We left Rome early in the morning and made our way to Florence. On the way we stopped in at Orvieto, a lovely little hillside town in between the two cities.
These towns are so picturesque. Orvieto is famous for its church, its pottery and its Zeppelin restaurant. We were going there for lunch and a cooking class.
Incidentally, my hat is slowly unraveling. The brim is coming away row by row, but I refuse to get another hat. It’ all scrunched up from being stuffed in my suitcase and handbag and a new hat would fare exactly the same way, so I’m seeing if I can make it last till the end of the trip.
The thing that makes these hillside towns so gorgeous is that they’re so untouched. The streets are so high up and so narrow that buses and cars can’t go up there, so they’re mainly pedestrianised. These towns were fortified back in the medieval times and were placed on top of hills so they could see trouble approaching. Most of them still have the ancient city walls and it’s incredible to walk through the walls and then stroll along the cobblestoned streets where centuries of people have gone before you.
Here’s the interior of a typical pottery shop.
Here’s the church. It was very pretty on the outside, but I’m getting a bit churched out. Unless someone famous is buried in it or something of great historical note happened in it, I’m not cruising through churches anymore.
After an hour or so of shopping time, we gathered together and set off for the restaurant.
On the way we passed by this shop window.
The restaurant is below street level… if you look through you can see someone through the window standing on the street. Had to wait for that shot – I feel so artistic…
The chef was making real pasta. When he asked if anyone made their wn pasta from scratch I put up my hand and said, “With a Bimby!” (That’s what the thermomix is called in Italy.)
His face lit up. “I love the bimby! At home I have 2. I do everything in them! I do bread, pasta, sauces, risotto… ” and on he went. Yeah, baby!
Pinocchio is big in these parts. Apparently the guy who first wrote the story came from here. When Walt Disney was stationed over here during WWII he got to hear the stories and so the movies were born.
We went on a walking tour with Giovanna, the local guide. It wasn’t long before we were outside Dante’s house. The Florentines are extremely proud of him. There’s memorials and statues everywhere.
In the square outside his place there’s a cobblestone that has his profile on it. There’s a person who stands nearby and keeps it wet, so that people can easily see it.
Thi is what Dante actually looked like. When he died they took a casting from his death mask. Noice.
Loving the shutters everywhere.
This cathedral was pretty amazing. We didn’t go in… I’m a tad cathedral-ed out… but the exterior was stunning.
Look at the size of the streets. This is a major city and yet the streets are unchanged since medieval times. Honesty compels me to admit that the faint odour of sewage is also unchanged since medieval times. But Florence is so pretty that you forgive it. I fell totally in love with thsi city.
Look! They’ve even kept the rings in the walls to tie your horses up to.
Here’s a copy f the statue of David. This is in a square where they have heaps of statues, most still the original ones. This is the second copy of David I’ve seen… the first was in the British museum… and although the real one was a few streets away I decided to look at other things.
One of them was Heather, meeting a friend of Gigi’s who works in a jewellery shop and supplies Helen Mirren with jewellery on occasion. Heather is a total Mirren fan and was ecstatic to be able to wear a very similar bracelet to the one Helen Mirren wore to an awards ceremony recently.
Of course I had to try it on for size too. Only 12,000 Euros.
This is the house where Michelangelo spent his younger years.
Later on that day, I told my ex-brother-in-law that I saw the house. He was amazed that it existed and asked me where it was. I showed him the photo and said, “I don’t think it’s going to be of much use to you!” It looked the same as every other house in Florence. Still, I waved my hand in the general direction, so I’m sure one day he’ll find it.
After the walking tour we popped into a wine bar for a wine tasting.
It was air conditioned. It was a very civilised way to start the evening.
Then after dinner I spent the evening with Pina and Roberto. Pina is my ex husband’s sister. She. along with my sister and my best friend, was a bridesmaid at our wedding before meeting and marrying the only straight air steward in thehistory of the world and moving to Italy to live.
That was over 20 years ago. They now live in Florence. We drove out and aound before taking a walk through the town.
The Ponte Vecchio by night. Isn’t it beautiful?
Here’s one of the secret passages (or something) that Dan Brown writes about in his awful books. This was a passage that the Pope could walk through without having to cross the Ponte Vecchio with all of the normal people.
Here it is at night, with the shops all shut up. Still looking the same as it’s looked for centuries.
We went back to the square where David was. The statues are all lit up and there was a busker playing a guitar and singing. The air was cooler and everyone was out, wandering around and eating gelatos. So were we. It was a lovely way to spend the evening.
This is Medusa getting her head chopped off by Perseus. Love this statue.
I also love this one. It’s in a square on its own. People were rubbing its nose, presumably for luck. I asked about it and Pina found a sign explaining it. Aren’t I lucky that I was with people who could translate it?
Basically it’s a tribute to Hans Christian Anderson, who loved Florence and described it as “an open book.”
It wasn’t all art and history. We passed by this fire truck with a ladder going up to a window on the fifth floor. Roberto found out that the people living in that apartment had gone away on holiday and had left their tap running…
We had a great night. I was a bit worried that after so long without contact (and the whole divorcing her brother thing) the conversation might peter out really early but we were chatting away like sparrows the whole night. (I’m sure Roberto zoned out a few times due to all the English being bandied about.)
How wonderful that I can go to the other side of the world and meet up with someone I haven’t seen for decades. I have a standing invitation now to come and stay with them to REALLY see Florence. 🙂
What a great day! I love Florence already and we still have a full day here tomorrow.