine by Grifon. Afterwards we checked out the beach and Maya and Matteo took a swim … or at least tested the waters of the Ligurian Sea. Back in Pisa with Matteo and Maya, we stopped for what everyone claims is ... read more
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