Florence is a place of great beauty

Florence is best served early in the morning, with a cigarette and a double espresso, around 6.50 am this morning to be precise, I wish I could communicate the sound and the smells, as the bells ring out across the city and the busy people scamper around below, you look out in wonder. The image will have to do the job.

Florence is a place of geat beauty.

I am in Rome as I write this, but there is a lot more to come about the last 5 days in Tuscany, a lot more.

now I am in Portugal, and way behind with my blogging -I will start a new post for Florence, Rome and Portugal and have them all updated in the coming days

Florence is a place of beauty
Florence is a place of great beauty

 

Aida at the Verona Arena

This was what we came for, and even at 100 euros a ticket, I would say it was a great value night, all four hours of it!

Crazy night, fun, numerous wine and fag breaks and what made it special was that it was a gift from my lovely mum, and  I  know how mch it means to her and to my dad, they enjoyed this trip a few times and it was very emotional for me to be there and do the same, thinking of dad, who sadly left us at the start ot this year,

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light a candle to welcome the start of Aida
light a candle to welcome the start of Aida

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Churches, pizza, wine and shoe leather

OK, so time for a full on day being a tourist in Verona – that means wearing the skin of your feet, eating pizza and stopping off for the odd glass of vino between churches, shops and museums.

Basilica S. Zeno
Basilica S. Zeno

 

A great day, I would say – and I have the sunburn, ant bites and blisters to prove it.

Late night blogging at hotel
Late night blogging at hotel
Castelvecchio Museum
Castelvecchio Museum

 

 

a nice wine store!
a nice wine store!
2 slices = 4 euros
2 slices = 4 euros
2 big boys Piazza Erbe
2 big boys Piazza Erbe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were so lucky to stumble into the Verona Cathedral in Piazza Duomo, just as a string section, oboe and operatic singer were warming up with rehersal for a performance that evening – what a sound, a truly memorable and beautiful thirty minutes of music that stirred the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Within four days, we visited all four of the major churches open to the public – getting our six euro card stamped along the way!

The Lower Church Santa Anastasia, Verona
The Lower Church Santa Anastasia, Verona
The local tipple
The local tipple
Organ warm-up, Verona Cathedral
Organ warm-up, Verona Cathedral
news stand
news stand
a clown
a clown
nice
nice
bikes in Verona
bikes in Verona
doubleback alley
doubleback alley
Fiume Adige
Fiume Adige
Rehersal in Duomo
Rehersal in Duomo
More singing
More singing
lovely sound
lovely sound
tourists
tourists
Cloisters
Cloisters
Cloisters 2
Cloisters 2
more cloisters
more cloisters

Italian trains, wine but no wi-fi

just saying…

We spent most of the day yesterday on an a train of some sort, some good, some better than good, none as pleasant as a Swiss train though sadly!

Starting in Paris very early, we got a long way in a very short time t0 Lyon (250 miles) in 1 hour 40 minutes to be exact….

Once in Italy, although armed with waiter service and a nicer train, there was a lack of wi-fi even in first class, and a seemingly pedestrian pace to our travel – I could have cycled it quicker in fact.

So why then does it take a further seven hours to go as far again?

I think the answer is something to do with the Alps…who put them there?

cake
cake
Paris from Pompidou
Paris from Pompidou
Paris
Paris
Pompidou view 2
Pompidou view 2
Pompidou
Pompidou
Gare du Lyon
Gare du Lyon
all day on a slow train
all day on a slow train
first ice cream of the trip
first ice cream of the trip
Platform 4, not Platform 2
Platform 4, not Platform 2
S.Zeno

Big Amarone
Big Amarone
Verona at last

tourist

 

Verona, Italy

A long day on the train was rewarded with an evening stroll into the beautiful city of Verona – our home for the next few days

Verona Arena - the thid largest in the world
Verona Arena – the thid largest in the world

Shakespeare placed star-crossed lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet in Verona for good reason: romance, drama and fatal family feuding have been the city’s hallmark for centuries. From the 3rd century BC Verona was a Roman trade centre with ancient gates, a forum (now Piazza delle Erbe) and a grand Roman arena, which still serves as one of the world’s great opera venues. In the Middle Ages the city flourished under the wrathful Scaligeri clan, who were as much energetic patrons of the arts as they were murderous tyrants. Their elaborate Gothic tombs, the Arche Scaligere, are just off Piazza dei Signori.

Under Cangrande I (1308–28) Verona conquered Padua and Vicenza, with Dante, Petrarch and Giotto benefitting from the city’s patronage. But the fratricidal rage of Cangrande II (1351–59) complicated matters, and the Scaligeri were run out of town in 1387. Venice took definitive control in 1404, ruling until Napoleon’s arrival in 1797.

The city became a Fascist control centre from 1938 to 1945, a key location for Resistance interrogation and transit point for Italian Jews sent to Nazi concentration camps. Today, as the city grapples with its changing identity as an international commercial centre, it has become a Lega Nord (Northern League) stronghold. Yet the city is a Unesco World Heritage Site and a cosmopolitan crossroads, especially in summer when the 2000-year-old arena hosts opera’s biggest names (including us).

Beautiful early evening
Beautiful early evening
some shopping to be done too - looks quite smart
some shopping to be done too – looks quite smart
The Arena - we will be watching Aida here on Saturday
The Arena – we will be watching Aida here on Saturday
Piazza Bra - where its all happening
Piazza Bra – where its all happens

 

Satup in bed now, listening to Aida – frantically trying to memorise two and a half hours of music, to get ready for tomorrow night down at the Arena, Verona.

It would seem that Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi  was born on the 9th  October 1813 and left this earth on 27 January 1901 – over 113 years ago; so how come he’s such a big deal?

Clearly he was an  Italian Romantic composer primarily known for his operas. I am advised by Wikipedia that he is considered, together with Richard Wagner, the preeminent opera composer of the nineteenth century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I will be the judge of that after I have sat with a numb bum for four hours tomorrow night in the open air!

It would also seem that Aida was a runaway success – following the very first performance in Cario on Christmas Eve 1871, the opera went on to great critical acclaim and was performed around the world – and still is to this day, making it the second most performed opera in the world, after La Beheme.

Pompidou Centre, Martial Raysse

Another day, another gallery – or in this case,

LE CENTRE POMPIDOU

Welcome to the Pompidou Centre!
Welcome to the Pompidou Centre!

Welcome to the Pompidou Centre – a sophisticated mix of modern art and overpriced cafe’s in the heart of Paris just up from Hotel du Ville.

Following a bumpy ride on the 69 bus from Boulevard Voltaire,  refrshed with coffee and cake, we arived ready to tackle the Martial Raysse exhibition on the sixth floor – with a great view over Paris thrown in for 11 euros.

What a fun show it turned out to be – amazing!

Obviously, Raysse is a French painter; a self-taught artist whose early works were assemblages which included plastic objects.

This appropriation of prefabricated materials led to his association with Nouveau réalisme. Raysse exhibited a world, new, antiseptic and modern. His approach anticipated that of the Pop artists, who likewise used objects and images deriving from advertising.

During the 1960s Raysse began to make more pictorial compositions, based on images from advertising as well as on high art. He also produced paintings in which a deliberate roughness of execution is emphasised by the superimposition of a single neon line. Raysse began at this time to create his own prototypes as another way of continuing to elevate bad taste and falsity to the level of art.

In the mid 1960s Raysse’s work developed around a number of recurrent themes; in particular he concentrated on the contours of a portrait, a mouth or an eye, repeating them endlessly using all kinds of visual formulae, and drawing on the most diverse types of materials.

He gave up his pictorial explorations in the atmosphere of the events of 1968 in France. When he returned to painting, his work had undergone an important change. Little by little he moved away from the urban world towards a return to nature, a bucolic ideal of a gentle and calm community with reminiscences of Poussin and of mythology. He used pastel and tempera to depict timeless magical or fantastic scenes, anticipating the vogue for mythological subjects that appeared in the work of other painters in the 1980s.

His more recent work, including ‘ici Plage, comme ici-bas’  a huge room-filling beach scene (pictured below) and produced as recently as 2012, is both highly entertaining and also most pleasing to the eye.

I’m no art critic, but it reminded me of the Grayson Perry tapestries ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ in London a few years ago – I like it a lot.

Here are some snaps.

photocrati gallery

and here is a more substantial Guardian review of the same retrospective show

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jul/01/martial-raysse-retrospective-pompidou-review

You really can’t go wrong in Paris, still off to Verona tomorrow, so that’s enough of that!

Musée d’Orsay & the left bank, Paris

Of all the places we come back to time and time again in Paris, the Musée d’Orsay  is our favourite.

Musee d’Orsay

Sitting calmly on the left bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900.

The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.

It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including MonetManetDegasRenoir,CézanneSeuratSisleyGauguin and Van Gogh.

Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum’s opening in 1986.

We took a guided tour this time, well worth the six euros, an hour and a half duration starting at the information kiosk, it was a good way to see the highlights, with an audio commentary from a highly knowledgeable french art historian.

After the tour, we took a stroll along the left bank, a drink here, a sandwich there, and a game of ping pong for good measure – always lots to do, a great part of Paris!

 

 

A toilet on every floor

 

A bedroom in Paris where swinging a cat would be a problem
A bedroom in Paris where swinging a cat would be a problem

OK, so a bizarre way to start your holiday, but hey what to expect after 25 years of marriage?

Speeding along through Kent on the 13.31 Eurostar St. Pancreas to Paris Agree du Nord, and just before we get into the tunnel of love, we close the deal on a house we have been looking at since April; result, five months in the making, but definitely a result.

What better way to start the trip? A three storey house with a toilet on every floor!

For the unfit fifty plus year old males in the audience, you can see where I am coming from, or indeed where I am going to.

Being married for 25 years is all about compromise, listening and giving, that’s on both sides of the fence, to be honest I didn’t much care for this house back in April, it was over priced and not what I thought  we wanted. But by the end of the summer, it’s still our best option and the landscape has been changing every week; the things I thought were important back in April are not so now, and the things I now appreciate to be significant, are the ticks in the boxes that will guarantee long-term trouble free happiness; and that is the important bit.

You see, buying a house is very much like making love to a beautiful woman (Swiss Tony) it’s all about delivering true pleasure for the other participant, in fact the happier you can make them, the better the experience for you also, and you should always remember that.

So, it turns out that buying the house of her dreams, via truncated emails, calls and text messages, when all hope had gone, as the Eurostar entered the tunnel of love en route to Paris is as good as it gets, and  I am a super hero into the bargain.

Of course, if there are three crappers all on different floors into the bargain, then everyone truly, is a winner, amen brother.

 

Eurostar to Paris

Setting off on a bit of a European tour today, looking forward to seeing the world whiz by the window.

Mrs B leaving Macclesfield, not for the first time!
Mrs B leaving Macclesfield, not for the first time!

Happy to be in Paris now, time to test my Henri Cartier Bresson skills, a bit of street photography coming up, that is if I recover from a 30 minute yomp…nobody mentioned draging my 20 kilo case on wheels for miles across Paris to take in the rustic joys of the Maraie area?

Metro....its closed
Metro….its closed

Time for some R&R, I will keep you posted with my new format Blog, using wordpress and Photocrati – anything could happen, next stop Place de la Republique…