Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Slice of Life: Italy Trip, Day 7 - San Gimignano & Monteriggioni


 Another "from a moving bus" shot
 taken as we left Florence for
a day in the hills of Tuscany.

First stop: Florence American Cemetery and Memorial
"The 4,398 servicemen and four women interred in the cemetery represent 39 percent of the temporary burials originally made between Rome and the Alps. Most died in the fighting which occurred after the capture of Rome in June 1944. Included among them are 
casualties of the heavy fighting in the Apenninnes Mountains
shortly before the war's end."
- Florence American Cemetery Memorial Visitor Booklet  
 I was amazed that one of the grave sites I visited
was a young man from my home state of Oklahoma. 

Second Stop: San Gimignano
San Gimignano is characterized by its towers. The towers give the  city a unique appearance and show us what most of Tuscany looked like during the Middle Ages. Many of the original towers survive, but the 14 we see today is only a small sample; there were once more than 70 of them. Those huge structures are fine examples of medieval engineering, but also emphasized security, prestige, and neighborhood dominance for the families who built them.
Church of San Francesco
Piazza del Duomo,
the town's Romanesque cathedral
 Piazza della Cisterna, built in 1273,
showing the stone imprints of ropes 
that were lowered into the well
more than 700 years ago.




San Gimignano was a natural stop for pilgrims traveling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena. Today it's a natural stop for tourists complete with the medieval towers, the well in the town center, shopping, views of the Tuscan countryside, and of course gelato.


Third Stop: Lunch at Bibbiano La Taverna
overlooking the Tuscan Hills
Empty plates, happy diners! 
  San Gimignano from our lunch spot
  
Back on the bus!

Fourth Stop:  Monteriggioni, 
an impressive walled Medieval town, 
built in 1200
The village, viewed from the bus!

Fifth Stop: Famous Florence viewpoint!
  
Sixth Stop: Dinner on our own  
before evening presentation on Florence
Love an Italian grocery
and these fabulous traveling friends!
(Friday, February 15, 2019)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Poetry Friday: Celebrating our new arrival with paint chip poetry

Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link 
is hosting this week's round-up of poetic goodness. Her “Sweatshirt Gray Day” 
is a lovely paint-chip poem 
of a foggy day at the beach.

I've been intending to write a paint chip poem all month long, but kept forgetting to stop by the paint store. (And then someone mentioned the digital color collections.) Today's poem, 
in honor of grandson Robby's arrival,
 is a collection of blues from the 
Benjamin Moore Classic Colors.



Paddington Blue Blessing

He’s a skyland song,
our morning glory,
a highland breeze
of heavenly peace.

He’s soft jazz
and evening sky,
a paradise view
 of picture perfect.


-Ramona Behnke

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Slice of Life: Italy Trip, Day 6 - Pompeii and Orvieto

I'm using my slice of life writing to recap my trip to Italy in February. Our trip was go-go-go and I neglected to write about it as it happened. This is my attempt to collect my thoughts and pictures in one place. 

On Valentine's Day, it was time to say goodbye to Sorrento. We had an early departure since we were adding Pompeii to an already busy day. (We missed our scheduled stop there on Day 4.)
We arrived at Pompeii before the gates opened. Our early arrival meant that we were able to wander the ruins with very few additional tourists. The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius occurred on August 24 and 25, AD 79. In some places 20 feet of volcanic material was deposited over the town. The excavation of the city began in 1748. But it wasn't until1863 that the Italian archeologist, Giuseppe Fiorelli, realized that the hollows in the compacted ash had been created by decayed corpses. He filled the hollows with liquid plaster, and the resulting casts portray the citizens of Pompeii at the moment of their death.
Amazing to think that these streets
were built more than 20 centuries ago!
At most intersections are crosswalks of raised stepping stones which allowed pedestrians to cross without getting their sandals wet. Three stepping stones signified a major thoroughfare. You can see the ruts from the chariots which straddled the stones 
(all had standard-size axles).
Pics from inside the public baths
I think this is the large theater that 
could seat 5,000 people.
You can see the well in the center and the
brick oven in the back yard on the right.

Our next stop, several hours down the road, was the town of Orvieto, sitting majestically 1000' above the valley floor 
on a chunk of tufa or volcanic stone.
We took the funicular to the medieval upper town. 
As we rode the funicular, our guide pointed out the cathedral organist who was in our car. We were lucky to hear him play the organ for us as we entered the cathedral and 
I captured that music on my phone.
 
Orvieto's Cathedral or Duomo, a mix of Romanesque & Gothic styles, was constructed in 1290 in order to provide a home for an interesting relic - the Corporal of Bolsena.
Luca Signorelli's brilliantly lit frescoes tell stories through the use of human actions and gestures and inspired his younger contemporary, Michelangelo, who studied Signorelli's work.
 Ippolito Scalza was an Orvieto native who carved the Pieta from a single block of marble, 1570-1579. He also designed 
the pipe organ in the cathedral. 
We enjoyed browsing the streets with stops in shops, bakeries,
and of course our requisite gelato treat.
After leaving Orvieto, we had a two hour drive to Florence and Hotel Mediterraneo, our base for the next three nights.
(February 14, 2019)