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Before I lived in Italy, the closest I came to a real fig was the jammy stuff inside of a Fig Newton….”you’re darn tootin, I like Fig Newtons!” Wow! Whoever thought a fresh one would be so yummy!

I recently saw them at the market as they came into season, and wondered what they were and how to eat them. While at a garden at one of the Medici Villa’s I saw the shrub they grow on covered with fresh fruit and my interest was piqued. I went straight to the market and bought some, inquiring as I did on how to eat them. The vendor at the market laughed, picked one up, bit into it and said, “Cosi!” (Like this!)
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The figs natural range is in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, although my research indicates they are grown in some US states. Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Georgia, Oregon, Texas, and South Carolina, all apparently grow figs, but I swear, I never knew it, much less have eaten a fig from one of these states. They are very delicate when ripe, so I assume they don’t ship well. If you have the chance to eat a fresh one, try it! They are tasty!
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The Santa Trinita Bridge is where I spend a lot of my time people watching, viewing the sunsets, and catching the cool summer breezes. This bridge has had its share of hardship having been rebuilt several times over the centuries. In 1570, the construction of the bridge as designed by Ammanati was completed, after having collapsed several times due to rot and flood. This bridge was constructed in stone at the direction of Cosimo I de Medici. In 1608, to celebrate the marriage of Cosimo II to Magdalene of Austria, the four statues were added.

These statutes represent the four seasons. The statues were the work of: Pietro Francavilla-Spring, Giovanni Caccini-Summer and Fall, and Taddeo Landini-Winter. In 1944, the bridge was destroyed again by the bombs of German soldiers. The bridge was reconstructed to the exact design in 1958 using the exact stones recovered from the Arno.

The head of Primavera seemed to be lost forever, but was finally recovered from the river in 1961, during maintenance of the Arno. I am so happy, as Primavera is my favorite! These statues and this bridge are stunning! Be sure to visit it when you come to Florence. You can take the best photos of the Ponte Vecchio from here and see the beautiful sunsets. You will probably catch me there at sunset!

As a side note, I watched the movie The Miracle at Sant’Anna this weekend, and the marble head found in the man’s closet is the head of Primavera! The soldier carries it with him throughout the movie. I think Spike Lee might have used his creative license in that part, but the story and the movie of the Buffalo Soldiers is excellent!

Italo train
Riding trains has officially become my favorite mode of transportation. The trains in Italy are usually comfortable, although you will find some regional trains that are hot, dirty, and crowded.
Nevertheless, for the most part, it’s great.
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There are two train systems in Italy, the Trenitalia and Italo. Trenitalia runs national, international, and regional trains, and Italo runs fast trains between major Italian cities. Some very small cities have their own systems, and I can’t speak to those. But recently we took a small train through the Serchio Valley from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca and the scenery was stunning and the small train, very nice.
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The trains in Italy can get you almost anywhere. Some tiny towns require a train trip and a bus. The stations are always exciting, especially the larger ones.

My favorite part of train travel is looking out the window at the stunning scenery that passes by. I try to take photos, but usually it is not so successful. I try to read, as I usually do on airplanes, but the countryside pulls me in. In the distance, you can see walled hilltop towns, castles, animals, fields of poppies or sunflowers, or the sea.
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Train travel is not expensive and you can eat, drink, read, look out the window, meet other people, sleep, or take a walk. Some of the trains have café cars and some have vending machines.
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I used trains in the States sometimes to go between Washington D.C. and New York or Boston and New York and enjoyed it there, but the expense and lack of availability doesn’t make it a viable transportation option very often.

When you’re visiting Italy, instead of renting a car, which I strongly advise against, take a train or two. It’s part of the experience and I think you’ll love it!