Sunday, December 06, 2009

Oh, h*ll

I'm supposed to be spending the entire day today doing housework, tidying, etc and many other domestic tasks that I have been postponing for (blush) many weeks. But I only have about 4 more days off work between now and Christmas when, all being well, my parents will be coming to stay. Mr CK does more than his fair share around the house, so I really do have to get on but, really, housework is my idea of:

click the pic to enlarge, then look at the lower third, and you'll see what I mean.
This rather fabulous depiction of housework is from the ceiling of the Baptistry in Florence. which reminds me, I've still not posted any pics of that excursion, have I?

So here goes (and hang the housework for just a wee while longer...)

First, a view into the cloisters at Sante Croce. As you can see, there was a lot of restoration work going on. We loved it here and the museum, in particular, is worth a visit to see the 14th century painting of the madonna sewing (at least, I think it was 14th century. After a day or so we realised that to the Italians a date of, say, 1481 is 14th century, whereas to to Brits it would be 15th century

Look at the incredibly blue sky! we only got one fine day, but what a day. I think the towers here are (on the right) the Palazza Vecchia and (left) the Badia. (You'll have to excuse the spelling, stepdaughter is off to Florence next week, so she's got all our guidebooks etc). The Badia is a monastery, of which we saw very little as much is being restored. Nevertheless, it was one of my top 5 places as it felt so peaceful and unspoilt.

Look! A knitting group (in Melbookstore). I failed to pack any knitting (RSI was bothering me somewhat) but after seeing these knitters at work I soon put things to rights. We only found two things to be inexpensive compared to Britain. The first was academic textbooks (Graham now owns various TS Eliot texts with English on one page and Italian on the facing page)and the other was yarn. The first store I found was a factory shop, so I assumed that was why the prices were so low 2p/g in some cases). But a bit more exploring, and 3 more yarn shops later, I realised that Italian spinners do some really yummy wool blends at knockdown prices. One day I'll get organised (well, the last full moon was a blue one) and post details of the yarns and the shops...

The final picture is in our room. the hotel we stayed in was decidedly shabby genteel. I'm not sure that it is a good idea to have a live socket in the bathroom right next to the washbasin... But the room was clean and comfy and the staff were incredibly helpful. And finally, my personal top 5 places in Florence:

1. Museuo di San Marco. (Peaceful cloisters, amazing works of art and monks cells thqat each have their own fresco, some by Fra Angelica. The Annunciation has long been one of my favorutie paitings but seeing it in situ, at the top of a flight of stairs, took my breath away. Some parts were closed due to restoration).

2. The Baptistry. That ceiling (see above) is a glittering mosaic. Heaven, hell, angels, archangels, Christ in Majesty... Can you imagine working, at height, round a domed ceiling, with those tiny tesserae? the only place we visited that didn't have any restoration work going on. (But someone was testing microphones and there was some excruciating feedback!)

3. The Badia. So peaceful. Despite the noisy building and restoration work going on. I love the way that some places manage to feel tranquil even in the midst of turmoil. I wish I could master that feeling myself.

4. Museo di Firenze comm'era (Musuem of Florence as it used to be). Yet another museum set in cloisters. This one is for map and plan fanatics (eg me), though fortunately there are some rather wonderful demi lunette paintings of Medici palaces to keep husbands amused.

5. Santa Croce and its Museo. Much of the interior of the church was closed off (restorations) but the museum made a virtue out of the restoration work by showing conservators in action.

You'll notice that the Uffizi didn't make the cut! We'd both been so excited about finally getting to see some Ucello paintings, only to find that one had been loaned to another museum and the other was being restored.

And now, off to do the housework. (I can feel those imps prodding me....)

Thursday, December 03, 2009


We've been treated to our very own personal power cut. (Well, we also shared it with next door). We came home on Tuesday evening to discover that the power had been off for about 2 hours. A kindly neighbour took us in and gave us tea, then Mr CK and I enjoyed a suprisingly relaxing evening watching the fire and listening to the clock ticking. At about 11pm our peace was rudely shattered by workmen with pneumatic drills removing half of our neighbour's drive. We got our power back sometime in the small hours of the night, but the giant hole is still there, so we suspect more work (and further power cuts) to follow. The neighbour tells us that last time something similar happened there were problems for months afterwards. We're getting a supply of candles in!