The First Two Trips
1. September 1990
Florence and Venice

Finding some old diaries in the back of a drawer I thought that it might be interesting to revisit the entries for my first ever visits to Italy. It was, but not as much as I'd hoped. I wrote them mainly to remind myself of where we went and so there's not much detail. I would've liked to have known what my first gelato flavours were and more about what I thought about places when first visiting them, for example. I think this page is my equivalent of those CDs of early demos by famous rock bands - of interest mainly to completists. But there's a certain amount of naive charm in my old self calling ice creams 'cornets' and the Riva de la Schiavone 'the front'. And I kept the tickets, and they're nice. And the photos are taken from my original slides.


Saturday 15th
Drive to Jane's M&D's for tea. Mike drives us to airport. Flight fine except for having the gangway between us. Long wait at (sultry) Pisa airport for cases. Longish coach trip in overcast gathering dark. Walk without unpacking and eat late pizza. Coffee keeps me awake.

Sunday 16th
Awakened by bells. Breakfast 9ish. Walk to and over the Ponte Vecchio. Three-cat walk up past fort to Piazza Michelangelo, 1st ice cream, and vistas. Back over Arno (see lizards!) passing Uffizi back to hotel and siesta. Stroll west and to restaurant for calzone. Then walk past the Duomo to Piazza della Signoria and back to hotel to ring M&D, bath and beer.

Monday 17th
Stroll outside Duomo and with lunch rolls to Boboli Gardens. Lotsa cats walking up and down. Back to hotel via best cornet yet by Ponte Vecchio. Siesta. Solo stroll to bookshop for 2 guides, Mary McCarthy (!) and cards. Pizzas in Pinocchio and earlyish night.

Tuesday 18th
Up earlyish to queue for Uffizi - culture and coffee. Walk with gathering lunch to park and market. Back up river past heavily guarded US embassy. Siesta then to Piazza della SS Annunziata via matt black and tasteful shop. Sit, snap and watch the world go by on its moped. Walk back via v.nice architectural print shop to Medici restaurant for mighty fine pasta.

Wednesday 19th
Up earlyish and to Palazzo Davanzatti and then via Ponte Vecchio to S. Maria del Carmine and Brancacci Chapel and frescoes. All j. good. Lunch in Boboli. Walk to the bits of the gardens not seen on Monday. Back to hotel for siesta. Stroll to S. Croce and back to Pinocchio. Night-walk to Duomo and cornet.

Thursday 20th
To Accademia and San Marco for David and Fra A frescoes respectively. Slice of something in square and ice cream stroll back to hotel for rest. Out again to buy posters, books, cards and a watch. Sit in Piazza Signoria watching people. Back to hotel to shave and out to Medici rest't.

Friday 21st
San Lorenzo (sacristy and cloisters) and Medici chapel and palazzo and belt buying. Museum of Florence as it was and lunch in palazzo. S. Croce and back to hotel for rest. Out on my own after siesta to get a camera battery (35000 lira!) and mini-books and to look in dischi shop. Second stroll to piazza SS Annunz for world-watching. Last dinner at Pinocchio's.

Saturday 22nd
Last-day shop for birthday earrings, Michelangelo book and v. tasteful notebook. Back to hotel to settle up and to stn to catch 11.29 to Venezia. Nice ride. Hunger and confusion and finding boat. Then sweaty slog from S.Marco stop, rest and initial wander via S. Giovanni and S. Paolo to S. Marks along 'front' watching boats small and large. Pizza on front and bed (restaurant noises rebounding.)

Sunday 23rd
Walking to Rialto and around to P. Roma (sweatshirt) and stn for lunch with sparrows. Back via Accademia. Crisps and drink and rest and dusk walk to Via Garibaldi (cat-feeding woman).

Monday 24th
To Accademia for good cultural going over (much better than the Uffizi.) Lunch in campo S. Barnaba by (closed) dischi shop spotted yesterday. Walk around down to zattere and along to point and Salute and inside same. Successful trot to dischi shop (Black, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel) for bootlegs while J waits at Accad. Back to hotel and out later to (not) find a particular restaurant. Eat local after getting lost getting back.

Tuesday 25th
To, and into, Palazzo Ducale - grand and spectacular. To fast (Italian) food joint for spag, salad and chips. After finding spirally staircase (and its gatti commune). Walk around to Pal Fortuny for itself and an Edward Weston exhib. (A lovely place to live.) More walking around and back to hotel.

Wednesday 26th
Via Rialto to Scuola di S. Rocco (wow) in mizzle. Rain forces us into bar for coffee, toasts and cakes. To Ca Rezzonico for another eye feast. Stroll to and round Accademia and back to hotel. Eat outside by S. Zaccaria.

Thursday 27th
Solo trip up canal in vap in drizzle to station. Thence to Giudecca for stroll around. Boat back to hotel. meet J in hotel and go for lunch at Wendy. Split up again - me to arch and dischi shop and wander. Stroll to Arsenale in eve together and meal in Freddo Freddo.

Friday 28th
Walk up past biennale and around park, back to lunch by S Maria (Four Bridges) - crappy cheese roll. Walk over Rialto and turned right and anti-clockwise. Out in eve to get Mum a Murano dish and Jessie a ditto broach.

Saturday 29th
Up early - collected by Citalia water-taxi and taken via Lido and through Murano to the airport. Trouble-free flight. Taxi to J's M&D for lunch and home to unpack and await cats.




Remember could see the side of the
Accademia, cats roamed, and there were windmills
behind the Scuola di San Rocco





2. September 1992
Florence and Venice
More ice cream flavour details this time. The mysterious Freddo Freddo restaurant in Venice seems to become Alfredo Alfredo.
The last two days mention film (which we used to put in cameras), cassettes (which we used to use to listen to music), and cats' effulgences.

Friday 11th

To Reigate for chick pea curry with the family. Sleep over (and read Forum) in downstairs bedroom.

Saturday 12th

Up at 6.00, not even time to wash hair. M drives us to Gatwick. Check-in and stuff. Buy Mum Opium and J Eau Sauvage. Flight slightly delayed. Arrive at Pisa - hit by heat! One and a half hour coach to Hotel Aprile. Arrive 1ish. Check in and stroll out to buy mozza roll and check out Duomo and San Lorenzo. Back to hotel for J to doze and me to collect cameras and head back out. Over bridge and along past Ponte V. on other side. (Buy some little triangular bookmarks on the way.) Back over next bridge and back via S. Croce and Piazza della Signoria. Out in eve to La Lampara eventually (after checking out 'our' pizzeria from last time) for pizza and cake. Early night.

Sunday 13th
Over bridge and around San Frediano area (al fresco urinal! (see right) To market in S. Spirito Piazza (Soap and drinks.) Buy rolls and go into Boboli by the less busy gate. Eat & stroll about. Back (via gelateria) for read and doze. Out early eve to Piazza Annunz (again) & Lampara (again) for bread (garlic & not), pasta and ice cream. Read late.

Monday 14th
Up late-ish, to San Lorenzo. See library steps and views from cloisters and pot plants. Then round by S. Croce and up to eat rolls in our square. Back via S. Lorenzo market and gelateria (pear sorbet and amaretto mousse). Doze. To same rest't in eve for pizzas and odd cheese cake (and rocket). Sophia (the hotel's black cat) cadges a ride up in the lift, then zips into our room and gets comfy.

Tuesday 15th

Warm! To S. Maria Novella (finally) which is a revelation - fine space and spiffy frescoes. Get chucked out early past a film crew. To hotel to pee, and then on up to P. Michelangelo via our route of first day last time. Nice mozza salad roll and gelato of coconut and tiramisu. On up to San Miniato and revelation no. 2. To cemetery too. Long and lateish (c3/4 o'c) walk back to hotel. (Gypsy kids hand-under-paper hassle.) To Pinocchio restaurant from last time. Ruccola pizza.

Wednesday 16th

To SS Annunziata - what a place! - molto gross-out catholic gilding-trip (& frescos). Lunch - guess where. Get Allessi pepper mill and espresso cafetiere on way back to siesta. To Santa Croce (big demo) in eve, via designer shop with tasteful t-shirts in video boxes. Pinnochio again. Fine minestrone, fruit 'cake' with kiwi and wild strawberries.

Thursday 17th

S. Maria Novella (and what frescoes!) Out past pop video film crew. Dash to S. Croce cloisters, Pazzi Chapel and lunch. Best ice cream yet (esp. plum) from Vivoli and back for siesta. Pino's in eve. Gloaming pics!

Friday 18th

To San Frediano & S.Spirito & sit in piazza. Get lunch but can't get into Boboli because of security/politicians etc. To Pal Vecchio for p. lunch by Duomo and then J. back to hotel and me up the Duomo's campanile (pant!) Views! Then up to SS Annunz and card shops. Bought cheapo R.E.M. bootleg CD. To S.S. Annunz & Lampara in eve.

Saturday 19th
Up and about too early for train & so to 'After Dark' English bookshop. Buy Dante's Inferno and read it on the train. Journey to Venice no bother. Knicker-wetting vaporetto to Accademia. Check in to The American and go out for stroll. Dinner on platform overlooking Giudecca. Marzipan cornet.

Sunday 20th
East via Arsenale to boatyards and Castello. See wedding by S. Pietro. Lunch in Campo Zanipolo. Lost walk back to hotel. Sit in Campo S. Vio and watch boats. To very poor veggie restaurant. Get chips coming back.

Monday 21st
Give up on S. Marco and walk via Rialto and S. Polo. To the Frari. To Campo San Giacomo Dell'Orio for lunch and gatti. Loop over left and back to hotel. Later sit by Salute, buy double REM bootleg CD in Campo San Barnaba and go to v. fine crepe rest't.

Tuesday 22nd
Walk via palazzo views to Ghetto and round about. Lunch by covered-in church and walk along bank opposite station. Boat back from S.Stae. Finish Dance to the Music of Time in Campo San Vio by canale. Alfredo Alfredo for dinner.

Wednesday 23rd
To Cit office to find out about our 24hr boat ticket. Into San Marco - crowds. Pass by Accademia because of queue and walk around back and up to Campo S. Margherita to sit in bar for lunch. Then up top left edge by ex-cotton mill and back for rest. To Crepizza for dinner. To S. Marco to look at boats and pass by last year's hotel. Get seriously lost 'finding' old way back from hotel. End up on Fond. Nuova then to Rialto and boat to Accadamia (start 24hr ticket.)

Thursday 24th
Wet boat to S.Giorgio M. and wet walk to S. Zach and bookshop near S. Marco. Thos Cook to cash trav cheques. To veggie 'lunch only' restaurant for lunch. To S. Marco for J to Rialto shop & me to Murano - soggy. Back to hotel. To San Zanipolo eve and pizza rest't by San Zacc.

Friday 25th
Accademia earlyish. (St Ursula not on show!) On to Frari - chucked out after half hour again. Lunch in dell Orio campo - with dangling puss - again. Boat back to Campo San Vio to read Accad book and see a wedding (St George's). Amble in eve (not buying Pat Metheny bootleg CDs through indecision). To Crepizza. Walk to S. Marco and finish Ektachrome 1000.

Friday 25th
Collected by Cit boat 9.40ish after last-minute cassette purchasing. At airport 10.30 for 12.55 flight. Jane sat next to engineer bore. No veggie meals, of course. Picked up from airport by Mike. Sarnie at Jane's M&D's. Ring Jessie: Mit had been messy, at both ends. Collect them 5ish.



A favourite stretch (opposite Campo San Vio much mentioned above) in 1992,
and how it looks now (2010 below).

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