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2 quotes I came across and love.

            “One who is in alignment with who they are is more powerful than millions who are not.”

“Alignment brings a return that is astronomical.”
                                                                                                          Esther Hicks

NYC in preparation for Irene

Everything is pretty shut down in the city which doesn’t even happen on Christmas Day.
For instance, I couldn’t get my usual latte and croissant this morning because everything is closed.
Oh the travesty, I know.

My little pup outfitted in his rain parka. 

As for preparation, I have never been this stocked up for any storm.  Meaning, when we are told we are getting three feet of snow, I don’t really do much.  Everything seems to some how open up and function.  As expected, Whole Foods in Union Square yesterday afternoon was jammed. There was no noise or chatter, just bustling New Yorkers who were very focused on getting what they needed and on line for 30-40 minute wait to pay.  There were a few people who were all flustered and not polite, but you will always have a handful who aren’t your typical New Yorker and can’t handle the pressure.  Essentially, it was organized chaos.  In any event, this Irene character is a different breed than any 2 foot snowstorm.  Flooding is what we are all worried about.  Let’s hope she heads out to sea and misses all of us.  I took a few shots walking around today and here they are:

West Village: Greenwich Ave. – Jonathan Adler

This is why I love New Yorkers – the sarcasm with a tinge of drama.  Makes me laugh every time.
If you can’t read it, it says, “Due to the wrath of Irene, we’ll be at home Saturday and Sunday.  Be Safe.”

About 3pm in the afternoon today this is what approaching Union Square looked like. On Saturday it is usually filled with booths for the farmers market.  There were some booths open this morning around 10am, but they obviously cleared out.  
Con Ed: Taking the place of the Farmer’s Market on Union Square in what looks like a brigade of Con Ed trucks.  

Subway in Union Square closed.  What?  Never say never.

San Gimignano, Italy

San Gimignano is a great little town to visit.  It’s very quaint.  We drove in, but you can take a bus there too (25 min. from Florence).  There are wonderful little shops that line the streets/walkways and as you look to the horizon you will see the remaining 14 medieval towers that it is known for (there were 72 towers at one point).  Apparently, back then everyone wanted to beat the Jones’ so they were always trying to build a bigger, better tower as a sign of their wealth, superiority, etc.  The competitive little town eventually got hit by a major plague and after that Florence took control of it.  We sat and had coffee when we arrived.  Later in the afternoon we had a really nice lunch and just enjoyed the atmosphere.

You can see the archways to all the little shops and if you look straight back, those are some of the towers.

I ate pizza as much as possible on this trip. So light and satisfying.  And of course, some Rose’ for lunch:)

There was a viewing tower so we climbed up.  I am not one for heights, but I survived.  I have to look straight ahead whenever on a ski lift.  Check out the view behind me.

Another fabulous view from the viewing tower.

Florence: the view and chocolate croissants

We spent one full day walking around Florence.
Just an FYI:  I’m sure those who have been there are aware, you can’t drive into Florence.   Everything is blocked off to any traffic so you can train it in, bus it in or the best bet is to have someone drop you.  We were lucky enough to have a driver drop us off and it was about a 10 minute walk into the center of Florence from where we were dropped.  En route there our driver took us to a well known viewing stop of Florence.  Check it out.  Talk about gorg.

View of Florence.  NICE.

I’m addicted to chocolate croissants.  So, I had to get one when we stopped for a coffee/tea break in Florence.  Their chocolate croissants are filled with chocolate pudding.  It was fine, but I prefer my American style chocolate croissant with real dark chocolate in the middle.  Now I know. 

The Villa in Tuscany- Seriously? Pinch me, please.

Okay, now let’s get to the accommodations.
This house was awesome, just absolutely fabulous.
Renting a house for a week or two is the way to go.
Even better, was the fact that there was a family that maintains the house and they were always there to answer questions about where to go and what to do (so you are really given the inside scoop of what locals do).  They were the nicest people and sooo helpful.
Now, can it get better than that?

This is the entry which was a fifteen minute drive off the main road to the Villa.  Fifteen minutes because the road was so filled with rocks that you had to drive 5MPH down the road so you didn’t blow a tire or tear up the bottom of the car.

The pool house is to the left and the main house to the right.

Gorgeous, gorgeous views from the pool.  This is the pool house and beyond that is the main house.

The main kitchen.

Where we ate almost all of our meals.  Can I say it again:  the views! 
My bedroom.  I had 3 windows all which were amazing to look out each morning.

Let’s talk food in Italy – Panzano, Italy

It’s been about 2 weeks on the road for me (not complaining) so I have been neglecting the blog.
I’m back from an amazing trip to Italy spent primarily in Tuscany in the Chianti region.  First things first.  The food.  OMG.  People told me to just eat and eat and I did, but honestly there is no way you will ever realize how good food can be until you go to Italy.  Oh and I don’t think I  gained one pound.  You know why?  The food is soooo fresh, filling and satisfying that you don’t overeat.
I have never eaten such fresh, flavor-filled, free of pesticide food. I have mentioned before I have many food sensitivities and I did not have one issue because this food is so pesticide free and easy to digest.  It brings everything to a whole new level as to what I will look for at markets when shopping.  We went to the market the first Sunday we were there and stocked up on lots of veggies, fruits and anything else we found compelling.  Enjoy the pics from the Panzano market:

Fruits – the peaches were amazing. So sweet.

Veggies – the zucchini and salad were over the top fresh.

Parmesan- look at the size of it. The guy would just chop off sections for people.  The entire block of cheese was almost gone in 15 minutes.  I know why.  The parmesan was the best I ever tasted.  The locals told us to go to this guy because he has the best cheese and I can confirm he does.