pole-pole-tree & dinner with Florentines

by | Oct 8, 2019 | a slice of life, Travel | 15 comments

None of us were looking forward to an early morning wake-up call to catch our train from Paris to Milan to Florence, but that is what had to be done. Since train travel is less expensive then air travel, my mom and I decided to splurge on business class tickets.  Since we were on the train most of the day, it was a good move. Our seats were comfortable and the train car was less crowded and quieter.  That made for a great day to relax and enjoy the view.

I just spent time to write in my journal and enjoy the view out the window.  One of my goals in taking the train was to get lots of pictures to use as references for paintings.  Taking pictures out of a train is a tricky business.   You have to start to feel the rhythm of the train and the cadence of the poles.  The goal was to snap the pictures in between the electrical poles.  Pole – snap – pole – snap.  It took me a while to learn this cadence, though, so I have a lot of really bad pictures with poles right in the middle of them.  Reviewing my pictures was a bit of a game.  Pole – pole – tree– bingo.

While I didn’t get any great photographs, I did get a lot of great reference pictures for paintings.  I can’t wait for my arm to be healed so that I can work on some of these.  I have hundreds of train window pictures that have a good painting waiting in them.

We arrived in Florence in the late afternoon.  We checked into our hotel and got settled.  We didn’t have anything planned for the evening, so we decided to just walk around the city. When you’re traveling, the best place to eat is usually off of the beaten path and out of the way of tourists.  We walked down a few small side streets and found a little restaurant that was just opening for dinner. Our party of four sat down under the awning outside and we ordered something to drink.  Our initial plan was to sit here to enjoy some refreshments and then walk around the city some more and find a different place for dinner.

When we were about ready to leave, though, the chef brought out a big beautiful platter of meats, cheeses, and vegetables to the table next to us. The platter looked so good that we decided to stay for dinner.  And that was a good call because the food was delicious.

Our neighbors at the table next to us were locals. One was the personal trainer and the other was a chef and they were both friends with the owner of the restaurant who was testing out new platters and drinks on his friends. They spoke English quite well, so there was a lot of chit-chatting through the evening, but it slowly progressed into a lively conversation about religion and politics and all sorts of hot topics that you usually don’t talk about with strangers, much less people from another culture.

The bulk of the conversation was filled with laughter, though, and it was a memorable way to spend an evening in Florence.

We bought a gelato on the way back to the hotel and went and sat out on the roof deck to enjoy looking out at the lights and the city.

The next day, we would be going back to Barga…


  1. Karen K from Buffalo

    The train ride alone looked relaxing! Am still enjoying the thrill of your trip.

    What shoulder did you have surgery on–left or right?

  2. Miss Mustard Seed

    My right. They cut and reattached my bicep tendon and removed calcium from my rotator cuff & repaired it.

  3. Carla

    I hope you heal quickly! That recliner will come in handy.

  4. Mary Kay

    I feel bad that your time in Florence was so short. You must go back some time and spend a good stretch of days there. Have you heard of Stendahl’s Syndrome? As described by the writer Stendahl the art in Florence is so beautiful that people who connect with it are afflicted with rapid heart beat, dizziness, disorientation, etc. I’m sure you would be OK, but I know, as an artist, you would appreciate the magnificent offerings of Florence.

    • Kim

      We also spent the night in way out. Mom

  5. Babs

    I noticed you mastered the art of photographing on a moving train quite nicely. Trip looks wonderful. I really enjoy your commentary and all the things you notice…both great and small.

  6. Teresa in Kansas

    I second the comments by Babs…yes, you mastered the art of photographing on a moving train nicely! And I am also enjoying your commentary with attention to even the small things.

  7. Elizabeth

    Click pole click pole! So great! Looks like you will have some amazing paintings soon. I love how you make the most of your time no matter what you are doing. How fun to travel with your mom to all these amazing places!

  8. Betsy

    We ate at the same restaurant in Florence and it was excellent. Florence was beautiful but I was intrigued by Milan. I’m not a big shopper but I so enjoyed the small retailers. I’m a paper crafter and the selection of paper/stationary stores was a joy. The clothing on the people of Milan was so striking. A woman I spoke to said they can always spot Americans because of the way they dress. Your comment about discussing religion and politics was interesting. My husband and I were asked many questions of the political nature wherever we went.

  9. Linda

    Sending prayers for a speedy recovery. The countryside looks beautiful from your pictures on the train. Glad you enjoyed your dinner and lively conversation with the locals!

  10. Teresa

    I always enjoy seeing pictures of the beautiful European countryside. Isnt it a shame that we cant have better train travel in the US as Europe and Asia? Hope your shoulder is healing well. My brother had the same surgery some years ago and has felt great ever since!

  11. Annabelle

    Glad to hear your operation went well. Your trip to Florence makes me miss home. Maybe, someday soon we will take that trip to Italy.

  12. Diane

    It is a shame that you couldnt visiting Portugal on your European trip…There are has some beautiful places in Portugal. If you get the chance check out Ferragudo in google maps, This is the fishing village that is my home now and you will see how quaint and beautiful it is! I hope you enjoyed your trip and wish you well from your operation!

  13. granny

    I hope you heal quickly! That recliner will come in handy.

  14. Therese Hodges

    Can you share hotels you stayed in during visit to Florence and Paris? Also, if you have a suggestion for Rome, I would be interested. Taking my mom this summer but need to seek out things with less steps for her. Lifts in hotel or 1st floor even better.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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