Monday, March 31, 2008

Fire Update!

Rise from the ashes for what else but a BBQ! Our friend Andrea (family castle had a fire remember from previous post 'Very Sad News') this weekend had a bbq. We all sat outside enjoying the spring weather eating a selection of Italian meats and I snapped these pics of the post fire ruins. Note: When boys are in charge of the cooking you’re in for a treat of meat, meat, and more meat. Not a salad in sight.
The girls fed the horses, boys kicked the ball around, Jolie ran around the country side and I snapped photos. Enjoy...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Insperation Flows from Fountains

Parco Del Valentino surrounds the Castle Valentino and was once the private stomping grounds for the royals. The park has many notable and pretty fountains and statues such as the Fontana dei Dodici Mesi (fountain of the 12 months) at its southern end, designed by Carlo Ceppi for the exposition of 1898. It's vast and loud with water roaring with power threw at a fast pace. But it is also beautiful and delicate with the statues showing signs of age and wear. It was built in 1898 and just one year later, in 1899, the FIAT Company, so synonymous with Torino and its modern day wealth and success, was started in the building directly next to the fountain. I can’t help but see that this enduring monument might have had something to do with the great inspiration of one of Torino's oldest company's....

well, it could have happened....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Friends, Romans, Torinese...

There is wall in the middle of the city that dates to the 1st century AD. This wall is all that is all that is left of the gate into Roman Torino. It's called Porta Palatina and back then Torino was called Augusta Taurinorum. This Roman gate is actually one of the best conserved Roman gates in the world (as for the other three Roman gates of Turin, one was incorporated into Palazzo Madama, and the other two were destroyed between the 16th and 17th Centuries). But this one lasted and is now where students sit and have lunch, crazy what 2 thousands years will do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buon Pasqua!

Happy Easter!!! How do the Italians celebrate Pasqua... with chocolate of course!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Legends and Lasagne

On our last day in Florence we visited Michelangelo's tomb. (Real name; Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni) The tomb is really beautiful in its mixture of freezes, painting, and sculpture. It sits inside the Basilica of Santa Croce next to other noted famous Italians like Galileo and Ghiberti. Michelangelo died in 1564 having lived in the heart of the renaissance period in the city of the birth of the renaissance and having become an archetypal renaissance man. He was a painter, sculpture, architect, and poet having wrote over 300 sonnets and 48 funeral epigrams, and many many love poems. Many contempary artists contributed to the sculptures and paintings of his tomb including the bust of his likeness resting at the top so everyone can stare into the face of a true legend, and we did. (Just after we had lasagne).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Beauty of David's Behind

Nobody takes a picture of David from the behind. Well I did because I’m convinced that Michelangelo spent just as much time on the back as he did on the front. And looking at David (from the front or behind) you really understand the Renaissance. You see him in all his detail and glory and you just say to yourself, I get it. Famously Michelangelo knew David was a masterpiece and as the story of David is that he defeated the Goliath, Michelangelo had him turning to face the direction of Rome in a cheeky declaration of Florence saying “I can do anything you can do better". You can see that in his eyes; take a picture of those too.

The next image is of the bridge Ponte Vecchio. Ponte Vecchio literally translates to 'old bridge'. It is the oldest bridge still standing in Florence built in 1345. The windows you see at the top are actually bit of a city secret. The Medici’s had a special private hallway built from their offices to their residence that went over the street level. This way the richest and most powerful family could avoid having to walk among the common people. Italians have special relationships with their bridges. In general Italians are suppositious and romantic at the same time. They believe that if they are in love and they put a lock on the bridge and throw away the key into the river, that their love will last forever.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh The Botticelli's!

For as many times as you see pictures of it, for as many times as you see it in the movies, for as many times as you thought about what it would be like to be there, There is just no way you can know and accurately describe what you feel actually standing in Florence. The duomo, the church, the tower, the golden doors, the air, the light, the river, the bridges, the people, the food. Thanks to the Medici’s influence on the city, every one of Florence’s marvels was built to rival Rome in competition to become the greatest city in Italy. A walk threw the Uffizi museum will prove that. And OH! The Botticelli's, Primavera and Venus are there to welcome you to the city. (Travel Tip: Pre-buy your Uffizi tickets online which gives you a specific time and ticket to enter and avoid the monster of a line to get in.) This weekend’s blogs are all about the wonders we saw in Florence!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Palazzo Sweet Palazzo

Palazzo Reale, (Royal home), was the official house (if you can call it a house), of the ruling Savoy family from 1646 until 1865. There are so many rooms in this residence that tour guide rushes you threw like the school cafeteria line. And another tour guide stands at the back of the group to 'help' you keep up the pace and make sure there are no stragglers. It was built on top of a Roman villa and you can still see mosaics and architectural elements around the palazzo from that time. Actually, there are so many paintings and decorative objects to see here that you could go a dozen times and always notice something new. The bigliettoria is in the grand ballroom. It’s just a table with 2 little old ladies selling paper tickets, out of place in this magnificent space. Everything was mirrored, gilded in gold or painted on. Putti (cherubs) were everywhere. It was a grandiose mix mash of mythological figures and religious artifacts; still, I'd live there. There’s a nice garden for Jolie to play in.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thank You Italy!!

Thank you Italy, for inventing pizza. An entire perfect and delicious meal on one plate. An entire menu of different toppings that range across the board. In America I've had meat lovers, in England I've had tuna and corn, in Italy I've had prosciutto and rocket. Pizza is for everyone, Bless it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Castle of Secrets

Once a castle, now a fort, the Castle of Moncalieri sits majestically at the top of a hill but just don’t take a picture of it, it’s against the law. It was built for Thomas I of Savoy in the mid 17th century and became a royal residence of many different ruling families but now is solely used as a military academy and fort. Therefore if you are standing next to the castle and you decide to take a picture, they will ask you to stop. Which is what happened to me,but I did get in 2 or 3 pics before the stop order. Who knows what military secrets it's holding? You can tour the royal residence rooms inside,Pier and I did, but if you do plan on having an armed guard follow you around room by room, no inside photos or bathroom breaks allowed. And when I say armed I mean big big gun. It was only just declared a national heritage site in 1997 so now it is protected and is being restored.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Protected Waters

There is a beach you can go to on the coast not far from Portofino that most tourists don’t know about. Luckily I have an insider. It's called San Fruttuoso. It is small and rocky but beautiful and you can get a coffee and some strawberries or a fresh fish lunch. But bring your own blanket because if you sit on the chairs you'll be charged 10 euros an hour, something I learned the hard way. One main attraction this cove contains is that fifty feet underwater, just off the beach is the statue of Christ of the Abysses, protector of divers. Many divers come here to see the mysterious Christ hiding underwater. The statue can also be glimpsed from the surface when the waters are calm for us non divers to catch a glimpse. There is a copy of the sculpture inside the 10th century church with the sculptures story. The only way to get here is to take a boat taxi by way of Portofino and lazily enjoy the sun until the return taxi decides to come back for you, whenever that may be….

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Around Our 'Hood

Our neighborhood is Pecetto (all roads lead there). It's a suburb of Torino in the hills. It's pretty. Great sunrises, 2 places to get the newspaper, 1 grocery store the size of a 7/11, and 2 cafes. The dry cleaning lady will tell you to come back on Friday and then on Friday she will have forgotten all about you and could you come back next Friday? Our neighbors have a very loud and active sex life. Pier has a very loud and active soccer game watching. There are 2 roosters directly next door that crow on their own clock and no less than 100 dogs that bark at each other every day as if it was the first time. Our postino delivers the wrong mail to our box because Maria-Christina looks just like Christensen and sweet and lovely church bells ring every morning and every evening. This is Pecetto.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On Top of The World.. Or at Least The Mole

The Mole Antonelliana is now the symbol of Torino. It was originally built as a synagogue in 1863 but never used as such. Now days it houses the eclectic Cinema Museum. There is an elevator that takes you to the top of the Mole and provides outstanding if not romantic views of the city on a clear or cloudy day. Luckily we had a beautiful day and was able to capture these photos. You can see the Mole peeking out from just about anywhere you are in the city.