Sunday, 26 June 2016

Today We Are Leaving Switzerland,

and entering Italy,

we awoke to low cloud,

first breakfast,

then we were on our way,

passing lakes and villages,

we stopped for a few pictures,

over looking one of the lakes,

I took a panorama of the view,

one more of Diana,

and of course one of me,

we continued,

through small towns,

for a few hours,

taking pictures from the coach as we went,

everything was just so picturesque,

as we passed mountains,

and lakes,

looking back some more low cloud had moved in,

we finally started to move away from the mountains,

the land leveling out, 

I zoomed in for a last closeup look of the snow,

and one of the waterfalls,

unlike yesterday,

the sun was out,

as we followed the river,

it was so cold up there,

and so warm where we are now,

we arrived at our first stop,

for anyone thinking of going on a trip like this,

after breakfast there is generally a 2 hour drive,

a stop for a coffee/tea break of 20 minuets or so,

another 1 - 2 hour drive,

before stopping,

for lunch,

and this was mine,


to help pass the time Gustavo had divided the coach in half, he would name an object, say a 2 euro coin or a belt, the game was to pass the object to the back of the coach, touch it to the rear window and pass it forward, everyone on your side of the coach to physically touch the item, you could of course take the other teams item or stop its progress to the front of the coach, all was going well,

until he said a tube of Pringles and forgot to say make sure the lid is on tight!

in any event it was great fun, we passed the border into Italy,

we had now arrived in Florence,

where a local tour guide took over, above one of Diana's favorites,

one of the first buildings we passed was holding a exhibition, the Michelangelo e Vasari, letters and documents from the time were being exhibited,

all around us were works of art,

we listened to the guide,

as a horse and cart waited for a fare,

then the tour was on,

we made our way to the main square,

to the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore which is the main church of Florence, Il Duomo di Firenze, as it is normally called which was stunning,

a quick pose from Diana,

then start taking pictures,

there was so much to see,

and take pictures of,

especially Diana,

one of the many places a wide angle lens comes in handy,

as it happens,

the one on my camera is 25mm,

but even then I struggled to get all of the tower in the picture,

the door of the cathedral,

and the picture above it,

we saw another interesting door,

with figures above it,

and below them,

a number of panels,

with different scenes,

we continued our walk around the square,

a peddle powered rickshaw waiting for customers, 

whilst looking at this stall, 

I notice a cool onlooker on the 2nd. floor,

the bell tower by the side of the cathedral,

the top 3 floors of Giotto's bell tower,

back down to earth,

a number of one horse power carriages were still waiting,

for a customer or two,

we walked by the side of the bell tower,

this the top of the cathedral,

we passed a dream come true for Diana, a wall of molten chocolate at the back of one of the chocolate shops,

we then passed the Chiesa e Museo di Orsanmichele,

one of the reliefs on the building,

it houses religious paintings and a marble shrine to the Madonna,

we continued our walk,

to another bell tower,

at the top of which,

a lion was climbing,

Diana strikes the pose,

then something we really did not expect,

a huge sculpture of a man riding a turtle,

in front of the tower,

a work by Jan Fabre,

titled Searching for Utopia,

also in the square,

this statue, just wish the pigeon had landed not on his head,

then we spotted another sculpture of Jan Fabre, The Man Who Measures the Clouds,

onward we went,

taking pictures,

as we walked,

we then found ourselves walking past the Galleria degli Uffizi,

which has a huge collection of art works inside, think Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio to name just a few,

statues line the aisle between the buildings,

as we were in Italy I had to take a picture of Dante Alighieri, although the spelling is different from the statue, apart from being a poet and writer,  Dante is seen as the father of modern Italian,

by the sides of the statues that line both sides of the building

artists sit drawing and painting,

their works for sale, in black and white,

and in color,

we made our way to the river,

where the bridge,

is covered in shops,

most of which sell jewelry,

we made our way back to the main market area, to the boars snout,

the story is if you place a coin on the boars tongue and let it go,

if it falls through a grate at the bottom you will return to Florence,

apparently we are both coming back,

I mentioned one horse power carriages earlier,

well here is a two horse power one,

street art,


as the artist uses the street as his canvas,

for us the picture was stunningly good,

we were recommended to go to this ice cream shop, it was our second visit, the first time the queue was huge,

liquid chocolate, a dream come true for Diana,

boxes of chocolate,

and examples of ice cream cones,

so many flavors,

the agony of choice!

decision made,

now time to tuck in,

in the early 1960s my mother bought a Fiat Autobianchi, from memory it had a 475cc engine and a fold down roof, it was great fun, this car above reminded me so much of it,

but unlike this one my mothers was right hand drive,

we made our way back to the meeting point on the now even more crowded bridge,

a look to the next bridge along,

and a pose from Diana,

and for me,

another reminder of the 1960s,

a group of people who in the day used to be called,

Hare Krishna, I guess they still are,

the padlock,

that lovers place on bridges seems to have caught on here,

Gustavo as happy as ever, what an excellent tour leader,

we were not sure what these were,

on our way to the weir,

we spotted a strange creature at the waters edge, it is in the center of the picture, a giraffe,

no not a real one, it was made out of drift wood,

some ducks on the weir,

into the coach and we were soon at our hotel,

and looking at our room,

which was nice,

into the restaurant,

for our evening meal,

a cold meat starter for myself,

pasta for Diana,

then a surprise,

before the main course the lights dimmed,

and a trolley with a sparkling candle was brought out as a welcome to the Expat group we were in,

a salad for Diana,

roast pork for myself,

followed by tiramisu,

after the meal we made a move outside,

 and chatted to Randy,

Diana decided to try a Spritz Aperol, but she did not like it, so I just had to drink it myself!

by now it was late, so for us we were off to bed.