Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jason in Europe - part two...

So yesterday in honour of us usually taking a holiday in Europe at this time of year, I posted some images from my adventures in Spain and France, today it's the turn of Italy and Prague.


After our most recent trip to Italy last year and our feeble attempts to communicate with the locals, I decided to take a ten week Italian language course to learn the basics during the lunch hour at my old job.  Unfortunately I can safely say that after four months here, I don't remember a word of it.

We love Tuscany as it's so beautiful and relaxing, there's history if you want it and the food is great - lots of pasta, pizzas and wine.

We also like to take a day trip to Florence whilst we're on holiday and peruse the lovely shops.  Last time I spent a small fortune in Prada and bought the most amazing winter coat - as you can imagine, it's not something I need so much living in sunny L.A.
Jason by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy
This is me sitting beside the Arno River in Florence and in front of its famous landmark the Ponte Vecchio. This translates from Italian as 'Old Bridge', which is quite appropriate as it's been around since Medieval times (ah, Europe and its rich history).
Along the Arno River in Florence in Italy
This is another of Florence's famous buildings, the Cathedral Church (Duomo) of Santa Maria del Fiore.  In the height of tourist season there can be huge queues to get inside here and it can get pretty hot and stuffy in the centre of Florence, so far better to admire the amazing architecture from afar I think.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy
In front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence you'll find the Piazza della Signoria filled with statues,including one of Hercules and Cacus.  
Hercules and Cacus statues on the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, ItalyYou'll also find the Fountain of Neptune on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
Fountain of Neptune on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, ItalyWe jump now to another fantastic city in Tuscany, Siena.  They say Tuscany is the heart of Italy and that Siena is the heart of Tuscany!
Piazza del Campo in Siena in Italy
Here's the Piazza del Campo where we did the tourist thing and ate at fresh mozzarella and pizza at one of the restaurants and cafes along the perimeter of this amazing Medieval square.
Piazza del Campo in Siena, Tuscany
This is also where the famous horse-race, the Palio, is held twice a year around the edges of the Piazza.

Moving on and here's the hilltop church from when we stayed near the attractive town of Panzano in Chianti.  An ideal place to stay as it's halfway between Florence and Siena in scenic Chianti country.
Hilltop Church in Panzano in Chianti, Tuscany
We stayed in a beautiful and peaceful villa near Panzano and popped into town to get provisions from the friendly locals at the town's grocers and butchers.  There were also some lovely restaurants that we enjoyed for a couple of evenings - although just to warn the faint hearted, they like their traditional meat very rare and bloody over here. 
Scenic view from Cortona
On out last trip we visited the Tuscan hill town of Cortona.  Situated in the province of Arezzo, on a commanding hill, it overlooks Lake Trasimeno.  The narrow medieval hillside streets of Cortona are well known for arts and crafts and you may have seen Cortona in the film Under the Tuscan Sun, starring Diane Lane, based on the book by Frances Mayes
Cortona Town Square
View of the countryside from Cortona
Finally on this mini-tour of Tuscany, here's the charming tuscan town of Castiglion Fiorentino.  It lies at the mid-point between the Italian cities of Florence, Siena and Perugia.  We had a fantastic view of this traditional Italian hilltop town from our villa and swimming pool.  
View of Castiglion Fiorentino in Eastern Tuscany
Castiglion is famous for its many festivals throughout the year and we had dinner one night in the town during one of them and there was an amazing mix of people - young and old in attendance.  
The hilltop fortress of Castiglion Fionrentino
Our meal itself in one of the local trattorias was an experience in itself, with an Albert Finney-esque chef owner with a big butcher's knife, who was very much a larger than life local character.  Luckily myself and Charlie opted for some delicious pasta, whilst our companions braved the rather bloody local beef dishes.
Castiglion Fiorentino hilltop town square
We'll really miss our holiday in Tuscany this year and can't wait to return there in the future.

jason in Prague by the Vltava River
Here's a slightly different feel to Tuscany, with a city break to the Czech Republic.  

These pictures were taken in December, so not a summer holiday, but a short weekend break to see some friends who were living in Prague at the time.  As you can see, it's the total opposite of living in hot and sunny L.A. and even though there were blue skies it was very, very cold.
The architecture of Prague's Old Town Hall
The Christmas Markets are a famous Czech tourist attraction and take place daily in December in the Old town Square and Wenceslas Square.
The Christmas markets of Prague
Prague Castle overlooks the city and River Vltava below it.  Even though it was a bit cold and grim, it's an interesting city and I was genuinely surprised at how modern the bars, cafes and restaurants were in contrast to the historical architecture.
Along the Vltava River in PragueThe Vltava River that runs through Prague
And that concludes for now the reminisces of my past adventures in Europe.  I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse of Jason in Europe, as you can see a slightly different experience to Jason in Hollywood.  After all, those were holidays and this is real life. 

I've never been one who wanted to travel much (which is strange for a Sagittarian) and never did the whole year abroad or backpacking in Asia or Australia, so this is my big opportunity to experience living in another country and to learn more about America.  

So far, in addition to living in L.A., I've visited Florida and New York and as soon as our puppy Cooper is fully vaccinated, we can't wait to explore more of California now that I can drive.

Normal blogging adventures in entertainment, Los Angeles and life will resume tomorrow...

1 comment:

Mahaesh said...

nice pics...i am planning to visit Europe....ur pics suppoerted me...

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