So we are here in Europe for an extended period with very little luggage and just a few art supplies beside my smash book / travel journal that I brought from home. We have been touring so there is not a lot of time to play with art journal techniques. I have had to be inventive and use very basic techniques and supplies to make my travel journal interesting and quick.
Here is my clear packing tape image transfers using free antique images . I found this old paperback book in Florence that a book seller had left in a box on the sidewalk for free. There were some antique images in it and I thought the images would work in the smash book. I bought some $1 clear packing tape at the 1 euro store ( yes, they had several 1 euro stores in Florence but none here in Lucca) and went to work in my apartment’s kitchen sink. I pressed down the tape to the images with a rolling pin that happened to be in the kitchen and put these babies into some warm water to soak in the sink. Turned them over and carefully rubbed the paper away from the back side of the tape and dried it off. Then I used them in my travel journal in an appropriate place for the image. As you can see it gives another dimension to the travel smash book / journal and it took less than 30 minutes to make 4 of them.
I am experimenting with other papers and have discovered that you can do an image transfer with this lovely Florentine paper. The paper on the side of this photograph. I will do a quick tutorial about that in the upcoming days. It is amazing how inventive you can get when you do not have all of your supplies and cannot even find them in the stores. I really miss my distress inks. Hope this helps. If you have any questions or comments about your own travel journal ideas please leave a comment below. Happy travels
We took the bus from Lucca to Pisa today (6 euros each for a round trip). It took about one hour to get there. It was hot today; 86 degrees and humid. Not the best time to sightsee but that is what the weather can be like here in Northern Italy. The bus dropped us off right in front of the big gate into the “wide walled area located in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, recognized as an important center of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. Considered a sacred area by its owner, the Catholic Church, the square is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery).” ( Wikipedia ). Here is a photograph that I took as we entered the complex. This shows the Baptistry, the Duomo (cathedral) and the bell tower (the leaning tower) in the background. We bought our tickets (8 euros each for all the buildings except the tower) and went to the baptistry first. It is the largest baptistry in Italy. It was begun in 1153 but it was not finished until the 14th century. The octagonal font at the center dates from 1246 and it is the largest one I have ever seen. I climbed up to the top gallery to take a photo of it. There is a statue of John the Baptist in the center and it is so deep that you can have an adult do full immersion. The little side fonts were for babies. The acoustics in the building are remarkable and every half an hour one of the staff sings in the center under the dome to demonstrate that.
We next went to the Duomo (cathedral). “The heart of the Piazza del Duomo is the Duomo, the medieval cathedral of the Archdiocese of Pisa, entitled to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption). This is a five-naved cathedral with a three-naved transept.” (Wikipedia) It is stunningly big and beautiful. They began building it in 1092. Here is a photo of the inside, it is not that sharp because the inside of the church is dark; There is
an impressive mosaic, in the apse of the church, of Christ in Majesty, flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Evangelist. This mosaic sparkles even in the dim light of the church.
After the church we went to the Campo Santo or the Camposanto Monumentale ( monumental cemetery). This cemetery was built over an earlier one. It is a huge, oblong Gothic cloister that was begun in 1278 . It was completed in 1464. There are 43 arches in the building. Most of the tombs are marble slabs set into the floor. Like this one for a knight in 1413. There are 84 Roman sarcophagi left in the halls.
And finally we went to look at the famous leaning tower of Pisa. It is actually the bell tower for the cathedral. The construction of the bell tower began in 1173 and took place in three stages over the course of 177 years, with the bell-chamber only added in 1372. But there were problems that began to show 5 years into the building by the time they reached the 3rd floor. The subsoil was weak and there was a poor foundation so the tower was sinking on the south side. So they left it alone for a century and the ground settled. They eventually added 4 more floors and the tower was leaning by one degree in 1372. In 1990 that had turned into 5.5 degrees and they closed the tower and took 10 years trying to figure out how to keep it from collapsing. You can read about it online. I actually climbed the tower when I visited Pisa in 1987 before it was closed. David decided that he did not need the pleasure of the 300 stairs today so he passed up the opportunity ( it now costs 18 euros to climb and you only get 30 minutes to climb up and down). They have stabilized it again and people can climb it now but who knows for how long?
We found a Subway in Pisa and had a sandwich before boarding our bus back home. It was a great adventure and it should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Lucca’s main claim to fame is its intact 4-mile Renaissance wall that completely encircles the city. This wall took a hundred years to build from the 15th to the 16th century, and it was never used to defend the city from outside attack. But it was turned into a wonderful tree-lined promenade that many people in the city walk, run or bicycle around in the evening before sunset. We have joined them in this relaxing tradition since we arrived. Since the old town has been completely enclosed, much of it has retained the 11th to 15th century buildings. The streets are still medieval and are so narrow that they can only be driven one way. Many people use bicycles to get around and have eliminated the need for a car. There are arches in the roads that lead to plazas and there are 12th century wall plaques like this.
There are not many famous sites here so we are really living in this city, not touring it. The pace of this adventure has slowed down a lot.
There is a 12th century cathedral on the edge of the wall that continued to be built and renovated until the 15th century. It is called St. Martin’s. We walked there today to see it. Due to the 300 years of building, the cathedral has architecture and styles from many periods that some how blend harmoniously together. Here it is with its bell tower on the side. It is a Gothic arrangement with 3 aisles and a transept. You can understand how medieval people were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the church. On the outside there are various statues and panels. This one of a lion and another creature is very strange. Neither David or I could figure out what he is doing. There are also 12 panels demonstrating the medieval tasks of each month of the year on the outside. From these images I would guess that you were supposed to store the wine in October and kill the livestock in December.
Inside the church there is a monument to a beautiful young woman named Ilaria del Carretto who died when she was only 26 . She was married at 24 to the town’s richest man, Paolo Guinigi, and they had two children. She died giving birth to the second child. Her husband had Jacopo della Quercia, a famous sculptor, make her tomb. He did a beautiful job as you can see. The irony is that she is not buried in the sarcophagus but in the Guinigi chapel in another church. She was Guinigi’s second wife, and he went on to marry 2 more times. It was a short life for women, even ones in the upper classes.
After visiting the cathedral we went next door to the museum, where they display liturgical vestments, silver and gold vessels and ornamentation, and some tapestries from the last 800 years … in a building that’s about 500 years old itself. It was a warm afternoon and we heard some gelato calling, so we headed for home … never a long trek in this tiny town.
We were sad to leave Florence this morning by bus but were looking forward to Lucca. We met some nice people on the bus who were also going to Lucca. They were from Australia and we talked all the way there.
Lucca is a small walled town nearer the west coast of Italy. We rented a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath apartment that is inside the walls but at the edge of the town. The cost is $1400 for the month. We are hoping for a quieter time here. There are no important places to visit so we will be taking day trips out of the city to go to places like Pisa, and the lake district. The idea is to see what it is like to just live here in Italy.
Our apartment is nice but there is a slight smell of cigarette smoke in the rooms. I am hoping that I either get used to it or it goes away. The only other problem is the almost vertical set of 32 stairs that go straight up 3 floors (no lift). I am used to stairs (there were 60 in Florence, but they were not so steep, and there was a lift for when we had supplies, etc.) but these are so steep that I have to hold on tight to the little railing. We were spoiled in Florence since the apartment there was centrally located next to the market and the supermarket.
Well here are some photos of the apartment.
One thing that we have figured out since starting this adventure in January is that we can live simply in a much smaller space than at home. We have also figured out that we can live for about the same cost (or maybe even a little less) in a major European city like Florence. We still love each other and do not find the constant companionship difficult. This adventure has been easier than we expected. It is kind of hard only since we have a large house and maintenance costs at home that still demand our attention over a 9 hours time difference.