And here we are...in Florence (or Firenze, if you're going local)!
Before I forget, linking up to "Visible Monday" over at Patti's Not Dead Yet Style! Get over there, stat! (And yes, I'll be around to visit all y'all's blogs soon - much catching up to do!).
So! We took a train from Venice to Florence - again, we splurged and went for first-class tickets on the train - so worth it! We had our own little enclosed cabin (just like in the movies!), which was wonderful.
It was a 2-hour trip, so L and I both got a lot of reading in. We both fully unplugged for this trip. L has a cell phone for work (not used on the trip), and neither of us has a personal cell phone or iPhone/Pad/tablet or any kind of gadget, so no email, no internet, no music, no radio. We also rarely turned on the TVs in our rooms (they typically only got 4 channels), so aside from some CNN London, we had no news. It was really nice.
I went to the thrift store before we left, and picked up some reading. I was mid-way through Stephen King's "11/22/63" in hardcover before we left, and realizing that it was way too big and heavy to carry, I bought it in paperback (not much smaller!) to take with me. I finished that on the train to Florence, and left it behind for the next book-loving traveler.
I also read:
- "Crooked Little Vein" - Warren Ellis
- "Black Dogs" - Ian McEwan
- "Saturday" - Ian McEwan
It was a good batch of books! I'd intended to leave those behind too, but I liked them all way too much, and since L wanted to read them, I kept 'em all.
My travel outfit (as mentioned yesterday) was way too freakin' hot to wear in muggy Florence, so I changed as soon as I arrived.
- Cardigan - Alternative Apparel, thrifted, last seen here with the emerald culottes in May
- Cami - one of many I took
- Skirt - same deets as yesterday
- Shoes - can't see 'em, but they are the sandals, same deets as yesterday
- Jewelry - pink crystal stud earrings, local; leaf pendant
Thank goodness for this cardigan - it was a life-saver! It fit into my purse, gave me shoulder/arm/neck coverage from the sun (smart L suggested we bring a small tube of sunblock at the last minute, which turned out to be very much needed), and let me cover up for going into churches. There are very strict rules about how much skin you can show in a church. No bare arms, no midriff, no legs - we saw at least one lady get booted out of Il Duomo (Wiki link here) due to having shorts on.
Although the cardi was one of the best things I took with me, I did leave it behind on the last day before we flew home.
We arrived in Florence on my birthday, checked into our hotel, and strolled over to the Piazza del Duomo for pizza for lunch.
We planned 3 days in Florence, as this would be our main art centre, as well as the primary shopping region for L and I.
Tip: If you plan to go to Florence, buy the Firenze pass ahead of time! It is totally worth it. We bypassed all line-ups for the main attractions, including the Galleria dell'Academia, the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo dome and cathedral and its crypt, the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens and several other things (it's all a bit of a blur now). We saw so many people stuck in line-ups for well over an hour while we zoomed right to the front. No reservations needed!
We started out at the Galleria dell'Academia, where Michelangelo's David is.
We popped into the Palazzo Medici Riccardi (Wiki link here), which was also covered by the Firenze pass. I won't bore you with (too many) pictures of art, but I do enjoy the details in some of the paintings.
Cat of Italy!
Could it be the unfortunate disemboweling of this poor rabbit?
That night, we went out for my birthday dinner.
- Dress - same as yesterday
- Cardigan - same as previous
- Belt - Plum
- Shoes - black kitten heels, same as yesterday
- Jewelry - new Murano glass set from L
I took two belts on the trip with me, both of which were utterly useless and unneeded. I wore the studded brown one on the train to Florence (forgot to mention it yesterday), and this black one twice. The brown one was too big anyway, and I have other black belts I like more now, so both were left behind.
We spent a horrible night, battling mosquitoes in our hotel room. Florence was awful for bugs! It's been nearly 2 weeks since we were there, and my bites are still fading!
- Top - Talbots, thrifted, last seen here in May
- Skirt - Club Monaco, consignment, last seen here in October 2013
- Belt - as above
- Sandals - as yesterday
- Jewelry - stud earrings, assorted charms on necklace
The skirt was a hit with my mother-in-law (she doesn't usually see me in my dressy clothes, only my casual travel wardrobe), as well as a few Italian men. I did get my bum grabbed once in a crowd, and had a few comments along the lines of, "I like your skirt" while they started at my bum. *shrug* It didn't bother me!
However, I did leave the skirt behind. I haven't worn it in over a year...time to retire it.
The top - another Talbots item - is also that awful ponte material. Seriously, it may pack well and not wrinkle, but it's hot, doesn't breathe and it's heavy to wear. I wore this top home, but into the donate pile it went!
We got up early, had breakfast; every hotel we stayed at included breakfast. Florence's breakfasts were the worst - they served drip coffee! In Italy? The home of the best coffee ever? That's an abomination! We got our espressos, fruit and a croissant (I treated myself, as we easily walked 10+ KM per day) at a little store on the way to wherever we were going.
Mom, me and Louise on the Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge famous for its gold and silver shops. I didn't shop at any of them.
We did the Pitti Palace with our Firenze pass. Although I took hundreds of pictures, this is a good example of the overwhelming amount of visual input.
I got a kick out of Napoleon's bathroom (yes, the Napoleon).
I studied some Art History at university, and was awed to see so many of the famous paintings and artists all in one place.
Room after room...
L and I both loved this painting of Van Dyke's studio.
I had to take a break periodically and take pictures out the windows.
Another Cat of Italy spotted, having a lick under a bench.
Looking back at the palace.
Cat of Italy!
I liked that, all over Italy, there was modern art mixed in with the very ancient art and monuments.
After the Pitti Palace, we girded our loins for Il Duomo. You can visit the interior of the cathedral for free, but to climb the dome, visit the crypts or climb the tower, you need the Firenze pass! Skip that line!
Louise, who is 72 years old, put younger climbers to shame inside the dome. They had to let her pass, while they panted away.
The morning of our last full day in Florence was spent at the Uffizi Gallery (Wiki link here).
- Dress - as previous
- Cardigan - as previous
- Boots - as previous
- Jewelry - crystal on chain
This was the last wear of the boots - they were way too freakin' hot for this trip, and tore up the tops of my toes. I'd brought all kinds of socks to wear with them - not even touched! - and foolishly wore them barefooted. Bad idea. Bad boots. Bye-bye!
The Uffizi Gallery is probably most famous for this painting, "Birth of Venus" by Botticelli.
I also liked "Spring", also by Botticelli.
L and I were both boggled by this incredible statue.
This shield of Medusa is by Caravaggio.
After the Uffizi, we split with the Moms - they went souvenir shopping, and L and I wandered around doing some personal shopping. I loved this modern art installation down a side street. It's called "Personal/Impersonal" (article about it here).
I love seeing a modern installation in the middle of such an old city.
And...travel outfit! Up bright and early (and covered in mosquito bites!) for the train to Cinque Terre!
- Top - as above
- Skirt - as previous
- Shoes - Doc Martens, as previous
- Scarf - in hair
I had no hair dryer for the trip, and relied on L's styling product, so I had a few dubious hair days, ha!
Note about prices in Italy
Food and wine are cheap, very cheap. Hotels are not that bad (I come from a tourist town, so am used to higher rates). Goods are EXPENSIVE. Clothing/shoes are either super-cheap crap, or ridiculously over-priced. There are few sales in stores, and no sale rack for the most part. I had a bit of sticker-shop after years of shopping consignment, but I was looking for that mid-range price for good-quality clothing, and I don't mind spending on good quality pieces. But they were very hard to find.
L and I had a very productive and exhausting shopping afternoon on our last day. We drooled over the clothes in Dolce & Gabbana (and were followed around like we were shoplifters!), but managed to find a couple of stores where I liked the clothing enough to want to buy.
My first purchase was this burgundy pleather skirt.
I like the micropleats at the top, which widen to slightly larger pleats at the bottom.
I was thrilled to see a good amount of "made in Italy" clothing at Max & Co.
The fabric of this is actually woven in Italy.
A better look at the teal, purple and gold pattern of the jacquard weave.
Right near our hotel, I found a little boutique that specialized in local designers. And they even had a sale rack! This crazy dress spoke to me.
It's 100% silk and has really interesting construction, with the sides being gathered at the front, buttons right down to the front hem, the little keyhole at the back of the collar, and the exaggerated pouf of the back of the skirt.
The brand is "I'M Isola Marras" by Antonio Marras, from his Spring/Summer 2013 ready to wear collection. All made in Italy.
Check it out, here's a Vimeo of the collection - you can see my dress briefly at 11 seconds, 2:08 min and 2:28 min.
My lovely Winesday women gave me some Euro spending money. I bought this lovely ring at the Uffizi Gallery gift shop.
We had some awesome shopping luck for L. He is a man of sartorial creativity, and has trouble finding interesting menswear in Canada. I knew we would spend some money on timeless fun clothes for him. Our first stop was at Etro.
this jacket), I knew that their bold styling would appeal to L.
These trousers are from their new Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 look - here's the full suit!
Lovely interior detail:
We also had good luck for him in Sisley. Another plaid, this time in classic black and white.
Nice zipper and pleather detailing on the cuffs.
L had to have the green/navy plaid as well.
L can never resist a funky patterned shirt.
This gorgeous handmade tie was L's first purchase in Florence.
The only touristy things we bought were these two magnets from the Uffizi Gallery:
Tomorrow, the beautiful Italian Riviera area of Cinque Terre!