Back in June in 2014, we had a holiday in Barcelona.  One of the memories I brought back with me was of a father and daughter team of puppeteers playing the crowd with just two puppets.  They were wonderful, the father and daughter, and the puppets.  For a closer look at the intricate carving and details of the house these two puppets lived in you’ll have to follow the links to “Puppet Strings”  and “Puppet House“, but to share my love of puppets, and bits of wood, and strings, and making things… you just have to stick around here.

2014-06. Puppet strings.

          While wandering the streets in Florence on our recent holiday we discovered a shop where magic was worked with wood… “Bartolucci“.  Its a little family run shop and all the wood inside is “a result of patient manual labour, made of pine-wood, thought up and produced in small series by Francesco, Matteo, Chiara, and Anna Bartolucci”.  If you’re heading to Florence you should definitely stop by and take a look… a quick peep onto their website says they also have shops in Urbino and Rome.

Pinocchio picture.

          I could have bought the whole shop, but instead I settled for just wandering around for a while and taking a few pictures.  My Dad is probably the biggest influence to my making my “Creations“, out of pretty much anything I can get my hands on.  I’ve mentioned before some of the things he made for us when we were small, but since Grandchildren came along, and he’s had more time, he’s made so many more, his “thing” at the moment is miniatures, a few dolls houses, mostly made from scratch, and his latest is a country pub, complete with rustic beams and an old oak bar.  My Mum sits for hours knitting tiny little dolls clothes out of cotton with hat pins.  One of the things my Dad first made when the grandchildren started to arrive was a wooden rocking horse, big enough for an adult to ride.   I wonder if the Grandsons has arrived before the Granddaughters, if he might have made a rocking motorbike like the one in the Bartolucci doorway instead of a horse.

Motor bike.

          At the back of the shop in one of the corners there were a number of shelves cluttered with woodworking tools, its quite possible that these are all old tools used by the original Bartolucci wookworkers, the family business first started up in 1936, I would also like to guess that the pictures are of the people who used the tools in those years gone by.

Woodwork tools.

          To the right of the shelves is this little room, just imagine how much fun I could have in there.  It looks like they’ve been busy and there’s a delivery of smiles ready to be picked up.


          Hubby, of course, knows me well and when planning our recent trip, he found a mention of a puppet shop in Venice.   Emporio Pettenello.  Very much off the beaten track, but we found it on the map and set off one morning to visit it.  We found the square, Campo Santa Margherita, but no sign of the puppet shop, I managed to find an English speaking local customer at the small newspaper stand and found out that the shop had closed down a couple of years ago.

          We had the rest of the day and wandered back towards the more tourist tracks, heading for the Rialto market, just before the bridge, and I spotted a woodwork stall in amongst all of the t-shirts and trinkets.  Little Pinocchio puppets are available on pretty much all of the touristy stalls, but they are just the basic puppets, with only four strings on a cross of wood at the top.  I’ve been spoiled by the intricacy of the one I had as a child so I was looking for more.  This one at the little wood stall had many more strings and what’s more, the seller let me play with it.  It was really wonderful, Hubby said my face lit up while I made it walk around the shop and then wave at Hubby across the crowds.

          Unfortunately, the price reflected the amount of work which had been put into the puppet.  The seller said he only made about one a month, and sold them with a certificate of authenticity.  I left without it, planning to go back at the end of the holiday if I had enough money left.  Needless to say, once I’d had more time to think about it, no matter how beautiful it was, and how big a smile it had made, I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend the amount of money needed when I knew I could go home and make one for myself.

           One day ….


          P.s. Here’s a picture from my dad of his rocking horse…. 


          Isn’t it wonderful?

Ponte Vecchio sunset


          We went out for a quiet evening stroll, just in the area around the hotel, but when I saw the sun sinking behind the Ponte Vecchio I dragged Hubby to the next bridge where I had already picked my vantage point earlier in the day in hope a sunset picture with the bridge in the foreground.  I didn’t quite catch the light show I’d hoped for, but I do enjoy a good lamp-post shot too so I went away happy. 


          We headed back to the bridge and found ourselves a nice little spot to sit and listen to the local musicians while we watched the last of the daylight dissappear below the horizon. 


          After Florence, we moved onto Venice for a few days and at the end of our trip shared the Vaporetto with two young girls just setting off towards Florence.  On the crowded waterbus, I had enough time to pass on just one smile to look out for in Florence so I chose this one and suggested the girls bought themselves a picnic and spent an evening at Ponte Vecchio watching the sun go down. 

          More from before : a few days in “Florence” in June 2018.

“Sobbin’ women”


         We spent a couple of hours yesterday wandering around the Museum of Acedemia in Florence.  We particularly went to see “David“, but this one other statue raised a few smiles for another reason, it’s entitled “Rape of the Sabine women” and represents “the older man defeated by a young and vigorous opponent who grasps a young woman with a forceful gesture”.

          While Hubby was educating me on Michaelangelo’s finer arts, I found myself educating him on Roman history and … Musicals.

          Seven brides for seven brothers is one of my favourite musicals, and at one stage in the story, Howard Keel, trying to save his six younger brothers from heartache, tells them all about the Romans who stole the “Sabine women”, who, when they were finally rescued didn’t want to go home.

          He encourages his brothers to go into town and steal their newfound loves from their families in the way that the Sabine women were stolen, with the plan that they would then be snowed in and the women would fall in love with them by the time they could be rescued.

          I’m no authority at all on Roman history, but Adam (Howard Keel) was completely right, and, as you would expect nothing less from a musical, the brothers ended up with their brides.

          As for the statue, the museum guide says …

          “The three figures in the Rape of the Sabine are constructed around a spiralling vortex which, in its spacial movement, induces the spectator to move around the statue and offers infinite viewpoints” … 

         … Giambologna (the artist) made the sculpture with no subject in mind and later sculpted a bas-relief representing the battle of the Romans and the Sabines on the base of the statue to make his interpretation of the title clear to all.


          Since I didn’t read this information until after we’d left the museum, we wandered back to the hotel via Piazza Signora (Signora Square) to take a photo of the base of a copy of the statue which stands there.


          More from before : a few days in “Florence” in June 2018.