Immersion Journeys in Italy, France and Spain

On December 3rd, 2020 by Jeremy Cotroneo

Homeless Jesus – by Artie Martines

Posted In:
Art | Culture | Florence | Spain | Travelers Tales

This post is guest-written by our traveler Artie Martines.

During one of our on-line presentations, our guide Lior Aviv talked about a modern artist’s statue called "Homeless Jesus," which can be found in Florence.

Travel Community member Artie took a deeper look into this and wrote a nice piece on our Facebook page which we would like to share with all of you:

When Lior showed the slide of the statue of Jesus under the blanket which is commonly called “Homeless Jesus,"  I commented that we had seen the same depiction in Barcelona last year while traveling with Tuscany Tours. I did a little research and found that the sculptor is a Canadian, Timothy Schmalz, and the original installation of the sculpture was in 2013 in Toronto at the Jesuit School of Religion at the University of Toronto. It had originally been offered to a church in Toronto and St Patrick’s in NYC. Both churches turned him down.


From Wikipedia:

The statue has been described as a "visual translation" of the Gospel of Matthew passage in which Jesus tells his disciples, "as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me." Schmalz intended for the bronze sculpture to be provocative, admitting, "That's essentially what the sculpture is there to do. It's meant to challenge people."


There are now installations of this piece in numerous locations throughout the world. You can find it in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The sites where you can find it include the Vatican.

The one we saw in Barcelona is located near Santa Anna church which houses a soup kitchen run by the homeless.  The statue was installed in February 2019 just a few weeks before we saw it.

It is a very powerful piece, and it certainly evokes a reaction as the artist intended.

I was certainly moved by it, and it made me even more grateful for all that Eileen and I have been blessed with over the years. It also affirmed the support we give – and the work we do (mostly Eileen) for – the Elizabeth Coalition To House The Homeless here in NJ (you can read more about the Elizabeth Coalition here).

Attached is the picture I took in April 2019.

On June 18th, 2020 by Karen Embrey

Sugar & Spice......

Posted In:
Florence | Food | Gelato | Italy | Life in Tuscany | Reflections

Bicycle outside My Sugar Gelato Florence

Gelato from My Sugar in Florence…..and everything nice can be found in a scrumptious spoonful of GELATO!  While out one Spring day doing my very FAVORITE pastime in Florence (wandering the streets with no particular place to go!), I came upon an elusive gelato shop that I’d read lots of great
things about but could never find.  It’s in the lesser-visited area of San Lorenzo in the Centro Storico (historical center) of Florence –  “less visited” only because (unfortunately) many tourists don’t venture BEYOND the imaginary “tourist’s triangle” that includes the Duomo, the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio.

The absolute most incredible part of visiting Florence is just WANDERING!!  Meander about this beautiful city and turn down every little street and alley you can find – the city is so small that you can’t get lost!  Don’t get distracted by the window displays of the leather shops.  Look UP at the buildings to truly experience your surroundings as you walk these hallowed halls once traversed by many of the Renaissance greats – Michelangelo, daVinci, the Medici and so many more.

When you decide to toss the map, you can discover so many hidden features of this truly magical city…. like the undiscovered gelaterie with award-winning delights in a cup (or a cone, whatever your pleasure).  My Sugar Gelato & Yogurt is located on via de’ Ginori 49r.  I shoved two flavors into my piccolo coppa (small cup) and had Pineapple & Ginger AND Coconut for the small investment of only €2!  The flavors were amazing – unique, fresh, and made with REAL ingredients.  I could even taste the flakes of coconut!  Another of their unique flavors is melacotta (ricotta, apple, cinnamon and honey).  The flavors change on a daily basis so feel free to make a daily visit-- your taste buds will love you for it!

It was only after I’d stepped back outside of the shop that I read the sign that said:  “WINNER Gelato Festival Firenze 2016 Reviewed by NY Times.”  Well, I guess my taste buds have been validated by the real gelato experts!  Head over to My Sugar for some absolutely decadent artisanal homemade gelato made fresh daily onsite!

My Sugar Gelato Artigianale
Via de' Ginori, 49/red
50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Tel: +39 393 069 6042


Where have you found YOUR favorite gelato in Italy?!? 

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