Firenze Recap

Three days and two nights in Florence went by pretty fast and I couldn’t begin to tell you everything that transpired, but here’s a synopsis of our time there…


On the train to Florence

Maria Betta and I took the train from Lucca to Firenze and I was sure glad to have her help figuring that out. Sounds easy enough, but for someone who can get lost inside a walled city – on foot – with a map – in the daytime – I have the potential of going a LONG way out of my way on the wrong train! So after going to Florence and back with a companion, I have a much better idea of how to navigate the trains.

From the train station we took a taxi to our hotel and I really felt like I had landed in the Big City. By comparison, Lucca is quite a small town. So the hustle and bustle and even more manic traffic through the narrow streets is quite a rush.

The sheer number of historic buildings covered with figures and cherubs and carvings and gilt is actually overwhelming. The feeling of culture in the air is palpable.

ImageSince MB had been to Firenze before, she planned our walk to the Piazza Signoria so that I would not just stumble right onto Michelangelos’s David first thing. Instead we came upon the Neptune fountain and then “discovered” the beautiful David (“Dah-veed”) in his setting among the other statues and the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi. And I’m sure you read my earlier post about how it felt to finally see him. Absolute bliss.

ImageMB did the same thing with the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, otherwise known as the Duomo. It was stunning to come around the corner and see the massive building of pink and green and white marble – it literally stops you in your tracks. And then you look up and see that amazing dome that is an ingenious achievement in any century.

ImageOn the inside, the fresco under the dome is an incredible depiction of figures symbolically on earth and in heaven and hell. It took years of painting by many Florentine masters to complete.

And once you’ve toured that much of Firenze’s treasures, it is time to visit another “dome” – which is how they mound the gelato in the cases in this city…

ImageWe LOVED the gelato here – it was so fine and creamy that we stood on the street and hummed in delight as we ate it.

ImageThen it was on to the bridge known as Ponte Vecchio. It took us a while to get there as we got just a bit turned around and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But we did and it was something to see. There’s no car traffic on the bridge. It is packed with people and both sides are completely lined with upscale jewelry shops. It is literally dripping with precious stones and metal. (As always, please click on any photo on the blog to enlarge.)

ImageBy the time we got to the other side of the bridge I was in pain from the walking so we looked for a cafe. We had to go on for another block, which I was resisting doing because all I could think was that would be another block to walk back. But we were soon in a cafe and got a glass of wine and MB doled me out some advil. I sat and rubbed my feet and thought about just lying flat out on the ground. But after a while I mellowed out and we started back. It was getting dark and the view from the bridge was fantastic.

MB promised we would get a taxi to go to dinner and we did. The ride TO the restaurant was the usual crazy. The drivers are so used to the small space and the people walking so near that they go full speed ahead and brake as needed. We just bounced around the back seat and tried not to look.

But then, after dinner and a bottle of wine, we took another taxi back to the hotel. This time we got an out and out race car driver. Immediately we could not stay upright in the back seat and we kept falling back and forth onto each other. I was wide-eyed but MB had the giggles and started shouting “go Mario!” Well, that tickled Mr. Driver and he obliged. Next thing I knew I was laying in MB’s lap and she was laughing hysterically and speaking more Italian than usual. At least I think it was Italian. The driver seemed to be answering her in Italian as well.

By the time we got to the hotel and I propped myself back up, MB was saying “let’s go again!” “No!” I intervened. “But it’s Mario!” she exclaimed. Driver flashed her a big grin. I looked at the meter and our fare was a full 2 euros less than the same trip earlier. I paid the guy and gestured that I was going to kiss the ground. He laughed and sped away.

I swear, the streets here should be littered with bodies and I can’t imagine why they’re not!

Anyway, we spent another two days roaming Florence with periodic wine and advil breaks for me. We saw a lifetime’s worth of designer shops, art and architecture. We enjoyed good food and wine. And MB did make it to the very top of Boboli Gardens. Check out this view. I’m so glad Mary Beth was here for the big city visit. I’d like to go to Rome at some point but I’m almost afraid to without her!

And of course when your companion is an Italian Barbie doll, the service we get is amazing. All she has to do is say “boungiorno” and turn on her smile and people rush to take care of us. On the last morning when we were checking out of the hotel, a very handsome Italian man came up to the counter. When he saw MB, he said “if all American women looked like this I would have to move to your country!” She smiled and said “grazie” but he continued to say she looked like a female version of David by Michelangelo. Now how’s that for a compliment!

Ahhh, Firenze. A beautiful time in a beautiful city.


Giardino di Boboli

One of the largest and most elegant gardens in all of Italy is the Boboli Garden that extends behind the Pitti Palace in Firenze, home to some of the Medici family from the 16th to the 19th century. It has been a constant expansion work for hundreds of years and remains a project of maintenance and restoration even today.

It houses numerous sculptures throughout the grounds – most of which I didn’t see.

Because what I saw was steps… and slopes… and terraces going uphill. And when you got to the top, there were more steps and slopes and terraces going to higher hills. It was beautiful. It was also green – and hot – and steep. If it had been mid-summer, it woulda killed me.

As it was, Mary Beth and I made it to the Pitti Palace fairly easily. But as soon as you cross the Palace courtyard, the hills start. The first slope wasn’t bad – and the view of the city and the Duomo was magnificent. Absolutely worth the climb. From there it was more of a challenge…

I know MB saw the consternation on my face, so she ordered me to take off my scarf and give her my bag. And with an encouraging “you can do it!” she took off up the hill in her high-heeled boots with all our gear.

Well, we had just gotten our tickets, after all, so what could I do but follow her… at a great distance! And there were no railings! Evidently, these garden designers don’t want any obstructions in the view. And somehow I don’t think I look quite as jaunty as MB…

So guess what the view is from the top of that slope! Honestly, take a gander at this…

This is a “garden”?

Not in my world. And you can call it “giardino” all you want – it ain’t a garden I’m gonna stroll around in my flip flops after supper. (I doubt if those rich Medicis did either.) By the way – click on this photo to enlarge it. That’s MB at the top waving down at me as I lie prone on a concrete bench begging passers-by for a sip of water and a cool cloth for my brow…

And here is some of the beautiful statuary that grace the grounds. However I wouldn’t know ’cause I didn’t see any of it…

Soon it was time to make our way back down. Gawd. The only thing I can say about that is you don’t get out of breath going downhill. No, you simply fear that one slip will send you reeling along the steepest slope you shoulda never went up in the first place. And if your thighs and hips are burning in places you didn’t know you had – well, you better remember that as a lesson to not do such a foolish thing again.

MB, of course, discovered another trail she didn’t see on the way up and made a detour in search of “the best view yet.” I do think she found it, but I’m not quite clear on that as I was befuddled from near heat-stroke when she re-joined me at the base of the hill from Hades.

All I know is that we somehow made our way back out of the Pitti Palace and down the slopes to a cafe. I was so tuckered I didn’t even have a glass of wine. No Siree. I got me a warm bowl of soup – cappeletti in brodo (tortellini in hot chicken broth) and I slurped that down right fast. That and a couple advil was just what I needed to find my way back to the hotel.

Boboli Garden – gorgeous.

DONE seeing Boboli Garden – gorgeous relief.

Of course I’m glad I saw it. But I’m even more glad I can say I saw it and it is now a treasured memory.

I do think that view of the Duomo from the back of the Pitti Palace will make more than one fabulous little painting. I guess that was worth the price of admission…


Taking In Firenze

Growing up, I never realized that Italian cities have Italian names – and they aren’t the names we learn in English. Florence is Firenze. But its people are Florentines. Go figure.

At any rate, MB and I are getting used to hearing the word “Firenze” and today we split up to take in two of its major attractions. I went to the Uffizi Gallery and she went to the Academia. Afterwards we met at a cafe to compare notes. MB was less than thrilled with her visit but she did get to see the “real” David. The one we ogled in the piazza yesterday is actually a reproduction.

I expected to be a bit more impressed with the Uffizi collection – it is an amazing representation of paintings from as far back as the 1300s and 1400s. But I found them to be overly dark and religious. Of course the Church and the State at the time funded and commissioned a lot of these pieces, so there are more biblical scenes than you ever imagined.

But the drawing and technique is so masterful. I wondered what those artists would have painted if they had had a choice. And then there is the gallery itself. It is MASSIVE. With more stairs to climb than should be legal. I was so exhausted when I finished walking through that I wasn’t sure I could make it to meet up with MB. But two advil and a prosecco gave me a boost.

ImageWe were both knackered from walking so sat in the cafe even after they closed for the afternoon siesta. MB wanted me to draw in my sketchbook so I worked on a small pencil study of a nearby statue. It was a nice way to rest our feet for a while.

Then we did take off for some more window shopping and ended up back on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. It spans the Arno river and is completely lined with high end jewelry shops. Gold, silver, diamonds and stones everywhere. And the bridge is packed with people. But I can’t say I actually saw anyone buying anything in the shops. Makes me wonder how they stay in business – and carry so much inventory!

ImageComing back it was getting dark and the view from the bridge was stunning. Here’s a photo of us looking in the direction of our hotel, which is on the street on the left. Great location and not too bad for walking everywhere we want to go.

So tomorrow we plan to take in Boboli gardens before catching the train back to Lucca. (more walking!)

I’m still struggling with my feet but am managing to keep going. Mary Beth only brought one pair of shoes to Firenze – high heeled boots! She glides over the cobblestones at a brisk pace, even when she’s on the phone trying to call home, and never misses a beat. And I, in my ortho shoes with special inserts, always fall behind. Unless I buy MB a gelato. That’s the only thing that slows her down to my pace.

Mrs. P does have her tricks…

David – You Were Worth Waiting For…

ImageTuesday, October 16, 2012 is a fabulous day in my life. It is the day one of my major dreams came true – to see some of the world’s greatest art in Florence Italy.

Flash back more than 40 years…

World history class as a senior in high school.

Bored me to tears. I could never remember enough to ace a test as I simply didn’t care much about it. Until we studied the Renaissance.

I was mesmerized. Couldn’t get enough. Got a 100% on that test.

But the whole concept was so unreal. Everything so old and far away. Just pictures in a book of another time and place. Italy was a foreign world. A world I never entertained the thought of seeing. It was not even within my realm of imagination.

Years later I actually made it to Europe – but only because a friend took over and made the arrangements. And we got last-minute deals that were affordable. Still, we didn’t go to Italy. And I decided I didn’t want to go there on a whirlwind trip because it would be like eating one bite of dessert – never enough.

But today…

Today the dream has come true. I’ve never seen anything like Florence. Piazzas filled with marble statues that take your breath away. And so many of them that it is like finding diamonds on the ground. Such a wealth of history and culture and art. There’s no way to describe it. You must see it and feel it for yourself.

And as I circled Michelangelo’s David to take photos and looked around at the other sculptures… and the crowds in the square… and heard the music wafting in the air… I felt my throat begin to tighten. Then the tears welled up and I had to step off to the side to let the emotion just come through. MB walked up behind and handed me a tissue and walked away again. It was all I could do not to sob.

I really don’t have the words to say what this all means to me. And I just want to thank my friends and family who made sure I got here (you know who you are). These people were not even in my life all those years ago when the dream began but they have made it happen. Mille grazie, mi amici. Mille grazie.

Buccellato and more…

ImageWe started our day with a loaf of Buccellato – a bread that originated in Lucca in 1450. It was concocted by the local bakers as a tribute to the nobility. We got it as a small loaf of bread but it is usually made in a ring as a cake. The inside is sweet and soft, full of raisins and anise seeds. The outside has a shiny surface from an egg wash and the saying goes: ‘whoever comes to Lucca and doesn’t eat buccellato might as well never have come’ (‘Chi viene a Lucca e non mangia il buccellato è come non ci fosse mai stato’). We tried it freshly sliced and toasted and liked it both ways.

But that’s today – and we stayed in and putzed around a lot because it was raining hard. I finished up some work and MB got caught up on her things. When she wasn’t trying to electrocute herself…

Everyone knows that the voltage here in It-ly is different from home so you need an adapter to plug things in. We’ve been using the hair dryer that came with the apartment but today MB needed to use her own special hair attachment and couldn’t quite get it to work.

So I’m out in the front room working and I hear this loud pop and a frightened squeal. At the same time, some of the lights went out in the apartment. “Oh no!” cries MB, “this adapter doesn’t work!.” So we figure out how to flip the fuse back on and she comes and gets the adapter off my computer.

“I don’t think I’d try that in that bathroom outlet,” I warned. “I don’t have a good feeling about that one…”

Undeterred, MB plugs it in again. KAPOW!!! (and SPARKS and a REAL scream this time) and I ’bout dropped what I was doing. “Are you OK?” I ask… No answer. It is eerily quiet. Then after a minute… “I’m afraid to touch it!! Help!!”

Well, I’m not usually much good in these scenarios, but I schlep to the bath and assess the situation. MB is backed to the wall in fright so I grab a towel and try to remove the plug from the outlet. It comes right out but her hair curler smells hot and might be fried. Don’t know for now as neither of us wants to try it in any other outlet to see if it will work.

But we survived and I had a case of the giggles for a good while just seeing MB fool with the whole mess. She’s usually totally in charge, but today Mrs. P had to come to the rescue. And MB has frizzy hair!

But like I said, that was today. There’s still yesterday to catch up on. But I have to backtrack to do it…

ImageLast week, when MB got here, she had ridden the train from Pisa airport to Lucca and befriended a man named Lucciano. He was actually the one who found me at the train station after MB took off walking for the apartment. Well, lo and behold, we ran into him again today! He seemed tickled to see us and invited us to find a place that was open to taste a couple wines. We went along.



It was barely lunchtime but we found a cafe that specializes in wines and they gave us a couple recommendations. And of course you need a pastry to go with it. We picked two selections from the case – a chocolate cannolli and a ricotta sponge cake. They went very well with our wine choices: Nero d’Avola, made with a black grape from Sicily… and a chianti from Tuscany. I’ve never been big on the reds, but with all this tasting I am learning!

Having that wine early in the day without much food made me a little light-headed, so I was anxious to have a rest when I got back to the apartment. MB went out for a walk on the ramparts and left me a note to join her and bring my sketchbook if I was so inclined. Well, I didn’t because it was starting to rain, so I began a drawing instead. MB has been quite taken with all the doors here. These houses usually have huge double doors – large, wooden and heavy. She had taken a close-up photo of one she particularly liked, so I got the pic from her and drew it. I finished it earlier today and gave it to her for treating me to some mighty fine dinners…


So that’s most of Sunday and Monday (Domenica and Lunedi) even though there was lots more. I’ll have to go back to fill in with more odds and ends later.

Tomorrow we are off to Florence for a couple days. So far my stay in Italy has been very subdued. Very Italiano, of course, but definitely small town living. Now we are going to one of the art centers of the world and I will get to see some of the pieces I’ve only seen in books all my life. I am very excited to go the world of the Renaissance…

Michaelangelo… Raphael… da Vinci… here I come!

An Extraordinary, Ordinary Day

Lucca is a busy place on Saturday! The streets are so packed you have to just amble along with the crowds. Which actually makes it a bit easier on me. MB started the day with a jog on the wall, then we did laundry and hung it out, and after that we took off for a sight-seeing walk. Eventually I took a cafe break so she could do some power window-shopping without me slowing her down.

ImageThen, making our way back we heard this very loud rock music and looked over to see some young people modeling clothes while standing on boxes in front of a shop. There was a wine bar set up and people began flocking down that alley – including us. It was kind of exciting for just being people standing on boxes! (But then it doesn’t take much to entertain me…)

ImageWe continued home through the crowd and there was one section on the main drag where all the old guys were gathered. Just like everywhere I’ve been in Italy, you see groups of men just chatting away. I never see the women – just the men. Their wives are probably glad to get them out of the house for a while.

ImageBack at the apartment, the Saturday night crowd was starting to gather at the cafe right across from us. The church steps seem to be a major hangout for young people and the cafe has a band on weekend nights. It’s just a girl singer and a guitar player, but they can rock.

ImageBut we just got our bearings and turned around and went back out for wine and dinner. I could get used to this going out for dinner every night. It might be boring at home, but here you can walk just a few blocks and choose from a dozen cafes and osterias. Hasn’t gotten old yet! I had been to the place we went tonight once before and the people beside me had said the tiramisu was the best they ever had.

ImageSo when I mentioned it to MB, we had to split one. And yes, we concurred – it is probably the world’s best tiramisu. MB kept saying “you don’t want any more of this, do you?” I’m pretty sure she’ll be sneaking back to that place to have one all for herself.

ImageIt was after 10 when we headed back to the apartment and the cafe crowd was in full swing. We were fascinated by the guitar the guy was playing. Take a look at this instrument – I can’t tell if the body is hollow or if it has some kind of clear surface I couldn’t see. Bill – Brad – Larry – have you ever seen a guitar like this?

And not only that, it had a GREAT sound. This guy and the girl singer were putting out a lot music for two people. We stood and listened for a while, but are back in our room now and the band is taking a break. However, it is only 11pm on Saturday night, so I’ll bet they’ll be playing another set. MB is gonna have to put on her headphones to sleep. At least in my room, when I shut it all up, most of the street noise is blocked.

So that’s Saturday in Lucca. Just an ordinary day, but we saw so many un-ordinary things. Kind of fun to have an extraordinary, ordinary day…

Settling In

Well I haven’t posted in a couple days. I think it is starting to feel more like real life here now and not a vacation. I’ve had some work to finish and I wanted to keep my nose to the grindstone so I can spend more of my time here painting.

ImageMary Beth arrived yesterday. We had arrangements for me to meet her at the train station but it didn’t go as smoothly as planned. I walked over there early and was waiting on the platform for the train from Pisa airport and there was no MB. So I checked the schedule for the next train and went to that platform. No MB again. This went on several times and I couldn’t imagine why I couldn’t find her.

I was all over that station to the point that people began to ask me for directions! Finally a man approached me and asked if I was looking for Mary Beth. Shocked, I said “yes!” “Well, she took off walking for the apartment,” he said. “But she doesn’t know where it is!” I exclaimed. “Oh, she’s not worried, she has a map!”

So I hurried off walking and got back to the old city as fast as I could. When I was within sight of the apartment I saw MB rolling her case, heading for a restaurant. I shouted at her and she turned and saw me. Turns out she had found the apt, but couldn’t get in, of course, and was desperate for something to eat.

I had made us a nice salad for when she arrived so we got settled in and had that to eat. And… the reason she only had her carry-on bag was that her big suitcase was lost on the way to Paris. Great.

So after we ate and unpacked and chatted for a bit we were ready to go out. It was raining buckets but we just grabbed an umbrella and took off. You can’t be in Lucca and stay home! The streets were full of people as always and we just meandered from shop to shop. Most we passed, but we went in a few to look around. Then it was time to find a place to get a bottle of wine and some food. And we did.

It was a fast evening. I was tired from all the walking at the train station and MB was still on Ohio time. We went back to the apartment and crashed.

ImageThis morning I got up and made coffee. There is one of these “Moka” pots in the cupboard, which I know how to use because I have one at home. It is a common coffee pot in Italy, made by Bialetti, and you see them in the windows of every kitchen shop. It makes quite good coffee. Actually it makes espresso – which is very strong. MB likes it straight. I prefer a bit of milk in it to tame the bitterness.



I also set out a few leftovers from yesterday. We had bread, fontina cheese and a few pastries to choose from. And I had my fish left from last night’s dinner out. Which, by the way, I’ve had to get VERY crafty about…

Seems the Italians do NOT do takeaway! I’ve mentioned before how much they eat and I wasn’t kidding. In fact, you NEVER see an Italian get a to-go bag. They usually eat everything. And evidently, if they don’t they don’t worry about it.

I, on the other hand, can’t eat a full meal at once. Due to my stomach surgeries, I get full after a small amount of food, but I do get hungry again in a couple hours. So when I go out to eat, I always take most of the meal home for later. One good restaurant meal will feed me several times.

But here, when I have asked for the leftovers, they almost panic! One waiter seemed to think I was going to steal the plate and quickly snatched it up and took it away – with most of my dinner on it! After that I tried to order things that would be smaller portions and eat more of it, but that doesn’t really work.

Another evening I asked the waitress to wrap up the food and she couldn’t have been more puzzled. She said there was no way to do it. I insisted that she find some foil or plastic wrap or even a napkin to put it in and she looked afraid to go to the kitchen and ask. I told her I WANTED that food and I was taking it, so find a way to get it wrapped up! That seemed to scare her a little more, so she did.

So I have solved that problem. When I was in the kitchen store I bought a nice tupperware container with a lid. I just put it in my bag before I go out and when I am done eating, I put what is left in the plastic box. I don’t ask, I just do it discreetly and no one even notices. So much for that! And then I have breakfast and/or lunch the next day, already prepared.

Geez, who would have thought that would be any sort of problem? Here’s all these skinny girls scarfing down huge meals and I am the fat one who can’t get leftovers to go!

Meanwhile, I haven’t left the apartment today. We are waiting for MB’s luggage to arrive. I had work to do, so I have stayed in to keep on the luggage watch. MB went out exploring for a while (aka “shopping”) and I was surprised when she came back with very few purchases. BUT, she had forgotten her list and decided to look around before buying too much.

Now she is back out again to get us some things on our list. Hopefully the luggage arrives soon – I have turned into a walker of sorts and need to get out and move!

More later…

Sketch Time!

ImageI was up in the night last night – couldn’t sleep so decided to write down some of the adventures of Mrs. P. After that cathartic interlude I was able to go back to sleep.

A few hours later I woke with a start to the sound of thunder and lightening and a torrential downpour! I hurried to the window to see if people were out as usual and although it wasn’t as crowded as normal, they were! Raincoats, umbrellas and life goes right on.

Then I remembered I had left my laundry out on the line. Only because I didn’t come back until after dark last night and it was too late to bring it in. So I quickly rescued the wash and laid it out indoors to dry.

I also took a few photos of the rain since Ellyn just loves grey and rainy weather. Maybe there will be a painting in it for her!

And what better time to get that sketchbook in shape!

I had a number of pages in one state of finish or another, so I sat down and wrapped them up. When everything was dry, I took the book out on the terrace and took some photos. I had to hold the corners of the pages down with clothespins, so that’s what you might be seeing there. Here’s the update…


The Carb Situation


View from Viareggio Room


Peskiest Birds Ever!




Did I Mention My Feet??


Drawing While the Laundry Works


Hanging Out


Riding A Bike


Piazza Frediano


View from the Wall

So that’s it for now. I have some work to do and then will probably go for a walk and maybe even take the paints out. And you know, last night when I walked over to the wall, it was the first time my feet felt better. It was so nice, so maybe there’s hope if I keep at it.

This morning on the wet cobblestones was a different story – I’m terrified of slipping and falling so I walk like a retard on wet pavement. One advantage is that people look at me and keep their distance. Fine with me!


Note: I just checked these photos and they do enlarge when you click on them. However, the sketch pages don’t seem to get big enough to read. I don’t know if you WANT to read them, but if you do I can set the camera to take larger photos. Not sure how that works on the blog, but I can experiment. Just let me know in the comments!

Mrs. P’s Wicked Dream

(Note – this bit of silliness is a story for Jeanie)

So here I am in the midst of some of the world’s most beautiful women. And I’ve already told you about my plodding suffering ad nauseum. I think the trauma of it all brought on this wicked dream…

I am laying the blame solely on Mrs. Potatohead. She looks very innocent but has a devious streak that comes out when vexed. (You would know that if you’ve seen her in the Toy Story movies.)

All I can say is she was making her way along the narrow streets of Lucca yesterday and had to stop for a rest. And as she watched the gorgeous Italiano Barbie Dolls stride by, she had a moment of madness…

ImageFirst there was this one…

Tan legs “up to there” and all that.

ImageThen there was this one… who not only had on the 5″ blue heels, but a necklace cascading down her back inside a draped blouse that framed it perfectly. And of course the haircut was exquisite.

And that was just two passers-by in about 30 seconds! What’s an old gal with spuds for feet to do?

That’s when Mrs. P nodded off and dreamed what it would be like to be one of “them.” And since she wasn’t born that way, she took matters into her own hands.

It took a bit of patience but here was the plan. Mrs. P decided to lie in wait for one of the gorgeous creatures in her natural habitat – in front of the window display of one of the very expensive clothing and shoe shops – the kind that sell those 5″ heels in a rainbow of colors (with huge buttery leather handbags to match that cost the equivalent of a mortgage payment!)

And here is where the patience comes in. The right woman must be distracted by the goods in the window AND have a loose hair on her shoulder that Mrs. P can kindly pluck off as a favor. It IS tricky getting that close without alarming the “mark” but it can be done. Otherwise, plan B involves tranquilizer darts and that’s a whole ‘nuther story she would rather not get into.

So, once the hair is obtained, the magic can happen.

Mrs. P just happens to know that all those cartoons of kids with secret laboratories where they do miraculous scientific experiments really do exist. And if you know where to look, you can find one. That’s how she managed to get the DNA from the hair and then clone it and have it administered to her by injection. (Few people know that is also how she managed to learn martial arts for her role as “one-eyed Betty” in Toy Story 3.) The process is still top secret and can’t be divulged, but it does allow her to take on the attributes of the beautiful ones.

ImageSuddenly she is wearing high heels and strolling along the fashionable shops with a discretionary air. Even she doesn’t realize how glamorous she is until she sees her photo in the rag mags right beside the supermodels! The resemblence is striking!

And it has happened just in time, because her sister-in-law, the original Italian Barbie, is set to arrive for a visit!

No matter. Mrs. P has glammed up considerably and takes full advantage of her interchangeable parts. She already traded in her knees for a new pair, so now all she has to do is go shopping for other parts that suit her personality better. No big deal!

ImageNow when Barbie, um, er… Maria Betta gets here, they can blend right in with the crowds.

No matter where they go – Florence, Rome, Milan… all those high fashion centers of the universe… they are ogled and adored from afar but they never notice.

ImageAt least not until Mrs. P wakes up from her dream and finds that her diabolical plan didn’t work. And why is an Italian Barbie Doll pulling her around in a wagon? And what are these loose parts that are scattered all over?

Oh no… this is not a dream at all.

The concussion Mrs. P sustained when her bike went over the edge of the wall that encircles Lucca has left her a little fuzzy.

Thankfully, MB has rescued all her parts and is taking her back to the apartment for a rest. And pulling the wagon in her own 5″ heels!

Ah well. Mrs. P has realized her limitations and decided it is just too much work to be something you’re not. But a little dream about it now and then is nice…

Today’s Yummy Lunch

Well, I said I was gonna stay in yesterday, but I didn’t. I actually attended a meeting at the local Kingdom Hall and made some new friends. We made arrangements to meet later, and as usual I got turned around and walked a couple miles out of the way. Oh to have a directional brain in my head!

At any rate, I did finally meet up with a couple for dinner and had a grand time. We are making more plans for later in the week and now that they know how easily I get lost, they are keeping a closer eye on me!

So today was the day to stay in! Poor feetsies need a rest!

I did go out for coffee since I haven’t gotten any yet for the apartment and I picked up a couple things for lunch so I could work and not go back out for a while.

This was my lunch today – which I thought was yummy and which will totally gross Ellyn out. Muwahaha!

ImageBelieve it or not, in the land of pasta and bread, I am hungry for meat and potatoes! So I went to the produce store for a few potatoes, which cost me cinquanta (50 cents) and a small package of burro (butter). Too bad they don’t seem to have sour cream here!

ImageBut I do love the markets – the old lady (much older than me) who was also in the produce market was buying a few grapes and one stalk of celery. How cool is that? I would have asked what she was making but she only spoke italian.

ImageThen I picked up some meat in a local deli – rabbit, which I’ve been wanting to try. It was already cooked but you can buy whole skinned little bunnies in most meat shops. Yes, I know it sounds awful, but it is a local meat source.

ImageAdd some red wine and a chocolate dessert (which I was too full to eat) and you have a yummy meal. The rabbit was quite mild and dare I say it – a lot like chicken. But how do you describe chicken? It is just a mild meaty flavor. And so is rabbit, but just a bit different. I would definitely have it again.

So that was lunch and I worked a lot today. Off the feet for the afternoon. But then I couldn’t stand it and had to get out and about. I’m actually starting to crave walking, so I loaded my bag onto my wheeled trolley and took off for the wall. It is so nice up there and I wanted to spend some time just watching the people go by and sketching in my journal. It was a lovely evening and boy were there a lot of people walking and cycling. It is constant activity up there.

And the joggers – I think I will always remember the wall with the sound of crunching gravel under the runners’ feet. It would be wonderful if my boys could come and run that wall as part of their daily jogging and marathon training.

When I get the sketches polished off I’ll post them. Ciao for now!

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