Archive | April, 2014

Florence with our family :: Uffizi Museum, Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, and Duomo Climb


(See Part I and Part II of our Florence trip.)

Days 4 and 5 in Florence were laid back; we had no schedule other than visiting the famous Uffizi Gallery of art on Tuesday morning. We hit a lot of highlights of Florence in these two days, but we mixed it up with plenty of napping, talking, and gelato. Definitely my favorite way to see a European city!

The young people (Elliott, Jess, Em, and I) also went out for dinner one night to a little enoteca around the corner from our apartment. We had an amazing time talking and trying various wines; photos from that evening are here and here.


the Palazzo Vecchio as seen from the Uffizi

For our Uffizi Gallery tour, Elliott and I took Lena (free admission) and left Gil at home to nap with my parents. (Apparently the nap lasted only 5 minutes after we left, so thank you, Mom and Dad!) We used the notes in our amazing guidebook to do our own self-guided walking tour, which was a great way to capitalize on the main attractions of the museum.

Seeing The Birth of Venus and La Primavera by Boticelli were the highlights for me, but the museum has the best collection of Italian Renaissance artwork in the world, so there’s a lot more to enjoy. Definitely a must-see if you visit Florence!


Looking out the window of the Uffizi at the Ponte Vecchio.

After we finished in the museum, we met up with our family for a quick self-guided tour of the Sante Croce Cathedral. Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Dante are a few of the famous men who are entombed in the cathedral. The grounds outside were equally magnificent!

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Isn’t my sister gorgeous?! “So pret-ty, like mod-del…”


A break to enjoy some spring blooms outside the grocery store.



We also visited the Pitti Palace, which is huge and magnificent, but is surpassed by the stunning Boboli Gardens behind it. We could have spent hours in those beautifully manicured spaces with the dazzling views of Florence and the Tuscan countryside!

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Amazing view of the Duomo Cathedral and the Palazzo Vecchio behind us.


Touring is so much fun!


Lena is in her happy place. Well, this or a bowl of cookie dough.

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Our favorite part was the vista at the very back of the Boboli Gardens.


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On the left, Lena is demonstrating her dance moves to Auntie Jess.


Ready to climb Brunelleschi’s dome!

While the kids were napping that afternoon, everyone but my noble dad (thanks again, Pai!) climbed to the top of the dome of the Duomo, the main cathedral of Florence. I read a book about the construction of the dome before we came to Florence, so I was especially excited to see the interior and the view from the lantern.


Brunelleschi’s dome is actually two domes — one inside the other — and we climbed between the two to get to the top.


463 steps later…


… it was so worth the climb!




Peace out!

If all goes well, I’ll be back tomorrow with more photos… but tomorrow is also LENA’S THIRD BIRTHDAY, so no guarantees! She has requested a “raspberry cake,” and now this mama must turn that dream into reality. It’s more of a challenge than it sounds, because in my 2.5 years in Sicily I have not seen one fresh raspberry…!

0 :: in family, Florence, Italy, travel

a day in Siena, Italy


OK, I am overcoming my intimidation of the 900 photos I took in Florence (!!!), and so this week I’m planning to share the best photos from each day. I hope you enjoy this trip “back” to northern Italy with me!


We stayed in Florence for 7 days, and our home base was this gorgeous apartment right on the River Arno. On our first two days in Florence, we explored on foot and took a rather enervating 3-hour walking tour. (Photos of our apartment and first two days’ adventures can be found here.)


On Monday we took the bus to Siena, a town about 1.5 hours away from Florence. It was a chilly, blustery day, but we enjoyed walking around the town, especially the main Piazza del Campo.




Lots of walking and chasing in Piazza del Campo!


We even managed a semi-successful family photo! Pro tip: tickle your children while taking photos. Guaranteed to make all of you laugh!


After Piazza del Campo, we visited the stunning Siena Cathedral. I loved the bold black-and-white stripes and striking blue tiles used throughout!



Looking up into the dome


St. Peter by Michelangelo


This room might have been my favorite spot in all our travels that week: the library inside the Siena Cathedral. The colors were dazzling. The photo above is of the murals around the walls; the photo below is a picture of the tiled floor. My sister and I found a corner and sat still to admire it for a long time.

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Auntie Jess may or may not have attempted to French braid Gil’s hair… So glad we finally cut it!


After our chilly touring, I scoured our awesome guidebook in search of a cozy trattoria (family-style restaurant) for lunch. We found the perfect spot! Trattoria La Torre served up amazing homemade pasta, house wine, bread, olive oil, and cheese.


We were so hungry and so cold, and the food was so good, and the company was so wonderful, that it goes down in my books as one of the best meals I’ve ever had.


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Jess snapped this photo as we were leaving the restaurant: Lena throwing a temper tantrum and me doing what I do a lot of the day! So there’s a touch of everyday life and reality to finish off this tour of Siena. Don’t want all my tickle-fest photos to fool you!

What is the best meal you’ve ever had? And why?

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12 :: in family, Florence, Italy, travel

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