December doings! 12/1-31/19

Lots of goings-on in December!  After we managed to leave our Southeast Asian jet lag fog behind, we started off by trying to make the Vietnamese sour soup in our own kitchen. It turned out pretty well! Plus searching for ingredients at the Asian market was fun.

Home made Vietnamese sour soup

One of the first weekends in December Jon, Alex, and Sam came over to help decorate our Christmas tree. It turned out looking beautiful. Afterwards we all went out to lunch.

Sam is intent on having everything just so.
Alex helps with the decorating

George and I celebrated our birthdays on December 8 at Albatross in Danville. I forgot to take pictures. The restaurant turned out to be quite an albatross!

Before Christmas Sarah spent four days making a Panettone and it turned out pretty much like the one we had in Florence last year. So delicious!

Sarah’s panettone
Panettone with citron and raisins

Unfortunately on Pilat Eve many of us were sick. Sarah was just starting to get over her bad cold and I had just caught it. Sam was sick too and Ryan stayed home with him. We had some delicious bites but saved the singing for Christmas Day at Jonathan and Ryan’s. I did make an annual favorite, rum cake!

Rum cake

On Christmas morning John, Sarah, and I exchanged gifts and had our traditional breakfast, bagels and lox with Schneider Weiss beer.

Traditional breakfast

Later on we went to Jonathan and Ryan’s for Christmas dinner. Jon did a fabulous job cooking a a prime rib roast, mashed potatoes, death by broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and I brought along creamed spinach and John made gravy. After dinner we all sat around and sang Christmas carols following the bouncing ball on YouTube.

Leigh, Sam, Ryan, Alex, John, Sarah, Jonathan, and Mary

I spent the rest of December trying to recuperate from my cold so New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair. We made a scallop dinner for ourselves and were in bed by 10 P.M.

New Year’s Eve dinner

Uffizi Day! 12/26/19

Sarah, Ryan, Jon, and I have a plan. We will get up early and after a stop at Caffe Megara proceed to the Uffizi Gallery when it first opens. This way we will beat the crowds. The first part of the plan goes well.

Ryan, Sarah, and Jon having breakfast at Caffe Megara
Mmmm, so good!

We hurry over to the Uffizi and there are lines everywhere. Lines to possibly get in at some part,  lines for people who have assigned times, and a line for people who want to buy tickets for an assigned time. We stand and wait in the line to get in and after 45 minutes of no line movement we decide to change lines. We stand in the line where we can buy tickets to get in later in the day for about 20 minutes when we are ushered in. We choose 3PM to get in.  We figure that most of the people will have given up by then.

Too many people!!!

Jon and Ryan decide to go to the Palazzo Vecchio and Sarah and I decide we need a decompression break and stop at Gilli’s for tea.

Interior Palazzo Vecchio

 

Smiling Jon
Tea with Sarah at Gilli’s

We meet back up around 1 PM and go in search of lunch. We try Trattoria Marione which is just downstairs from our apartments but it is full. Then we try Buca Mario which is closed. We are starting to get worried. Finally we find an unknown restaurant, Pensavo Peggio, and luckily it is open and has room. With the exception of Jonathan we all order cacio e pepe and he has papardelle with boar ragu.

Foreground-Cacio e pepe
Behind- Papardelle with boar ragu

Now we have enough energy to tackle the Uffizi once more. This time with John in tow. (He had been doing laundry in the morning.)

3 PM and the Uffizi still looks packed

There are a lot of people at the Uffizi. We are hoping they want to look at different art than we do. We start in Room 1 which was not open in any of our previous visits. It holds really old pieces. Oh, happy day!!

13th century crucifix
St. Frances receives the stigmata. Painted 1240-50 which is only 14 to 24 years after St. Frances died. So he was a Catholic rock star pretty quickly.
Old Annunciation – Mary is not looking too happy

It was too crowded to take a lot of pictures but here are a few highlights-

John’s favorite Filippo Lippi, Madonna and Child with Two Angels
Ryan and Jon in front of a Botticelli
What it looks like in front of a more popular Botticelli. Jon is tall person center-right
The turn at the end of the hallway and an opportunity to takes a sunset look at the Ponte Vecchio
Michelangelo Doni Tondo

By the time we get to Titians and Caravaggios I am petering out. There is an interesting room in which all the subjects have been beheaded. But I am too tired of being on my feet to enjoy much more.

We return to the apartment for snacks and drinks and turn in early.

Christmas in Florence. 12/25/18

Merry Christmas to all especially to family who are celebrating at home. Thank you to Auntie Leigh, Gram, and Gramps who have made this trip possible for Ryan and Jon by giving Alex and Sam a special Christmas at home.

This morning in lieu of our usual Christmas breakfast we are enjoying the sweetness of pastries and a traditional panettone. We have a unique way of warming the pastries – a radiator with a built in warming oven. It works great!

Warming oven in radiator
Ryan and Jon on Christmas morning waiting for breakfast

We have mimosas and beer with our panettone and pastries. The panettone is so delicious, sweet and yeasty. Sarah promises to make one for next Christmas!

Our Christmas breakfast spread
Main attraction – panettone
Inside the panettone

While Sarah works on the lasagna and John and I loll about Ryan and Jon take a walk through the quiet streets of Florence and enjoy the architecture.

Ryan and Jon on their walk

In the early afternoon we all meet to go visit the beautiful Santa Maria Novella church full of early Renaissance frescoes. It is a favorite of mine.

Ryan and Jon in front of Santa Maria Novella

Founded in the first half of the thirteenth century Santa Maria Novella has so many marvelous works of art to see –

Beautiful Annunciation by unknown artist ~1370
Crucifix by Giotto 1288-89
From the Strozzi Chapel, Filippino Lippi 1489-1502, St. Phillip the Apostle at the Temple of Mars in Hierapolis
Altarpiece by Orcagna, 1354-57
Jesus leads redeemed souls to Paradise, Spanish Chapel

After our visit to Santa Maria Novella it is time for Christmas dinner. Sarah bakes the lasagna and we all enjoy it a lot!

Sarah photobombing a picture of Ryan and Jon before dinner
Lasagna out of the oven!
John serving
My slice
Sarah, our wonderful chef for Christmas Day!

This is a Christmas I shall always remember!