A Travellerspoint blog

Tuscany

sunny 23 °C

We left Florence in a hire car and had a lovely drive through quintessential Tuscan countryside to our next destination, San Gimignano. A walled city with 14 towers, we had yet another gorgeous traditional stone apartment. We really have found some absolute beauties to stay in, all through Owners Direct, and very reasonably priced, mostly cheaper than 3 star hotels. We had a day out driving, but mostly these few days were spent just quietly hanging out in this beautiful village. Every day of our whole trip, we have spent quite a bit of time just sitting in cafés (always outdoors) watching local life wander by. Jim is currently climbing yet another tower while I catch up writing. I got him a Fitbit for his birthday, so he's enjoying keeping track of daily activity. So far we have averaged around 12,000 steps per day over the 4 weeks, which is about 9km, so that's not bad going.

Food and Wine
The coffee is always fantastic, Tuscan bread is awful (no salt), and every pizza I've seen looks unappealing. I've never been a fan of pasta, so that does make meals more of a challenge, as Italy just doesn't seem to have other cuisine well represented. The salads are great though, the best bit is that the dressings, oils etc are on the table to add, rather than being already in the salad. This means I get to avoid horrid mayonnaise and vinegar. And also, after only 51 years, I now like olives. Maybe I only like Italian olives, I don't know, but I definitely like them here. The local red wines are dreadful, so I've had to change to white. Our favourite refreshing drink is Spritz (1 part prosecco, 1 part Apero, 1 part soda water)
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Posted by kazandjim 09:02 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

The Duomo

And the Modesty Mafia

sunny 26 °C

The Duomo
And the Modesty Mafia
I've been in a jolly lot of churches in my life, and in recent years, a lot of European cathedrals. As mentioned in a previous post, I have mixed feelings about them. But I have a new bugbear today. Next to the queue to enter the Duomo in Florence are the modesty mafia. I was wearing a sleeveless top (28 degrees and humid) and was told by 2 men in suits to cover up to enter the church (as were many other women) Fortunately I had bought a scarf 5 minutes earlier, or I wouldn't have been able to enter. Thinking about it now, I should have just not gone in. I was so annoyed. I understand respecting sacred places, and respecting other cultures etc, but these guys are supposedly telling me that God doesn't like my bare shoulders. If God is omnipresent/ omniscient/omnipotent, surely he/she has seen my shoulders (and everything else) outside the walls of the church as well as inside. This is just about a bunch of men controlling women's bodies, as they do in so many other ways. Places like the Duomo have lost their sense of the sacred now that they have hoards of tourists traipsing through, quite possibly no actual church congregation, often charge money to enter, have beggars sitting at the door, and have their own souvenir shops. I am the one who is offended.

Aside from that the Duomo is quite astounding, but I preferred Bacillica Di Santa Croce.

Posted by kazandjim 02:30 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Florence

Our first stop in Tuscany

sunny 26 °C

The train trip from Venice to Florence was only 2 hours on the fast train, so after we checked in to our next apartment, we thought we'd make the most of a free eurail travel day and pop down to Rome. 1.5 hours and 300 km later we were in Rome. Caught a cab to the Colosseum which was close by, had a pizza and a few photos, then back to Florence. We had decided against staying in Rome this trip, so this was a great little opportunity. Our apartment overlooks the River Arno and is about 200m from the Pontevecchio. Another great find. The only drawback with these ancient buildings is the steep stairs. I have to reserve that last bit of energy at the end of the day for the 50 stairs up to our rooms.
Florence is beautiful. Yet another city steeped in history with amazing things at every turn. I'm at information overload now, and doubt I'm remembering all the things I'm learning and seeing every day.
So many massive Catholic Churches full of priceless treasures. If they each sold a trinket, they could easily fund the compensation for abuse. I know I should be grateful for the opportunity to see such amazing churches, and I am, but I can't help but feel these places are not what Jesus had in mind.
Currently standing in a queue in the sun (half hour so far) to see "David". I hope he's worth it.
.... It was worth it.

Posted by kazandjim 07:57 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

A Week in Venice

My first Stay in Italy

sunny 24 °C

I can't believe I had to talk Jim into coming to Venice. Talk about a pig in mud. After nearly 8 quiet hours on the train from Vienna (6 seat carriage to ourselves) arriving in Venice was overwhelming. People, boats, hustle, bustle, frenetic, crazy, beautiful, Venice. It is of course a place like no other, but takes a bit of getting used to. Nothing is easy, nothing is cheap. The uniqueness of Venice has come at a cost. Tourists (yes we are tourists too) everywhere, more than I've seen anywhere else. We are staying on the outer arm, in a private house with four apartments, so even though we are only one ferry stop from St Mark's Square, we are out of the fray. We had a lovely soirée with our bourgeois hostess along with the other guests (the home has been in the family for 300 years). Everyone knows about Venice, so no need for me to write the travel brochure here. We have spent a week wandering through lanes and alleys, up and down countless bridges (Venice is flat, but not so you'd know when you're crossing bridges all day), in and out of multiple churches, galleries, museums, shops, some wonderful Osterias, and spent quite a bit of time on the water. No gondola ride for us though, a bit too twee for me, and at €80 for 30 minutes, I bought a few necklaces instead.

Posted by kazandjim 08:49 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Gastav Klimt

Golden Vienna

I'm a fan of Klimt, particularly since I saw a copy of the Beethoven Freis at the NGV in Melbourne a few years ago. Vienna is Klimt City, so I have now seen the original Beethoven Freis at the Secession Gallery, the original working canvas of "The Kiss" at the MAK Gallery, and "the Kiss" itself at the Upper Beldevere Gallery, along with 23 other works of his. I am glad that Bronte bought me a big Klimt book for Christmas a few years ago, as otherwise I'd have had to buy one of the many on offer. I am also grateful that Lucy and Bronte bought me a glass Klimt dish in London last year, as it is still the most beautiful Klimt souvenir I've seen. And I can tell you I've seen a LOT now. There are multiple shops dedicated to every thing imaginable with "the Kiss" on it. I sure the man could never had imagined his work on umbrellas, pens, bags, every imaginable piece of crockery, magnets, you name it, "the Kiss" is on it. There is so much more of his work that is exquisite, so I'm actually quite pleased that mostly only "the Kiss" has been done to death. I suspect no Viennese person would have Klimt in their home. What a shame.

Posted by kazandjim 02:11 Archived in Austria Comments (1)

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