Category Archives: Art

Italy Travels: Florence Frolics Part I

Visiting Florence, Italy

I’m not one for bucket lists, but visiting Italy is definitely one of the few items on my life “wish list”. I had always pictured myself studying abroad while I was in school, and that would be my way to get there. But one thing led to another and I couldn’t carve out the time to do so. (One of my few regrets.) Not only did I imagine myself visiting Italy someday, I specifically envisioned myself in Florence.

Throughout my trip research and planning, most people and books recommended spending 2 days to see all that Florence had to offer. But I went with my gut and decided to dedicate 4 days of our trip to this beautiful Renaissance city – and I’m so glad I did.

Visiting Florence, Italy

If Rome was like New York City, Florence was like Boston. And I love Boston.

Florence, or Firenze, is smaller, quieter and (I think) more beautiful. It’s definitely a “must” for art-lovers, and while you will certainly still see some group tours passing through, it’s nowhere near the level of crowds we encountered in Rome.

Piazzale Michelangelo

A trip to Florence is incomplete without a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo. This is a quick 20 minute walk from the heart of the city. We ended up doing this walk every day we were in Florence. The 180 degree views of the city from this point are lovely. You’ll find peddlers, food stands and live musicians singing American pop cover songs from the 1990s – but we mostly just came for the views. There is also a (weathered) copy of the David statue at the top – there are 3 Davids in Florence.

Visiting Florence, Italy

There are several ways to get to Piazzale Michelangelo, and I’d recommend following the signs for the Rose Garden. It was in full bloom while we were there and I happily spent some time enjoying the smells and many different colors of rosebushes.

Visiting Florence, Italy

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the main draws in Florence for art-lovers. This world-famous musuem is packed to the brim with amazing, historical art. The Botticelli’s were my favorite – no surprise there as they are one of the museum’s main draws.

Uffizi Florencevia SmithsonianMag

If you wish to visit the Uffizi you will definitely need to purchase your tickets online several weeks in advance. We used our trusty Rick Steve’s free audio tour, but if you follow the rooms in numerical order you won’t miss anything important. The Uffizi has a massive renovation going on right now, but we were still able to see most of the highlights. We spent about 4 hours going through the musuem, and it just happened to fall on our only rainy morning in Florence.

Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza Signoria

Visiting Florence, Italy

Directly next to the Uffizi Gallery sits the Palazzo Vecchio (old palace of the Medici family) and Piazza Signoria.

The courtyard to Palazzo Vecchio is free to enter and you can get a taste of the grandeur surrounding the wealth of the family who funded the Renaissance art period. Outside of the Palazzo Vecchio is a copy of the David statue, where the original state stood until they brought it inside to protect it.

Florentine piazzas are not nearly as spirited as Roman ones, but it’s still a very cool place to visit. There is a free outdoor sculpture museum in Piazza Signoria that you don’t want to miss. The Rape of the Sabine Women is only one of the many famous statues you can ponder – free of charge!

Visiting Florence, Italy

David / Accademia

We almost skipped seeing the real David statue at the Accademia – and I’m so glad that we decided to go. The David statue is person is truly magnificent. Looking up at the massive statue is truly an ethereal experience. The room was custom built for the David statue, and the unfinished works by Michelangelo in the hall leading up to David are nearly as compelling as his finished sculptures.

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The Accademia is small, the David statue being the only real draw, which is why we almost skipped it. We walked by the museum a few times, but the line was very long. I would recommend buying your tickets online in advance, or, like we did, get to the museum at the very end of the day and you will be able to get in pretty quickly. Again, we used our Rick Steve’s free audio tours throughout the Accademia.

I’ll be back later this week with more on Florence!

Have you been to Florence? Is there ONE place you’ve always wanted to visit more than anywhere else?

Scrapbooking: Thing of the Past?

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This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for exactly a year now. Mainly because I’m still waffling with what my opinion is.

The thing is, I have been a scrapbooker for most of my adult life.

When I say scrapbooker, I mean drawer-full-of-crazy-scissors, got-monopoly-board-game-paper-just-in-case, every-shade-of-sharpie-marker kind of scrapbooker.

Really, it’s all my Dad’s fault. (Yes, you Alpo.)

Knowing I was a crazed, crafty kid, once upon a time my Dad brought home half a dozen fancy old portfolio-style binders with clear sleeves thinking I might like to use them for a project. Little did he realize he was going to create a life-long tornado of patterned paper squares, mini paper-cutters and stickers for every occasion.

I save everything that has a memory associated with it. Funny fortune cookie slips, postcards, clippings from the boat ride on Cape Cod, notes on napkins and hospital bracelets. Then in a maelstrom of scotch tape and Fiskars fury I lovingly assemble them into a visual memoir of the year.

Then I got married and I made our wedding album online. And I liked it. I really liked it.

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Now I feel torn. Usually as the year closes, I purchase my next scrapbook to begin recording the follow year. So that left me wondering… do I keep scrapbooking? I already have over a dozen hefty scrapbooks and have no idea where to keep them.

Maybe this digital photo book idea is the way of the future, but it still makes me sad to leave my scrapbooking ways behind.

Does that mean no more ironic word bubble stickers? What will I do with the straw wrapper from the restaurant we go to on our 10th anniversary? Or the road map from our first European travels? What will I do with my 2012 keepsakes if I don’t scrapbook them!?

But then the idea of creating yet another scrapbook feeling daunting. More paper, more clear sleeves, more albums.

Do you scrapbook? Do you ever feel like it’s time to quit?

I Committed a Pinstrosity

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Have you heard of Pinstrosity? It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.

We’ve all had that one craft project or recipe that failed. Miserably. This is a website that features peoples failed DIY-wreckapalooza projects when everything goes wrong.

It happens to the best of us, especially if you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-glue-gun-pants DIYer like me.

It happened a few months ago. I was trying to be productive – my only goal for the evening was to stay away from the television and that time-sucking giant wormhole called the internet. Simple quest, right?

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I briefly thought about sanding down my desk and refinishing it. “No, no no,” I thought. That’s one thing that actually doesn’t need to be worked on around here. No sir. The desk stays the way it is.

So I decided I was going to practice my lettering.

I’ve always admired beautiful typography (hello, graphic designer here) and want to take the time to learn more. (Hence these beautiful inspiration shots.)


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So I got out my fancy tips and bottle of ink.

And immediately proceed to spill it everywhere.

I don’t even know what happened.

Oh yes, actually, I do know what happened. I got it EVERYWHERE.

Exhibit A:
All over my desk. My desk that, 10 minutes prior, I had declared perfection and in no need of work. This was the best I could do to clean it up.

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Exhibit B:
All over the inside drawer and the contents inside.

Goodbye craft supplies drenched in black India Ink.

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Exhibit C:
All over me. My hands? Black.

My favorite jeans? HUGE ink stain.

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Exhibit D:
This was the worst one. The carpet. The cream carpet.

There is now a medium pepperoni pizza sized black schmear all over my carpet.

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For the last six months I’ve been living with it. I can’t wait until spring to take that desk outside and sand her down!!

I guess you need to be careful what you wish for?

I know I’m not alone! What’s your recent crafty/DIY/cooking mix-up been?

Appreciating Alex Katz: An Art Exhibit for Summer

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Choosing to get a degree in art was a great decision.

I don’t think I ever dreaded going to class. No, I think I really, really liked going.

Beyond the fact that studying art greatly stretched my understanding of artistic expression, as well as my own technical skills, I love studying other peoples art.

via Alex Katz Portfolio

When I go to the art museum I get my face as close as I possible can to the canvas. Trying to dodge the museum monitors who will ask me to stay a safe distance away.

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I love getting up close and seeing the layers of paint, the strokes of graphite, the etching lines, the smudges.

One of by best friends (and the gal who currently holds the “Kat’s Longest Roomate” title… my husband won’t catch up for another few years!) and I recently went together to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). We went with a particular desire to see the Alex Katz exhibit.

I love modern art.

Actually, let me preface that. I love all art. Really, it’s true. Even the crazy ones.

I’d like to echo a typographic display I saw at the MFA: All art was modern in it’s time.

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What I love about what we know to be as “modern art” is that it shows me something that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

For all the perfectly beautiful and interesting early American portraits and Renaissance sculptures and Ansel Adams photography pieces on the walls, I like contemporary ones the best.

Alex Katz is summer art perfection.

The bold colors. The clean lines. His pieces radiated.

Mostly I just love that he doesn’t take it too seriously.

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And that he isn’t afraid to use color.

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Or afraid to leave it out. (This is my favorite).

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Unfortunately this lovely collection has already left Boston, but maybe it will be reappearing in a museum near you.

Do not miss it!

And bring along some aviators and a lemonade for true summery appreciation.

Or for afterwards. One way, or another the museum monitors will getcha!