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Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Josie and Mary Visit with Barbara & Q in Florence

My time clock is way out of sinc so here I am writing early in the morning. I had a fantastic 10 day trip to Florence with Mary from St. Luke's, Metuchen. We stayed in the rectory with Barbara and Richard (Q) and got to experience days in the lives of priest and spouse. Mary and I saw the most important sights and art on our own with their guidance. We walked to most of the sights in the mornings stopping to have something to eat before returning to the rectory.We found a wonderful gellatto (ice cream) shop nearby. Florence is a wonderful city full of beautiful art including the famous David sculpture and painting of Venus standing on a shell and many famous frescos. The cathedrals are so beautiful. The food the best including the cheeses and wines. We visited several markets where we bought Tuscan bread, cheeses, wines and fruits to help with meals. It truly was an experience that we loved. One noon time lunch was at the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata which was very special to me. Don and I visited Florence when we were stationed in Tripoli (1950/52) and stopped at a Pensione that was a palace at one time. I wasn't too thrilled with the appearance of the place but Don insisted we stay. This was after WWll so much was still showing signs of the war. The room was very very basic and bare with the chandelier being an electric cord with a light bulb attached. The linens were immaculate and the floor to ceiling shutters on the 2 windows squeaked during the night. The next morning when we looked out the window there was a garden and the back of one of the many statues of David. We found out that when we walked around the block there was the true Michelangelo's David.

St. James Church is celebrating their 100th anniversary and the highlight is the organ that was just installed to replace one damaged in floods of Arno River years ago. We met the 3 gentlemen from Liverpool, England who who constructed the organ that was made and shipped from Liverpool. We enjoyed sitting and listening in the church while they were fine tuning it. Barbara and Richard put Mary and me in charge of cooking several evenings because they had meetings, classes, etc. Cooking with an Italian stove/oven was quite an experience. The "organ grinders" as B & R called them stayed at the rectory while installing and tuning the organ which added to the experience of cooking for all. B & R opened the rectory to 3 other guests also so we never knew just how many would show up at dinner about 8:30 each evening. We ate and treasured the time at the long table with everyone. A glass of wine always added to the festivities and I can't forget to mention the expresso ! Richard made each evening for us (decaf expresso for some of us).

St. James' Church sponsors an opera group so on the weekends we got to see and hear La Boheme and Tosca. The church also sponsored a college/university student art show on Wednesday evening which was judged and awards given. The church has 3 choirs. The 11 AM service choir sang a gospel hymn. They actually have a gospel choir and they were fabulous. Gospel music is much loved by the locals. Both English and Italian are spoken there.

One afternoon B and R drove us to the hilly Tuscan countryside where we saw grape vineyards, olive groves, the famous cyprus trees and many poppies along the road and stuccoed homes/barns with tile roofs. We had a wonderful dinner at a little inn in Impruneta. I would love to go back and spend time in that countryside. Another day Barbara drove us to the hilltop to see the view of Florence that is so famous. We enjoyed relaxing in the church herb/flower garden back of the rectory next to the church where B & R's two cats, Ben and Santi joined us often but more so while we were sitting or napping in the afternoons inside. I've taken lots of photos and will send some of my favorites soon.

And as I said to dear Mary "I'm so glad we did this while we're young".

Love to all - Mom, Grandma, Josie

(Josie and Mary are long time parishioners from St. Luke's - Metuchen, NJ)


Blogger Carol S. said...

What wonderful pictures! I've been hoping to see some like these since Barbara and Q first left for Florence.

Many thanks to Josie and Mary for sharing and to Josie for her marvelous commentary here. What a great experience you had!

God Bless You Both!
Carol Stone

9:13 PM  

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