Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I was able to visit my friend Tina while in Florence. She's my college girlfriend's, roomate's little sister (this will be on the test...). We're the only ones that have kept in touch because Tina is just awesome - fun to be with and one of the very few people I just feel very comfortable with. Hard to describe, but she is really easy to hang out with.

Fiesole (Fee-A-zo-lay) is a beautiful little town above Florence and she lives in what used to be the Medici's stables.

Around the corner from her apartment is an original Roman road...

Just above her place is the Medici's castle and a Franciscan Monastery. Down the road is a building where an assassination attempt was made on one of the Medici brothers. We also had a couple nice and very affordable meals at the Casa Popolo - the local Communist Party Headquarters.

Beautiful views in every direction...

Etruscan tomb

The first time I saw the Etruscan ruins, I was tired, it was from a distance and I was a little unimpressed, until Tina put it in perspective: "This is BC shit, Man!". Thanks for the reality check!

We hiked up to the top of Monte Ceceri "Swan Mountain" where Leonardo tested his human powered aircraft.

I think the plaque says something along the lines of "This is the spot where Leonardo tossed some poor sucker off to see how the aircraft worked", because he damn sure didn't test it himself. I wonder if anyone died trying this? "Keep your legs straight.... PUMP, PUMP, PUMP" ..... crash. "Next!"
I'm not 100% convinced the 'plane' was really tested here. According to the Internet, it's believed to be the site based on this from a DaVinci notebook:

"The big bird will rise over the back of the large swan for his first flight. He will fill the universe with astonishment. All records will reflect this accomplishment and eternal fame will be bestowed on the place from which it originated"

A little ambiguous, I think. But I want to believe so it felt pretty cool being up there.

Under the site is a sandstone quarry. (I imagine the Etruscans tomb rock came from here...)

You could see the tool marks in the stone...

The cutters lived on site, so there are some ruined storage buildings... I wonder if it was an artisans calling or more of a brutal slave sort of thing?

Check this cool stone door hinge.

Villa San Michele, a 15th century Monastery converted to a hotel. The facade was designed by Michelangelo.

I've seen this on a few buildings so I think its an original design feature and not a repair. They use a steel rod to stiffen the posts and tighten it with a wedge.

The Cemetery...

I never tired of these Roman roads. Walking along at dusk (or in the dark!) was just amazing - imagine who had tramped along here in the past...

There was a lot more (this is a beautiful little town with awesome views)... including a Roman amphitheater that was closed all 4 (?) times I visited Fiesole :-(

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

After not flying for 145 days (whoa!) I finally got a chance today. It was a long day by the time I got the ice off, the engine preheated (it was 5F) and the battery charged but I don't think airplanes suck anymore. :-)

After a REAL short trip around the pattern to go back and thaw out the airspeed indicator, I landed at Birchwood and then took a look at Big Lake but passed because I couldn't tell how much snow there was.

My landings were real nice which I was worried about after so long a break and I got three (and logged them for a change) so I'm legal to carry passengers for the time being!

I had the prop balanced and it really made a difference - it was very smooth, particularly power off.

You can click on the pictures if you want them larger.

The good 'ol Spot Tracker...