Lessons from the Road #9: Florence

Lesson #9:  Don’t be greedy. Enjoy the things you can, and be willing to adapt to circumstances.

Ah, Florence! For me, a place of joy and disappointment.

I have dreamed of seeing Michelangelo’s David in person in Florence ever since I first learned about the statue and saw pictures of it. I have memories of sitting in a classroom—don’t ask me which class or how old I was—and watching a black and white film talking about the statue and showing it from different angles. Snippets of the film became so integrated into my memory that I’ve sometimes wondered if I actually walked around a copy of the sculpture at some point. The opportunity to make the dream of seeing the David a reality filled me with excitement.

I have now seen the David in person in Florence, and he is every bit as beautiful and impressive as I’d imagined. I am still blown away by the fact that Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he created the piece. (And, yes, he was only 33 when he painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling.)

The size of the piece alone is impressive. The statue stands 17 feet tall, and when I stood next to it, my eyes were about at the level of David’s toes. Then, of course, there’s just the incredible detail. One of the friends who came to the Accademia with me is a massage therapist, and as we walked around the statue, she was naming all the muscles. I couldn’t name them; I was just impressed with how clearly delineated they are—and how fleshly and pliable they look. He’s marble, but he looks so real.

David_von_Michelangelo

Photo by Rico Heil, from Wikimedia

Well, okay, yeah, his hands are huge. But they’re gorgeous. I find the entire sculpture incredibly beautiful, but I admit I’ve got a thing for David’s right hand. The tendons, the veins, the knuckles…

David_von_Michelangelo - Hand

Michelangelo believed his task as a sculptor was to reveal what was there in the marble by chipping away the pieces that were unnecessary. I can’t even imagine looking at a piece of marble and seeing something like the David inside it.

The David is located at the end of a gallery holding several other unfinished Michelangelo sculptures, pieces intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. Those pieces look as if they are indeed emerging from the marble, being birthed from the stone. They are powerful in their unfinishedness.

Seeing the David was a joy—and my primary reason for going to Florence—and it was the definite high point of the day. For various reasons, the rest of the trip was largely disappointing. I got to see the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and Brunelleschi’s Dome,…

Florence Duomo Florence Duomo 2 Florence Duomo Statuary Florence Inside Dome Florence Dome - 3 dimensional

but otherwise I saw very little of Florence, because of our limited amount of time there.

A delicious dinner with friends back in Ramazzano at L’Antico Casale made up for some of the disappointment.

I had to remind myself that it’s not possible to do or see everything. And what I did see was incredible. Thank you, Michelangelo!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Find Read Tuesday Books on Sale 12/10

Read Tuesday’s almost here! Here are some tips for finding the books you want!

ReadTuesday

Read Tuesday Pic 2

Read Tuesday, a Black Friday type of sale just for book lovers, on December 10, 2013 will be gone before you know it. Don’t miss out on the deep discounts.

Save money on books you enjoy, give the gift of reading to others, and help to promote literacy and reading (that’s what Read Tuesday is all about).

There are different ways to find books that are participating in Read Tuesday:

  • Browse the covers in the Read Tuesday catalog, organized by fiction, non-fiction, children’s, teen, and mature. Click on a cover and then click on the Website button to check out the book.
  • Find regular and sale prices for Kindle e-books in the Kindle catalog. Many are also on sale in the UK. Those that have reported specific UK prices are listed here.
  • Prefer paperback? Save 20% to 50% at CreateSpace, an Amazon company…

View original post 209 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Gift of Reading

I don’t remember learning how to read. I remember learning to sound out new words, but I don’t remember ever not knowing how to read some words. My father used to swear I read the little cloth baby books they gave me when I was tiny.

Books have always been an important part of my life—Little Golden Books, Dr. Seuss, Pippi Longstocking, the Trixie Belden mysteries I devoured like candy, stand-alone favorites like Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which I reread every year as a teenager and which I still reread every now and then. I’ve read countless books over the years. Some have been mere acquaintances and many have been long-time friends.

Books take us to places we couldn’t otherwise go. They teach us things we didn’t know. They help us expand our understanding of the world and the people who live in it. We live larger lives through the books we read.

ImageThis Tuesday, December 10, is Read Tuesday, when many authors are offering their books at massive discount (a kind of Black Friday for books). The brain child of Chris McMullan, Read Tuesday celebrates books and writers and readers. Give the gift of reading this holiday season!

As part of the Read Tuesday event, e-books of A Gift of Wings are on sale for $0.99 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Check out the rest of the Read Tuesday catalog here.

You can also find more information about some of the Read Tuesday offerings on Green Embers’ blog.

Happy reading!

Image

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Which Books Are You Looking Forward to on Read Tuesday?

Just four more days to Read Tuesday!

ReadTuesday

Tuesday, December 10 is a very special day: It’s a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

Which of these books are you looking forward to? There are many good ones to choose from:

View original post 563 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Lessons from the Road #8: Perugia

Lesson #8:  Sometimes it’s necessary to rely on the kindness (and directions) of strangers.

Chocolate lovers that we are, several of us decided that we wanted to tour the Perugina chocolate factory, just outside of Perugia in San Sisto. We didn’t sign up for a chocolate-making class—though you can do that too. We just went for the tour.

Rather than driving, we decided to use public transportation. Two of our group opted out of the trip entirely, one having turned his ankle the day before; four decided to skip the chocolate factory and just wander around Perugia; six of us were all about the chocolate.

Our group of ten hit the bar beside the grocery store at the bottom of the hill to purchase bus tickets and then piled on the bus when it arrived. Those of us who were going to the chocolate factory said “ciao” to our friends at the main stop in Perugia’s city center and went on to the train station and the transfer to our next bus.

Then we tried to determine which stop we needed for the chocolate factory. A very kind woman heard us talking and, in broken English (but better than our more broken Italian), told us to get off at the fifth stop after hers—while she held up four fingers. “Grazie,” we said, as she got off the bus smiling and waving four fingers at us. An equally helpful young man told us it was the next stop after his—and that stop was indeed the fourth stop after the woman had disembarked.

“I love chocolate,” said a friend just behind me as we walked into the entrance for the tours. The rapturous devotion in his voice said it all. I laughed and agreed.

We purchased our tickets for the tour and then walked around the chocolate museum while we waited. Display cases explained the history of Perugina chocolate and showcased historical ads and boxes and brands.

Choc History2 Choc History1

Before the actual tour, we were treated to a free tasting of several of the Perugina products. My favorites were the 70% dark chocolate Nero and their signature hazelnut-chocolate Baci (from the Italian for “kisses”).

Baci Kissing Kitties

During the tour itself, we walked through a windowed passageway above the factory floor, where we could see the chocolates being produced and packaged. As a technical writer, I’ve been on pharmaceutical, medical device, and secondary food packaging production floors to observe processes and write instructions. But I’d never been in a chocolate factory before. I enjoyed watching the conveyors full of chocolates and the robots that picked them up to place them in boxes, to be checked by human Quality Control workers before the boxes were closed and sealed.

Tour complete, we spent some time in the gift shop, purchasing chocolates to bring home to family and friends.

Then it was back on the bus and back to Perugia to grab some lunch, wander for a bit,…

Perugia Colorful Shutters Perugia 2

Perugia Tiered Fountain Top of Tiered Fountain - Perugia Griffin e Lion Perugia

find some great doors,…

Perugia Door Perugia Door 2 Perugia Door 4

and check out the views.

Perugia View Perugia View bt Buildings Perugia View3 Perugia View 4

Our next adventure came in finding the correct bus stop to get us back to Ramazzano. After some searching on our own, I popped into a tobacconist shop and asked the man behind the counter, in my very broken Italian, “Dove autobus a Ramazzano?”

His eyes widened. “Oh,” he said. “I don’t know.” Then he led me outside and pointed in two different directions, speaking in Italian that I couldn’t follow very well. But I could guess what he meant: “I don’t know for sure. It could be this one, or it could be that one.”

The friend who had graciously volunteered to dive into the rain to scope out lunch possibilities the day before headed toward the more distant location, while the rest of walked to the closer one. The closer stop proved to be the one we needed.

Back at the villa, some of us rested or read while those who had agreed to make dinner started preparations. Again, we ended the day with a wonderful shared meal and much conversation and laughter.

A day full of friends—and the kind help of some strangers.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Lessons from the Road #7: Umbertide & Assisi

Lesson #7:  Don’t let a little (okay, a lotta) rain get you down.

If it’s Day 7, it must be raining.

It started raining in the night and continued pretty much without stopping. It was also Sunday. Still, we needed more groceries—we planned to eat in that night—and we wanted to find a place to have lunch. Someone decided Umbertide was the place to go. So off we went—eight of us in two separate cars. We drove from Ramazzano to Umbertide—not knowing exactly where we going when we got there. But we had high hopes we’d find an open restaurant and, afterwards, an open grocery store.

After some searching, a few U-turns, and one fruitless stop at what turned out to be a bar with only a handful of lonely sandwiches in their food counter, we found a corner with two open establishments. A friend in my car offered to brave the rain and see if one of the two would have food for us. As soon as he hopped out of the car, the sky opened, the rain descending so fast it made immediate rivers on the pavement. His umbrella kept part of him dry, but I’m sure his feet were soaked within seconds. Because mine were almost as soon as I left the car to head toward the café he pointed to after his initial investigation.

No matter if we all had wet feet and pants soaked through from the knee down. The place had a selection of pizza, paninis, and lasagna. We’d found food. Even better, they had—you guessed it—gelato to top off the meal. Several folks opted for stracciatella (chocolate chip). I chose stracciatella and dark chocolate. One friend got the fragola (strawberry). I had a taste of that—and wow. Let me tell you, strawberry gelato is nothing like American strawberry ice cream. This stuff tasted like the essence of fresh strawberries (without the supersweetness sorbets can have). My favorite gelato combo from then on was fragola e cioccolato—like chocolate covered strawberries, yum!

(Okay, enough with the gelato side-track interlude. But you can see why one of the general lessons I mentioned in the first post in this series was “eat gelato every day,” right?)

After lunch, one carload of us—the younger ones—went on to find a grocery store, wet shoes and all, while the other carload went back to the villa. Then, shopping accomplished, we headed that way too—to start our preparations for dinner. Three of us were cooking—three different kinds of pasta, one with lemon and parsley, one with olive oil, garlic, and basil, and one with a tomato meat sauce.

Our communal dinner was wonderful—and we had plenty left over to feed the remaining four of our party, who arrived later that evening.

If it’s Day 8, it must be Assisi—and still raining.

Okay, it wasn’t raining when we left for Assisi. We thought the rain had gone away.

DSCN2742 DSCN2743

But when we left the Basilica of St. Francis,…

Assissi Basilica of St. Frances

the rain started again.

DSCN2744 Assissi - Overcast DSCN2746

Not to worry. There were plenty of places to step inside and poke around. Though a couple of my friends had already found perhaps the best souvenir—a small statue of St. Francis painted with purple glitter, which we referred to as St. Francis, Liberace edition.

St Francis Liberace2

We had a group dinner that night at a lovely restaurant in Ramazzano called Trilogy—and had some of the best pizza I’ve ever had—ever. If you get a chance to go to Trilogy, order the N’nel So. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

So we had two days of rain. Big deal. A little water didn’t keep us from having fun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Indie Book Blast

Indie Authors, here’s a great offer from a wonderful blogger. Get the Read Tuesday word out! Thanks, Green Embers!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment