When a restaurant bills itself as “The Best Italian Restaurant in St. Petersburg” and is walking distance from your motel, you need to go, right? Such was the case with Gratzzi Grille. Yeah, maybe the name isn’t spelled ‘correctly’ but I’ll bet it gets pronounced correctly!
One of the items on their menu is what they call ‘Cavatelli Bada Bing.’ It’s prepared tableside by one of the owners, and uses a lot of flaming vodka to prepare a very cheesy, very delicious cavatelli dish. I had to try it! It’s a bit more of a show than it is an example of fine Italian cuisine, but it was fun.
I didn’t take photos or videos, because I just wanted to watch. But the video below shows it better than anything I could have shot anyway. And the guy doing the cooking is the guy who did mine.
Despite being a photographer for years, I’ve never had much more than a passing interest in art, and artists, in general. Sure, I’m aware of a lot of the famous names. We’ve attended galleries and shows, and even a few art auctions on cruise ships.
After visiting The Dali’ – the museum dedicated to art by Salvador Dali’ – I now know that Dali’ was much more than the guy with the weird mustache that painted even weirder pictures. After reading and learning about the surrealist movement and the motivations and inspirations behind it, it starts – starts – to make a bit more sense. I have to believe that substances of some kind must have been involved.
Admittedly, though, seeing Dali’s art in person doesn’t really make it easier to understand or explain the imagination that must have been crucial to developing the ideas and concepts that resulted in this work. But that is what genius is.
We missed by a week being able to see work by another famous artist – Picasso. A Picasso exhibition was opening the week after our visit. That would also have been interesting, but will have to wait for another time.
Visiting both the Dali’ and the Chihuly museums is a strong reminder that there are lots of fine and worthy galleries everywhere. Charlotte even has a number of them, and we need to keep that in mind as we think about things to do and places to go.
One of the other positive things I found in both museums is that in each of them, signs said that “Photography is encouraged!” Of course they want you to tag them on social media, but that’s OK. It was a welcome approach in this age of restrictions and paranoia.
One of the highlights of our visit to St. Petersburg was The Chihuly Collection, part of the Morean Arts Center. I’ve been familiar with Chihuly’s works for years, of course, having seen pieces in several locations throughout the country. There was an exhibit in Asheville some time ago, but we didn’t make it to that one. Our most familiar example is the ceiling in the visitor center at Makers Mark Distillery in Kentucky.
I suppose all of Chihuly’s works are portable in some way, although the large chandeliers and huge static pieces would require a bit of planning, effort and logistics. It was nice to see such a nice selection all in one place.
One tip I learned at the Dali’ museum (which we visited before this but I’m going out of order) was to be sure and watch the video presentations. Although the video room at The Chihuly Collection comes near the end of the exhibit, it is still worth taking the time to learn more about the person and the process, both the artistic process as well as the actual making of the art. Quite the place!
As I mentioned in a previous post, once we found out that our cruise had been cancelled, we began looking for something interesting to do for a few days. We originally looked into a beach resort, but the temperature forecast – while warmer than North Carolina and a lot warmer than places farther north – did not seem to us to be warm enough for beach time. Maybe it was just a letdown from not being able to go to Cozumel? 😉
We settled on St. Petersburg for a number of reasons. We had never been there, it is on the water (Tampa Bay), has a number of interesting museums and looked to have some interesting restaurants. We found a Hampton Inn right downtown near the waterfront for a reasonable price, and headed that way after our time in Lake Wales.
We found St. Petersburg to be a youngish town, and in a lot of ways it reminds me of Fort Collins, but with water instead of mountains, sandals instead of hiking boots. There is a vibrant arts scene there, plenty of public space, a good selection of restaurants of all kinds, and a pretty open and accepting mindset toward people of all kinds, ages and preferences. We really felt welcome there.
After visiting a town, Kathy & I often wonder aloud about how it would be to live there. The downtown area has plenty of condos and apartments, and there were at least two grocery stores within easy walking distance of our motel. With the restaurants, shops, waterfront and museums, there would be plenty to keep anyone occupied. Of course we aren’t looking to relocate, but the hypothetical is still interesting. It looks like it would be pretty expensive, and one of the things we love about where we are is that it is not expensive, which allows us to do the travel we do. So we visit!
I’ll write separately about the museums, but wanted to share a few of the photos I made while wandering around the town on our various outings. We had lovely weather which helped a lot. There is nothing like a blue sky and sunshine to provide a feeling of warmth, especially when it is 25 degrees with snow on the ground as I write this!
Kathy & I were halfway to Tampa, FL last Friday, and in fact had just crossed the Florida state line, when we got a message that our cruise, which was scheduled to depart the following day, had been cancelled. Well, dang it!
All was not lost, of course. We rearranged some plans, made some new plans, and salvaged a few days of sunshine. We returned home this afternoon just in time to hunker down for a winter storm. But we figure better here in our own house than somewhere else!
I’ve got stories to tell, but it’s late and cocktail hour is underway. More to come as I develop my film!