Aperitivo Tour? Si Grazie!

You know I do my share of roaming and research, but after several days of going solo, I was up for some guidance and expertise. 

Previously when I checked with Coral Sisk of Curious Appetite about booking her Aperitivo Tour, she said this week was the only week it was not offered. She prefaced this sad news with “Super Bummer”.  Then, outta the blue she contacted me and said it had opened up and was I still interested?  Si Grazie!!

We were to meet 18:30 in front of Procacci on via Tornabuoni. Several mornings I have woken up saying, “Today, I visit Procacci”, but I’ve yet to. So, this is perfetto. 

Shortly after I arrive (yes, just a tad early), three girls about Avery’s age walk up verifying with their phone map that they have arrived at the correct spot.  I walk over, introduce myself telling them I am sure we are in for a treat. This will be my 3rd (a 4th scheduled for when Avery arrives) event with Curious Appeite and I have had great experiences. 

Within moments Coral arrives,  Let the tour begin. 

Procacci is our first stop. 


“This delicatessen was founded by Leopoldo Procacci in 1885 and, due to its historical, artistic and artisan heritage, it quickly gained an excellent reputation with the Florentine population for its gastronomic delicacies made with truffles (King Vittorio Emanuele II even made the shop an official supplier to the royal family, granting its founder, Leopoldo Procacci, the right to include the royal coat of arms on his signage). Savoring these specialties continues to be a popular ritual both with Florentines and visitors.”

We sample the Antinori family Prosecco,

paired perfectly with the dainty truffle sandwich they are know for.  

Coral educates us on the difference between champagne and prosecco. We learn prosecco is meant to be enjoyed young.  I look forward to finding (and pricing) this crisp, clean prosecco at home. 

Walking to our 2nd destination, Coral shares some history of Piazza Repubblica. 

The Column of Abundance is a 1956 replica.  The original was erected in 1431 at a crossing of the ancient Roman city. 

A little food, a little drink, a little art, a little history, a little more food and drink…my kind of tour. 

Next stop,

Osteria Nuvoli. As I prepare to take an exterior shot, one of the purveyors teases me saying I can take the photo, but because he is famous, I cannot sell it…deal. 

Coral is excited to bring us here. She said usually the groups are too large to visit this establishment. Curious Appetite caps their tours at 6 people, that should give you an idea how small this place is. 

Before heading down to the cellar, I notice these strips of paper blowing in the breeze. I ask, “Que significa?” The guy waiting on us proceeds to tell Coral that these are Treasure Hunts of sorts. He then goes outside and pulls one from its hiding spot and explains further. 

He says people hunt them, find them, then sign them. I say, “Like geocaching?” He lights up and says, “Si! Geocaching!” He then rolls the treasure back up and retucks it away. 

The girls and Coral can’t believe I’ve noticed something so seemingly insignificant. I tell them when you travel alone, you notice a lot…and you learn to ask questions. 

Now for the real treasure. 

In the cellar we are treated to an abundance of local carni e formaggi as well as both un vino bianco e rosso. All molto buono. 

With the wine, food and fun conversation, I think we could have stayed here all night but Coral tells us we have one more stop to make. 


We go from local rustic to local swank. This place and the cocktails prepared for us left me speechless. 

Before we begin, Coral gives us a couple of folklore tales about the Negroni. 

Here’s a bit of background from Food & Wine-

“1919, The Beginning: The story of the Negroni begins at the Caffè Casoni in Florence. There’s no documented historical account, but it is believed by cocktailians that Count Camillo Negroni invented the drink when he ordered an Americano made with gin in place of the usual soda water. It was a success and not long after, the Negroni family founded the Negroni distillery, which produced a ready-to-drink version of the cocktail that they called Antico Negroni 1919.

1947, Word Spreads: Orson Welles made one of the first documented remarks about the cocktail. He tried one while on location in Rome and commented to the Coshocton Tribune, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” ”

This was my first and I am sure it will never be topped. 

Our cocktails were brought to us in a clear box filled with smoke. When Roberto opened the box I wasn’t sure if I was at Mass or a cocktail bar. The scent that escaped was fuised with herbs and spices. 

For four Southern gals (the girls I’m with are from Georgia) this was a cocktail on a whole new level. 

The accompanying “snacks” dazzled as well. 

Coral advises us to drink up, as we’ve got one more Negroni to go. 

To my left appears Roberto again, this time with Negroni Chianti for all.  Lovely cut glass with hand chiseled ice cube and a spiced version of a classic Negroni. 

Oh and of course this cocktail came with its own sidekick. 

What an evening! Coral does an amazing tour and she is so generous with her time and talents. We definitely went over the 2.5 hours advertised. 

When it was time to say our goodbyes, Coral asked the girls what their plans were for the evening. They said they had none. So, you know me…I asked them if they had been Oltrarno.  No? Andiamo!

I took them on a quick spin to some of my favorite spots near my appartamento.  They commented that maybe being a tour guide is in my future…I said I had no desire to be part is someone’s hopes and dreams…too much pressure. 

Buona notte nuovi amici. Buona notte di Firenze. Buona notte luna. 

All Roads Lead to Florence

Travel Day! Time to head back to Firenze. 


Always good to say an extra prayer or two before you embark on any journey.   I am waiting for my car, I look over my shoulder and there is a niche…perfetto. The car is 15 or so minutes late, but other than that…wait, he did abrubtly swerve into one of the SOS inlets to get a drink of water, which confused us all..and when we attempted to pull back out on the A1, there were more swerves, honks and words, my eyes were closed and I was once again in prayer…but other than that, all went well and we arrived Napoli Stazione. 

I shared the ride with a retired couple from Brisbane. They were both teachers and now spend their time traveling. They gave me a few tips on venturing further south. We shared emails and I look forward to gleaning a bit from their adventures. 


I remember being at the Napoli station with Mom and the kids. We had read enough about Napoli to be frightened. We moved around the stazione like a tight flock of penguins sheltering each other from the cold. 

I had not previously purchased our train tickets from here to Roma…stroke of luck. So when I arrived, I checked out my options and chose italo treno. THIS is the way to travel by train.

We all have assigned seats, no one is living in the luggage compartment. Although I was a bit hesitant (synonym for nervous…see Danita, I’m trying) to leave my bag so far away from me. 

The journey was to take 3 hours, stopping in Roma first. 

Arriving in Firenze, I walked to my new place. This one I had also not secured earlier, but looking at the map when I did, I was pretty sure I knew right where it was. 


Via Parione…right off  Via Tornabuoni and doors down from da Florence where I previously enjoyed aperitivo. Small, but a perfetto location until my 1st appartamento is reserved again. I rested here a bit doing some preliminary planning for when Avery arrives…I cannot wait!!

I cleaned up for dinner and read about a trattoria near me on yelp.   Since I had turned my phone on for traveling, I called to make a reservation. The gentleman on the line told me it was too difficult now to make a reservation as they were very busy. He advised I come over and wait. So I headed out. When I walked in and said, “Tavalo per una per favore”, he said pointing with a big smile, “Oh…eeetttaaaa eeesssa you!”  A table was ready right away. 


After dinner, I just roamed. The breeze was nice and coolish, la Luna was rising…

I had thought it was going to be difficult leaving the sea for the city, but after a perfetto passeggiata in Firenze…


I realize differently. 

By the way…Fall is all about fur according to Prada…

Walking by Palazzo Vecchio familiar music filled the air. ​

​I remember hearing this same guitarist playing this same song on a previous visit. Still just as pretty.  

Each night in luglio there is an outdoor movie in the corridor of the Uffizi.  Although I don’t stay for the entire movie, I am enamoured.  And yes…that is la Luna overhead. Bella, no?I make my way back home calling it a night well before most. 

Arrivano Positano

Today we head further south to Positano, a highlight of the Amalfi Coast.  We are to board our ferry at 10:30, so getting packed and ready is not a rush.  We even return to Puro enjoying a fabulous croissant and cappuccino.

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Arriving at the port, we are ushered up to a little cafe and told to wait until our boat is called.  When we approached our table, I commented on the cute, little Peroni napkin holder.  Without skipping a beat, the waiter said, “I make-a you-a good price-a.”

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Each time he passed, he would tell me how easily I could slip it into my suitcase and take it home.  So tempting if the darn thing didn’t weigh so much.

While we sat…or let me say Danita sat and I kinda hovered, both wondered if we were indeed going to get called for our ferry.  One large group had already gotten up and left for their ferry, but our waiter said again as he passed, “Not-a you-a”.  Hhhhmmmm…I’m not so sure about-a that-a.  “Il conto per favore”.  WOW-a!  3euro bottle of water.  This was our first time we felt scammed.  We head down to the docks.  As we leave the cafe, we are told we are to meet our ferry at gate 3.  1/2 way down the docks, we are told to meet our ferry at gate 6.  A bit further down…gate 2.  At this point, we just follow the crowd waiting to get on the only boat…not really a ferry.

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We are about 6 or so people from boarding and the line stops moving.  A long phone conversation is had between a crew member and whoever is on the other end of the line.  It is obvious our boat is exceeding capacity…but hey, trains, buses, why not boats.   We are finally invited on board, squeezing past all the people who got up from the cafe before us.

With no other choice, I reluctantly leave my suitcase by the entrance of the boat and squeeze my way up top.  There is no way I can endure this ride crushed in the small, enclosed cabin area below.  I’m going to need some fresh air.

Up top, the early birds are sprawled out and comfortable.  I get it…they were here first, but slowly a few people start moving their legs off the ends of their lounge chairs allowing others to perch.  I decide to stay standing allowing a better vantage point for photos.  But after 30 minutes or so, I ask the 4 people on a 5-6 person cushioned bench, if they could possibly just allow me to sit on the very edge of their bench.  They simply stare.  A lady across says, “She’s small…she won’t take up much room.” And the two closest to me scoot…just a tad.  The other two…do not budge…not an inch.  The two who are taking up the most room on the whole boat, refuse to give an inch.

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Grumpy there was slathered in sunscreen, so I practiced this phrase.

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Danita wanted to translate, “Your face is going to freeze like that”, but she figured that bit of wisdom would have come too late.

The entire ride people around us were complaining the boat is over crowded and this isn’t even the correct ferry.  According to our tickets, we were to be on a bigger, faster ferry.  Again…a delayed arrival in Positano.  Buonvenuto Italai!

Once I got my perch, I was not concerned.  I just sat back (kinda) and took in the view.

 

I have been to Positano once, that is if you count a couple of hours during a bus excursion down the Amalfi Coast.  I was clueless how we were to negotiate this vertical city…with luggage.

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If you ever come to Positano, please learn from our experience.  When the Porters come by on their tiny “trucks” and ask if you want your luggage brought to your hotel, the correct answer is “Si.  Grazie Mille.”  If I knew now what I didn’t know then, I wouldn’t have lugged my suitcase up, up, up the first 70 or so stairs to the Chiesa.  Although Danita did not have her suitcase, she did have several overstuffed bags traveling like, in her words, “a little lady in Mexico”.

By the time we made it to the level at the Chiesa, we were hot, confused and speaking for myself…a little disheartened.  I thought perhaps I had made a mistake in adding Positano to the itinerary, Giada gushes aside.

We each have a brief phone conversation with our hotel, which was useless.  While Danita stands with our bags, I do a quick info gathering trek…I came back with no answers, but I show her a picture of a shirt I saw.

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Her response?  “You went shopping without me?!”

With no cars/taxis in sight…we continue to head up, up, up, dragging my suitcase through the throngs of tourist in these narrow, narrow passageways.

I am just about to give up, when we spot a taxi…Danita approaches the driver and she tells us she’s reserved but another will be here in 2 minutes.  Sure enough, minutes later, we are winding our way through Positano.

Months ago as we planned this trip, Danita took over securing our accommodations in Sorrento, Positano and Roma.  So she gets ALL the credit for Villa Yiara.

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Not only is Villa Yiara lovely, but Imara, the owner, is such a wonderful hostess.  She assisted us with numerous issues and gave perfect restaurant recommendations every time.  The Positano experience would not have been the same without her. Listening to her secure car transfers for us was like having our own Italian assistant while in Positano. Grazie Mille Imara!

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Now for some cibo and a little exploration.

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These are the FIRST set of steps (67 of them…I counted) we must go down each time we explore down from our room.  And of course, what goes down…must come up. Throughout our stay, we wonder how older people or those not in shape can visit Positano.

Imara’s first recommendation of Caffe Positano is a perfect one.  We have not eaten since our croissant and I vowed to go hearty.  Risotto con gameretti, pomodori e limon is my choice.  Danita chooses Fiori di Zucca Ripieni and a insalata

And like buoni amici, we share.

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The view breathtaking, the food wonderful and nourishing…we are revived.

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Luggage Update- Still not here…word is…it’s gone to Capri…most likely…

Our plan for Danita’s last day tomorrow is to spend it at la spiaggia.  But without a suit, Danita shops for one…and I am ever so helpful.

“Are you opposed to purple sequins?”…

“Yes.”

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“What about beads and sparkles?”…

“Not really…”

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The hunt continues.

Down near la spiaggia, I see this little girl dragging her bucket benind her…who needs a puppy when you’ve got a bucket…so cute.

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At la spiaggia, we scope out where we would like to spend our day tomorrow.

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Originally we would have probably spent at least two days at the beach, but since our plans have changed a bit…we decide to splurge on just the one.   Big reveal tomorrow.

On our way back up to Villa Yiarra, we stop choosing a bottiglie regionali di vino and plan to enjoy our terrazzo for the evening.

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But as la Luna rose, we toyed with the idea of going out to get a bite to eat.

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“Do you want to go eat?”

“No, let’s just stay in.”

Seconds pass…

OK…let’s go eat…

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Ci vediamo domani!

Il Morso del Brunch

OK… I know this is out of order, because by the blog we are about to arrive in Positano, but in real time…I’m back at ditta Artigianale in Firenze.
And because today is a holiday, and I know you have time to make yourself a nice breakfast…here’s what I want you to do.

* Slice two thick pieces of a good Tuscan pane you have. Lightly toast, drizzle with a bit of your best Extra Virgin Tuscan Olive Oil.
* Grab some ripe, cherry tomatoes, cut in half, crush and smear across your toast.
* Out of the fridge, grab that yummy, creamy pesto you made the other day, the fresh burrata and the arugula. Oh wait…also 2 or 3 slices of prosciutto crudo.
* Add a little arugula on the toast for color and crunch.
* Place the prosciutto lovingly atop.
* Now give yourself a generous portion of the pesto and burrata, you’ll want enough to savor some with each bite.

Buon Appetito!

Croutons con pomodoro struts into, prosciutto crudo, burratina e pesto.

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Un Altro Giorno, Un’altra Spiaggia

As I mentioned yesterday, it is going to be another low key day.
When Danita returns from her run, she says, “OK…I’ve got an adventure for us.”

We throw on our suits and head out the door. Today, we walk all the way through town and through a park. Soon after exiting the park, the terrain changes drastically…hence the “adventure”.

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Luckily Danita let me borrow some rubber bottomed flip flops to help me negotiate these steep slopes. She’s wearing her running shoes knowing the importance, having been about 1/2 way down already this morning on her run.

We make it down, down, down and it was worth the haul. This beach is MUCH less crowded, the water is prettier AND…

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They also have SPRITZ!!

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During the walk up, we affirm ourselves because in Danita’s words, “Many could not have made it to the bottom. Most could not make it to the top.”
Yay Us! Gelato per tutti!

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And wait…I spoke too soon regarding our disappointment in the food here…a few blocks ago, I notice a young girl gnawing on a piece of rosemary focaccia…si, ho buoni occhi…and I start sweeping my eyes from side to side as we walk. Vittoria!!!

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Pizza…mi porta a casa!

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When I was standing in the middle of the via, getting this shot…a man laughed as he walked by and said, “Arista…” As he rolled his occhi.

Right about now, we realize we have left two bottles of Marche Verdicchios in the freezer back at the villa…Pardon the quality of this photo, but I was laughing so hard trying to capture the moment questioning, “Disperato?” as I poured.

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As was already decided, dinner at the villa tonight. We did grab a bit of pizza and also have some burrata left from our first night, a couple of pomodori, a few olives…but there’s an enoteca we’ve seen advertisements for…and being who we are…we wanna go. So we hop in the car, not even cleaning up from la spiaggia and find it. And what a find it was!

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Our intention was to go in and get a regional bottle or two, but when we asked about regional wines…our little friend began to pour…

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And cut, and slice. We sat and chatted with a local man…picture Pablo Picassoesque, only Italian, not Spanish…while his wife was busy shopping. We were having a difficult time communicating with our little wine guy in the ascot and cool occhiali, so this guy stepped in as if to say, “I’ll interpret…proceed.” Well, that just made the situation funnier and the hour here more enjoyable. We even got Danita to try a regional red…

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Which Le piacque!
Every wine they sell here at Enoteca Azzurra is regional. As we were having taste after taste, cheese after cheese and salami after salami, I asked…”Che soon regionali?” “TUTTI soon regionali!” He replied as he showed me his little map.

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And by the way, I asked if I could have the map…Nope.

Waiting in line to buy the bottle of our choice, the first taste we had…

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“Pablo” asked, “Di dove e?”, “Sono da Texas.”….”AAhhhh! TEXAS!” He exclaims as he nods knowingly pointing at my hat…”Cow-boy-a Hat-a”…No, it is NOT a cowboy hat…although I heard a little Italian kid calling it that as we trekked down to the beach…it’s a fedoraish…lots of people are wearing them, but when they learn we’re from Texas…it’s a cowboy hat.

Back at the villa, we create un altro incredibile board, enjoy our verdicchio

 

The night is lovely.  La Luna is overhead (thinking of you Avery and Dalton)… Salute un’altra bella Notte in villa.

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Andiamo a Ravenna

As I mentioned, Danita’s hotel is just a few meters (look at me using my metric) down from mine, so before our first day of treno travel, we grab a quick bite and cappuccino at her place.

Her concierge (rough morning for him…more on that from Danita) calls our cab and we are scooted to Santa Maria Novella Stazione…a bit early….certo. I know we only need to arrive 30 minutes max before our treno departs but I do not want to rob Danita of the Esperienza Della Stazione.

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Dieci minuti before our treno is to partire, it arrives, we board, find our reserved seats…no issues.

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I hope you enjoyed that seamless segment of our treno travel…because that is where it ends!
Arrive Bologna.

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To be honest, days have passed and I do not even remember all the issues we encountered…but I’ll do my best.

We wait a bit in the Bologna Stazione, feeling pretty confident about this excursion (silly, silly me). I see our train number but the platform numbers to not jive. I’m still calm at this point as I approach one of many Trenitalia uomini who attempt to assist. First one says, no…we should be on binario 10…so we scoot to 10. Those of you who travel by treno are aware of the ups and downs, literally and figuratively, involved in changing your binario. Danita is determined to use the lift each time and I agree…for now.

On binario 10, we begin to wonder…because again…the information in my hand and the information on the board and the information on their little poster thingy and the information we are getting from the workers on the platforms…don’t jive.

Starting to get a bit nervous now…I go to the window to ask. With 4 people in front of me, I am aware this could take 4 days…I could go into a 10 paragraph account of the conversations had while I was in line, the faces and gestures made by the uomini behind the windows, sharing their treno expertise with those in need…but I will stick to the facts.

During all this, there were additional tickets bought…

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There were trains we tried to shove ourselves onto but could not. It is one thing when traveling solo…I can and will squeeze on if need be. But when traveling by twos…makes it a bit more difficult. Stay tuned though…it can and WILL be done.

I make it to the front of the line and my exasperated uomo tells me the next direct (and by that I mean we do not have to switch trains…silly you, did you think that meant there were not 10 stops in between?) train to  Ravenna ,on the way to Ancona, is in an hour from binario 7….Andiamo a 7.

We arrive at binario 7, which is between 2 stalled trains. We get “comfy”. Danita starts to read and I…I don’t remember what I did…write, edit, not sure. Anyway, a few minutes later, Danita says, “I don’t know how smart it is for us to be here all alone between two stalled trains where no one can see us.” Great…add that to my worries.

I hear an announcement in Italian for the train we originally wanted, different time…you guessed it, different track. Andiamo binario 3.

This time, I’m taking the stairs. I hustle up as the little blinking light indicating departure is flashing away. I look behind, no Danita. I make it to the top of the stairs, see a full to capacity treno…look behind, no Danita. The door closes in front of me. I push the button, opening it again…welcoming looks, by the way, on all the faces inside, stick my foot in…look behind me, the top of Danita’s head coming up the stairs. We both shove and I mean shove in with our luggage…look at each other and start laughing. Andiamo Ravenna….most likely.

After molto, molto stops and very little relief in capacity, (we ride the whole two hours in the entrance area…notice Danita’s foot at the bottom right of the photo below.   Comfy as can be, on the floor of the train, with her kindle…Doug cringing here!) we arrive in Ravenna.

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We take a taxi (no discussion needed) to our B&B.

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I tell Danita, “Wait…I need to get a pic.” She replies, “With sweat from the front or back?”
We are greeted by Concerto. Kinda of a younger, flirtier version on Franco (mi amico in Capri). He insists we do not touch our bags, but when he goes to lift Danita’s he makes a groaning noise and asks, “Quanti giorni rimani in Italia?!”

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Our first order of business is to wash our hands, crank the air down (remember…we are in Italy…not going to get a whole lot of relief) and go find a place to get a bite to eat. Concerto is concerned because this is not a time where much is open. It is about 2:00 or so. He does recommend a place near San Vitale (the reason we/I am here), so we head there to find our paradise in Ravenna.

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Tre Piccoli Porcellini…

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As we enjoy this respite, we try not to slip off our chairs from the sweat. Everyone is talking about the high heat…but it’s in celsius…so all we know it is indeed molto caldo.

If you are in Ravenna, we highly suggest you put Casa Spadoni on your list…maybe due or tre times…as we did.

After our wonderful lunch of caprese and bicchiere di vino bianco…oh and let’s not forget the best pane we have had…we head for the mosaics.

The Basilica of San Vitale is one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in all of Europe. In Art II, this is where we pick up our Art History lessons.

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Ravenna, more specifically the mosaics of San Vitale, has been on my “want to see” list for years. I feel I bring so much more to our class discussions when I have had the experience of standing in front of the art.

The groundbreaking of the building was in 527 and the consecration in 547.
The Apse mosaic depicts (all in tiny, squares of glass mind you) a young Christ atop the world. Christ’s right hand is offering the martyr’s crown to Saint Vitale and on the left, Bishop Ecclesius offers a model of the church to Christ.

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An aspect I enjoy speaking about are mosaics of the East Roman Emperor Justinian I and his Empress Theodora. This depiction undoubtedly illustrated that the Emperor is head of both church and state.

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The triumphal arch mosaics of Jesus and the Apostles is equally breathtaking.

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At this juncture, Danita heads back to Casa Spadoni and I roam and roam with the intent of finding the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe and its mosaics but only find Sant’Apollinare Nuovo…kinda. Anyway…I’ve let that go.

Disappointed in myself (but remember…I’ve let that go) and hot, I return to Casa Spadoni where Danita has made herself at home. We have an aperitivo, Spritz for me…Vino for her.

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We both decide we need a couple of these maialino bicchiere, and while the waitress, Giada, (yes, we are on a first name basis with the staff) is washing us some, she notices me drawing. From the corner of my eye, I can tell this excites her. She returns with her sketchbook and pen pouch, offering me anything I need.

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We share, as best we can, the enjoyment we find in drawing. She, much more talented than I, loved showing me her work, explaining a bit of many of the pieces as she did.

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I think it was the highlight of her day someone took the time to listen and see this side of her.

With our aperitivo in us, we return to the B&B, shower and nap.

Neither one of us had much interest in getting up for dinner, but we rallied and returned to…Casa Spadoni.

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Our first time, walking back to the B&B, we were not sure which way to head when the road forked. From a window above us, a man called out, “Do you need help-a?”

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This time, walking back, we laughed when we realized we were basically standing under the sign of our B&B when we were confused.

Tutti e ‘bene quel che finisce bene…

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Last Day in Firenze (for now)

Some of you have communicated with me that you get concerned or disappointed when there is not a post to greet you each morning. I appreciate the (positive) feedback very much. I do want to share with you a few of the struggles I go through…daily with this darn thing.
Let’s take this morning for example….

Danita, like I did myself, pushed through Day 1, not resting until the Italian day was over, trying to adjust her body to our new life. So, at our “Buona Notte” last night, it was decided that she would sleep until she woke up and then we would connect. This would give me time to write a a bit.

What is the saying?…Best Laid Plans?…

I got my photos to transfer over, having edited earlier…began to write, and got about tre parole in and the cursor would stall. I would be typing away, deep in dialogue with myself…thoughts from my head to the keypad, look up and the cursor would be blinking away. Then the screen would go blank with a “friendly reminder” saying there was an ERROR and work had not been saved. I sat…I’ll use the word “patiently” here…for about tre rounds of this, then I told myself if it happened ancora…I would walk away. After at least sei volte di piu, contemplating throwing this thing out the finestra each time, I walked away.

I returned to ditta Artigianale for some caffe.

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While I enjoy this place, I look at my list I previously made, checking off what we had accomplished giorno uno.

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I notice this establishment offers free wifi and connect completing the Palazzo Life post using solo mio thumbs.
With food and drink at my finger tips, this could become my nuovo ufficio.

A couple sitting next to me in a little side lounge area was enjoying a refreshing looking lemony beverage. I leaned over to inquire if they spoke English…they did.

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(CinCin Cierra!)

The couple was from Sweden. They come to Firenze twice a year. They used to fly, now they drive. Driving enables them to bring more wine home. Certo. While I was engaged with them, Danita texted, “I just woke up”…”Going to get dressed. Need coffee.” I asked her if her place was still serving. “No it’s noon”. So she came to me.

After a cappuccino grande, we headed back to Mercato Centrale. Most of the meat venders were closed or closing for the day, but Danita still got to see some of the glory.

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As we walked by one of the amazing vendors I had visited in 2015 gathering ingredients for our cooking class, he stuck out his hand with something he wanted us to try. To be polite…we did, walked a few steps away, then I promptly returned to buy some of that crunchy goodness under the salty goodness of the salami.

I ask him, “Come si chiama”, as I pointed at the crunchy goodness. His response as he handed me more…”ffffllllaaaaatttttt-a bbrreadddd-a”. Maybe this is where the term “Wise Guy” originates.

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From the Mercato, we roamed to Ospedale Degli Innocenti.

“No problem of the Renaissance era moves the heart more than the abandonment of newborn children. Innocent, helpless, forsaken, and most often female, left by the roadside, in a ditch, or on a doorstep, the prey of animals and I’ll-intentioned individuals eager to sell them to brothers, their plight inspired a desire to see these gettatelli (little throwaways) cared for properly. Although throughout the medieval centuries and on into the Renaissance, many European cities built multipurpose charitable institutions to care for the poor at all stages of their lives, Florence was the first to commission an institution exclusively for the care of orphaned and abandoned children.” – An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence by Judith Testa

As we approached, I was struck by the significance this beautiful place would have for Danita.

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The conception of the Ospedale Degli Innocenti was in 1410 and histories of Italian Renaissance architecture mention the facade of the Innocenti as the first important work of early Renaissance architecture. Architect Of the facade?…yep…Brunelleschi. And who funded much of the completion?…yep…the Medicis. Ya gotta love these guys! Palle!Palle!Palle!

The first foundling, a baby girl, was abandoned on February 5, 1445 in a ceramic basin/manger set between statues of Mary and Joseph, intended for that very purpose. This manger was later replaced by a wheel, half of which extended into the loggia. People leaving their babies could place them on the wheel, turning it into the Innocenti and their identity would not be known.

As we walk under the loggia of the Ospedale, we start up a conversation with a couple from Australia. I was telling Danita what I knew about the history, I paused for a moment and the gentleman said, “Go on…” Turns out he is from Italy but has lived in Australia for 53 years. He says, “Longer than you”, meaning my age. I reply, “solo da due anni”. He is thrilled to learn my attempts at his mother tongue. He asks where we are from and after hearing “Texas”, he lights up and says with gusto, “Ahhh…John Wayne…Bang-Bang”…yep….that’s us.

Next we make two returns…the first, to the shoe shop where Danita bought her scarpe yesterday. Turns out they are a bit big.
The next….

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After one bite, Danita says, “This could use just a bit of salt.”
Wait, wait…I bought this little tin in 2013 here in Firenze…Perfetto!

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Correction- tre restituisce…

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Back at La Menagere, we sit, relax and concentrate on cooling off. Cooling off in Italy in the summer takes concentration as there is no to little a/c in any establishments. So we decide to maximize our efforts with ancora Spritz and bicchiere di vino bianco. As I order the Spritz, “Espresso?”, ” No, SPRITZ”, “Ah, Spritz-a”, “Si!”, we brace ourselves for a lesser Spritz. We do not sit at the bar again, opting this time for low slung, soft chairs and a small table, so we feel sure I will get the Spritz in the bicchiere with no garnish. But we laugh when my fancy Spritz arrives.

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The waitress stoops down to tell me that next time, if I want Molto garnish and fruit, I can order the Spritz La Menagere for only 2 euro more.  Molto garnish than this…Grazie, sto bene.

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We roam our way back Oltrarno via Zarra, walking through Piazza Santa Spirito on the way home. Danita likes the vibe as much as I do. Although side note here…I had read, and was told by both Bianca and Elisa that Piazza Santa Spirito can be a little rough and gritty. Bianca just advised me not to make eye contact with anyone who might be dealing drugs…will do…great advice. Elisa said it had gotten better over the past few years, but when she was in school, she didn’t go there.

Anyway…daylight here now, so no worries.

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Danita and I are both drawn to imagining evenings shared around a table like this.

Day one, hour one, Danita said, “Now who would drag a table out to the street?”  I told her that after my 2015 visit, I vowed to do just that.  I wanted to have an aperitivo out/in Austin street, dragging a tavolo or due out and having friends bring chairs.  Sadly, it never happened.  Un giorno…

We make a quick spin around the piazza. I buy a piece of Arte  perfetta.

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We end this portion of our day back at my appartamento enjoying the last bit of vino from Filippe, a left over piece of Pugi and the remains of the…say it with me…ffflllaaaattt-a brrreeaddd-a from the Mercato.

Then taking a bit of a rest before….you guessed it….mangiare e bere nuovamente.

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On a street where we meet.

A late night, decidedly Italian meal at il Santo Bevitore, recommended by Filiippe.

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