Italy- Week 3

13 Sep

Dear Friends,

I am homesick.  I have been gone a month, and it is feeling like long enough.  I’m a little grouchy, a little emotional, and a little tired.

But! I’m in Italy! For another two weeks! And then I’m going to other wonderful places! This is the trip of a lifetime! Every moment is amazing!

Week three was mellow, at least a lot more mellow than weeks 1 and 2.  There was a day Ellie had a little stomach bug so I went out for coffee and a little wandering while Sky read next to our Italian-cartoon-watching-sort-of-sick-but-not-that-sick-sweetheart-of-a-girl.

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Walking around alone is its own kind of magic or misery, depending on the day and the mood. Many days, the solo walk has been glorious and reviving, but days this week alone have sometimes been kind of lonely. Lonely sometimes feels like a healthy feeling, like I am growing, expanding my ability to be with myself. I appreciate those times all the more when I have lonely times that just feel, well, lonely.

There was the day we did absolutely nothing until after 2pm when we decided to head to “Fake Beach”; a spot on the Arno where Italians sunbathe and run into a chilly shower when they get too warm.


Those rain clouds did, in fact, let loose on us!


Yes, that’s Eliana, heading back toward us after taking her fourth shower of the afternoon.


Eliana loved being independent enough to go to the shower on her own.  “Ima, I’m gonna run to the shower, wanna come with me?” A quick “no, but you go ahead” was met with an “ok!” and her strong, fast little body running away from me.  The afternoon was lazy and sweet.  Sky brought his guitar and it competed with the horrible pop being played over loudspeakers.  Cornhole was played nearby, and when the rain started, we didn’t rush to leave.

The week brought some routine after a month of no routine at all, as Ellie went to school every day. She is a total champ and her perspective continues to impress me. One day I asked her if the other kids played with her, and she said “not really”. I asked how she felt about that, and she said “sometimes I’m sad but mostly I’m happy all the time”.  I am so thrilled by her positive attitude about everything. I can probably count on one hand the number of times she has said “I don’t want to do that”.  She is up for anything and loves everything we do. She wakes up in a good mood, and is cranky only when tired or hungry.  She is teaching me a lot about my own limitations in areas she is strong. I’m one to work to prevent problems but she doesn’t see problems at all, only adventures. I’m one to wake up quietly and slowly; she wants to hug me and tell me “I love you all the time”. She is definitely a glass-half-full person, and it is a joy to be around. What a teacher she is for me.

Sky and I went out to our very first restaurant in Italy early in the week when Ellie was at school. It was a sweet spot we found while wandering around. The food was delicious and we were happy as clams!


Here’s the place!  I know it’s hard to see, but there is a handwritten menu on the window.


This was a wild mushroom risotto. Yum. It was rich and wonderful.


This was a pesto made from arugula.  The pasta was really al dente!


Happy Sky!

Another day we dropped Eliana at school, and then stopped for coffee nearby.


There’s Ellie in her classroom at the back with her teacher. 


This just doesn’t get old.

We needed to deal with some some logistics with a bus pass, so headed to the main bus/train station. It was a classic Italian experience of long lines, confusing conversations, and a bit of a “who’s on first” type scene. The bus station no longer has any bus maps, they tell us to go to the post office.  The post office doesn’t have them. Go to the tourist bureau. The tourist bureau tells us they aren’t printing them any more. “Finito”. So, we better hold onto the one we got! (Advice to travelers: get a few maps when you find them. Apparently bus companies don’t feel the need to re-print maps. Who knows who else will decide to stop printing maps!)

We split up and I went exploring by the San Lorenzo market and made my way alllllllll the way across Florence by foot.  Sky went to a cafe by bus. (Just sayin’!) This was a good alone-time; I loved exploring on my own and found all kinds of little nooks and crannies. We met up around lunchtime at our favorite cafe, Le Murate.


I found that the San Lorenzo market was just too hectic for my taste.  These less crowded rows of shoes were more up my alley but I resisted!


This is the San Lorenzo church. I am continually in awe of the layered architecture in this city. Move just an inch here or there and the view takes on way more dimension.

After getting Ellie from school, we rested at home a while and then took a late afternoon walk. A quick gelato-stop and a little out-of-the-way exploring lead us to this beautiful view.


That’s Ellie with her Hello, Kitty facepaint that she did at school.


Wednesday I was not feeling well, so Sky took Eliana to school while I rested for most of the morning. In the afternoon, the three of us set out for the Uffizi Galleries. Yes, we brought Eliana, and she ROCKED IT.

While we were waiting for our appointed time, we checked out the incredible artists in the Piazza outside. Eliana continues to be entranced by the art.

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Visitors aren’t allowed to take photos in the galleries, so I can’t show you Botticelli’s paintings or anything, but we really had a great time. Eliana liked telling us about the paintings.  We would ask her, “tell me what you see in this one,” and she would respond with incredible detail.  Some of her answers will stay with me.  For example, a woman in a chair praying was translated to Eliana’s brain as “she is trying to do ballet sitting down”.  And, two different paintings (one a beautiful Goya) were described as “girls wearing my two wedding dresses”, one that will go “underneath” and one “on top”, meaning apparently Eliana would like to wear layers.  We’ll see.  I told her today that I still have my wedding dress and she could wear it if she gets married and wants to use my dress, and she said “I am going to wear my Hello, Kitty dress, then the one from the museum, and then the other one from the museum on top. No thanks, Ima.” I love a girl who knows what she wants!

There were some gorgeous views from the back of the gallery and from the rooftop.


You can practically see our apartment in this shot; it’s basically behind the yellow building just upstream of the red building.

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We swapped drop off duties another day and Sky slept in while I took Ellie to school and then headed to the Salvatore Ferragama shoe museum.  When I got there, the lady at the desk reminded me that if I came back that night, admission would be free as part of “Vogue’s Fashion Night Out”.  More on that below! I went!

So once my plans were thwarted, I headed home to meet Sky. It was a pretty long walk, but it was another good alone-time and I enjoyed walking slowly, stopping in random churches and shops, and getting just lost enough to feel like I’m wasn’t on a commute but rather on an adventure.

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I took myself out for a fancy cappucino at Roberto Cavalli’s cafe. It actually wasn’t any fancier than any other cappucino, but people in there were SO well dressed it was a little intimidating.  (Note to self: when hanging out around designer stores, consider wearing something other than tennis shoes.)

I passed by all the fancy stores on Via Tornabuoni.

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It’s basically like Rodeo Drive, but cooler, because it’s Italy.  No offense, LA.

My walk home took me across the Ponte Trinita and through the Santo Spirito neighborhood before getting home to Sky. We went out for a nice lunch together, and then got Ellie from school.

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That afternoon we went to the crystal exhibit at the Museo Zoologico, the same place we saw the wax displays.  The crystal exhibit is temporary and it was truly fabulous.  I almost didn’t go, feeling a little burnt out and knowing I was headed out again at night, but I am so glad I joined Sky and Eliana for this museum.


This was the first room of crystals. I am not even a crystal person but an audible “OMG” might have escaped from my lips a few times. I know the picture is a little hard to see; I just wanted to get a snapshot of the pure volume of the collection. The colors were exquisite!


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Ellie has come home from school with facepaint the last three days.  

In the middle of the exhibit, there was a short video teaching about the excavation of the stones, and it had a lovely soundtrack.  Eliana Ballerina made an appearance, and we got quite a fantastic performance right there in the museum.  IMG_4012

Yes, we got video. She is truly a beautiful, creative dancer.

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Some examples of the amazing stones.


Here are Sky and Ellie being totally thrilled by modeling in front of Galileo.

That night was “Vogue’s Fashion Night Out”.  Wondering what it is? Basically, the fancy stores in Florence are all open late, there are a ton of free drinks and aperitif type foods around, beautiful people are all over wearing fancy outfits and lots of men wearing no socks, and the streets are crowded! Totally NOT my scene, but I didn’t see how I could miss it. I hadn’t been out at night at all here, so I was looking forward to seeing what the scene was like. Sky, on the other hand, has gone out a few times on the weekends, and was even able to squeeze in a performance at an open mic one night this week. He had a great time playing a few of his originals and meeting a bunch of people from around the world!

I put on my fanciest sundress, pretended like I knew something about doing my hair, and off I went.

The walk, as I suspected, was breathtaking.

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As soon as I walked over the bridge, mayhem ensued.


There were these bags with lights lining the sidewalks.  Very cool, but the year was wrong! It’s 2013, right?

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My first stop was the Ferragamo shop, where I was served a delicious piece of dark chocolate and a fancy beverage for sipping while browsing. After oogling the amazing shoes in the store, I headed downstairs to the shoe museum. I snapped this photo before being reprimanded.  The museum is really well done, and isn’t only about shoes! Right now there is an exhibit about fairy tales. The whole thing has a very specific, sort of eerie vibe.  I enjoyed it. After the museum, I went back outside where people were continuing to pour into the streets.


This was a float and the people were on a carriage being transported by horses.


There was a section of grass and bushes put out in front of one store, with couches, a bar, and cool tables.  I am not sure if it was private or what, but it was neat and everyone there looked very important. I steered clear.


Lots and lots of people swarming in front of the beautiful Florence buildings.


This shop had a magic show going on.  I had a lovely glass of champagne.

After about two hours, I headed home.  It was a good night.


Today was special, because it was Sky’s birthday! The morning began with a family trip to take Eliana to school.  We almost missed our bus, which wouldn’t have been a big deal, as they come every ten minutes or so, but it was fun to run and jump onto it!


We go in a secret back door for older kids.



Eliana’s attitude continues to be fantastic and positive.  She skipped to school today from the bus stop, and didn’t hesitate when it was time to say goodbye. When we picked her up, her teacher told us that there were a lot of crying kids earlier in the day, and she put her head in her hands, shook her head, looked at Eliana, and said, “what are we going to do with all these crying babies?” and Ellie smiled, put her head in her hands, shook her head, and said, “I don’t know!” It was so easy to picture, and I am so glad that Eliana is making the most of being a little older than the other kids by being a great helper (and commiserator) with her teacher. Tanya (the teacher) said that Eliana has been doing some experimenting with Italian, which we were glad to hear! It is still gibberish, but I love that she is trying! Tanya also told us that she is one “turned on” little girl! I think I was glowing.


I am so proud of my sweet, funny, affectionate, smart girl. She connects so easily and is able to let other people into her heart. 

After getting Ellie to school, we almost missed our bus AGAIN, but hopped on, and then we dealt with some money stuff (YUCK), got cappucino (YAY), and then went to the Museo Galileo, which is a beautiful small museum next to the Uffizi.  Sky the science nerd was in heaven. He thinks I just randomly heard of this place and mentioned it yesterday when we were talking about what to do for his birthday. But, being the researcher I am, I learned about it a while ago and knew it would be a perfect birthday museum. I held onto my little secret until this very second!

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This glass display is of thermometers from the 1600’s and 1700’s.

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I was, yet again, impressed by a museum in Florence. The displays were truly educational and there was quite a “wow” factor.  Plus, the place was spotlessly clean, the exhibits were in great shape, there were free lockers, nice bathrooms, plenty of places to sit, and a manageable gift shop.  I think Sky could have stayed all day, but we were off to a birthday lunch!

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Salad, lasagna, and bruschetta. It was great.

On our way back to pick up Eliana, we ran to catch a bus for the third time! We decided that it was a “two-coffee-day” so stopped at a favorite spot near Ellie’s school.  Sky got a cappucino but I wanted something cold, so I got a decaf (shame on me) iced shaken blended thing.  Of course it came in a martini glass!

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We got Eliana and headed home for some chores, but, there was gelato to be had! It IS a birthday, after all.  Not that it matters-we would have gotten it anyway.


We sang a rousing rendition of happy birthday, and headed home sufficiently full to have us not hungry for dinner.

Tomorrow, we are headed to Elba Island for a couple of days.  Elba is the second largest of the several islands off the coast, and we are excited to have a little beach time. Eliana can proudly tell you that it will take a bus, two trains, a ferry, and a taxi to get there.

Once we return, Eliana will head back to school and Sky and I have a list going of all the things we still want to do while in Florence.  It’s funny to think that we figured five weeks would be plenty of time! In some ways, it is, but in other ways we are just beginning to find our way here.

Sorry to only have two links for you this week, but if you are looking to be inspired, check out this post about a 4-year-old’s contribution to her mom’s very beautiful sketching. (From Huffington Post)

“I had drawn a woman’s face, and she had turned her into a dinosaur-woman. It was beautiful, it was carefree, and as much as I don’t like to share, I LOVED what she had created.”

Eliana’s love of art is something I want to encourage, and I think it’s beautiful how this mother allowed her child to join with her own artistic endeavors.

This article about Will and Kate accepting a special gift for their baby George is sweet. (From Huffington Post)

I so appreciate that the royal couple are not so high and mighty that they can’t make an exception once in a while.

For those of you observing Yom Kippur, I wish you a meaningful fast. I got turned onto a great little website this year where it sent me a reflection question every day for the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Next year they will send me my answers. The questions were things like “how do you want to be different at this time next year?” and “what was a significant event that occurred this past year and how did it affect you?” I enjoyed taking a bit of time each day to think about the questions and I think it will be fun to see my answers again next year.

We miss you all and thank you for your continued love and support.




8 Responses to “Italy- Week 3”

  1. Dani September 14, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    You and Sky look so relaxed–I love it. Clearly the very best choices for his birthday!! (Happy birthday, Sky). I am loving the insights into yourself and how you are falling in love with new aspects of Eliana and Sky–and old ones too. Thank you for the sharing, it makes me lonely for you too–but that is soon to change. I turned in my retirement papers yesterday so it’s official. Love you guys!!!

    • Dana September 15, 2013 at 1:05 am #

      Thanks Dani!! Congrats on your retirement papers, we are so excited!!! Xoxox

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Brooke September 14, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Feel like I am in Florence with you! So happy that you have this adventure in your lives. Elba is awesome!!! Enjoy every minute.
    La Shana Tova!

    • Dana September 15, 2013 at 1:26 am #

      Thanks Brooke! Miss you!

  3. Steve Isaacs September 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Truly special.

    Thanks for the detail and the photos.

    • Dana September 15, 2013 at 1:04 am #


      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Jen September 16, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    You are all so brave to take on this adventure…..

    • Dana September 16, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks Jen! We are lucky to have the opportunity. Miss you!

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