Ciao da Italia i miei amici a Lake Worth and a glorious morning here in Florence, perfect for making the trip home to England via Venice. I am starting this blog in Venice where we arrived last Monday to beautiful sunshine and a private water taxi to take us to the hotel, how glorious it is to go everywhere on the water, canals instead of roads seems a much more civilised way of getting to work, school, shopping, seeing friends……no pollution and so, so beautiful and much quicker, no traffic lights or snarl ups on the road to contend with where people become aggressive and stressed.
The hotel was glorious, set in a small courtyard with only 9 rooms and family run for generations, it seems the perfect spot for relaxing for a few days. Our American friends were by this time falling in love with the place and for those who have been to Italy, you will know why and for those that haven’t, I am hoping you will be inspired to go !So, of course the first stop is St.Mark’s Square, the most famous square in Venice and visited by thousands of tourists each year. It was looking beautiful in the sunlight, shadows forming on towers and domes and sun sparkling on statues and gold leaf….stunning. Two beers and $30 later (this square is VERY expensive, although these were big beers, you pay for the surroundings and the wonder music from the orchestra playing) really you cannot put a price on that although we would generally only treat ourselves that once in a trip!!!!
A three hour walking tour on Tuesday took us to the lesser known places and was very interesting, lots to see and amazing stories of bygone times which intrigued and enthralled this intrepid group of twenty people from all over the world and all united in the common language of English.
A train trip to Padua on Wednesday was an adventure as we took the train and bus to this old town dedicated to Saint Anthony, one of my favourite saints who is known for his ability to find lost and stolen things The story goes that he was a Franciscan Friar and one day a young novice departed and took Anthony’s prized psalter with him, upon finding it missing Anthony prayed for it’s return and the young novice found himself compelled to return to the friary from which he had fled and give the book back. A myth, a story but for me it works, misplaced glasses, tickets, passports,car keys……all seem to miraculously be found after a plea to St Anthony, don’t take my word for it, give it a go next time you lose something! Anyway, the town is gorgeous, small and walkable with such a history it is difficult to comprehend. Here we were introduced to Cichettis, a form of Italian tapas…a wide variety of simple stuffed olives to polpette, a fried veal and potato meatball, tiny bruschetta
squares with cheese of various kinds, meats and fish and always with a glass of wine or cold beer……delicious!
Then to Florence, one of my absolutely favourite cities…..a two hour high speed train from Venice took us to within walking distance of our hotel, this time buried in a backstreet and on the third floor of a magnificent building which once belonged to an Italian Contessa but now houses not just one but two hotels amazing!
This time the Hotel Angelica was more basic but that was compensated by the wonderful family that owned it, Angelica greeting us at the door with a warm hug as if long lost family…..a marvellous experience.
After a quick unpack, it was off to explore our surroundings and to give our Americans the ‘WOW’ moment that I know everyone has when they spot the Duomo’s domed roof for the first time at the end of a narrow alleyway, it does not prepare you for the spectacular building which is the Duomo then, just when you think it could not get any more spectacular, you see it in it’s full glory…the sun glinting on the gold and the shadows cast across the turrets and towers looking for all the world like hands protecting the building against the deep blue of the sky….WOW, there it is!!!!!
Friday saw a lazy explore after breakfast before picking up the walking tour following the Medici history around the town the architecture is incredible and this wonderful city came to life once more as we took in the sights and smells and ambience of this ancient city, around each corner pops up another delight set to tantalise us into exploring some more.
Now Saturday and the tour I was so looking forward to out of all the tours….an early start and off we go to San Gimignano, Siena and Chianti country. Now we are talking……this town is bewitching with its winding roads and alleyways by now full of visitors taking photos at every opportunity and popping up in each other’s photographs accidently photobombing what was meant to be a scenic shot. Now anyonewho has read ‘Pillars of the Earth’ will understand just how awesome it is to see these towers and churches and cathedrals and remember just how backbreaking it was building them, hand making all the bric Siena was full of history and another walking tour was provided before our fabulous lunch and wine tasting. I would recommend that everyone take a tee total friend on a wine tasting tour, it was delicious and seated at long refectory style tables, we were served delicious warm bread with olive oil
and tomatoes fresh from the vine, followed by tagliatelle with meat and tomato sauce, topped off with panna cotta drizzled with chocolate….mmmmm heavenly!
And our week has ended….it has been surprising, heartstopping, wonderful, spectacular, fabulous and above all memorable and fun. We achieved our aim of seeing the best parts (in my humble opinion) of Italy and giving Buttons and Terry a taste of travelling in Europe and a thirst to see more.
The train from Florence to Venice and an excellent flight back to England, everything falling into place beautifully, we were back home drinking tea in no time at all.
So, two more days to have adventures and last minute shopping and sightseeing, one more trip to London for Buttons and Terry and then the trip to Gatwick and it’s arrivederci to Buttons and Terry as they wend their way back to you in Lake Worth. It has been a wonderful time and once again I have been introduced to my home town and other parts of England and seen them through other eyes and have fallen in love with my own country again …… fino alla prossima settimana, arrivederci!!!!!
Editors Note: This post will be followed by the Earth Day Events in Lake Worth from this past weekend. and all the photos from there. Ciao