Last week our new friends and neighbours invited us to join them for lunch at Zupas, restaurant we’d not been to before, followed by a trip to St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery near Florence. It turned out to be a wonderful day.
Zupas is a perfect place to eat if you prefer freshly made soups, sandwiches and salads from a wide variety of both healthy and flavourful ingredients.
We were told that there were rules about dress codes at the monastery, so, after checking the website, Jim put on his long pants and long sleeved shirt, the only requirements for men. For us women it was much more stringent. Our legs, feet, arms and head all needed to be covered. No pants allowed unless under a long skirt; no hats, but a head scarf was imperative. I looked into my closet and found a black skirt that hung to mid-calf that I thought might pass if worn over my black jeans. I had a white long-sleeved blouse that I could put over a t-shirt, and a white and black infinity scarf to cover my head. With shoes and socks, I thought I’d be passable. I put the extra layers on at the car, once we’d reached the monastery parking lot. Ruth had worn pants and a long sleeved shirt, but opted to borrow from the skirts and scarves made available. We were greeted at the open court yard by a Sister. She scowled at me and told me my skirt was too short. She thrust a long, brown, cotton one at me and I pulled it on over my own. The one she gave Ruth turned out to be only an inch or two longer on her than mine was on me. Oh well. As she told us about the rules for touring, she kept looking me over and abruptly said, “Put your blouses outside your skirt!” We graciously complied and were then allowed to begin our self guided tour with one map in Jim’s hands.
Once we began, the whole atmosphere changed. It was a warm, sunny day and the beautiful, quiet gardens offered a sense of peace. We stopped several times just to sit and take it all in. It was hard to believe that we were in the middle of the desert!
We were allowed to look inside all of the chapels and take pictures. The architecture was amazing, as you can see from the pictures.
About an hour later we finished the tour in the gift shop where jams and jellies and olives grown on the grounds were available for purchase along with a variety of other products. When we emerged, tours were over and everyone had gone to Chapel. We left our borrowed clothing on a bench in the courtyard and then made one last stop on the way off the grounds, to take pictures of the chapel on the hill.