A lucky stumble-upon

It was a corker of a day today, with lovely sunshine, just warm enough to make you seek out shade when you could. I decided it would be a good opportunity to take the train from Prato to Lucca. This is a leisurely ride, with plenty of stops and time to enjoy the passing scenery.

After a much needed lunch break, I set off for the Carrefour supermarket, looking for a particular brand of hand cream that I have found only in Italy. Although that was not a success, I did happen upon this statue in the portico of Palazzo Pretoriale. 

Meet Matteo Civitali (1436–1502), a Lucchenese surgeon turned sculptor (and architect, engineer and painter). I rather dislike these multi-talented people.

Because I’m a tad jealous of his many skills, I’ll leave you to find out more about him, if that is your desire. I shan’t think less of you because of that. 

Just to show what a giving soul I am, here are a few more images of this paragon.

I want a determined jaw like that. But, not the beard.

I guess he used this hammer thing when he did his (allegedly brilliant) sculpturing.

What is this sharp object, Matteo? Did you use it in your surgery, or your sculpture?

Well, this did soften my hard attitude toward this gifted man. How many hands have caressed this shoe? Whatever the count was, add one for mine. I really do admire you, Matteo Civitali, gifted sculptor from Lucca.

If you visit Lucca, you’ll see many of his works in the Cathedral of San Martino.





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Lovely weather

The weather has been so nice, with blue skies, a touch of breeze and just the right temperature to walk beside the Bisenzio River.

This couple were getting an early start to suntans. You can hardly see him, he is very pale indeed.

This lovely stemma was on the former Church of Tau in Pistoia. This church belonged to the Regular Canons of St Anthony the Abbot, whose cloaks were decorated with a blue “T”, for tau. 

Photographs are not permitted in this former church, so for those interested, here is information about the edifice and the remnants of frescoes that can be seen.  saint-anthony-the-abbot-or-of-the-tau

( The church is part of the Marino Marini museum in Pistoia, another branch of which is located in Florence.) museo-marino-marini-florence


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Visiting Viareggio

What a treat this turned out to be! Viareggio is just over an hour away from Prato by train. (Except yesterday, when we were delayed by 30 minutes.) That was fine, there were interesting towns to be seen as we made our leisurely way.

Somewhere between Prato and Viareggio

The city, which is part of the Versilia Riviera, is tucked in between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apuan Alps which gives it a most appealing setting.

The day was warm and sunny, the people I met were friendly and helpful. In a pedestrian only street, a market with tempting fresh produce was in my path toward the beach. 

The well trodden sand was quite fine, lovely to walk on

The water was so blue, but a bit cool on this spring day.

The sky and the mountains reflected the blue of the sea.

This fellow is the symbol of the Viareggio Carnevale.

Two local policewomen directed me to the Villa Argentina, which is a lovely example of the Arte Nouveau (or Liberty) architecture. On the way, I passed a large public park. This peppy dog had scented something very interesting in the grass.

For those who are Irish, there’s a craik coming soon.

The villa is a beauty and there is free access to the first 2 floors and the terrace. 

This slide presentation shows just some of the lovely architectural features to be seen. (I like Arte Nouveau, do you?)

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On the ground floor, there is a glittering ball room. 

This is comprehensively described in Francis’s excellent post: tiger-hunting-in-viareggios-most-exquisite-art-nouveau-villa



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The new and the old in Prato

In the wide Piazza San Marco stands an eye catching marble sculpture which was donated to the city by the English artist, Henry Moore. The massive work is made from 30 blocks of marble, chosen by Moore from the Apuane quarries.

Moore titled it most romantically “Square shape with cut”. 

Contrasting with this modern work is a painted crucifix from the 14th century, found in the 13th century church of San Domenico. This crucifix was the work of Lorenzo di Niccolò.

This church is rather huge, as shown by a view from the side.

The bas reliefs that adorned this side of the church have become softly eroded by time and the elements.

And, I might finish with a stemma, also found in Prato.



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Clet wuz here

You may recall some of the street signs that had been re-worked by Clet, an artist in Florence. See, for example, this: street-art

I was in Florence a couple of days ago and soon saw a new offering from him. It reminded me of sunny days in Queensland, Australia!

Although not by Clet, I liked this cheeky little red head.



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This particular stemma (coat of arms) in Pistoia both  fascinated and frustrated me. The latter emotion was because even my super detective on the ground in Pistoia, Miky of https://passion4food4fashion.com/ couldn’t seem to locate it again in her city. She recruited a friend and they went out determined to find the darn thing. 

As I saw it last year

One day, they had a breakthrough. A boutique which was undergoing renovations, and whose facade was covered with scaffolding and protective material, was finally revealed. And, there was the mystery stemma!

On Wednesday, I finally met Miky and she took me for one of her excellent walks around the city she loves so dearly. Our last stop was at the boutique where she was able to ask the owner if he knew anything about this coat of arms. He did, indeed, much to our delight. He was not averse to a photo with the delightful Miky, whom he has known for many years.


Miky and the owner of the boutique, Signor Fagni

The coat of arms belonged to a Florentine family, by the name of Gargelli. 

Thank you, Miky, for your persistence.  

The Gargelli family coat of arms


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A river flows through it

The Bisenzio River, a tributary of the Arno River,  flows through Prato. Yesterday, I noticed quite a few anglers out trying their luck. (Or just passing time, perhaps.) 

This fellow caught a nice sized fish just a moment after he cast the lure into the water. He’ll be having lovely fresh fish for dinner, I’d say.

I also saw many nutria on the river bank and in the water, but they proved difficult to capture on the camera. Nutria are described as ‘a cross between a beaver and a New York sewer rat’! Happily, I found a video on YouTube that shows the river, these semi-aquatic rodents AND fish. I really didn’t even have to leave the apartment today.

PS This is blog post 1000, according to the WordPress counter. Happy whatever to the blog.


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