Florence a room with a view – four days in Florence with Dante, Michelangelo and Bill Viola

Four days in Florence is not much, there are so many things to see and do,  so just relax and have a great time ! 

Here’s what we managed to do : 

Quindi uscimo a riveder le stelle ...

Quindi uscimo a riveder le stelle  

 

Thursday 11:00 am : Arriving at the airport there’s a shuttle bus to the city center every half an hour or so.  It takes you to the Santa Maria Novella train station.  Since we only had a light hand luggage we took a nice stroll through Via Tornabuoni to our hotel at the Arno banks.

Shopping street, Via Tornabuoni, Florence

Shopping street, Via Tornabuoni, Florence

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Our hotel, La Tana dei Leoni was a great find.  We had a big beautiful room with two big windows facing the river and the Ponte Vecchio which was a few steps away ! Just perfect ! 

View from the other side of the Arno of La Tana dei Leoni

View from the other side of the Arno of La Tana dei Leoni

View from the window of La Tana dei Leoni

View from the window of La Tana dei Leoni

We were greeted by Francesco, our host,  a very nice and smart person who made a lot of useful suggestions about where to go and what to do.  After settling in our room we got ready to immerse ourselves in the city’s charms. 

Cafe Neri, Florence

Local sweets at the Cafe Neri, Florence

Local sweets at Cafe Neri, Florence

Local sweets at Cafe Neri, Florence. We stopped for a short coffee and cannolo

14:00 o’clock and time to cross the Ponte Vecchio to the Oltrarno and Palazzo Pitti,  our goal was not to visit the Palazzo ( mile long queues, better get a reservation online ), so we headed towards the Santo Spirito area and the nearby Capella  Brancacci.  There are far less crowds here and at the Piazza del Carmine you’ll find the Santa Maria Del Carmine church,  part of which is the Capella Brancacci with the famous frescoes by Masolino and Masaccio. 

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Capella Brancacci, Florence

Capella Brancacci, Florence

Capella Brancacci, Florence

Altar of the Capella Brancacci, Florence

Capella Brancacci, Florence

Detail from the altar at Capella Brancacci, Florence

17:00 o’clock and back to Santo Spirito to visit the beautiful church which is designed by Brunelleschi and full of precious works of art, and best of all there’s no entrance fee to this jewel !

Church of Santo Spirito, Florence

Church of Santo Spirito, Florence

 

Santo Spirito square, Florence

Santo Spirito square, Florence

Santo Spirito square, Florence

Gustapanino, at Santo Spirito square, Florence. A Glass of Falanghina wine, was the right choice

After the visit it was time to relax for a while at this beautiful and vibrant square .

Santo Spirito square, Florence

The church of Santo Spirito

Santo Spirito square, Florence

Santo Spirito square, Florence

Santo Spirito square, Florence

 

20:00 o’clock Back to our hotel to freshen up and it’s time for dinner;  following our host’s suggestion we visited the Osteria da Ganino  close to the Piazza Della Signoria, which we liked so much that we didn’t go to any other place for dinner during our stay ( lunch is another story ).

Palazzo Vecchio at the Piazza Della Signioria, Florence

Palazzo Vecchio at the Piazza Della Signioria, Florence

Piazza Della Signioria, Florence

Piazza Della Signioria, Florence

Osteria da Ganino, Florence

The absolute must at the Osteria da Ganino, Florence

Osteria da Ganino, Florence

Fresh artichokes at the Osteria da Ganino, Florence. Recipe is coming up

 

Osteria da Ganino, Florence

Home made fresh pasta at the Osteria da Ganino, Florence

Friday morning : Santa Croce is called not only one of the most important churches in Florence but also the historic working class neighborhood around it.  It’s worth walking around before or after visiting the church  as its a really attractive place.  Santa Croce hosts masterpieces by Giotto, Cimabue, Brunelleschi and  so many other great artists, it also hosts the burial monuments of many famous personalities like Machiavelli,  Galileo, Michelangelo to name just a few …

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Michelangelo, Florence

Santa Croce, burial monument of Michelangelo, Florence

Santa Croce, Dante, Florence

Santa Croce, burial monument of Dante, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Francesco Salviati, Deposition from the Cross, Florence

Santa Croce, Francesco Salviati, Deposition from the Cross, Florence

Santa Croce, Angelo Bronzino, Descent of Christ into Limbo, Florence

Santa Croce, Angelo Bronzino, Descent of Christ into Limbo, Florence

Very close to Santa Croce on Via Ghibellina there’s another very important place to visit : Michelangelo’ s house with a few of the early works of the grand master. 

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Battaglia dei Centauri e Lapiti, Florence

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Battaglia dei Centauri e Lapiti, Florence

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Modello per un Dio Fluviale, Florence

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Modelo per un Dio Fluviale, Florence

Friday noon- afternoon : Time for some shopping and a little snack and the San Lorenzo market is a great place for both. 

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

 

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Mercato Centrale, Florence

Friday evening so many little wine bars and so little time ! 

Vinaino, Wine Bar, Florence

Vinaino, Wine Bar, Florence

Walking in the streets of Florence

Walking in the streets of Florence

Walking in the streets of Florence

Walking in the streets of Florence

I Ghibellini, wine and snacks, Florence

I Ghibellini, wine and snacks, Florence

Panbriaco, wine bar, Florence

Panbriaco, wine bar, Florence

Panbriaco, wine bar, Florence

Panbriaco, wine bar, Florence

 

Antiche Dogane, Wine Bar, Florence

Antiche Dogane, Wine Bar, Florence

Antiche Dogane, Wine Bar, Florence

Antiche Dogane, Wine Bar, Florence

Cute little shop in central Florence

Cute little shop in central Florence

Saturday morning : time for a little more shopping , where to start ? First we check the Sant Ambrogio market and the area around it.  Lots of food, cheap clothes and more. Then back towards the center; in Borgo degli Albizi there’s a great shop : Maestri di Fabrica , for some gifts by Italian artisans or even for a good buffet lunch.  Another special shop to visit  is the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. 

St Ambrogio Market, Florence

St Ambrogio Market, Florence

Maestri di Fabrica, Florence

Maestri di Fabrica, Florence

Maestri di Fabrica, Florence

Maestri di Fabrica, Florence

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Saturday afternoon: time for a daily dose of art, and since the old masters are here to stay, let’s visit Palazzo Strozzi and get to know the work of a great artists of our times : Bill Viola will be in dialogue with the masterpieces of the Renaissance until July . 

Bill Viola, Florence

Bill Viola, Florence

Bill Viola, Florence

Bill Viola, Florence

Bill Viola, Florence

Bill Viola, Florence

Bill Viola, Florence

Bill Viola, Florence

The last of our four days in Florence was Sunday and Sunday in Florence can be a little tricky , specially if you’re on a strict schedule , some museums are closed , most of the churches are helding a holy mess , so they are not available for a visit, so be prepared !  

Mid-morning we are heading to San Lorenzo but it was only open for the prayers until noon, so we left and went in via Calzaiuolli  where we combined some last minute shopping and a visit at Orsanmichele.

Orsanmichele, Florence

Orsanmichele, Florence

We can’t leave Florence without visiting the Duomo with the famous cupola by Brunelleschi.

Duomo, Florence

Duomo, Florence

After that we wanted to pay our respects to Dante  by visiting a very special little church, Santa Margheritta dei Cerchi, where he was supposed to have been married to his wife Gema but most importantly to have met the love of his life the famous Beatrice.  Unfortunately the little church was closed too. 

So since there was not much time left we just had a farewell lunch at the Gatto e la Volpe close-by 

Osteria, Il Gatto a la Volpe, four days in Florence

Osteria, Il Gatto a la Volpe, Florence

Osteria, Il Gatto a la Volpe, four days in Florence

Osteria, Il Gatto a la Volpe, Florence

Our visit in Florence was very short but we’ve been here before and we certainly will be back …

The great Dante could never return to his hometown, he died in exile and is buried in Ravenna, he lost forever his beloved Beatrice, who died very young at the age of 24 .  But found them both again in his poetry, another great way to travel ! Always.

Ma gia volgeva il mio disio e il veile , 

Si come rota ch ugualmente e mossa

L’  amor che muove il sole e l ‘altre  stelle . 

                             ( Dante ,  LA DIVINA  COMEDIA  ) 

 

A couple of swells – Where to go in Southeast Asia, best places to stay and dream away

We are a couple of swells and stop at the best hotels!

couple of swells at the best hotels!

 These are  some of Southeast Asia’s  best places to stay !

 Travelling  is all about moving, getting to know new places we will all agree about that;  then again where you stay is some times what makes  your travel unforgettable. 

So we thought we should talk about  some places that really made us dream of returning. 

Suppose we should try to set up a ” top ten ”  list of them, it would look somehow  like this: 

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Ko Bulon Le – three perfect days by the sea and into the jungle

Ever dreamed of a place where you would wake up to the sounds of the jungle  and the waves of the tide,  where looking through your window  you would see a picture like this…Ko Bulon, Thailand

Then you step out  of your bungalow straight to the beautiful beach.  It seems like a dream but it’s true.    

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort

Good morning Ko Bulon Le 

Ko Bulon, Thailand

Ko Bulon Le, one of the few paradises left.  We stayed there three nights at the Pansand Resort, in a bungalow with great sea views and just ten meters from the water

The main beach of the island  (yellow line on the map above) looks something like the one in the Castaway movie…

Ko Bulon, Thailand 

Pansad Resort lies at the southeastern end of the main beach of the island, while the opposite end is occupied by the other big resort the Bulon Resort.  Between the two resorts there is the best part of the beach with the local school in the background.  After the school you will find the Marina Resort where the only road of Ko Bulon begins. 

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort beach

A short walk uphill after passing from the Marina Resort you’ll find the Coconut Bar…Great place  if you need a stop just have some mosquito repellent handy! Ko Bulon, Coconut bar

Panka  Noi Bay at the other side of the island (the first right turn as you reach the village), may not be ideal for swimming, because of all the fishing boats and of the mangrove forest, but is a beautiful peaceful place with a nice welcoming Italian restaurant . 

Ko Bulon, Panka Noi Bay

Ko Bulon, Panka Noi Bay

Picturesque Panka Noi Bay at low tide, with fishing boats mixed with Avicennia Officinalis trees, (Mangrovias).

Ko Bulon, Panka Noi Bay

Playing in the sandy beach in the shade of huge trees.

Ko Bulon, Panka Noi Bay

A calming stop at the Italian restaurant -cafe for a refreshing drink at Panka Noi Bay.  Nice wine with something to bite in a hot afternoon.

Ko Bulon, Panka Noi Bay

Quiet moments at Panka Noi Bay, gazing at the sea

Ko Bulon, Panka Noi Bay

Panka Noi Bay

Ko Bulon, Panka Noi Bay

Ko Bulon, Chaoley village

The Chaoley Village (Sea Gypsy Village) is roughly in the center of the island, and you can find small local shops to buy water, fruits etc.  There’s also a nice little bakery and some places to eat. 

Ko Bulon, Sue's Corner Bakery

Our little friend at the Sea Gypsy Village where we sat for lunch.

  Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village 

The best Phat Thai dish ever tasted in South East Asia, we found it at the Sea Gypsy Village, Chaolay Homestay restaurant.Ko Bulon, Chaoley Homestay Restaurant

Don’t forget to buy some coconut oil, it’s great for the skin after a day in the sun.

A local house at the Sea Gypsy Village.

Ko Bulon, Chaoley village

Walking further north and going down the slope in the woods, you reach the Panka Yai Bay 

Ko Bulon, Panka Yai Bay

Panka Yai Bay.  We stopped for a coffee at the deep shade of the beach trees at the Panka Bay Resort

Ko Bulon, Panka Yai Bay

Ko Bulon, Panka Yai Bay

Ko Bulon, Panka Yai Bay

Back to the village and moving  to the south part of the island, on our way to Mango Bay.

Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village

Another house in the woods.

Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village

Passing by a bar for those that look for a shade and some cool drinks.  Humidity at  80%.

Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village

On the way to Mango Bay, at the south of Ko Bulon, you see the countless rubber trees that block the sun.

Ko Bulon, Rubber tree plantation

The precious juice of the rubber tree.  The rubber tree plantation is covering most of the area to the south part of the island.

Ko Bulon, Rubber tree plantation

The path is easy and well preserved and goes through the forest.

Ko Bulon, Rubber tree plantation

Ko Bulon, path to Mango Bay

At last!!! Mango Bay, the fish village.

Ko Bulon, Mango Bay

Ko Bulon, Mango Bay

The fishing boats are floating lazy, waiting for the fishermen to take them to the open sea.

Ko Bulon, Mango Bay

Mango Bay.  

Ko Bulon, Mango Bay

Mango Bay

Ko Bulon, Mango Bay

Ko Bulon, Mango Bay

On our way back, more rubber trees are waiting to be harvested.

Ko Bulon, rubber tree plantation

Monitor Lizard is my name and I like to be alone…..if you don’t mind.

Ko Bulon, Monitor Lizard

The noise they make when they move suddenly, is rather scary.  However, they are harmless, if you respect them.

Ko Bulon, Monitor Lizard

And really big…  Ko Bulon, Monitor Lizard

There are some more common animals too…

Ko Bulon

Passing through the Sea Gypsy Village

Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village

Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village

Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village

Ko Bulon, Chaoley Village

The path is heading for the mainland, leaving behind the village.

Mango Bay was a very picturesque little cove and ideal for a nice walk through the jungle, but was not suitable for swimming so we returned to the main beach.

Ko Bulon, main beach

The beach front of the island.

Ko Bulon, main beach

Ko Bulon, main beach

There is enough space for every one…!

Ko Bulon, main beach

How to describe happiness with just one picture…

Ko Bulon, main beach

Back to our resort for a cold shower, before going for dinner, no hot water, but who cares…

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort

We really loved our bungalow and felt at home after a day in the jungle and on the beach

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort

Night at the Pansand Resort restaurant.

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort Restaurant

Ko Bulon, Pansand Resort Restaurant

Bye Bye picture from the long tail boat, leaving Ko Bulon Le for the next island.

Ko Bulon, Thailand

Last glimpse of the island

Ko Bulon, Thailand

Spent three days on this beautiful island, would happily stay there for many more days among the beautiful nature and friendly locals.  But we were so curious to go on, to see more… 

Ko Bulon, Thailand

Good bye Sea Gypsies.  Hope to see you again.  

Andaman Islands paradise – A perfect day in Ko Lipe

 After spending two wonderful days in Trangwe left for Ko Lipe.

We bought our transfer tickets from one of the travel agencies located around the Trang rail way station for 600 Bht per person.  The tickets included the transfer form Trang to Pakbara Pier  by minivan and the speed boat ticket to Ko Lipe.

It’s a three hour drive though a beautiful landscape with lush vegetation, pretty little villages and rubber plantations.

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Sweets for St. Fanourio-What to do in Kythira late August

St Fanourios loves sweets. That is: you make him a cake and he reveals hidden things for you, or finds lost things or even persons.  That’s a great deal really because you know at the end you eat the cake too.  So everybody is happy.

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Ol Man River – Life at Mekong delta

Ol man river – life at the Delta.Life at Mekong delta

…Ol man river he must know something but don say nothing he just keep rolling along …  ( Showboat )

After leaving Saigon, we spent two days at Nguyen Shack a great little guesthouse near Can Tho at the Mekong delta .  We  immediately felt at home there ,  because of the people there who welcomed us like friends and the whole setup of the place  was  more like staying at a  friends house rather than at guest house in another part of the world.

 

View from the window

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