Tags " brandy"
Aug 12, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Florence, Day 1

Our tour started at 9 and our  first stop was was at the Medici chapels. The chapel done by Michelango is very simple but handsome – the sculpture of course is wonderful. The room forms a perfect background for the tombs & the figures. Then to the Baptistry & Cathedral – the outside of both are sticking with green, red, white marble but the inside’s ornate & uninteresting. We found the Pieta in the Duomo – then left to get refreshments outside. Took a beautiful drive across the Arno up into the hills to Piazza Michelangelo and Pitti PalaceA vast mainly Renaissance palace, situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. The core of the present palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker. The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions.. The latter contains an art gallery with some very famous works – 2 of Raphael’s Madonnas, Titians, Van Dyck, too many to absorb properly. Walked thru some of the rooms on my own – very handsome, elaborate chandeliers, hangings, chests, vases, etc.

After lunch at the hotel, more touring. The Uffizi Gallery – a tremendous one – with a most comprehensive collection. Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Angelico, Filippino Lippi, Michelangelo’s Family, Raphael, Titian’s two Venus’s Reclining – but my feet gave out – the gallery has marble floors – very hard on the feet.

A long drive to Fiezols restored us – it was lovely in the day time – and then Harry & I left the tour. Went to Piazza della Signoria where some vino blanco revived us. I went shopping – prowled many streets & into many stores. Bought Christmas cards at Dilta Frangini which the Joe Kendricks had recommended, and a blouse at Bellini. Everyone here wears the beautiful silk over-blouses with pleated or straight skirts – I couldn’t resist any longer.

After a bath & drinks, we went over to Piazza della Stazione for aperitifs at an open air cafe and then to a nearby cellar restaurant, Buca MarioThe Buca Mario Restaurant was founded 1886. This is when its first owner and founder Mario Corsini decided to house a place in the Palazzo Niccolini's cellars where soup and ribollita could be served, along with a wine cavern.. Another very good meal – we have yet to have a poor one in Italy. This time I had Ravioli stuffed with spinach.

Jeannette got sick & had to leave. Harry & I taxied to Piazza della Replublica and sat and listened to the music and singing over coffee & brandy. We made friends with the couple next to us – Italians on a holiday from Trenta. We had a lot of fun trying to converse – me with my Berlitz he with a few words he’d learned in “P.W.O” camp. We exchanged addresses, promised to write.

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Aug 16, 1961 - Europe 1961    2 Comments


We slept late – it was a delightful change not to have to meet a schedule. Breakfasted in the room, wrote letters, did some washing. Met the Earlys & took a boat-taxi to Isola Bella, the island we can see most clearly from the hotel.

It was full of tourists but they seemed to be for the most part Europeans. Many bazaars & outdoor cafes but the most amazing thing was the Chateau Borromes and the gardens. The Chateau had only recently been re-decorated tho’ it belonged to the Duke of Milan in the 15th century & is quite old. We enjoyed seeing the rooms which tho’ elaborate  were more to our taste than the more garish decor we’d seen lately. The gardens were extensive – many levels, hundreds of varieties of flowers & trees, fountains, statues – just fabulous.

We returned to the hotel for lunch – there was a crowd this meal time outside on the patio – we saw more young people but still few Americans. After a brief rest, we sat on the hotel private waterfront (cabanas furnished free) and swam in the lake & sunned. The water was cold & had waves – felt good tho’. We all played a round of miniature golf in the hotel’s beautiful gardens. Had drinks in the room before going out. Found a clean-looking Ristorante and ate supper in the patio. Food & service only fair but the wine was good.

We strolled on the boulevard briefly – there was a wind off the lake & it was chilly. Stopped for coffee & brandy and to listen to some music, then went to the hotel and to bed.

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