Monday, April 30, 2012

Florence Day 1

Ready to take the train from Venice to Florence.

After we found our apartment we had donner kebabs for lunch.

Steve has this thing for braided belts, and now he has a new leather one.

Palazzo Vecchio, the old town hall.

The Neptune Fountain outside Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria.

There's a copy of the David Statue right out front.

Basilica of Santa Croce.

There was a long line to go inside so we headed out to the hillside to get a view of Florence from above.

After your get to the top of this staircase there's another that's even steeper!

But halfway up there's this rose garden. Seemed like a good place for a break.

Everything is within walking distance; even this hillside outside the city is closeby.

You can see the Fiume River and the Ponte Vecchio.

View from Michelangelo's Piazza.

And here's the panorama view.

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore.

And there's Santa Croce still buzzing with tourists.

The old city wall that stretches around Florence.

It really is a beautiful city.

Much of Central Florence seems to be blocked off from cars or, at least, cars are not so prevalent. There's even a carousel in the Piazza della Repubblica.

Gelato Round 2 today.

Steve just can't get enough!

There was a big festival that only takes place once a year here, and tonight was the night. There were about 35 concerts going on around town.

There were all types of music being played anywhere musicians could find a spot.

Artists were out as well; we stopped to watch this guy whip up a painting all in spraypaint.  Cool stuff.

We went to a classical concert playing Verdi at the Duomo, because it was free and we got a chance to check out the inside of this massive Basilica. The concert was supposed to run until about 11:00 p.m. but we checked out at 10:00 so we could go to bed.  At 10:00 the streets were overflowing with people like New Years in New York.

We will get to see more of the Duomo when we come back tomorrow.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Venice Day 5 Off to Church

Scott and Lynda headed out early this morning to the airport to fly home. We still have one more day in Venice and, being Sunday, we headed out to Church on the mainland.  Steve had the maps and bus routes to get us there.  Unfortunately when we went to change buses we found out that our connecting bus doesn't run on Sundays.

Otherwise stranded, we had to pay the money to get a taxi to Church. When we arrived, though, there was no one around and the gate was locked.

Luckily for us, along came a couple dressed for Church; we were just early. Massimo and his wife chatted with Steve while we waited.  They live on the far side of Venice and we found out that there's a bus for Sundays that goes straight between Venice from Church.

Steve chatted with people at Church and we met a few English speakers. One member, Renato Rebesco, paints watercolors and sells them by St. Mark's.  He's friends with Sauverio, who painted my birthday watercolor from yesterday.  Renato remembers seeing us buy the watercolor yesterday, and coming back for a second painting, and asked where the man with the mustache was (referring to Steve's dad).

After church we took a nap and spent our last day in Venice wandering around.

Steve has been the master map navigator, but today I said "No maps!" We did hit a few dead ends. Nevertheless, it was quite exciting not knowing where we were going to end up or how we would find our way back.

I find the old buildings quite charming.

Yesterday there were tons and tons of tourists in town from cruise ships. Today seemed much quieter and I prefer it that way.

As the sun began to set we headed back to cook our last dinner in Venice. Tomorrow morning we are off to catch a train to Florence.

While we've been in Italy this week my sister Gillian has been sending us a daily email update with pictures of Hailey.

We really look forward to these emails to see how Hailey's doing and we miss her.  Thanks Gillian!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Venice Day 4

This morning Steve made us strawberry crepes for breakfast.

Then we headed to the island of Murano.

We attended a couple of glass blowing demonstrations.

They only have a few minutes to work with the glass while it is hot.

The shops are full of expensive hand-blown glass pieces.  Especially chandeliers.

In one shop, right after their glass-blowing demonstration, one of the guys singled Steve out to take him back to the showroom: a huge area filled with even more expensive items than in the shop.  Little did he know who he was talking to: Steve who thought anything over 20 was way too much money.  We got to see some pretty fancy things but when he caught on that we weren't going to buy he ushered us back out.

Next we headed back to Venice for a tour of the grand canal by vaporetto.

You can see the famous Rialto Bridge in the background.

And lined with old palaces.

An early birthday present from Scott and Lynda. An original painting of Venice from a local artist, Sauverio de Bello, that will find its new home on my dining room wall.

Next we wandered the streets trying to find this Frari Church, which we could not go inside of because there was a wedding taking place.

This little boy was part of the wedding party, but did not have to stay inside and watch the wedding. He got bribed to be on good behavior with gelato.

Another window full of treats.

They have fun produce markets on the street. Today we bought peaches.

And we finished up by buying some groceries and making dinner back at the apartment.  We had fettuccine with a portobello mushroom sauce and broccoli and had some of Scott and Lynda's fried fish with risotto.