18 Jun 2018

I arrived in Florence with a bit of a thud. I left the tiny little village of Portovenere early in the morning and a few hours later there I was at Santa Maria Novella station in the ever busy, frenetic Florence trying to find the right place to catch the bus to take me to Santo Spirito. It was all too hard so in the end I dragged myself and my bag the 1½ kms to my apartment in Oltrarno, arriving a hot sweaty mess.

It always takes a little time to get one's bearings and although I'd been to Florence a few times. I'd not stayed in Oltrarno before. This was my street corner and once spied I knew I was close to home.

My apartment was just around the corner from the Santo Spirito church and the lively square.

I was lucky enough to hear these choristers practising.

I didn't have to go far to find some great places for dinner including a delicious wood fired pizza at Gusta Pizza.

The square in black and white.

I found a lovely artisanal gelato shop, the Gelateria della Passera, and had a delicious passionfruit and lemon gelato, a must in Florence's heat.

Even though I didn't buy anything here, S. Forno looked very enticing.

It has an unassuming facade so it's easy to miss.

Even though you're on the 'other side' in Oltrarno, nothing in Florence is too far away. Every day I'd walk past the Greek Orthodox Church where I found these beautiful wedding flowers.

I did lots of walking and would catch the local buses if my destination was too far away.

The Ponte Vecchio was my local bridge but often it was so crowded, I'd take the next bridge over.

Florence is uncomfortably busy in summer so I'd leave home at 7.00 a.m. to get some quiet photos without the crowds.

Like this one of il Porcellino.

If he looks familiar, he is. We have a replica statue outside Sydney Hospital with a similar burnished snout.

The duomo is the jewel in the crown of Florence, so it's very crowded around there. Unfortunately the duomo is undergoing renovation so parts are covered in scaffolding at the moment.

I went early to take this black and white photo but had sunshine and a nicer sky when I returned to take the colour version.

Just around the corner from the Duomo I found this cute fruit van.

On my 4th trip to Florence I finally made it to the Uffizi Gallery.

It was worth the wait when I finally got to see the Gallery's Boticellis and the newly restored Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Adoration of the Magi'.

Of course I went to the markets, the Sant'ambrogio market and C. Bio.

I ate my way through a number of tasty Sicilian melons.

A cute idea to repurpose all those old tomato tins.

I made a pilgrimage to the Basilica Santa Croce to see the beautiful Brunelleschi Cloister.

Most people don't seem to know that this cloister exists. I've been twice now and have had the place pretty much to myself on both occasions.

It's a quiet contemplative place and I find it unutterably beautiful.

Churches, galleries, markets. What's missing from Jillian's list? Gardens.

I had 2 gardens on my list, the Pitti Palace Gardens and the Bardini Gardens, both of which are located in Oltrarno.

The Palazzo Pitti gardens are massive and very formal.

I much preferred the Bardini Gardens with their killer views of Florence.

3 days in Florence wasn't long enough but I hope you enjoyed this little snippet of my time in Florence.

See you all again soon with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


oven baked fruit with honey

11 Jun 2018

Well that holiday went quickly and tomorrow I return to work. Today I returned to the kitchen for the first time in 5 or 6 weeks and it felt both a bit strange and comfortable. I stayed in apartments much of my holiday and trying to locate the basics sometimes proved to be a challenge. I do like my own kitchen. 

When I left Sydney the weather was still warm and stone-fruit was affordable.

After 4 weeks in Europe eating ripe sicilian melons, strawberries and cherries it's a bit sad returning to mandarins, apples and pears.

I made a large batch of oven baked pears and plums with honey just before I flew out to Paris and it kept me going for a whole week.

I served the fruit with yoghurt for dessert and it topped my breakfast muesli as well.

Here's the recipe for you, based on a Brigitte Hafner recipe. Brigitte suggests combining stone fruit, pears and grapes.

Baked fruit with honey by Brigitte Hafner - serves 6
6 pieces of stone fruit (peaches, nectarines and/or plums)
2 pears
2 cinnamon quills
Juice of 1 orange and zest of ½ orange
1-2 tbs honey
1 tbsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 200C. Cut fruit thinly and place in a baking tray with the cinnamon, orange juice and zest. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until golden (about 20-25 minutes) and serve with yoghurt, ice-cream or custard. You can also serve this cold on muesli.

I'll get back into the kitchen in earnest next weekend but I still have a few more travel posts to share with you once I get them written.

See you all again soon.

Bye for now,




4 Jun 2018

When I booked a few days in Portovenere I really didn't know anything about the place except it was meant to be very beautiful. 

I did a little bit of reading to discover Portovenere was part of the Bay of Poet's and Byron's Grotto was located there. 

Byron loved to swim and would swim from this grotto to meet fellow poet, Shelley.

Well all that I'd read was true. Portovenere is very pretty and also very tiny. 

Each morning the ferries would arrive disgorging passengers all of whom had come to see the beautiful Poet's Gulf.

Portovenere consists of just one main street, the waterfront which houses most of the eateries and a few historic sites - St Peter's Church, the Church of San Lorenzo and the Doria.

Wandering along the caruggi.

My little apartment was hidden behind the green door and opposite the green door was this amazing pasta curtain.

The sunset from my window.

Some pretty spots from my wanders.

The view from the Doria, which is accessed by many, many stairs.

Once I'd made the climb I found this knock-out view of St Peter's Church.

I found so many wild flowers as I scrambled up the hill.

I caught a ferry across to the small island of Palmaria where I climbed up to the top of the island to take some photos.

The views were spectacular so I took quite a few photos.

Once the sun went down, most of the tourists left leaving the streets nice and quiet for my evening perambulation hunting down dinner.

Each morning I'd throw open my shutters to enjoy the glorious view and listen to the sounds of the water lapping the harbour. Pure bliss.

See you all again with some more photos from my few days in Florence.

Bye for now,


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