We interrupt this blog for an Italian vacation…

to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uKaXMdMI/AAAAAAAADC8/Asdeb3L8tHI/s320/divas+off+to+florence.jpg” border=”0″ />Buongiorno Diva Readers,

Today’s Italy photos were all taken last summer as we skipped across Italy, hitting Piedmont, Chianti, Naples and even Sicily. They’re being posted now as an Arrivederci before I depart for a delicious journey to Florence to celebrate my 13th wedding anniversary. My husband – The Wine Guy – and I have been to Italy several times before, but this time somehow feels a little more special.

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to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uKZmGrNI/AAAAAAAADDE/ZP1GR8fYt3U/s320/divas+off+to+florence2.jpg” border=”0″ />Usually when we travel in Italy we’re frantically hopping here and there, tasting wines in Piedmont before scurrying to Tuscany, Roma, Venice or the Amalfi Coast. I like racing across the autostrada – driving in Italy always gets my blood boiling and my pulse beating. When it’s my turn to drive, my husband reclines back in his seat, napping to avoid watching me take the curves, and I repeat aloud phrases in Italian along with my “Learn Italian in Your Car” cd. As WG floats in and out of consciousness, his dreams are peppered with me calling “Dov’è Stefano?” and other repeat-after-me vocab lessons.

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uKA-aZiI/AAAAAAAADC0/9hpwZxReyw4/s320/autobahn+fun.jpg” border=”0″ />to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uKl8kZaI/AAAAAAAADDM/bMUKE8SfO2Q/s320/divas+off+to+florence3.jpg” border=”0″ />Though I don’t speak more than a few words in Italian beyond “Non parlo l’italiano. Parla inglese?” and “Quanto costa?”, my mouth wants to speak the language. I find the words, “Per favore”, “Mi dispiace” and “Mi chiamo Diva” rolling around in my mouth almost sensually as they rest on my tongue and in my mind and though I can’t speak the language my lips move as if trying to repeat what is said when I listen to the radio or watch two lovers speaking Italian at the table next to me. My mind takes off, trying to speak a language it doesn’t yet know, but I think that perhaps, if I believed in that kind of thing, it might have known it long ago. It makes me feel alive. I love Italy, the loud and affectionate Italians, the gelato, the food, the wine and the language.

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uX4LLOQI/AAAAAAAADEE/1mWEHuhkO3c/s320/divas+off+to+florence10.jpg” border=”0″ />The problem with Italy is that there are so many places to see that I can never decide on just one locale to visit and thus end up trying to see everything all at once. Readers who know me well know that I always have several pots boiling at one time, my hands dipped in many projects: chairing committees for various women’s and decorative arts societies, running my Antiques Diva™ business (which is bound one day to be an empire) – all while living an active social life that borders on diabolical. In the past, I’ve always vacationed this same way… running night and day, trying to see and do all. But perhaps it’s because I’m growing older, or perhaps my husband – a connoisseur of slow travel – has finally rubbed off on me… We’re leaving for Italy and instead of making a grand tour we are returning to Florence.

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uK8qLydI/AAAAAAAADDU/9W1xVTojziQ/s320/divas+off+to+florence4.jpg” border=”0″ />Simply Florence and no place else. We’re driving into the city from our home in Berlin so I can feel the rush of the road (and to insure plenty of space on the return drive for Italian antiques and wooden crates of wine), but instead of visiting several cities and villages in the area, we’ve reserved a spot in a parking garage nearby the Ponte Vecchio and booked a simple suite in a hotel recommended in 1000 Places to See Before You Die, a bargain family-run pensione with a two-tiered roof-top terrace and 360 degree view overlooking the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and the surrounding terra cotta roofscapes. And though we’ve “done” Florence before – at high speed – this time we’re going to linger.

to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uRzQLTGI/AAAAAAAADDs/rjvR7Nv0-Yk/s320/divas+off+to+florence7.jpg” border=”0″ />Last time we were there we did 3 musuems on our first day and were so brain dead by the 2nd that we barely remembered the 3rd, and though the reason for the trip is to study the art (and to eat the food), I’ve taken a different approach this time. I can’t help myself but to organize our days, it’s in my nature to plan and book outings for us. But each day I’ve planned only one thing per day. I’ve pre-booked our museum tickets – Tuesday is the Uffizi, Wednesday the Bargello, Thursday the Galleria Dell ‘Accademia, Friday the Medici Chapels and Saturday the Church of Santa Maria Novella and on and on…

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uR2R2oAI/AAAAAAAADDk/lo0g4HpFYgI/s320/divas+off+to+florence6.jpg” border=”0″ />to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/Sh0uSIFMIoI/AAAAAAAADD0/ESWwmTSvrfQ/s320/divas+off+to+florence8.jpg” border=”0″ />Knowing me, I’ll feel compelled to go to Pitti Palace or the Museo San Marco, to visit the Duomo or the Church of Santa Croce, but our goal in booking one musuem for each day of our visit, is to encourage my husband and I to linger in each museum, to sit and sketch what we see, to take long coffee breaks and siestas when the sun is high in the sky. We want to drink wine at sunset, watching the view, eating long, delicious multi-coursed dinners full of antipasti, pasta, pesce and dolci – dining in Italy on dinner that only the Italians can create with such simplicity and flavor.

When we return home to Berlin, I’m certain we’ll have done more than we intended, but this to+florence9.jpg”>to+florence9.jpg” border=”0″ />time, on this trip, my goal is to leave a few things undone as a perfect excuse to return and enjoy the true pleasure that is Florence.

Arrivederci and A presto!

Signora Antiques Diva™

P.S. In the meantime, while I’m away, I hope you enjoy these upcoming Guest Blogs from La Reine, Lady Lotus and The Contessa