Tuesday, July 7, 2015

florence, italy - ebb & flo.

it's only an hour & a half train ride from milan to florence, which means that taking a day trip there was a no brainer for our little family. the first stop? the accademia gallery to see michelangelo's david. i'm going to devote an entire post to that masterpiece (a "masterpost," if you will) so for now i'll focus on what else we saw at the accademia, as well as other happenings from our day in flo'.

(pretty sure no one calls it that).

so a stradivarius instrument is considered by many/most to be the best of the best in terms of sound, quality, &, well, sound quality. :) a stradivarius violin can be worth millions of dollars--& the accademia has an original one handmade in the 18th century by antonio stradivari. ben popped in to see it while i took a restless norah outside (she had been silent & happy in the galleria for over an hour & a half so i was like, "it doesn't pain me to do this") & afterwards i asked him, "so what was it like??" his response? "mostly just like a normal-looking violin." HA.

another room in the accademia, in which dozens & dozens of marble busts line the walls. even though technically they aren't staring at you (they're mostly just vacantly staring into space, like all proper busts should) i admit it was a little disconcerting to walk around in there:

the thing that actually really impressed me about that sculpture room was how many beautiful & emotive pieces there were of women:

the classic "i'm holding these juuuust out of your reach" sculpture:

after the accademia we navigated our way over to trattoria mario. it's this little hole-in-the-wall type restaurant (squishy enough that there wasn't enough space for us to even wheel norah's stroller in--they had to fold it up & put it in a little side room). it's also one of those places that has only a few things on the menu, but every one of those few things is the best version of that thing you've ever tasted. we shared some pasta & steak, meaning it was the best steak i've ever had. another amazing recommendation from joseph & megan!

like every other day we spent in italy, it was SO hot. so, so hot. anyway, you can kind of tell how hot it is in these next photos, but then again...NOT REALLY. photos will never do the heat justice ;)

il duomo di firenze. spectacular!

& the bronze doors. EX-quisite:

just excellent. a UNESCO world heritage site! (& i also discovered upon reading up more on UNESCO & co that italy has the most world heritage sites out of any country in THE WORLD.)

ben & a sleeping norah waiting while i took a few pictures. ben's stance, haha--can you tell how zapped of energy the sun made us?

dante in neon lights though:

a few from inside the duomo (plus ben's hat hair there on the left)

i call this norah's little elizabethan outfit. that collar is fit for a royal!




oh dante, how many times have i read the divine comedy for school over the years? let me count the ways.

usually my favorite part of cathedrals is all the action happening up in the inside of the dome:

documentation of our TWO separate gelato trips in florence, part 1:

& documentation of our TWO separate gelato trips in florence, part 2:

(any dress that has carries a self-contained belt ON ITS PERSON is a winning dress, i say)

Monday, July 6, 2015

milan, italy - wrapping it up like a present, part 2.

starting out this post with just a few more pretty pictures of the duomo in all its glory. it's almost too beautiful. it's overwhelming! 

here's a common scene for us, during this europe trip & back in the city, too: the stroller pulled into a side street with us getting something done to help the babe, whether it's furtively changing a diaper (we also try & find a bathroom to do that, when we can) or mixing up a bottle (norah weaned herself).

one of the beautiful things about having a baby, i've discovered, is that it forces you not only to slow down, but sometimes come to a complete stop. in a side street. in italy.

i was chatting with a friend today who is about to inherit a few stepkids (how do you say that? she's going to marry a guy who has children from a previous marriage) & she was like, "wait until norah is a teenager. she will have ben tied around her little finger." i look at pictures like these & i'm like, "yep! he's toast." 

a cool staircase spotted near the duomo:

a shot to recognize the expo that's happening in milan right now. sorry, the coloring of this photo is SO weird:

that evening, megan volunteered to watch our sleeping norah while ben & i went to see da vinci's the last supper--a fresco on the wall of a small church. it's an interesting setup--you have to buy tickets to get in to see it, & not only do the tickets sell out REALLY fast & you have to book them weeks in advance, but they only let you in to see the painting for FIFTEEN minutes...& then kick you out! we hadn't thought ahead enough to get tickets, but when we checked the night before, by some sheer stroke of luck we suddenly found that there were TWO available tickets for the very next night! we bought them immediately & made arrangements for norah. i'm not going to lie, we've seen some AMAZING art this trip. 

the last supper was incredible, & i'm SO glad things worked out for us to see it. being hyper aware of the fifteen minute time limit was actually kind of nice, because i ended up using every last second just drinking in the painting instead of letting my eye wander to anything else (not that there's a lot else happening in that room of the church [apparently it was a dining hall, in its earliest days]. in fact, did you know that during world war ii, the church that housed it was bombed? [THIS is really interesting. guess i need to go watch monuments men!] & then at one point, someone just sliced a doorway through the bottom part of the painting. & of course, it started peeling & flaking almost from the moment it was painted. that fresco is a SURVIVOR. IT DEMANDS TO BE SEEN.) 

i love that it's an active, reactionary painting--literally, it depicts the apostles' reactions to jesus's statement that he will be betrayed by one of them. & then ben doesn't know the whole da vinci code storyline, so i explained some of that to him as well. :) (as an undergrad i worked with someone in the writing center who haaaaaated dan brown. in fact, i'm pretty sure the topic of her undergrad english thesis paper was debunking all of his storytelling & literary techniques & basically explaining why he is the worst. haha). they don't allow photos to be taken of la ├║ltima cena, but i did grab a few photos of the beautiful church & surrounding buildings.

the sunset was hitting this one dome PERFECTLY. everything else was in the shade. lovely.

& just peeking into a pretty villa nearby:

before heading home to our friends & our sleeping babe, we grabbed some food at spontini. it's a place near the duomo where we had seen long lines of people (usually a good sign) earlier in the day. & neither we nor those many people were wrong! it was DELICIOUS. 

it was definitely a little tourist-y feeling, but i would highly recommend it, should you find yourself in milan (the other delicious place we tried on a recommendation from the nances was luini. they serve panzerotti there, which are, i dunno, sort of like little calzones in fried bread. amazing. & right across the street from spontini!)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

milan, italy - wrapping it up like a present, part 1.

a few more photos from il duomo! it is such a fantastically beautiful cathedral. while we were up exploring its rooftop (there's a great walkway up there that takes you around the entire perimeter. you have to pay an extra fee to go up there beyond what you have to pay to get inside, but we're getting enough of this europe trip for free that we're splurging a little bit) i was thinking how the duomo is higher up than the notre dame in paris in my mental list of favorite cathedral facades, like, by far (it's nothing personal, paris) (p.s. that paris post i just linked to! throwwwwbackkkkk).

speaking of mental lists...do you keep them? for some reason i'm all about not only categorizing things in my mind, but within those categories, i have to rank them. favorite pair of pink high heels i own? these puppies (the list only has two entries, BUT). favorite photo of norah? this one, currently. favorite new girl character? schmidt. obviously. favorite harry potter book?.........the 4th, after long deliberation. (i might need to give them a reread. it's been a few years since i've read any & my memory of the last few is fuzzy). favorite candy? a tie between skittles & sour patch kids. that's a harder one. & on & on.

& then poor ben bears some of the brunt of my relentless enjoyment of categorizing things. it's like i need to vocalize these types of questions so that someone else has to go through even just a fraction  of the type of ranking process i subject myself to. "who's your favorite cousin/composer/actor/physicist/mission companion?" "what's your favorite hairstyle of mine/noise norah makes/dessert/channing tatum movie/math equation?" (<<& in case you're wondering, these are all real life questions i have actually asked benjamin at some point in our knowing each other. & to answer your burning question...ben CLAIMS he quote can't remember any Channing Tatum movies close quote, but i'm pretty sure it is one of the step ups).

i'm always stressing because i can't choose ONE favorite band, say, or one favorite book, so i settle my mind by allowing myself to either a) have a constantly rotating list of two or three (currently it's milky chance, tame impala, maybe some kendrick lamar, some laura marling (that once i was an eagle album...), & bookwise? ben & i did that once HERE), or b) allowing myself a constant top five (i started making a list just now, but it just got longer & longer & i started having to cut the list down to five to retain my journalistic integrity, but then it's like, do you cut pink floyd out of your top five? do you cut out fleet foxes? or joanna newsom? or billy joel? [as you can see, my tastes, at least when it comes to all-time favorites, cover a gigantic spectrum) & it all got so stressful i had to delete EVERYTHING. & settle for merely describing my struggle. as you can see, the drawback for feeling a need to rank things in my life is that then it becomes incredibly difficult to choose the absolute favorite, & then i start to overthink things, & then the rational part of my mind needs to step in & be like, "okay, STOP. THIS LIST WILL MATTER TO NO ONE."

...anyway. whoa. after that long tangent, more duomo rooftop pictures, & the wonderful view of milan it provides!

p.s. ben took all of these rooftop photos. i told him to go on & keep exploring while i kept myself busy wrangling norah & our folded-up stroller (they don't let you take an open stroller around on the roof, which would have been good if it had been brought to my attention YESTERDAY :)), & i really liked this one:

back at the nances, jasper & norah hit it off like real pals. he's roughly a year & a half older than her, which these days seems like an age gap they'll never, ever conquer, but isn't it funny how in twenty years, that'll hardly seem like any age difference at all?


...& i just cannot get over her left hand in this one. fingers close together so calm & proper. it is SO FUNNY.

it happens again, slightly, in this one:

post-bathtime is one of my FAVORITE times of the day (there i go again, RANKING THINGS ;)). norah, all sweet, clean, & fresh-smelling after her bath, & she's usually in a great mood (she luv her those bathtimes), & wrapped up tight in a towel like a little baby jesus. norah's baths are one of the first steps in our little bedtime routine we've got for her, & as i'm drying her off i start playing this music, or sing one of our favorite songs, & it starts to get us settled into quiet, calm nighttime-mode. <3

if you're curious about norah's whole bedtime routine, it usually goes something like:

1. bath (we usually do bath every other night, but here in hot, hot summery europe she gets sweaty & sticky enough that we do bath pretty much every night)
2. bottle
3. book & cuddles
4. i give norah a quick little massage with lotion while giving her a little rundown of her day: the fun things she did or saw, milestones, or "things we can work on for tomorrow" (usually it's something like napping a little bit longer, ha, but then again, that's been on us lately, sightseeing out & about & throwing off her naps a little bit)
5. singing this song (although with, admittedly, considerably less emoting & background echo-y keyboarding) while popping her in her sleep suit, popping the pacifier in her mouth, turning on the white noise, then peacing the heck outta there.

after that quick hiatus, here's back to milan:

sometimes it's so sunny the stroller cover won't even do the trick of covering the babe all the way up, so we just have to toss the entire burp cloth over her & be all, "sorry you won't be able to see anything for a sec, norah." she'll often express her independence in this manner:

a line of vespas:

we've been firmly abiding by the two-a-day rule when it comes to our gelato eating habits:

aaaaand it's getting late, meaning i'll have to conclude this post here & finish up with the rest of our milan photos tomorrow. see you then!


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