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

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.)

One More Day of Climbing

Day three of Italy mirrored the past two in one particular way. climbing. Today we got to walk through the Boboli Gardens and see all of the beautiful plants, trees, and flowers. We climbed up to the top of the gardens and all I could think of was how each day thus far had included climbing something. I even made a few friends along the way 😉

Work it, honey!

I’ll call him “Gary.”

I couldn’t catch him 🙁

At the Boboli, Regina gave us a run down on how she tends to go about her botanical paintings and showed us a demonstration. We each then chose our own specimen to sketch for a few minutes.

After the gardens we met with everyone’s favorite photography professor for lunch. I ate risotto that tasted like the love child of rice and lasagna. It was to die for!

After lunch we made our way to the Medici Palace where we took in some incredible art and saw some photo realistic pieces where the artist put himself into famous works and added other modern elements to those works as well.

Today was filled with great food, people, art and animals. Could it have gotten any better?

# of Dogs seen today: 21 (One was named Gluk and I don’t think any other name would have fit this dog any better.)

 

Day 3 – Uffizi and Academia Galleries

Day three of Florence started with a walk to the Uffizi Gallery where we got to see countless statues, David and Goliath by Caravaggio, and The Birth of Venus. They were all incredible works that I never imagined getting to take in in person.

After the Uffizi we go to go up the clock tower. Right when we got to the top the bells started to chime. Hearing the bells while looking out over the roof tops of Florence was incredible. It was a moment that I will never forget. From the top of the tower we could see a perfect view of the Duomo and the Bell Tower.

Next we went to the Academia where we got to see The David. I’ve always seen pictures of David and thought it was a nice statue, however, getting to experience the sheer size of that statue in person was unlike anything I had seen before. I was in awe of just how massive this statue was.

Day three (technically day two) was what I would consider an absolute success.

# of dogs seen today: 31 (I got to pet a few today and it made my day)

David and Goliath

The Birth of Venus

Medusa

On top of the clock tower

David

Florence – Day 2 – Bell Tower/ Duomo and Baptistery

Day two of Florence was the day that the group really started to get our bearings on the city. We started off our day by climbing up the bell tower, all 380+ steps. Those stairs were all worth it however, because the view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. We could see every rust orange colored roof for miles and miles. We had a beautiful view of the Duomo from the top of the Bell Tower as well and it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It didn’t seem like I was REALLY in Italy until the moment that I got to look out over the entire city.

Next we made our way to the Baptistery. Let me tell you, getting to be one of the first people to enter the Baptistery that day was quite the experience. It was incredibly quiet when we first walked in since it wasn’t too crowded and that made for the perfect setting to really appreciate the art and history that surrounded us. I remember walking in and just being in absolute awe of the ceiling above me. I didn’t even realize it was mosaic until I was told later and THAT is unbelievable to me. The imagery was so detailed and the shapes were entirely organic that a mosaic seems completely impossible! I still can’t believe it, honestly.

Florence has my heart and quite frankly, I don’t think I want it back.

# of dogs seen today: 36

Low key lookin’ like Jesus

Climbed all the way up this bad boy.

Baptistery ceiling

View of the Duomo from the top of the bell tower.