Being a tourist in Aquileia – 3/30/17

We stop at the information spot and rent headphones and a map which will take us all around Aquileia supplying us with endless facts about ancient and paleo-Christian times. Our first stop is at the Paleo-Christian Museum.

Here are a few facts about this museum. They are only open on Thursday mornings, they have very few visitors and hardly any Italians we are told, the museum is not on the audio tour, and there are no signs in English. There is, however, a sweet lady who is willing to talk your ear off in slow Italian. Sarah says she has taken a student course (Rosetta Stone) in Italian so we get a LOT of Italian commentary. Sarah does a great job but the Rosetta Stone Italian course does not deal with intricacies of our subject matter. I wander away after a while but John and Sarah keep saying “si” and nodding their heads. I know that at most they are picking out one or two words per sentence. Anyway, it is all interesting in a sort of garbled Italian way and we surely make the docent’s day. She and I even commiserate about our ginocchio (knee). That is one Italian word I know!

Ruins of 11th century monastery built over 4th century monastery, built over Roman building

Mosaic of a phoenix

Floor near presbyteria

Poignant grave marker of a father to his son – poor people could not afford professional carvers so they made the markers with pictures drawn by themselves

Finally we disattach from the docent and go over to the Patriarchal Basilica. It is built on a Roman house in the 4th century AD and rebuilt after Attila’s invasion in 452. Then rebuilt again after a series of earthquakes and consecrated in 1031. Some of it was rebuilt again in the late 1300’s after another earthquake.

Patriarchal Basilica with later bell tower.

Interior of Basilica with its vast mosaic floor.

We are no longer allowed to take pictures but I have some from a while ago and ancient things tend to stay the same.

Along with the mosaic floor there are some other great things to see…

12th century bas-relief of Christ between St. Peter and Thomas of Canterbury

Crypt below church showing the patron saints Ermagora and Fortunato being beheaded and buried

All these ruins have made us hungry so we stop in at L’aquileia Nera, a nearby cafe. We start with a big salad and then have various local dishes.

After lunch Sarah goes exploring on her own while we relax. We meet up again at 3:30 to explore the Archeological Museum. The audio tour does a poor job explaining the collection and one floor is closed so we do the best we can with the Italian and spend some time in their vast gardens of Roman ruins.

Beautiful decoration from a Roman house.

Stone cinerary containers chiseled to look like baskets

Roman hipster

Unfortunately much of the collection is like this (cinerary lids)…

or worse just a jumble like this.

Dinner tonight is at Al forno. It is not as good as we remember.

 

 

 

 

Morning in Portogruaro and afternoon in Aquileia – 3/29/17

This morning instead of hurrying out of Portogruaro we take advantage of our 11AM checkout and have a look around. Our first stop is at St. Andrew’s Mill in a pretty park known for its nutria. Nutrias are horrible looking rat things with orange teeth that swim. It is hard to understand why they would have statues of it.

St. Andrew’s Mill

Mill Park with statue of nutria

Nutria or water rat

After enjoying the water rat we move on to the fish market. Much of the day’s offering looks like Sarah’s lunch yesterday.

Mantis shrimp and cuttlefish at the market

We also view the leaning tower of Portogruaro.

Leaning tower next to St. Andrew’s church

After this we head to the Museo Archeologico. The ticket that we bought in Concordia Sagittaria also gets us in here. We are immediately greeted by a 14th century Madonna and Child.

14th century Madonna and child

There are many interesting Roman fragments and also a small piece of pornography.

Mayoral guards

Man enjoying himself in 1st century B.C.

Now we travel to Aquileia, a town that once had 100,000 in habitants and was the fourth largest city in Romana Italia and the ninth largest in the entire Roman Empire. We arrive around 1 PM and pull into the Information station where we get lots of maps, recommendations of eateries and hotels, and information about the sights to see. We decide to have lunch at a nearby restaurant where we order way too much pizza. For 4E we figure that the pizza will be small but no, it is quite large. There are four pages of pizza types including one called Pizza Americana. It has French fries on top.

Sarah has the special pizza Aquileia (sausage and onions)

John has pizza diavolo (pepperoni)

Mary has pizza Margherita (missing basil)

Although we have ordered three giant pizzas we notice the people around us are eating way more. No wonder they need a siesta after lunch.

And speaking of siestas that is what we do next. We check into the very nice Casa Del Neri and have a little lie down until 4PM before heading out to the Basilica. (I will write more about the Basilica tomorrow when we go through it again doing a thorough job with the audio tour that we were too late to rent through the Information station.

We are much too full from our enormous lunch for dinner so we just meet on the patio and have a glass of wine and meet the hotel’s orange cat who takes a liking to Sarah much to her delight.

Sarah and the orange cat

Little churches in the Veneto countryside – 3/28/17

Our departure from Venice goes very smoothly. The water taxi arrives right on time, no one falls in the water getting into or out of the boat, and it cost less than the trip out from the train station. So win, win, win.

We get our car with no problems. It is an Opel Insignia diesel with an automatic transmission! Ever since we had the problem with John getting sick while on the road in Spain, we have been suggesting it might be a good idea if we got a car that all three of us could drive in a pinch. So, yay!

Our first stop is the Abbaye Santa Maria Maggiore in Summaga. It is a little 11th century church out in the countrside. Although many of its frescoes are damaged, they are still pretty charming.

Apse of Santa Maria Maggiore

Fresco of St. Florin with his attributes of a pail of water and a burning building. It is unclear why there is a cow.

Next we head to Concordia Sagittaria, an old Roman town. First stop is the Cathedral of St. Stephen. The church has been pretty much renovated but holds a few frescoes and Roman pieces.

Old Roman fountain used as a holy water basin in the Church of St. Stephen

Next to St. Stephen is the footprint and remains of the original basilica from the 300’s. Through a door in the museum you can access the old basilica. There are tessellated floors and the site of the old apse with a trichorum where the bones of ancient martyrs killed by Diocletian were buried.

Old basilica

 

Ruins of ancient basilica

Trichorum

There is also an old Baptistry with the remains of its frescoes.

Inside of 13th century Baptistry

St. George on his horse

We are close to the Adriatic Sea and think it might be fun to have lunch at a seafood restaurant near the water. The beach town of Caorle is still pretty quiet in March but the sun is shining and it is close to 70 degrees out.

Adriatic Sea at Caorle

Along the main drag we find the seafood restaurant, Antica Patronia, and settle in for lunch. (I must put in full size pictures of this picturesque lunch.)

Mary’s scallops

John’s shrimp in saor (pickled)

Sarah’s seafood crude (raw)

Sarah and I both have fried seafood hers was mixed and mine was all calamari

John’s sautéed baby octopus

Finally we stop at the Benedictine Abbey Santa Maria in Silvis. It is oldish (15th century) and has some frescoes. Against the rules I take some pictures and get yelled at. It is a stupid rule and I intend to keep breaking it. There is a massive fresco of the Final Judgment and the people who get to Heaven on one wall and a fresco of hell on the other.  The hell fresco is very damaged but heaven is still in good shape.

 

Heaven

Folks who make it into heaven

From here we head to our stop for the night, Portogruaro. Everyone is tired and not interested in dinner. I had the least odd lunch but I am the one who ends up getting sick.

Last day in Venice – 3/27/17

Here it is our last day in Venice. We need to finish up the churches on our Chorus Pass. I am planning on being with the team until after lunch and then I’ll stay in the apartment for the afternoon and finish up my posts.

A word first about Venice. It is beautiful and quaint but I cannot imagine living here and having to put up with the inefficiency of having to get everywhere by water or on foot. Even the garbage collectors have to come by boat. There is a main garbage boat and then some collectors get off and have hand carts. Then they go door to door ringing doorbells and collecting the garbage and the recycle. They do this six days a week.

There is a water garage for the fire department and the police where if you call for them I guess they get there eventually. All the traffic moves really slowly because of not being able to make wakes.

Saw this garbage boat idling as we crossed the bridge to San Pantalon

Our first stop today is at San Pantalon where we have been looking forward to going the whole time we have been here to see the Vivarini “Coronation with Saints”. And when I say with Saints I mean every saint in existence at the time standing around with their attribute. Sarah and I are going to spend some quality time identifying everyone. We rush into the little chapel and uh oh no painting. We ask the docent where is the picture and find out it is in a special exhibition at the Accademia. We skipped the special exhibition when we were there last week. We cannot go today because it is Monday and museums are closed on Mondays. Sigh.

There’s a nice crucifix though. The docent does not know when it is from or who painted it. He shrugs and says maybe 14th century?

Maybe 14th century crucifix by somebody

Next church on our list San Giacomo dell’Orio. We have visions of Saint James surrounded by cookies but John tells us that orio means marsh. Right off the bat Sarah is naughty and touches a baptismal font from the early thirteenth century. I think this is because on our last trip I touched a carved stone from the 9th century. Roman ruins do not count in this competition.

Baptismal font from 13th century

Other works we enjoy in San Giacomo dell Orio –

Saints Lawrence, Sebastian, and Roche by Giovanni Buonconsiglio, 1500

Crucifix by Paolo Veneziano 1350

The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Palma Il Giovane, 1581

Our next stop is at St. Stae. I guess I didn’t take any pictures here. But John likes one that is a martyrdom of St. Bartholomew by Tiepolo, 1722.

Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, Tiepolo, 1722 (Thanks, internet!)

We also stop at San Giovanni Elemosinario before lunch but I am dragging and losing interest.

Lunch time! We have pizza at Pizzeria San Aponal. It’s pizza. It’s good but not great.

Pizza Diavola and beer!

It is mid-afternoon by the time we are done and we are eight bridges away from the apartment. I decide to tackle the eight bridges and then collapse for the rest of the afternoon (except for writing blogs) while John and Sarah continue on to see three more churches. I have asked John to write about them next.

John writes –

Later in the afternoon Sarah and I visit three more churches across the Accademia Bridge in San Marco.  First we visit San Vidal, mostly used as a concert venue.  There are displays of old string instruments and a 1514 altarpiece by Carpaccio showing San Vitale and 8 other saints.

In San Stefano we see several works by Tintoretto including another action-packed Last Supper, and a St. Lawrence and a St. Nicholas of Bari by Bartolemeo Vivarini.  There are also very interesting bronze side doors that turn out to be from 1991.

Finally we visit Santo Maria del Giglio.  In addition to the only Rubens work still in Venice, the Madonna, Child and Young St. John the Baptist (looking every bit like a 17th century Dutch mom and two kids), we also see a 1470 relief by Nicolo di Giovanni of St. Jerome in the Cave, complete with lion.  By chance Sarah notices that behind the altar are works by Tintoretto: 2 paintings each with two evangelists.

We head back over the bridge to rest up for dinner at Ai Artisti.

Since today is Monday, the fish market is closed.  Ai Artisti serves a meat menu instead.  If they cannot get absolutely fresh fish, they do not serve fish.  We respect their commitment and integrity.

Our wine is a 2013 Valent Hombra Sporca Rossi made from Carmenere grapes from Pramaggiore in the Veneto.

Mary and Sarah start with beef tartare with tempura asparagus, fricco and mustard mayonnaise foam.  Then they have bigoli pasta with a sausage ragu.  I start with a pea soup with a whole coddled breaded egg, fresh peas and anchovies.  Then I try the fried sweetbreads (“animelle”) on a bed of interesting lettuces, some passion fruit, and green sauce.

Every dish is a hit.  Mary and I finish the wonderful meal with glasses of golden grappa.  Maybe since we have been recognized as repeat customers, the grappa is comp’ed!   Everyone says grazie and arrividerci and then we head back.  Bonus: NO BRIDGES!

 

 

St. Mark’s Basilica – 3/26/17

This morning is a quiet time for Ma and Pa. Sarah has scooted off to the Rialto Bridge to find some gifts for her friends but John and I are content to stay at the apartment fighting with the internet and sipping tea.

In the afternoon St. Mark’s Basilica is open and lighted for viewing and we make our way over to stand in line with lots of other tourists. I remember in the past we’ve gone in and enjoyed a leisurely look around. Not so this time. We are herded like art-struck cattle through the basilica. The guidebook says that the average length of a visit is 10 minutes which is enough time to see basically nothing. We are also not allowed to take pictures which is sad because the mosaics are lovely and certainly are not harmed by non-flash photography. I manage a few shots before I am caught and yelled at.

St. Mark’s is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city’s churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge’s Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city’s cathedral since 1807. Wikipedia

Basilica San Marco

The interior of St. Mark’s is resplendent with mosaics. There are many scenes and people from both the Old and New Testament set against a golden background. Even though some lights are on, it is still difficult to make out many of them.  Plus we are not given much time to look at anything before we are carried on by the surge of the crowd.

Some pictures from the interior –

Overview of interior of St. Mark’s

Tiled floor

Mosaics

Golden Altar

Detail of Golden Altar, King Solomon

Mosaic of Christ enthroned

When we depart the church the sky is looking threatening. Sarah decides to walk back and John and will take the vaporetto. After making this decision it starts to rain and we and hundreds of other people also decide to take the vaporetto. It is very crowded and we have to wait a while to get onto one since they are too full. Luckily we have made it to an enclosed portion of the stop. Once we get to our station Sarah is waiting for us with an umbrella. What a sweet daughter!

View towards St. Mark’s Square from the vaporetto

Tonight’s dinner is at the Osteria San Barnaba. We have salads and pasta and finish up with biscotti and zibibbo, a dessert wine.

Tomorrow we will complete visiting the Chorus Churches and I will finish up our tale of Venice from a new hotel with better wifi, I hope.

Venice Hurts – 3/25/17 Part Two

Continuation of blog entry for 3/25/17  The internet is working somewhat better today.

We stop for lunch at Ristobar San Polo right across the piazza from San Polo, our next church to visit. Again the bathroom is unusable for the ladies. This one worse than the last. It is a good thing that women have incredible control. The ristobar is a modest eatery and John and Sarah go with the daily special which is bigoli with anchovies. I pass that up for my old standby, spaghetti con vongole. Lunch is okay.

John and Sarah choose bigoli with anchovies

Spaghetti con vongole

We head into the Church of San Polo where the big attraction is Tintoretto’s Last Supper. It’s a busy scene with the table set at an angle, a hallmark of Tintoretto’s Last Suppers.

Tintoretto’s Last Supper at San Polo

I am aching and dragging at this point and basically sit quietly and contemplate the beautiful Madonna and Child at the next church, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.

Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child with Saints, 1488

I hand off the camera to John who takes the rest of the pictures in the Frari.

Madonna with Christ child, St. Frances and St. Elizabeth also the Doge and Dogess as donors 1339

Madonna Enthroned with Child, Bartolommeo Vivarini, 1482

The Assumption by Titian, 1518

St. Mark and Saints by Bartolomeo Vivarini, 1474

This is all the sightseeing I can do today. So John and I head back to the apartment getting lost along the way. Venice is such a warren of little streets some of which go somewhere and some of which end in dead ends.

We spend the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and resting. We opt for a simple dinner of takeout slices of pizza.

Venice hurts – 3/25/17 Part One

NOTE: I have been working on this post for more than four hours. I am hampered by an incredibly slow and off again on again internet. Before I turn into a crazy person, I am going to stop this post before we have even gotten to lunch and hopefully return to it tomorrow when the wifi might be more responsive.)

For me, ascending and descending stairs has been difficult due to an injured knee. Walking is fine but stairs are bad. My friend and trainer, Vernon, taught me some techniques for going up stairs which mostly work but going down is hard. So John holds on to me as I creep down the stairs amidst tourists and Venetians who need to be some place in a hurry and go much faster than I. It’s humiliating and exhausting.

That being said, we are out early this morning to see churches where much of the art in Venice lives full time. A Chorus Pass gets you into about 20 churches where you get an information card (in English!) and the church is generally lighted. Sarah has planned us a long route through most of Venice to see as many as possible.

Our first church is San Stefano. It is open. We go in. There are only janitors here. I have looked on the internet and the information says that all the Chorus Churches open at 9:30. Sarah points out that on our brochure it says they open at 10:30 and the sign in the church says that St. Stefano opens at 10. The church is unlit and it is really hard to see anything. My bad. We are off to a rocky start. Now we have to waste an hour. So we do typical touristy things. We take pictures of each other and canals and look at store windows and go in churches that appear open.

Sarah on bridge overlooking Grand Canal

M & J on bridge overlooking Grand Canal

Gondoliers on a side canal

Our wanderings take us through Piazza San Marco and past the gorgeous Basilica San Marco. St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice. The Venetians stole his bones from Alexandria.  Apparently that was a done thing in days of yore. Anyway, this is the first time we have ever seen the Basilica without scaffolding on the front. Yay! We plan to see the basilica tomorrow when the interior is lighted for two hours.

Basilica San Marco

The Basilica used to be the private place of worship for the doge, the ruler of Venice. His palace connects to it.

The doge’s palace on the right and Basilica San Marco behind

We stop at San Zaccaria since it is open and is supposed to hold some interesting art, we venture in. We are not disappointed. “Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Four Saints over the second altar on the left  is one of his very best. It was painted in 1505 when Bellini was about 74. This was the same year that Albrecht Dürer on a visit to Venice described him as ‘very old and still the best in painting’.” Churches of Venice.co.uk The painting is quite beautiful.

Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child with Saints, 1550, San Zaccaria

For 1.5E we gain entrance to the crypt, a worthwhile investment. Here many doges are entombed and the chapels are festooned with beautiful artwork.

Madonna and Saints by Palma il Vecchio 1512

Polyptych of Saints Jerome, Sabina, and Lizerio by Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d’Alemagna, 1443

Altarpiece, Madonna and Child with Saints, painted in part by Stefano d’Sant Agnese, 1385 and also by Giovanni and Antonio Vivarini, 15th century

After a very enjoyable visit to San Zaccaria we stop for cappuccini in a nearby cafe. Unfortunately it has a bathroom unfriendly to American women. After our little sit-down we follow our tour guide, Sarah, down narrow alleys and quiet canals to the Church of Santa Maria Formosa.

Quiet canal

“Tradition has it that the Virgin Mary appeared to San Magno, Bishop of Oderzo, in the form of a buxom (formosa in Italian) woman and told him to build her a church under a white cloud. And so this, the first church in Venice dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built, some time in the 7th Century by the Tribuno family.” Churchesofvenice.co.uk  The current church was built in 1492 on the footprint of the older one. Finally we are in one of the churches that we bought the Chorus Pass for and are rewarded by an information card and a lighted church. Three highlights of what we saw –

Madonna Della Misericordia by Bartolommeo Vivarini, 1473

Last Supper by Leandro Bassano circa 1578

Santa Barbara polyptych by Palma Is Vecchio, 1523

From here we head to Santa Maria dei Miracoli. In 1408 Francesco Amadi commissioned a painting of the BVM and placed it in a tabernacle in front of his house. It became an overnight sensation with the populace praying to the portrait and saying that it had miraculous powers. Contributions came flowing in to build a church for the painting and thus the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli was founded.

It is the only free standing church in Venice. The interior has a few statues and a lot of marble. The main focus is on the painting of the Blessed Virgin.

Interior of Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Miraculous painting

On our way over to the other side of the canal we pass the miracle of the three gondolas picture and the Rialto Bridge.

Wow! Along the way to the Rialto Bridge I catch three gondolas in the same picture!

The iconic Rialto Bridge. It is basically the schlock market of Venice.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulous day from the Accademia to dinner – 3/24/17

There is no complaining about this day. The art is spectacular and the dinner is totally unlike any food we have had before in Venice. But first the art.

The Accademia houses 13th century to some 18th century art. It is not overwhelming big so that by the time you are done you are tired but not spent for the rest of the day. It is a real favorite of ours. Sarah and I make a good team figuring out who is who and when we are stuck, John usually knows the answer.

Some of the art we love from the Accademia….

The Resurrection of Christ in a rocketship mandorla – Paolo Veniziano 1st half 14th century

Judas kissing Christ
Paolo Veneziano, first half 14th c.

Last Supper – Paolo Veniziano, 1st half 14th c.

13th century Madonna and Child

Saints James and Stephen – James has the travelers scallop shells and Stephen has rocks on his head – Lorenzo Veniziano, mid 14th c.

Annunciation – Lorenzo Veniziano, mid 14th c.

Coronation signed by painter in 1375

Signature of painter

Last Supper from Scenes from the life of Christ – school of Venetian painters second half 14th c.

Day of Judgement – Scenes from the Apocalupse,  Jacobello Alberegno, 1397

Whore of Babylon on 7 headed beast – Scenes from the Apocalypse – Jacobello Alberegno, before 1397

Annunciation with Saints, Lorenzo Veniziano, late 14th c. (This is one of our favorites

All this great stuff is just in the first room of the museum. I think we have spent at least an hour in here. Moving on to room two and the rest of the museum, there are still a lot of great paintings but these are less exciting. There’s nothing like art from the period when they were figuring out how to use perspective and give people emotion.

Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child with Saints aka Giobbe Altarpiece, 1487

And here is another great painting by Giovanni Bellini –

Madonna and Child with Saint Catherine and Mary Magdalene

From here we move into the 16th century and Mannerism –

Tintoretto’ Cain and Abel, 1550-53, lots of perspective and twisting bodies

This large painting was supposed to be of the Last Supper but it was too rowdy for such a solemn occasion so it was renamed Banquet at the House of Levi – Paolo Veronese 1573

Including this just because I find it quirky. Dinner at Emmaus by Marco Marziale 1493-1507

There’s still lots more in the museum but it is well after the lunch hour and we are tired and hungry. We walk back to the apartment and John runs out for panini while Sarah and I put our feet up. We take a break until 3 PM and then go to a couple of local churches where we see some Tintoretto masterpieces.

From the church of San Trovaso Tintoretto’s painting of the Last Supper. This painting catches the moment when Jesus tells the apostles that one of them will betray him. In their disbelief and dismay they jump up knocking over their chairs and insisting that it is not one of them.

Tintoretto Last Supper

Around the corner from San Trovaso there is another Tintoretto in the church called Gesuati –

Tintoretto Crucifixion

We are done with sightseeing for today. Tonight we are having dinner at Ai Artisti. It is supposed to be a really good restaurant recommended by critics and our Truly Venice host.

It is even better than advertised, probably the best meal we have ever had in Venice. We’ve booked again for Monday. When our server asked how we liked it we raved about how good everything was and I said it was not typical. He smiled and agreed that yes, in Venice they were unusual. Unusually good!

First courses –


Second courses –

Happy Birthday, Sarah! A Travel Day to Venice – 3/23/17

Over the past few years Sarah has had some excellent birthday adventures. Four years ago we toasted to her health and happiness in Munich, last year we were having a lovely time staying in Montecatini Terme and buying a purse in Lucia, and this year we are traveling between Florence and Venice, two of her favorite places. Happy Birthday, Sarah, and may we share many more adventures.

There is a taxi strike in Florence this morning. The taxi drivers are upset over Uber and its clones. I can only sympathize. Taxi drivers make an investment in getting their medallions and it seems unfair for usurpers to come in as they have. Since we cannot get a taxi to the train station our landlord’s son, Marco, gives us a ride to the station. We get there pretty early for our train and have to kill time. Since there is a limited seating area we end up in the food court where we buy a little something every once in a while to keep our table and seats. Really, who doesn’t love some McDonald’s fries when you are far from home?

This is an early lunch (10:30 AM) of French fries that we shared

The trains in Italy are punctual and comfortable and fast. We leave Florence on a high speed train at 11:30 and are in Venice at 1:35 PM. We are renting another apartment here in Venice. I have arranged with the agency for a water taxi which meets us and takes us to a mooring close to our apartment where a representative of Truly Venice meets us, walks us to the apartment, and explains all the details. It is a flawless experience.

Mom and the birthday girl on the water taxi

Our apartment has an efficiency apartment on the ground floor for Sarah and a one bedroom apartment on the second floor (European first floor). It seems nice and we are excited to see the router in the corner of the dining room. Maybe good wifi!?

Cozy living room in our apartment in Dorsodoro section of Venice

Our little balcony overlooking a garden in the back

John looking at a map in the dining area. Router in the corner behind him.

We decide to take a look around the neighborhood and have a drink overlooking the Giudecca Canal nearby.  As the sun goes down, it’s a little cold.  We don’t hang out too long looking at the view. Venice is probably 5-10 degrees cooler than Florence. At last all the heavy clothes we’ve brought along can be worn!

John and I have a glass of wine and Sarah has an Aperol spritz as we watch the sun go down over the Giudecca Canal.

View of the Giudecca Canal at sunset

We have dinner at Casin dei Nobili. We are looking forward to some seafood and our spaghetti con vongole (clams) fits the bill. We all order it and everyone is pleased.

Spaghetti con vongole

We have discovered that the wifi here is almost as bad as the wifi in Florence. It is in and out and only works if you sit in the dining room very close to the router. We are going to be spending a lot of time in that room!

 

Medici Chapel, San Lorenzo, and Santa Maria Novella – 3/22/17

This morning we are up and out early. Once again being the early birds we manage to miss large crowds. Our purpose this morning is to go to the Medici Chapel, the monument the Medici built as a tomb for themselves, and visit San Lorenzo, the church that the chapel is adjoined to.  It’s a little cooler out this morning and there is a threat of rain in the air.  On our last trip here the day we visited San Lorenzo was the only time it rained and it looks as though we may have a repeat this trip.  (As it turns out the rain holds off until after dinner when we are caught without our umbrellas at, thank goodness, a nearby restaurant.

We rent the audio tour at the Medici Chapel mostly for its humorous aspects. The architectural jargon in it is so obscure that half the time we have no idea what they are talking about. We tried to bone up on our terms last night and learned about architraves and pendentives but nonetheless when they start in on “lizines” we are lost.

We enter first the Chapel of the Princes where the Medicis are entombed. It is a grandiose octagonal space that is lavishly decorated with precious marbles, statues and even was suppose to contain the Holy Sepulchre from Jersusalem which the Medicis tried to buy and then steal to no avail.

Medici tomb

Ornate floor

The chapel itself has several statues carved by Michelangelo. There are stylized figures of Lorenzo Duke of Urbino and his brother, Giuliano Duke of Nemours. Beneath the statue of Lorenzo are figures of Dawn and Dusk and beneath Giuliano are Day and Night, all carved by Michelangelo. Both male figures are done, according to the audio guide, in the unfinished manner, or better known as just never completed.

Dawn

Dusk

Day

Night

After a cup of cappuccino to waste time until the church opens, we head to the church of San Lorenzo. The church, originally consecrated in the 300’s and reconscecrated in 1059 and then redesigned in the 15th century, is mostly whitewashed now with a few existing earlier pieces.

View of interior of San Lorenzo (with Sarah in lower left)

One of the paintings is a 1450 Annunciation by Fillipo Lippi. We learned from the audio guide at the Uffizi that Lippi was a priest who had a scandalous liaison with a nun and their  offspring was named Fillippino Lippi who became another famous painter. The beautiful face of the Madonna is a representation of the nun and the cherubic angels are his son.

Annunciation by Fillipo Lippi, 1450

This painting by Raphael has three saints with their identifying attributes. On the left is St. Stephen who was martyred by stoning. He has a rock on top of his head. In the center St. Lawrence, the patron of saint of San Lorenzo, is shown with the grill on which he was roasted. On the right St. Leonard is shown holding fetters or irons.  He is the patron saint of prisoners. During his life prisoners would invoke his name and be freed.

Saint Lawrence between Saint Stephen and St. Leonard by Raphael

We have enjoyed our morning at the San Lorenzo complex and now decide to go back toward the apartment and eat lunch at the downstairs trattoria Marone and then have a little rest before heading out to Santa Maria Novella, church and museum.

Around 3 PM we are off to Santa Maria Novella, the last stop on our Florence tour. The church, the adjoining cloister, and the museum is full of art treasures and funerary monuments. Especially famous are frescoes by masters of Gothic and early Renaissance.

Works from the interior of the church –

Annunciation, Nero di Bicci, 1455

Trinity by Masaccio, 1424

Crucifix by Giotto 1288-89

Decoration on the tomb of Strozzi, Pieta and Saints, Gaddi, 1375-95

Maggiore Chapel, frescoes of scenes from the life of the Virgin, Ghirlandaio and workshop, 1485-90

Work from the Spanish Chapel –

Christ’s descent into Limbo

Detail of devils looking on in Limbo

King David, Moses, John the Baptist and others in Limbo waiting for resurrection

From the museum –

Cloister frescoes now restored in the museum. Adam and Eve by Orcagna, mid 14th century

We have accomplished much of what we wanted to do while here. We head back to the apartment to pack and have one more slice of pizza in Florence.

On to Venice tomorrow! (And hopefully better internet!)

 

Battling crowds at the Uffizi – 3/21/17

Yesterday we saw a ticket office when we were at Orsanmichele where you could buy tickets for the Uffizi. You have to pay a 4€ service fee but it guarantees you a time slot and you do not have to wait in the gargantuan line to get in. Our tickets were for 9:30 AM. When we got there the regular line was so long that the crowd was cheering every time the guards let in a few people. This is March. I cannot even imagine what it will be like in the summer when there are a lot more people and it is hot!

The line extends back a long way

Anyway we get in right away but it is really crowded and hot Inside. First thing you have to do is climb a massive staircase which is the equivalent of more than 4 stories. Luckily we survive this. Then the battle begins to try and see the artworks. The biggest problem is the tour groups and the school groups. When twenty or so people set up camp in front of a painting there is no way to see around them. You must strategically wait for the split second when one group leaves and rush in to establish position before the next group sets up shop. The kids under 10 are not quite so bad because you can see over their heads and they are generally well behaved (remarkably) but the teens are busy slouching around and more coolly disinterested. The groups of adults are worse. They are busily taking pictures of one another smack in front of the paintings. Since in this situation I am not at my best I actually tell some guy that I got a nice shot of his wife in front of a Botticelli.

Well-behaved Italian kids learning about art (this does not seem like an American class trip)

Thanks lady for standing in front of Botticelli’s Primavera so we could all take your picture

Rant over. The art is wonderful and worth the waits and hassle. You truly get to see the development from the stiff Byzantine cartoon paintings of the early 13th century slowly move by the end of the century to more realistic body forms and perspective thanks to greats like Cimabue, Daddi, and Giotto. In the next 100 years art changes rapidly until you end up with real people in real landscapes.

Giotto’s Madonna and Child (around 1300)

Cimabue’s Madonna and Child (around 1300)

The paintings and frescoes are almost exclusively about religious subjects since that was really the only thing allowed. Occasionally you might see a mythical subject used in an allegorical way to underline a religious precept like a personification of a deadly sin and how you are going to hell.

The purpose of much of the religious art is to educate a populace who is largely illiterate. Going into a church is like stepping into an illustrated comic book of the Bible. Saints and their miracles are like modern day super heroes. Everyone has their favorite whom they are devoted to. Their saintly lives decorate the walls from their births to their often gruesome ends. The people of the times understand every gesture, position, and color. They know the significance of each animal, plant, and object. So what looks like the same old same old Madonna and Child, Crucifixion, or Last Supper is actually imbued with subtle meaning by a hand gesture or a peacock.

St. Cecilia went around baptizing people in the 2nd to 3rd century even after her husband and brother-in-law were executed for doing the same. She was tortured in baths of extreme temperatures by the local prefect but did not die. So an executioner tried three time to hack off her head but it refused to come off so they left her to bleed to death which took three days. In the meantime people came and collected her holy blood and were converted to Christianity.  (Master of St. Cecilia circa 1300)

 

St. Nicholas throws in three bags of gold to provide dowries for three young women who would become prostitutes if they had no dowries (Lorenzetti circa 1330)

St. Matthew exposes magicians accompanied by dragons (Orcagna 1370)

The crowds thin out the deeper we go into the museum. The tours and school groups only view the “greatest hits.” So there are a lot of people surrounding Giotto, the Botticellis, Michelangelo’s one painting, and da Vinci. The Perugino, Caravaggio, and even Raphael works are often bypassed. We enjoy our time at the Uffizi immensely.

Some beautiful works of art we saw –

Gentile da Fabriano “Adoration of the Magi” 1423

Fillipo Lippilippi “Madonna and Child with Angel” 1460?

Botticelli “Birth of Venus” 1485

Michelangelo “Holy Family” (Doni Tondo) 1507

Raphael “Madonna and Child with St. John” (Madonna of the Goldfinch) 1506

Leonardo da Vinci “Annunciation” 1474

Titian “Venus of Urbino” 1538

Caravaggio “Bacchus” 1596

Having been on our feet with a lot of people for over four hours leaves us pretty exhausted, thirsty and hungry. We decide that we will pick up some sandwiches on the way back to our apartments. This way we can put on some comfy clothes, take our shoes off our achy feet, and lounge around while eating lunch.

John and I tell Sarah we are opting out of any late afternoon’s activities and she can make plans on her own. She makes her way over to the Pitti Palace for some more art viewing and we do laundry, read books, do crosswords, and take naps. Hey, it’s a vacation not a total art marathon!

Later we go out to Bussola for pizza! Mmmmm, the crust is so delicious! Reminds me of the Jersey shore pizza of my youth. Here people eat entire pizzas themselves but John and I decide on a salad and to split one. We end with vin santo and cantuccini, small Florentine cookies.

Baptistry, Duomo, Santa Croce, and Orsanmichele – 3/20/17

It is a little overcast this morning as we make our way to the Baptistry in the Piazza del Duomo. The Baptistry consecrated in 1059 predates the cathedral. The building is octagonal signifying the six days of creation, the day of rest, and the rebirth of baptism.

The Baptistry with the Duomo behind

The inside is amazing! The ceiling is filled with mosaics. In the center is Christ with his attendant angels, prophets, and apostles.

Mosaic of Christ

Mosaic of Christ in context

Around the dome are scenes from the Old Testament, Christ’s Passion and Redemption, and other Biblical stories.

View of the ceiling

Story of Adam and Eve

Creation of Eve

There’s also a gruesome mosaic of what is waiting for you if you don’t lead a good life. The devil is munching on people! Imagine what this all must have looked like to the people back then many of which lived hard, colorless lives. These mosaics are amazing to us today!

Last Judgment

After leaving the Baptistry, we head to Orsanmichele a building from 1359 that started as a place to sell grain and morphed into church when miracles were associated with it. The outside is decorated with large statutes of saints by such art luminaries as Donatello. Due to increasing damage from being left out in the elements, the original statues are inside their museum which is only open on Mondays. Yay! It’s Monday!

Exterior of Orsanmichele

Inside the church there is a painting of the Madonna and Child which people pray to for miracles

There are frescoes of the horrible ways that martyr/saints died. This is St. Bartholomew getting his skin flayed

St. Matthew by Donatello in the museum. His head looks too large when you look at it from this angle

But when you look at the statue from beneath as you would have looked at it from the street, everything is in proportion

After a quick stop at the Duomo (which tbh is a lot more impressive on the outside than inside) we head to Santa Croce.

Rather plain looking altar in the Duomo

Looking up into Brunelleschi’s dome

We would love to eat lunch first but we have not timed things quite right. A lot of restaurants do not open for lunch until 12:30 PM. It is only 11:45 AM. We decide to visit Santa Croce first but need a little sit-down first to re-energize. The benches around Piazza Santa Croce are a fine place to sit for a bit, bask in the sun, and people watch.

Piazza Santa Croce

 

Selfie with John

Okay, crew, on your feet! Let’s do this!

Santa Croce is a very large church filled with art. The complex includes the church and museum. Unfortunately they are out of English guides, too many American visitors. In addition to the religious works, there is also a presentation about the incredible damage done by the flood of 1966. In the church the water was 5 meters high (over 16 feet!) and the church and its artwork were covered in mud and muck after the waters receded. Sadly we saw evidence of the flood, not everything could be restored.

Here are some of my favorites from Santa Croce.

Nave of Santa Croce

 

Early painting of St. Francis and scenes from his life by Giotto

Marriage of Mary – staff of Joseph grew a tree, others did not, unchosen suitors are breaking their sticks. T. Gaddi, 1328-1338

Last supper by Gaddi showing damage

By the time we are done it is around 2 PM. We stop at Trattoria Alfredo on the way back to the apartments.

We tell Sarah to go do something else if she likes. John and I are done for the day. But instead everyone just falls asleep. It has been a busy day! We have snacks for dinner down at the pub, Caffe Megara, where you can have free crostini if you buy a glass of wine or beer.

The Accademia, more than just Michelangelo’s David – 3/19/17

Today was a rough day for everyone. Sarah woke up at 12:30 AM and could not go back to sleep and my back, knee, and feet were aching. It was a rough day for John because he had to put up with our grumpy selves.

We start early and arrive at the Accademia (art museum) shortly after they open. As the day advances they often have colossal lines and we want to avoid that. We walk in totally unimpeded by crowds. Although taking a look at the David is something one wants to save like dessert, we decide it is best to enjoy this fabulous piece of art before the hall gets too crowded.

The setting is quite impressive. You walk down a rather long room that has many of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures to a rotunda where the David stands bathed in light from above. Even though the David is plastered on everything here from aprons to beer steins, when you see the sculpture in person it takes your breath away.

Michelangelo’s David

Such a beautiful face!

I think my favorite part is his hand

Okay, so after we can tear ourselves away we head back down the hallway to see some of the unfinished sculptures. They appear to be struggling to free themselves from the their marble blocks. You can see the the bold chisel marks, the small gouges, and some polished parts as well.

I feel a visceral desire to throw of this stone entrapping the “Prisoner’s” head

The Accademia showcases works from the 13th century to Mannerism in the 16th century.  Michelangelo may be the star of this collection but there are lots of other great pieces. Here we find Job again but all dressed up and with a sign that says in Latin “He is my savior.” No doubt that God won and Satan lost when it came to testing Job’s faith.

Moses is often depicted with horns in Renaissance art. Is it because he was Jewish? Probably not because the translation about Moses from the Aramaic states that he had two rays (horns) of light emanating from his head, 15th century.

Moses with fire-y cornu or horns

Here’s a 15th century Annunciation. They were still working out proportions.  If Mary stood up she would hit her head on the ceiling!

If the BVM stands up she will hit her head

Ever wonder why people think that dinosaurs and people existed at the same time? This picture of St. Michael slaying the dragon supports the idea that dinosaur-like creatures and humans were wandering around during Biblical times.

St. Michael and a dragon

In the work below, Perugino of the expressionless faces has painted the bottom of the Deposition. His younger counterpart, Filipino Lippi has painted the top. Look at the gaily streaming sashes more representative of some happy event. This is the mullet of paintings – All party in the top and all business in the bottom.

Perugino/Lippi mullet painting

This painting of Santa Barbara (identifiable by the tower next to her) was X-rayed before restoration….

St. Barbara’s rediscovered 6th toe

….it was discovered she had a 6th toe!

Santa Barbara’s sixth toe

This little gallery of paintings from the 13th and `14th century illustrates how quickly art was changing.

Needless to say we were very thorough looking through the Accademia. And now we are very tired. It is well after lunch. We decide to go to the new Mercato Centrale . It looks like the beginnings of a wonderful food hall.  There all sorts of purveyors and we pick up some meat, salami, and bread. We also stop for some Malaga gelato!

Mercado Centrale

Gelato

I am dead on my feet. We decide to go back to the apartments for a little sit-down and end up falling asleep until supper! Tonight we dine at Buca Mario, a restaurant where John and I ate our first meal in Florence with his Oracle comrades. It is the fanciest place we have been to. After dinner it is no problem to fall asleep.

S. Trinita, Ognissanti, Brancacci Chapel, Museo del Duomo and more! 3/18/17

(I am currently using my phone as a hotspot and hoping that I won’t burn through too much data…Later…that did not work either so I am laboriously typing this on my iPad mini which is the only device that I can get connected to the WiFi. It seems like any device updated to iOS 10 is impervious to the WiFi here)

Sarah and I have been up since 4 AM which does not bode well for the day. We make a quick breakfast of bread and cheese before we start our sightseeing.

We leave the apartment around 9:30 AM and make a quick stop at the Church of Santa Trinita on our way to Ognissanti. Among the things that we enjoy are a 14th century fresco of St. Jerome in his study. It is a change from seeing him out in the desert being a hermit with only his lion as company. I love all the doodads around his desk – a pair of spectacles, a pair of scissors, a ruler. I see he has left his cardinal’s hat up on a shelf above him. This work is by a painter of Ghirlandaio’s workshop and done in the mid to late 15th century. Another standout is a wooden crucifix from the 1200’s which has a modern look to it.

St. Jerome in his study

13th century crucifix

Walking further along down the Arno River we come to Ognissanti (All saints). The main attraction here is a Ghirlandaio Last Supper. Ghirlandaio was a teacher of Leonardo Da Vinci whose own Last Supper is in Milan. There are similarities.

Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper

The Apostles are grouped in threes and fours while the main focus is on the group of Jesus, the sleeping John, Judas and Peter. It is before Judas makes his fatal move towards the bread which marks him as the traitor but probably after Jesus has told them all that one will betray him. Peter is identifiable by the knife in his hand with which he will attack one of the soldiers later.

Central group from Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper. L. To r. S. Peter, Jesus, S. John, Judas, some Apostle

At the table each item has symbolism. The apricots on the left of the table symbolize sin while the lettuce nearby symbolizes repentance. The cherries refer to Christ’s blood and the oranges at the other end of the table refer to Paradise. Each tree, bird, and gesture has meaning.

Apostles in discussion. Apricots and lettuce on table.

Oranges and cherries on the table

After enjoying the wonderful Last Supper at the Ognissanti we make our way across the river to Santa Maria del Carmine and the Brancacci Chapel. The frescoes were commissioned in 1423 and were painted primarily by Masolino and the young Masaccio. Filipino Lippi completed the works in 1481 to 1483. The frescoes relate the life of St. Peter. There are also two frescoes depicting Adam and Eve. You can see the big difference between the more static figures of Masolino and the dynamic figures of the much younger Masaccio.

Masolino Adam and Eve

Masaccio’s expulsion of Adam and Eve

This is also true of the frescoes of St. Peter.

Elegant figures and flowing fabrics in Masolino’s Healing of the Cripple and Raising of Tabitha

More realistic people and situations in Masaccio/Lippi’s The Raising of the Son of Theophilus and  St. Peter enthroned

 

We’ve been going strong and mostly on our feet all morning and it is time for some lunch. We walk over to the Piazza Santo Spirito and to the restaurant Osteria Santo Spirito. We’ve stopped here for lunch almost every time we’ve been in Florence since we first visited in 1994. Usually we all have rigatoni with tomato sauce and ricotta salata but today we are game to try something different.

 

Now we are really tired. Both Sarah and I have been up since 4 AM and are badly in need of a nap. So we head back across the river and to the apartments. We immediately fall asleep like the dead for a couple of hours before my alarm summons us for more sightseeing at 4 PM.

We walk over to the Duomo and buy a combination ticket to see it, the Baptistry, the Museum of the Duomo, and a couple of other things. The Baptistry has closed already so we head into the museum. We have 48 hours to visit all the sites on our tickets.

Florence’s beautiful Duomo

The Museo del Duomo has been totally redone since we were last here.It is chock-a-block full of historic and artistic wonders.It includes older pieces from the early church plus other more ancient finds from the time of the Roman Empire and even back to the Etruscans. There’s a lot of great stuff about how the cathedral was built as well.

Original Baptistry Doors of Paradise. These doors faced the cathedral. When a newly baptized person stepped out these doors, they walked between the Baptistry and the church in an area known as Paradise. Biblical scenes in bas relief

Can you imagine being the stone carver given this daunting task? Each one of these pieces had to be carved by hand and then assembled to make a door surround.

Etruscan funeral block used to the build the cathedral, 5th century B.C.

Everything that was lying about was used.  It was easier and cheaper to use already chiseled out blocks. I’ve seen other churches where Etruscan carved blocks were repurposed, especially in Tuscany which was an Etruscan state. Early (and later) Christians used the existing frames of buildings to be their foundations. Often Roman temples are found under Christian churches in Italy,

Found under the floor of the old duomo was a Roman tomb. This is a 3rd century carving of Mercury guarding the doors to Hades.

Older decorations in the cathedral included bas relief plaques with bible stories and with the allegorical figures of the arts and science. Church styles change and luckily the church administrators deemed these pieces worthy of saving. (God creating woman)

Michelangelo’s carving for his own tomb.

The fabulous Donatello wood carving of Mary Magdalene

Mary and Sarah outside the Campanile in Florence

We have had a very full day and even though we succumbed to a nap in the afternoon we are really tired and decide to just eat some bread and cheese in the room before retiring (at 8 o’clock!)

Sent from my iPad mini

 

 

 

What seems like our annual trip to Italy plus first day adventures – 3/17/17

I am not going to say a whole lot about our trip here. Flying internationally these days is like childbirth. The only reason why you do it more than once is because you forget how bad it is. Our misadventures include a very warm cabin temperature for 10 hours, a security re-screen at Heathrow which makes us almost miss our connection that we had an hour and a half to accomplish, a man throwing up in the aisle between Sarah and my seats, and an endless passport control line in  Milan where we vie with the passengers of other flights for superiority while standing in line. Other than those things? A piece of cake.

We get to Milan and catch a taxi which brings us to our hotel, The Hotel Berna. The Berna has an excellent location near the railroad station which will be handy tomorrow when we start our journey south to Florence.

After a fitful night’s sleep for Sarah and me, we go down for our hotel’s award winning breakfast. Wow, it is really good!

Breakfast st Hotel Berna

Then we catch a taxi to the Pinacoteca di Brera. We spend about three hours enjoying ourselves in the museum. Here are some of my favorites:

Ran across this saint in Arezzo last year and did not know who he was. Today question solved at the Brera! This man got the rawest of all deals in the Old Testament. Horrible afflictions were given him in a wager between Satan and God. The leperous saint is Giobbe or in English, Job.

Unknown saint from Arezzo

Saint Giobbe identified in Milan!

I love learning new things. Here are a group of saints in what I used to think was just a deteriorating background. But here’s the real story. These rather static figures went out of fashion when the more realistic figures of the Renaissance arrived. The gold leaf was too precious just to discard with the old paintings so they scraped it off and used it again. The orange paint was the underlay for the gold leaf.

Saints on a previously gold background

Here is a painting by Jacopo Bellini, the father of Giovanni Bellini. In Venice we will see the younger Bellini’s fabulous triptych at the Frari. In it the Madonna appears to be practically stepping out of the frame. In this much earlier picture by Jacopo you can begin to see the elements of the son’s later style. The Christ child looks as if he is leaning forward to escape his mother’s arms.

Jacopo Bellini’s Madonna and Child

Finally here is my absolute favorite of the day, Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus. I love the realistic everyday people that Christ and his followers have become in this painting. Christ blesses bread while the others look on wondering what he is doing.

Caravaggio’ Supper at Emmaus

Now we head off to lunch. We settle on the Mo’Puglia Bistrot which has been recommended by someone on Facebook. It is pretty good.

After lunch we catch a cab, pick up our luggage and head to the train station for a train to Florence. The high speed train to Florence takes less than 2 hours. It is comfortable and quick and seems like a good time for Sarah and I to nap.

We are renting apartments in Florence right in the center of the old town. We have stayed here before and except for the terrible wifi that we hope they can fix tomorrow, everything is great.

Our living room in the Prisco apartment

We have a nice kitchen with a great gas stove

Looking across the hall to Sarah’s little apartment

Sarah’s living room

Sarah and I make a quick run down the street to pick up some staples. Sarah is charming talking to the shopkeeper in her rudimentary Italian. Our little neighborhood has it all. Within a block or so are a bakery, butcher, deli, tavern, and restaurant. We head down to the restaurant, Trattoria Marione for dinner. Afterward we head back upstairs and allow our thoroughly jet lagged selves some sleep.

March 12, 2017 – Celebrating Nathan’s 11th birthday

Nathan with cake and Jonathan

Nathan, Jon, Sarah, John and I have a festive birthday dinner at Amici’s after the guys have gone to the movies to see Batman: A Legos Movie. We have pizza and a celebratory piece of cake. Nathan is really growing up and joins in the family banter. He is getting so tall. His next goal is to be taller than Ryan, Leigh, and me.  He doesn’t have too far to go! Plus he is also becoming very handsome. Happy Birthday, Nathan!

March 5, 2017 – Too much water everywhere

In February we discovered a puddle on our floor in the dining room.  It has been raining here A LOT and the water had infiltrated somewhere on the roof and was dripping down the inside of our dining room window. We hadn’t noticed it before but apparently from the paint damage, dripping drops had been going on for a while.  So we called someone to fix it. After a couple of tries we decided it must be fixed and left for St. George on a Saturday and arrived on Sunday. Taking a shower we discovered that our shower which we thought had been fixed was still leaking.

Water leaking from the shower into the dining area

So we arranged to meet with our contractor on Monday to hash out the situation. In the meantime it started raining in California again.  Monday morning we get a text from Sarah saying that the roof is leaking again. Oh no! We quickly reset our meeting with the contractor for the morning, go talk to him (the shower guy had never come to fix the showers), get the car gassed up and leave Monday afternoon to return to our leaky roof problems in California. We were in Utah for less than 24 hours!

Hopefully the roof is finally fixed. At least we think so because here’s what is happening today!

Hail on I-680 near Pleasanton