Sunday Snapshots: Tuscan Streets

In an effort to share more of the many, many, many photos I take everywhere I go, this year I’ll be joining many other bloggers in sharing one picture every Sunday. Many people do a ‘Silent Sunday’ post, but since I have the inability to not write at least some sort of context, I won’t do that. I’ll try to keep it short though. After all, it’s Sunday in Germany and I shouldn’t be working anyway. 😉

Tuscan streets.

Tuscan streets.

Today’s photo was taken three years ago today* after a long walk over the Pratamagno. Unsuccessful in our quest for an open restaurant, we stopped in a random village to find streets empty save for their Christmas lights. Don’t worry though, we managed to buy a feast of Italian bread, meats, and cheeses to tide us over until dinner time.

 

*I’m also going to try to do photos taken in the same month and on the same day, if possible. Because I enjoy making simple things more difficult.

Gone Hiking: The Mittenwalder Hütte

It has been entirely too long since I wrote a hiking post, despite the fact that we had some good hiking days this year! But luckily, I spent this gorgeous fall day holed up in the house, sucking down liquids to head off an impending cold, and sorting through photos just to write this post. Since it was such a beautiful day, I thought it would be appropriate to look back to a few other beautiful days that we spent hiking to and from the Mittenwalder Hütte at the end of August. As per usual, this is a photo-heavy post, so I’m sending it off after the jump. Click away for mountain-y goodness!

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Riomaggiore in Pictures

Subtitle: Sweet Mary, Mother of God do I miss accessible water.

Our last (but certainly not least) two nights in Cinque Terre were spent in Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the five villages. After we left our apartment in Vernazza, we hopped the train looking forward to relaxing in Riomaggiore and having somewhere to leave our things for more than one night!

Originally, our plan was to hike the entire length of the park, but unfortunately some of the main trails are still closed. We thought about trying the more difficult trails but since we’d already been struggling with the green “easy” trails on our first two days, we decided that we were due for a train break, rather than tacking the yellow “intermediate” trails. Our aching legs were 100% okay with this plan.

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Technically this picture was from when we were leaving… hence the blue skies. You get the idea though.

After a bit of breakfast and checking in to our next apartment, we headed out to see the town. The first order of business was looking for a beach. It wasn’t a particularly nice day, but it was humid and we were dying for some accessible water. This is what we found…

riomaggiore1It’s water… and the same Fonzi guy that we saw in Vernazza…

riomaggiore2… buuuuut those waves didn’t look promising for accessibility.

We made our way down to the harbor, where the crashing surf made it patently obvious that swimming was not going to happen that day. In fact, the ferry boats that run between the Cinque Terre villages weren’t even landing in Riomaggiore that day. The good news is that the view was still lovely.

The churning waters complemented the colorful boats very well. But I hope the underwater one isn’t for rent; that doesn’t seem particularly water-safe.

Above the harbor, we found the walkway that led to the boat landing and the beach. Many people were trying to get a glimpse of the beach like us, but mostly we all just got wet. BV and I found a perch up some stairs, watching as the waves rolled in and people braved the splash zone.

After many, many minutes of standing, sweating, and watching other people get splashed, I got curious about the few people who had made it around the corner to the alleged beach. Additionally, I was hot as hell, and couldn’t watch the water any more. Soooo…

riomaggiore11BV found this very amusing. But we had been standing there for at least 20 minutes, and I knew perfectly well what was going to happen when I went down there. No, I did not see the beach, and yes, it felt amazing.

After I cooled off, I attempted to dry off with some ice cream. Logic. Over our snack, we determined that there was no way we were going to get to swim in Riomaggiore that day, so we headed back to put our swimsuits on, and hop a train to a different village that may have better conditions.

Long story short: it was at this point that we realized that my swimsuit from the day before was exactly where I left it. Hanging on the handle of the window in our Vernazza apartment, where it was hidden by curtains when we left that morning. Change of plans! Back on the train to Vernazza, where happily the next guest had checked in and was happy to let me in to retrieve my suit. Whew. After that, we headed to Corniglia in search of beach. It was pretty (more on that later), but still no beach action for us. Here’s the view from the Riomaggiore train station, because that’s the majority of what we saw for the rest of the day.

As far as train station views go, this is pretty good.

As far as train station views go, this is pretty good.

After our rail adventures, we spent a relaxing night in town, eating dinner and meeting the locals.

Our full day in Riomaggiore couldn’t possibly have dawned any differently. And thank goodness because if we couldn’t get into the damn water that day, we might have lost our ever-lovin’ minds.

So. Much. Better. To the beach!

riomaggiore17We quickly ditched this spot in favor of an area with much smaller stones, right next to the waterline. That meant a little bit of splash from the waves, and later some shade… very important. The day was filled with lounging, reading, struggling in and out of the water, and watching other people do the same. Waves + stones = trouble.

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That blue.

After we were sufficiently sun-struck, we went back to the apartment for a pre-dinner nap. On the way, they were decorating for some sort of procession. We had seen signs for it the night before, but definitely slept through whatever it was. Tourist fail.

Refreshed and relaxed, we decided to have a “fancy” dinner for our last night in Cinque Terre. We ate at a seafood restaurant right next to the harbor, which was predictably touristy, but really good. Highlights of dinner include watching the waiter de-bone a fish for an American child at another table (I can’t do it either… our education system seems to have a gap), and enjoying street traffic over mussels. They had a fairly decent duo playing music, who had been at the same restaurant we had eaten at the night before. It’s a small town… I daresay they rotate.

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The only downfall of our stay in Riomaggiore was that our room didn’t have  a window. We knew that beforehand, so it wasn’t an issue, but it didn’t really make us want to kick it in the room in the evening. So after dinner we looked around a bit for somewhere to enjoy a nightcap. Nothing really jumped out at us, so instead we grabbed a bottle of wine and found a bench on the street to lounge on.

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Seriously… if you can, I highly recommend spending the night in any of the Cinque Terre villages. It’s so much better at night!

With that, our last evening in Cinque Terre was at an end. I miss that salt air…

Have you been to Riomaggiore? Did your room have a window?

 

Vernazza in Pictures

Every once in a while, you visit a place that is exactly as gorgeous in person as it is in postcards. Vernazza is one of those places, and we were lucky enough to spend our second night in Cinque Terre staying right in the heart of the village. Seriously though, we weren’t even there for 24 hours, and together we took over 200 pictures. This place is crazy amounts of  photogenic. So let’s have a look!

We arrived in Vernazza mid-afternoon, after about three hours of hiking from Monterosso al Mare. Remember in that post when I said that it was too cold to swim when we left in the morning? Scratch that. By the time that we reached this incredible overlook…

vernazza overlook

…I was about ready to throw myself forward and just hope I’d hit water. That’s what a couple hours of hiking combined with 90 degree (F, of course) temperatures and a heavy backpack will do to me. It was toasty.

As soon as we got down to sea level, we made a beeline for the water. Vernazza doesn’t have a real “beach,” but people swim in the harbor, and while it wasn’t what I would call crowded, it wasn’t empty either.

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We spent the next few hours alternately submerging ourselves, resting our aching feet, people watching, and lounging on a big rock while giving our sweaty clothes a chance to dry off. Shout out to the American girls who sat behind us for a bit and commented on how sweaty my gray t-shirt was… thanks ladies! I hadn’t noticed at all… and also thanks for commenting on the fact that BV was wearing *ahem* a more Euro-style of men’s swimwear. So was every other guy on this beach. Note: most people speak English, act accordingly. *Rant over.* Back to the pretty.

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Dark clouds did roll in, but the six drops that fell on us were most welcome. But eventually it was time to put clothes back on, grab a beer, and check into our AirBnb for the night. We were situated right between the end of the trail into/out of town, and the train station, which meant that it was a fairly high traffic area. This afforded some solid people-watching fun, and a bit of creeping. Always a good combination.

For dinner we decided to leave the main street and water behind, to see what else was on offer. We happened across a sign that promised a restaurant if we headed up the hill along the path to Corniglia, the next village. After going up far more than the posted 50 meters, and past a few places that looked like they had been restaurants at one point in time, we were rewarded. Perched on the cliff above terraced gardens and groves of lemon trees, was a restaurant wrapped in grape vines with a million Euro view.

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Blogger fail: I don’t know the name, and can’t seem to find it via Yelp or Google Maps. If you’re there… just follow the questionable signs towards Corniglia. That’s all I can say. The food was great, the wine was good, the service was friendly… and that view. Come on.

After dinner we meandered our way back down into the main village, and decided to return to the beach with a bottle of wine.

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Like Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza was much quieter after dark, allowing us to have a good wander. Taking pictures is always much easier when you aren’t dodging hordes of tourists running for their trains and boats. We grabbed a bottle of wine – handily this seems to be the norm which meant the shopkeeper was happy to open it for us and provide plastic cups, and looked for a suitable spot to lounge.

Finally we settled on the same rock we had occupied early, and toasted to our sore legs. There were a few people around, but mostly we were on our own. Minus a disagreement on the merits of drinking wine out of plastic cups (darn BV, being all classy and European), it was pretty high on the romantical scale. I’ll recommend it to any of you out there wanting a good destination to go with your significant other. Plus, it gave us an opportunity to creep on shadow people. Sensing a theme here?

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Just realized this looks kind of dirty. He was setting up a camera and tripod… I swear.

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Eventually though, our bottle of wine was empty, and it was time to tuck ourselves in for the night. But not of course, before a few more shutter clicks on the way home.

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95% sure that's Fonzi.

95% sure that’s Fonzi.

That concludes our short stay in Vernazza… next up, Riomaggiore!

Anyone out there booking flights yet? Perhaps a cruise?

Monterosso al Mare in Pictures

The first part of our summer vacation was spent exploring the villages of the Cinque Terre National Park in Italy. The original plan was to hike from village to village, but as some parts of the trail were closed, we ended up hiking some days, and making use of the highly efficient train system on others. I do have a lot of thoughts on Cinque Terre in general, but to start off, I’ll be posting a brief synopsis of our visit to each town, along with photos. So enjoy!

Monterosso's beach in New Town

Monterosso’s beach in New Town

Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost town of the five Cinque Terre villages. We hiked there from Levanto (more on that later!), and stayed one night. The village is split into two parts, the old and new sides, and we spent our evening exploring the new side after we ate dinner. We wandered the beach and promenade, enjoying the quiet evening atmosphere. As we learned, the Cinque Terre villages nearly empty at night, but are no less lovely.

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The beach at night is perfection…

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…but watch out for lounging couples!

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Rides at rest.

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Samoyeds forever!

We slept like rocks after our night of driving and day of hiking, but were up bright and early to head to the next village. The second day dawned much cooler so swimming was out (for a bit, anyway), and instead we took some time to wander the streets of the old side of town.

The most-photographed rock in Monterosso al Mare.

The most-photographed rock in Monterosso al Mare.

View from the promenade.

View from the Old Town promenade.

Monterosso alleyways.

Monterosso alleyways.

Italy in a nutshell.

Italy in a nutshell.

Shops setting up for the day.

Shops setting up for the day.

Balcony color.

Balcony color.

The quiet beach in Old Town.

The quiet beach in Old Town.

 

Have you been to Monterosso al Mare? What did you think?

Cover-Worthy(?)

As a member of the Deutschen Alpenverein, or German Alpine Club, every month BV gets a magazine that is chock-full of all kinds of great articles on outdoor activities for mountain enthusiasts. I also enjoy reading (or trying to read) the articles, and we usually get a lot of good ideas for future hiking trips. There are whole routes planned out, tips, and generally a whole lot of useful information. An added bonus for me is that the photography is usually pretty great… because of course everything is better with pictures.

Yesterday I was flipping through the mail and pulled out this month’s issue. And I cannot stop laughing at it. Why? Well…

squirrel man1It’s a very dramatic view when you see the whole thing. But, look closer…

squirrel man2 squirrel man3I cannot get over the facial expression. It’s killing me.

This guy is clearly more bad-ass than I will ever be, and I totally respect his ability to cling onto the side of a cliff like that. Not to mention the photographer who got that shot, who I’m guessing is doing a fair amount of clinging on his own. But the FACE.

I was laughing and laughing yesterday and BV said, “What? That’s how you look when you’re searching for the next place to hold!”

My response was, “Yes, and that’s also how a squirrel looks when he spots an especially delectable-looking acorn up ahead!” At which point I descended back into nonsensical giggling about crazed squirrels. He just shook his head and retreated back into his Den of Horrible Formulas and Scripts (next round of university tests are this/next weekend, poor kid).

In my defense, I was a bit punchy yesterday after a long weekend of traipsing about in the rain with a pile of other bloggin’ folk, and eating/drinking our way around town. It was delightful to meet all of these people after reading their sites, and it was great that they came to Nbg (minus the rain), but for me it was a lot of activity in one weekend. Like I said last week, we’ve been very sloth-like lately. Add to that the fact that Saturday night after I got home, a bat decided to fly into our flat, and we were up until 4am trying to get the damn thing out and yeah… I was a little nuts yesterday. Much like a squirrel.

 

So… is it a funny picture or have I lost my mind?

Strasbourg in Pictures

Ah, finally. The trouble with having a sweet-ass new camera means that the number of pictures I took two weeks ago in Strasbourg was a bit higher than the last few trips I’ve taken. And since I’m an indecisive person and would rather spend my time outside (I’m writing this on our Bierbank* in the garden, actually), then sit inside writing long-winded weekend recaps, a photo essay it is.

I’ve broken it down into a few categories, and as per usual, just click on a picture to view the entire gallery complete with whatever captions I feel like throwing in there. First though, a teaser picture, and the rest you find after the jump….

Welcome to France, here's your sweet view for the weekend.

Welcome to France, here’s your sweet view for the weekend.

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A New Toy

Apologies for the delay in posts. The combination of social activities, good weather, and my attention span rivaling that of a cracked-out squirrel means that posts have once again fallen by the wayside. Sorry! I’ll try to do better but blue sky means no guarantees. 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a picture of a very snazzy looking camera that I posted last weekend. If you didn’t see it, behold…

new toy17Well hello there, beautiful.

A DSLR has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember. I haven’t had a decent camera since I was using my old Canon Rebel during university. I ended up leaving it at home when I moved abroad because I had no idea how long I’d be gone for and just couldn’t justify working with film. So it stayed home and I’ve been using a big old Sony digital that I inherited when my grandpa passed away. It took decent pictures and served me well, but it was a glorified point-and-shoot, and considering it had lower pixel resolution than my iPhone, I’ve pretty much left it at home for the last two years. But now I shall be hauling this behemoth all over Germany and will be nothing but happy about it. BV and I spent a lot of time debating the merits of various cameras, and I’m eager to get out and test this as much as possible. But oh man, so. many. menus. Times have a-changed, that’s for sure. The manual is also all auf Deutsch, of course, so it’s going to be a lot of trial-and-error on my part. Or I’ll get annoyed at some point and purchase two new ink cartridges just so I can print out the PDF of the English manual.

Hopefully in the near future I’ll have some sweet new travel posts to write, but for today I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve played with so far. I haven’t wandered far from home in the last two weeks, so we’ll be local for the moment.

Marry the Cat is of course an obvious subject, as she’s stuck here with me all day. She’s also very good at posing while sleeping, and batting at the camera while awake.

new toy18She took a break from batting at the camera to bat at this bee instead. We’ve tried to explain to her that she should leave the bees alone but so far, no luck. As long as she keeps killing spiders, I’m okay with her not being too discerning.

Because of little Miss Marry, we had to move our jungle of potted plants into our extra room (Spare Oom), because they were all poisonous for her. There was one exception, which is an Hibiscus that has been chewed on excessively by the cat. Last week, BV was missing his jungle, so he stopped and got us a second Hibiscus which came out in bloom almost immediately. It is super gorgeous and holds still much more easily than Marry.

A quick trip outside offers a variety of blooming things at the moment; it’s pretty unreal how gorgeous our village has been this spring. I don’t think there’s a rule that you must have at least one flowering tree in your garden, but there might as well be. We have at least four, and our garden looks like an overgrown mess compared to most of our neighbors. In our defense, I’ve been trying to clean it up but I keep filling up our bio waste garbage bin and having to wait another week before I can fit anything else inside. End digression.

And a few more shots from around town…

I finally took a bunch of pictures of our adorable local market square and little castle, which I’ll try to post later this week. Again, try. 🙂

Since apparently pictures of people are more interesting, here’s one of me that BV took when he took his turn playing with the new toy. I had to distract the cat from chewing on cords or something. In retrospect, giving her an old climbing rope aka The Snake, was perhaps not the best choice. Of course, it’s her favorite toy.

new toy10And yes, if you show up at our house unannounced, I will pretty much be wearing my pajamas. And there will be a massive pile of stuff in the living room waiting to be burned. Please excuse the mess.

Lastly, for those of you who were wondering just what on Earth we were going to do with those sweet-ass antlers we bought at the flea market the other weekend (again, follow on Instagram!), here you go…

They do complement the whiskey and Schnapps bar nicely, if I do say so myself.

That’s about it for the moment, but hopefully more fun mit Fotografie to come. As always, thanks for reading!

10 Reasons I Love the German Mountains

I first visited the Alps in 2001 as a 17-year old on a post-graduation France trip. It was my first time to see “real” mountains, and not from an airplane either. Initially our group had fought our teacher on the decision to do a 3-day extension to Chamonix at the end of our 17-day tour. We all wanted to go to Italy, but our teacher wouldn’t budge.

The kids last year hated Rome. It was hot and crowded.… we’re much better off going to the Alps,” she told us. We whined a lot, but it was to no avail.

We arrived in Chamonix after a hot and crowded few days in Paris. We were there for the end of the Tour de France, and so the city was packed and our un-airconditioned hotel provided no relief from the heat of the city in July. We were all country kids, we’d been traveling for two weeks, and this was so far out of our comfort zone it wasn’t even funny. But then…

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…and also this….

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I was sold. We took two cable cars and an elevator to visit the Aiguille du Midi, which gave us a view from 3842m. Far below us the brightly colored jackets of the mountain climbers stood out in the snow as they made their way up Mont Blanc. It was an amazing view, and I couldn’t believe that some of our group had opted out due to their fear of heights! 

On the way back down we took a break between cable cars and ran around the side of the mountain. There was snow in the shade of some of the huge boulders, and we went sledding in our jeans. We’d been traveling for over two weeks, it’s not like they were clean anyways. In the sun the grass was green and full of wildflowers. I wanted to change my name to Heidi, get some goats, and move on in.

Turns out, our Madame C. knew best. Just don’t tell her I said that. 

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After France I had to lead a mountain-free existence for many years. It was sad, and sometimes I felt like Bilbo Baggins….

But then I came to Germany. 

One of my first trips in Germany was to Berchestgaden. And once again, I was hooked.

I love everything about the mountains in Germany. Here are 10 reasons why….

1) I love the rolling landscapes…

View from the Feldburg in the Black Forest

 

2) And the ummmm…. pointy-er landscapes…

View from the on the Zugspitze

3) I love getting to see the same views in summer and winter…

Both views from before heading up the Zugspitze

4) I love the picture-perfect mountain towns…

5) And the picture-perfect mountain town festivals…

All from Berchtesgaden

6) I love fields of sheep behind Alpine hotels….

In Ettal

7) And hiking through fields of cows wearing giant bells….

On the Feldburg. Shhhhh, don’t tell BV he’s on THE INTERNET.

8) I love whatever this is….

9) I love the view from the top…. oh, and the feeling of accomplishment from getting there on your own two feet….

View over the Blaueishütte, Berchtesgaden

10) And I love that you can get a beer at the top whether you took the hard way-hike or the tourist train (or bus, or cable car, or whatever).

At the Eagle’s Nest, Berchtesgaden. Shh, don’t tell my dad he’s on the internet either.
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Now I’m not saying that I’m looking into real estate or anything, because I’m not looking to “settle down” right now. But someday I would love to live in the mountains. I’m okay with being a city mouse for now, but in my opinion nothing would be better than waking up to this every morning…

Unless of course, it was if I was looking at that view from a house that looked like…

It’s a little close to the road for me, and a little big, but  you get the idea. Wooden shutters, geraniums, cows next door… I love it all.

And of course I’d have to go whole hog on the decor….

A little blurry, sorry.

But if you’re going to live in an Alpine-style house, you have to go all wood and floral and deer on the inside, don’t you? In retrospect I think this is all due to the fact that when I was a kid, I wanted to live David the Gnome’s house.

Via

And over a nice big fireplace, I want to hang these pictures. They are currently for sale at a nearby antiques shop, and I know this is REALLY WEIRD, but I love them. LOVE THEM.

Actually these pictures are what started this whole post off. Talk about a train of thought rerouting. Yeesh. On second thought, it might be time to leave Germany, because I’m clearly going insane.

Mountains? Beaches? Where do you want to go?

Italy: Tuscany in Threes

So far I’ve talked a bit about what we ate and where we stayed over New Year’s, but believe it or not, we did do something besides stuff our faces and hang out around the house. 

We decided to make a few “city tours” on our trip, so three of the days were spent in some of the nearby Tuscan cities. Needless to say I have a lot of pictures, but I’m trying to cure myself of picture overload, so I’m going to give you three pictures from each place. Three cities, three pictures of each, hence, Tuscany in Threes. Let’s give it a shot!

First up was the city that most people hit when they head to Tuscany: Florence.

Everyone posts a picture of the famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), when they go to Florence. But this is the view from the Ponte Vecchio. A nice day, wasn’t it? Truth be told, we were on and off the bridge very quickly because despite the grey skies and the January rain, it was still packed with tourists. In fact it was even more dangerous due to all the people wielding umbrellas. Add that to the amount of jewelry shops on the bridge and watch out! Danger around every corner.


Of course another Must-See in Florence is the Duomo, or, the Basilica di Santa Mario del Fiore. (Got all that?) If it had been a nicer day, it would have been great to climb a neighboring tower to get the view of the Duomo and the city roofs from above. But alas, grey and rain prevailed so we opted to stay on the ground. This was also another one of those churches where it’s impossible to get a good picture of the whole facade, so sorry about that. The exterior of this church is really just beyond words, and it certainly has earned its reputation as an artistic wonder.






One of our after-dinner stops was the old pharmacy in Church of Santa Maria Novella, which claims to be one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. Nowadays it sells lots of very expensive-looking perfumes and other such things, but there are still old pharmacy wares on display, and a really gorgeous interior to admire.

Something we didn’t get to do in Florence was visit the famous art museum, the Uffizi. We were hoping that in January the line wouldn’t be too bad, but when we got there and saw the line running the length of the (fairly long) building, we decided that our time was better spent visiting the city. We stopped for a coffee and decided to poke our heads into the Museo Galileo next door, and found ourselves occupied for the next couple of hours. If you have any interest in technology and the evolution thereof, and find yourself in Florence, go check it out! Disclaimer: I didn’t love the room full of cross-sectioned models of pregnancy. That kind of freaked me out. But other than that, there were some cool things… be sure to keep an eye out for Galileo’s freakishly long finger….

Next up on our city tour list was Siena: 

We got to Siena in the early evening after a few hours at a natural thermal bath near the city. Unfortunately because of the time a lot of the shops were already closed, and we only had time to poke our heads into one church. But if I want to do some shopping in Tuscany, I will be coming back here. There were a ton of interesting looking little places, and who couldn’t love a window display with a stuffed boar, a snacking fox, and enough garlic to ward off an entire army of vampires?? Amazing.

We did find a few places open, which was lucky because we didn’t have a reserved breakfast at our apartment the next day and so we needed to stock up on some hams and cheeses. Everything in this shop looked incredibly delicious, and some of the packaged pastas looked like artwork! 

To me, Siena was much more like my idea of a typical city in Tuscany. Even by night you could see all the brown stone that would look so warm in the sun. I was also a big fan of their Christmas lights they still had up. There were some truly impressive light displays in Italy, but most of them were so bright and flashing that they were almost seizure-inducing. Siena was just lovely. 

I’m happy we went to Florence, and I’ve been assured that we didn’t even see most of it, but I liked Siena more. Just an evening of wandering the narrow cobbled streets was enough to make me want to come back. Admittedly we had lousy weather in Florence, but there were so many tourists there that it was difficult to appreciate the city. Especially while dodging umbrellas. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot, but Siena is without a doubt on my “to re-visit” list. We saw the Duomo from the outside, but it looks like it’s worth a trip inside so that’s on the list as well. You can never see enough churches, right? I also saw something rather amusing while there, but there will be another post to come on that matter…

The third city on the list was the closest to where we were staying, and that was Arezzo: 

We purposely waited to visit Arezzo until Saturday which was our last full day in Italy. On the first weekend of every month in Arezzo they have one of the largest antiquities markets in all of Italy. This is NOT your average flea market. Think gorgeous antique wooden furniture, paintings, books, jewelry, and almost anything else you can image. I’m not normally a huge “flea market” person because I’m not a fan of digging through stuff. This was something else. If I ever have a house (you know, like a normal person), I’m coming straight back here to furnish it. And it’s not just a few stalls; this market literally fills the entire old city. Every time we thought we found the end, we turned a corner and it kept going. So much so that we had to take a lunch break in a restaurant that I didn’t feel fancy enough to be in. Which is maybe valid, given that it was recommended to us by a market vendor, who was setting up his outdoor lunch with take-out containers, but real glassware, dishes, and cloth napkins that the restaurant provided. That’s Italy. Take note, Olive Garden.

The market really deserves its own post, but in the event that I don’t get to that, you can see some of the wares in these photos. Spot anything odd in the second one?

Although I wasn’t in the market for an old scuba helmet, my friend and I were on a mission to scout out the jewelry. I did find an amazing antique cocktail ring that haunts my dreams. Leave it to me to find something I loved that was waaaaaay beyond my spending limit. Gah. I wasn’t alone though, because the ring that my friend really liked was even more. Ouch. 

Photo courtesy of BV. His are better than mine. 🙂

After we were all antiqued-out, we headed away from the city center in search of an old Roman coliseum that was marked on our city map. When we got there we found a fence around the site, but an open door directed us to a visitor’s center. They’ve had to fence it off due to vandalism, but if you go inside and ask, someone will come out, open the gate, and just hang out and wait while you have a good wander around. So there we were, checking out the Roman construction techniques, figuring out where the ancient hot dog stand was from the smoke marks, and admiring the different kinds of stonework. We were the only ones inside, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were the only ones there the whole day. When we left, we tried to give the woman a little money as a donation, but she wouldn’t even take it. 

After the coliseum we went back towards the city, stopping a few food stands to buy some truffle products. Then we managed to find even more of the antique market that we hadn’t seen, so it was a long, slow, walk back to the car. There was another church that I’d like to go back to and see, as they had some fantastic-looking frescoes, but the exhibit was already closed for the day. Arezzo was much like Siena in that it was more my “idea” of a Tuscan city, and I think there was a lot more to see that we didn’t even get to because we were so busy treasure-hunting. If you can get there the first weekend of the month, it’s well worth a trip to this market. But if you can’t, Arezzo is well known for its antique and art shops, that are hopefully open the rest of the month

More information:  
Museo Galileo: Florence 
Antiques Market: Arezzo 

*The blogger formatting Gods are firmly against me today, so if this post looks completely out of whack, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Danke schön!