Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Postcard from Pisa

Battistero di San Giovanni, Pisa

Our last stop before the airport was Pisa.  We had had enough of churches, bell towers and baptistries by this point and didn't join the hordes queuing for tickets this time.  Instead we walked through in the rain, stopped at a nearby restaurant for lunch and headed back to the car just in time .. those dark skies above were the approaching thunder storm which broke just after we got into the car!

Duomo, Santa Maria Assunta, Pisa with the leaning tower (campanile) in the background

Well, that's it for my tour round Tuscany.  We visited many other lovely places, but I think I've probably shared enough photos!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Postcard from Siena

View of the Piazza del Campo from top of the Duomo's facade

After Perugia we went on to Siena and stayed for a couple of days.    Siena is famous for the Campo - a large medieval square which is the scene of a horse race every two years ... it's a very large Piazza!!

Palazzo Pubblico, Piazza del Campo

It's a bit difficult to get a photo of the main building on the Campo ... but I just managed to get back far enough for my wide-angle lens to get it all in.  The building above houses the civic museum which was well worth a visit - lots of great frescoes!

 There are lots and lots of steps in Siena ... it's steep!

Romulus & Remus statue in front of the Duomo

Duomo - front facade miraculously without hordes of tourists spoiling the shot!

Side view of the Duomo from the top of Duomo's facade

In the middle ages there were plans to extend the Duomo and work was started on the walls for the larger structure.  The plague put a stop to the work, but you can climb up some of the remaining walls and look down on the city and get a good view of the Duomo (yep - more steps!).

Piccolomini Library Ceiling

Most of the Duomo's interior left me cold ... completely over the top (decorated walls, paintings, statues, elaborately tiled floors - all too much when put together) and overcrowded with tourists.  However the Piccolomini Library was stunning - there were illuminated manuscripts on display and some stunning frescoes.

Piccolomini Library

We saw an amazing number of frescoes on this trip and we were rarely allowed to photograph them.  In the Duomo the policy seemed to be that you could photograph anything as long as you didn't use flash or a tripod ... guess they're betting on most people not having the technology to take decent handheld photos in low light, but our cameras seemed to do OK.

Baptistry ceiling

After Siena we only had a few days left in Italy.  We headed north ... next stop a very brief trip to Pisa!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Another Favourite

The last of my July squares for Ravelry's 2012 BAMCAL.   I think this is another of my favourites and it was really easy to make.   This is Julie Yeager's Eight Pointed Flower (Ravelry link).  Now I'm just three months behind!!

The good news is that progress might be a bit quicker soon as I have something resembling a cardigan ready to sew together (I hate this part of the job) and be sent off on its way to Australia, hopefully before the last posting date for Christmas.

And look - there's evidence of sunshine in this photo!!  I'm happy to say that we've got an Indian summer starting here.  My weather station tells me it's 17 degrees (balmy!) and it's still climbing ... so later this afternoon I'm going for a long walk in the hills round here.  Looks like it will hold over the weekend too and into next week - maybe not quite as warm, but definitely sunny!!  Makes a nice change from all that grey, damp, muddy weather we've been having.

More creative spaces here.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Postcard from ... Perugia

Piazza IV Novembre

Possibly my favourite stop on our recent trip to Italy was Perugia.  It's the capital of the Umbria region (next door to Tuscany) and was just beautiful.  It's one of the few places that Andy has been to on business and said he absolutely had to take me back to .... it took a while, but we finally made it.  

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

The weather was a little bit iffy for the two days we were there, so we bought a ticket to all the museums and went and looked at some amazing frescoes.  Sadly no photography was allowed and this was strictly enforced, so I can't show you the incredibly vivid colours on some very old art.  Believe me, it was stunning - especially the frescoes in the Nobile Collegio del Cambio (Guild of Money Changers!).

Via dell Acquedotto

The heart of the old town is on top of a hill and is quite flat to walk round which was a relief as my legs needed to recover from climbing the towers in Florence!  But wander away from the centre and there were lots and lots of steps!

Looking down at the view from Porta Marzia

Perugia's other claim to fame is its chocolate (Baci).  The town holds a chocolate festival every year ... in fact it's on this weekend, so we timed our visit very badly indeed!  We didn't go and do the factory tour because Andy's already seen the factory (part of his business trip) and the probability was I wouldn't be able to eat the chocolate!

Next stop ... Siena!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Postcard from Assisi

Basilica di San Francesco

After Florence we hired a car and drove round Tuscany ... but we also made a few stops in neighbouring Umbria (and it's just possible that we preferred Umbria to Tuscany, but don't tell anyone!).  

Assisi is a lovely town:  

Lots of old buildings.

Town centre

Beautiful ceiling in the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

Narrow streets 

Very old murals

We could have spent a lot longer exploring Assisi, but we had to get to our next stop, Perugia.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Postcard from Florence

Florence skyline - Ponte Vecchio on the left and the Campanile and Duomo on the right.

We came back middle of last week from a 10-day trip to Italy - 4 days in Florence and then we hired a car and drove round Tuscany and Umbria.  Great food, fabulous wine and wonderful scenery. Thought I'd share a few photos!

Ponte Vecchio

One of several copies of Micheangelo's David around town... we didn't join the queues to see the real thing in the Accademia.

There are lots of churches - this one is Santa Maria Novella.  
Don't think we've ever visited so many churches in such a short time!

And we climbed both the Campanile (bell tower) and the dome (above, seen from the Campanile) in one day ... that's a total of 878 steps!!  (Good for the glutes, I'm told!)

Italy being Italy there were Vespas everywhere!!

More photos from Italy soon!  I've about another 500 to go through!

Sadly having had some of my photos pinched and used on other people's websites without being credited to me, I've been forced to add watermarks.  

Friday, 5 October 2012

Parking a Project

This project has driven me to screaming point and is now officially parked.  I thought I'd just quickly do the last two seams today - sewing the lid and base onto the body of this vanity case, but I'm calling it quits after problems with the lid and putting this one at the back of the cupboard.  I will finish it ... eventually.

The frustration today has been getting the piping right.  I have to admit the pattern hasn't helped me in that respect (it's from Lisa Lam's new book), but neither has my zipper foot. A while back I lamented the lack of a piping foot and everyone advised me to use a zipper foot instead.  Well, that would be ideal if my zipper foot didn't place the needle further away than if using a regular foot.  I don't use it for zips either - it's totally useless.  So I need to re-do the seam attaching the lid to the body and then go through the same process for the base.  Just two little seams - should be easy, but it isn't!

And I'm not sure I'll ever be able to tie those two ties at the top into a pretty knot to make a handle ... I think they're too short (they're not tied in the photo - just draped!).

Oh well - off to make something I know will work: mushroom soup!  It's that kind of weather ... damp, grey and cool.