Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saluti di Montecatini Alto

     On Sunday morning I attended Mass at the beautiful, modern Basilica di S. Maria Assunta (Mary of the Assumption) which was two blocks from our hotel. After Mass, we strolled to an outside market and had lunch at an outdoor cafe. Later that afternoon after packing, I decided to head to the  Funicolare which would bring me up to Montecatini Alto.

     Here's a view of Montecatini from the top.

     The skies were threatening and because the air was quite cold, I only spent a short time there, but these were some of my favorite images.

     What a wonderful way to spend our final day in Italy. The evening ended with a farewell dinner with lots of dancing at our hotel.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saluti da Montecatini

     Our hotel for the entire trip was the Hotel Columbia Wellness and Spa in Montecatini. It was lovely and very centrally located.

       I have posted photos of the carousels in Florence and in Lucca, but Montecatini had a truly special,  two-level carousel. 

     Tomorrow I will post photos from Montecatini Alto.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saluti da Lucca

     After our brief stop in Pisa, it was on to Lucca where we encountered this lovely carousel.

      Marilyn and I had a pizza at this outdoor cafe then strolled the streets of Lucca.

     Later in the afternoon some members of our group enjoyed a wine tasting while others wandered around the vineyard.

      All of the grapes had already been picked, so just imagine clusters of luscious grapes hanging on these vines ;-)

More to come . . . 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saluti da Pisa

           Last Saturday, the 13th,  our tour group stopped at Pisa for a quick photo stop. The sky was bright and beautiful and

the tower was still leaning. It was fun watching people lining up their photographs of friends and loved one so as to make it appear they were trying to right the tower.

    While my friend Marilyn shopped for souvenirs, I strolled about taking a few photos. Here's a favorite of mine.

    Another photo complete with story.

     While I was shooting here, I spotted a man about to take a photo of two women.  I asked if they would like me to take the photo so that all three could be included. "Yes,  thank you," they said. Another man came up and said, "Wait for me. I want to be in the photo too." Then he offered to take my photo with my camera. We got to talking and in typical tourist fashion asked where we were all from. Massachusetts was the answer. "What part?" Imagine my surprise when he responded, "Braintree," which is the town next to Weymouth where I live. Not only that, we had both attended Sacred Heart Elementary School and had been taught by some of the same good sisters! Isn't that something!
     Next post . . . Lucca.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Saluti da Siena

     After lunch in San Gimignano, we headed to Siena, a city I fell in love with when I visited it two years ago. Walking toward the center of the city, you pass this overlook.
      In the center is the Piazza del Campo where a horse race called the Palio is held twice during the summer.

     It's easy to tell which neighborhood had won the most recent race.

     Wander down the narrow side streets and you will discover many photo opportunities.

     Oh, and did I mention they have wonderful gelato? :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Saluti da San Gimignano

     Photography has been my hobby for many, many years. I started with a Brownie Instamatic as a child and have loved shooting pictures ever since. For a number of years I even did my own black and white printing. Because I began in the days of film, I tend to be very economical in my shooting. When I find a scene or subject and have the time, I will study it from different angles and usually take only a few shots.  Having a film background and having started with a manual camera, I usually have a pretty good handle on my exposures.  Why am I telling you this? Because the first two photos on today's posting broke all of my 'rules.' We were in San Gimignano, and the scene above greeted us as we approached the walled city. For me, this photo represents the quintessential Tuscan scene. I shot it in the early morning fog, as the fog slowly began to dissipate, and later when the skies brightened. Wow! I simply could not get enough of this breathtaking scene. I'm sure that a large print of this or a similar photo in the series will soon grace my living room wall.

     This second scene was taken in the center of San Gimignano as I hope to recreate it in a quilted wallhanging.  I took many shots from all angles: wide shots, distance shots, closeups of sections of each building, tiny sections of the various architectural details, and the flowers and lace curtains in the windows. I am excited about the possibilities of this scene. Here's a closeup of one section.

      You might note that in the lower left corner of the larger scene there is an ancient cistern. Around its edge, it appears like the fluted edges of a pie crust. I heard a guide explaining to another group that the indentations had come from the ropes used to haul up water through the centuries.

     Today there is no water just coins and bills tossed into the cistern from travelers from around the world.

    Isn't this a stunning door!

     Finally, though our group was scheduled to soon have lunch at a local restaurant, it would have taken a far stronger woman than I am to not indulge in a bit of gelato, especially from a shop with this sign  indicating its championship record above the door.

   Was it good? You bet; it was yummy, but then I didn't have gelato anywhere in Italy that I didn't enjoy! After lunch, we left beautiful, charming Gimignano and headed to Siena. I loved San Gimignano and hope to return and spend more time there one day.
     Next posting . . . Siena.