Bobby's in the shower.
It's the day that we (Kathy and Jim and Bobby and I) are to go to Florence. We are up early to make an 8:30 train in Chuisi.
I was up early, showered and dressed and getting breakfast ready. Bobby was asleep.
Jim came down showered and dressed to help with breakfast. Bobby was asleep.
Kathy came down and we started breakfast and coffee. Bobby was in the shower.
We finished breakfast. Bobby was in the shower.
We finished the breakfast dishes. Bobby was in the shower....he's small, but he's clean!
We are off to Chuisi and then to Florence. We have reserved seats on the train and are seated in a compartment with Jennifer and Flavio. Jennifer is from California. She came to Italy 4 years ago for 4 months. She now has a Consierge Tour service out of Rome. Her boyfriend is Flavio. Flavio is Roman (for generations and it shows in his profile) and an architect. Times are rough in Italy for work, and especially for architects in Rome. As Flavio said, "Every time they turn over a shovel, they find a piece of a vase or something and then you cannot work for many years." We had a great time with Flavio and Jennifer (also going to Florence for the day). Flavio's English was great and when I inquired about it, he said he had lived in the US for a while. He got a bright smile remembering his time there near Pittsburgh with his cousins. Something was said about driving and I said I was getting used to it, but finding it hard. He said, "Yes, but in the United States, at least when the light is red, they stop." So right! We exchanged business cards (if you are going to Rome, let me know and I'll give you Jennifer's email address and website) and headed into the city for the day.
Florence is a city like no other. The architecture is grand and, while a city, it feels small, inviting and manageable. We headed right for the leather market (blocks and blocks of street vendors and purses so soft you could cuddle up and sleep on them!) We were on a mission. Bobby had 2 small leather change purses that he loved. He lost one in Hawaii and had said that he thought that they had to have been made in Italy and if he saw one, he would buy one. I should tell you that when we were in Pienza several days prior, Bob had showed the purse to a leather craftsman there. He said it was a very special art and that very few still did it. He said that we may find someone with them in Florence.
We hit every stand. Some had similar purses, but Bob's is not stitched (making it much more difficult to make) and was formed around wooden or steel forms for its shape. None were quite right. He stopped in one shop and the vendor said he had just lost 40 of them to theft..............we kept looking............finally, we found a vendor that had them. They were a bit bigger, but just the same otherwise. The vendor wanted Eu 35 though, and Bob wasn't buying. Arggghhh. He decided to give it up and bought a stitched one for Eu 5. Just after that, I was still looking and found them at another stand and the guy accepted Eu 25 and he bought it. Mission accomplished! I was so happy since it was the only thing he wanted.
We had several things to accomplish in Florence. Find a change purse for Bob (done). Get to the Academia (museum) by 2pm for our appointment. See the Duomo. See Ponte Vecchio. See Piazza De La Signora (sculpture) and get rice gelato (special shop I'd gone to my first visit to Florence almost 20 years ago). We accomplished all on our to do list and Florence enchanted us along the way.
First stop. Duomo. It is thrilling to come around a corner, or look up a narrow street and catch a glimpse of the grand Duomo in Florence. That is exactly how we came upon it. The first glimpse was just a sliver of the stripes of marble and a small wedge of the dome.
Next, up a larger street, we could see more of the base structure and a little more of the dome. Finally, we entered Piazza Di Duomo................it is simply amazing. We spent some time photographing the outside. They are in the process of cleaning the facade and what a difference it makes! It is stunning even dirty, but cleaned, it glistens and the colors are lively. After a while, we went inside to admire the structure and the beauty of the art, marble and architecture.
We took a walk and picnicked (that k looks wrong) in the Piazza De La Signora.
It is filled with sculpture and quite lively with people and tourists. We busted out our beautiful salamis and cheeses and grapes and rosemary crackers and breadsticks (the addict needed his fix) and a bottle of wine from Naples. Tell me. How did I get this lucky???!!!!!
I was spellbound by Michaelangelo's "Captives" or "Prisoners" when I first saw them and was no less captivated and astounded this visit. For those that are not familiar with the works, Michaelangelo was asked about his process. Did he sketch, rough in the forms, etc. He said, "I do not do that. I look at the stone. I see the form within it, and I take away the extra." That's quite remarkable, when you think of it and even more remarkable when you see it. The "Prisoners" are 8 (I think) large stone sculptures that are unfinished. They look like figures emerging from the stone..........living things trapped in hard, stone...........the figures within and the extra being taken away. These sculptures are on either side of a walkway and at the end of this walkway is Michaelangelo's David. Standing in the shadow of this huge figure that you have so often seen in photos is quite a treat.
We went from there to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). It is across the River Arno and from it you have lovely views of the river and the riverfront buildings. You can also see other bridges spanning the river. The day we were there, there was a lone boatman crewing on the still water. The bridge is also famous for being lined with shops selling gold. It is wall to wall or more accurately arch to arch gold vendors. Ponte Vecchio is a quintessential Florence spot.
After that, we found our way to the gelato shop where I had gotten rice gelato all those years ago and we talked about how we would spend the rest of the day. We decided just to eat and make our way back to the station. This decision was prompted by our inability to continue walking due to hunger and dehydration (did I mention that it was freaking hot???!!!).
After a nice dinner, we boarded the train at 6 for Chuisi. Jennifer and Flavio were in the next car and stopped by to say hi and fill us in on their day. They had spent the day with friends and for 6 hours of that time, they were having "lunch"! She described the most wonderful meal with course after course and bottle after bottle of wine..... nice.
12 hours after we got Bobby out of the shower, we were home. And oh, what awaited us there!