We didn't completely escape the churchbells as there was a church across from our hotel but they didn't go every 15 minutes as they do 'at home'. Dana and I decided to do the musuems together as we were 'Florence Virgins' The other ladies in our little group had been there multiple times. After waiting for an hour in front of the Uffizi, we learned that for more money, we could buy a ticket for later in the day. We were allowed to go to 2 musuems on WSU's
dime (part of the expense we paid for in advance) I've since found out the local Park and the Italian government has donated quite a bit of money for our experiences, which is ironic given the relative poverty here, though Italy as a whole, particularly the north, is doing quite well.
We decided to cross over the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzio Pitti-an extremely ornate (inside at least, the outside is ugly sandstone) palace chock full of Renaissance art. I really think it is more elaborate than Versailles. At various points in history, it was the home of the Medicis, the Hapsburgs and then Napolean seized it for himself. Unfortunately no photographs are allowed in Italian musuems unlike elsewhere. On one of the many variations of 'madonna and child' there looked like baby Jesus had this filmy material on him which was puzzling. A local overheard Dana saying that Jesus was wrapped in Saran wrap and she rolled her eyes at such stupide americane. I said -scherza- meaning she's just kidding. Then we had our appointment at the Uffizi, the home of the greatest Renaissance art. Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Leonardo DaVincis, Rafaels, the whole teenage mutant ninja turtle gang etc. It was fine but I much prefer the impressionists. I actually preferred the Pitti palace as the rooms themselves were so spectacular. After 5 hours of traipsing around musuems, we were beat. We ate lunch in this beautiful church complete with frescos that now is a restaurant (Paolo's). Very good if expensive food. The bathroom was up, up, up a spiral staircase leading to the bell tower. Florence has more gelato stores than any place in this world and of course we stopped for that. They had this unbelievably fancy candy shop that I bought my favorite jellies, which sadly weren't as good as the Paris versions and no better than the ones I picked up at the Autogrille later at a fraction of the price.
I had plenty of opportunities to practice Italian though in big cities, lots of people know English. Not so here in the mountains. One embarassing moment was right after I ordered wine for our table at dinner, the waiter said in English that he couldn't even begin to understand what I was trying to say when I thought I had spoke perfectly but it turns out he had been responding to Dana's side comments. Dana is full of side comments. She is a fun loving person and usually amusing unless she is drunk while I am trying to sleep.
Joanne reminds me of Mary Poppins, so tall and thin, always with a skirt and her red hat. She actually brought an iron here to remain wrinkle free. Very prim and proper so we were shocked one day she came in shouting 'f-ck those idiot kids' as one of students obliviously flooded the bathroom for the umpteenth time. We could only hope they would then use their hairdryer and maybe their kind won't reproduce.The rest of us were taken back by her language, it sounded so funny coming from her as she chooses each word so carefully.
We surprisingly left on time. Italian time is 'so fluid',10 minutes means at least an hour.
We stopped on a bluff overlooking the city for some great shots and then only stopped once outside of Rome at the autogrille for gas and dinner. Home sweet home. At least 30 degrees cooler and no air pollution. Dave, the dog, was happy to see us waiting at the monastery door. The locals waved at our bus from the Bar. We go through 2 communities on our twisty, perilous road from the autostrada: Castelvecchio (old castle) and Castel Ieri (yesterday's castle- notice a theme here) Both are quite close to here but what I was struck with is how many of the townspeople are out walking around on a Sunday night-11 pm. Obviously don't need to get up early Monday morning.
And guess what, I got an A on my cinema test.