Monday, February 23, 2015

Palazzo Cinotti Luxury Apartments

I wrote a rewiew on Trip Advisor about the apartment that my friend Carol and I stayed in last October.  I thought I’d post it on my blog.
I am late in posting this review of Palazzo Cinotti Luxury Living in Siena. I rented this fabulous apartment with a friend of mine for two nights (25-27 October 2014),
We stayed in the Family Suite, which is located on the fourth floor. There is no elevator in this old historical palazzo, but Antonio (his family owns the palazzo and he and Alexandra manage the four apartments) has a neat electric dolly, which does the moving/heavy work up the flight of stairs.
The apartment: As you walk into the apartment through its heavy wood door, you will find the first bedroom (with twin beds) on the left and a contemporary kitchen on the right. Further down is the living/dining room on the left and second bedroom (queen bed) on the right. At the end of the hallway is the bathroom, which has a few steps down, so make sure you have the lights on.
The twin bedroom is simply decorated and faces via di Citta. The queen bedroom and kitchen has views of the cathedral tower. We didn’t really hear any noise at night.
The living/dining room is spacious and comfortable. There’s a TV but we never used it. There is also complimentary wifi in the apartment, which worked well. There is a small dining table and hutch with dishes and wine glasses.

The kitchen is long/narrow and has a contemporary look versus the other areas of the apartment.
The bathroom was very large with toilet, bidet, sink, and a huge walk in shower with a ‘rain’ shower head. There’s a window to open in the shower to let out the steam. I do warn you the shower floor is very slippery when wet, so I would suggest you bring flip flops. This room also has a washer/drier (never used them since we were there for just two nights),
The building is secured. You will receive a key to the outside door and of course, the apartment. We never felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
Location/Dining/Shopping: You simply cannot beat the location of the apartment. Just steps away is the beautiful il Campo, which is always filled with people. The Duomo (one of my favorites in Italy) is also nearby. Via di Citta has lots of shops for leather goods, jewelry, souvenirs, etc. My friend and I bought purses a block or so away.
There is lots of dining opportunities in Siena to include: Locanda Garibaldi and Trattoria da Dino. Both are family run and serve excellent Tuscan dishes.
Directions to the apartment: We flew into Rome (FCO) and drove to Siena via the coast (E80), passing Civitavecchia and Grosetto, and E78 to Siena, rather than going via Rome and its beltway. I wanted to avoid the morning traffic near Rome. I found it to be a pleasant drive and it gave me time to refresh myself with driving among the speedy Italians.
On E78 as you near Siena, follow the signs towards Firenze (Florence), and take exit Siena Sud (south). You will arrive at the Porta Romana Gate. Continue through the gate and continue on the same street. The name of the street changes to via Pantaneto, to via Banchi di Sotto and finally to via di Citta, #122.

You will need to contact Antonio or Alexandra prior to arrive with the car’s license plate number if you intend to drive into the city and drop off your luggage (as well as what time you plan to arrive – it took us close to three hours, as we made a short stop to pick up lunch along the way). Siena is a no-driving zone except for residents. They will contact the police and will give your license plate number so that you do not get a ticket. Once you drop off your luggage, simply park at the nearby garage.
Antonio and Alexandra are wonderful hosts. If you have any questions about sightseeing, dining recommendations, or anything else, just ask them. If you are new to the area you can make arrangements with their tour company – Country Tours, for a day out in beautiful Tuscany for great sightseeing and wine tasting.
I would recommend this place in a heartbeat! Fabulous apartment, excellent location, and warm, friendly service from Antonio and Alexandra. Grazie mille!

I will get some photos posted soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Camera Bag/Purse

My new camera bag/purse

I have been wanting to buy a camera bag that that looks like a purse. The camera bags I have are so boring looking.  The camera purse bags that you can purchase can cost anywhere from $200 to $300. No thanks! 

After some research on the internet and finding several DIY purse blogs, I found one that I liked and what looked pretty easy to follow.

I purchased a Liz Claiborne teal green Eclipse Satchel. Regular price $70, but I got it for $44. It did take me a while to find one that I felt would meet my needs and one that looked nice too.

I purchased the materials for the insert of the purse from Jo-Ann fabrics (just over a yard of material in case I wanted to make a wallet or other accessories; 1/2" foam - about 1/3rd yard, thread (I ended up using thread I already had), and velcro.  

I wanted a orange or pink pattern to compliment the teal green (thinking Bermuda colors), but then I found this fun butterfly and postage stamp pattern. I've taken a lot of butterfly photos and I love to travel.  Perfect!!

I measured the inside of the purse length-wise (11"), the bottom 4.5" and the two sides 5.5", leaving space above so I could access the inside pockets of the purse on each side. 

I cut a length of material 11" by 36". I folded it in half with the right sides facing together and sewed the two long sides, leaving one end open.

I reversed the 'pillow case' right side out and inserted one side foam piece and sewed across the case right next to the edge of the foam.

I repeated two more times for the other two foam pieces.

Now the three pieces won't move about.

 (Checking to see how it looks)

I made two small ends (the blog I followed didn't have any), as I wanted extra protection for any camera gear.  

I sewed these ends to the main piece.

Rut-roh!  I didn't read the instructions correctly! I should have stitched the (soft) velcro before inserting the three foam pieces; so I ended up hand-stitching!  Ugh!! That took  couple of hours, as I stitched very small to properly secure the velcro.

I added two on each side, rather than just one.  I ran out of the beige, so I used white - you really can't see it once you fill the purse:

Next, I did two small hand stitches to attach the short ends to the main section. I didn't want to stitch the entire section.

I made just one insert (for now), approx 4.5 x 5"; sewed in the foam with the pattern right side out. When I cut the pattern, I added an extra 2" so that I could sew the 'sticky' side of the velcro to these flaps.

Here's a photo with the main insert...

...and my Fujifilm X-T1 camera (with 18-55mm lens) with the insert, and a few items.

I'm really pleased with the results, even though it took a lot longer than I expected (mostly the hand-sewing).  

This was  a fun project and now I have a stylish camera purse!