Impressions of Vernazza

green lightThis will be a short post.

My hubby was sick and it was raining most of the day.
We did get into the old church – started around 1200 – and found a professional men’s choir singing as advert for their evening concert in La Spezia. The harmonies were beautiful and magnified by the stone. A heart-stopping experience.

What follows is a visual impression of Vernazza, on a rainy day, including the tower topped by tourists and a couple proving France doesn’t have a lock on romance, a restaurant on the piazza, and finally a shot of the train that is the lifeblood for tourists.



Vernazza in Cinque Terre

mountainsGoodbye Firenze, we’re going North.

Cinque Terre (the 5 lands) is renowned for hiking and relaxing. Just what we need after Rome and Florence.

The car we rent for the rest of the trip is an Opel, a real boat, but we need automatic for B’s knee. Out of the city; wonderful to be in the countryside. Unexpectedly, we pass a pile of mountains right before La Spezia, where we’ll park; the Apuan Alps, part of the Apennines. I love them!

Parking is a mystery (no cars in Vernazza); we found a safe seeming place under the train station, but it will be expensive. Cheaper to reserve ahead but my months of research never turned up that fact. Lunch in station, then on to Vernazza by train.
steps w wreath
Stepssteps w diskFinding our B&B is an adventure. As the website warned, there were lots of steps, but the town is a mass of steps except for a paved walking street down the middle.

We wait for about an hour for the owner to show up. My nice hubby holds the ladder for a workman nearby and I climb up to the terrace to take pix while I can: it’s sunny now but rain is forecast. coastline
Guiseppe, father of the owner, comes to let us in AND does a load of our laundry! Now we have clothes drying all over the 2 story room. Unfortunately the bedroom is up and the bathroom down, but never mind. The bed is good and Guiseppe was so nice…

B is getting sick. He thought he’d burned his throat on coffee in the AM but seems not. He sleeps a little. harbor2
We explore the town. Nice harbor.

Climb up the tower – a lookout against pirates in the old days.

Hear part of the mass in the church – nice echo with the organ and singing.

Sit on the plaza, the main hub where we talk to a couple from Ottowa; very funny guys, but they weren’t prepared – didn’t even know the museums in Rome are closed on Mon. until they tried a couple. I couldn’t travel like that (although I have … younger, stupider).
Nice dinner with a friendly waiter – we were the only ones in the place at 7:20. Tried their pesto. Mine is just as good – a win for home cooking. We’re in bed and asleep by 8:30. Wake up at 3:15 to a wild storm. The shutters snapping. Lock them and go back to sleep. Yes to Vernazza!

5 Museums and A Great Meal in Florence

last supperSaw 5 museums today…plus a Last Supper. We start at Cenacola by an artist unknown to me: Il Perugia. Very calm.
Piedra Dura
The museum of hard stones. Inlays of colored stone on tables, cabinets, doors. Fantastic.

Upstairs, the “machines” but the work was mostly manually. I was surprised by the exact fit of the pieces. B is astounded by the whole operation. But then, the Roman empire was built by hand (and slave). Buildings, roads, everything without machinery.
Next stop: the Bargello then the antique palace (Palazzo Vecchio). Lots of stairs – they certainly made the ceilings high.

The Bargello had a big courtyard with crests all over the walls and painted ceilings but was kind of empty.

The Palazzo now serves as the city hall, very grand with matchless ceilings.

Today instead of sore feet, I have a crick in my neck.ceiling
At Lunch they were playing 70’s, 80’s songs. I had bowl of olives in oil w/ lots of spice. A 4 cheeses pizza and a mixed salad. Such a feast. Of course it was 1:45 and we hadn’t eaten all day.
medieval homeAfter lunch we rush off to Palazzo Davanzati, the medieval home of a rich man in about 1300. We arrived 20 mins before closing but the lady said, “Chiuso.” I was able to say in Italian – no, there are 20 minutes left. After some argument (thank goodness for my classes), she let us in. That moment made all the study worthwhile because it was fantastic. Full disclosure: I love the medieval period more than the Renaissance.
It had a butler’s shaft, for hoisting water I think. Also a toilet, a hole down the wall, but with a wooden lid w/ a handle. Never saw a lid before – either they all have been lost or the Italians were more refined.

The walls were papered, well, ok, plastered and painted with a repeating motif. Probably lasted better than the wall paper jobs I’ve done. A line of pipes ran down the walls – I read that the kitchen was on the top floor to keep the place cooler in Italian heat, so they must have been for drainage.
medieval window

Finally, The Uffizi. For me, like the Prado in Spain, just too much, and lots that I didn’t care for. The early stuff – 13-1400’s was to my taste. Love the flat hat-like halos in gold. The triptychs w/ the pointed tops. Then a couple of Rembrandts. B remarks how many of the artists didn’t know how to use light – but Caravaggio did. Too many people, endless rooms and no photos.
Our Uffizi joke: Most Roman statues are missing their penises. We saw a statue of Dionysus leaning back, laughing at a bunch of grapes. At his feet, a panther, mouth wide open, gazing up at Dionysius. Brian makes up a dialogue…”Hey, you, Dionysius, better give me some grapes or I’ll bite your penis off. Oops, too late.”

Firenze4After the museums, we went to the main plaza, chock full of statues. My favorite, since the first time I was in Florence, is Perseus with the head of Medusa. Also the Baptistry is here with its famous door.
The Florentines evidently have a great sense of humor: many of the street directions have been “fixed up.”
Tomorrow we go off into the countryside. Hooray, I’m about museum’ed out!