THE END OF WEEK TWO – Part Four

Well, at this rate, I will never finish with our story, will I? So do I skip over the details and summarize, or just keep it long and true? Maybe a bit of both. Okay, when we left our heroines (my group and I!), we visited the Giardino Tarocchi.

Wednesday, May 19. We awoke to mist and clouds again, and were grateful we made our decision yesterday to head for the sea and the Tarot Garden. Today’s destination is Montepulciano, and we spent the entire day tromping around this medieval town with our umbrellas up, our feet soaking wet, and our spirits disgruntled. Waited over two hours for an internet cafe to open, because their lines were down, but still managed to find one of our favorite leather and journal stores, a very nice cutting board store, and have a delicious lunch at Caffe Poliziano (I continue to thank Jeanne Carnes’ friend for that recommendation in 2004!). And we went to the store whose name I can never remember, to buy the pasta mixture I love. Five jars of it this time, and I’ll use one of them tonight to make pasta for the women.

We were glad we went to Pienza on Sunday afternoon, because today was no day to gaze out at the countryside over the Pienza wall. Too too wet and gloomy! Home again home again, to the villa for dinner della casa, prepared by Chefina Giovannah Merriman.

Thursday, May 20. A better sky this morning, and we must be doing something right, because as we drove toward Lake Trasimeno, the clouds separated and at least allowed us to see SOME blue. A short boat ride to Isola Maggiore, and a very long wait for lunch, thus not much time to wander this tiny island before getting back on the ferry for the mainland (Passignano) again. But we wanted to spend more time in Cortona today, and that is what we did.

Every time I go to Cortona, I love it more. Under The Tuscan Sun (the book is the factual story, the movie a delightful transmutation of Frances Mayes’ life) tells the story of falling in love with a house and a town, and if I had less pride, I would actually walk the 4K and find the house Ms. Mayes purchased before she wrote her first Tuscan book. Instead, we wandered the streets and shopped.

I’m surprised, but I’m only window shopping this trip. I have enough stuff. More than enough. And will have to be moving all of it in the next three weeks, so I point and smile and watch my fellow Italy women pick up very nice mementos of their trip here.

The requisite cappuccino and a pastry at a sidewalk cafe, a bit of people watching, and more wandering these cobblestone streets for buried treasure. To be a part of a community like this would send my heart soaring! But alas . . . it is not to be.

I met an American woman who has been living in Italy for 40 years, now in Assisi, and she told me she will be in Fort Collins to teach some Italian cooking classes in March. She encouraged me to offer writing workshops in Italy, and we exchanged cards. It always amazes me when these little bits of networking pop up! More of these later in the trip . . .

Friday, May 21. This is our Chianti day, and while Jan and Cyndy opted to stay at the villa, lounging, reading, and doing laundry, Paula and I drove up past Siena, through Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and stopped for lunch at Badia a Coltibuono (delicious!) before ending our day in Greve in Chianti. Just for a couple of hours, we did what one does in these towns. Look in windows, shop a bit inside, grab another cup of espresso or cappuccino, go to the internet cafe, and back to the car, headed for the villa.

Packing up is our task tonight, as well as finishing the food in the fridge, because tomorrow, we return the car to Florence, meet with our private transportation driver, and head for Cinque Terre, via Pisa for a few hours.

The weather is definitely improving, and we look forward to magnificent skies and temperatures on the Italian Riviera . . . more to come.

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THE END OF WEEK TWO – Part Three

NOTE: I realize I am writing some of this in present tense and some in past. Rather than go through to correct or create a consistency, I’m choosing to go with the flow of my mood. I guess I’m allowed, since it’s my blog and I definitely notice that some of my postings seem to be in the past, while others are right there in the present with me. Go figure!

Tuesday, May 18 – The day dawned with SUNNY skies, for the first time since we arrived. So we grabbed our opportunity to visit the sea and Niki de St. Phalle’s Giardino Tarocchi (the Tarot Garden) near Capalbio in the southwestern part of Tuscany. This is NOT a trip for a rainy day. We hope the sun will hold.

Our drive out to the Promenade d’Argentio (I may not be spelling that correctly . . . can’t find my map at the moment) was simple, uneventful, and took us past the many many vineyards in the Montalcino area, where the best Tuscan wine is made . . . Brunello di Montalcino. It’s fascinating to note the wide variety of vineyards, in terms of the sheer size of the field, the age of the vines (judging by the thickness of each vine trunk), the leafy green vine tops shimmering in the sunlight, quavering in the wind. And each vineyard owner plants roses at the front end of every vine row . . . I know there is a reason for that, but I’ll have to ask Neil when I get home. So beautiful roses introduce the vineyard to any observer who passes by.

When we passed through the Montalcino area and headed for Grosseto and the coast, the terrain changed dramatically. Now the views were much flatter, and I must say less appealing. Is there anything unappealing about Italy? Sure there is, just as in any country, but simply a bit boring is as bad as it got on this ride. Within another 45 minutes, we began to smell the sea and around that next curve, there it was in all its beauty. Sparkling shards of sunlight on the water. White dots of boats out on in the harbors, even the hint of a cruise ship or two.

As we got closer to our first destination, Porto San Stefano, we began to pass “camping” facilities, which were really rows of delightfully colored cabins, presumably on the beaches behind all the buildings and foliage on each side of our road. Then the restaurants, small alimentari (little grocery stores), and an occasional “regular” grocery store (designated by the words COOP in capital letters) began to show themselves, and finally we were on the strip bridge that linked us to “our” island and the Porto. It was easy to find a parking place and we drove past many before we settled on an area that appeared to have several restaurants right on the water, waiting to serve us the freshest fish in this area of Tuscany.

We walked along the water to the restaurant area, even stopping in a small dress shop where the young man was delighted to find four women from Colorado entering his store. He had lived in Loveland for some of his childhood years, and felt as though he had made a connection from his past. I shook my head, marveling at another little synchronicity popping up in my travels. There are many of those here and there if I just pay attention.

The young man at the store pointed us to his favorite restaurant just across the street from his shop, whose name I have forgotten in these wee hours of the morning, and we sat out at the water’s edge, eating fresh branzino (sea bass) in the brilliant sun.

After a leisurely lunch, we made our way to the Tarot Garden, a most amazing collection of mosaic representations of the artist’s Major Arcana. de St. Phalle takes her inspiration from the Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi. The way I have to explain the visual is to say that it is a sort of Moroccan Disneyworld on psychedelics. Incredible, unbelievable, imagination gone fantastic. Check out the website, http://www.nikidesaintphalle.com, for some photos that MIGHT begin to give you an idea of what you’ve missed on this day.

After the visit to the garden, everything else for the rest of the day was anticlimactic!

THE END OF WEEK TWO-Part Two

Monday, May 17 – A grey day, but at least it isn’t raining. Our destination today is San Gimignano because even if it rains, there are enough churches, shops and museums to protect our wet heads. We’ll wait for more sunshine before we venture to the Tuscan coast.

I am on a mission as well, finding an internet cafe so I can sent a message to Neil and my good friend Carole, a tribute to Marcia I wrote in lieu of my presence at her memorial service later today. I am still stunned by the reality of her death, and probably won’t really deal with it completely for a long time to come. But I must get this eulogy to someone who can read it in my absence.

While the traveling women wander here and there, through the many ceramics shops, jewelry shops and stores displaying beautiful stacks of olive wood cutting boards, I hunt for the internet cafe. I have brought my own computer today, making my backpack twice as heavy as it might be, but by the time I find the Bar Boboli, I see that it was to no avail. They do have computers but not wireless, so I type my entire piece of writing into their computer, sending it through the g-mail airwaves. With all the funky keyboard changes on European computers, it takes me twice as long, but I’m happy to have sent it so I can relax.

My favorite store in San Gimignano belongs to the potter Franco Balducci and it is tucked away behind the right side of the Duomo down a smaller cobblestone street. Franco is at the front of the tiny space, making bowls and cups and other vessels as his customers browse among his finished products. I have bought many of his wares in the past and this trip I’m not collecting. I’m thinking about my home and the packing that awaits me, and I know the last thing I need is MORE of anything. Less and less will do nicely. But it’s comforting to visit this artisan every two years, in the same space, with new versions of the same quality items. And I still pine for one or two of his larger vessels, the ones you couldn’t possibly hope to ship home in one piece without a lot more trouble than I’d like to take at the moment.

The day turns out to be quite nice, with cloud cover in part, but no rain. No umbrella time for a change, and we wander up and down the streets until 5:30, when we begin to make the long haul down the “hill” to the parking lot, trying to find our car. Somehow the shuttle bus to the parking lots has inconveniently disappeared or stopped running for the day, and the walk is good for us.

We return to the little town just before our villa, Torrinieri, and stop at a local restaurant, La Compania, for spaghetti al ragu, Caprese salad (tomatoes and mozarella), a glass of the local red wine, and for me, a dessert of Grand Marnier. Stefano, our waiter and probably the owner of this establishment, seems delighted by my meager attempts to speak Italian to him, and is kind and attentive to our table. He is a bear of a man, whose front teeth stick nearly straight out of his mouth, with a wide gap in between. He would have benefited from some attentive BRACES during his youth, but his hospitality is unaffected by this lack.

Home again, home again, to think about Marcia’s service coming up in Fort Collins, starting at midnight, Italy time. A bit of writing and reading in bed before sleep.

More in Part Three

THE END OF WEEK TWO – Part One

I am in Cinque Terre, specifically at La Torretta in Manarola, with a wi-fi connection in my room for the first time in a week, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

The last time I posted, we were leaving Siena, headed for our villa in the southern Tuscan countryside, and it was pouring outside. We were hoping for better weather, and slowly we have gotten what we asked for. Slowly, I said.

Saturday, May 15, we arrived at Podere Camera in San Giovanni d’Asso, greeted by the owner, Mary, and her daughter Sara. We could smell the aroma of the delicious dinner Mary had prepared for our arrival. Local cheeses (such as Pecorino) and bread, ribollita (a delicious Tuscan bread soup), and herbed roasted chicken, followed by sauteed spinach and an enormous serving bowl of tiramisu! Wine from the vineyard at which we were staying . . . and we gratefully found our way to our rooms, leaving the unpacking for the morning.

Sunday, May 16 . . . we had stopped at a local grocery store in Torrinieri so we had coffee, bread for toast, jam, fresh strawberries, eggs, and all the usual fixings for breakfast. I made a big omlette and we settled in for most of the day. Overcast skies did not invite us to venture far from the villa, and we unpacked, read a bit, and studied the maps, planning for the day-trips for the following week. By mid-afternoon, the sky had cleared a bit, and I suggested that we try a short trip to Pienza, perhaps 30 minutes away by car. It’s one of my favorite spots, the countryside full of those amazing houses with a cypress-tree lined driveway. They make wonderful postcards, and I’ve bought plenty of them (cards, that is, not cypress trees OR the amazing houses) over the years.

The English Patient shot a couple of scenes in this little hill town and I always love coming to Pienza. We visited Mezza Luna, a local ceramics shop, two churches, a gelato shop and the internet cafe, though I didn’t have enough time to actually post to this site. If I ever really fulfilled my dream of owning property in Italy, it is near Pienza I would look first.

We returned to the villa and finished the dinner from last night. More chicken, more cheese, more tiramisu! Yum . . .

MOURNING BEFORE SIENA

Thursday evening, May 13

When we returned from our last dinner in Firenze, the desk host, Pamela, asked whether I had seen the message she had written and placed on the pillow in my room. I had not. She said that a man had called and wanted me to call home. Odd . . . I have a phone with me all the time, and I had sent the number to Neil, my sisters and my children, in case they needed or wanted to talk with me while I’m here.

I went into my room and called Neil. He said, “I have some very bad news for you. Are you sitting?” My heart sank. My mother, I thought. The most logical death, one I’ve been dreading and anticipating for years. I spoke my thought and Neil said, “No, not your mother. It’s Marcia. She died sometime in her sleep Tuesday night.”

I am stunned. Marcia . . . my friend of 35 years, my beloved “sister”. Marcia who eight years ago, while I was on this very trip, in this exact same spot, on the same day of the trip, underwent a kidney transplant which continued to function perfectly all these years. Marcia, who was hosting book group Wednesday night, one which Cyndy and I would miss since we’d be over here, thinking about the rest of our women discussing The Help.

The women began to gather and no one came to Marcia’s door. It was clear, peeking through the windows, that nothing had been prepared for hosting this event, but for five bottles of wine chilling on the back porch. One friend called the police, they all huddled in the cold and fear, shivering against the possibilities, until the worst was confirmed.

Since this is meant to be my travel blog, with delightful tales daily, I won’t venture into all the details here, but will put more thoughts in my “Checking-In” page on my website, http://www.lifeprintsjournal.com Suffice it to say that we are all shocked. And that I will not be there for the memorial service. And that I will light a candle in every church I enter here in my bella Italia as I have always done for my mother, and now for Marcia.

I walked down the hall of the Hotel Pendini to Cyndy’s room and told her the news. We sat on the beds and tried to get our brains around this unexpected death. Finally I went back to my room, packing for the morning’s departure, grabbing perhaps two or three hours of sleep in the early morning.

Friday morning we all met in the dining room of the Pendini for breakfast, did the ritual check-out at the desk, Lando took our bags down to the street while Pamela called our taxi. On to the rental car place, where there was an hour’s worth of difficulties (surprise surprise), and then we were on our way to Siena, our next stop. That trip, thankfully, was uneventful. We dropped our bags at the Palazzo di Valli, bought shuttle tickets for the old city (a ten-minute shuttle drive), waited at the shuttle stop, disembarked at the Piazza de Mercato and walked to Il Campo, where we met my guide and friend, Viviana, for our three hour private walking tour around Old Siena. A candle now stands in the tray at the Duomo, lit brightly for Marcia.

After our tour, we found a table on the Campo to sit, have a drink of coffee, hot chocolate, spremuta (fresh squeezed) of orange juice, etc. We taught the waiter a new word . . . “grapefruit” and he taught us one . . . “pompelmo”. Grapefruit. I watched his face while he tried to picture “grape” and “fruit”, but we explained that a grapefruit is like a very large orange, but not sweet. He understood. Pompelmo. Grapefruit.

A walk back to the shuttle piazza and then to the hotel, a quick change of clothes, checking e-mail for more news about Marcia, and we headed out again, shuttle shuttle shuttle, walk walk walk to Antica Osteria da Divo, the restaurant built into a cave, where we had a predictably fabulously tasty meal. Canneloni stuffed with vegetables and melted pecorino cheese, a variety of bruschette topped with oil, tomatoes, and pate, a leek and potato tart atop a creamed broccoli sauce, with scallops over the whole thing. And that was just the first part of the meal. Sea bass, a “wreath of sole” with minced vegetables, rolled pork with a delicious filling, followed by more desserts. My, my. Though this group is not a wine-drinking one, Paula and I did have a half bottle of Chianti Reserva Mona Lisa, and we all toasted to Marcia at the beginning and the end of the meal. A taxi back to the hotel was in order, rather than the schlep to the shuttle.

It is raining, and that’s been a part of each of our days in Italy so far, the wettest I have ever experienced. But we do have umbrellas and at least they’re being put to use. Before I put my exhausted body down on the bed for the night, perhaps to get a better stretch of sleep, I called Ryan, Marcia’s son, and talked with him for quite awhile. I met Marcia just as she learned she was pregnant with Ryan, so I have literally known him all his life. When he was little, he called my daughter “Ashala” instead of Ashley. I will try to be a second mom to him and his sister Lara, because Marcia IS like my sister, and the kids have known one another forever. I felt better having talked with him.

Saturday morning, May 15

I am in the sitting room at Palazzo di Valli, writing this before we head out to our villa later today. I doubt very much whether the villa has internet, and I’m not sure I want to carry my computer into each town we visit, hoping I can use it. But I will check e-mail and post to this blog from the many internet cafes we will encounter along the way, and keep a good record of our group adventures. From the villa, one of the many named Podere Camere in this country, we will do day trips to Chianti, to Montepulciano and Pienza, to Cortona and Lake Trasiemeno, to Porto San Stefano and the Tarot Gardens in Capalbio, to San Gimignano, and perhaps explore a bit of Montalcino, only 12 km from the villa.

It will be a diverse week but we won’t have to pack up our suitcases every day or two, and that is always a relief. More later . . .

THE END OF WEEK ONE

Friday, 11:45 p.m.

I can’t believe our first week in Italy is nearly completed, but we have been very busy, so I’ll shorten up all the details. The women on this trip are a great fit . . . kind, adventurous, ready to eat anything and to consider one another in every decision. Grown ups! That’s what I love!

On Wednesday, we visited the Accademia to see the magnificent David. I never get tired of just sitting and looking at him, walking down the long hall with Michelangelo’s Prigioni (The Prisoners) lining each side of the entrance to The David itself. Next we headed to the Medici Chapel and studied the restoration of the mosaics there. A lunch at Il Porcospino and then another walk to the CLIC school for our second language lesson with Leonardo! Are we fluent yet?

Dinner at Il Latine meant sitting at a table constantly being replenished with piles of food . . . bruschetta of all sorts, potatoes, spinach, a platter of beef, veal, rabbit, chicken, pork and a slice of lamb, lots of good bread, a basket/bottle of Chianti, and of course dolci . . . a mixed plate of delicious desserts. Several bottles of water, some cantucci (biscotti) and vin santo for dipping, and a tasty moscato to finish everything off . . . much too much for us. So we bagged up the leftovers and deposited them with a beggar and two dogs a half-block from our hotel. I hope they all went to bed with full tummies.

On Thursday, we were up again and out by 9:00 in order to get to the Uffizi Galleria at our reserved time, 9:30. So much art, so little time . . . actually, I think I’ve seen enough at the Uffizi by now, but there is always an interesting exhibit beginning JUST after we leave town! We grabbed a casual lunch at an outdoor cafe behind the museum before going our separate ways. Cyndy and Jan decided they would spend the rest of the afternoon at the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. Paula was exhausted and wanted to go back to the hotel to rest. I decided to see how many old haunts I could find without using my Streetwise Florence map. With my trusty pedometer on my right hip, I set out past the Duomo and a bit to the right (that’s the kind of directions one gets here anyway!).

Ah, there’s the restaurant one of our groups went to a few years ago . . . and there’s the internet cafe I visited regularly over the last few years (though there are many many more these days, and our hotels now have wireless in the rooms . . . both a blessing and a curse). And THIS alleyway looks familiar, and this . . . in a surprisingly short time, I could see the facade of Santa Croce through the opening down a street to my left. Another two curving blocks and there is was, at the end of a favorite piazza, and for the first time in twelve years of visiting Florence, the church at Santa Croce was without scaffolding across the front of it. The restoration of the outside is completed, and the facade is beautiful! (I have a photo, but I’ll have to load it when I get home . . . technical difficulties.

I found one of the benches with enough room to give me space from the other “sitters”, and sat down, opened my umbrella, dug my book, The History Of Love, out of my bag, and read for an hour or so. A young man was playing a guitar on the square across from me, the carabinieri (one level of Italian police) were checking his permit to see if some official in Florence had allowed him to sing, pidgeons scuttered across the old stone blocks of the piazza, and the visitors moved to and fron in front of me, behind me, all around me.

An old woman with a fisherman’s hat on her head sat on her walker seat and screamed over and over again, something about her “chapeau”, while a frantic younger woman tried to quiet her. Another car full of carabinieri sat on the sidelines, the uniformed men and one uniformed woman getting out of the car, ready to see what the old woman was yellling about, but of course, they didn’t do anything . . . they are fairly ineffectual much of the time, or at least that’s been my experience. Sorry, carabinieri . . .

After my Santa Croce time, I wandered back toward the direction of my hotel, down a different street . . . I sighed. A straight shot from a slightly different direction would have brought me to this place in much less time, but without the adventore or the sense of accomplishment.

Back at the hotel, I knocked on Paula’s door and we went back out to the streets to see if the button shop was now open after the afternoon closure, quite typical in Italy. Samba was indeed open and I bought Euro 40 worth of beautiful buttons to add to the ones I’ve gotten here every visit. ONE OF THESE DAYS, I’ll make those fabric bags that I’m always planning in my head, and use the buttons to close the flaps on the purses. But not today. Today is Paula’s birthday, and we hunted for gelato for her. I found a Ben and Jerry’s and got regular, harder ice cream, then met with Cyndy and Jan after their Giardini Boboli, Giardini Barbino, and Pitti Palace experience.

Before dinner, we finished off the exploration sequence with a walk to Ferragammo’s side entrance, where down in the lower stone level is a shoe museum. The exhibit that had just opened honors Ferragammo’s longstanding relaetionship as the shoe designer and craftsman for Greta Garbo. A documentary video, three rooms full of Garbo’s dresses, and displays everywhere of the shoes she purchased from this old building in the last century fulfilled our haute couture desires for today and we departed hungry and looking for a nice sidewalk cafe.

It was a very long, diverse, fulfilling day, and we were all ready for bed. But it was not to be, at least not for me . . . another story for the next post. Now I have to get ready to check out of the Siena Palazzo di Valli . . . but I get ahead of myself.

Next time.

MI PIACE FIRENZE!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Well, we arrived in Florence yesterday, and yes, it pleases me! I brought my own computer so I could do a better job of tracking our activities for this Italy Women 2010 adventure. My photos, as usual, will have to wait until I have a more compatible way to download them to this site. Mea culpa!

Our flight was NOT canceled Sunday as I had feared, but we did fly north of Greenland to avoid the ash from the unpronounceable volcano in Iceland. Added an hour to our flight from Montreal to Munich, and gave us a very close connection to Florence, but that little airline, Dolomiti, waited for those who ran like wildfire through the Munich airport, and we arrived on time in Florence.

After dragging our bags up to the 4th floor lobby at the wonderful Albergo Pendini (a very tiny elevator, holding two of us at a time), I took my small group for an orientation around the area. We are on the Piazza della Repubblica, so we walked to the Piazza Signoria, through the arch of the Uffizi, and on to the street bordering the river, across half of the Ponte Vecchio just for a taste of the view up and down the Arno. A bit of a late lunch at one of the many cafes surrounding us, and then back to the hotel to check in, unpack, and take a NAP before dinner.

Our first real meal in Florence was at Il Porcospino, in the capable and flattering hands of Franco, who greeted me warmly and showed us to our outdoor table directly across from the Medici Chapel. Complimentary prosecco and bruschetta (they pronounce it properly over here, of course!), followed by a wide variety of delectable treats: crostini with pate, tortelli with porchini mushrooms and meat sauce, insalate caprese, a shared tiramisu, ending with another complimentary drink . . . limoncello. I’m not crazy for that stuff, but the other women lapped it up!

We walked back toward our hotel, but wandered instead into the piazza again, lured by the strains of a fabulous operatic voice . . . a young woman singing brought tears to my eyes. My room is just over the piazzza, so I dragged my exhausted body upstairs and opened the window, assured that this unnamed woman would sing lullabies long after I closed my eyes.

This morning we all met in the hotel dining room for their complimentary and quite sufficient breakfast. Promptly at 9:30, our private walking tour guide, Elena, was waiting for us in the lobby and we walked out together under an overcast sky, ready for whatever information Elena presented to us. The fancy shopping street, Tournabuoni, offered many historical buildings, the church of the Holy Trinity (where I, the heathen, lit a candle for my mother . . . something I do every day when I am in Italy), and storefronts with names like Gucci, Ferragamo, Bulgari, etc.

Crossing the Arno at the Ponte Santa Trinita, we wandered back streets full of antique stores, until we were in the square in front of the Pitti Palace. Elena told us stories of underground and overhead passages constructed for the old families in power in the 1500’s through the 1800’s. Mistresses, disowned family members, and all the details to fill any Italian scandal sheet!
After three and a half hours, we were back in front of our hotel, and we walked to our lunch spot, the Cantinetta Antinori. The Antinori family is the largest wine producer in Italy, and their little Cantinetta is intimate, with impeccable service and exquisite food. We ordered a bottle of their Bramasole Syrah from the Cortona area. Fresh pea soup, cold veal with salmon sauce, baked branzino, warm pear tart, and a basket of delicious bread sticks filled our table and ultimately our innards.

When we finished our meal, we walked out into pouring rain, opened our umbrellas and made our way to the CLIC, the language school I attended in 2007. Waiting for us when we arrived on the 5th floor was my private teacher, Leonardo, wide smile as usual. For the next hour he patiently talked to us (and coached us to respond) only in Italian. Some of my former language skills returned, painfully slowly, and Cyndy, who had been my fellow Italian student in Fort Collins, came up with some phrases from the past as well. We’ll do it again tomorrow, but it will be short and sweet.

A wander around the area near a wonderful leather journal store, a dry run past Il Latine, our dinner destination for tomorrow night, and we were ready to head back to our hotel. A quick bite at Paskowski’s, right on the piazza, filled us up and emptied our pockets. Fairly reasonable solid food, but the tea AND the bottled water were 7 Euro each. Yikes!

Time for bed. The serenaders are in competition tonight. A less talented opera singer opposing a young man singing Sting’s songs, among others. Not as soothing, but I’m in the middle of the night action, that’s for sure!

A full day tomorrow, and I am awaiting my next magnificent view of The David in the morning.

Buono notte . . .