At the beginning of Feb, Gino had a break from hockey so we decided to take a little vaca to Florence. We took advantage of the 4 days off and made a quick stop in Pisa (hour west of Florence) on the way and also spent a day in Siena (45 min southeast of Florence). We had a plan for Pisa...get there...park...walk straight to the Leaning Tower...snap a few pics...and leave. Since having Lily, most of our "plans" never really turn out or we end up adding an extra hour or two. Well, this one actually worked! The Leaning Tower was pretty cool. We spent probably 45 min or so walking around the courtyard outside and the market across the street. Since Pisa is on the coast, it was very warm, considering it was Feb 4th. People were walking around without coats, laying in the sun and having picnics in the courtyard. It was great! We snapped a few pics and went on our way.
|Gino and Lily playing |
|Gino at one of the entrances into the city|
|View of Tuscany from the gates of Siena|
One of the main sights to see in Siena is the Piazza del Campo. It's listed as a World Heritage Site and is now used twice a year for the Palio di Siena. We spent an hour or so roaming around the Piazza chasing birds....No Lily can't walk/run yet. Gino was chasing them and Lily was amused.
Next stop, was the Siena Cathedral. This was by far one of the most beautiful and intricate cathedrals both of us had ever seen. Not surprisingly, it's considered one of the most ornate cathedrals in all of Europe. The outside was just as incredible as the inside, when it came to detail.
Every square inch was covered in some sort of design. The floors were covered in hundreds of marble murals depicting various biblical scenes. Again, the pictures just don't do it justice!
|Stained glass window of the Last Supper|
It was pretty chilly the day we went to Siena, so it was hard to keep Lily outside for long. We strolled to one end of town to snap a few pics of the famous burnt orange buildings and then made our way back to Florence for the evening.
We loved Siena and would recommend it to anyone visiting the Tuscany/Florence area. It's truly a hidden gem!
We rolled into Florence at about 5:30. Just in time to take a walk around our hotel and find a dinner spot. I had originally planned to not eat any Italian food on this trip..we're a little "Italianed" out. Don't get me wrong, authentic Italian food is delish! But after 6 months of eating it every time you go out to eat, all you want is a big burrito or some cheap chinese take out. Unfortunately, we needed a fast meal in order to get Lily back to the hotel for bed, so we settled for a Pizzeria.
|View from our hotel room of the Cathedral St Lorenzo Dome|
After she was bathed and in bed, Gino and I drank wine and played family fued on the Ipad in the dark...whispering. Oh the joys of traveling with a baby! Honestly, those will be some of my fondest memories of traveling with Lily:) Gino and I have a ball!
We had 2 full days in Florence, which was just enough. Day 1 we started early and strolled around the entire city...which, for those of you who have been there before, know that it doesn't take long to walk the entire city. I won't go into the long boring details but the highlights of that first day were touring the Duomo, enjoying the street life, walking along the famous Ponte Vecchio and LILY CUTTING HER FIRST TOOTH. Great... Lily had to pick this one, 4 day trip to get her first tooth! It made for a very interesting day...lots of joy, tears, and screaming by all 3 of us.
|Duomo from the side and also part of St. Johns Babtistry which is connected.|
|Front of the beautiful Duomo Cathedral- the outside was nothing like the inside.|
If you know Gino, then you know that he has a thing for European churches and cathedrals. They're pretty amazing but he loves to tour through and take in all the beauty! The outside of the Duomo was a site to see. It was made up of different colored marble that dates back to the early 1200's. If we hadn't been warned by my parents, that the inside was bare compared to the outside, we would've thought, the interior may have been even more spectacular! Even though we knew, it was still a little disappointing.
The one cool area of the interior was the Domes. They must have put all their energy and creativity into those!!
|The Last Judgement|
***This was about the time Lily got her tooth... and after 30 min of crying and screaming, she was sleeping.***
|Standing near the Arno River|
After the Duomo, we walked straight to the Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge") along the Arno River. It was built in the mid 1400's and was the only bridge in Florence that wasn't destroyed by Hitler during WWII. There are a number of shops along the bridge that are ALL JEWLERY shops. When it was first created, these shops had more of a variety (Butcher, etc). It wasn't as big as I had anticipated but very pretty with all the colored plastered shops!
That evening we found ourselves a sushi restaurant to eat at and called it a night. We wanted to start driving back to Alleghe mid afternoon on our last day so that gave us the morning/afternoon to finish exploring the city. We took a walk to the otherside of the Arno River and up to the Japanese Rose Garden. We'd wanted to hike up to Michelangelo Park for the beautiful view of the city, but by the time we got to the rose garden, with a heavy stroller and crabby baby...we wern't about to push our luck.
The ose garden, itself, wasn't anything special to look at in February but the view was really nice!
|Walking up the stairs to the rose garden...while carrying the stroller:/|
Gino's playoff run wrapped up this past Saturday in Val Pellice (6 hours from Alleghe). They ended the regular season in 4th place and ended up losing out in the first round of playoffs.
They were two evenly matched teams but it didn't help that they had such a long road trip every other game. They played the best 4 out of 7 games. So back and forth every 3 days. It got to be a long series in that sense. I never could understand why they do that. Why not play 2 games away, 2 games home etc. Whatever, I guess I don't make the rules....but I should:) I hadn't been taking Lily to the games since they start over an hour past her bedtime but decided to try and keep her up for what could have been the last home playoff game.
|Arrived nice and early!...we're never early to anything anymore!|
We went for just the first period but Lily did pretty well and got to see her daddy score! It was nice for both of us to see him end the season on a good note. Although, Lily freaked out when they blew the air horn after the goal and started crying. A little too much stimulation for one late night! I'm glad we made it because it DID end up being their last home game.
We're unsure of our plans for next season and only time will tell if we end up making it another year in Europe or settling back in MN for good. It's been a very interesting year with hockey and our little Lily but given the ups and downs of the season, we still feel very grateful and humbled for this experience. The places we've seen, people we've met along the way, and the friendships we will continue to have through this "hockey world" are a total blessing. We realize that we've been living a pretty special life for our first few years of marriage and given an unbelievably priceless 6 months with our daughter that we will always cherish. I will never ever regret that...
So for now, Arrivederci!
|The last 3 years|