Visit to Firenze, Dec. 2006 - Jan. 2007
   

Kathy and I were in Firenze Dec. 13 to Jan. 24. The Clements came over to celerate Kathy's birthday on Dec. 29. (Click here for their visit plus our visit to England prior to coming to Italy.)

We were invited to the Chaplin's for Christmas dinner. It is always a pleaure to see our dear friends (since 1990) and to eat Timothy's great cooking. He is as good as any professsional chef.
Here he is in the kitchen with his lovely wife Diane, a teacher at Firenze's International School.



Their darling daughter, Livia:



Livia and Kathy, deep in conversation, waiting for dinner:





We brought Livia a book as a Christmas present:



Early in January we went on a bus tour of Chianti. The views of the Chianti hills were spectacular:





The tour took us to a little village, near Pontassieve, where the legendary St. Brigid lived in a cave. She had come over from Ireland, legend has it, to live with her brother who was the Bishop of nearby Fiesole. When he died she spent the rest of the life in the cave, praying.
Here is a faded painting of her on the wall of the church which has been built over the cave:



Inside the church there were two presepi, including one constructed, evidently, by very young children:





After visiting the church, we went to a winery where we toured the cellars and had a tasting. The site was the the former villa of the Pazzi family (who were involved in the famous
Pazzi Conspiracy). Here is a view of the villa from the outside. It is now called "Castello del Trebbio," and its wines are bottled under that name.



When the villa was appropriated from what was left of the disgraced Pazzi family, all of the Pazzi shields and insignias that had been on the walls were removed, except for this one, because it  had been made by Donatello:



Our guide did an excellent job. Here he is with the villa caretaker, who is dressed in traditional hunting outfit:



The wine cellars had both old and new barrels, the old for Chianti wine, the new for super-Chiantis:





There were also plenty of bottles stored in the cellars:





(These straw-covered "fiaschi" as they are called, are now pretty obsolete.)

Our friends, Gianni and Gloria Frosali, invited us to an "opera dinner" at their church in Sesto Fiorentino. In addition to a delcious meal cooked by members of the parish, including the Frosalis, with plenty of wine, we were entertained by two young opera singers doing duets and solos to piano accompaniment. One of their duets was "Libiamo" from Traviata, and, of course, champagne was poured for everyone to drink at that time.

Here is Gianni in the kitchen:



Here we are at our table. The young girl and her boy friend sitting with us were students
ad, of course, members of the parish.)



Here are the singers:





Here they are taking a bow, along with their accompanist.



Here the young lady sitting at our table and her mother are chatting with the parish priest:



One of the ladies helping cook had brought her three darling children along:



And here we are with the priest:



As usual, we went to the Three Kings Parade on Jan. 6 (the feast of the Epiphany). I only took one or two pictures this year. Here is the live presepio next to the duomo:



Here is a knight in armor in the parade:



Nearby the parade is the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, where Kathy and I went to see Gozzolli's famous painting "Procession of the Magi." There was also a viewing of an ancient Grek statue which had been retrieved from the Aegean Sea:



We took a one-day trip to Milano to visit my Aunt Maria Pia and my cousin Valeria. Incredibly, after lunch when Kathy and I were walking around the fashion district, we ran into our old friend, Stefano Paveri-Fontana; he lives in that area, and just happened to be walking down teh street when we passed. Here is the Milano Duomo:



(The screen is covering the protion that is being cleaned at the moment.)

Nearby is the spectacular Galleria:





There was a beautiful Christmas tree inside the Galleria:



Up close you could see how many lights were on the tree:



Beyond the tree, one exits the Galleria to the front of La Scala:



The opera house has recently been renovated, with a rotating stage added to allow for rapd scene changes:



We met Maria Pia and Valeria for lunch at our usual hangout, the restaurant "Prima Fila." Its name means "First Row," referring to the fact that it is open late, and many of the performers from La Scala come over for a meal after performances and/or rehearsals so that the restaurant is, in some sense, the first row of the opere house.









On our walk after lunch we came across this curious object on the sidewalk. It turned out to be a map of Milano for the visually impaired (Braille):



Three days before we returned home from Firenze we took our friends the Chaplins, the Frosalis, Joan Yakkey and Horace Gibson out to dinner at Il Santo Bevitore. Here are some pictures from that wonderful party.

Timothy Chaplin and Joan Yakkey chatting in the foreground with Livia Chaplin on the other side of Kathy:



Timothy drinking up, while something is amusing Kathy:



That's Horace Gibson to the right, and our lovely waitress in the background:



Diane and Livia Chaplin studying the menu with Horace cogitating:



Gloria Frosali:



Joan Yakkey:



Everyone:  Left to right: Diane Chaplin, Livia Chaplin, Gloria Frosali, Paul Zweifel, Gianni Frosali, Joan Yakkey, Timothy Chaplin. Where is Kathy Zweifel?



A few miscellaneous pictures. First, the Ponte Vecchio which we passed on the way to the restaurant:



Just around the corner from our apartment was the shop owned and operated by Gianni Frosali's niece, Tersa Cambi, and her brother. We did a fair amount of shopping there, both for Christmas presents and for gifts to bring home. Let me recommend it heartily to all of my web-site visitors:



It was so warm the whole time we were there. There were ripe oranges on the tree in teh San Lorenzo cloister:



The Duomo (two shots):





The second shot of the duomo was from the window of an apartment we briefly considred buying. There were great views from it, but it needed too much reconstruction work to make the project feasible:





I believe the tower above is the Donati Tower, the probable site where the action described in Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi actually took place. (Read about it here.)