Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chapter 7 - Finding Artistic Appreciation in Florence

We caught the train from Verona to Florence, I was excited to be visiting the home of Michaelangelo and his infamous David. Florence promised to be full of art and culture I couldn't wait..

and I have to say my first impression of Florence was ambivalent. There was a lot of construction that was happening through out the city that took away some of it's charm, however, this is Italy and I have loved Italy so far and wanted to continue the love affair. Suffice to say that the love affair continues.........

We navigate our way through the lane ways and piazza's to find the very impressive Duomo. The beautiful pink, white and green marble of Duomo, the detail and once again the religion. I love being a Catholic in Italy! Inside Duomo I light a candle, count my blessings and whisper a prayer for my family.

Fresco in Duomo

Our first night in Florence was spent drinking way too much and staying out way too late. It was at a wine bar with our Aussie friend (who speaks fluent Italian) also travelling through Italy that we met some characters. A passionate Florentine who insisted on telling me about the history of Florence. His stories were passionate and full of gesture (I couldn't get away!). He also loved Midnight Oil (an Australian band), that we thought was very amusing. An Italian speaking Japanese chef. He had spent the last 3 years in Italy to learn about the cuisine with a plan to open an Italian restaurant in Japan. Finally we met another Aussie from Sydney who had spent a friends 50th (from memory?) celebrating in Tuscany.

We asked our Japanese chef to recommend a restaurant and off we went (minus the Florentine) on a very messy night. What can often be a good idea at the time (another glass for me please) is often not the case in the harsh light of day!With a very sore head and very dry mouth we gingerly make our way to the Uffizi. The art work is amazing & Madonna and child were everywhere. I longed for my little girls and missed them so much with every image of Madonna and child. The paintings of Christ, John the Baptist, Mary and the Saints it all brings religion alive.

The Uffizi is HUGE and nearly killed me. After two hours or so I had to opt need stamina and a clear head for the Uffizi. I have to return to pay her the respect she deserves.

I loved the sculptures around the Uffizi. I particularly loved the one above. It evokes the whole lust, love, betrayal and passion beautifully. At some time I am sure we have all experienced this and this sculpture (to me anyway) captures it all!

Neptune..My goodness what a fine example of man he was! He stands proud and tall and commands your attention. He got it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lago Di Garda

Chapter 6 - The devastatingly beautiful Lago Di Garda

It was a sleep in that led us to Lake Garda, and what a find that was. After a late and slow start to the day we decide to head to Lago Di Garda. I had read about Lake Garda in the lonely planet guide and the hotel we were staying at in Verona had plenty of glossy brochures on Lago Di Garda. Ad was keen to hire bikes (read previous post....I don't think so!!). So Garda, here we come.

We took a regional train to Peshiera Del Garda, and we were instantly taken by this place. The lake appears oceanic in size and is an immense 370 sq km, water beyond the horizon. We walked around the lake for a good couple of hours, just taking in the beautiful view and towns. We had lunch at a beer garden type cafe and chatted to the Scottish owner. She tells us that she went travelling around Europe 20 years ago and ended up marrying an Italian man and has called Lago Di Garda home for many years. In summer they have a staff of 20 between 8am - 2am, today however it is just the two of them.

Apparently the Pope's wine of choice is from here! I asked for a glass of 'whatever he drinks', but that is only sold by the bottle and not quite in my price range. Ahh to be a Catholic Pope..The owner suggests another local wine for me to try. Bellisimo.

We order hot dogs and get a sausage on a plate. Very nice sausage, but no bun! Ad orders again but this time with a bun. The owner insists that we visit Sirmione, so after our drinks and snack we head to the main road to find a bus to Sirmione. I use my Italian language skills on the bus driver, but he speaks back in Italian and I have no idea what he has said. The blank look on my face is enough si, si..he gives me my change and ushers us on the bus.

OHHHH my lord, Sirmione is unbelievable. A square cut castle perched on an amazing stretch of the lake. Words do not describe..

Lago Di Garda will always hold a special place in my heart. I don't want leave. The sun is starting to set so we head back for a bus to Verona.

As we were enjoying our drinks in the beer garden we watched in amusement these kids playing on the wharf and jumping in the clear water of Lake Garda. I longed for my girls to be here. Language is no barrier when there is fun to be had.. I had to get this shot of these kids, it encapsulates summer fun (even though it is autumn). A very balmy 25 degrees for an October day.....