Holiday in Tuscany – Florence

Florence is more than just another place to visit. It is a flame that reignites your inner artist or poet. Perhaps in all of us there is a passion for beauty and genius – for deeper connections with people – for celebrations of the bounty of marvelous food brilliantly prepared, accompanied by great wine. It is in Florence, “Cradle of the Renaissance,” where these inner gifts reemerge for a life well lived and beauty fully absorbed. Your holiday in Florence will claim its spot in your mind and memory well after you return home, and you will forever be the better for it.

Prepare to be awed as you fly into Florence, locate your lodgings, and head towards the river for your first view of the Ponte Vecchio. Plan to spend at least five days here (more, if possible), residing on the left bank of the Arno River, called the “Oltrarno” (Oltr-Arno- “other side of the Arno”), within a short walk to the Ponte Vecchio. Here you will become 21st-century “neighbors” of the Medici, around the corner from their opulent Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. You will be close to restaurants and bistros too, as well as to neighborhood grocery stores that offer an abundance of luscious produce, delectable deli items and freshly baked bread, along with excellent and very affordable local wines.

By staying near the river on the “other” side, you will be within a short walk to two convenient bridges, one of which is the Ponte Vecchio, that will take you quickly to the busier side of the river where the dome of the Duomo dominates the skyline. As you walk along “your” side of the river, or lunch at a window table at the Golden View, you will have before you the full spectacle of the Ponte Vecchio, with the imposing Uffizi Gallery bordering the river across the way, and the Duomo dome behind it.

Start Your Florence Visit with the Bridges and Piazzas

There is no better way to learn any city than by seeking out its main bridges (if it has a river), as well as its major squares or piazzas. Florence has the most photogenic bridge of them all, the Ponte Vecchio (“old bridge”). It is likely that what inspired you to visit Firenze (Florence) in the first place was seeing one of the many stunning images of the Ponte Vecchio.

The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge across the Arno until 1218, and it will be your primary route across the river during your stay in Florence. And what a delightful pathway this will be, coming and going, with its views and its intriguing shops.

There have been shops on the Ponte Vecchio since the 13th century. Initially these were shops of all types, including butcher and fishmonger shops that created an offensive stench in the area. So, in 1593, Ferdinand I decreed that only goldsmiths and jewelers would be allowed to locate their shops on the bridge. This ruling was “in order to improve the well-being of all as they walked over the bridge.”

As well as learning the bridges, you will need to master the Piazzas. Florence is a city of narrow, serpentine streets, bordered by tall canyons of buildings. So, whenever you approach a Piazza, you will feel like you are bursting forth into a vastness of wide-open space. These expansive town squares have been used for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years as gathering places for the populace. It was in the piazzas that important news was announced, and preachers delivered their messages. And it was in the piazzas that public executions were held.

Piazza della Signoria will be your place to start learning the piazzas of Florence, located directly outside the Palazzo Vecchio, palatial home to the obscenely wealthy Medici family. This square is filled with sculpture and fountains, including a copy of Michelangelo’s David (the real David is now preserved and displayed at Galleria dell’Accademia). The Dominican priest, Savonarola, staged his vehement burnings of books and art in Piazza della Signoria. And it was here that he himself was burned after his reign of terror ended.
Piazza della Republica comes next, surrounded by majestic arcades, with an imposing triumphal arch as an entrance, and a Merry-go-Round. This square was the Forum during Roman times. Now it is a favorite place for outdoor dining at one of its canopied restaurants, with plentiful opportunities to people watch.
Piazza Santa Croce was once a gathering place where public meetings were held, and Franciscan monks preached to the crowds. This square is now home to local artists, showing and selling their creations, and many charming local shops. Meetings and monks now have been replaced by street entertainers.
Piazzale Michelangelo, with its bronzed replica of Michelangelo’s David sculpture, is perched high up on a hill in the Oltrarno, offering one of the most panoramic views of the city. As you sit on this hilltop, high above the Oltrarno neighborhood, you will be at eye-level with the iconic red roof of the Duomo across the river. Return here late in the day to see one of the most stunning sunsets in Florence.

See Some of the “Must See” Sights

Take ample time to attend to the “must see” sights of Florence. Start with these five:

The Duomo and Baptistery: The 13th-century Duomo had no dome until two centuries after it was built, when construction of such an architectural marvel became possible. Walk inside to take in the celestial vastness of its interior space, and to marvel at the carpet of mosaics covering the tile floor. This structure was designed to shock and awe. Sit at an outdoor table for lunch, in full view of the intricate white, green and pink marble mosaic of the exterior. You will need at least a full hour to take this in.

Make time to study the three sets of gilded bronze doors on the exquisite octagonal Baptistery. The first set of doors, facing south, were designed by Pisano and took 6 years to complete. Ghiberti’s north doors required 21 years of work, then another 27 years to complete the east doors, for a total of 54 years of work by the masters to create the doors that now stand before you. For the east doors, Ghiberti employed the recently discovered principles of perspective to give depth to his compositions. Michelangelo declared these doors to be the “Gates of Paradise.”

Palazzo Vecchio, Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens: Imagine the lifestyle of the wealthy and powerful Medici family as you visit their place of business in town center, Palazzo Vecchio, and their opulent residence across the river, Pitti Palace, surrounded by the lush Boboli Gardens.

Cosimo de’ Medici commissioned these two locations, work and home, to be linked together by a private passageway, the Vasari Corridor, positioned above the city streets and crossing the top of the Ponte Vecchio. This passageway spanned a full kilometer, from the seat of government in Palazzo Vecchio to the Medici home in Pitti Palace, exiting beside the famous Grotto of Buontalenti in Boboli Gardens. This private corridor allowed the family and their guests to move freely and safely back and forth, observing the people below while they themselves remained unnoticed. A small carriage for two took the Medici and guests back and forth along the passageway when they preferred not to walk.

Medici Chapels: Add one additional Medici monument to your “must see” list-the Medici Chapels. Visit the sumptuous octagonal Chapel of the Princes, another lavish testament to the greatness of the Medici. The crypt beneath this chapel became the mausoleum for this notable family. Michelangelo himself worked on the sculptures of the sarcophagi, completing the statues of brothers and co-rulers Duke Giuliano and Duke Lorenzo. The master sculptor also created remarkable allegorical statues of Dawn and Dusk, Night and Day, as well as the Madonna and Child.

Michaelangelo’s David at Galleria dell’Accademia: Your visit to the Galleria will focus on the glorious sculpture of David. Stand beneath this towering marble masterwork, pristine and aglow under a circular skylight. It will take your breath away. Spend some time just to take this in. But also explore the other intriguing works by Michelangelo, including the Hall of the Prisoners that leads up to the David statue. The pieces on display here are ones that Michelangelo never completed. His unfinished work creates the effect that each of these figures is trapped for all time inside his own block of marble.

Uffizi Galleries: Enter the Uffizi (arrange in advance for an assigned time!), then move up the grand staircase to the gallery, with its frescoed ceilings and labyrinth of rooms crammed full of masterworks. Follow the U-shape of the building, veering off into the side rooms to see the displays. Cosimo de’ Medici commissioned Vasari to create this grandiose building beside Palazzo Vecchio to house the offices of government. A secret entrance to the Vasari Corridor lies behind an unmarked door on the first floor.

This building that was once the locus of Florentine government, is now home to a vast treasure chest of art. Find the large works by Botticelli first (Halls 10-14)- Allegory of Spring and Birth of Venus. Locate the portraits of Michelangelo and Raphael (Halls 35 and 66), and also Leonardo da Vinci’s one-and-only panel painting. From the far end of the corridors, pause to look out the windows to spot San Miniato, high on the hill across the Arno, just above Piazza Michelangelo. Look more closely at the Ponte Vecchio to see the windows of the Vasari Corridor that runs along the top of it.

Visit the Markets to Interact and Find Treasures to Take Home

Florence has a vast heritage of craftsmen. When it comes to shopping, you will find on offer a tantalizing variety of goods, including leather jackets, bags, shoes, belts and gloves, marble mosaics, intricate jewelry and cutting-edge fashions. At a minimum, visit the leather market near the Medici Chapels and shop for original artwork in Piazza Michelangelo.

Visit the outdoor market in Piazza Santo Spirito and the Mercato Nuovo, the covered loggia with a bronze sculpture of a pig out in front. Watch the fun of children petting the pig’s nose for luck. And feel free to haggle a bit if you decide to make purchases. Also stop in at some of the shops along the Ponte Vecchio to admire the hand-crafted jewelry and select a unique pendent or two to take home.

Your travel to Florence will be a life-changing, deeply enriching experience. “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things” says Henry Miller. And Florence is a destination that consummately inspires such new ways of seeing and living.

Discovering The Right Builders As Well As Carpenters for Your Demands

When you choose to execute significant renovation functions or developing tasks in your house, you will certainly wish to ensure that you have the greatest tradespersons readily available to do the work.

It could be hard to locate the ideal individuals in your location if you do not have any type of pals or family members to supply you referrals.

Whether you are searching for home builders to include an expansion to your residence, or woodworkers to mount cabinets and even customized furnishings, there are a couple of easy actions you could require to make certain you discover the appropriate individual for the task.

Locating a great home builder could look like a challenging job and also absolutely one that you will certainly intend to solve provided the degree of disturbance that structure job could trigger.

Prior to you start your search for a tradesperson, it is essential that you have a clear suggestion of the job you intend to perform.

It will certainly be challenging for any type of home builder to offer you an exact price quote of expense as well as time if they do not have all the details they require.

Make certain you believe thoroughly regarding the job you are preparing as well as take into consideration that you might have to ask a contractor to take duty for removing the website and also eliminating all the rubbish once the job is done.

When you come close to contractors to obtain a quote for a job, you need to make certain you recognize which inquiries to ask.

It is a smart idea, to begin with, a conversation regarding previous tasks and also if you can obtain the home builder to reveal you instances of their job.

An additional method to provide you assurance is to figure out if they are signed up with a professional body such as the National Federation of Builders or the Chartered Institute of Structure.

It is constantly worth speaking to the appropriate organization to inspect your contractor is a participant also.

You might additionally discover it valuable to recognize how much time the business has actually stayed in business as well as to inspect just what insurance policy they have versus both damages to residential property and also the individual obligation.

Prior to picking a home builder, you ought to see to it that you have actually acquired quotes from at the very least 2 specialists in your location. When doing this, you need to constantly be clear concerning exactly what is as well as is not consisted of, in addition to figuring out whether the job will certainly be ensured.

See to it that any kind of quotes you obtain – as well as the exact information regarding exactly what they cover – remain in creating so you could quickly refer back to them.

While the price, as well as the requirement of the job, are one of the most essential factors to consider when searching for a building contractor, you need to likewise look for somebody that you proceed with.

You need to keep in mind that any kind of home builders you employ will certainly remain in or around your home throughout of the task, which might last months depending upon exactly what you are having actually done.

Having the ability to have a pleasant conversation is most likely making the entire procedure much less demanding.

One more tradesperson that you may take advantage of is a woodworker.

Along with having the ability to fit kitchen areas as well as closets, woodworkers could additionally make personalized furniture pieces to match your certain needs.

These experts are extremely experienced as well as you ought to ensure that you make sure when selecting one to service a task for you, especially if it entails complex or intricate woodwork.

In several means, locating an excellent woodworker resembles looking for a trustworthy home builder.

Among the very first points to inspect is whether the woodworkers you are requesting quotes from are accredited or signed up.

This just suggests that they have actually finished a certification in the profession – there is no main organization for woodworkers as there is with contractors.

Asking regarding credentials is an excellent means to determine experience and also if you locate somebody that has actually finished an instruction with the National Organization of House Builders, Associated General Specialists or the Affiliate Builders as well as Specialists, you could be reasonably certain in their capabilities.

Similar to home builders, you ought to constantly ask to see several of their jobs as well as may be in your rate of interest to call previous consumers to discover their experiences of specific tradespersons.

This is specifically crucial if the job you desire entails difficult components or thorough woodwork.

Discovering how much time the task is most likely to take, along with where the woodworker will certainly be doing the majority of the job is likewise crucial.

If you require a woodworker to earn a personalized furniture piece, as an example, you could discover that most of the job is performed at their workshop, while suitable cabinets or a kitchen area will certainly need them to be at your residence.

An additional factor to consider with woodworking is the sort of timber being made use of. You need to hang around speaking with tradespersons to develop the most effective sort of timber for the work, which not just satisfies your individual choices however that will certainly stand the examination of time.

Struggling With Antibiotic Resistance

I never saw it coming. The process started with a small, but painful sensation right in the middle of my right butt-cheek. A very annoying problem because I am a writer squirming around as I try to fill up empty screens with words.

At first, I downplayed it as just some stupid little irritation that would go away as soon as it came. Being a diabetic for about 25 years now I am prone to inflammations and infections. This was just another in a long succession of intermittent, annoying, health problems.

At the onset, the thought never occurred that it might be an infection. I had not had any accident, no cuts, abrasions or scrapes so that did not pop up as the culprit. That is until it persisted and grew into an open sore. The pain level also rose dramatically.

I went to the doctor. He did not think it was serious. He wrote a prescription for a mild antibiotic and a cream. I left the office confident that the problem was in hand. Back home I took a pill, applied the cream and applied a bandage.

By that point sitting at my computer and performing my daily writing ritual was growing into a serious challenge. The pain was so intense that I had to force myself not to move at all. That worked for a while. I took the full antibiotic course and got into the habit of cleaning and dressing the open wound three times a day.

The process began last November. As I came to the end of the bottle of pills I was hit by a wave of disappointment and confusion. I had to face the fact that the infection had gotten worse, not better. Had the doctor misdiagnosed it? Had he given me the wrong antibiotic? Worse, did I have some rare new infection?

I went back to his office in a far more worried state than I was during my first visit. He admitted he was puzzled but brushed that aside. I got a new prescription for a stronger antibiotic that was going to require four consecutive injections.

Once again I returned home feeling a bit numb but optimistic that this stronger injectible antibiotic would do the trick. I got the injections and waited for the medication to build up in my system and wipe out the infection. I waited and waited. The situation did not get better it got even worse.

By then I could not sit and also had a hard time walking. The pain was constant even when I was trying to write while lying down. This time when I returned to the doctor’s office he told me to go to the emergency room. He would not try another antibiotic. In fact, he seemed at a loss.

Instead, I went to a clinic. The doctor there did prescribe another antibiotic, took a culture for the lab and had nurses scrub the wound. It just kept growing as if the antibiotic cream was a placebo and the injections had been nothing but water.

At that point, I had added symptoms including chronic fatigue and the first signs of depression. These two are features of a diabetic’s life and I knew what they were as soon as they arose. My immune system was beaten down and using whatever energy it could get from whatever source was available.

I did not get my hopes up during the third two-week course of the latest antibiotic. In fact, I was on pins and needles the whole time. When I finished I was not surprised that it too had failed at its job. Still, it never occurred to me that I might be antibiotic resistant.

By that point, I began to consider the possibility that my 71-year old body was running out of gas. My energy level was so low, and pain level so high that I could not write. I could only walk the short distance to the corner store to ship and my mood was buried in the pits.

When I returned to the doctor’s office he did not seem too surprised by the fact his prescription had failed. He put the lab report up on the lightbox and pointed to it. “I am afraid the results show you are resistant to every type of antibiotic we have.”

I simply could not wrap my mind around his statement. I had never thought that I had overused antibiotics to the point my immune system built up a total tolerance. Then again, nobody ever tells you where that line is.

In fact, I had taken at least one course each of the 3 previous years to cure sinus infections. I left the office completely confused and with no idea of what to do next. The doctor suggested that I schedule an operation to remove the infected area. My thought was that hospitals are great places to contract infections. I was not eager to take that option especially when it would mean I could not sit at the computer and work for a much longer period of time.

Believe it or not, that whole process went on for four months and I still had the infection. I decided to tough it out and see if my body would mobilize and get rid of it. Then I had an impulse to try one more doctor, a female who I had seen before and was impressed by.

She gave me a spray that the other doctors never mentioned, Microdacyn. This spray is a biologically active treatment for the treatment of acute and chronic wounds that are difficult to heal. I applied and applied it every day and started seeing improvement much to my relief.

My status now is guarded and uncertain. I do now I cannot afford one more sinus infection. I did discover one effective treatment, Phage Therapy. However, that is only available in Eastern Europe. I advise a very conservative approach when it comes to taking antibiotics, only do so when it is truly necessary.