Tuscany 2017: Street Art, real Art & Train Travel

I am back to the daily life, work and 460 mails to trudge through after 2 weeks away. Business as usual. It takes longer to get down to writing but I plan to be done with the Tuscany series before end of June.

************************************************************************

Preparations

Know yourself & what kind of traveler you are! It will help you pack & prepare to reduce stress.

For me, a neurotic home leaver, the best & worst part of traveling is packing before the trip. I love having all of my crap & shit around me. In case I need it. Mostly though, it is the shoes packing that gets me going off the hook. I want to pack, among other nice useless things; two pairs of pumps – red & black. In case I have to attend that very nice dinner that always happens when I am away and I always end up feeling under-dressed. Because of the shoes.

I also want to pack: all my other nice shoes except the training shoes. Nail polish. 3 colors of lipstick including a nude. All my jeans. All my nice tops. All my pretty dresses. All my nice pretty shorts. 3 kinds of sunscreen – 15 for cooler days, 30 for sunny nice days and 50 for hot scorching days. Just in case. All my hair brushes & combs; plus, my partner in travel laughs that I always want to pack my 2 hair dryers & 4 different sizes of flat irons. Who knows what to expect when away from home? right?

This time, I got away with loafers. I think I will keep to the loafers from now on. Easier to pack and easy to wear even on light walk days.

The thing with touring for us is we walk a lot. A lot! You know; because, & don’t go judging now, we can’t always find the places we are looking for at first try, OR, we can’t be bothered to have a plan so we just kinda:

 

Roam without roaming services.

Rest.

Eat.

Rest.

Take a cold bear or something in the middle of the day.

That kinda gets you tired so we:

Rest.

Roam a bit more and oh! hallelujah!

we always, many times, find something we always wanted to see.

Just like that.

****************************************************************************

Art, Architecture & Obsessions

We are both street art interested. Graffiti.

We are always photographing that shit and cooing over how talented graffiti artists are. Even when traveling, we still can miss the Dome and see all this street art everywhere we walk & we walk A. LOT.

The featured image is a painting by Barbara Marchiori that we found in a gallery in Pistoia. That was a perfect, easy day trip while we were in Florence. 30 minutes on the train on a hot day, to the most wonderful lunch we had in Tuscany.

We wanted very much to see the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral & the  Il Duomo built by a “a buffoon and a babbler” as described by the guys who later hired him, Filippo Brunelleschi. We had watched a documentary about Brunelleschi before we left Stockholm and were looking forward to the Dome. We did not see it from the inside. At all. We saw it several times, from all angles, from the outside. And then we saw the drawings & designs of the dome at the Il Duomo Museum.

Brunelleschis Il DuomoBefore the trip, we were just interested, like “oh, how interesting is that!?”

Now, we are freaking enthusiasts. Dome lovers. We must go back to Florence to see this F#¤%&¤#G dome. It is beautiful & fascinating.

***************************************************************************

Traveling in History to History

I think my grandfather’s stories have influenced my brain during travel. “Where you find water, you find people with plenty” he said. “Where there is water, there is enough for all so there is less animosity from the locals. And, they are used to travelers just ricketing in on rickety boats”. He reasoned. All ancient settlements that have formed our present lives were built near water. Wars fought, empires built, love found & made. The beginnings & ends of fantastic adventures on rickety boats.

My grandfather was an epic wanderer. Disappearing for months on end in a time without mobile phones and Facebook. Wandering through Africa. Taking the rickety boats to India or whatever place the boat would ricket to. Some times, we thought he could have died on one of his adventures. But then, he would wander right back to our home with all sorts of friends and stories.

Boy, did he tell stories about these escapades?!

So the first walk for me always is “let’s find the river/lake/sea!”

In Rome, we stayed to the east of the Tiber. To the west of the river, you find the Vatican. Just a walk by the Fiume Tevere is a walk very close to most of the places you want to see first. Looking at the Tiber is looking at the history of Rome.

We arrived to Florence on a hot afternoon,  so we found the Arno and walked by it in search of a good gelato. Plus, we really wanted to see the Ponte Vecchio where trade, all sorts of trade, has been ongoing since the middle ages. Some things should never change.

Find the bridges on the  map is my tip. Fiume=River. Ponte=Bridge.

Then you know when to cross & re-cross to wherever. If you have goals. If not, think a zigzag movement with the river as the middle point. Otherwise just go with the flow.

*****************************************************************************

Tips & Survival Tactics

We took the train to Firenze SMN Stazione (Santa Maria Novella) from ROMA Termini. That is so easy, you need no tips or heads up. Just go to the train stations with your credit card or some Euros and buy the ticket. Trains left on time & the trips were easy & pleasant with beautiful views of the Tuscany country side.

Tip: It is hard to see a country if you fly everywhere. Driving takes your focus from the fun outside. Take the train or the bus. Sit back & enjoy that someone else is taking you there. Close your book & look out the window.

Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness.

Unlike Rome where we stayed at the Massimo D’Azeglio hotel, in Firenze we stayed at the Le Stanze del Duomo B&B. Both highly recommended. Since both are quite central, we could walk all day and come home in the evening exhausted, fed, fed up, drunk, happy, pissy; basically anything without any problems. Both are also very close to regular supermarkets with late closing hrs (22:00) so we could buy bites, water, wine etc to take away to the room when we couldn’t be bothered with the “Go out & eat” farce.

Tip: Find your go to places for essentials such as water, aspirin, sun screen, wine, beer or whatever rocks your rickety boat.

We had a map with us, which I can read to 70% proximity, and a red pen to mark places, of course. My partner’s eye rolled almost every time I said “we turn right!” My map reading can spice the walking a great deal. He is good with the “well done! you are a life saver! what would I do without you?!” part when I get it right though.

Tip: A supportive travel partner is essential; otherwise, go it alone if you want to enjoy the trip.

I lied, I had my training shoes with me. For all the walking. Asics in black, red & white bought in 2015.

Tip: Take your trainers or comfort shoes with you! They will save your life.

Next entry: Tuscany 2017:  For the “I don’t speak Italian smile smile” Traveler

Advertisements

Tuscany 2017: The Pain of Finding The Beautiful Pincio Gardens

While in Rome, The city view from the Pincio gardens is worth lots of pain. Bear with me.

It is interesting how instinct works. Like love. Or hate. Or fear. You get these feels that you really don’t know where they are coming from and can absolutely not control. You consider ignoring the feels but the “inner compass” just won’t let you. If you try to ignore the feels, you start to get nervous, anxious, fidgety, itchy, neurotic, edgy and irritable. Best way to deal with this is to act on the feels and move on with it.

So, on the day we are to find the Pincio gardens, I wake up with lots of feels. Instinct tells me that a pimple is coming on. So I start the morning with touching my face. I touch the exact place where a huge zit is going to show up because instinct tells me there will be a zit on precisely this spot.

My partner in zit & acne control says that I get all these zits because I touch & scratch my face. It is a chicken-egg situation. I feel the zit coming, instinctively, I touch scratch, squeeze, peel violently, point my nail directly at it & push, use the pincette, apply aloe vera, apply sun cream, ooh too much sun screen, wipe with toner, apply more sun cream, the zit, it comes.

It can’t be any other way.

Does my touching my face cause the zit, or, does the zit cause an itch that I have to deal with before the zit pops up?

Anyways, whatever I do, by breakfast (09:00 am), a spot on my face hurts.

Life goes on!

The hatI place my wonderful hat on my head and it lies right on the zit. It, the pimple itches and hurts all at once.

La vita va avanti!

I have to walk through Rome because my find the best city views partner has a garden he wants to show me. Pincio. We have with us the book Top 10 Rome, & in it is a map. I turn the map upside down, decide which way we have to go and start walking.

If you look at the Google maps navigator below, it should take 40 minutes, tops.

Walk to Pincio!We walked the whole afternoon. From 12:15 to 16:30.

The whole freaking hot afternoon (28 Celsius).

To be on the fair side, it is a wonderful walk in the sun through the best parts of the city. Brushing by the Colosseum, St. Peters Cathedral, Spanish Steps, the shopping district etc. When we find ourselves near the Trevi Fountain, we decide to come back to the Fountain later. I have been saving my 3 cents all week for the Trevi visit.

Because we will always be back to Rome.

We took a break on the way, took a coffee at a small café near the Flaminio tram stop. Just one stop from Flaminio Tram stop. After the coffee, my legs, feet, back & pimple hurt so bad I wanted to take the tram back.

My we are better than that partner said it couldn’t be that far to walk. I did not believe him so we had a short irritated conversation while we walked.

Me “I want to take the tram!

Him “No”

Me “I am tired”

Him “.”

Me: “You don’t hear me!?”

Him “. a look.”

Me “Are you listening???!”

Him “.”

Me: “Oh, there is the Flaminio stop.”  Just look at the map, a little north west of the destination.”

Him “. Smiles at me. touches my hand.

Embarrassed silence. We turn left or is it right?. Up the stairs, definitely up the stairs,  and there lies the famous garden in all its glory. A wonderful view of the city and statues of the historic famous in one place.

Flaminio to Pincio

 

 

Tuscany 2017: A bird shat on my hat! For Luck

We have been traveling through #Tuscany for 11 days and the experience has been, wildly rewarding; to put it mildly. We have known each other for over 8 yrs and have not done anything like this; just us; finding places, getting lost, using a map (that is an entire story).

I will be sharing our Tuscany experience in the coming posts, to share information, tips and the fun we had!

Prima: I was not singing or whistling. SO i am certain I did not set this up just to be in luck. Though to be fare to the Judases, I am known to speak to birds & cats.

Suddenly, my partner in travel & all sorts of drama says jumping dramatically he is a tall handsome guy; so try to imagine the sense of drama

“oh, bird shit! bird shit!

ooooh, on your hat!

Stop, you have to take it off!

It will stink!

And you can get Salmonella from bird shit!”

I calmly ask him if he can just wipe it off? kindly. He kind of hops away from me, you know like “NEVER! that will not happen” kind of hop

I take our bottle of water from the bag I am carrying. He snatches the bottle from me. “give me that! we could get salmonella!”

“Just drop some on my napkin so I can wipe the hat?”

I am starting to loose it a little. Many years ago, I got salmonella from in-flight chicken dinner and that was not pretty. Apparently, in the throes of it, I asked the doctor to “help me send a note to my sister because I am dying”

“maybe you have to throw the hat away and buy a new one!” he says

I snatch the bottle, pour some water on a napkin, and wipe the hat. And back on the head it goes. It is freaking 30 degrees Celsius out in Rome! I would rather lie on the floor of the hotel loo for 10 hrs dealing with Salmonella that have that heat on the part of my head that covers my brain.

It took MINUTES hours? for him to believe he could come near me & my hat without catching something. I mean, I was still walking and I seemed fine, right?

I am just hoping the wiping the hat with water doesn’t ruin my luck!

Did you ever hear that when a bird drops on you, you are in luck? Droppings from the bird means bird shit. Not diamonds, or saliva, or sperm or anything that exciting. Bird shit is’all.

I imagined that there could be some science behind this myth but after scouring the net this morning, I feel assured to declare this just another of those, “Myth or Fact” things that should come on the Myth or Fact? TV-program to put us all out of our misery.

I chose the USA today story, which is in no way scientific. It serves the purpose since I am not trying to prove anything right at this moment. My intention is to warn brag & inform you that I will be becoming very rich, or loved, or happy or something really lucky. Shortly. More lucky than I have already been.

Because a bird actually shat on that beautiful hat you see on my head in the photo in which I am standing by the river Arno (Fiume Arno) in Florence (Firenze).

Mothers, Murderers and Mistresses: Empresses of Ancient Rome vs #LeanInTogether

I watched  Mothers, Murderers and Mistresses: Empresses of Ancient Rome with baited breath.livia-drusilla

The first episode presented Livia, loved by Augustus, powerful behind the scenes. The argument was that history & men didn’t recognize Livia as a leader or influencer. And that was, according to the program, unfair. I expected to hear more of the power women have yielded and how this power has made the world a better place. Even though apparently, there was little power in women’s hands.

My thinking is that, during this era, there must have been many women in Rome who could influence politics, society and the economy. Rome was a city of 1 million citizens and there were definitely 1000 powerful married men.

Some of these wives, women, could organize themselves and influence the fate of women and society together? Because if there is one man who loves his wife enough to listen to her, then, my limited experience says there must be several men who will listen to their wives. The rule of the thumb, even in society today, is that we cannot all be leaders (presidents, ministers, managing directors etc or for that matter emperors and senators who effect policy). The art of changing societies comes from recognizing this, and doing our best to contribute to change from our lowly places. Women and all others who have an inkling of opportunity. Start stoning me now

Women are powerful in my opinion! We give birth to the boys who become men. 9 months of bonding. Boys love their mothers, which gives every generation of women the power to inspire, encourage & motivate boys so they become the men we need for the good society we need. Because as we women keep repeating, men are busy building careers and bad policies while women are busy raising children and fixing the home, therefore the family, therefore the society. So how come all our boys are becoming the men who don’t respect us, or give us a chance? It can’t be all men’s doing. Am on the ground after the stoning. Kick me now!

Because as a wise man once said, If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

I am a believer of women’s rights and equality for all. And I like the #LeanInTogether model of thought as  #SherylSandberg presents it. Sheryl requests, begs & commands both women and men to take responsibility for the freedoms and equalities they desire. To change the society into the fair safe place we want for our children.