...happened on my very first evening in Florence. Go figure.
A couple people had asked me if I was nervous as a woman to be travelling alone. I said not in Italy, and in any case at least I am too old to have to deal with men hitting on me...
Apparently my luminous beauty is ageless, and transcends even the tired, dragged out, bags under the eyes, decidedly unsparkly mood of jet-lag, and the fact that I am wearing a wedding ring. I went for supper at a place called Trattoria Galleria (near Pitti, very near my apartment). All I wanted was a light meal and a little wine, and then would be off to bed. Francesco, the waiter, introduces himself and invites me to stay and have some wine with him afterward. Uh, thank you, no. I said, quite taken aback by this offer. "Just a little wine, we can sit outside, I am just getting off work", says Francesco. "No, I don,t think so", I say. "Only one glass, bella" he persists. "No", I repeat. "Bella, bella, do you not like wine?" Apparently it does not enter his mind that it might be him, and not the wine, that I am not interested in! A couple more refusals and he gets the idea that I am not going to stay for drinks with him... In the meantime, I chat with a couple from Saskatchewan sitting at the table beside me, who are having a hard time keeping a straight face at Francesco,s persistence. They were on the tail end of a five week tour of France, Turkey, Greece and Italy...nice! I finish my ribolitta (with specially grated parmesan offered by Francesco...the Sask couple had to ask and only grudgingly did they get the same...oh dear.) I finish my wine. I wait for my bill, then remember that I have to ask for it (am used to the North American dining experience where you are rushed out as fast as possible and forget that in Italy, one can linger for hours over the smallest meal.) Anyway, I pay my bill and leave. On the way out, I said "ciao, Francesco", just to be friendly. Oops, over he comes, "so, you will come tomorrow?" Er...no, not tomorrow...or any other day! Guess I will cross that place off my list of eating establishments while on this solo trip! (I told Dave this story over the phone and he found it less amusing than I did!)
I slept like a log last night, about 11 hours, did not wake up until after 10am. Felt great this morning though. The sun was shining, the air was warm and dry, I am in ITALY!!! All is well!
I went out for espresso and a pastry (spinach and cheese - yum!) Then to the ortofrutta (or whatever it is called) and got some apples, clementines, bananas, carrots and yoghurt for snacking on. Oh and wine...a person HAS to drink wine when in Italy, right?! Then to the fornaio for sweet pastries (apricot, lemon and chocolate)...I only ate a couple right away, the rest will be for...breakfast tomorrow! (Hey I am on vacation, who says I have to eat healthy?!)
I was just going to stroll around aimlessly today, but was drawn to the Duomo, where there was no lineup so I could not resist going in. I love love the acoustics in there, sort of hushy and echoing at the same time. so cool. I just sat on a bench and soaked in the atmosphere. The high altar and pews were unfortunately roped off, so I will go back another day to admire those areas. I descended into the Cripto di Santa Reparata, where I have not been before. Why I feel such reverence in these dark, tomb areas, I cannot say...but I always do. One of the crypt slabs had what looked like the Medici crest (the six balls) but I am not sure. The bits of the old floor were lovely. I have photos...will post when I get home and can download them.
Then off to the Duomo museum. WOW, seeing is believing for me when it comes to Michelangelo. I was not at all drawn to his pieta from photos (not "the" pieta in the Vatican, the other one that he sculpted apparently for his own tomb but left unfinished because was not pleased with the work.) There is a power in his work that comes through to me only in person. I sat for close to half hour gazing on this one. There is a deep sorrow in the utterly limp body of Christ and the way Mary and Nicodemus are holding the body...but also something else, the way Nicodemus is leaning into and over the other two figures seems protective, hopeful, I guess must be foreshadowing the resurrection, maybe. Anyway, I found it incredibly moving and had a time pulling myself away. Ghiberti,s bronze door panels were also amazing...the detail is stunning! As were the choir lofts by Luca della Robbia and Donatello. I love sculpture, it amazes me how artists can bring stone to life with such force.
After the museum, I wandered around a bit, had a gelato (nochiolla and pastacchio, forgive the spelling! hazelnut and pistachio in english.) Bought a pashmina (cashmire silk, made in Italy for 8 euro...gotta love the Mercato Nuova!) Then back to the apartment to write in my journal for a bit, have a glass of wine...or two, admire my stunning view of the Oltrarno, and then out for supper and to post this entry.
Not sure where I will eat tonight, except NOT at Trattoria Galleria! Actually I think I might walk over to La Spada and get take out. That is where Dave, the girls, and I got many of our suppers last summer and they are fantastic and cheap.
And again, thanks for the comments, is good to hear from my blog "regulars"!! Oh Maria, my cell phone IS working so you will be able to call...if you know for sure what day you are arriving in Italy, send me an email. I am wondering if there is a mass at San Marco on Sunday evening? If you will be there by then, perhaps I will come Sunday and we can go to that service (after reading about Annie going to mass, I am keen to experience it myself!) If not, I will come on the 14th after the strike. Bye for now!
PS - Dave just posted his first comment on my blog (see the last entry), yay!