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We are just back from a gorgeous holiday in Italy beginning in Florence.

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 Florence is a city crammed full of art, sculpture and decoration – inside and out. The Uffizi art gallery is bursting with the most exquisite Renaissance paintings that it’s been hard to choose just one to put here.

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But I love the expression on this fair maiden’s face and the rich colours and gold leaf.

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  Some churches wear all their decoration on the outside and others are a plain disguise of the jaw-dropping beauty they hide within.

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Frescos abound (a technique of painting onto fresh plaster so that when the plaster sets, so does the painting).

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The word ‘beautiful’ hardly does them justice – they are masterpieces of execution both in style and in position as they are often very high up and across the ceiling. Time has often faded the once bright colours but I kind of liked the muted tones and have come back with acres of colour inspiration.

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 It was hot, hot, hot in the city and many a gelato (ice cream) got eaten.

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We took an organised day trip out to Sienna, lunch at a vineyard, San Gimignano – a small walled medieval hill town and Pisa.

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It gave us a culture break and meant we could see some of the other sites. Pisa is hardly worth a mention but yes, we do have a load of cheesy photos of us holding up the tower!

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The Tuscan country side was everything I’d hoped for – a patchwork of textured squares of fields broken up with rows of vines and those Cypress trees that are iconic to the area.

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I got my ‘grapes’ shot (tick) but sadly didn’t get my ‘sunflowers’ shot – we drove passed many a field of sunflowers but too fast for a photo 😦 – next time..

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And then we packed up, navigated two trains and took ourselves over to the Cinque Terre region on the Italian Riviera.

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 Cinque Terre literally means The five Lands as there are five villages nestled in the rugged coastline.

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Over time, development has meant that you can now walk between them (if you’re a Olypian in my view! We did a walk from one village to another and that was enough – getting up above sea level meant many, many steps – ugh)

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The region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and I believe there is a limit to what colour you can paint your house but that’s no hardship because the palette is wonderful.

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There was colour at every turn, either flowers on window sills, a patchwork of house facades or even a harmonious colour group of washing hanging out (below)!

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We stumbled across this chapel in need of renovation (the area has been badly flooded in the past) but it was charming in its shabby chic-ness.

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  We ate the best fish and chips we’re ever going to get.

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And of course took many a photo of beautiful fruit and flowers.

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 Bougainvillea is a classic but I had never seen this one in red and it looked just gorgeous growing against the grey paintwork.

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I celebrated my birthday with a boat ride and the best pesto focaccia for lunch and then later a sunset meal overlooking the sea.

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 We did swim once but were put off that the locals stood in the shallows fishing out what looked like jelly fish!

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My heart skipped a beat on spying this crochet blanket hanging out to air (it was quite a few floors up or it might have been tempting – naughty!) But how splendid that the shutter and frame contrast so well with the yarn used – perfetto.

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 And then the day came (along with torrential rain) to return home (very damp) with lots of rest had, books read, ice creams eaten and inspiration to savour.

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I really did try to edit my photos here – honestly. I took 1800 over two cameras :0 I’ve got more to show you if your interested? I’ll be guided by your comments, so say if you’d like to see some Italian food, frescos, paintings or sculpture  and I will happily oblige.

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