A New Year and Too Much Stuff Happening

Ciao a Tutti,

Oh my goodness, so much going on. The holidays exploded all over my best-laid plans and took me on a roller coaster ride of fun, family, laughter, and love. (and a little flu but, hey, you gotta take the bad with the good.)

I am not complaining but just a little saddened that my time with my blog friends is going to be changing. Of course, I am also happy because I think in the long run the changes will all be for the better. Let me tell you about my plans for the future of Karyn’s Corner before I tell you about the last month.

I am trying to get a better handle on how social media works so I am able to utilize it in my blogging, Instagram, and various other media outlets. To that end, I will be releasing only one blog per month and working to release 

more Instagram posts. (If you don’t follow me on Instagram now is the time to jump on that bandwagon – you can find me @ karyns_corner) 

I know some of you keep up with the crazy life that Will and I have by the blog but I encourage you to check out the Instagram feed and also ‘like’ my ‘Karyns Corner’ page on facebook. And please, please, please be a little patient with me as I work to get this whole social media shebang up and running. January and February might be a little bumpy with school starting but I am hoping to have a handle on my posting by March. (Fingers crossed, I think the learning curve might be a little steep.)

So, what have I been up to the last month?

Probably the same as many of you, holidays, too much food, a little too much wine, not enough gelato (apparently 32 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold even for my love of gelato). Family, fun, laughter, oh and did I mention my parents came to stay with Will and me for a month.

First, let me say that even though I love my parents and my parents love me (and Will too) 28 days away from your own environment might be too long to endure. It’s a weird feeling when you are still semi-living out of a suitcase and don’t really have your own things or your own routine. That being said we had a really good time. Minus the fact that my mom brought us the flu and Will had to endure being dragged all over northern Italy sick. Thank goodness for farmacia’s (The Italian version of a pharmacy but better in many ways).

So a quick review of the last month and then please check out my Facebook page and Instagram for some more information and photos.

We started with a week in Firenze (Florence). My parents loved the old streets as much as I do. We visited the Gelateria Castellina, as many of you know I judge all other gelaterias by this spectacular gelato. It is about 30-40 minutes outside of Firenze, up in the hills, but so worth every minute for the taste of this gelato is amazing. Okay, so I could wax poetic about Gelateria Castellina for days but for the sake of word count let me move on.

The Firenze Duomo was as awe-inspiring as the first time I saw it. (Though I admit this is not my best photograph.) It will always bring mist to my eyes when I view it after an absence. I read a great book on the construction of the Dome and if anyone is interested I would highly recommend Ross Kings’s Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture. Though we did not climb the Dome this trip it is back on my ‘To Do Again’ list so I can look for some of Brunelleschi’s architecture in action. Will pointed out to my parents the safest spot in Firenze. There is a circle of marble on the ground commemorating the night of January 27, 1601, when the golden ball on top of the cupola was hit by lighting, detached, rolled down the dome and fell to hit the exact spot that the circle of marble now marks. Now, if you believe that lightning never strikes twice you know the safest spot in Firenze.

The holiday lights all over Firenze were ablaze and many of the shop windows were decorated in fun displays. We took a food tour with a group called ‘With Locals’ and our guide Christy was a great source of tasty information.

Will and I were also able to experience the Odeon Theater, a local old fashioned theater that plays the newest, hottest movies out – in the language they were filmed in- we saw Bohemian Rhapsody and I was very grateful to be able to see it in a giant theater, sitting in a plush golden chair.

Also, Firenze seems to have an agreement with Heidelberg, Germany and the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) was down in the Santa Croce Piazza. We like a good Weihnachtsmarkt and enjoyed the sights and smells of a mini German market.

Oh, and before we leave Firenze I need to do a quick shout out to one of our favorite restaurants in town Rooster Cafe on Via Porta Rossa. The food, the atmosphere, and the service are outstanding. Plus they have a house wine to die for. If you are in Firenze, even just for a night hit up Rooster Cafe for some tasty food.

After we came home to Vicenza we spent the days leading up to Christmas in a baking frenzy, fattigman, crispels, thumbprints, jammies, molasses spice, and chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies all made their appearance at our house.

Christmas came and went with a nice meal, presents from family near and far and a lot of love.

 

The day after Christmas we went to Venezia (Venice) to see the Moscow Ballet perform Swan Lake. It was magical, it took place in Teatro Goldoni, a theater built in 1622. Small but beautiful and pretty comfortable seats. Then it was a couple of days to prepare for a weekend in Milan.

 

Milan was hosting a Caravaggio exhibit in multimedia,

it was the story of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s life. He died in July of 1610 at age 38; he was a huge loss to the artistic community but his importance was lost and only rediscovered in the last century. The exhibit was amazing, audio and video while sitting in a room with large screens on three sides, immersing you in the life of Caravaggio. It was very, very well done. I may be a little biased since I am a huge Caravaggio fan but preferences are how things gain importance in our lives, so there you have it.

While in Milan my parents went to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, another painting worth seeing. (If you remember Will and I went to see it in October.) Then we all took a tour of the Casa degli Atellani where Leonardo’s personal vineyard was. It is an interesting house that has long times to the city and the Sforza family.

On our way home from Milan we stopped in Verona to take a tour of the Arena, get some gelato (of course) and my parents also went on a tour of nativities from all over the world.

Home once more we took a trip to Murano to see glass blowing in action, we also took a quick trip to Asiago to check outFort Corbin from World War I. Then back to Venice for another Leonardo Museum a quick view of San Marco Piazza and some shopping to round out my parents trip.

It was a long but delightful month and I am always happy when my family can visit me and I can share some of my life with them.

Now that the visit is over and school is about to start my life is going to undergo some shifts. There will still be adventures but probably more spread out and because of that and my commitment to school, I will, as I said earlier, be writing only once a month. But I am hoping to supplement that with my Instagram and Facebook. It’s going to be a great year and I look forward to sharing it all with you.

Ciao miei amici

 

C & A Adeventure part Deux

Ciao,

Last week I left you with the knowledge that two of us like heights just fine and two of us don’t. I am sure it is not surprising that I like heights just fine, mostly I worry about things much crazier than falling from great heights.

Like what, you ask?

You know silly stuff, like what happens if a tunnel collapses while our car is driving through or the idea that the top of the Duomo is really only a foot or two of concrete on the top. I am not claustrophobic and I don’t hate heights, I hate the idea of catastrophic failure.

Why would I worry about catastrophic failure at the Duomo?

Quick history lesson, the Duomo is the dome that finishes the Florence Cathedral, formerly known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The Cathedral was begun in 1296 but couldn’t be consecrated or considered complete until the dome was in place. Construction on the dome didn’t being until 1420. That is over 100 years later. The Duomo was also the first dome constructed in the Renaissance without creating a scaffolding system for the concrete to sit on while it cured. This was an impossibility since the Duomo’s great height (374 feet or 114 meters). Filippo Brunelleschi was the main architect in the domes construction. He had spent many years in Rome studying the architecture of the ancient Romans. With those ideas in his mind he constructed a dome held together by the angle of its incline and bound by four sets of chains that encircled the entire dome like barrel hoops. These were then also enclosed in concrete. There is an inner and outer dome and the outer one is only 2 feet thick with concrete at the bottom, narrowing out to 1 foot of concrete at the top. Honestly, that’s not a lot of concrete to have withstood almost 600 years and millions of visitors. Do you see the potential for catastrophic failure?

When you are climbing the Duomo, which has 463 stairs, you actually climb between the outer dome and the inner dome and then make your way up the side of the final stretch of dome to peak out of a narrow hatch. From there you can take in panoramic views of all of Florence.

I am going to add some pictures of the four of us. You already know I don’t care about how high it is. See if you can pick out the two who do.

 

 

 

On Thursday we headed back towards Vicenza and our home. We stopped briefly in Bologne to see the leaning tower there. After having seen Pisa it was rather anticlimactic. The town didn’t seem to take care of their city very well and after the majesty of Florence we were all a little disappointed. One plus was we found an excellent vegetarian restaurant, which made A very happy. We finally made our way home and our cats were happy to see us.

Settled in we made Hugo’s and Aperol Spritz and then ventured downtown Vicenza for some gelato. I didn’t say more gelato because there is no such thing as too much gelato.

Friday we took A & C to Venezia (Venice) we walked and hit all the major highlights but as I have said before Venezia is a big place and you can walk a long time without covering the same tracks twice. Not Will and I, we have covered most of it at least once but we still have a bunch of outlying islands to get to. We ate, had gelato, ate more and then when it was dark out called it a night.

 

We went to Soave Castle the next day to see the castle and get some lunch. Will and I had been here before for a wine festival. I must say some of the best wines in the region come from this little area (in my opinion, of course). The construction of the castle was begun in the 10th century and from then until 19th century it changed hands many times. Since 1830 it has remained in the same family and they take care of the castle and the grounds. It is not a functioning castle, other than tourism but the ruins are still neat to wander through and it does maintain some of its frescoes and furnishings. It is a neat way to spend an hour or two exploring the rooms and turrets.  We stopped at our super market on the way home and bought cheese, olives, bread, etc for a light dinner meal which we ate out on (as Will likes to call it) the lanai.

All to quickly the next day it was time to say goodbye to C & A. We are already making plans with them for next year, maybe somewhere new!

This last week we had to recover from the adventure and some bug that I managed to pick up along the way.

The weekend was spent getting ready for my daughter, Z, and the Finnrito to visit us. (We pick them up at the airport Thursday!) You have no idea how un-baby proof your house is until you start looking at all the knick knacks that are at baby level. Yikes!!

Our next couple of weeks are going to be packed with family and adventures and if I don’t make it to the blogging table don’t despair, I will be back before you know it.

Until we talk again

Ciao miei Amici

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” ― Jack Kerouac

Ciao,

Wow, I can’t believe it has been two weeks since I last wrote to everyone. Time flies and craziness ensues when I don’t keep up. Truthfully, only the last week or so has been crazy. The week before was the calm before the storm. My feet hurt, I haven’t been on my bike in 10 days, and I gained at least five pounds. I totally blame C & A for these problems but it was worth every second for a wonderful week with fantastic friends.

Let me give you some highlights of the first couple days and hopefully next week I can catch you up on the rest of it.

First let me remind you that Italian holidays are not American holidays and vice versa. I know that seems obvious but sometimes it is easy to forget, even when you live here. What that means is some days Will has to work when our neighbors stay home and sometimes we have a holiday that isn’t celebrated by the Italians. Labor Day is one of those days. As an American worker celebrating the day of American workers Will and I headed down to Firenze (Florence) to pick up our friends C & A for a week of adventures!

We grabbed the two of them from the Santa Maria Novella train station and then took a scenic drive up to Castellina in the Chianti region. You might think for wine but you would be wrong.

Nope, we went up there because they have the best gelato in Italy. Hands Down!! Yes, I am making that claim. It is just pure heaven. Please if you have a car and you are in Tuscany make the drive to Gelateria di Castellina. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are, then you obviously don’t understand good gelato.

We headed back to Firenze after walking around Castellina; where Will and A bought new cycling kits with large black roosters. It started a theme for the week and we looked for roosters everywhere we went. (Full disclosure, we had many themes for the week but that’s what happens when you are hanging out with good friends).

Our Air BnB was wonderful, a little outside of the inner circle of Firenze’s old city. Honestly, it was a small walk to and from but the neighborhood was quaint and believe me when I say that we needed all the walking we could get. (We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of wine, and finished it all off with gelato).

Firenze has a vibe to it that reminds you that it is the Renaissance. If Roma (Rome) incorporates the technologies well beyond its own time then Firenze reminds you that beauty and art were meant to have a part in the world. From Michelangelo, to Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Duomo designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.

To view the Duomo is to view beauty in itself. If you aren’t moved by the site of the Duomo, I am not sure that we can still be friends.

The people also takes great pride in their city and despite the millions of tourists (10.2 million in 2017) that pass through Firenze each year the people remain helpful, kind, and gregarious. (The tourists don’t seem to possess as many of these good qualities)

We took in the city and C & A’s first view of the Duomo in the evening after a fantastic meal at, wait for it…

Rooster Cafe!! Their food was exceptional and if you are in Firenze I suggest you hit them up. They are close to the Church of Santa Trinita. (That would be the church I got in trouble in a couple of years ago because my flash was on auto and made bright lights while I was taking a picture. A BIG No No in museums and churches!)

The Church of Santa Trinita is known for the frescoes created by Domenico Ghirlandaio, a Renaissance painter of the third generation and a contemporary of Sandro Botticelli (he painted the Primavera  and The Birth of Venus two of my favorites.) Ghirlandaio is not as well known, unless you are into Italian Renaissance art, but he was also quite talented. He ran a large workshop that Michelangelo passed through to learn and work. Ghirlandaio was known for putting contemporary people into religious narratives.

We did a quick run in to the church to see some of Ghirlandaio’s famous frescoes before our Rooster meal, then a quick tour around town and some gelato at Perche, No?, which, while not as good as Castellina is still pretty tasty.

Tuesday we drove up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for breathtaking views of the city. Then we did a grocery store run, which if you haven’t shopped it an Italian grocery store is a treat (Remember! Don’t touch the produce without a plastic glove!). After dropping the groceries back at our BnB we walked to town, wandered through a couple of leather markets, found some lunch and a bunch of street art. Then we dropped of C & A to take in the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David. Truly another don’t miss ticket item in Florence. Michelangelo was a mediocre painter, in my opinion, but his sculpture was bellissimo. And David is one of the finest sculptures, in my opinion, to exist (and to think Will had to talk me into seeing it the first time).

While they were viewing the David, Will and I found a music store and a store called Fiori del Tempo (Flowers of Time) that makes beautiful artistic jewelry. I bought two pairs of earrings, Will did not buy a guitar or an amp. He, obviously, has better self control than I do.

We found C & A, went and ate more food, headed home and took a leisurely morning before we went to climb the Duomo the next morning.

I’ll talk about that next week but just a quick note, two of us on this trip are not concerned with heights, two of us are. Next week when you look at the pictures see if you can figure out who is who!

Until then, have a fabulous week and I will begin to clean my house in preparation for my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson’s visit in 10 days!!!

Ciao miei Amici