Friday, May 1, 2009

Florence



It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. We arrived in Florence by car. Mostly it was a good drive except for the roads around Perugia which slow down to a dead stop for several kilometers. But Lee told me when we got to Florence that he had managed at one point to drive 100 mph (*not* kilometers!) so he had enjoyed the drive! The sun was out in force in Florence, something we have had too little of, so we began by sitting at a café above the city having a cappuccino before setting off down the hill. It took two panoramic pictures to get from one side of the city to the other.


We crossed the river just below the falls – a five foot drop but still falls, I guess – and headed toward the Uffizi to find a restaurant Bev and Lee have been to before. Lunch was quite good and relatively light. Our waiter was a very nice, chatty man who quickly picked up our names and joked with Lee about traveling with three women. Bev told him that she and Lee were married and I said I was Bev’s sister but I got the word wrong, using the word sister like a nun so she corrected me. He asked if I was actually a nun and I said no, I am a priest and so is Claire (who was off finding the WC). Well, that set him back but he gradually figured out it was okay and we were from the same church as St. James in Florence where he is going the end of May for the wedding of friends. A “real” priest walked by and Giuseppe tried to get him to meet us to no avail – and no surprise, either. ;-)
When he left to get our drinks, Lee said he thought he wasn’t from Italy. Bev, Claire and I assured him he was dead wrong; however, we had to eat our certainty when Giuseppe told us he is from near Bethlehem. He still has brothers there.
We were slow to get up from lunch as it was so nice to sit outside and be warm and dry. When we did, we wandered down to San Lorenzo and the market where the porcolino statue is found. Yes, Claire and I succumbed to a little bit of shopping and then we all rubbed the boar’s nose, dropping coins out of his mouth into the grate below assuring our return to the city. Then we had to rush to find the Academia since our tickets were for 2:00. We got lost but found it just in time. The Michelangelo statues are as powerful as ever. I heard an American tourist wondering what that was David had on his shoulder. He thought it might be a snake so I told him it was the slingshot and pointed out the stone in his other hand. There was also an exhibit of some archduke’s musical instrument collection that included an Amati violin.
When we walked the two blocks to San Marco, the real reason for our trip to Florence, we discovered it had closed at 1:50. So Claire didn’t get to see the Fra Angelico’s but she did find a book. We stopped for gelato before going into the Museo dell Opera dell Duomo and the skies were beginning to get dark with clouds.
The museum was wonderful. I don’t think I had seen the panels from Ghiberti’s bronze doors before. Everything in this museum is original works from the Duomo that have been moved to preserve them much as the Academia has the David which used to be in a piazza in the city. By the time we finished at the museum, it was 4:00 and raining. We tried to see the Duomo but it was now closed. We had left umbrellas and raincoats – except for Claire who needed the pockets of hers to carry cameras – in the car so we broke down and bought two umbrellas from a street vendor. And that was when the day went south. We finally hailed a cab to take us back to the parking lot. When we got out of the cab, Bev told us that her wallet was no longer in her purse. So Lee and Bev spent about an hour canceling a credit card and her debit card. The rain was the worst we had had as we drove home and none of us envied Lee having to drive in it. But the sun was still shining somewhere behind us and we saw about six different rainbows! The last was in a sky so dark you wouldn’t expect to see one at all but there it was. Not really much comfort and yet they were some comfort. Kind of an "all will be well."

1 comment:

Ray Flanary said...

Just imagine the history of Florence. Even though it is ancient, one could say that it was the beginning of the birthplace of modernity. Renaissance, enlightenment, great artists and inventors, etc., etc. It boggles the mind.