Thursday July 12th
 
Dear Family & Friends,
 
Another week, another adventure. Bonnie and I have just spent the last 6 days in Milan and Florence, Italy.
Our visit to Milan was wonderful. Milan is a large and very contemporary city mixed with classic beauty. The heart of the city is the Duomo Cathedral and square. 
Bonnie and I have both been to Milan several times so we have seen the major tourist sights. We both really enjoy just walking around big cities exploring so that is what we did.  I know I post a lot of food photos and we probably eat a bit too much but we do walk 6-8 miles a day, so we try and burn it off.
After the first long day we decided to eat close to our B&B. We walked down the street a bit and came to a nice corner pub called The Bar Tender. It was located on a nice green and had outdoor seating on a warm night. They also had a terrific special, about $14 for a large mixed drink and a huge assortment of an all you can eat buffet and some of the best Italian food I have ever eaten.
Once we sat down I did my usual, took a photo of the food and posted it along with where we were on FACEBOOK. Amazingly, within 10 minutes a young women friend of ours and her family showed up! They saw the posting on FACEBOOK and were near by so they stopped in to say hello. It was a great unexpected reunion.
The next day we wandered more around Milan but Bonnie is a passionate mosaic artist and I knew she wanted to see something related to mosaic art. I found a mosaic art factory / artist located in a Milan industrial area. We went there not knowing what to expect but it was one of the highlights of Milan for both of us. The owner is a classically trained mosaic artist from the Scuola Fruili School of Mosaic in Spilimbergo. The ultimate place to study classical mosaic art. The owner and his wife were thrilled to show us around since it was in an out of the way place and I am sure they rarely get visitors. The skill and artistic ability of this man was totally amazing. Some of his mosaics you just stepped back a few feet and they looked more like an oil painting than an assembly of broken glass.
After a couple of days in Milan we rode a train down to Florence. Of all the cities I have been to in Italy I think Florence is my favorite. Again we got a beautiful B&B room but this time we were right in the center of the old town tourist district so all we had to do was walk out the door and explore. Again we walked miles and miles each day.
We did some shopping, dining and drinking, listened to a wonderful classical music concert in the town square and even bought a few things. We also went to a local mosaic art museum. This one was unique in that instead of glass they used natural bits of rock. Each piece was very precisely cut to fit without any grout in between the pieces and then the tops were polished flat to the point it looked more like a painting than a mosaic. You can see some of the work in my blog.
Just as interesting as the mosaic art was the display of tools built to do this kind of work long before power tools. They took amazing skill and patience to use.
After 3 wonderful days in Florence we took an easy train trip to Lake Como, one of my favorite spots in the world. That will be in the next blog.
For photos and more commentary go to my blog.
 
Jason

Welcome to Milan. This is the Duomo Cathedral and city square. The focal point of Milan.

Not a bad location to sit and enjoy our first meal in Milan.

Got to start off a trip to Italy with some pasta.. Yes I know we post a lot of food photos, and yes we are eating to much, but we are walking 6-8 miles a day so that helps a bit??

Doesn’t look like much from the out side but we are staying in a wonder B&B inside this building.. It is just four rooms with a common dinning area. It is more like a boutique hotel that what you would think of as a B&B

Our first night in Milan we were tired and just walked down he street for dinner and found this wonderful place call the THE BAR TENDER.. For about $14 you get a large mixed drink of what ever you want and the most amazing buffet of wonderful Italian food. It was so good we ate there two nights in a row!

Here is the power of FACEBOOK.. When we arrived at this place for dinner I checked in on FACEBOOK, ten minutes later friends of ours from Italy showed up! They lived near here and saw us on FACEBOOK and came right down to say hello! 

We didn’t leave hungry..

Here is something different, a flower shop and bicycle repair shop all in one.

On our walk back to our B&B that night we came across this protest agains minority and immigrant discrimination.. The same problems all over the world.

The Italian version of KFC chicken.

Coming back to our B&B..

The only downside was a glass door to the bathroom. Who wants to see in our out when someone is on the toilet???

Everywhere you look in Milan there are beautiful buildings. Here we are entering the Duomo square.. The church is stunning but the back side is a bit over commercialized..

Not a bad shopping mall..

The front of the Duomo church.

Time to relax with a Spritz.. 🙂

The amazing mosaic artist we met in Milan.

Italy is known for its leather craftsmen and there are leather goods everywhere including this leather purse designed to look like a guitar.

Tough looking cop…

These are 15th century tools for cutting rocks for mosaics.. Amazing technology.

These are NOT paintings but mosaics using only naturally color rocks and cut so precise and polished that they look like paintings..  An Italian Ebay store… 😉

Now its time for Florence!

OK it is an MV August motorcycle… One of my favorites and it just looks so right on the streets of Milan.

Italian leather stores everywhere.

Just for a bit of excursive Bonnie and I RAN up these stairs.. Being the gentleman I am I let her win….. 😉

One day for lunch we ate at  sidewalk cafe where the tables extended out into the street. Cars were passing our table literally inches away!

Here was a leather shop that specialized in purses and shoes in any color you want, so long as it is brown.. EVERYTHING they sell is brown…

What a venue for an out door concert.

This was the smallest steak they had ….honestly. The waiter had a great sense of humor and we joked back and forth with him the entire meal.

Something very special about listening to classic music in such a historic location. Some of the composers of the music walked on the same stone plazas we stood on.

In Florence they really frown upon spilling wine!


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