Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rainy alley...

Our first full day in Venice started with continuing drizzle but this did not stop us from getting out and about. We started by walking out our window past the enormous Queen Victoria which had docked outside our hotel. The whole Venice / cruise ship thing is kind of a bummer. Crowds rush off the ship and a wave of tourists sweep towards St. Marks square for the day. At dusk the tide goes back out and often as night falls you see the ship being towed out to sea as we did on our first night.

It is what it is I guess and one thing is for sure: it is huge.

Given the influx of tourists on this rainy morning, we headed away from St. Mark's and into the nearby residential neighborhood. We had found dinner at a family place the night before. The food was simple and delicious and the entertainment was great: a gentleman and a guitar who got much of the local clientele singing along before he was finished.

As we wandered away from the great canal through rainy streets we found many alleys like this where clothes had been unsuccessfully hung out to dry.

Monday, September 27, 2010


We finally left Florence, taking a fast train to Venice. We pulled into the station in Venice, walked outside with our bags and found the city "bus" that we were to take to our hotel. It was a cloudy day but this did nothing to dampen my astonishment at seeing a city truly built on water.

By the time we arrived at our hotel, the day was brightening a bit and we were treated with this view. Our hotel was wonderfully located with a true residential area behind us and in this direction an ever increasing density of tourism, culminating in St. Mark's Square under the tower in the distance. The building with yellow trim in the foreground is out "bus" stop.

Our first site upon exiting the hotel was the towing of a giant cruise ship out to sea. This shot was taken from our fourth floor hotel window and gives some idea of how this behemoth dwarfed the buildings surrounding the canal.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lovers Locks...

As we returned to the hotel from Boboli Gardens, we passed one of many instances of lovers padlocks that we saw in Florence.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A naked fat guy on a turtle...

As we prepared to exit Boboli Gardens, we stumbled upon one of Boboli Garden's most whimsical statues...

A naked fat guy riding a turtle? Really? The sculpture dates from the 1500's (have you heard this before?) and apparently depicts the Court jester, (a dwarf) as Bacchus, the God of Wine - definitely one of the more humble Gods I would say. It's whimsical, odd, strangely engaging and hilarious as the same time.

And what is he saying? "Stop! That's close enough! What are you looking at?!"

Presumably today, such a commission would be considered pork barrel spending by a bunch of artsy-fartsy liberals. I'm glad the court of Cosimo I sprung for it though as it proved to be a giddy last memory from Boboli Gardens for us.

Now we headed back to our hotel, packed our things and prepared to take the fast train to Venice...

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Grottos of Boboli Gardens.

Making our way out of Boboli Gardens, we stopped at one of the two amazing grottos that the garden contains. This one which dates from the 1500's was home to the original the Prisoners of Micelangelo and now contains replicas.

Grottos are basically caves that have been turned into art in some way or another. This is a view of the main interior which shows the replica's of Micelangelo's Prisoners struggling to release themselves from the stone.

If you peer into the depths, you can see that the statues extend well back into the cave.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Late Summer Dahlia...

[We'll again take a break from Italy this weekend and enjoy a bit of the summer sights from Vermont]

This year's dahlia struggled a bit for much of the summer but has recently really come into it's own. We caught it this morning apparently lit from within.

Friday, September 17, 2010


As we made our way down Boboli Hill, we encountered one of the coolest statues in all of Boboli Gardens.

It is apparently (there is very little signage in Italy) the Tindaro Screpolato sculpture by Igor Mitoraj, a Polish artists from Krakow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boboli Gardens

Amazingly the weather cleared very quickly and we were able to walk the gardens under blue skies and puffy white clouds. The gardens rise behind the Palace and we climbed Boboli Hill until we reached the top where we found some truly panoramic views of Florence and the surrounding area.

There are a few hills surrounding Boboli Gardens that offer even more commanding views - and some of them come with castles.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Thus far on our trip the weather had been wonderfully accommodating - even if Rome could have been ten degrees cooler. On our last day in Florence though this would change.

Under foreboding skies we crossed the Ponte Vecchio to Pitti Palace and the Bobali Gardens. We were scheduled on an early afternoon train from Florence to Venice and were hoping to spend a couple hours anyway at these gardens which were part of Pitti Palance, the home of the Medici family which ruled Florence for so many years.

Once we bought our tickets, the skies opened and the rain came down. We waited hopefully in the courtyard watching the water stream from the rooftops.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Moon over Florence...

As our night walk around Florence came to a close, we again passed by the Ponte Vecchio and were treated to a view of the moon peeking down on the Arno. The moonlight worked with the cloudy sky and the lights of the city to produce a very special moment for us Vermonters so far from home.

Tomorrow would be a travel day - off to Venice. But before we boarded the fast train, we planned to take a quick tour of the Boboli Gardens across the Arno near Pitti Palace...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The White Giant.

Later in our night walk, we came by a very crowded piazza with live music. As we made our way across it, we found this beautifully lit statue of Neptune.

Apparently the original dates from the 1500's and is now housed in the National Museum while the copy does dangerous duty out among the boisterous crowds. It has been damaged several times over the years, most recently restored in 2007.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Florence at night...

After dinner one evening in Florence, we ventured out for a walk about town with the camera and tripod. The streets were generally quite crowded with tourists despite the late hour (for us Vermonters). Walking around with tripod and camera in the city was a bit new to me and I was surprised that the typical reaction was was to assume we were doing something very important! Also somewhat refreshingly, the local authorities seemed not to have the same issue with tripods and public places that we saw in Washington DC for example.

This lone pedestrian by contrast paid us no attention at all.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shadows and Light...

As we embarked on the morning ritual to fill the bird feeders, we were privileged to see the morning light at play with the leaves of our young maple tree.

Tomorrow after today's holiday, we'll return to Florence for some night shots and maybe a gelato or two...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September Hosta...

Our hosta here in Vermont has had a tough year. Early in the year, it was pummeled by hail which perforated some leaves and beat it down. Later on deer, for the first time in my experience, decided it looked like good food and munched on it repeatedly.

Now however, it's moving gently into retirement and enjoying some of the low light of our luscious sunsets.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Vermont bugbane

Again taking the weekend off of my slightly obsessive recollection of our recent trip to Italy...

We have a couple bugbane plants here at the house. They start slowly and sometime only "bloom" days before our first killing frost. During the late summer (I cannot believe its September) they start to smell like the best grape candy you can imagine. We're not there yet, but the leaves are delicate and very finely detailed and a joy to see up close.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Higher Authority...

As we were crossing the Ponte Vecchio and admiring all the tiny shops with piles of gold jewelry, I snapped this image of a nun consulting a motorcycle cop. It was a fairly lengthy and intense conversation and I would love to have heard - and understood - the subject matter. Alas I'll have to speculate.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Ponte Vecchio...

After arriving in Florence, we immediately hit the pavement to make our appointment at the Uffizi Gallery (thank you Rick Steves' for that suggestion). To get there, we walked along the Arno and right by the Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge.

It's less of a bridge and more a boulevard of commerce. The bridge is covered in colorful shops selling mostly gold and other precious goodies. From the west side looking back on the bridge, it looks like this.

And a bit closer up:

I can't think of anything quite like this around here. We have the Bridge of Flowers down in Shelburne Falls, MA and the floating bridge in Brookfield, VT but those aren't really quite the same thing. Oh and the Ponte Vecchio dates from 996. Wow!