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.
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Day 5 — Land of Wines
Today we traveled to the Chianti region of Tuscany, where we started our day exploring the little town of Greve! It was so nice to see how the locals live and buy their everyday necessities at the market held on the weekends. We captured a look from above the beautiful little city and headed on to the town of Panzano where we had an amazing lunch with a view. The beauty of the scenery didn’t even seem real and looks straight out of a postcard. It was absolutely breathtaking. Lunch consisted of a meat platter, followed by pasta bolognese, and panda cotta for dessert that was to die for.
We hopped back on the bus and took a small stop in Castellina in Chianti where we found a cute little artisan store that I bought some gifts at and took a look at the city center, where our tour guide explained that this city is right in the middle between Florence to the North, and Siena to the South.
That’s when we headed to the vineyard of Gagliole, a little gem in the Tuscan region. We were explained the delicate process that the grapes go through in order to become the delicious wine in the end. I have never been to a vineyard so seeing all the equipment and place that this special wine is made in was very incredible. We got to taste a few of the wines, and we all ended up leaving with wines for home, true Italian style.
Today was more relaxed and not rushed like the others which made the day feel more like a vacation. It was so nice to have gotten to meet such lovely people through the day and learn more about the Tuscan region through locals.
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.
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.
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.
Florence – Day 3
It took us about an hour to pick an outfit for this day. The Bobuli gardens were the perfect destination for this sunny day. Walking in, they were a lot bigger than I’ve imagined. There were so many different sculptures all around and the fresh smell after a rainy night was a great bonus.
Sitting down with Regina for a quick botanical drawing tutorial was almost meditational. It felt like time stood still and it was just the nature and my sketchbook. I never focused on botanical themes in my work, or had any experiance in botanical art, but those few sketches were able to make me stop and appriciate the simplest thing for a few moments, I almost forgot I was in Italy. Still can’t believe I’m here.
Florence – Day 2
After spending a great night with the rest of our group, it was time to see some of the most amazing masterpieces created by men at the Ufizzi gallery. We were finally feeling a bit more comfortable walking around the streets of Florence and it felt great!
I still can’t believe we saw some of those paintings in person. They were so beautiful and impressive. But the peak was actually located at the Academy. David. No words can describe his sculpture. I’m not sure how long we were looking at it, but I just couldnt wrap my head around how incredible it was.
The days go by too fast and there’s so much more to see !
Florence – Day 1
After a long day of travel, I couldn’t be more excited to start our city adventures. Jet lagged and excited we made our way to the duomo. It was still hard to believe we were actually in the art capital of the world. We were walking a bit fast and the number of streets seemed overwhalming. Is 10 days really enough to experiance this amazing city?
After a long climb to the bell tower, and a couple short stops we made it to the top. The view was absolutly breathtaking, and Florance almost seemed to be golden from up there.
There was art EVERYWHERE ! Even on the road sign. Inspiration on every corner and every alley. We even got to visit a cute local art store before we took off on our own adventures at the Costume museum on the other side of town.
p.s – pizza and gellato were AMAZING!
Day 4 — Venice
Today we explored Venice!!! We set off on our journey leaving Florence at 7:45 taking quite a fancy train. When we arrived in Venice we decided to adventure and make our way to San Marco while exploring the local shops and markets. We found a cute art store that had awesome colorful illustrated prints made by a lovely artist.
And of course, we went on a gondola ride that was incredible! It’s something you always see in movies and I never thought I would be in this position. The city of Venice is absolutely beautiful, even though trying to navigate from one side of the city to the next is quite a task. There were so many cool poster designs around the city, and it was so interesting to see how different designs and ideas differ throughout cities in Italy.
After a total of walking almost 11 miles, I would call it an awesome day.
Florence Day 2
Today we went to the Uffizi Gallery and saw soooo many famous art works. It was interesting to see them in person after having Art History 2 and learning the little details about each work. The Venus and Primavera by Botticelli are HUGE in person!! After the Uffizi, we grabbed lunch at Zaza- which was so so so good. Highly recommend. I’m convinced Italy has the best food on the planet and it’s only the second day. After lunch we went to go see the Statue of David- he is draw dropping in person, I can’t even explain it in words. Love love loved it. Currently, I am back at the hotel getting ready for free time and more adventuring
Florence Day 1
Today we went to the top of the Duomo and had an amazing view overlooking the whole city of Florence. After taking a million pictures some of us went to the Baptistry and others went to Zecchi (which is the oldest art store in Florence). I bought an amazing watercolor set that I plan to use later in the week at Boboli Gardens. For lunch, we went to Eataly and had pizza, pasta, and wine. Before going back to the hotel, we got free time and decided to go to a costume museum!! All in all -a great first day exploring.