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Monday, November 24, 2014

Milan

We had part of one day in Milan.      We chose to walk around and visit the cathedral.      The interior was beautiful, but not unique.    However, the outside had many spires, each topped with a statue and most had many more statues along the spire.      There were statues around windows, doors and everywhere they could possibly place them.












We decided to go to the roof of this beautiful cathedral.     We did, however, cheat by taking the lift most of the way.      




In this shot you can see the mountains around the city.




You can see the crowds in the square.    This shot is at the point we got off the lift.    





This is along the roofline where we were walking.















After climbing a good number of steps, we arrived at the top of the roofline.    





This "appetizing" pan of fish was on sale in an open air market.











This Rossa Peroni was the best beer I've had in some time.     I doubt they have it back home, though.




We are heading back to England to visit family.     From there, back to the U.S.A.    We are ready!



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Florence

We spent a few days in Florence since our trip to the Cinque Terre region was cancelled.     Florence is a beautiful city (although November is a very wet month to visit)    

This is the old bridge over the river.    When you walk across it is non-stop jewelry shops.     The glitter is almost blinding.    Apparently a lot of people spend serious money when they visit.      This is the back side of the bridge.     You can see how they have just built their shops out over the river.











Another restaurant displaying their fresh seafood.





Dinner was a new adventure for me - Pappardelle fatte in casa sul cinghiale - it was incredibly delicious.     I have to admit I wasn't sure if I would like wild boar, though.     Plus, the pappardelle was hand made.




We were told that the Steak Florentina was even better than Kobe Beef.     Bob just had to try it.     These are ordered by weight.....





Some local Chianti Classic with dinner






We stopped by Eatalia - it's a fantastic Italian products only food store.      It would be so much fun to have this nearby.       Their package of Lardo Tuscano caught my eye.     I would have to dig out an authentic Italian cookbook to use some of these items.






Another Wild Boar - this one is a statue





Anyone who has joined the Le Jardiniste ladies on our bus trips knows how much we enjoy our chocolates.    Couldn't resist visiting this shop.





I thought this was a unique street sign.





We stayed in a boutique hotel.     RJ is sitting in the breakfast room.     There are paintings everywhere,       There was also a large ceiling painting in our bedroom.  





If you are in Florence, you must visit the Duomo - a beautiful cathedral.       I am always drawn to the beautiful ceilings.














The exterior was more detailed than most




All of the officers patroling this city wore these white handbags (although I'm sure they have a different name for them)







Rubbers come in many colors






 More sidewalk art, again in chalk that will disappear over night.





You can't come to Florence without visiting the famous statues in the city.    

















We'll say goodbye to Florence with some night shots....










We are off to Milan......




Monday, November 17, 2014

Tuscany day trip

Today we took a bus tour of some areas of Tuscany.     Our guide is a spunky 31 year old Italian guy who is great at his job.     He had a mix of guests, so everything he said was done in English, then French, Italian, and Spanish.      I was impressed how effortlessly he could switch to another language, then another.      We are settled in for an 11 hour trip....

Our first stop was the community of San Gimignano which is famous for its white wine, Vernaccia and its towers.     There were once many watchtowers here but only fourteen remain.     This was a delightful small town.     RJ is already talking about our next trip to the Tuscany region and wants to spend a night or two in this town.














































Tributes to these wild boars are everywhere in the shops.    The sign says Do Not Touch.





Wild Boar Salami anyone?



Do you see the build up of dust on these bottles.     This is one corner of their display window.    The rest of the window and the entire shop are immaculate, so I presume this is a way of saying they have very old wine, too.




There were a couple of these ceramic shops.    Oh how I wish I had a place to ship some to!!!!






Our next stop is the Medieval hilltop town of Monteriggioni.    

Monteriggioni represents one of the most important walled castles in the territory. It is an incredibly preserved intact structure as if time had never passed on the hill from which it elegantly dominates the surrounding landscape.    The castle was built by the Sienese between 1213 and 1219 for defensive purposes.     It was the home of soldiers and their families.

Today, 40 people call this community home and live within the castle walls.     There are also shops and restaurants.    A unique stop.














Would you trust the Chianti Bank with your money?     Do you suppose there is also a Chardonney Bank?



I climbed the stairs to walk along the high wall surrounding this community.    Beautiful views!









On to Siena which is a charming city - and also the hometown of our guide.     That's him with his orange umbrella.     Sorry, I've already forgotten his name, but not his personality.

















This large cathedral was different than others we have visited.     For one thing, the floor in the entire place is inlaid marble.      The yellow colored pieces are a rare type found in the Tuscany region.     The caretakers place carpet overlays on large areas at a time, and rotate them so that there is more even wear on the beautiful marble.    The detail in the floors in incredible.









.    
This large piazzo is in the center of town.    The city of Siena is divided into 17 neighborhoods.     Twice a year there are huge festivals.    Part of the festivities is the Palio Horse Race.     Each neighborhood enters a horse with a jockey riding bareback.    There are no rules to the race - anything goes.      They race on the sidewalk around this piazzo.     They must circle the piazzo three times.   The first horse crossing the finish line wins, whether he has a rider or not.






From here we went to a vineyard for a wine tasting.      We were taught the correct way to pick up and hold a wine glass, how to taste the wine and the best type of glass.    We each had a plate of appetizers to help us determine on our own which goes best with each wine.      What a fun evening.   The Tenuta Torciano San Gimignano vineyard has been making wine since 1720.     Our "expert" is the niece of the current owners and was so much fun..     They do not sell to restaurants or stores, but have five vineyards, so must do a great internet business.    We tasted several wines as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar.       Even the bruschetta on our appetizer plates was local, made by her grandmother.








A beautiful sunset (taken from the bus)