ITALY : : ROME : : FLORENCE

Well, hiya.

I mentioned in my previous post that G & I holidayed in Italy in October. Well, just saying ‘Been there, done that.’  doesn’t feel like enough. My blog is a diary of sorts and though the subject matter is usually stuff I’ve made…each post manages to capture at least a few moments of my everyday life….if not in the writing, then via a photo.  It’s as though the words, or the images, make it easier for me to access a memory…and I like that.

With that in mind, I decided to write a blog post…actually two blog posts.  Hey…it helps me keep my memories intact and it’s a little armchair travel for you. 

Okay…technically….not my first trip to Italy…I was one of a bunch of giggly girls herded around London and Italy many years ago.  It was a school trip… pretty much a whirlwind of churches and museums and glazed eyes….in other words, nothing like Italia – 2016.

First stop : : Rome

Rome, Italy
Standing at the east end of The Forum, overlooking The Colosseum.

Oddly, I really, really, wanted to see the Colosseum. I say oddly because gladiators and caged animals and duels to the death are really not my thing. That being said, there was something utterly compelling about the Colosseum. Touring a structure of that age…it was completed in AD 80…and of such an enormous size was even more astounding than I anticipated. And. Despite the rather grim entertainment, the energy within it’s walls was really quite peaceful.

Rome, Italy
Three remaining columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, built in 495 BC, Roman Forum, Italy

Four days in Rome…four captivating days under it’s spell.  Over and over again, I found myself transported in time. And what astonished me most; it was without gimmickry, without costumes, without theatrics. It was simply about being present and letting the magic unfold.

Rome, Italy
Arco Degli Acetari, near Campo de’ Fiori

It’s no secret, Rome’s history is vast…there are so many museums, churches, temples and ruins to see…and yes, we saw a lot. But. It was as important that we explore neighbourhoods to get a feel for everyday life.  We wandered the neighbourhoods of Campo de’ Fiori {our home base}, Trastevere {a favourite}, Piazza Navona, and Piazza di Spagna, to name but a few. A lot of walking? Absolutely. But we rewarded ourselves daily with fabulous Roman style pizza, pasta and wine!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Residences surrounding the Campo de’ Fiori

I love how Rome cannot be defined by a single era. It’s modern and current and today.  But…it’s also ancient. Nearly every corner turned, we discovered carefully preserved remnants of early Rome.  And….for this Roman Holiday geek…it was effortless imagining Ann and Joe tearing up the streets of Rome on a Vespa circa nineteen fifties. I couldn’t ask for anything more. 

STAY : :  Maison Guilia

EAT   : :  Ristorante I Vascellari  : :   Ai Balestrari  : :  Dispensa Cibo Urbano

 

Second Destination : : Florence

My first impression of Florence was overwhelm. So many people. Such a small city.  I actually felt sad that this lovely city is so heavily touristed with…. well, people just like me. We all wanted to see David. We all wanted to see the Duomo. What to do? Eat. Of course. We headed immediately to Il Pane e la Pasticceria in Mercato Centrale Firenze because…hello…Bread. And. Pastry. After a delicious lunch, we felt fortified and ready for the crowds.

Florence, Italy
Florences’ Cathedral, The Duomo. It’s exterior is covered in pink, white and green marble.
Florence, Italy
Michelangelo’s David, Accademia Gallery, Florence

My bucket list included seeing David. As someone who has done some stone carving…mostly soapstone…I was completely blown away.  The Accademia also has an exquisite second floor that was almost empty of visitors. Hint: Go upstairs. 

Florence, Italy
The Viottolone, Boboli Gardens, Pitti Palace, Florence

 

Florence, Italy
View from the Belvedere Terrace, Bardini Gardens, Florence

Our third day was devoted to a more organic experience on the south side of the Arno. Time spent in both The Boboli Gardens and The Bardini Gardens was the perfect antidote to the electricity of the city centre. We also went on a self guided walking tour that took us to San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo {where my Kelly Anorak photos were taken.} A portion of the walk followed the original city walls dating from 1258.  Florence’s city centre is flat, but the south is all hills and valleys. A lot of walking? Absolutely! But we rewarded ourselves daily with Italian gelato…

Florence, Italy
Hazelnut and Ricotta & Fig Gelato, Cantina del Gelato, Florence

The Florentine people are so gracious with us…the tourists. After my initial dismay, I fell in love with the city. We stayed on the quieter south side of the river which was a blessing. An unexpected delight was Opera at St Mark’s Church. We were wandering the streets after dinner and were welcomed into the church to attend an intimate opera….my first.

STAY : :  Airbnb Sunset Studio near Ponte Vecchio

EAT  : :  Gusta Pizza : : Trattoria la Casalinga : : Cantina del Gelato  : :  Gecko Florence Bar & Grill

 

All righty! I’ll be back with Part II soon. Thanks for reading!

{Feature photo : : Piazza della Rotonda, Outside the Pantheon, Rome}

30 Comments

  • Reply Sheila (of Ephemera) November 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time, Sue! I’m glad you made it to the Boboli Gardens – they were like that for me as well, a welcome respite from the crush of the tourists. I was also totally overwhelmed by the Colosseum – it was the one thing I really wanted to see and experience on our trip. Can’t wait to hear more!

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:25 am

      I’m sorry Sheila. Your comment went to my spam folder and I’ve only just seen it now!

      OMG…kindred spirits! It’s always nice discovering shared interests…there might be many that couldn’t imagine visiting gardens. Did you see the costume museum in the Pitti Palace. We visited and thought it interesting.

  • Reply Marianne Koster November 26, 2016 at 4:14 am

    Thanks for the armchair travel, Sue! Opera at St Mark’s was the highlight of my visit to Florence a few years ago.

    • Reply Sue November 26, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Yay…I feel the same way…it was a truly magical experience. Happy you enjoyed the post!

  • Reply Flo November 26, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Loving this! Italy is somewhere I really want to go one of these days. Just one of many on a long list. The photos are beautiful.

    • Reply Sue November 26, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Oh, I’m happy you enjoyed the post Flo. I do hope you get to go there one day.

  • Reply Melanie November 26, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Thank you for this vicarious bit of travel, Sue. What an adventure. I find it hard to believe that people can grow up surrounded by such architecture and history without fainting every step! Can you imagine how this infusion of daily beauty would affect you? I suppose people get used to it, like we get used to it here. Sigh. The David is so big, hahaha!! And an intimate opera? Best thing ever. This trip is on my list. Yes.

    • Reply Sue November 26, 2016 at 11:18 am

      I think they do appreciate it. It seems to be reflected in their love and respect for quality food, fine linens and the like.

      One special thing I forgot to mention in the post, d’oh, was stumbling across a small atelier of sorts. Alessandro Dari makes jewelry, but his finest, most magical creations are fantastical works of art. All moving parts and precious jewels and liquids…Oh, how I wish I had asked if I could take a photo of a few of them, as I don’t see any on his website. That being said, his jewelry is amazing as well…

      Alessandro Dari

  • Reply No Fear of Fashion November 26, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Ah, now you take me on a tour. Just as lovely. I have been to Rome (twice) but never to Florence. Italy is such a beautiful country. Better than France and better than The Netherlands. Unfortunately I am very rooted in The Netherlands. Cannot see myself emigrate to Italy. But it is my favourite country.
    Lovely that you have been able to see so much in four days.
    Greetje

    • Reply Sue November 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      I’m the same way…it’s nearly impossible for me to imagine living in a country other than Canada. I’m even quite rooted in my province. The Netherlands is on my list of countries to visit one day! 🙂

      We enjoyed four full days in Rome and three in Florence. One could say it’s never enough, but we were quite satisfied with our two amazing weeks in Italy!

  • Reply Fran young November 26, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Gorgeous pictures Sue!! Makes me jealous!! Never got there and I am glad that you and Glen did. Waiting for the next installment…..love M

    • Reply Sue November 26, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Thank you! Thank you from Glen too! We shared the camera. I tried to put up some of my photos as well as some of his.

  • Reply Suzanne November 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Wow! Looks like an amazing trip. It seems like you were able to take you time and enjoy each moment as it unfolded. I adore vacations like that.

    Seeing the statue of David overwhelmed me. It is so much larger and spectacular than people can appreciate.

    Rome is the only city I’ve been to where there is literally a church on every corner.

    It is quite incredible that you stumbled upon an opera in a church like that. I have also come across similar intimate concerts when in France that left me speechless and my feet and heart a little elevated above the ground for a while. Those ethereal moments really touch a person’s soul.

    Your photos really captured the ambiance and colours of Italy. That courtyard photo and the gelato photo are frame worthy!

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • Reply Sue November 26, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Your words are my feelings exactly. Actually our feelings. We both found the opera a very moving experience.

      And one thing we found time and time again, was that streets are not always what they appear to be. The cities have the roll down metal blinds…I’m sure you’re familiar with them…and depending on the hour of the day; you could literally walk right by a fantastic store, or restaurant etc., and not even know it.

      xo

  • Reply Val S November 27, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Sue, your pictures are wonderful! They bring back so many memories for me, too. I studied in Rome for three months with the U. of Washington. The university rents a large portion of a palazzo just off Campo dei Fiori, in the Piazza del Biscione. And we had apartments in Trastevere, so every day we walked through Rome to go to class. It was fantastico! So many wonderful little nooks and crannies to discover, and gelato everywhere!

    I also spent a couple of months in Florence, which was also fascinating. I didn’t love it as much as Rome, but still, it’s Firenze!! Magic!

    So glad you had a lovely trip, and I look forward to reading Part II!

    • Reply Sue November 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Thanks Val! Studies in ROME! How fantastic. And what great areas to living and learning in. We loved both Campo dei Fiori and Trastevere. Our hotel was pretty central to each neighbourhood. I’ve been getting asked a lot which city was my favourite. They are all so special in their own unique ways, but I think it might have been Rome that stole my heart too.

  • Reply Colette Godfrey November 27, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    What a wonderful trip, some great pics too. I felt the same about Rome, could have wandered around Palatine Hill all day for a week I think ;o) Florence is so beautiful too.

    • Reply Sue November 27, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Ah…so I’m not the only one. It’s kind of hard to describe Rome’s hold on me, but I sense that you get it! 🙂

  • Reply Sharon November 27, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing, it is lovely to see the world through another’s eyes.

    • Reply Sue November 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      It’s my pleasure Sharon! Thank you!

  • Reply coco November 28, 2016 at 2:09 am

    Beautiful pics…

    • Reply Sue November 28, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you Coco. Some snapped by me, some by my husband. I tried hard to edit the blog ones to the essence of our trip.

  • Reply seamsoddlouise November 28, 2016 at 5:24 am

    these photos are so inspiring. I need to go to Florence now! Beautiful.

    • Reply Sue November 28, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks Louise! We had a connecting flight at Heathrow. From there, it was less than two hours to Italy. There are so many countries and cultures within a few hours of England which is pretty amazing. Of course, one still needs to find the money and time to travel.

  • Reply Carley November 28, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Ahhh how wonderful, Sue! My husband and I are heading to Italy for Christmas this year. Starting in Venice then we will be making our way down to Rome through Florence. I eagerly await your next post!!
    -Carley
    x

    • Reply Sue November 28, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Carley! I thought of you just yesterday…I was perusing a map of England.

      Oh my goodness! Italy at Christmas time. It’s sure to be magical! I like the idea of traveling from north to south…the temps will get warmer as you head towards Rome. If you have any questions, feel free to pop me an email.

      Nearly finished the second post.

  • Reply Margo December 1, 2016 at 4:31 am

    What an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing…can’t wait for part 2.

    • Reply Sue December 1, 2016 at 11:16 am

      It was amazing! Part 2 up now!!! 🙂

  • Reply Shams December 3, 2016 at 5:30 am

    Oh, was I thrilled to see this post!!! Florence is so beautiful seen through your eyes! I have never been but am spending 2 weeks there next spring. I have been happily planning a hot-weather travel wardrobe and your photos are getting me even more excited!

    • Reply Sue December 3, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Whaaaaaat!!!! That is so exciting! OMG….I’d love to visit Florence in the spring. GAH…look what you’ve done now…got ME all excited again! You will LOVE it!

    Leave a Reply