Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours
Soon we’ll return to Florence – a city we’re ever eager to visit – we’ll be happy as one of the kids on this carousel to be back!
We return each year for our New Year’s Jazz in Italy tour…here are memories from a couple of years ago to give you a taste of how the week begins:
Yes, Florence is a delight, even in the light rain, dressed in holiday best. The street artist whose underwater sketches we noticed last time we were here is still leaving his caricatures, holiday themed now.
Shop windows are full of holiday wonder – these Dolce and Gabbana angels remind me of our nearly-two-year-old grandson Walter (always angelic, of course!).After a restorative nap we’re out on the streets again, and the rain has stopped, leaving shimmering cobbles reflecting the holiday lights.Beside the Duomo a huge Christmas tree glitters with white lights and red fleur-de-lis,and a simple and beautiful terracotta nativity scene (handcrafted by an Impruneta – a town famous for its terracotta – artisan) beside the entrance.The upper floor of the Mercato Centrale, a don’t-miss Florence stop on every trip, has been in the news lately. No trace of the simple wooden stands on which farmers hawked their wares, it’s now an upscale food court, open until midnight!It is jammed at 8:30, and proves a perfect place to get a quick but terrific dinner. We peruse the stands – cured meats, beef, soups, meatballs and vegetables, the very popular pizza guy from Naples, truffles (that big white one is a mere 330,000 euros – can you believe it?!) chocolates, pastries, the Mercato’s own Panettone,and even a branch of Eataly! Choose your meal from a booth, then grab a beer, wine or soft drink from one of the center bars and enjoy. There are plenty of tables and quite a buzz – although Florence is full of tourists at this time of year, we hear mostly Italian here.
On Sunday our Music and Markets tour begins, and Kirk once again gets to show off one of his favorite cities – beginning with the Duomo, marvelling at Brunelleschi’s dome (Kirk’s hands tell a story – of the interlocking terracotta Brunelleschi devised to construct his enormous masterpiece).The baptistry is completely covered, as restorative work goes on, but the “Gates of Paradise” Ghiberti’s doors, so dubbed by Michelangelo, are left visible.Our guest finds a masterpiece of her own, happy to see that the January sales have started early!Crossing the Ponte Vecchio to the Oltrarno side of Florence, we take a photo break on the terrace of Hotel Lungarno – so kind of them to share it with the world!What perfect timing – a glorious sunset backdrops Spring, one of the four seasons on each corner of Ponte Santa Trinita.And there’s everybody’s favorite bridge – always packed!Dinner’s at a Florence favorite, Da Giovanni, where Kirk demonstrates his biscotti dipping technique -“don’t let a single drop of this delicious Vin Santo fall on the tablecloth!” and we finish with a limoncello toast – Cin-cin!
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
Since 2003 we’ve hosted Music and Markets tours in France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, England and Spain, and in 2019 added Wonder Tours with a more intentional concentration on art and architecture, local culture, food and wine, and less time dedicated to concert-going.
We also design and host custom private tours – previous locations include many French, Spanish, British and Italian regions.
Between our music-related travels, we split our time between our homes near Washington DC and the south of France. While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups, Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over forty years of teaching and performance experience.