Archive for Italy

March 19 is St. Joseph’s Day!

Posted in Dessert, Digital Image, Holiday, Italy with tags , , , on March 18, 2013 by melabeemiller

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St. Joseph’s Zeppole, a cream or custard filled pastry, is the best part of this Italian holiday.  I’ve made them but would much rather buy them at a pastry shop or have this fresh, tasty, deep fried dessert after a delicious dinner at Torna a Sorrento Restaurant in Elizabeth, NJ.

St. Joseph’s Zeppole are available before the holiday but after the 19th you’ll have to wait until next year.

P.S. Don’t forget a hot caffè macchiato to complete the experience.

Florence, Two!

Posted in Architect/Architecture, Digital Image, Florence, Italy with tags , , on December 6, 2011 by melabeemiller

Our next adventure was a tour of the Vasari Corridor.  I’ve always wanted to visit the corridor which begins at the Palazzo Vecchio, winds through the Uffizzi Gallery, along the Ponte Vecchio and ends at the Palazzo Pitti across the Arno River.   The passageway was the idea of Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1564 and was motivated by the Grand Duke’s desire to move freely between his residence and the government palace without interacting with the people.  He commissioned Giorgio Vasari, the Italian painter, historian and architect, to create a design.

On the guided tour, we were told the corridor’s history and were cautioned by a Uffizi Gallery guard not to take any photos in or of the corridor.  She accompanied us every step of the way and only allowed photos taken out the windows.  Along the winding corridor, we saw an extensive collection of self-portrait paintings.

The Grand Duke appropriated private property for his corridor and built across the facade of the Church of Santa Felicita.  A corridor window looks into the church and the Duke and his family could attend mass and not be seen by the public.  Sorry, no photos through this particular window. It was fascinating to see familiar locations from a completely different vantage point.

What hidden treasures have you discovered in Florence?

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Florence, Italy!

Posted in Digital Image, Florence, Italy, Melabee M Miller, Summer, Travel with tags , , , on October 27, 2011 by melabeemiller

I’ve visited Florence numerous times and I wondered if I would tire of it and take the first train to, well….somewhere.  But no, there are always new things to do and familiar places to see again.

During my visit to Florence this summer, the first tour was to see the newly restored frescoes which depict The Legend of the True Cross on the walls and ceiling of the High Altar of the Church of Santa Croce. Scaffolding was in place while the finishing touches were made to the frescoes and this allowed visitors to tour the art. Without a special request or additional cost, an English speaking tour guide was there to translate just for us. Grazie!

We climbed the 110 scaffolding steps to the top. It was so exciting to literally be face-to-face with the life size figures in these incredible frescoes painted by Agnolo Gaddi – son of Taddeo Gaddi.  Italian restoration only allows the frescoes to be cleaned.  If paint or gold leaf is missing, it remains in that condition. Because of this, we saw some of the lines of the original drawing on the wall.  Amazing! No photos were allowed in this area, so we took out our journals and drew.

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To see even more photos of Florence, be sure to preview my book at blurb.com.

My new photo book on Tuscany

Posted in Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Photography, Summer, Travel, Tuscany with tags , , on September 30, 2011 by melabeemiller

Book CoverI am proud to announce my photo essay, Tuscany June 2011.  The book chronicles my latest adventures in Italy.  You’ve seen some of the photos in previous posts, like this one about Siena, but there are lots more to see.  The book is thirty-six pages filled with photos and available for purchase at Blurb.com.  I am thrilled to share this with you and hope you enjoy the book.

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/1930270/0f2aa3b9e6358e158d4b36c8b55f5aa6c414fe29

San Gimignano, Italy

Posted in Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Mountains, San Gimignano, Summer, Twin Towers, Wild Boar with tags , , , , , on September 9, 2011 by melabeemiller

We entered San Gimignano, a Medieval walled city famous for it’s towers, through the Porta San Giovanni.  The city was quite easy to navigate.  It was market day and there were aisles of vendor carts and umbrellas end to end covering two piazzas.  So many that we couldn’t see the cistern in the center of the Piazza of the Cistern or “Piazza della Cisterna“.

If you are interested in tasting wild boar or cinghiale”, this is the place.  Almost all the local stores have full size stuffed wild boar greeting you as you enter and numerous cured pieces of wild boar for sale.  We were told that wild boar roamed the countryside at night but we didn’t catch a glimpse of even one.

There are fourteen towers of varying heights remaining of  the original 72. My friend Elaine and I found Torre Salvucci”, the only tower open to the public on the day we visited.  We walked the 160 steps up the staircase which wound it’s way through ten floors.  Each floor had a different living space from a kitchen to bedrooms and sitting rooms and even a full bathroom. Yes, each floor was one room.  At the very top, the guide opened the rolling gate to reveal a terrace with a fabulous panoramic view.  Definitely worth the climb!

As an American who saw the Twin Towers being built  in New York in 1973, I couldn’t help but think of them during my visit to San Gimignano.  Our Twin Towers will always remain in our memories.

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Siena, Italy

Posted in Digital Image, Duomo, Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Photography, Siena, Siena, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2011 by melabeemiller

Our next excursion was to Siena, a very large city in comparison to my favorite town, Radda in Chianti.

Siena is well known for the Palio, a spectacular horse race that takes place in the center of the city twice a year.  But we were looking for a different Siena and found some unexpected things.  We were dropped off at San Domenico Basilica where, much to our surprise, we came upon the head and finger of St. Catherine of Siena ( 1347-1380  ).  No photos permitted in the church but, if you’d like, you can see her head here.

Next, we walked on Via Cittá and heard classical music.  Following the sound, we entered the courtyard of the Palazzo Chigi Saracini (This link shows a 180° view-don’t forget to look up.) which houses the Chigiana Musical Academy.   We sat on a bench and lost track of time while we listened to music, worked in our journal, photographed and watched people.

The most wonderful site was the crypt (cripta in Italian) which was re-discovered in 1999 under the Duomo (Cathedral).  I was disappointed because photography was not permitted in this space which was full of incredible frescoes and decorative patterns.  But I had an alternative to photography-my journal.  I made drawings of the areas I wanted to remember.  A whole new world has opened to me.  Now along with my camera, I travel with a notebook and pencil.

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Visiting Radda in Chianti, Italy

Posted in Colors, Detail, Digital Image, Italy, Italy, Melabee, Melabee M Miller, Mountains, Nature, Photography, Radda in Chianti, Summer, Sunlight, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2011 by melabeemiller

Our first day trip was to the lovely hilltop town of Radda in Chianti in the center of the Chianti region.  Our host explained how safe it was by relating this story: A previous workshop participant lost a camera somewhere in the town.  The next day it was returned by the Policia.  A local resident found the camera, recognized the photos of Borgo San Fedele and knew that it had to belong to a visitor staying there.  You can’t get much safer than that.

We found the perfect bench in a small park overlooking the countryside and painted the fabulous views.  The Church of San Niccolò is in the center of this circular town so we knew exactly where we were at all times. In the middle of the Chianti region, we found many black roosters (found on the seal of Chianti Classico wine) and the most delicious white wine made with the typical Vernacchia grape.

Of course we didn’t paint all the time.  We visited abiti e accessori, a store with home accessories in one room and, in the other, beautiful clothes made with hand painted fabrics made by the artist in the middle of the store.  Other stores featured the food of the region including pici pasta and a tasty olive oil, of course.  And, don’t forget a fabulous lunch.

The size and friendliness of Radda was just perfect for our first adventure.

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