Oh, it is incredibly gorgeous walking around above the Oltrarno. Along narrow, walled roads, paved with uneven stones...olive trees and golden hued villas peeking over the top of the walls. Hardly anyone else in sight, just me, the song of various birds, the wind rustling the leaves both in the trees and on the ground (which is literally carpeted with golden autumn leaves in places)...the odd car or motorcycle zooming by (and yes, they do zoom by even through the narrowest of places!) I wonder who lives up here? Are the people living in these villas wealthy, or did they just inherit the family home? How awesome it would be to gaze out on this vista every morning, and every evening. Sigh...it was good for my soul to wander up here today...it has not been the best day of my journey, as far as my mood.
I awoke with a sore head - no, NOT wine induced! I think it is my annoying weather-head making an appearance. It is not uncommon for me to get headaches when there is a major shift in weather systems...it has been warm and almost humid most of my time here, but today the air just feels different. Anyway, something was lurking in the back of my head this morning, so I took a couple each of both tylenol and advil and hoped for the best. It subsided for a while, but is back this evening. This has seriously affected my mood...I have felt blue much of the day. Partly because my time is coming to an end so on the one hand, I wish I had another week (month, year!!) over here, but on the other, I wish I was home right now. If I had another week, I would be happily thinking about all the things I can do and see, but since I have only one more day here, I seem to have shifted into thinking about getting home...which means I was really missing people today.
But I still enjoyed my day...it was just that the golden-orange glow of Florence was tinged with the blue of my mood.
I did remember that the Cenacolo di Ognissanti was open on Saturday mornings, so I went there after breakfast. I was just as awed and thrilled as when I saw it last summer with the girls. It is just so beautiful, and full of interesting details and symbols. No wonder da Vinci was inspired by it! (At least I have read that this is one of the main works from which he got the inspiration for his own Last Supper painting.) Today I learned that in Ghirlandaio's fresco, the face of Jesus was redone by another artist in a later year, and I think again retouched at an even later date...perhaps that is why it has never quite seemed right to me, didn't quite feel like it fit with the other faces. The entire fresco is still magnificent though...I love it.
I also went into Chiesa di Ognissanti...had forgotten about the trompe l'oiel (sp?) ceiling. It really looks like there are balconies up there, but it is all painted illusion! Marvellous, I love that effect!!
On the way back to the apartment for lunch, I stopped for some bananas, carrots (I love that one can just buy a handful of really tasty raw carrots over here and not have to buy a big bag), and some goodies from the bakery (fornaio?), including sesame seed breadsticks. I had gotten a pack of fresh pasta - ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, and a bottle (I know...so shoot me) of plain tomato-basil sauce, so I cooked that for lunch. And flipped on MTV because that is the only channel with English voices! And may I say that if I hear the song "I Kissed a Girl" one more time, I will go crazy! It is everywhere over here...on MTV, coming from the stores, the bars...arrgghh! It is not that I hate the song, but it gets in my head and I cannot get rid of it...an earworm for sure! However, the upside of the song is that it always reminds me of a fun afternoon with the Sara, MVH and KRK (M's best friend and Valerie's daughter, and also feels like my daughter!) Anyway, we were watching videos and sharing much laughter and conversation, both superficial and insightful. I remember Sara saying that she finds it a catchy pop tune, but does not want to like the song because she finds the words and attititude offensive (esp. the line "that's not what good girls do"...er, why not?) Also remember KRK saying "my dad says that song would make more of a statement if it was the lead singer of a boy band singing "I kissed a boy and I liked it"...which is very true and now those words overlay the real lyrics in my head half the time! Alas a boy version would not be so well received by our still all too homophobic society.
After a long and lazy lunch, I am not feeling like doing much. My head is still sore...I am still sad and missing people...I sit wrapped in my prayer shawl for a while until I feel better (I knew I brought it for a reason!) And then decide to just go for a walk. So up...up...up Costa di S. Georgio I go, but instead of turning left down Via di Belvedere like I did the other day, I continue on as the road turns into Via di S. Leonardo. This is a peaceful, timeless walled road...I loved it and can't wait to walk it again with mom and Lynn (or whoever else I return to Florence with...but suspect will be them because am entirely sure Dave has no desire to return here!) Eventually I come to a road to the right called Via G. Schiapparelli, so down it I go. It is short and ends at Viale Galileo Galilei. So I turn left up that boulevard and walk along, enjoying the marvellous, stunning panoramic vistas. I come to San Miniato, but turn up a road called Passo all' Erta, which winds around the outside of the wall encircling the San Miniato grounds. Between the road and the wall is a park dedicated to Florence's First World War efforts (I think...I took a photo of the plaque so will recheck later.) It is full of huge towering cypress trees, very cool. And the power line runs through here...I took a photo with a huge metal electric tower in the foreground and an old stone castle tower on the hill beyond, such an unusual contrast. Ooo, here is another little road off to the right, I better turn down. Oh, what is this...the concrete road seems to be turning into a footpath, even with a sign that seems to indicate pedestrians should take care. Oh well, I carry on. Um...the footpath seems to be turning into a rabbit hole! The undergrowth thickens and is ever lower. I don't far before turning back because frankly I don't want to crouch low enough to pass through, plus I am getting swarmed by mosquitos. When I get back to Passo all' Erta, I see that the road was called Viuzzo di Gattana, and had a "no exit" sign, which could have saved me a sweaty climb had I noticed it before! oh well...I think of the advice in Mamma Mia ("it's an adventure, Harry, it's good for you") and think just so. Along I go, meeting two different elderly couples out for an evening stroll. The first pair eye me suspiciously, but when I smile and say buona sera, the corner of the old man's mouth twitched, although did not break out into a smile or anything so showy as that. The second couple greet me first, the man with "buona sera", the woman with a smile...I return the greeting and carry on.
Down...down...down the hill I go, descending along Via di San Miniato al Monte to Via Ser Ventura Monachi at the bottom, where I turn right and stroll through San Niccola area and back to the apartment. At this point, I was feeling quite rejuvenated. My head was light, my heart was light, my mood was light.
I had roast chicken breast and grilled mixed vegetables (carrots, beans, peppers) for supper (picked up as take out from one of the food bars), and then one of my pastries. A blackberry tart...oh my. So intensely delicious, I savoured every flavourful bite!
I am not sure what I will do tomorrow, my last day. (I fly to London Monday, have an overnight layover, then home to Halifax on Tuesday.) I am thinking to go to St. James 11am service, because I enjoyed the sense of connection I felt when I went two weeks ago. But will see what the morning brings...