Tag Archives: travelogue

61–Tuscan Holiday Parte Una: Firenze

NOTE: This post is another edition in the continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first post. Click here to read: 1 — Introduction

Rilla: Think I’m going to fly.
To Italy.
Todayeeeee, yeah!
Have me a little Tuscan holidayeeeee. Yeah!!

Close-up of a sculpture that used to adorn the Florence Cathedral. Now it is in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo for safekeeping.

rilla: What’s that? Italy? Today? You could have given me some warning. Time to pack?

Rilla: Erm…it’s just a song. You know. I’m not going today. Not really. I mean…I…

rilla: Oh no. Not again. You’ve already been. Haven’t you? Haven’t you? You went without me.

Rilla: Well…now that you say so.

rilla: Why didn’t I know? You didn’t give me a chance. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.

Rilla: I tried. You were busy. You know. You were working on that darn manuscript of yours and when you get involved, why, I can’t even make you look up, let alone hop on a plane to Italy.

rilla: Huh. If you’d shown me what I was missing…I’d have taken a break.

Rilla: Shown you? What do you think I’m doing?

rilla: After the fact…what good’s that anyway?

Rilla: You mean you wanted me to show you the pictures I took before I took them?

rilla: Well. Well, yes. Why not?

Rilla: Hey! Look! Isn’t that the cat walking all over your keyboard again?

rilla: Where? Oh no. Sha-do! Sha-do………..

Rilla: Whew! Oh, joy! She’s gone…

The Singing Gallery by Luca Della Robbia for the Florence Cathedral, now in the Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo

Now. Where was I?

Oh, yes. Italy.

Stopped off in Firenze where they have a little dome…

Staying downtown,
made it easier to roam.
Peeked in at all the windows lighted,

The styles, so ooh la la,

and that rainbow shoe…how much?

Mama mia…OUCH…

…checked out the food instead!

So, so much to see,

The view of the city and the campanile from the gallery atop the Cathedral Dome on the cupola tour

no time to sleep at night.

Night view of the river Arno taken from the Ponte Vecchio or “old bridge”, the only remaining covered bridge in Florence.

Great masters at every corner,
Like Donatello,

Donatello’s controversial bronze sculpture of David victorious above Goliath’s chopped off head was the first free-standing sculpture created since classical times.

in the Bargello,

The Bargello museum is a grim gothic palace/fortress where at some time prisoners were held and executed in this yard until capital punishment was abolished in 1780.

Celini and Fellini…

Close-up of Celini’s bronze Perseus with the head of the Gorgon which stands tall in the loggia in the Piazza della Signora. He signed his name on the strap across Perseus’ chest.

…even street-art’s a delight.

Colored chalk on sidewalks, though copies of great masters, are amazing. One artist did a new one every day. Each one takes him 8 to 9 hours to complete.

All that viewing takes its toll,
Time for another gelato,

Gelato and gelato and gelato makes the world go round…or just me.

cheese by the round,

Farmer’s market in the Piazza Santo Spirito.

and nougat by the pound…or a tenth of a kilo,


Then, back for Michelangelo,
so sad his pieta,

Michelangelo’s last pieta designed for his own tomb in which the melancholic Nicodemus, one of the soldiers who took Christ down from the cross, is meant to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo who became very religious at the end of his life. He smashed the sculpture when he found an impurity in the marble. Lucky for us, it was restored and completed.

and heavenly mosaics that tell,
of a ghastly, gruesome hell.

Detail of a mosaic of the devil eating sinners in hell inside the ceiling of the Florence baptistery.

rilla: So. Taken care of the cat. What did I miss?

Rilla: Oh, nothing, nothing.

rilla: What’s this?

Detail of the “much-reviled” fresco inside the majestic dome of Florence’s cathedral, built by Brunelleschi and painted by Vasari and his student..

Rilla: Just a painting from the inside of the Florence Dome where we climbed up into it and stood right below the frescoes. It was awesome…

rilla: You know what it reminds me of?

Rilla: Hell?

rilla: That’s what your pathetic attempt at rhyming does to my head. AND, what will happen to you, if you leave me at home next time you go wandering around the world.

Rilla: Humph! That’s what it’s like when she tags along. And when she’s not there…nothing but paradise!

The Gates of Paradise–east doors of the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral carved by Ghiberti after he won a competition against Brunelleschi, his main competitor.

58–On the Road Again! Continent # 6 South America

Brasilia! The capital in all its modern glory.

The Parliament buildings–the dome on the left signifies order and the dish on the right is for progress, the two ideals mentioned on the Brazilian flag.

Guards in front of the government building in all their dashing finery.

The National Library

What I call the blue church. Some ridiculous number of shades of blue are incorporated into the stained glass walls resulting in a cool and calming space that is breathtaking.

The Blue Church chandelier presented to the church.

The national museum in the foreground with the Catedral behind in the town center.

The Catedral up close.

The breathtaking interior of the cathedral.

Inside the Catedral was a revelation. The glass walls/ceiling made for a brilliant bright space that made me feel I was outdoors and yet enclosed in an air bubble.

Time for a cool refreshment! Coconut nectar, yumm.

And here are a few friends I’ve made in my short sojourn.


50 — Scene in Cambodia (6) Tomb Raiders

Note: this is an ongoing series about our trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia in December, 2009. Part I of this account can be found here.

Served up by Netflix — Tomb Raider!

Yes, I did actually put this movie into my queue…for a reason.

When we were in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and told our tuk-tuk driver that our temple itinerary for the first day was Morning–Angkor Thom, Afternoon–Angkor Vat, he looked at us in horror. “No, no,” he insisted. “Morning–Ankgor Thom and Vat. Afternoon–Ta Prohm.”

I admitted to him that Ta Prohm had never been on our schedule at all.

His eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Angelina Jolie, Angelina Jolie,” he screamed. “Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm, Tomb Raider.” He waved his arms wildly. I was worried he’d fall off his motorcycle seat with all the combined enthusiasm and horror.

“Okay,” I tried to pacify him. “We will see Ta Prohm–but not today.”

What could we do? I’d made a promise. So, three days later, we made our pilgrimage to Ta Prohm. And am I glad we did. I’m sure you will see why…

No matter where you turn in Ta Prohm there are picturesque examples of tree over temple.


…and again.

And obviously, I am not the only one who thinks they are “picturesque,” or at least worthy of a photo!

The trees that swallow these structures whole…

are not called “Strangler” figs for nothing.

And, Ta Prohm is not the only temple threatened by stone-grinding roots.

The distant Beng Melea is so consumed by figs…

…that parts of it resemble a quarry more than a temple!

In both these cases, the decision has been made that the temple-raiders add as much as they take away and are part of the charm and allure of the temples they destroy. Efforts are being made to somehow preserve a balance of both. Not an easy endeavor with trees that have such ravenous appetites.

Happily, there are several places where the forces of nature are just as beautiful, yet far less destructive. This stand of grass at one of the best-preserved temples–Banteay Samre–has a stark simplicity that is breathtaking.

Also, at Banteay Samre is a graceful frangipani…

and bougainvillea to add a splash of color.

At the Bayon, in Ankgor Thom, I am captivated by the delicate beauty of wildflowers against carved stone.

Not all the vegetation has turned raider.

However, there is no doubt that there is something irresistible about the power and audacity of the strangler fig which thinks nothing of pitting wood against stone. I have to agree that Ta Prohm is indeed a dramatic backdrop for a tomb raiding adventure, and I cannot help but look back on it as I leave.

Again, and again.

And almost as if the temple has read my desire to linger here and stamp this place in my memory, we pass a group of tourists on the long way back. While walking by a company of “minefield victim” musicians, they cannot seem to help themselves, but break out dancing!

I see their graceful moves and watch in awe as the stone apsaras from the temple, come alive in their steps.

Their hand gestures…

…mirror those passed down through the centuries.

So, here I sit watching Tomb Raider and Angelina Jolie, waiting, lusting for one more glimpse of the haunting Ta Prohm.

Uh…where did that come from?

Every time I remember our trip, it seems, I dream of food. This diet is killing me. Better chill before it sends me to my own tomb!