Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 926: My Dream Trip To Italy and France
By BGE from Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada, Spring 2005
Page 15 of 38: A David-Sort-of-Day
Love This Post Office!
Woke to cathedral bells again…yum!
So, today I am off to the Internet Point to catch up with my family and friends and my ST family. How cool that so many people on Slowtrav are following my travels and more’s to the point, are posting encouraging messages and advice and “You go, girl!” support.
After a stop at Essalunga for Milano and Siena Salami, prosciutto, 3 different cheeses, a flat of still-warm tomato focaccia and still-warm ciabatta bread, plus a Torte della Nonna and ½ a loaf of Amor de Polenta, I’m heading home to make dinner for everyone tonight.
Then the best thing happened! I ask the woman in the deli for my cakes and I ask for them in my inimitable fractured Italian... and she understands me! I am so shocked I stand and stare at her and then ask her if she really knows what I am saying. She laughs and replies, “Of course, Signora!” I feel wonderful! Y'mean, I actually made myself understood? How totally cool is that?
This afternoon we are going to the Accademia. I have some postcards to mail first, and we go into the most beautiful post office I've ever been in. You know how post offices are, generally pretty decor-less and institution-functional. This gorgeous place in downtown Florence is lovely. There are rows of very comfortable seats for the people waiting, a beautiful old, huge counter for me to stand at while sticking stamps onto postcards and soft lighting from a dozen globe lights scattered around the area.
We are on our way to the Accademia at last. I’ve wanted to see Michelangelo’s David for so many years and here I am, walking through the front door of the Accademia, along the hallway between Michelangelo's unfinished Slave pieces and into the rotunda.
There he is.
I look up, way up.
It is unbelievable to me how large this marble statue is. I did not expect him to be so tall, so perfect... so life-like. Michelangelo was most definitely gifted by God to have the ability to create this amazing piece of art at such a young age.
I watch a video of the restoration process that took place, restoring the marble to this clean, stark immaculately-cared-for state that is before me today. It seems unbelievable that the marble was so damaged and dirty, stained and cracked. How does a thing like that happen to a magnificent piece like this? I had no idea that the statue was in such sad repair.
I’m intrigued with the painstaking process of restoration…cleaning the marble with tissue held against the marble, then Q-tips dipped into distilled water and with infinite patience, gently rubbing away the centuries of soil.
After a half hour of looking at this stunning piece that Michelangelo found resting in a block of marble, I’m ready for a walk through the rest of the display. The unfinished slaves looking like they are “rising out of their bathwater”, as someone said.
This place and all it contains has quite literally taken my breath away. I had no idea of the minute detail and skill with which Michelangelo patiently removed the marble, leaving the figures behind. It leaves me speechless, for which my son is profoundly grateful.
Later today at my apartment, we share a cobbled-together meal, with cheeses, salami, fresh fragrant breads and a dolci or two, washed down with mugs of hot, herbal tea to chase the chill from our bones. We are all tired, bone-weary, and still jet-lagged, I think to myself. Everyone finds a spot on a sofa or bed, and everyone sleeps. It is nearly 2 hours, before anyone stirs.
I’ve been here in this glorious country for a week, now.
What has changed?
What is new?
What have I learned about myself and what have I discovered about my surroundings? Here's a few things that I realize now...
~ My apprehension over “not knowing” has abated somewhat. I now know my way around my neighbourhood a little better, I can find my way to the center of the city with no trouble and I feel the familiarity of the streets soaking into my bones.
~ I can order simple things in Italian and the shop owners actually know what I’m saying! Well, maybe they are simply being kind, I’m not sure. Whichever it is, I feel a little success when opening my mouth and allowing the unfamiliar syllables to roll over my tongue.
~ I appreciate my apartment a whole lot more, as it is a blessed 15 minute walk away from the Du-o-mo and the ever-present crowds. That little walk takes me from the press of the people in the streets to the peaceful and quiet residential neighbourhood where I “live”. Having this welcome break is so refreshing and so regenerating, I am coming to realize that it is the perfect place for me. It's not too far out of the center of Firenze, and not too close, either. A good part of the enjoyment of a trip is the accommodation, and this one is perfect for me.
~ I’ve fallen in love with the FOOD. The food is amazing! Fresh fruits are wonderful here... blood oranges are my new favourite fruit, followed closely by the totally delicious grapefruit, vegetables like tomatoes in 700 varieties, spinach, zucchini, more cheeses than I could imagine, plus a huge selection of the most delicious breads. I’ve eaten myself silly, and I’m sure I’ve lost weight anyway!
~ I know 5 new ways to wear my scarves! The very same scarves that have multiplied like rabbits in my closet... I’m sure there were only 2 or 3 before. Now there are 10! Where did they all come from, I wonder?
After a week in Florence, what do I most enjoy about this new environment?
~ the food, of course!
~ the kindness of the people who live and work here... they are so authentic and genuine
~ the weather, which is totally full of texture, and I love that. There’s never a day that’s the same as the one before, with storms, rain, sunshine, wind and gorgeous cloud formations
~ the cathedral bells audible in my apartment all day and night. I want to bottle this sound and take it home with me.
~ wisteria growing along my neighbour’s back fence
~ the quality of everything…of paper, shoes, clothing, leather goods, food, furniture, flooring. Most of all, the quality of life that I think we are sorely missing in North America, in Canada... maybe that's because it is a much newer country. Maybe, we've never know how to live this way. That's a pity.
~ Mercedes SMART cars... I WANT one!
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