Note: Because of the length of this interview, it has been broken into parts.
Oral history interview with Michael Simon, 2005 Sept. 27-28, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Simon, Michael, b. 1947
Simon discusses studying at University of Minnesota with Warren MacKenzie; the counterculture and chaotic atmosphere at the university in the late 1960s; moving to Athens, Ga., after college to open a studio on Jerry Chappelle’s farm; his first pottery sales; obtaining conscientious objector status and working at a hospital in Athens; the influence of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada on his work; developing shapes and expanding his repertoire; being inspired by Korean folk potters and by other Asian pottery; teaching at the Penland School of Arts and Crafts and being influenced by fellow potters there; art fairs in Atlanta, Florida, and elsewhere; using various materials for his pots, including Georgia kaolin and grolleg; applying for a fellowship at the University of Georgia, where he completed his Masters of Fine Arts; seeing Mark Phariss pots in the summer of 1980, which compelled him to build his own salt kiln, which changed subsequent work dramatically;
his marriage to Susan Roberts in 1992; experimenting with images on his pots, including fish and bamboo; getting a large commission for dinner plates from the Nakato Restaurant in Atlanta, Ga., one of the citys oldest sushi restaurants; visiting the Freer Sackler Galleries and being inspired by Chinese Yangshao pottery from the Neolithic period; the influence of Persian jars on his work; the success of his pottery sales with Ron Myers; going to Cortona, Italy, to teach pottery for the University of Georgia;
teaching at a school in Santiago, Chile, exploring the countryside, and learning Chilean pottery techniques; the writing of Michael Cardew and its influence on his work and career; what constitutes a typical work day and what motivates him; and the community of American potters and the support he has received over the years. Simon also recalls Angel Lillo, Laurie Samuelson, Gib Krohn, Mark Pharis, Wayne Branum, Sandra Simon (née Lindstrom), Earl McCutcheon, Shoji Hamada, Cynthia Bringle, Ron Myers, Andy Nasisse, Robert Briscoe, Michael Cardew, and others.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
-it wouldn’t be all the attention drawn to a bad line.
So I became aware of that possibility, and I became better at using the brush. And I developed a few more things that I could paint and a few more ways that I could put them on a pot, different pigments, and then gradually got to-I don’t know, it was seeing somebody’s work with wax or a historical pot with wax resist pattern. It may well have been Hamada again. But I started to use the wax, at first really directly, just making a mark with wax and glazing or putting slip around it, but then I started to use the wax to paint things. And then I started to find out that I could sketch on the pot with a pencil and fill in the negative areas with wax and then put a strong pigment in the positive area and end up with a nice outline that would be where the brush, because it ran into the little ledge of wax, would actually leave a thicker pigment right at the edge.
And it was built into the process. It was terrific how it worked, and it would have the effect of a woodblock print at its best, and it would even leave a little residue of pigment around so it would look like ink.
So I thought that had a huge benefit for me, in terms of patterning, because it was safe. I hate to say this, but it didn’t hurt the pots. I didn’t have to give up the pot in order to put the pattern on anymore. I mean, it did take that element away that could sometimes be really exciting. Because the risk is high, when you get it out it would feel very good. But the trade-off was that I got a more consistent-I could get images that I wanted. I could make the image like the way I want it to be on the pot and then paint that image and have it there pretty much. There was some small amount of spontaneous things that would happen because of the technique, but not as many as that first-you know, make a strong-hope you were Franz Kline.
Yeah, so that was the development of the technique of putting a pigment on. And I always claim that the form and the proportion were the crucial elements to me, and I still do. I still will claim that. But there was also an undeniable-that the audience would look at-would see the surface. The culture didn’t seem to want to look at the shape or proportion. I mean, try to talk to someone about the proportion of a bowl. It’s very difficult to engage someone with the proportion of a bowl. It’s just very difficult. And then I wanted to engage-I wanted engagement. I really did.
So patterning, particularly, gave me access to an audience in a way that I didn’t feel like I could develop with shape. So that was part of the motivation to develop that kind of pattern surface. And I didn’t really want to be speaking about the things that were in the pattern. I didn’t really want to think about the fish. I didn’t want to think about the fish’s heart beating, or I didn’t want you to think about it either, or I didn’t really want you to think about the bird, although the bird got dicey because the bird, of course, carried a little bit more sentiment than the fish did, at least for me. It was dangerous territory, but it was still the kind of image that I needed, in that it was recognized by everyone in the whole world who would see that image, and, you know, they knew what it was and they knew the range of feeling that a bird could give-well, anything from a raven, a crow, to a buzzard to the most beautiful songbird, painted bunting or something like that.
They were all in that bird, and I really wanted that. That’s the way I wanted the bird to be and that’s the way I wanted the fish to be, is just to be not something that you would be personally involved with, but at the same time a recognizable image that I could bring to the pot and a function that mattered.
One of the first things I used to use was just fruit, the fruit pattern, those circles with the outline and a little-some kind of a leaf, branches; it was always from Chinese, I think-or Chinese and Japanese and Korean-not so much Korean, because there really wasn’t so much.
MR. SHAPIRO: It seems like the branches pattern at times would become very abstract, to where-
MR. SIMON: Yeah.
MR. SHAPIRO: More so than the fish or the-
MR. SIMON: Yeah.
MR. SHAPIRO: It would just be almost pattern-
MR. SIMON: Yeah.
MR. SHAPIRO: -instead of image.
MR. SIMON: Well, at the same time I’m carrying along other things, too, that I still feel like I’m going to resolve, and I don’t know yet-I can’t tell you what will happen, but the other things that I worked with were intersections-circles of some kind or another, squares of some kind or another, mazes, kind of like that. I called it “Orbit.” It started out as circular, and I called it “Orbit,” and then when it was rectangular, I called it “Maze,” but it-I don’t know. And they were all basically attempts to try to fit on the shape.
MR. SHAPIRO: It’s like a shift.
MR. SIMON: Yeah. And hook on your eye-to take your eye to the pot, and there is not meaning. If you took the pattern off the pots and put them on paper, they have no meaning, I don’t think. I think that-I mean, there may be little bits of tension that happen.
MR. SHAPIRO: No symbolic?
MR. SIMON: No symbolic. That’s right. That was not it. I wanted the pot, and I didn’t want them to take the weight-the pot was the message. That was the content, and I didn’t really want the image to be the content. It can’t take over. I didn’t want it to take over. I kept it from taking over, I think; people might argue that I didn’t, but in my mind I did, and in my mind I was trying to keep it from taking over.
MR. SHAPIRO: We talked about old-timey country pottery, country crockery, like these undecorated pots that you make, typically pitchers or simple pots. Was there a very different reaction publicly to those pots and to the pots that were patterned or-
MR. SIMON: Yeah, sure, there is less response. There was less response. I suppose that was taught to me pretty early. People are brought to the graphicness of it. I don’t know why. I always thought it was a shortcoming, frankly, because I thought that shape was the beauty of pottery-making. I mean the essence of pottery-making was the shape and proportion, which I’ll just call a clay wall, which is both those things to me. I mean, the clay wall means everything. The clay wall is what you build from, so it’s the essence of the thing. To do all the stuff that you have to do to make the clay all the way you want it almost precludes the patterning being important, from the potter’s point of view, I think.
But, in fact, when the pot is out there in the world, the graphics of the patterning are the-I mean, I could say it’s the easiest thing to see. But it seems to be what people see. It seems to me what people are trained to see, somehow. It’s almost as if they feel like they should see the pattern before they see the shape of the pot. And I think potters have to get this reorganized, because it seems crucial that we, as potters, can have that clay wall-can have people understand how important that clay wall is to the pot.
And I think that pots-we are yielding to people. If you take away all the patterning, people are still going to be moved by the pot. But they might not know why. I do think that the pot shape really carries importance. But if people are given a choice or-it’s just what happens. I talk about people like they’re different than me, but I don’t know how to describe the audience, and maybe it’s something that really does happen.
If you put out five pots, and some of them are painted and some of them aren’t, the ones that are painted get more attention. They get early attention. It may be that people who are around pots and are more sophisticated in their experience with pots will be able to see the unpatterned pots more easily and quickly, but there is some pull that the pattern has. There is some demand that the pattern makes. There is some power there.
MR. SHAPIRO: As you say, when looking at Hamada’s grass pattern, it took you to the pot.
MR. SIMON: Yeah.
MR. SHAPIRO: You.
MR. SIMON: That’s right; me, as that person, that’s right. And it was true. I would do that if I had a chance to watch one of Hamada’s kilns be unloaded. You know, I would have wanted to see all that patterning pulling my eyeball. They’re hard; that’s really true.
So there was power there, and I wanted to have some of it. I wanted some of it and I wanted access to it. Yeah, and I won’t quit doing it, I guess.
MR. SHAPIRO: When did the raised detailing start-the lines and the crosses?
MR. SIMON: Yeah, it really comes from that-that rib was the same to me in my mind, and I was just trying to make it-I said, I’ve always liked this, and I used it. I think I made this-well, it’s a bowl of Warren’s. Warren uses this. And this-
MR. SHAPIRO: Hamada, too.
MR. SIMON: Hamada, maybe, but then it’s a whole world of pottery-making, because it’s the barrel, you know, with these other things that keep it from wearing out all over the fat part of the side.
There was a Jugtown pot that was made like this. Williamsburg Pottery in [Williamsburg] Virginia is making a cup with a rim. And it was like that, so I thought, I really like this, the way it salts and the little steps back in, and I thought I was just going to do it-well, I was just going to try to do it. And Ron is doing this, too. I don’t know if he’s still doing it, the salt glaze-the low-fire salt pots that he was doing-and all of his images, he started to do them in appliqué. I don’t know if he had that-
MR. SHAPIRO: Did he push them out?
MR. SIMON: Well, push them out; he would just add a piece of clay, and he’d cut parts of it out-parts of the outline out-and he’d draw on that, and sometimes he’d just cut out a piece of clay that was the shape of a fish, basically, and stick it on the pot. And I kind of liked the way it looked. This is just developmental. I thought it would go somewhere. And then, oh, I saw a couple of other places, too-Jane Shellenberger and Randy Johnston both-they’re both doing-
MR. SHAPIRO: Jan [McKeachie-Johnston]?
MR. SIMON: Maybe. They’re both doing something that had that look at it. The look ends up, when it’s right, ends up being kind of artifactlike. It felt old, and I was always attracted to things that would make them feel like they got lost in time. That was always attractive to me, to have them be anonymous in time. Well, some of it was logical, because I tried to figure out why I liked these old pots so much when I would go to museums.
I remember going to the Freer [Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington, DC] the first time and being able to look at those old pots. There was a guy named Martin Ampt. I went there, and I had no idea what they had. When I was in graduate school here, we made a field trip to Washington. I can’t remember all the reasons, but one of them was to go the Freer.
We made an appointment, and 14 of us, I think, or 12-too many people-went into this little room, and a man named Martin Ampt gave us-okay, he would just say, well, what do you want to see? So we said, well, Korean folk pottery. And he said, Kenzan? We shook our heads, yeah. [Laughs.] I mean, he just kept bringing out these pots, and it was just so powerful, and they had such a good bunch of work there. And he said, these are your pots. You can look at them. He meant, as American citizens, they were our pots. [Laughs.]
And so, I mean, we were handling these pots, you know. We handled-oh, what were those-Yangshao-Yangshao pots from ninth century B.C. China. They’ve got two of them there, whole. And pots that you think-I’ve always thought-were incredibly thick, primitive pots were anything but. They were really incredible clay wall; these pots have been made, I mean, if these were made in 900 B.C., you thought, geez, they’ve been making them for 3,000 years before that, you know. How long did it go on? They were so good.
One of the grounds for judgment, I guess, early on, was kind of how it would go through time. Oh, Warren’s pots always pointed to that, too.
MR. SHAPIRO: Stand the test of time. That’s a Leach phrase, isn’t it?
MR. SIMON: Yeah, maybe so. Maybe so. When I would describe Warren’s pots, it was one of the ways that I would describe them. They would go through time. They were not of a time. They were bigger than contemporary. And they continue to be. And so that became a positive acknowledgement that I always wanted to see in work. It was the way that I started to judge work for myself. Of course, it’s hard to tell. Your ideas about timelessness change.
MR. SHAPIRO: I don’t know if we finished talking about the Persian jar.
MR. SIMON: Yeah, how did we get to there?
MR. SHAPIRO: -because you’d said-
MR. SIMON: Oh, the square. I started talking about the square.
MR. SHAPIRO: About you’d gotten that pot from Warren and-
MR. SIMON: Right, and then the square, and I was talking about how he developed that square and other non-round for the sake of patterning. And then it just happened-it was one day, actually, when I was teaching at Penland. I taught at Penland quite often during the ’80s. And one time I was there, I was teaching a concentration session and I had a particularly troublesome young man, student, who would go to Marion.
At Penland you can’t buy beer, so you have to drive to Marion to buy beer. And there was a library in Marion. Maybe it was Buncombe County-the county library. And Joe went to the library and, amazingly enough, brought back a book called Ancient Persian Ceramics and it was kind of a coffee table, beautiful book. It was a book really that was published in Japan-it was an archeological book. It was about a dig that had happened in what is now Kurdistan.
And the work was-the excavation of ninth-century-B.C. work, Persian jars, and it was not just jars; there were cups and other kinds of vessels, but a lot of lidded shapes, and a lot of them square or rectangular, taken out of round, and with a lid-beautiful pots that looked timeless. They kind of flipped it around; they looked contemporary; they were so old that, in order to describe their timelessness, you said that that they were contemporary. That was funny. But they did; they looked contemporary and they were really beautiful.
And they made use of all of this technique that I had developed all for myself. I could see immediately that I had that jar; I had made that jar. I felt so close to these people in this book; it was really a moving experience.
And it led to make-I started to make a little jar then. In a way, it lightened up the jar-making, or it let me use it as a-I don’t know how to describe it-changed my idea of that little-jar format anyway. And I started to make it, and I started to make a lot, really quite a few of them. I had success with them and they moved people. People just were drawn to them, and [they] became a serious format that I never really have stopped making up until now.
And it continues to be an interesting pot to me, even though I have made a lot of them and they have gotten pretty contrived-I mean, I would admit, mannered. I mean, I’m very conscious of them when I’m working that I’m working on a jar. I’m working on it. They are nowhere near folk pottery at this point. But they were a good format; it was a good format.
Well, it’s nice when things happen like that, where you just felt like you could work on it forever and it would always sing a little different song. It had a wide range of communication that could be really sad or heavy. It could at the same time flip and be light-hearted. It could carry everything. All you had to do was make it. It was a pot that was not very demanding in terms of technique. It was somewhat tedious; it had steps and drying and stuff that-so you had to be patient with it, but it presented itself readily if you would just give it time.
MR. SHAPIRO: What about the cutting out of feet on thrown things with the bottoms-had you seen that technique somewhere?
MR. SIMON: Well, Warren did it in a real straightforward manner. He would just take, maybe, just a foot ring like this and cut it. Well, let’s see. [Leaves table.] This jar has got some of the criteria. It would just basically be, you would make the shape of the pot, and then you would cut a foot, and then cut legs from the foot. That is really all it started out to be.
And then I realized at some point that I could reveal-for one thing, I could make the shape of the inside rounded, or however I wanted the shape to be, and then cut the outside to reflect it, and then it would reveal the inside shape here, so you would get kind of a reflection of the inside volume on the outside of the pot, and you get a lot more dramatic leg. So it was something I used. And I used it and carried it on in a lot of different formats.
MR. SHAPIRO: And the big, sort of, apple-shaped.
MR. SIMON: That round jar, yeah.
MR. SHAPIRO: With the tiny lid.
MR. SIMON: Yeah, we don’t have one here, do we? That’s an inside. Oh, kind of that horse-it ended up being that horse jar-
MR. SHAPIRO: Right.
MR. SIMON: With the leg, and the legs became-right.
MR. SHAPIRO: That seems like kind of a breakthrough.
MR. SIMON: Now that horse thing was a breakthrough, but it didn’t really lead-I can’t say that it led anywhere except that it let me make that jar, which I made over and over again.
But that was a dramatic moment because-I remember so distinctly-because I had a jar sitting here; it was a finished jar, but it wasn’t patterned; it was a subtle pattern that it had-I had made that shape round and then, you know, cut in there-cut this shape. I looked at revealing the structure here, and then it was kind of-it was somewhat decorative, and I liked that belly hanging down in there, because it made it feel like a sack or it made it feel like a vessel; it made you aware, looking at the outside, that this was-that there was volume there, and it was what the pot was about.
Well, but that jar was sitting here, and then I was just closing the door and turning the lights off one night when I left the studio, and I looked back, and a shadow or something was making a-it wasn’t the horse I could see, but it was just the legs around here and the belly of the animal. They were just standing there. I mean, somehow, you know, it was in my brain, and I don’t know what happened. But the next day I painted the horse, and it just went on there like a tattoo. It went right on that pot. It was unbelievable.
I would never have painted a horse. You know, it was too hard. I couldn’t really paint a horse, and I think that let me paint-let me start fooling around with this dog on the Persian jar, too.
MR. SHAPIRO: That also was such an incredible integration of pattern and image.
MR. SIMON: Yeah, exactly; a strong pot shape and a strong pattern. It wasn’t something that was moderated or compromised. It let them both be big. That was really fun.
MR. SHAPIRO: So all of this time when you were giving these workshops, that must have been the time when your sale with Ron was going, because we haven’t really talked about that.
MR. SIMON: Well, let me say few words about that. [Laughs.] The sale came really also from Warren’s suggestions. Now, when Sandra and I were undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota, Warren was having sales at his house, at his studio, and he would advertise them. And by that time, he had developed a clientele, and his pots were so ridiculously cheap, inexpensive, that you had to go out there at, like, 5:30 in the morning, and then there would just be cars parked all along the road. You know, when we first went out there as undergraduate students, you just couldn’t imagine what was going on, that these pots had drawn these people here. It was really great.
But anyway, that was part of a potter’s life, was to sell pots at their studio. And so we did it soon. Sandra and I had sales at our-if we didn’t have sales at Chappelle’s, which we may have, we certainly had sales at our first studio that we set up. And they were pretty good, and then they got better, and then they got a little bit better. And it was a nice way to sell pots, and it gave you contact with people that was sometimes really encouraging.
So then later on, in the ’70s, we became better friends with Ron, and then we just started to have sales together. We had asked Ron to come out and do a sale. This is how I remember it anyway; I think this is what happened. And then after Sandra left, I remember that we did a couple of sales-George McCauley-there were a couple of other people involved. George McCauley was at a couple of them, I think, and there was a good friend named Sue Wilde, who made pottery here for quite some time. We did it together for a few times.
But then from about the early ’80s, I would say, Ron and I did two sales a year: first at my studio, and then once he retired from the university, we started to do it at his studio. He moved to a place where it was just conducive to having a sale, and it was close to town.
But the sale became-well, and then other things were happening. For both of us, we were getting more encouragement from the outside gallery world and just the clay world in general. People started to want our pots. It was a great thing. So the sales became absurd. We started to have to make rules about when people could come and what time we were going to open the door and that kind of thing.
And then finally it just became kind of hopeless, where people were-it would be not even a minute before everything was just held in hand. There was not time to look at a pot. If you could get to a pot, you had to take it, because there weren’t any more. So it was kind of-we just wore it out.
We couldn’t do anything but impose rules, and we couldn’t make any more pots, and we didn’t really want-it would become a little bit of a quandary, because we were having to save a couple of kilnloads of pots for the sale, and it was hard to save them. It was just hard to put that much work together and continue to take care of the other obligations that we really wanted, to have good shows in other places. So we just had to say that we wouldn’t do it any more.
It seemed silly to do that for so long and to kind of develop things and then have it be-it was really just perfect for about five or six years, where we needed it and people were still being turned on and the pots were-we were able to put the best of our pots out there, as well as everything else, but really the best pots were included. So it was very good.
And then it kind of went to seed. The people became haughty, and we became a little haughty, maybe, I don’t know. But it wasn’t too much fun. I mean, people were just grabbing pots that they couldn’t even afford to look at. It was no longer the idea of finding a pot that might really help you with your life-contemplative or poignant. There wasn’t any room for that, and so it was kind of contradictory to what we wanted and so we had to quit.
I mean, it wasn’t bad to quit. I think it really helped us both, and we didn’t have any trouble with our pots. We both had a lot of encouragement in the last 10 years.
MR. SHAPIRO: You had a kind of special relationship with the Signature [Atlanta, GA].
MR. SIMON: Well, the Signature Shop-the Signature Shop-I’m proud of it just because it was the oldest craft store in the southeast, and it was developed in about the mid-’60s by a couple of smart women in Atlanta, and then the woman who owns it now actually worked there as a high school student, as a kind of an intern.
And so she came back and bought it, as a mature woman, and still works there, still runs it. Directly after Ron and I stopped having our studio sale, we started to have exhibitions there, once a year, I think, we did-or maybe once every other year-and they were quite successful and fun, and a lot of the same-a lot of the customers that we had developed would come to the exhibition, to the opening, so we would still get to see people.
I still see people, I mean, up until the time I became ill. I actually encouraged people, old friends and customers, to come out-or people who I met who just seemed susceptible to a pottery feeling, seemed to understand what I wanted to do, or something like that. I would always try to get them to come out. Even though I say that I have had a lot of encouragement, I never really had enough. [Laughs.] So it’s nice to have people who you feel like are moved by the pots. I always love showing pots.
Even though it’s easy for a potter to complain about support, there has been a lot of good support through time. I made pottery here for 30 years. A lot of pots went out and I met a lot of people-made pottery talk with a lot of people. It was very good.
MR. SHAPIRO: Was there a point at which workshop teaching wasn’t giving you as much as it had?
MR. SIMON: Yeah, that is true. That really became true. I think my feeling changed about doing workshops when Susan and I were married, and we moved to this house, and I just liked being here so much and I liked being home. And I just didn’t want to go out as much as I had been. It wasn’t as if I did that many workshops. I mean, I did some-I did, I don’t know, maybe eight, or maybe there was a couple of years when I did more than that, but that was about the most I did in a year.
I did the summer, which would be two weeks, or sometimes even three weeks, in different places-well, it adds up to a lot of time to be gone. Actually, it’s interesting because I think with Susan and our marriage and that we were both in a kind of a mature state of our development; I had more of a structure in my life, and going away wasn’t that-there were things about the workshops, too, that had worn out, but it was mainly the leaving. I just didn’t want to leave here anymore to do that.
I had given my spiel; I had been able to do it many times, tell people what I felt about the work and try to explain how my work developed, and I just didn’t feel like I was able to put anything new or get anything out. And all too often I would go to a place and people would know what I was going to do, and it just seemed kind of silly to go out to do that. I wasn’t that rich with information. I have seen people that can be over and over compelling; I just didn’t feel like it was my-I felt like it was more valuable to be home and in the studio, and also not thinking about myself. Something tells me that a really mature phase of making things is going to be not thinking about making them.
MR. SHAPIRO: And there was this thing you did, going to Italy with the UGA [University of Georgia, Athens] program.
MR. SIMON: Well, the UGA has a great arts program in Cortona [Italy], a small Tuscan mountain hill town that has a wall around it. But it was Etruscan, and I think it was built in 1000 B.C. This wall-I mean, it’s a serious rock wall, and so it had a finite amount of space inside the wall, and someone told me that the last building built in Cortona was built in 1310-the last building. So when you go there, it’s like-you can’t believe what it looks like. It looks like a theme park, but it’s the real thing. There is not a seam in it. It’s just an incredibly beautiful place.
And they have now bought a building. At the time they were just leasing these buildings, but they have now bought two buildings there in the town of Cortona. It was great. And you can go travel around and you can see all of the old majolica. And they had a kiln there, so you could actually do work. It was beautiful to be traveling like that, to just get up and go out on the street and then go to your little studio. I had a small number of students.
MR. SHAPIRO: Did you work with the local earthenware there?
MR. SIMON: Yeah, we went and bought-I said, well, where is the clay, when I got there, and they said, well, you have to go get it. So they put me in a van-[laughs]-and I drove to a place where they made tile. They made tile for the Middle East, actually. It was their big business; they made tile, and they had a mountain of clay that wasn’t really very good-it wasn’t throwing clay, but it was quite good modeling clay, earthenware, and that is what we worked with. Firm, now that I think about it, too firm.
Beautiful stone building, though-a stone building that was built in about 1300. The upper parts of which was an old folks home, “la casa de reposa.” And they had a nice little muffle kiln, gas-fired muffle kiln. We fired our pottery there-really something to experience. And then it was the only time I have traveled in Europe, so we got to go to Rome and we got to go to Florence and Venice and Milan. Then on the way back went to Cannes and Paris, and Amsterdam. It was a lot of-it was a great trip.
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