The Sunday Traveler~Italy Finale~Venice

The Sunday Traveler is wrapping up the flashback of Italy, 2002, in this final post, ending in Venice. The group’s last stop before heading home. I will be back in the future with some postcards from Rome, which I have not had time to post about. We arrived in Venice early in the morning in order to have a full day in this wonderful place. Another wonderful day of wandering about on our own, and to meet back up together for a very late lunch/dinner before saying goodbye to Italy.

I can only say that I will never forget Venice and the feelings I had here of the love and beauty that has existed here for so many years, filled with artists, artisans, culture and learning. And a life that seemed the way life should be lived.

The obligatory ride on a gondola was taken of course, but I was more fascinated, as I always am, of walking the streets to really feel the life here.

The day was over before I knew it, and after a wonderful dinner in a local restaurant we headed to our water taxi to the hotel before our morning flight out.

Air Dolomiti, a short flight to our final departure airport. A 40 minute flight that was the most fantastic flight I can remember with a continental breakfast served on china, and the flight attendants serving us with calm as if there was all the time in the world. Ah, those Italians know how to do it right.

I will be taking a break here for a couple of weeks or so as I prepare to move to a new home in one week’s time. The new place isn’t far from where I am now, but it might as well be across the country for all the preparations needed.  I’ll see you as I open the door to my new place very soon ( I can only wish my front door looked like this).

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The Sunday Traveler~Italy, Part 9; Liguria and Siena

The Sunday Traveler travels down memory lane with these posts from 2002 when Italy was on my agenda. Today will highlight briefly both Santa Margherita Ligure, an Italian port in the region of Liguria. This day provided a brief visit here before we moved on, and I’ll highlight both Liguria and Siena.

If memory serves me correctly (highly questionable), we visited both Portofino and Liguria this day, but I can’t be sure. At any rate, they both provided wonderful views and vibes of lovely little ancient towns on the waters of the Riviera di Levante.

It was good to see a little bit of the street life and architecture in this little town before moving on.  And now we’ll move on to the street scenes of Siena.

I loved wandering the streets wherever we might be on any given day

These streets with medieval brick buildings going back to its founding in 1240. 1240!

The Cathedral of Siena

I did go inside the church here in Siena, as I did not in Portofino. The interior of the churches I did visit were incredible times of awe at the architecture and art.

The statue depicting the story of the beginning of Siena, the Capitoline Wolf; according to legend Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus. The historic Palio, a horse race that goes round and round the historic center of Siena is usually held here twice a year. The photo I have of the Palazzo Pubblico will not download, but this is where the Palio takes place, and it is amazing to imagine horses racing around this small town center square.

And this brings me with one more episode left to bring you next week, our final destination on this trip that put us in Venice to say goodbye to Italy. Until then, I’ll say ciao with a little look back at one more scene from Portofino; you’ll notice I was focused on the gelateria…everywhere I went.

 

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The Sunday Traveler~Italy, Part 8~Portofino 2

Can you imagine? A warm sunny day in Portofino, looking out in stunned silence at the beauty of the Ligurian Sea. And now, eighteen years later, I look at the photos as I finally upload them onto my digital files, and stare again in stunned silence that I ever stood there looking out at these scenes with my own eyes.

I had walked up a path from the piazetta towards a castle/fortress museum, looking out, lingering along the guardrail looking down as a motorboat pulled up, and  a long distance flirtation began with hand waves and shouts in Italian from the guy on board… that I didn’t understand. Ah, the stuff of novels. You can bet I’ve remembered this over the years with a smile. But I digress, I had walked up from the little center of town, the piazetta, that scene you see in all the travel guides

Picture perfect it is.

A whole day spent here walking all over, eating gelato and I don’t remember anything else.

All the important scenes and memories of this Italian paradise etched in my mind.

Such beauty in this world to remember.

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The Sunday Traveler~Italy Part 7, Portofino

April 21, 2002. The Sunday Traveler was on a tour of Tuscany; this date we drove to Portofino, in a time that seems so long ago. Seven months after September 11 and the world had begun to relax a little bit. I had wavered about getting on a plane to fly over the ocean to this far away place. I’m so glad that I overcame my fears; and this became my  thinking going forward in the travel that I’ve gone on with over the years…”there is nothing to fear but fear itself”. I had to keep getting out there to experience the beauty of the world.

Portofino. I knew I had made the right decision to get on that plane; to spread my wings.

Today I’ve given you just a little intro, and next week I’ll bring you more of this wonderful place.

N.b.  Times right now are kind of chaotic in my life as I help my friend renovate a home he is moving to, and as I begin to pack to move to my new home, two separate homes 🙂  Things here may become a bit hit or miss over the next several weeks.

 

 

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The Sunday Traveler~Italy Part 6, San Gimignano

The Sunday Traveler has been taking you down memory lane the last several weeks, remembering a 2002 trip to Italy, and getting hard copy photos onto my digital file. At last. Sometimes it takes a couple years to get things done. But I digress; I spent a wonderful week in Italy back then, with a tour group from my home area. Day trips were organized from our home base of Montecatini Terme, and this day we drove up to this hill town, this 12th century hill town encircled by a 13th centry wall. I remember shivering and feeling awe as I walked through this entry and under this arch of the wall. I couldn’t help but put my hand on the wall to touch it and connect to it physically, and thinking of all the peoples in those years so very long ago passing through this very spot.

They came, passed through the walls, walked down these very streets; narrow winding streets now lined with galleries and shops in some of the buildings. I think I enjoyed the shops and galleries more for the interior of the building, not the wares for sale.

I spent most of the day wandering up and down little pathways, enjoying the greenery and walls of the town.

The Duomo de San Gimignano, the front steps were busy, too many people for me, and the interior of the church was also crowded. As I took this photo I realized I was hearing harp music coming from somewhere in back of the church. I followed the music and walked around the side of the church, a small empty piazza, with a man playing a harp in the shadows of the church, and no one else was there. I stood there absolutely rooted to the spot; the music was other wordly, soft and played with such quiet passion. I could not believe no one else had been lured back here with the music, had not been pulled away from the crowd in front of the church to come to listen to this. I shake my head in wonder still, that I had a private concert; a moment there is no photo of, except in my memory. I like to think it will never lose its beauty this way.

 

 

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The Sunday Traveler~Italy, Part 5, Florence

Firenze. The Sunday Traveler was on the road towards Florence this day in April back in 2002. Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, the medieval European trade and finance center. We started out early in the morning to travel from Montecatini Terme to spend the day in Florence.

The Ponte Vecchio, the Arno, stuff of dreams. And upon arrival our little tour group was told this was our day to wander at will by ourselves if we wished, told to remember where the tour van was, and to be back at the appointed hour or the van would leave without us (no they wouldn’t I thought nervously). I wrote down the name of the street and burned a picture of what places were around into my brain so I could find my way back…I hoped. I clutched my Italian phrase book, and off I went down the street to find as much as I could in the time given, ecstatic and almost floating around the rest of the day from here to there taking photos, if I remembered. I will, at this point, just provide a little pictoral tour for you of what I did get photos of. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Duomo, Santo Spirito, Burnelieschi’s dome. There was so much, so much antiquity and beauty it was overload. To have only one day was cruel, I wanted more (I never traveled with a tour group again after this).

I spent more time ogling architecture, people, streets, that I took not many photos of this fabulous city, but just wandered and soaked it all up; I can feel it now still as I write this. Sometimes I think I need to return to this way of travel; to go, take a photo here and there, and just take in the vibe with my eyes and soul.

And I found my way back to the tour van in time.

 

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The Sunday Traveler~Italy, Part 4, Pisa

Pisa’s Piazza del Miracoli, 2002. The Sunday Traveler is revisiting this wonderful week here with you; getting hard copy prints onto my digital files at the same time…finally.

This wonderful piazza includes, in addition to the Tower, the Baptistery of St. John, built between 1152-1363.

A couple of close-ups for detail which is incredible to me given the tools available at that time.

The doors to the baptistery above show detail of stories of the life of St. John.

I remember time inside the cathedral as humbling in its beauty, architecture, and antiquity

Time around the famous Leaning Tower also brought forth feelings of awe. The tower, completed in 1372, was already leaning at the time of completion.  At the time of our visit they were not allowing entry to climb up due to some issues there seemed to have been regarding safety, so we just walked around it tilting our heads this way and that.

Thanks for traveling along today. Until next week; ciao.

 

 

 

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The Sunday Traveler~Italy, Part 3, Montecatini Alto

The Sunday Traveler visited Italy in 2002; a home base for one lovely week was Montecatini Terme, a small town known for its spas and thermal spring waters. In medieval times this area was swampland until the Medici family began to recuperate the lands known for spawning epidemics of malaria. The actual town in the hills above that was habitable is Montecatini Alto, and one way to get there is by funicular. One can also go up by car, or by hiking up. The Sunday Traveler, being a very wise woman, decided upon the funicular method of ascent. The views going up were pretty phenomenal.

Once arriving up top, the main square provided a wonderful choice of restaurants and cafes.

 

Memory evades me on what I might have eaten, but it is very certain I ate well, of that I can be sure, I was in Italy! And needing sustenance to hike around those lovely ancient cobblestone streets. Ah, but where memory might evade, photos provide a bit of a clue that the Sunday Traveler had a glass of vino and a meal with my travel friends

It was those streets that put a spell on me, and wandering around this little town was incredible

 

A day thoroughly enjoyed in this charming old town that was too soon over and it was time to take the funicular back down to Montecatini Terme

Until next week.

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Monday Missive~Webs Unseen

Eyes ahead on a sun setting in all its glory, floating down through the clouds; slowly my eyes drift away to a spider web on a fence in front of me. A web catching the rays of the sun,  bokeh glinting in the light that I’m unsure of being able to capture with my lens.  A spider who has spun a web so silvery, so fine that it is almost invisible. A spider unaware of the need to do anything other than spin its web. A spider unaware that I have seen its work and think it as beautiful as the setting sun.

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Monday Missive~Hang Loose

A first, the photo above is not one I took.  As I scrolled through my picture files I ran across this one that I saved years ago for whatever reason. Some days I feel like the little girl on the left, most days like the third from left…how the heck do I do that, I’m not sure I can get this right…whaaat, really, like that? Never do I feel like the little girl fourth from left, seeming all poised. And then there are many a day that I’m very much like the little girl on the extreme right, all goofy, and just hang loose and be me; life is short. Those are the best days.

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