Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello good people, thanks for looking out for this weeks blog - a couple of people have already written in to me asking me why this post is delayed. I did say last week that I'd be a bit late. I apologise for this but I only got back home late last night from Florence.
We had a really great time there walking around the historic centre, and took a couple of trips to Sienna and San Gimignano, Pisa and the Cinque Terre. We tried out Italian public transport and took trains, and even a bus up to Fiesole which sits high up in the hills above Florence, just to get a view of the city and a look at the famous Roman ruins there. I took loads and loads of pictures and here are a few of them, just for you.
We stayed at the Helvetia Bristol which is a stones throw from the Piazza Della Republica - everyone goes to this Piazza at some time during their stay in Florence. It was once a fish market, but is now a delightful square, with cafes surrounding it where one can while away an hour or two watching all the stylish people go by, nursing a beer or a Coke Zero. The Via Tornabuoni with a whole load of posh shops is just behind the hotel, but I didn't waste any time shopping there as I am not that way inclined. I prefer to spend my money on artisan made one off clothes and jewellery, in an attempt to be a bit more individualistic.
As I said, we walked everywhere as taxis in this city cannot be flagged down ( one needs to phone for them) and most of the centre is pedestrianised anyway. I didn't really mind, as it gave me an excuse to eat all the gelato I could manage, without putting on any weight. Italian food is fabulous, but I am always anxious about the calorie intake with all those carbohydrates in the pasta, olive oil and cheese.
One of the typical Tuscan dishes I was served up by some Italian friends was pate made from spleen and fried wild boar lard.
Hmm! at this point I gave up and went straight for a gelato at every meal. If I was going to get a squilion calories down my neck, I preferred to eat them in a form I fancied!
Our Italian friends took us to Sienna and San Gimignano for the day and a wonderful detour along the way taking in little Italian villages in the hills and Chianti Classico vineyards.
We walked around the city and everywhere we went we could see the Duomo of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The Piazza on which the Duomo stands is huge with many tiny streets running off it like spokes of a wheel. Consequently, if we took two left turns from anywhere we went, the Duomo loomed up at us in the distance almost like a malevolent presence - we just couldn't get away from it!
Much is made of the beauty of the cathedral - it was begun in the twelfth century and finished in the 19th - the final architect appeared to be someone who liked wedding cake decoration and to my eyes, it seemed like someone had vomited marzipan and fondant icing crenellations all over the front of the cathedral. I much preferred the simpler sides and back of the building.
We went to Pisa to see the leaning tower - I can't see why it leans so much when every tourist seems to try and push it upright a bit. It does lean rather a lot, though - I refused to go inside it in case it came tumbling down.
And then on another train to the Cinque Terre or 'Five Lands' - beautiful coastal villages that have no roads - one needs to walk/ take a train or go there by boat. Hordes of tourists descend on these supposedly 'unspoilt' villages every summer. The Adriatic sea was a clear blue (although we could clearly see the sewage pipe that took effluent far out into the sea - can you tell that I didn't swim from the tone of this parenthesis?) and loads of people were deep sea diving and swimming.
While I was in Florence, I saw loads of jewellery and picked up a few ideas - for the first time I actually wrote them down in a book and am keen to get to work to put my inspirations into action. I went into a lot of artisan studios in the Oltrarno district, and I would imagine that in the coming weeks I will be making a few bits and bobs inspired by my holiday in Florence.
That's me for this week folks. Apologies once again for being a bit late with this post, I'll be back on Friday, usual time, same place.
I'm Neena Shilvock, and I'm crazily addicted to jewellery. I've been designing and making quirky and interesting statement necklaces for the last five years and my passion hasn't cooled off one little bit - in fact it has got worse, such that I'm even dreaming jewellery.
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