Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Reintroduction To Torino

We met Dave and Beck at Porta Nova station in the centre of the beautiful city of Torino. For me it was like coming home again. The 1888 apartment,that Dave and Beck arranged through AirBnB, was a short walk from the station. 

The two bedroom, two bathroom, study, service room, dining room, lounge and kitchen apartment was overwhelming. The pictures will tell you the story. 

After settling in and having a rest we walked to Giorgio's shop where we met with his wife Claudia, and Eraldo my second cousins before we went to a special dinner in the Santuario Della Consolata church sanctuary. The dinner was to thank all of the volunteers and people who support the church.

The next day, Saturday would be a day of rest. Karen, Dave and Beck visited the markets late morning for food for lunch and dinner. I had some coffee and looked around the local area. In the afternoon we all planned trains and reservations for the next week. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Day Trip to Senia

After some early morning shopping for a simple meal at night, we left Dicamano at about 9:30. A few kilometres from Dicamano a stop was made at the Museo Mario Romoli, Villa Di Poggio Reale in Rufina. Discovering this unknown artist, Mario Romoli was a real pleasure. The local authority has dedicated an entire floor to exhibit his extraordinary and eclectic artwork (mostly paintings) to the public. His son and daughter-in-law manage the museo.

He was a friend of Picasso, Roualt and other artists and influences from Picasso can be seen in his paintings. Two of the last artworks he completed before his death in 1978 are 'Sole' and 'La Barca'.(below) 

Our dear friend and personal tour guide Nicole will be working for the Romoli family, translating all of the Italian text firstly into English and possibly into French.

Karen and I have never been to Senia and going there was a wish for this trip to Italy. A beautiful Medieval Tuscan city perched on top of a hill. Lots of walking up-hill but it was worth it. The Piazza, Duomo and Duccio's art were all exhilarating. The floor marble inlay panels in the Duomo were most impressive. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

We Leave Florence and on to Dicomano

We woke up to a wild storm and heavy rain. By check out time the few drops didn't bother us so we walked to the station in Florence to book in our luggage before we caught the train to Dicomano. After exploring the "south" side of the Arno for a few hours, Nicole met us at the Santa Maria Novella Station an we headed off to her town of Dicomano.

The grape picking season has finished, however the olive trees are laden with green olives ready to be picked. Chestnuts are also ready to be harvested.

That night Nicole cooked us a great French-Italian meal and we caught up with past and present experiences while Buddha (the dog) slept at our feet. After a sound sleep that night we prepared to explore the Tuscan countryside. Dicomano is a small town of about five thousand residents. Most are retired and everyone seems to know each other. Exemplary food, fashion and friendship dominate the place.

We met Nicole at Cafe Centrale across the street from where were staying, for breakfast. Nicole's usual place for a great coffee and a croissant in the morning. From there we headed off to Picclo. 

The main attraction at Picclo is Il Castello built in the tenth Century by Count Guidi. The castle is awarded national and international acclaim because of the library which contains hundreds of medieval texts and manuscripts. 

After we explored the old section of Poppi and the Abbey of San Fedele we had another great meal, this time at Ristorante Albergo Casentino opposite the castle. Good food, good wine and good company is what Italy is all about.

Before we left Dicomano and the early morning storm we visited one of the four churches in the town to view a fresco made by the painter Massimo Buccioni who we met two day's earlier outside his studio. He specialised in fresco painting and oil painting. 

Back in Florence we walked from the Campo di Marte station to a B&B not far from where we stayed before we left. It was a beautifully decorated new apartment and the host Simaletta, and her husband Andrea helped us settle in. 

Nicole and Karen decided we were hungry again so we walked to Chloe's restaurant again for lunch.On the way we stopped at the Foundling Hospital (designed by Brunelleschi).

After a great sleep and a enjoying breakfast with the owners, we were ready to walk to the train station to leave for Torino.

Another Day in Florence with friends from Brisbane

Today we meet up with Nicole again and her daughter, one of my best art students at St Peters Lutheran College. She has been studying art in Florence and now helps out with her partner who ownes a Restaurant in Florence.

We met then at the Piazza Repubblica. Coffee first then off with our personal guide! Le Giubbe Rosse is the restaurant wher the artists such as Dali, Man Ray and so on, would meet and discuss the future of art.

Nicole took us to the private collection in the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati before we went to lunch. The palazzo was built for the Davazzi family in the middle of the 14th Century and then purchased by the Davanzati amily in 1578. The experience was very different from the normal tourist visit.

After Lunch we walked to Stefano Bardini's exposition gallery in Piazza de'Mozzi, or 'an all blue gallery' another private collection.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Excited and ready to depart Brisbane

At the Brisbane International Airport ready for our Italian adventure - 15th October 2013. Our friends Jean and George kindly drove us to the airport.

The Emirates Lounge in Brisbane before we left is where Karen found the food.
.....and Peter found the drinks!!!!!!!


On the mobile for the fifth time in an hour. Karen is behaving like she s giving child birth - over organised and now confused with what to do.

The A380 is unbelievable - from a business class perspective the take off was almost unnoticible. We have just ordered dinner - beef tenderloin for Peter and steamed blue eye cod for Karen.

I'm watching The Lone Ranger and Karen is catching up with her Courier Mail crosswords. She has been given a mattress to ease the well padded business class seats and the electronic massage.

After an enjoyable three hour stay in the incredible Emirates Lounge in Dubai we were off to Milano in a 777 which had slightly less room than the A 380 but was still amazing. The service on the flight was unbelievable. Mo√ęt & Chandon Brut is a very nice drink before, during and after a meal.

The barren land, dams and small towns as we flew North West out of Dubai was quite enlightening. However one of the special moments was flying over the Swiss and Italian Alps - the Dolomites. 

An uneventful and typical very relaxed Italian approach to Immigration and customs. Never checked any bags and no questions - we must have looked Italian enough - just opened our passports, stamped them and that was it. Very proud of ourselves buying our Malpensa Express train tickets from the machine (only written in Italian) to reach our hotel in Milano. A "green" Eco hotel, 100 meters from the impressive central station.

We had a busy full day in Milano. Checked with the rail re activating EuroRail pass. There is a nation wide strike on Friday the day we go to Firenze, however Karen has checked and it does not apply to "fast" trains. Off toFlorence tomorrow

Our first experience of the day away from out hotel area was to enjoy true Italian coffee at the Galleria next to the Duomo. After exploring the Duomo area we decided to have a double-decker bus ride around the central part of the the city. So much history to absorb.


Peter's Italian vocab is returning and Karen has starting calling him Pietro automatically.
He phoned Alexandro's (who works for Tim at Ciccio's) father and Giorgio (his second cousin's husband) and we are meeting up with them while we are here. Off toFlorence tomorrow.

After booking into the Panama Albergo we decided to walk down to the centre of the old city of Florence. We decided to catch up with David at Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia. Michangelo's David that is. A beautiful eighteen foot sculpture, but so out of proportion. 

The Duomo was impressive, especially the white and green marble pattering on the outside. The line up to go to the top of the of Brunelleschi's dome via the 463 steep stone steps helped us decide in stead, to view the Baptistry and the gilded bronze bas-relief doors designed by Ghiberti.

After a typical European breakfast we headed off to the central station to finalise our seats on the train to Torino next week. It only took an hour! 

On the way we also stopped at the Central Markets. I wish we had something like this in Brisbane. Karen was in her element.

Coffee was needed and then we decided to take a hop-on-hop-off sight seeing tour. We got off at the Uffizi Gallery. This, not the tourist season, yet we waited for about ninety minutes to get in. 

It was exciting to see some of the old masters again. The Ponte Vecchio was next to check out the gold.

We finished our bus tour through the Monte alle Croci, then back to central station to walk home to our hotel. 

Perhaps the highlight of the day was to see and hear two police motorbikesand two police cars with flashinglights and sounding serins escorting an empty Juventus Football Club bus through the streets of Florence.