Saturday, October 25, 2008

Renaissance Extravaganza!

Saturday. Farewell to La Collina, and on to Firenze. Before I move on to our day, a few words about the apartment where we stayed the past six nights, La Collina. The apartment was in a great location, about four or five miles outside of Volterra, and we loved Volterra. Our apartment was quiet at night and away from city life, which was a nice change from Rome, Naples, and Sorrento. However, the apartment itself was utilitarian: it had a sitting room and a small kitchen on the main floor, and upstairs it had a bedroom with a double bed and a bathroom with a shower. It was equipped in minimalist fashion, barely the essentials for a traveler. Had we known what wasn’t included, we would have stopped at a store prior to our arrival, i.e., it did not come with a bar of soap! It had only two bath towels and three hand towels. It had a washer and dryer, but no instructions. Howard tried and tried to figure out how to operate it, and finally called the owners of the apartment (they live on the west coast of North America in Canada); it was then that we were told no, we couldn’t use the washer and dryer, and yes, we had only two towels for the entire week. They told us if we wanted to do laundry, we could go into Volterra where there was a Laundromat next to the COOP grocery store. Unfortunately, we weren’t told there are two COOPS so we wasted a lot of time looking for the proper one. When we went in do our laundry, we stopped in the grocery store for the essentials we would need for the week: soap and paper towels (nope, the apartment didn’t even have paper towels). We purchased a hand-pump soap dispenser, which we carried around with us in the apartment. In the morning, we took it into the shower. After our showers, we took it downstairs to the kitchen where we used it to wash dishes (nope, no dishwashing soap) and wash out our clothes. Of course by the end of the week our garbage had been stacking up, but after several attempts to locate a garbage can, no luck.

So after a week at La Collina, here’s our wish list that would have made our stay better:

In the kitchen: Salt and pepper, olive oil, paper towels, dishwashing soap, an extra garbage bag, and instructions on where to take the garbage.

In the bathroom: A bar of soap, and at least two bath towels each. A bath mat would have been handy, too – it takes a lot of paper towels to make a good bath mat!

Having use of the washer and dryer would have been a bonus. But, at the very least, it would have been nice to have directions to the Laundromat. And it would have been nice to know in advance that we needed to bring so many of the essentials ourselves.

Okay, I feel better after that little rant. On to our new home, A Teatro Bed & Breakfast. I already love it and I haven’t even slept a night yet (we’re here for four nights). To get in, we have a set of keys: one for the outside iron gate that faces the street. Then once inside a secure area, we have another key that unlocks a glass door leading to an atrium area. Up the lift to the fourth floor and we have a key to open the door to the B & B. Then, once inside, we have a room key. Yikes Almighty! That’s a lot of keys. Our room is bright and cheery, but the best part is a little outside patio overlooking the city. Here’s Howard about to enjoy an evening snack (we ate a light supper so we could get a BIG gelato a little later).

Our day. We arrived in Firenze about 8:30 a.m., got checked in, dropped our bags, then skeedoodled on foot to the Uffizi Gallery. In a recent post I compared it to the Louve in Paris. Well, it is the “Italian” version of the Louve, but it ain’t no Louve. It is much smaller – beautiful artwork: paintings and sculpture. When we arrived, we were tired and hungry because we got up early to make the drive from Volterra to Firenze (about an hour’s drive, then trying to find our B&B in the "no traffic" area of the city). So before starting our tour of the Uffizi, we headed straight for the cafĂ© on the second floor, ordered a cappuccino and a croissant and sat in their lovely outdoor patio and shifted gears from driving and travelling to relaxing and art.

No photos were allowed inside the Uffizi, but here is one of the outside:

A short walk from the Gallery is the famous Ponte Vecchio, a bridge lined with little shops. We didn’t have the energy to walk across it today, but we did have the energy to snap a photo:

By this time we were famished. We found a nice little outdoor restaurant where I had spinanci foccacia and Howard a tuna sandwich (and a slice of pizza for a chaser).

After a cappuccino, we were recharged and ready to hit what Rick calls an “underappreciated sculpture museum.” Well, underappreciated sounded like our cup of tea so we walked the short distance to the Bargello (Museo Nazionale), which is housed in a former police station-turned-prison. Nice, nice, nice – both Howard and I enjoyed it a little more than the Uffizi (shhh, don’t spread that around). But then again, it was pretty cool seeing Botticelli's Birth of Venus and paintings by Michelangelo at the Uffizi. Okay, it was pretty cool.

Just like at the Uffizi, no photos were allowed inside the Bargello, but that sneaky Howard got a few shots (with permission) of the outside courtyard:

Which brings us back to our evening. After a light meal on our patio, we got ourselves ready to do some Saturday night strolling and gelato eating. We went out about 6:30 p.m., but crazily enough, the city was shutting down. We had to walk extra far to even find a gelato stand that was still open. It was only 7:30, for Pete’s sake. Oh well. We got our gelato and sat in the square in front of the Santa Croce Church. Very nice way to end a full day.

Tomorrow’s agenda? We have reservations for 10:00 a.m. at the Accademia (Galleria dell’ Accademia) where we’ll get to see Michelangelo’s David. After that? I have my sights on a once-a-month outdoor antique market held in a square very near our B & B.

Responses to a couple of blog comments (and a special photo that I love as a little thank you for your taking the time to respond to my posts):

Destree, I’m not really a goody two shoes, which is why my Gee Whizz and Whoa Nelly are so comical.

Peshe has suggested that Howard and I leave some personal graffiti – I hadn’t even thought of that! You’re a bad (good?) influence on us. And Destree, for the record, we aren’t really breaking into anything, just taking some liberties here and there!

Bridget, yes, taking one book was silly and not thought out and that is why my good friend Joni said I was crazy and advised me to take at least two; I brought two and bought two at Powell’s while at the Portland airport, so I’m pretty well set for now.


Peshe said...

Snickleway - that's what i do in large crowd - twist and turn. I snickle my way to the other side.

Oceano - 'carries' a big stick

Extra photo: she (motherinlaw on the right)said to her (lady with the cross on the left) "you need to pay more attention to this son(pointing to tush), he's putting on way to much weight" and "look at the lovely heART he made just for you".

namaste ;^)

Destree said...

How are you ever going to get over your apparent addiction to gelato when you return?

Bridget B. said...

LOL - actually, I was wondering if I was crazy for going to a foreign country and spending so much time reading . . .

Bridget B. said...

Oh, boy . . . these photos really take me back . . . it's been eek, almost 20 years since I was in Florence . . . but I love it! Thank you for letting me visit it again . . .