Apparently there has been a problem with memos not being read and followed. For one it still is astounding how many Italians are smoking. There are still cigarette vending machines throughout the City…Chesterfields…Lucky Strikes anyone? Part of the memo issue could be the language they have been written in…had ‘zanzari’ (mosquito speak) been used, then possibly the local mosquitoes would know it is time for them to go where they go when the weather turns cooler…soon I hope. The Asian tiger mosquito (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aedes_albopictus), named for its distinctive stripes and aggressive nature, is resilient, smart, has a taste for human blood, and seems to thrive in Italy.
September seems like a blur. It began with a one night stop-over in Rome on our way to Greece. Antonio Tiso was willing to once again guide us around this great City to photograph places that we had not visited in the past. St. Peter’s…Piazza Navona…Campo di Fiori…even Mother Teresa was there. And to eat a little gelato…
The next day it was on to a three day visit to Rhodes, Greece and to stay at the Kokkini Porta Rossa (http://www.kokkiniporta.com/). A beautiful property with just five well appointed suites. Our gracious hosts Nikos and Angela were warm and welcoming and provided excellent guidance and tips in addition to outstanding hospitality and fabulous breakfasts to insure our great island experience.
We did take a day trip 51 kilometers south to Lindos (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindos) which is an archaeological site and a town on the island of Rhodes. As we were easing our way into the islands of Greece…Rhodes and Lindos were a beautiful and brilliant introduction into what was to come on our visits to other islands.
Our next stop was to join a photo workshop being led by Glenn Steiner (http://www.greekislandphotography.com/). Glenn is a professional photographer based in Fairfax, California who has been leading tours of Greece’s islands for 15 years. With Glenn and our merry band of photogs we visited Santorini, Anafi and Ios over the course of a week.
And without a doubt…the islands of Greece lived up to their reputation as beautiful and romantic places to visit. Most were dazzling bright white with welcoming beaches and gregarious locals who seemed to have a ready smile for us. A few less cats would have been fine with us, but the food, architecture and climate were more than adequate to overcome any small irritations.
After Greece it was time for my selection and ‘fitting’. All in preparation for celebrating or commemorating my 70th birthday in this fabulous Renaissance City called Firenze. One lesson learned was the value of having a valet or whatever personal dressers were called in the 14th century. As the words of Kermit the Frog’s song go “…it is not easy being green.” And green is the color I finally chose for my Renaissance Man costume. I was able to rent this fine piece of sartorial splendor at the Sartoria Teatrale Antonietta ( http://sartoriateatralefirenze.com/).
Our first guests of the Fall were Patti and Keith…friends from Novato, CA. Keith is a photo buddy and Patti and RoJean are a true shopping team. Over an intense three days we managed to visit the Duomo Museum (https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/opera-del-duomo.html)…yet again (because it is wonderful). And some night photography on the Piazza Signoria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_della_Signoria), where there is an art installation by the artist Jan Fabre…a man riding a gigantic bronze turtle is very prominent (https://mappingcontemporaryflorence.com/2016/04/27/giant-turtle-sculpture-comes-to-florence-with-jan-fabre-exhibit/)…and once again…art is in the eye of the beholder.
A bus ride across the Arno and up to San Miniato and Piazzale Michelangelo for the iconic panoramic view of Firenze in the late afternoon light. (Still good photography even if the light or the clouds aren’t perfect).
Early on a gorgeous fall morning Keith and I headed south with a driver/guide Giuseppe (Beppe) Mirossi (firstname.lastname@example.org) to explore and photograph a little piece of the famous Tuscan countryside. First a stop at the semi famous Nannini (http://www.pasticcerienannini.it/en/) for cappuccino and a delicious pastry for our Italian breakfast on the outskirts of Siena. Then over the course of the day we visited the Abbey of San Galgano and the Chapel of Monte Siepi…where local lore tells us the story of the ‘sword in the stone’ (think King Arthur) was born (http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-sword-in-the-stone-at-montesiepi-chapel). We finished the day at the hilltown of Cortona (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortona) with images of Basilica of Santa Margherita (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Margherita,_Cortona) and a street musician, Barbara Piperno of Choro de Rua performing in Montepulciano (http://www.choroderua.com/).
Lunch at the Central Market is always a treat for the senses. Typically crowded but interesting vendors and really good selection of various food stalls on the upper level. And on this visit we were greeted by the artist Wei Wei.
One of the things we have enjoyed about sharing our adopted City of Firenze with friends and family is new learning experiences. Places that we may not have known about or not yet visited are on their lists to ‘do and see’ in Florence. During this visit it was the internationally acclaimed School of Leather (http://www.scuoladelcuoio.com/scuola-del-cuoio-about-us.html). Some of you living in San Francisco may be thinking…Folsom Street Fair, however, this is not THAT kind of leather…no leather chaps or whips. Instead beautifully designed and crafted coats and jackets, purses and bags and all manner of leather accessories in a wide array of colors and styles. Keith nor the shopping team could resist…
Keith even managed to get me up early one morning to photograph the Ponte Vecchio in the morning light…followed by a group photo on our terrace.
Unbelievable! Actually it is hard to get my head around the fact that I am sitting at my desk in Florence, Italy on my 70th birthday…October 8th…writing a blog post about my great life adventure living here. I am thankful and humbled to be here with RoJean and to be celebrating my 70th year on the planet. We have had some guests visit us here and we have met some wonderful locals…both Italian and ex-pats…that have made this a truly rich and rewarding experience. We are looking forward to continuing to be good immigrants in Italy on into the Spring 2017.
Equally amazing is that this week I made my FIRST traditional Tuscan ragu. A simple recipe really with tomatoes and ground meat, but with subtleties of taste and texture that until now only a true Tuscan could capture. I have been assured of my success by an enthusiastic ‘thumbs up’ by Miss Emma Gambi…an authentic and unbiased true Tuscan.
This past week I also managed to get a few more images of my favorite church…you know…the one that looms large at the center of Firenze…Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore…Il Duomo di Firenze…or The Duomo. The Duomo has been a fascinating photo study as I try to capture it from near and far…at night and somewhat obscured (thru the roof of the Duomo Museum)…what do you think?
October promises to be filled with family and friends. Visitors to Firenze and celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries. My college friends David and Debbe will be visiting Italy for the first time and making Firenze their first stop. David and I graduated architecture together in 1970 from Kent State University (yes, that Kent State). Their visit will be followed by traveling companions Lew and Jan from what some call the ‘swing state’ (whatever that is) of Florida…As you may notice…I’ve been known to ‘dress up’ before…Lew and I in Punjab State of India.
And there will also be a report on a yuge bicycle ride that takes place every October in Gaiole, Italy…l’Eroica (https://www.cycleclassictours.com/cycleholidayseurope/l-eroica-and-chianti-2016/)…the ride of past heroes…some more authentic, than others.