About jaynezak

"I havent been everywhere, but it is on my list." I can eat anything raw. I can go to the bathroom standing up. I am fluent in hand motions and can speak Spanish in the present tense only.. Though directionally challenged, I can find my way in any airport to the gate and the luggage terminal. I must be an airport savant. I can cram more things into a suitcase than it is supposed to hold. If I have a few drinks, I forget that I cant speak the language of the country i am in. I still carry travelers checks for an emergency thought no one will cash them anymore. I make sure to learn how to say coffee with milk and no sugar in every language. I have accidently used tap water to brush my teeth in countries that you shouldnt and I am still here to write this. I have been to the gynecologist in Greece, the dentist in the Kyushu Islands in Japan and the emergency room in Edinburgh twice ( that trip was with my kids). Heels are my walking shoe of choice. (though I always have the appropriate shoes with me in case I need them) Ive perfected speed shopping and no matter how many bracelets i buy as gifts, it is never enough. Im afraid on small planes. I always have another trip planned (even if it is just in my head) before I return from the one I am on. Those are my credentials. Fly Safe JAZ

Day Trip From Florence To Fiesole, Italy

Day Trip From Florence To Fiesole, Italy

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi

Fiesole is eight kilometers north of Florence. It is an ancient Etruscan city in the Tuscan countryside. There is a beautiful chapel, Roman ruins and spectacular views of Florence.

It’s nice just to go for a stroll, walk around the winding streets and see what ancient wonders you will find, what charming little stores you will stumble across and the locals you will meet along the way. It is full of art, history and literature.

Leonardo da Vinci spent much time in Fiesole testing his flying machine, while Michaelangelo learned his carving trade on the hillside stone works.Robert Browning, who moved to Florence during the Victorian era to elope with fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, mentioned Fiesole in his poem ‘Andrea Del Sarto’

The Archaeological Museum gives you entrance to the Roman and Etruscan ruins as well.  The Roman amphitheater, baths and the Etruscan walls are amazingly well-preserved. The theatre is still in use today.

If you are a fan of the Uffizi, then you will also fall in love with the twelfth to fourteenth century works at the Bandini Museum. There are works from Della Robbia, Taddeo Gaddi, Bernardo Daddi, Lorenzo Monaco and Nardo di Cione.

Fiesole’s main square, Piazza Mino, is the setting for an antiques market every first Sunday of the month. It is also the setting for recurring markets, so it is always likely you’ll find one going on when you visit.

The slower pace of Fiesole after frenetic Florence  makes it easy to go to a coffee-house, bakery or pizzeria and sit and relax in the Tuscan countryside.

The monastery of San Francesco is  located at the top  of the hill. It will be a tough climb but worth the view you’ll have over Florence. There are nice restaurants with great views on the street leading up to the monastery.

If you’re looking to burn off the unavoidable carbs of Italy, you can  hike to Fiesole from Florence, enjoying the steep ups and rapid downs on the curvaceous roads and bumpy country trails. The number seven bus from Florence drops you in the main square of Fiesole. As with all Italian public transportation, watch for pickpockets.  You can also share a taxi with some new friends like I did.

Ciao, Fly safe

JAZ

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Warsan Shire

Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,  Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand,  Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.

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Growing up in New York, with immigrant grandparents, the Statue of Liberty meant something. “Tell us the story of when your parents saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time again” we asked.   My mother would say that to her parents and many like them, the statue meant freedom to live in a country where you could be whatever you wanted to be. America was the place to go to flee from oppression, racism, class-ism and poverty. We understood that it was something special to be born in a country with ideals like that.

America is not perfect. We have racism and poverty. But that doesn’t destroy the dreams it was built on. Millions of people came to America to build a better life for themselves and for their families and still do to this day.

On the Statue of Liberty, there are words I know so well: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” That’s the spirit that made me feel like an American.  I wouldn’t be here without that philosophy.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Queenstown And Milford Sound

Things I Have Learned In Queenstown And Milford Sound

“Rover did not know in the least where the moon’s path led to, and at present he was much too frightened and excited to ask, and anyway he was beginning to get used to extraordinary things happening to him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Queenstown was originally named the ‘Camp’ by William Rees in 1860. The name Queenstown has two theories, the most common being that it was gold prospectors, captivated by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers, who hit upon its name when they pronounced it a “town fit for a Queen”.  The other is that it was named Queenstown after Queenstown in Ireland (now called Cobh). or basically no one knows.Queenstown’  Some of Rees’ descendants still live here. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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The Remarkables mountain range was so named in 1857 by a surveyor Alexander Garvie who called it that after seeing the dramatic razorback mountain range in all its glory at sunset.  The view across the lake to the Remarkables has now become one of the most photographed in the Southern Lakes region.

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The Remarkables mountain range is one of only two mountain ranges in the world to run directly north to south (the other is the Rockies).

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Every other store  in Queenstown seems to sell either souvenirs of wool and wood or adventures in nylon and neoprene. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Renowned as Queenstown’s ‘Lady of the Lake’, the TSS Earnslaw steamship was first launched in 1912 – the same year as the Titanic.  It was built by J.McGregor and Co in Dunedin, cost £20,850 to complete. (photo by  Cordula Reins)

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The TSS Earnslaw was a working ship for many years transporting sheep, cargo and passengers to surrounding high country stations.  In 1969 she was retired and purchased by Fiordland Travel (now Real Journeys).  She is now one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago and the only remaining passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the Southern Hemisphere. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Despite being almost 100 years old, the TSS Earnslaw still works 14 hour days in the summer months and cruises for 11 months of the year.  She even made a brief cameo appearance as an Amazon River boat in the 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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 In 1885 all Queenstown hotels were run by women who all happened to be widows.

The Shotover River is known to be the richest gold-bearing river of its size in the world.

Sir Henry Wigley founded commercial skiing in Queenstown in 1947.

Set up in 1958, Queenstown’s Kawarau Jet was the world’s first commercial jet boat business.

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New Zealand’s Kawarau Bridge bungy site (established 1988) was the first commercial bungy operation in the world.

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The highest bungy jump in the Southern Hemisphere is Queenstown’s Nevis Highwire at 134 metres or 45 stories high.

People over 75 years old can bungy jump for free in Queenstown. The oldest person to bungy jump is a 94-year-old man from Southland, New Zealand.

The most people who have bungy jumped together in New Zealand is 8.  The record was set in 1999 at the Kawarau Bungy Bridge.

In September 1999, President Clinton was the first US president ever to visit Queenstown.

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The Frisbee Golf course in the Queenstown Gardens was the first of its kind established in New Zealand and continues to be a popular activity for visitors and locals.

Queenstown’s Skyline Gondola moves 35 cabins up and down Bob’s Peak 365 days a year and at its fastest rate it can move 1,100 people per hour. (photo Cordula Reins)

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When passengers arrive at the top of the gondola they are at 790 meters above sea level. 

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Queenstown’s stunning scenery and world-class expertise makes it an ideal destination for shooting feature films, commercials and promotional videos.  Queenstown and the Southern Lakes region have featured in movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Vertical Limit and Prince Caspian.

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At the height of filming the Lord of the Rings, over 500 people a day queued outside the casting rooms in Queenstown.

New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum curator Ian Brodie is the author of the much acclaimed The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook published by HarperCollins.

There are 82 registered wineries in Central Otago. The majority of grapes are Pinot Noir.

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Every Saturday, the Creative Queenstown Arts And Crafts Market enjoys the waterfront setting of Earnslaw Park. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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It’s an opportunity to meet local artists displaying their wares accompanied by live music and memorable views.

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Fergburger is a Queenstown institution. It is not going to be the best burger of your life but  it is a compulsory burger loving thing to do in Queenstown.  Instead of the burger the size of my head I went for the Sweet Bambi and was not disappointed.

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You can order online and get it to go to bypass the lines but I went for the whole Disneyland experience. I hate to say it but I will now be one of those people who says to those of you going to Queenstown- make sure you go to Fergburger.

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The Queenstown area has captured hearts and imaginations since the first Maori came in search of pounamu (greenstone) and the giant Moa bird.

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More recently, gold miners, adventurers, filmmakers, wine enthusiasts, and Hollywood stars have been drawn to this magical region and its intense alpine energy.

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Milford Sound is located in Fjordland National Park in the south-west corner of South Island. Visitors come from all over the world and it is one of the world’s top travel destinations. It is awe-inspiring and Rudyard Kipling called it the eighth Wonder Of The World.

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Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand. The perfect day in Milford Sound is  one with rain.

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The enormous granite peaks don’t absorb a drop of water and they have no beaches. The result is thousands of stunning waterfalls flowing straight into the fiord.

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The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and a very different experience to visiting Milford Sound. The hike is absolutely stunning. It is an economically sensitive area so  the local government allows 90 people on the track each day (50 guided, 40 unguided).  You can only hike it for 6 months of the year, whereas Milford Sound itself is accessible year-round. The track was initially developed by Donald Sutherland so people could get to his newly discovered Falls. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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i would like to thank  our guide and extraordinarily patient driver Nick McGregor, Tanya  and everyone at Moatrek and my fellow travelers on this journey for making it a fun and memorable trip.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

Things That  I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.’  Lillian Smith

How I look when I travel   I’m a little vain. I’m the kind that doesn’t like to go out without makeup or the right kind of casual attire. (Which jeans should I wear today?) But when I travel, I don’t think about my appearance, which lifts an incredible burden off my shoulders. I wear what’s comfortable, easy to travel in, and just go. I notice from my photos wearing the same clothes in every country, that I have a travel wardrobe. It works.

Personal Drama   Someone is inevitably mad at me because I say whatever comes into my head. There is usually drama in my life. Real relationships and friendships stand the test of travel because going away puts life into perspective. There are people who I miss and keep in contact with while exploring the world. Traveling does have a way of quickly separating strong, healthy bonds from dysfunctional, dramatic ones. Some of the people I have left behind should probably have been left behind a while ago.

Possessions    When I travel, my possessions boil down to essentials. As I packed up my house that I have lived in for a long time, I reminded myself of how little I need around the world.

Anxiety   Traveling keeps you in the present moment. I rarely have anxiety when I travel because whatever I am worrying about is usually not happening at that moment.  It helps me in my not traveling life as well. Not as much as I would like, but I’m working on it.

My weight   I’m genetically a thin person. I’m basically a healthy eater with a closet junk food mentality. I’ve learned that I can eat what I want in moderation . I don’t get on a scale very often any more. I don’t worry that I’m not perfectly ripped and toned. i don’t work out like a maniac. I’m a foodie . I enjoy trying food and restaurants here and abroad. I don’t eat meat or gluten except when I do. My focus has become on everything else around me and not on how I come across. It’s a big thing when you realize the world is not about you.

Social media   The robotic and frequent opening of email and Facebook stops when I am traveling. A lot of places I go to don’t have service and whatever is going on at home seems very far away from what I am doing. Other than posting on instagram and sending out my quotes, I tend to read a lot more instead.

What people think about me   I used to care a lot about what people thought of me and my family. It’s human nature to care what people think.  At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with the choices you make. Now I only care about where I’m going next.

Having regrets   Everyone has their own path in life, and their own way of achieving it.
When I am traveling, I don’t worry or compare — I know that this is exactly the path I was meant to be on.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Foods I Ate In A Day On A Road Trip Through New Zealand

Foods I Ate In A Day On A Road Trip Through New Zealand

“On the road again. Goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again” Willie Nelson

When it comes to eating healthy on a road trip through New Zealand, the struggle is real. Most people look for food that’s quick and convenient when traveling. There is typically neither time or patience on your side. You have to make do with the options available in the time and space you’re given. Unfortunately, New Zealand doesn’t cater to healthy fast food though gluten-free has come to even the smallest town. 

Breakfast. Breakfast is usually included in many hotels outside of the United States and often served buffet style. Ours ranged from light to full breakfast. I tried to fill up at breakfast eating scrambled eggs (often greasy and not that warm), yogurt (some flavor in a container), fruit, coffee, tomatoes and avocado if available. I  would take apples or bananas if I saw them for the road.

Morning Stop New Zealand makes great coffee so there was always an interesting coffee shop wherever we stopped. Sometimes the coffee was more interesting than other times.

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If I was already car sick, I would have a donut or scone. New Zealand food is very influenced by the UK. Carbs, diet coke and sweet hard candy help me with carsickness.

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I drink a lot of water and I am happy to say that I saved money because New Zealand has the best tap water. I just refilled my bottle where ever we stopped.

Snacks  There is something about being on a road trip that makes you want to eat the kinds of foods that you would never eat at home. Orange cheese chips (called Twisties), Burger Rings (chips that taste like a burger?) and unidentified dried meat in a package look appealing – especially when you are in another country with different snacks.

I bought almonds, walnuts and kiwi fruit. I  bring vitamin C bars, gum, hard candy and Jelly Bellys from home.

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Lunch   We always stopped somewhere that had shopping or photo ops so I wanted to eat fast and not spend the time sitting. Every roadside restaurant serves quiche and mince and cheese pies. Pies are a staple of the New Zealand diet and everyone is eating them.

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Pre made sandwiches seemed to be the healthiest quick option most of the time.  Ham and cheese on white bread with lots of butter – sometimes toasted was my usual lunch. One day somewhere on South Island, I went to a bakery that had sandwiches. I saw a loaf of wheat bread. I asked for ham and cheese on wheat bread without butter. They said that they only made the ham and cheese on white bread.  It was my Jack Nicholson Five Easy Pieces moment.

“You have wheat bread. You have ham and you have cheese.”

“Yes, but we only make the sandwiches on white”, said the girl behind the counter.

“Well, I’d like a loaf of wheat bread – throw it away except for two pieces and I will have the ham and cheese on wheat, hold the butter.”

She said that she would speak to her manager.  She did not look happy but returned with my request and only charged me for the sandwich – best sandwich of the road.

Afternoon stop.  I was usually sleeping after my sandwich and needed a good New Zealand  coffee and something sweet. Hopefully, it would be a banana. Sometimes it was chocolate covered kiwi fruit, Pineapple Lumps( chocolate covered pineapple marshmallowy thing), chocolate covered marshmallow fish, Jaffa (chocolate covered in red hard candy), ice cream or yogurt blended with fruit, pie or Anzac biscuits (oatmeal biscuits from WWll).

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Dinner On long driving days, dinner was tricky. I wasn’t always hungry. Sometimes I would have a proper New Zealand dinner. I loved those green lipped mussels and fresh salmon -or a Maori Hangi – (could be chicken fish, pork, lamb potato, cabbage  and root vegetable such as kumara) cooked in the steam in the ground.

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 Other times dinners were Egg McMuffin, wine and cheese, protein bars, fruit and yogurt,  Fergburger or pizza.

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The thing about a road trip is that the same exact eating starts all over the next day.

Fly safe

,JAZ

President Trump And The Media

President Trump and the Media

“It may not be good for America, but its damn good for CBS “Les Moonves

If you need to boost traffic to your site, increase circulation, get people to pay for internet subscriptions, get higher ratings or bigger audiences – be all Trump all the time.

it is definitely a co-dependent relationship between Trump and the media, especially CNN. Out of all the networks, CNN seems to have given Trump the most air time. CNN is also the most criticized by Trump. He is always talking about how they don’t understand him, report what he says correctly,  have a very liberal point of view and eventually banned them from certain events.

Before the political season, CNN and the twenty-four hour news channels were suffering in the ratings. This campaign changed  all that for them. It also benefited SNL and some of the late night talk shows. TV news ratings surged during the political season. Unknown newscasters have become celebrities through the Trump coverage.  It is no longer Jake Tapper who?

Codependency is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s failings or mental health issues or perhaps ratings. Are they like a codependent family? It’s exhausting. Trump tweets something crazy at 2am and the news programs go berserk for the rest of the day. The media doesn’t have to do this every single day, but then they wouldn’t get the attention either.

At first I was afraid, that the censorship of the press was the beginning of American fascism. I now see that Trump still gets a lot of criticism from the media every day. As we know in Hollywood, if you need attention, then any attention is good attention.

They hate each other to the benefit of both off them.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Post 9/11 Florence, Italy

Post 9/11 Florence, Italy

“To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature.” – Mark Twain

My daughter had the opportunity to dance in Florence during the Easter Break following 9/11. Most people were scared to travel. Airport security was a mess with very long lines.  It was my first time going to Europe in fifteen years. I fight a daily battle with anxiety but doing something for my kids always helped me push through my fears so off we went.

She danced all day and I walked around for the first time anywhere by myself. Florence was crowded. There were protests, shopping, antisemitism, more shopping, a lot of art and a looming terrorist threat at the Duomo on Easter Sunday.  Police were everywhere.

We were trying on shoes and an anti-American protest walked by. They were burning the American flag and there were a lot of people walking and cheering. I had only seen that in movies. In the post 9/11 world, we knew anything could happen. We threw the shoes and ran back to the small hotel. The owner laughed when we arrived completely shaken up. “It’s Italy. They protest everything here. Tomorrow they will burn something else.” I had a lot of anxiety during this trip. Luckily, there was so much to see and do, I had no time to focus on it. 

This was not my first visit to Florence and my number one thing to see is the Uffizi Gallery. Art haters will not agree with me. The Uffizi Gallery is Europe’s first modern museum created by the Medici family in the sixteenth century. It is the best collection of Italian paintings in the world. I forced my daughter to go there at eight am before dancing all day. In my mind, you could not go to Florence without seeing Botticelli, Raphael and Titian. There are huge lines and it is the one museum to plan in advance for. Get tickets before you go.

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The second thing to do is gelato. Art haters might make it the first thing. I am not even a fan of ice cream but eating gelato every day in Florence should be on everyone’s to do list. Gelaterie are all over Italy but it is the best in Florence. Festival de Gelato on the walking street is a good one to try. If you do not go there try to find one where the gelato is made fresh on site and not from a mix. Brightly colored gelato probably has other things in it and is from a mix. There is a lot of pre made gelato these days so do the research. 

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Piazza del Duomo is  good for people watching  but is the preferred hang out for pickpockets  so be careful.The two big sites here are the Duomo and the Baptistry. The set of doors on the Baptistry that faces the front of the Duomo was designed by Ghiberti in the early 1400s, and a young Michelangelo thought they were so beautiful that they could be the Gates of Paradise. The original panels are now kept in the Duomo Museum, but the replicas on the Baptistery are still gorgeous and attract a crowd. The Duomo’s relatively empty interior can be a bit of a disappointment  but most of the art was removed to the Duomo Museum after the 1966 flood.

If you feel like climbing and you don’t get vertigo or claustrophobia, climb up Brunelleschi’s Dome. You can also read the novel of the same name if you are interested in history or architecture. I opted for the novel and was not disappointed.

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Piazza del Signori is also a good spot for people watching and outdoor art. It is outside the Palazzo Del Vecchio and you can find the plaque where the monk Savonarola was burned at the stake in 1498.

Even if you are not a shopper, go to the leather markets. The one near San Lorenzo church leads into the Food Market which is always fun. There are also a lot of pickpockets here while you are focusing on gloves or olive oil so watch your things.

I don’t think there are any deals to be found  anymore for Italian designers like Gucci and Prada though filing for the VAT tax helps. There are interesting stores from young  designers that we do not have here that are more fun to look at.

I am fascinated by Dante Alighieri and I had plenty to see in Florence. There is a statue in his honor in Piazza Santa Croce, a museum dedicated to his life and works (including The Divine Comedy), and verses inscribed on various streets in the historical center.  Santa Margherita de’ Cecchi is  the church where  Dante fell in love with Beatrice which is the passion that is thought to have inspired much of his work. I spent Easter Sunday with Dante avoiding the crowds at the Duomo if the terrorist threat turned out to be real. It was not.

We had Easter Dinner at Il Latini, a famous Florentine restaurant known for its Bisteca Florentina. Ristorante del Fagioli is also good and it displays certification for sourcing the original Chianina breed of cattle, where bistecca fiorentina should come from. They are still among the best restaurants in Florence.

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The city is full of carbs. I ate either pizza, pasta or panini daily. Sometimes I had all three and I loved every second of it.  Since I walked all day long, I did not gain any weight. Don’t try this if you live in LA and sit in your car all the time.

Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and  there are many famous people buried here. In Santa Croce, you can find Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini, Ghiberti and Michelangelo.There is an honorary tomb to Dante.

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Adjacent to San Lorenzo is the Medici Chapel. The wealthy Medici family sponsored the great artists of Florence and Michelangelo statues adorn the tombs. The Lorenzo Library with the great Michelangelo Staircase is also worth a visit.

Watch the sunset on the Arno from the Ponte Vecchio like the Medicis did or see it on one of the less crowded bridges.The Ponte Vecchio has survived floods and World War ll making it one of the oldest bridges in Italy.

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The Renaissance capital of the world  also has a lot of Modern and Renaissance street art so enjoy it as you walk around the city.

The Bargello Museum which is housed in a former prison has some incredible early Michelangelo works and Donatello’s David. It is much less crowded than the Uffizi.

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The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum  is a fashion museum dedicated to the life and work of Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. The museum has 10,000 models of shoes created and owned by Ferragamo from the 1920s until his death in 1960 The museum is housed in the historic Palazzo Spini Feroni, which was purchased by Ferragamo in the 1930s. If you like shoes and need an art break, it’s a fun thing to do.

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The Pitti Palace is a  very large Renaissance Palace  on the South Side of the Arno near the Ponte Vecchio.  It was started by Filippo Brunelleschi  for Luca Pitti but was eventually purchased by the Medici family and finished by other architects. Today, the palace and the Boboli gardens house the Palatine Gallery, the Silver Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Costume Gallery, the Porcelain Museum and the Museum of Carriages.

The collection of the costume gallery comprises six thousand items including costumes dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries, theatre costumes and accessories. It is the only museum of the history of fashion in Italy and one of the most important in the world. The Palatine Gallery has an impressive collection of Titian,Correggio, Raphael and Rubens. It is second only to the Uffizi.

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Piazza Del Michelangelo is where everyone takes their view of Florence  picture from. There is another fake David in the square.

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The real David by Michelangelo. is in the Galleria dell’Accademia and has a high entrance fee. David is the only thing worth seeing here. I had to see it but if you don’t, you can be happy with all the fake Davids around the city.

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No matter how much time you spend in Florence, it never feels like it is enough. There is always more to see and do.

Ciao and fly safe, (not my photos – mine are in storage.) 

JAZ