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ITALY, etc.

Thoughts on ItalyÖ.

Pictures from England, and the first trip to Italy:

Before Italy, I was in England, at David and Enidís 1480AD cottage, farm, etc. and this was the view from my window of their house, in early summer.

And this is the view of the garden from nearby the same window.

ITALY

Firenze

Piezzale Michelangiolo, May 27th, 2:30pm.


If a 'vespa' is a wasp, what is this: An 'ape'? It means 'bee', is made by the same company as a Vespa, and is a one-seater truck about 3í tall, and well, itís as cute as a bee.


The Arno and the Ponte Vecchio taken from the end of the second hallway at the Uffizi.

Outside the Uffizi... picture takers were everywhere.


Fiesole

It's a community north of Florence by a mile or two up the hill; take the 7 bus for a beautiful ride

(Note the small knob in the distant blur of terracotta that is the Duomo.)

Itís the same as the one in the image at the top of this page taken from Piezzale Michelangiolo from the south of the city.

Florence/Fiesole is not a huge place, very walkable, everything is on a human scale, almost delicate, very feminine.)

The view from one villaís car park, walking up the path to the monastery.

Then there is a little walk down the back side, away from Florence.

A spot to climb up to, and sit under a small fig tree, to admire the villas and hillsides.

People donít really walk much out of Fiesole central (two blocks across), so we had everything to ourselves.

Capitivating view out the back but how do you rent a villa?

The air feels warm and soft, everything for eating is delicious, fragrant, healthy, and you walk everywhere, adding to the feeling of simultaneous vigor and langor.

Florence is like going to the most sensual spa in the world.

Veniza

Campo di Santa Margherita May 30th at 5:45pm, busy with the boys playing ball, women dressed very fashionably holding water in hand at the fountain for the dog.

There are boats for driving around. Venice is like a movie set in some ways, but itís real, people live there.

The tiniest little back streets, where the buildings lean in on each other with a sliver of light coming through are so charming, you wonder how it all keeps working, without caving in on itself. There is a lot of remodeling/refurbishing to keep it together.

This is the view as you come out of the train station. Leaving Venice on the trainÖ.

They love women and babies here (lowest birthrate in the world, 1.12).  This seat is reservedÖ.

From the train.

Tuscany

Walking down the hill in CortonaÖ Tuscan hillsÖ

Siena

Itís an hour south of Florence, and really beautiful.  Even the view from the hotel (third and fourth window from the left, called Il Giardino) was amazing.

Most of the building was in the Leocorno (Unicorn) contrade. There are 17 contrades or districts in Siena, and 10 of them race

Every year in the 800-year-old Palio.  The horses race around the campo, twice a year, once on July 2 and again on August 16.

Leocorno has won the previous two years. (The woman who owns the hotel told us this very proudly.)

Siena was so sweet; here is a view from the tower at the Campo.   I could spend weeks there. 

There is a lot to see and do, and the cathedral is stunning.  You fill and fill and fill more still with the art and architecture.

Spending time in Italy is like eating the biggest meal of your life, after which you are so full, bursting, you find another beautiful place and fill again.

The colors of the stone on walls, streets and roofs are delicious, brown, siena. I spent every minute floating from one sensation to another. The food was delicious, particularly the fresh porcini.

Somehow the Bowl was able to get them from Italy fresh ($7 a pound in June!) so that I could recreate in Berkeley what Da Trombicche makes: a melting porcini brochette. And try their anchovies with pesto. You will never have anything so good.

Oseteria Castelvecchio is where we had dinner the last night and it was one of the best meals of my life.

Pisa

The scene in Pisa was much more interesting than I was expecting.  Itís not just the leaning tower, but a really stunning cathedral, and 5 or 6 other museums, too.

Also, I went to a really good slow food restaurant (recommended) and found the rest of the city so interesting and beautiful.  Worth checking out for an afternoon.