Category Archives: Italy

Muckabout in Florence: Friday

I’ve joined up with my cpSquare online friends at this little place in the middle of Florence. It is fantastic.

Here is the agande and questions . . .


Here is the view from our meeting-rooftop.


Mark . . .


Who needs to visit the Duoma dome . . .



We basically talked until 11.00pm before someone announced Jet lag. Covered a lot of things, set up topics for Friday . .

Uli, Patricia, Beverly, Mark, Sean, John and I. Etienne arriving tonight, and Andy tomorrow.

Monticatini Terne, before Florence

No Pictures at the moment. I have a problem with the images, and they appear in microscopic form other than full size. I think I know what the problem is – it’s a small java (a special web program) matter, but the language barrier is too great in the internet café type places. I cannot fix it myself because everything is in Italian. This is an enigma to me: here we are in the middle of tourist heaven, it is a few clicks to change the language yet no-one provides this option, and the service is poor – and I’ve been in lots of places, some I don’t even get past the first sentence and decide they are too slack. And I sometimes think they don’t care.

We tried to buy water off a street seller last week. There was no other buyers around, and he literally ignored Phillipa and I. We went to the next seller who obliged us.

Lost my cell phone yesterday on the bus. Boy, do I feel naked. Especially since I head off by myself into Florence today for 36 hours to spend some time with some of my online buddies. 11 of us, in a small villa claiming 360 degree views. This place is 4 blocks from this evenings’ concert, and about 15 blocks from our bus drop off point. Which is quite amazing really considering the two itineraries had nothing to do with each other.

And speaking of buses, we pay €260 $NZ520 a day per bus tax to have us dropped off in Florence, and the buses cannot even stay there. They keep saying this is the off season. Scores of hotels at Jesolo were shut for the winter on 1 October.

Motecatini Terne (51 km outside Florence) is amazing, like a quiet fairy town. 220 hotels and 14,000 beds, so the brochures say. Huge health spa, Pinocchio’s birthplace, gondola up to a hill top ancient village, lovely markets, little traffic. We got here early enough so as to rest up and chill before two busy days in Florence. The place rang with music for a while yesterday as sectional practices took place with the choir. I continue to be amazed at the professionalism of the choir members in tacking the tricky bits on their own, and keeping up.

I spent a very enjoyable 2 hours wandering around. Saw some nice modern art for sale if I had had a spare €860

The water is a bit murky here, the first place like this.

The food was great last night – 4 courses. :-) We still are struggling with the sweet breakfasts. Oh for some Molenburg and Vegemite. I was surprised to see people stop off and buy the same sweet croissants that almost none of us will bother with eating at breakfast.

Seen my first English TV yesterday. CNN. The Italian soaps here are the same as everywhere else in the world, but Homer Simpson in Italian doesn’t quite cut it. Dragon Ball Z is still much the same. Some great ads. There is an Italian Infomercial Phrase which I think means “But wait, there’s more”.

Everyone is sort of well, some bad insect bites, and stuff but we are OK. I’m on Codral Cold, Tony is on Berocca, Yvonne is on juice. Some home sickness. Pilgimages are a mixed blessing in that respect.

Phillipa, Marie and Rosemary make a good team, and we are generally pretty organized. We could not have survived without Tony.

Added bit: FRIDAY

PICTURES WORKING. Leaving Jesolo . . .



Our irrepressible receptionist . . .


A last coffee . . .



Purchase . . see the shoes.


Bus provided two kinds of drinks . . .


Bus conversations . . .


he beach . . . desserted.


Arrival at Motecaterni. Organised chaos.



You can’t take some people anywhere – on the Borgalase Museum.


Tourists carry books on the local environs.


Tourists travel 23 hours to Rome then Venice then buy stuffed Rabbits.


I think these guys do this in Christchurch as well.


Borgalase again . . .


Tourists carry shopping bags everywhere.


Tourists ride in funny bikes.


They sometimes need a courier/guide.


Tourists buy stuff.


LIKE THIS cool sweatshirt


Tourists pose for photos all over the place.


Sometimes they drape themselves all over the footpath looking tired.


Actually, it’s pretty hard work being a tourist. Why is it we cannot head for the pier, or the gondola back home and have a genuine holiday in our own backyard?

  1. We are too stressed.
  2. We don’t have a collosseum there.
  3. We take the things in Christchurch for granted.ù
  4. ??

But really we are pilgrims in this once-in-a-lifetime trip of ours. Puts a whole different light on things.

Who’s Blog is this?

Some one asked me why I didn’t sign my name on these posts. That’s because this is my blog, and it’s always me who writes. Except the comments, that can be anyone. Any day now someone may discover this blog and start spamming it with ads for things we don’t want, but we are safe until then.

And Dave, yes it is me. :-)

And another question, why another blog? I did this mainly for my Mother who is travelling somewhere in Europe and while she has e-mail, it’s not easily accessed via the net, and this way she can check in and see how we are going . . etc. And there are a few other miscellaneous friends also checking in. But after Italy is over, this will revert to more mundane life in Christchurch. I actually like blogging.

I was interested to see a book on Blogging in Italian.


I guess everyone should have their “How to start a blog” post. I will do this sometime. There are lots of blogs on cats, food (cheese sandwiches in particular) and on blogging itself. Just to keep with this trend, here are some snaps of some recent Italian snacks we have had.

This is some coffee, as good as Mark makes.


And the icecream at Macdonalds. Not as good as Macdonald’s in NZ.


And the pizza I hope Mark can learn to make . .


A final post from Venice

I’ll be gone for a few days now I think. We are off to near Florence tomorrow, and I’m joining Etienne, John Smith and some other buddies on Thursday in a little villa in Florence for a Muckabout, talking over some things of importance to us – managing our shared memories in communities. Not many others are interested in this, but hey, we all are different.

Many thanks to you folk back home for holding the fort.


Are the catacombs a church?

First Night, mass, San Liborio. I’ve written about this building elsewhere . . .


Vatican: Sistine Chapel. No cameras unfortunately. Grabbed this from a bookshop poster. Can’t talk, eat or take photos in the chapel itself.


Pantheon. Crowds!!!!!!!!!!!



Sopre Minervra. Impromtu sing.



St Ignatius.


St Peters Crypt. Personal tour with Father Charles. No-one else around.


St Peters. One of the highlights for me.



Another shot of the St Peters mass.


Outside, beforehand:


St Francis of Assisi church. One up and down. I suddenly decided I had had enough of photos in these sacred places.

Concert @ San Polo Chiesa. See elsewhere . . .

Salute Church. In the round. Outside.


My second all time favourite painting was here . . .


Frari church. Missed this performance. Was too late leaving Salute to even get a ferry, didn’t realise the others were not walking . . . I’ll add a photo when I get one off another camera.

San Marco Basilica. Evening mass. The first time I have had the offering collected by security guards. (What were those bulges under their arms?)


This was the first service with NO English, even when they introduced the choir. I recognized one repeated word – nostra – I think the priest spoke on family, if my memory of gangster movies is correct. A remarkable service. I felt the presence of God quite unexpectedly and quite strongly in the middle of incense, incomprehensible words, security and lots of strangers.


And the final item was just superb. Just one second after I snapped a pic of the roof they flicked the lights out, and like the old days of St C’s, we had to finish and go.

This is the inner courtyard of San Marco, Venice.

itch16stmarkoscourtyard.jpgUsually not where the public go. Tony and I had 15 minutes of pure peace and quiet while the choir got ready. Lovely.

Last minute preparation for the mass: itch16stmarkos.jpg

Probably, with the nice relaxed morning touring the islands, this was the best day so far. Planning a tour itinerary is an art. Yvonne and Nick had a lot to do with this, and it isthey did a good job.

Day in Venice

Catching the ferry . . different one each time.





Gondlas. Some of these are pretty flash.




St Marks Basilica. Just when you think you have seen every different type of church architecture. This is Byzantine influenced. Lovely Orthodox influence in the ceiling frescitv06stmarks.jpg

Even here there is kitch.



Pigeons are everywhere.


Salute Church


Lissy . .


Abstract art that I liked. Lots of Euros to buy.


Venice Floods in autumn and Winter. 😐 They walk on these.


Back to San Marco. This was huge.


Inside the church . .


Organising takes a bit of time . . . Between them, Marie, Rosemary and Phillipa have done well. We have lost nobody. In fact it’s more than that. The girls have developed quickly some native cunning, sense of direction and reliability. In everything, except perhaps shopping. :-)


Ahh. Can’t afford a Gucchi? Buy a similar one here. Margaret bargaining.


Jews ghetto.






You could see this clown anywhere in the world now.


And this . . the ever present graffitti


This is supposed to have a sunset behind . . .


Well, that’s some of my Venice. The IT Telcom roadshow closed the day before I got here, a show on things futuristic and Italian. There is too much culture here for me to cope with, and not enough on the engineering marvel that Venice is – there is a market for a decent museum of this. They are spending billions on sorting the sinking city problem, but there was nowhere to go to find out about it. :-) I will never forget this little visit.


This is a famous collection of modern art. (ie this and last century). It was one of the high points of my visit to Venice. After seeing the Picasso exhibition recently, modern art is something I really enjoy.

First up, the motto:


This is “The Sentinal”. I put this in 1) because I was allowed to photgraph in the courtyard, and 2) to show some art is a matter of taste. I did not really appreciate this. :-)


20 seconds after this was taken one of these girls (I won’t say who) tripped and ended up on the ground draped into the hole in this glass sculpture, making a LOT of noise and scaring us all. Glad it was bullet proof glass.


A quiet garden photo. Not. I notice Fine has no ‘off’ switch no quiet mode and an interminable energy supply. How wonderful.


Wave a digital camera in the direction of some people and you get interesting snaps. Again, in an expensive and famous piece of art.


Another pic of the group . . . chilling in the garden.


Peggy G was a wealthy American who came here in ’59 and passed away in 1979. She bought all her art here, and believed it was not for personal pleasure, but for the benefit of the artist, to further the causes of good art and for inspiration. I learned two new words: futurism and abstractionism. My favourite was painted in 1913. Amazingly contemprary looking.