This was fast food cheap pizza and it was scrumptious. Big square pans came out about every two minutes and were gobbled up just as fast. A square was a hefty snack, about $2, and so good that I had a second one. This pizza had more toppings than any other we had, but the crust had that nice thick chewy crispy char. The beer was also good.
I’m about to start making my own pizza dough. And sauce. And perhaps buy a pizza stone or even a steel, which transmits the heat even better than a stone. In a home oven, you are limited because it doesn’t really get hot enough. But I’m craving good pizza and have been disappointed around here, and even in Little Italy downtown. So…
I’ll make some dough and let it cure in the fridge for two or three days. I’ll make a batch of simple sauce and keep it in the fridge, and use it sparingly. And sprinkle with some anchovies and not too much cheese. Hope I’ll come close. It would be an expensive pizza to fly back to Italy for it! Pasta is easier to reproduce at home. We had it for supper tonight. Thank you, Italians!
This was in a shop that sold yarn and women’s clothing, just across the street from Craig and Steven’s apartment. I bought both; I mean, both yarn and clothing! Some yarn for Italian socks (which would be just socks knitted with Italian yarn) and some clothes that made me feel stylish and sassy. There. Italian fashion is stylish and sassy!
I bought two very bright, solid-colored tops, one salmony-orange and the other St. Patrick’s day green. They aren’t cut like clothes for the US market, but I can’t quite figure out what makes them different. I will get a lot of happy wear from them. The clothes were so much fun that I decided that were I to move to Italy, I would have to get a whole new wardrobe, so that I would feel Italian. Nice idea, yes?
But I wasn’t the flower girl. We weren’t anywhere long enough to buy flowers and had nowhere to keep them, although considering now, I could have left them for the next guest, or at the front desk!
This was one of many small displays found on street corners everywhere, not just Bologna. They were almost as ubiquitous as the cheerful planted window boxes. And it was only April, so I imagine that later in the summer the selections were larger and even more colorful. Those early pansies in their huge bowls were so memorable (see May 11.)
Let’s just continue with the food…and drink. A smoothie and an I’m-not-sure. I think that’s Craig’s hand, so it might be an alcoholic refresher of some sort, or just iced tea!
I had a bit of wine with dinner a few times when it just showed up, but don’t think I ordered any. I would so much prefer to eat my calories. I must have had beer at least once, with pizza maybe at lunch, but can’t say much about either drink. The coffee was good but not memorable. Compared to the food, anyway. But that’s just me; others were excited by their vino opportunities. Maybe I’ve just not developed the palate. That’s ok. There will be a few more photos of Italy, and then I will return to the beach and vicinity!
The pastry was warm and crispy and soft and tasty. The cappuccino was strong and just the right sweetness. The price was half what it would be here, but that might have something to do with Craig’s winning ways; he had clearly made friends in every restaurant we tried. And it seems that friendliness in Italy is important.
We went to a small grocer and bought fruit, which we ate when we woke up. Then, at just after 11 am, we went downstairs from the lovely three-bedroom, two-bath apartment our hosts shared with us, walked about ten feet, and had this little treat. That way, we could have lunch around 1:30 or 2, and dinner at a more civilized time, like 8. With perhaps some gelato around 4 or 5. So if you have smallish meals about three hours apart, you get to sample more kinds of Italian food!
In Bologna. We hadn’t been to this kind of restaurant before. Large table set up, almost as if in someone’s home, with perhaps two dozen items. Cold meats, bread, crackers. Multiple vegetables. Rice. Roasted potatoes. Pasta. I think I had green beans, asparagus, and zucchini. Some fresh fruit salad is buried there. There were always tomatoes, always tasty and not mealy.
It was all-you-can-eat. There was also a dessert section with more fruit and pastries. The whole thing was 8 euros, about $10. It was all delicious. You can see I didn’t choose much meat.
We were there for four days and ate all our meals out. With food so reasonably priced and readily available, I don’t think Craig and Steven cook too much. Pizza and pastry photos to come…
Peggy Guggenheim’s home and art collection were a major destination for me. She had a graceful villa, with gorgeous small gardens, and this is the view from one of the terraces. So quintessentially Venice.
The art was from my favorite period and artists, and so I couldn’t decide what to show here. She befriended and supported many big names before they were big. I saw familiar and unfamiliar pieces, including a metalwork headboard made for her by Calder. Wow.
It was a lovely last day of the tour. We had our farewell dinner that night, and then onward, via train, to visit our friends Craig and Steven in Bologna. They asked us what we wanted to do and we said, “Nothing! Just hang out with you and see what your daily lives are like.” Which is what we did, as you shall see.
Not the one we rode on/in, but I liked this angle. It’s almost abstract. And his red-striped shirt goes with the red-painted interior to lend graphic punch. Really, the photos are just about noticing. Such a good exercise in visual attention.
The angles and composition may break some rules, but the yellow oar(?) and green and black water also gave me pause. Sometimes you take these shots and have no idea what they’ll be. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised.
Gotta have a gondola photo for Venezia!
Yes. It exists. It’s not a movie set. It’s there, in all its semi-decrepit impossible splendor. I guess there’s a lot I’ve called ‘splendid.’ Well, I cried when we took the boat from the bus station and saw it opening out before us. I hadn’t been sure it wasn’t a Hollywood fiction.
That said, it wasn’t my favorite place. It was the fanciest hotel, but, alas, the food was more expensive and not as wonderful, with the exception of our farewell dinner. But given the caliber of the whole Smithsonian experience, that’s not surprising; I mean, they were going to have a great farewell dinner. We could choose the fish or the meat courses, and Pier Luigi recommended the fish, so that’s what we had and it was excellent..
OK, I’ll break with tradition and post another canal photo here:
It didn’t smell bad — yet. Because it was only mid-April. We were told that in the height of summer, it can be malodorous. Apparently there can be sewage leaks from the ancient plumbing, but we escaped that.
More Venezia tomorrow!
In clay. It took years to make this model of the whole town; it is presented at the 1300 Museum. Although I’ve worked in clay, I can’t imagine the scope of this project. All that slab- and hand-building! The town has 13 remaining bell towers, and the skyline (such as it is) has changed little since medieval times. It was fun to see. We got a presentation and then snacks. Good snacks. Every time you turned around, there was good food.
Some folks apparently think San Gimignano is pretty touristy. It is. In such a fun way! Besides, it was our last major stop in Tuscany. It meant we were heading towards our last destination of the tour, Venice, which was the only place I didn’t rave about the food –except for our farewell dinner. And we were consoled knowing we had the four-day Bologna bonus coming!
Time for another photo of food. I sure miss the food. And the walking and the fresh air. And the food.
So, this was the day we visited San Gimignano. Which wins the prize for “most fun name to say.” You have to sing it. “San Jim-in-YA-no.” And get that YA nice and long and deep. San Gimignano was the place that had a ceramic scale model of the city (itself) on display. It was very cool so I might post a photo. But really, even though San Gimignano had the winery where this antipasto plate was served to *each* of us to accompany our four wine tastes, it also had leather shops. That’s supposed to be Florence, but for me, it was here. I must have gone into ten or fifteen of them. They smelled so good. And had such unusual and supple and varied and reasonably-priced goods. And I did buy a wonderful purse that is so soft and so chic and so stylish that I can’t believe I have it. Guess that makes it a good purchase?!
Every bite on that plate was wonderful, by the way. And they suggested what to eat with each wine. I didn’t get excited about the wines (I don’t in general) but it was great fun. The sort of thing I’d never do on my own. But hey, it was part of the program.
And yes, this was around 4 or 5 pm and we did indeed have a full dinner back at Villa Lecchi around 8 or so. And I think I ate all of it.
Oh I sure miss the food. Italian food in the US has never been my favorite, but Italian food in Italy is something else. Light and clean, even things you might think of as rich and heavy, like cheese and cold-cuts, which is an insulting term for the meats we ate, anyway!
Now, isn’t that a postcard? We saw more in the Galleria; we saw lots at the Uffizi; but you can see good photos of art online. I do say that I enjoyed Botticelli’s “Spring” more than his “Venus,” but my photos do neither of them justice. “Spring” is intricate and charming and whimsical. It was a nice break from serious and heavy and historical and…well, you know.
I think I actually like Florence seen like this even more than up close and personal. The Ponte Vecchio was smaller than I thought and just seemed like a sequence of not-very-interesting jewelry shops. OK, we did it. We didn’t have much time in Florence; perhaps another visit will reveal more. I was realizing I liked the smaller towns more than the big cities. Bologna proved to be the exception, but I’m getting ahead of myself!
This was more impressive for me than seeing the David. Truly. As iconic as David is, as large, as expressive, as weird as it is. Yep, it’s a bit weird; some parts seem out of proportion, intentional, it’s said, for the vantage point from which it was supposed to be seen. And it just seems awkwardly too big.
But the Galleria dell’ Accademia has several unfinished sculptures, and they impress the sense that yes, indeed, Michelangelo was “finding” the figure that was trapped in the stone. It seems to be struggling to emerge. And you can see all levels of finish, from quite rough and blocky to silky smooth.
We saw these unfinished pieces in the hallway that approaches the David, and I kept lingering there, because it felt almost magical. I wanted to turn around and ask him something. But he wasn’t there. And the David (and the stream of visitors) kept pulling me. So after some time with David, I returned to these partly-realized figures, marveling. It was a good trip for marveling.
Tessellation. And cubes or 6-pointed stars or both, at least. I love the moons. They seem unusual. Islamic rather than Christian? But then again, the moon is a pretty universally used and understood symbol. And then again (again) — it’s not quite moon-like. The moon never looks like that, like it has a bite taken out of it, a perfectly circular bite. Oh, I do love a mystery. This is a floor in the library mentioned earlier.
Regarding the floor in the *main*cathedral, here’s what Leila Firusbakht says at this link: http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/tuscanyarts/siena-duomo-mosaic-floor/
“Crafted by about forty artists and artisans between the 14th and 16th centuries, the 56 panels that constitute the floor vary in size and shape – most of them have a rectangular shape, some a hexagon or a rhombus one – and are made mainly by two different techniques: one known as graffito (tiny holes and cutting lines created in the marble and then filled with black stucco and mineral pitch) and the one called“marble intarsia” (black, white, green, red and blue marble employed in much the same manner as wood inlaying).”
You can see lots more photos of floors there. Enjoy…
Taking photos of objects under glass is a challenge. And it was a crowded room, to boot, so it was tricky to play with the angles. But this is so gorgeous that it comes through despite the distraction of the flashes. And I don’t really think I mind the reflection of the ceiling all that much, considering.
Considering. We did a lot of considering. The guides — aloud. Us — more quietly. Under my breath muttering at times. And considering in retrospect. Writing this gives me some distance, and a point of view for sure. I can’t imagine a much longer trip, or trips like this one back-to-back. It’s too intense with too much stimulation, both mental and emotional. It would start to float off your consciousness.
A few more weeks, and I’ll be back to my ocean — even in cyberspace.
The ceilings and the floors and the Donatello and Michelangelo were all vying for attention. This time, the ceilings won. All this famous art, and really, looking up and looking down were the wonders for me. This looks like jewels, like precious metals, like 50 amazing compositions, like how in the world did they *do* this? The church is the Duomo Santa Maria Assunta; this ceiling is in the Piccolomini Library, which is also full of stunning illuminated manuscripts. This one building is a veritable feast of riches.
We are capable of great beauty — and great cruelty. Wish that it were not so. More cognitive dissonance. But it’s so so so beautiful! Glorious in composition and color, and I don’t even recall what it portrays. On some level, it really doesn’t matter?
Dinner at Villa Lecchi. Pasta course. Simple. I think the sauce was the cooked asparagus and a bit of lemon juice, broth, and olive oil. Very mild. No distracting garlic or onion. I don’t recall tasting garlic anywhere at all, on anything, in Italy. Where did Americans get the idea that Italian food is full of garlic, anyway?
You can also see the serving size. When you are eating four courses, they aren’t big, although dinners were always generous. The bread was simple and tasty, served plain. No butter, no olive oil. It was chewy and soft and flavorful on its own.
And the nice (retro!) lace tablecloths, like your Grandma’s house? The dining room, at least a dozen large tables, faced that amazing view from a few days ago. Such a treat! Breakfasts were the huge buffet, dinner was served plated. Easy to be delightfully spoiled, for sure.
I don’t know what these are, but I thought they’d be a nice change from food and churches and floors. The wisteria was so prevalent that it was difficult to notice anything else, but here these present themselves in their dainty splendor. I like the perky pointy yellow centers and the waxy elongated heart leaves.
We did so much walking and looking and sometimes I just wanted to walk and look and not pay photo-attention, but these grabbed me on our way to or from Siena, where we saw the Piazza del Campo and a duomo with Michelangelo and Donatello abounding. More to come.
As in Under the Tuscan Sun. This was the view from our hotel, Villa Lecchi. And ohmyheavens, we thought we’d been eating well, but Laura outdid herself. The dinners were four scrumptious courses. The soups! The pastas! The desserts! The everything…
And best of all was the breakfast buffet: pine nut cake. And fruit tortes. And, maybe best of all, several kinds of pizza. Hot. I love a mix of sweet and savory for breakfast. And this was along with the plates of meats and cheeses, the huge bowl of cut fruit, the granola, the breads and pastries. And this was every morning, four mornings in a row. You have to be happy in the morning with this view and this kind of breakfast!
And wine. Our last day in Orvieto. So that was an anchovy and olive pizza. They don’t overdo the toppings, for sure. And the tomato sauce is fresh-cooked and neither thick nor sour nor sweet. Just right. The crust is chewy, crunchy, soft — all at once. And it has flavor. Really good flavor. It probably cost around $8-10.
The wine wasn’t half bad either. I didn’t have any very often, but Orvieto was so special. That’s my wrist over there, I think. The pizzas are large and some people easily eat the whole thing. We shared them. My mouth is watering just looking at this again. I may have to learn how to make REAL pizza. With wonderful simple dough and home-made sauce and a pizza STEEL so that the crust gets hot enough. At least, that’s what I’ve read. It’s bedtime, and I’d be delighted to eat that right now. Right now…
One of the many pleasures of our Smithsonian trip was the short jaunts, the side trips, the special treats. After we saw Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis, with its basilica featuring Giotto and Cavellini frescoes, we visited Deruta, a famed ceramics center. And I’ve shown you lots of churches, so here’s a change of pace!
We saw a demo of expert hand-done ceramics painting at a place owned by two sisters. And oh my, are they prolific. We also saw a video of a husband making the actual clay forms. Some of them are wheel-thrown, others mold-made.
What you see here is about 10-20% of the contents of their large shop. It was prettiness everywhere you looked, and of course most of us bought something. We came home with small candlesticks and a matching bowl — limited luggage room was helpful in curbing our purchasing.
Had we been driving or on our own, I doubt we would have stopped here. Or in Perugia. Or chosen our Tuscan Villa Lecchi. Or seen the American cemetery in Florence. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
One last shot, then we’ll move on. I was waxing eloquent, I hope, to a friend today about Orvieto. Did I love it as much when I was there?
I do think that looking at the photos and writing about them cements the impressions. It all went by so fast, so intensely; it was a plethora of visual stimulation, tour guide input (generally for several hours, on and off), great tastes, lots of exercise and fresh air, and all with newness and novelty abounding.
And that’s why we travel, eh? To look and see and feel and think and taste and wonder, and become a bit more aware of the bigness and the smallness of the world, the sameness and the uniqueness, the history and the ever-present novel present.
I am grateful for this collection of opportunities.
OK, yet another wonderful floor. Oh my, they could architect and construct and paint and mosaic and…all those good verbs. Doesn’t this also look like it could be contemporary?
It was difficult to take these photos; there were people and feet and ropes and the lighting was tricky. Couldn’t avoid the bright spots. And all my maneuvering made the perspective wonky. But I don’t think that detracts from the overall beauty.
Just one of many. In one of many churches. Still in Orvieto; you can tell I don’t want to leave.
For me, it’s the impression of wonder, of color, of artistry that makes these spectacular; the subject matter varies. The geometric banding is such a striking contrast to the painterly scenes. It would be strong even if the interiors were blank, I think.
I don’t think we saw this anywhere else, but don’t you think it’s fitting for Orvieto? And she has the perfect haircut and those cute blue shoes. Her shop was just down the street from our hotel.
Oh, the shoes. I almost bought some just to put on a shelf and look at, like an art object. Sculptures. For the feet. Just not my difficult-to-fit-10.5AAAA feet. So I went home without Italian shoes.
The purses were just as gorgeous, though, and I admit to buying two of them. I hope to have them for years and years. A sophisticated black one for winter and a fun summery multi-colored one, both with butter-soft leather and all the “smartness” of Italian design — plus price tags that would have been much higher were they purchased at home. That’s the rationale, anyway. It took much shopping and looking and comparing to make the decisions — great fun!
Photo taken by Richard. I thought I took this shot, can’t find it, but he got it beautifully. (Outside facade view.)
Again, it’s the rhythm and repetition. The borders withing the borders. The figures, then the heads. The decorative braid-like edgings. The blue and gold, again. The circles, the arc, the circles and arcs again. Wow. I wonder who conceived it, who sketched it, over and over again probably! and who actually carved it and inlaid the blue and gold and…well, it’s mind-boggling. And still so visually compelling. Loveliness.
Built over a period of 300 years, it was deemed “finished” in 1591. The rose window is stunning. The ceilings are, too. The facade is glorious, as you can see. I love the rhythm of the pointy arches and the rounded ones and the repeated arcs and columns. Then there is the “crenelation” of the points, and the series of very small arches. It’s like a semi-kaleidoscopic image of itself. Gingerbread-y, almost. All that blue on the exterior is unusual, and sets off the golden tones of the stone. Almost a confection. More to come…
After that big buildup, the computer still doesn’t let you taste it. I guess this was officially the salad course. The greens and tomatoes were freshly bitter and sweet, and perfect foils to the light richness of the souffle/terrine. The balsamic drizzle served both the greens and the souffle, judiciously. Food was rarely overdone in any sense of the word. Art, yes; food, no. Me? Saying the art was overdone? Well, there was nothing minimalist, to be sure!
Food, art, floors. Those seem to be the majority of the photos I’ve chosen.
But the Duomo will be next. It’s pretty spectacular, even if not tasty.
Seen from our hotel room. I loved Orvieto. Rick Steves loves Orvieto. Is there anyone who doesn’t love Orvieto?
You walk up to Orvieto from its base town. The real town, though, is up on the bluffs, where popes hid in times of need. Orvieto has caves and wells. Orvieto has great shopping and restaurants. Orvieto has a gorgeous Duomo. (I might show its photo.) You can find your way around in Orvieto easily. Orvieto has pretty ceramics shops and an innovative art/bicycle/fiber shop. It has cats and people who wash the doorsteps of their shops. Really.
What Orvieto has so generously, though, is charm. It’s so walkable. It’s so perfectly what it is. People go to Orvieto for the day. It’s less than 90 minutes from Rome.
One of our included excursions was dinner at a restaurant where we watched the chef make pasta by hand and then ate an amazing meal, of which that very pasta was a course. I ate something there that was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten — and I don’t even know what it was. A chickpea terrine/souffle? Not sure. The pasta was good. The antipasto plate, which we nibbled at while we watched the noodle-making (a kilo of flour and 11 eggs), could have sufficed for my entire meal. The wine flowed. There was meat, and mashed potatoes that set a new bar. They had itsy bits of red onion and navy beans incorporated in them. Don’t know why. But SO good. There was dessert. But that chickpea whatever? And I don’t really like chickpeas. Ha!
I want to go back to Orvieto. And maybe see if they still have that mustard-yellow leather skirt that was in the window. Two of us talked about buying and sharing it, each of us having it six months of the year. Orvieto can do that to you, make you think you really want to wear a mustard-yellow leather skirt, with a black turtle-neck and black boots, of course. People in Orvieto look good because they are happy and they walk a lot and they eat well.
Orvieto casts a spell.