Florence and Uffizi with Nonna

Daddy went to Spain for a few days to see friends and we decided to meet him when he came back in Florence.

In Florence, we went to the Uffizi Gallery, which is one of the most famous art galleries in the world with some of the most famous paintings in the world. A lot of the paintings are from the Renaissance, which is when there was a rebirth of art and learning in Italy. There were lots of famous artists from the Renaissance with paintings in the Uffizi including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello – yes, this is where they got the names of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

We had a tour with a lovely lady called Molly. She gave us sketch books to draw with, some gold leaf (which they used a lot in paintings in the Renaissance), and some seals with the motif of Florence on them. We learned about the Medici family, who were the dukes of Florence and who had lots of money to pay the artists to paint things for them.

We saw some amazing paintings.

We saw Botticelli’s Venus, which shows Venus (the Roman goddess of love and beauty) being born out of a shell in the sea while the god Zephrus blew her to shore. This is probably in the top five most famous paintings in the world. They had made a cast out of it next to the painting so that blind people could feel what it was like.

We also saw the Primavera (or “Spring”), which is another beautiful painting by Botticelli that also has Venus in it. Botticelli loved to paint flowers more than anything else. He painted the same woman (a beautiful woman who lived in Florence) in all his paintings (she was Venus, as well as Mary in some of his paintings).

We saw paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. There was a painting which was by Leonardo and Botticelli’s art teacher (Verrocchio), where the teacher got Leonardo and Botticelli to each paint one of the angels looking at Jesus. Leonardo painted the one on the left, and Botticelli painted the angel on the right. When Leonardo’s teacher saw the angel Leonardo painted, he thought it was so beautiful and perfect that there was no point ever painting again, so Verrocchio quit painting for the rest of his life!

We also saw a shield painted with Medusa’s head by Carravaggio. Medusa was a gorgon monster with hair full of snakes who turned anyone who looked at her into stone. Perseus was a famous warrior who slayed Medusa by looking at her reflection in a shield rather than looking at her face to face.

 

We really liked visiting the Uffizi.

Anghiari in Tuscany

We are in Anghiari in Tuscany.  It is an ancient medieval town near Arezzo.  Nonna has come to visit us here – we were very excited to see her.

Margot loves walking in medieval towns, so she loves Anghiari and the town of Sonsepolcro which is nearby.

Anghiari is famous for a few things.  The first thing is St Francis of Assisi.  He was a monk who became a saint and he walked from Anghiari to the monastery at Montecasale above Sansepolcro and stayed there.  We went to the monastery today – we saw a monk there and he spoke to us and told us to go outside so the monks could pray in private.  He was very nice, and wanted to know all our names.  St Francis was famous for being kind and for talking to every creature, including birds.  Everyone prayed at the monastery and Maeve prayed for the birds, and Jasper prayed for birds to be everywhere. Afterwards we saw some nuns in Anghiari.  The monastery was very quiet and secret and mysterious.  At the start, the sign to the monastery was hidden so we thought that only special people could get there.  Monks are not married because they are married to God.  Nuns are the female versions of monks and we saw some nuns in Anghiari afterwards on the same day.

There is a really amazing straight road that leads from Anghiari straight down the mountain and back up again to the monastery.  It was built to remember St Francis and it is really straight.

Another thing Anghiari is famous for is the Battle of Anghiari.  This was a big fight on the plains underneath Anghiari on and and next to the very straight road in 1440.  The Florentines were fighting against the Milanese to get control of Anghiari and Sansepolcro.  The Florentines (from Florence) won the battle and it became really famous.  About 50 years after the Battle of Anghiari Leonardo da Vinci was asked to draw a fresco of it.  He is probably the most famous painter in the world, and he painted the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper (in Milan).  Nonna gave us a book about Leonardo da Vinci which we are reading.  Leonardo never finished his painting of the Battle of Anghiari on the walls of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence – we don’t know why.  Everyone who saw it said it was the most amazing painting in the world, but don’t know for sure because it has been lost – another painter called Vasari painted over it with a different fresco 50 years later.  Maybe we will find the painting of the Battle of Anghiari tomorrow when we go to Florence.

The other beautiful town we visited, which is at the end of the straight road as well was Sansepolcro.  We saw a painting that some people think is the best painting in the world. The painting was of Jesus rising from the dead (The Resurrection) and it was a fresco on the walls of a building in Sansepolcro.  It was by a famous painter called Piero della Francesca who was from Sansepolcro.  It was being restored when we visited it.  The painting was nearly destroyed in the second world war by the British.  The commander of the British regiment stationed there (Clark) during the war was ordered to bomb Sansepolcro, but he remembered that he had read an essay by Aldous Huxley saying that the fresco was the best painting in the world so he refused to bomb the town.  The people of Sansepolcro think that Clark was a hero for saving the painting and the town and have named a street after him.

We are still learning about Greek and Roman mythology and we watched the old version of Clash of The Titans twice about Perseus slaying Medusa.

We are staying in a beautiful place in Anghiari called Poggiodoro – there is a dog called Lapo here who we love playing with and we go for walks all the time.  Our house is an old cigar-making building and it is lovely.

at Madonna dei Fornelli

A45DC28F-22A6-413B-BD22-0BB4979EE886We have  been staying next to a pub for the last week owned by Silvano in the town of Madonna dei Fornelli.  It is called American Bar da Ceppo. Jasper especially loved the pub.  It was his favourite because it had lots of video games and we learned how to play pool there.  Jasper wanted to go there every day.

We have been staying in Walter Materassi’s house who is Silvano’s cousin – he is an artist and he took us one day to paint by a lake and gave us lots of amazing things to go and see.  We painted onto see-through plastic and Margot’s was the best painting.

We think we met Walter’s whole family – his mother Anna lives downstairs with his father, and we went to his auntie’s restaurant in Florence called Fiorenza, and we also met his girlfriend Giada who was very nice and played with us at the playground at the church.  Walter is a very good artist and there are paintings by him of Venus, Neptune and David in the house we stayed in.  His mother Anna showed us some paintings of his in her house downstairs as well.  One day we went to Pratolino where we visited the Medicis garden and saw an amazing sculpture called El Gigante dell’Appenino (the giant of the Appenines).  The giant of the Appenines was pushing down a monster with his hand, and there was a dragon at the back of him as well as a mysterious cave.

Madonna dei Fornelli is half way between Bologna and Florence (Firenze) and we went to both places.  Bologna is very famous for its food – they invented tortellini, tagliatelle, mortadella, and even spaghetti bolognaise is from there!  We had a great time walking around Bologna in the porticos and we ate delicious tortellini in brodo and other food.  We went to a park afterwards.  We went to Florence one day as well, and ate at Fiorenza (Walter’s auntie’s) restaurant which was delicious!  We walked around the old city and looked at amazing statues at the Piazza Vecchia of Perseus with Medusa’s head, Menelaus and Patroclus and Hercules killing a centaur.  We love all the statues and paintings of the Greek and Roman myths – mum is teaching us about them.  We will go to the Uffizi to see the painting of Venus and other art works next week with Nonna.

We also went to two truffle festivals – one in Vergato and one in Monzuno.  We bought four truffles for much less than we would pay for them in Australia.  Mum and dad still think porcini mushrooms are the best though.

We ate such good food in this area, but we think our favourite place to eat was at Poli, which is a small restaurant in Madonna dei Fornelli where they make fresh pasta.  Maeve LOVED the tortellini in brodo there, and mum and dad loved the veal scallopine with fresh porcini mushrooms.  YUMMMMMMMMM!!!!

Thank you so much to Walter, Giada, Anna, Silvano and everyone – we hope we see you in Australia one day!

Into Italy

We drove from France to Italy yesterday. We were sad to leave France, but we stopped at the most beautiful road stop probably in the whole world which looked over Monaco, which is a tiny little country on the Côte D’Azur. It was the last place to stop in France. Then we arrived in Italy! We are staying in a beautiful house called Il Laghello Fi Amina on a farm where they make their own honey and olive oil. There is a lovely lady called Lila here who gave us pizza last night, and clothes today! We are right next to the Cinque Terre National Park. The town is called Framura.

Today we drove to Framura and parked half way down the very windy mountain. We started walking to the bottom, but mum told dad to go and get the car and drive it all the way to the bottom. Then we got on a train to Monterosso. It was very beautiful because it had lots of beautiful beaches and high cliffs and coloured houses. We ate pizza and pasta for lunch. Dad had a crab pasta that he said was unbelievable. Afterwards we had 🍧- it was the best ice cream we have tasted and we ate it on the beach. Daddy took us up a big rock on the beach and a Texan lady took our photo there. Afterwards we came back home on the train.

🇫🇷 🇮🇹 🌜🍕🍦☕️🍧🍝💕👏🏼🍨

 

 

Mummy’s birthday at Quissac

We drove to a huge house called Villa Plantat near Quissac for mummy and Joey’s birthday.  It was so much fun – there were lots of people.  There was Aunty Joey, Auntie Sophie, Auntie Rach, Auntie Treen, Auntie Susan, Claudia the Chocolate Fairy, Shanti, Josh and Maya, Fernanda, Henry, Oriana and Marcella and lots more.  We had a huge lunch for mummy outside and then all the kids took the grown ups to the lake.  Then daddy asked mummy to marry her!  We also had a race around the lake, and we played egg and spoon race there.  Oriana was the winner.  On Saturday we had a huge birthday party for Joey and lots more people came and there was dancing and food and fun.  Jasper thinks that this house was the best place we stayed at.

Les Dentelles, Avignon and Maya

We haven’t posted for a while because we have been so busy with mummy’s birthday.

At the end of our stay in Provence, we visited Gigondas and hiked up to the Dentelles, which look like teeth.  We got lost on the way up – everyone had a walking stick and they kept dropping them.  Margot got hurt by a prickly bush.  Afterwards we tried to have lunch in a restaurant at Gigondas, but we made so much noise that mum and dad were embarrassed to take us in and people at the restaurant were looking at us.  We had to go home and have lunch instead.  Lucky it was so close.

We also visited Avignon which was fantastic!  We had lunch in a courtyard and afterwards we walked past the shops and saw a lolly shop that looked really good.   Mum bought a dress for her birthday party, but she couldn’t find any shoes. We then visited the Palais de Papes where the popes lived for about 100 years in the 1300s.  The rooms were amazing – one of them was where the pope’s bedroom was and it had amazing frescoes all over it.  It

was beautiful.  We then went to visit the bridge at Avignon which was the same bridge from the nursery rhyme and we all sang “Sur le Pont, D’Avignon, On y danse, On y danse”!

Afterwards, we went back to the lolly shop and bought some delicious lollypops and caramels.

On the way home from Avignon, we went to McDonalds.  We had a happy meal and got toys – a puppy and two turtles that were like Lego.  Maeve and Jasper played with a lot of French girls in the playground who were very nice – we played “Le Louvre”, or “the wolf”, which is exactly like tip in Australia.  We got a balloon each at the end and we were really happy.  The next day, Margot kept saying “Happy meal, happy meal!”  We thought McDonalds was the best bit about Avignon.  Mum said she never wanted to hear that sentence again.

At the end of our stay in Vaucluse, Maya, Josh and Shanti came to stay for the night!  It was really fun to see them.  They came for mummy’s birthday.  We will write more about that later.

On the way to Quissac for mummy’s birthday we visited the Haribo factory at Uzes – we saw gummy bears and how they made all the lollies.  It was so amazing because we got 5 packets of lollies there.  We thought it was the best day of our lives.

Cassis – the end of France

Yesterday we came from mummy’s birthday to Cassis. We were very excited when we saw the ocean.  There were lots of boats in the harbour in Cassis and the buildings were very colourful.  There was even a beach there and we played at the edge of the water.  Jasper found a magic rock there – it was a little pebble with a flower on it that someone had drawn.  There were probably millions of rocks on the beach, so it was amazing that Jasper found that particular one! Maeve also found treasures – a plastic dinosaur and a fish and another one that you can make sand castles with.  We had dinner at a place on the water – Margot had nuggets and chips, and Jasper and Maeve shared a plate of fish and chips.  Mum and dad had moules frites.

Today we did a big hike.  We drove to a car park, and walked to Les Calanques. We walked along the top of beautiful cliffs and saw bright blue water below.  Maeve said that you have to give lots of effort to keep walking, but that she liked walking.  Finally we got to a tiny beach where the water was very blue and green.  At the little beach we had lunch, and Jasper and Maeve tried to pull a big log out of the water.  Everyone played at the edge of the water, but mum and dad got cranky when Jasper and Maeve were splashing everyone.  Margot was the first one to go all the way under the water.  Then Maeve went.  Then daddy went.  Jasper was too scared.  Then we walked back, but we walked back a much trickier way with lots of slippery rocks.  Mum and dad kept saying not to skip, run, or jump on the way home because everyone was getting really tired, but no one listened.  First of all Maeve fell over on the gravel and hurt herself, but not too badly.  Then Jasper tried to jump onto a big boulder and fell off and whacked his knee really badly.  Then he was pretending to be a beetle on his back and not getting up properly.  Then Maeve fell over while she started to skip down the mountain five minutes from our car.  She hurt herself very badly and has a very bad cut on her knee.  She got a chuppa chup.  Mum says that Jasper can’t have his chuppa chup unless he writes this blog with her and does some school.