Italy 6.17.18

Simple food, simple life.

Today we made pizza and gelato in a cooking class and I must say, I did a pretty good job making my pizza. By myself. Well, mostly. I might have had a little help from the Italian teacher as well as Regina who turns out to be a dough making professional. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to make everything and it did not take super long. In addition, it was better than most pizzas I’ve had back at home.

We were given a small recipe book too so who knows, maybe I’ll actually try to cook for myself more often! Thanks for the motivation to live healthier, more adventurously and to take on new challenges, Florence!

Officially Certified to Make a Half Decent Pizza – Day 6

Day 6 of our journey was bittersweet, bitter to say goodbye to Ingrid and realizing we’re nearing the end of our time here, and sweet because we got to cook. After a late start, we went to a few different stores to do some shopping before meeting up down town to go to our pizza and gelato cooking class. The instructor showed us step by step how to make the dough for our pizzas, how to cook them, and then how to make the gelato as well. I even got to go up in front of the class and work with the instructor on the gelato!

My pizza had a lot of cheese, some ham, zucchini, onions, and pepperoni and was not too shabby for a first timer. The chocolate gelato was delightful and I gave myself a nice pat on the back for not screwing it up for everyone. After we had finished our class we had to say goodbye to Ingrid as she left on another journey.

A bitter end to a sweet day for sure.

Before

After

Regina’s perfect masterpiece

# of dogs seen today: 31

Wine and Dine Me, Italy – Day 5

Another successful day in Italy is now in the books. We were given a bus tour out of Florence and then into Chianti in the heart of Tuscany. We got to stop at a street market where vendors were selling clothes, food, and other goods. I was able to buy a pair of sandals that complimented that days outfit perfectly!

We then got back on the bus and were taken to lunch. We were brought onto the back terrace of the restaurant and my jaw hit the floor. The view we had was unlike anything i had seen before. All you could see where rolling hills and valleys, villas and vineyards everywhere. I took so many pictures but none of them can do the view justice. Lunch consisted of a meat platter followed by pici bolognese that was to die for and finished off with a raspberry panna cotta. It was a tough scene to have to leave, but leaving it meant we were one step closer to the vineyard tour and wine tasting.

Our view at lunch

After lunch we got back on the bus and were taken to the vineyard. The woman giving us our tour and tasting was very kind and showed us what goes into making each bottle of wine. We got to see all of the different pieces of equipment they would use and then got to try some of the wines. It’s incredible, the process they have to go through to make wine. I never really think about the steps that need to be taken to produce these products. Nine times out of ten they’re usually more complex than we think.

The first wine we got to try was a white wine, followed by four reds that slowly went up in strength in terms of taste. Each one was smooth and so delicious. Just about each one of us left with a bottle of wine to bring home to our families and friends in hopes of making them even more jealous of this trip we’re on.

# of dogs seen today: 59 + 2 ferrets being walked on leashes so I’m counting the two of them as one dog, making the total 60

Italy 6.16.18

I love wine. Enough said.

But in all seriousness, I’m happy to have had my first winery tour abroad in Italy. The country side was beautiful, almost too perfect for my mind to comprehend that it’s real.

Everything here, from food to buildings to clothing to the wine seems vibrant, fresh and full of color. I feel as though I’m seeing things through a filter that makes everything more colorful and full of life.

I think the strawberries I bought at a market in a quaint little town will be the best I’ll ever taste.

Italy 6.15.18

Choosing to go to Venice on our free day was the best decision I’ve made in a while.

I think it’s hard to judge a culture or experience a culture fully based off of one city or town. It was eye opening to go from walking through the busy streets of Florence to taking a boat from destination to destination in Venice to strolling through the quaint island of Morono where there were several glass stores and museums.

I have to say, I think Venice has been my favorite place so far. I’m glad to have visited before it gets lost to the ocean.

Exploring new lands

 

Today we toured the Chianti region in central Italy. We stopped at a few little towns along the way and learned about their trades, practices, and traditions.

The hillsides seemed to resemble a quilt; complicated, cross-hatched patches of wineries covered the landscape. You could see grape vines and olive trees for miles.

The area in which we toured is renowned for their wine, olive oil, and pottery. Every gift shop boasted a vast array of kitchen wares and food, often all locally produced. The first town we stopped in had an open air market in their main square, where we were able to purchase anything from food to clothes to toiletries.

Seeing these humble little towns with their modest stone churches and cobblestone streets felt a bit nostalgic, as if I was walking through the pages of a history book. I was completely floored when I saw the view at lunch: a countryside so green and perfect and untouched that it looked eerily like the backdrop of a sound stage.

Freebie (Day 4)

Water canals and gondolas fill in for the city streets and there is beautiful Murano glass at every store front. As soon as I arrived to the Piazza San Marco I realized It’s truly a city like no other– words can’t even describe the experience I had so here are some pictures (that don’t even do it justice) and if you ever have the chance to go to Venice- GO!!

This isn’t TD Garden (Day 3)

Today I visited the most famous gardens in all of Italy- the Boboli Gardens. The centuries old oak trees, sculptures, and fountains were a spectacular sight. There was so much antiquity to the garden that I decided to sit down and sketch what I felt. Sitting on the grass being surrounded by all this grandiose greenery made me feel like royalty. On top of the terrace they had was another great view over Florence- the only wish I have is that I would’ve packed a lunch and had a picnic right in the middle of it all.

Day 4- Free Day in Venice

I think it’s safe to say that most of us were eagerly awaiting the arrival of day 4 so we could travel and sight see all on our own, and Venice was the perfect destination to do so. After an early morning, we set off for the train station where we hopped on a train to Venice. We could see some of the Alps on the way in which was unreal.

Our first stop in Venice was St. Marc’s Square and the Doges Palace. In the square we stopped to feed the pigeons and have them land on us. It was such a fun experience regardless of how unsanitary it may have been.

St. Marc’s Square

Making friends

Afterwards, we went into the Doge’s Palace and saw some amazing pieces of history. We also got to visit the prison cells and walk through them. In one of the cells was a make shift gallery, showcasing graffiti that the prisoners drew on their walls during their time in the cells.

The Palace was followed up by lunch at a local restaurant called Casanovas and then a trip to a bookstore on the water called Libreria Acqua Alta di Frizzo Luigi. The place was piled floor to ceiling with books and there was a spot in the back where the books were formed into steps to walk on.

We then went on a gondola ride through the canals. Our gondolier, Fabio, told me he loved me after I stated to him that he looked much younger than 53. I’d say maybe we’ll run away together but he has a wife and kids so better luck next time, Sarah.

If Fabio isn’t the most beautiful man you’ve ever seen in you’re life, you’re wrong.

We then took a water taxi over to Murano to see some blown glass art and even got to talk to some of the shop owners about their work. I bought some rosary beads that were made with glass blown beads for my mother because her mother always had rosary beads around.

Eventually, our time in Venice came to an end up it was definitely a free day well spent.

# of dogs seen today: 34 (Ricki was a fluffy miniature boarder collie and it took all I had in me in terms of will power not to take him home with me.)

Ciao, Venezia! Ci incontriamo di nuovo.

Anybody who has met me knows one of my favorite cities in Europe is Venice. Today, for our free day, we took an early train to the beautiful city and spent the entire day taking in its sights, sounds, and smells.

The thing I love most about Venice is purposefully getting lost. The winding “streets” always branch out into new corridors which may suddenly become piazzas or fountains or bridges. The Murano glass which fills every shop window is enough to overwhelm you; Venetian masks inspire you; and gondoliers enchant you. Venice is a city unlike any other. You can get lost, but you can never walk in the wrong direction.