It has been
3 weeks 3 months 12 months 17 months since I left Florence, and the separation sadness (not anxiety) is hitting me especially hard these days. I’ve tried to write this thing ever since I got back, and I’ve just been editing the number of days or months until I actually finish and publish it. Now it’s been 17 (seventeen!!!) months since. The harsh jerk back into the smoggy confines of Manila is one that can ruin the best of moods, and while deep down I knew it was time for me to leave Italy (temporarily, I hoped), I also didn’t relish being back in the concrete dump that is Manila. Everything that I hate about this city seems to have worsened in the short year that I was away, and only serve as reminders of all the great things in Italy that I left behind.
I had the urge to write about some of the things I’d learned/realized from my time away, but it felt so melodramatic to phrase it that way. It sounded more apt for me to just call this, “Post-Italy”, which encompasses not just stuff learned but also the immense sort of hollowness I felt after leaving a city that had become my second home, brief as my time was there.
Madrid, Spain. April 2014.
Tai Chiong, Hong Kong, China. October 2015.
A nice snack break in the city for some good egg tarts.
All’Osteria Bottega, Bologna, Italy. April 2015.
A quaint place just outside the crowded areas of Bologna, with homey food that’s traditional Bolognese
36-month aged parma ham with pear ❤
Tortellini in brodo (ultimate comfort food)
The Bolognese don’t call it Bolognese, just tagliatelle con ragù
Rustic style baby pigeon, cooked to perfection
A strange but traditional Bolognese pudding dessert
And another nutty cake thing. Dessert was not the strength of the meal :))
All’Osteria Bottega is at Via Santa Caterina, 51, 40123 Bologna, Italy
+39 051 585111
When I was in Florence, I found out about a series of free tours of Prato, a neighboring area in the region of Florence, which was aimed at promoting the area as an alternative sightseeing destination to the often-overcrowded Firenze. One of the places we went to was a cute hilltop estate called La Rocca di Montemurlo, in Montemurlo, Prato.
Our bus was too big to go up the steep roads to the estate, so the organizers actually partnered up with the commune’s emergency services (the misericordia) so we were driven up to the estate in ambulances. It was a bit of a slow process just because they had 2 ambulances that could only take a handful of people at a time, and there was a giant bus full of us. But I applauded their creativity and especially the community participation. Talk about team spirit!
This view ❤
This is the private villa at the top. We were given access to the garden, which was also really beautiful.
The stuff of fairytales
I want a mini private forest too
The estate was also hosting a wedding reception at the time, so this would also make for a great little wedding location!
To visit, check out if thatsprato.com is still offering the free tours
Buontalenti Grotto, Boboli Gardens – Florence, Italy.
Accessible from Giardino di Boboli (a ticket you can purchase separately from the ticket to Palazzo Pitti), the Buontalenti Grotto doesn’t look like much from the outside, especially because it’s near the exit and you can easily miss it if you’re not looking the right way. It’s tucked away down a pebble path amid some trees and bushes, so when you’re walking down the path towards the Boboli Gardens exit, you won’t actually see it unless you know that it’s there, or unless you happen to see the tiny sign that almost blends into the bushes. So remember to look to the right before you exit the gate!
His cave-inspired style of sculpture might not appeal to a lot of people. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure what to make of it, but they did get more interesting the closer you were and the more you looked at them. Bernardo Buontalenti was one of those renaissance type artists who were good at lots of things–he was a sculptor, architect, engineer, painter, etc. NBD.
These rough-but-detailed sculptures remind me so much of the stone king/wizard in Return to Oz. The stuff of childhood nightmares, but ever so fascinating.
Entrance to the grotto is limited to a handful of people at a time, and it’s not always open. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and someone will be there to let you in, and sometimes you’ll just have to poke your head as far as you can through the grills and try to see what’s inside.
Check out these stone sheep
Whether or not you think it’s pretty, you can’t deny that it’s definitely interesting, and that’s always better than boring!