Sunday, March 31, 2013

This Boot was Made for Walking!



I was sitting in my living room today staring out at the beautiful snow that had fallen over night, working myself in to a much deserved pity party about having so much snow this year when I remembered… I live in The Netherlands! Pity Party over and trying to remember that one of the “charming” aspects of The Netherlands is the amount of rain that helps to keep this beautiful country green. And what is snow… just glorified rain!

So, I paroozed through my photos trying to remember what life was like when it was little warmer and we had a little bit of sunshine. But something even more magnificent caught my eye. Pictures from my recent girls trip to Italy.

I can’t believe I took a fabulous vacation to Tuscany in Italy and forgot to write about it. Ok “forget” is a pretty strong word. Let’s say… temporarily put to the back of my mind while real life marched on. But with the calmness of the snow… I had time to gather and reflect upon one of the most beautiful trips I’ve ever taken.

My friends and I had decided we wanted to take a “girls trip” somewhere. Anywhere! And with the help of cheap plane tickets thanks to Ryan Air, Tuscany went to the top of the list. I can’t remember what my ticket cost but it was around 100 Euros round trip with priority seating and an extra bag. Yes, I’ve mentioned before I’m a brat. Hahaha. I had big plans to make sure I got to bring home gifts for my kids and my sisters. I was not about to argue with Ryan air about the weight of my luggage.

We flew into Pisa from Eindhoven, then we bussed our way to Florence. Arriving in the evening a little late the owner of our apartment for the week met us at the door with the key. He had kindly just turned on the heater. . Turned on the heat might be a tad generous… two days later we were finally nice and toasty.We rushed out the door to our first delicious Italian dinner thankful to have been given a great recommendation from him.


The next, day fully invigorated by our chilly night’s sleep, we headed out the door for a bus tour of Tuscany.  Our stops included the beautiful cities of Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa. We also stopped at a vineyard for a lunch and wine tasting.

 The warmth of the fire and the wonderful wine really helped to warm our spirits in the cold rain.

My favorite highlights of the day were:

The Cathedral Santa Maria Assunta of  Siena





The Piazza Del Campo

This was my favorite! Twice a year this area holds a horse race called the II Palio on July 2nd and August 16th. Ten horses and riders race the small circle three times around on bareback. Thousands of spectators fill the Piazza to watch and experience the race that lasts about a minute and a half.


The Palazzo Pubblicco

San Gimignano


The Baptistery Pisa


Leaning tower of Pisa


After the bus ride back to the apartment we were all looking forward to a warm cozy room. Hmmmmm…still looking.

The next morning fully rested and ready to take on Florence we headed out the door towards the Ponte Vecchio. 


I love how the Ponte Vecchio opens up all their stalls/stores in the medieval style stone arch way bridge during the day and at night they sleep all closed up all going over the Arno River.

We did a FULL day of walking around Florence and here are my favorites of the day.

The Piazza del Duomo


The Baptistery of the Duomo



The tombs of the Santa Croce


My very first cannoli

Wednesday we headed over to the Accademia di Belle Art to see… 
drum roll please…

David by Michelangelo

From there we went to ..

The Basilica of San Lorenzo 
and the Medici Chapel 


 Then onto the Santa Maria Novella 

then back to the Duomo Museum to see 


The Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti
 owing its name from Michelangelo who looked at beautiful doors and said.. “These doors are fit to be to the Gates of Paradise”. I would have to agree!

Our last day we headed over to the Uffizi Gallery one of the oldest art museums in the world, with the watchful eye of the guards telling us .. NO Cameras… um ok. Until I saw her.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
Picturing the Goddess Venus emerging from the sea, this was truly the icing on the cake for my trip to Tuscany. I sat in awe of the beauty of this painting. The Gallery was filled with wonderful things to see and I’m sure everyone had their favorite. This was mine. All I could sing for days was Venus by Johnny Mathis.

We had lunch outside in the courtyard of the Gallery trying not to get swarmed by birds. It didn’t help that a lady kept feeding them right by us. A little last minute shopping then back to Pisa to catch our flight out EARLY the next morning. Our flight was so early Ryan Air didn’t even bat an eye at my bulging suitcases.

Traveling to Italy for some much needed fun with my friends was fabulous. I thank God every day for putting this unique opportunity of being an expat into my life at a time when my children are grown and I’m able to take off for short little trips with friends. Now the real question is…. Where to next?

P.S. Easter Sunday.. cold, saw some snow flurries and have the fire going. Nice!

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