Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Italy, Day 8 - Pistoia

March 27th was our "free" day.  We had opportunities to take trains to other villages, or back to Florence, or just wander around Monecatini.  Claudia suggested that we might like to visit Pistoia.  Her husband works in a shoe store there and the village is surrounded by nurseries.  I noticed the nurseries on all of our bus rides.  Apparently the soil lends itself to gorgeous plants that are shipped all over the world.  I watched people lovingly prune and care for the shrubs and trees along the highway.  Paula, Toni, Cindy, and I managed a short walk to the train station and found others in our group waiting on the platform.  George and Carolyn Parsons decided to go back to Florence.  While waiting I told her I'd be in Boston for a few days in September.  She gave me some great ideas of sights to see and places to eat.  It's nice to have that travel connection.  Ironically, her top choice for a restaurant in Boston is called Lucca, wonderful Italian food.
We quickly found our way and walked to the Cathedral of St. Zeno of Verona.  

Pistoia Cathedral (ItalianDuomo di Pistoia or Cattedrale di San Zeno) is the main religious building of PistoiaTuscany, central Italy, located in the Piazza del Duomo in the centre of the city. It is the seat of the Bishop of Pistoia and is dedicated to Saint Zeno of Verona.
Most probably built in the 10th century, it has a façade in Romanesque style, inspired by other churches in Pistoia (San Bartolomeo and San Jacopo). The interior has a nave and two side-aisles, with a presbytery and crypt. A restoration in 1952-1999 returned the church to its original lines.

I lit candles once again for all my friends struggling with health issues.  

We needed a coffee break after we made it to the Duomo Square.  Paula doesn't drink coffee, so she ordered the most incredible chocolate drink, she needed use a spoon to consume it.  It was so creamy... we all had a taste.

Our travels led us to an incredible Farmer's Market.  Purple Artichokes and really red strawberries.  Too bad we didn't have a way to prepare and enjoy all this fresh food.  

We all ordered Lasagna and focaccia bread at Vecchio Praga.  The lasagna had several layers of very thin pasta and was held together by a Bechamel Sauce, with a little cheese melted in.  We savored the wonderful flavors and realized we Americans have changed this dish by adding meat and thick pasta.

All the shops, even the market, closed at 1 PM so we wandered around until we found a great museum and this one was free because we were all over 60, except the youngster in our group, Toni.

 We began our walk back to the train station and I kept seeing a red dome and really wanted to get a close up look.  The girls conceded to my desire and we walked about 10 minutes out of our way.  The dome belonged to the Church of Santa Maria and was totally under renovation.

 The waitstaff set beautiful tables for our farewell dinner 

 One final picture with our lovely tour manager, Claudia
 Phil and Marilyn Irvine
My lovely traveling companions, Paula, Cindy, and Toni
The festive atmosphere led to a lot of good bye hugs, sharing of Email addresses, and even a little dancing.  A young man entertained us with familiar songs via Karaoke.  We met many nice people from Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, California, and Texas.  Paula and I were a bit smug because we could sleep in tomorrow when all the others had to get up at 3:00 AM in order to make all the connections for the plane ride back to the U.S.  Tomorrow we are going to Rome!

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