Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 16 - A date with David and our last night in Florence

Saturday, July 18, 2009

We set off for Florence at 7:00 am and stopped for pictures at Piazzelli Michelangelo, worth a stop for a view of Florence from across the river, then hoped that, by some chance, we could get into our room at the Holiday Inn on via Europa.  When we arrived at the hotel they had a room ready for us! We checked in and took the bus down to the Duomo.

The plan was to stay the last night in Florence so it would be easy to get to the airport the next day and we could have a nice dinner in Florence on our last night.

The Academia, where David resides,  has two entrances – one with reservations and one without. When taking an escorted tour (like Trafalgar or Insight), group passengers have priority and  get quick entrance, a good reason to take escorted tours. Since we  had made a reservation, we went in quite quickly as well, but I must tell you there was a very long line up for those who didn't. After going through security and renting the guided tour tapes, we proceeded into the gallery. We admired the paintings and  then visited  the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition, which was very interesting.

After exiting that exhibit, we entered the hallway leading to David.  I’m not sure I can describe the feeling I had when we spotted David – under the skylight – standing so tall and really so incredibly stunning. I actually felt quite emotional.  Learning about  Michelangelo creating him and the years it took, are all very fascinating, but it was so much more.  When you are standing in a place looking at something  that you have seen in  pictures  and have heard so much about - and you are actually really there - standing in front of it - whether it be a place or a building or suddenly becomes magical. Walking around David and seeing him from behind, a view you rarely see in pictures  – gave a whole different perspective. You can actually see the stone in his hand and the sling that he used when slaying Goliath. Guided groups came and left while we were there – but there were a couple of chairs so  we sat and soaked it all in, after all, we had the luxury of time...

We toured the rest of the gallery then headed to the streets for a Gelato.

We said goodbye to Florence and took the bus back to the hotel. By the way, you have to buy bus tickets at a tobacco store. We bought one ticket which gave us 4 bus rides – two for me and two for Dan.  When you get on the bus there is a machine to validate the ticket - an honour system.

On the way home, an auditor came on the bus and checked everyone’s tickets!

We refreshed ourselves then set out by foot to have dinner - our last night out in Italy.

It was a romantic candlelit dinner. There was a concert nearby and we laughed because the sounds of Jan Arden filled the air.  We talked about the trip ...yes it was the last night but  wasn’t really over......
What did this trip mean to us?  For about  48 weeks a year we work hard and follow the direction of what other people want from our lives.  This was our opportunity to recharge  and do whatever we wanted to do.    We stopped to smell the flowers - so many of them - because we could.  The nature and design of the trip was the highlight - we could sleep in or not - mostly not...  Sometimes we were up before the sun in order to catch the sunrise.  We also gave each other a chance to do our own thing - me with my cooking classes and Dan taking time to photograph whatever he desired.  The older we get, the more the reality  exists that we may never get to these places again and whatever experience we have, may need to last a lifetime.  So for the short time we were visitors in this beautiful country, we like to think that we were also participants - getting our chickens from the local farmer, having a morning coffee in the  village cafe with the locals and buying our bread from the baker - following the natural rhythm of the place.  And while doing this, we also met like-minded people from other countries and all walks of life. 
There is a very special feeling when you  share a place with someone you care about - It's about sitting on the side of a country road watching Dan wander through the sunflower fields working so hard to capture that feeling in images...and knowing that he got pleasure greeting me after my pasta lesson waving my graduation certificate and showing my handmade penne.
We saw so many interesting and stunning places...we are so fortunate. 
Thank you Dan,  for an incredible unforgettable experience...I love you...

What is next?  ...stay tuned for our trip to Greece....
Until we travel again...


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 15 - My Pasta lesson with Wilma in La Tavernelle...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pasta Fresca is the name of Wilma’s shop in Tavernelle di Pesa, a small town in the province of Florence, between Florence and Siena, in the heart of Tuscany.  She has been selling pasta here for approximately 16 years.
She has many different kinds of hand-made pasta: gnocchi, stuffed ravioli, tagliatelle, spaghetti, pici, cannelloni and so much more.

I arrived at 10:30 for my lesson and Wilma and Caterina (she helps Vilma and spoke English very well) both welcomed me – sent me to the sink to wash my hands, and handed me an apron. It was a very happy little shop with many customers stopping by to pick up their pasta which came in all shapes and sizes –the pasta not the customers!

Waiting for me were 4 eggs sitting in a mound of flour. 

We began by making a well in the center of the mound and cracking the eggs in the middle of it. We then started mixing the flour in with the eggs (slowly bringing more flour into the center) until we had a good pasta dough. We ran the pieces through a simple pasta machine and then cut by hand the  various shapes of pasta.

We had a couple of fillings to make stuffed ravioli and because I wanted to learn to make penne, Wilma cut some pasta in little squares and we rolled the pasta around a tinly little stick...hand rolled penne!  We even made spaghetti  alla chitarra.   A traditional instrument for cutting fresh pasta sheets, the chitarra (KEY-tarra) has ancient origins in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Master handcrafters from Pretoro hand-string two sets of zinc-coated steel wires on the varnished ashwood box. One side yields evenly cut fettuccine, and the opposite side, delicate angel hair. And the faithful mate to the chitarra is the rolling pin that helps flatten the dough and then press and cut it through the wires. We had a lot of fun!
Wilma said everything tastes better when it is made with love.  She said it in Italian and it sounded even better.
Dan showed up just in time for my graduation ceremony. He took a picture of me getting my diploma and Wilma presented me with my pasta beautifully wrapped to take home to La Foresta.

The whole experience was about 1.5 hours and was definitely worth the 30 Euros. There is one night a week during the summer when the streets are closed off and the restaurants serve dinner outside.  Wilma offers a dinner for 15 Euros.

I was very excited to try out my new pasta making skills at home. I guess I was maybe too excited, because after travelling almost all the way  back to La Foresta, I realized I had left my camera in La Tavernelle and we had to drive back there....ooops. sorry Dan....

We grabbed a sandwich on the way home, relaxed a little then set off along the back roads to San G. While I was at the pasta class, Dan had driven over there to find the perfect place to photograph the city at dusk. He had set the coordinates on “Higgins” which made it easy to identify the spot when we went back.
Unfortunately the wind was blowing pretty hard up there and  a storm was heading our way. He did get a few shots when the sun peeked through.

When we arrived back at La Foresta, everyone was gathered  around a big table in the courtyard and Lucia served her wine, panzanella, olive oil and tiramisu.
Most of the guests were leaving the next morning so we all said our good-byes and  toasted  to a great vacation in Italy...but we actually have one more night in Florence before we leave on Sunday and a date with David at the Galleria Academia at 11:45 tomorrow morning. I know he will be waiting for me (naked) in the hall...ok not just me – millions of people.  I better go to sleep now....

Buona notte...


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