Monday 12 September 1994 11:45 pm 18C clear
Tuesday 13 September 1994 6:30 am ~15C overcast
5:30 pm sunny ~27C
T and I walked out this morning with P and went all the way around the Banca Commerciale before finding the very grand entrance. There, we had no difficulty at all cashing our travellers' cheques. We then continued towards the Ponte Vecchio, buying cartoline postale (postcards L300 each) e francobolli. (stamps L1000 to Canada) I was very proud that I negotiated buying one more stamp for another postcard. They didn't have any 1000s left, and were going to send me away until I suggested two 500's -all in Italian. This is fun! T is much better at speaking than I am though. I keep trying to rely entirely on my knowledge of music notations. But saying "piu lento" to someone speaking very quickly doesn't get one very far if one can't understand anything but "lento, andante, forte, piano, presto, etc, etc...."
The streets and buildings around the Ponte Vecchio are amazing but very crowded with tourists. By 10:00 or so, it was already quite hot just as the photograph book at home said it would be. We continued over the Ponte Vecchio past the Pitti Palace into the Biboli gardens. There was a beautiful fountain there along with many pathways up to a spectacular view of Florence and the surrounding area. One side of the area looked onto the city and the other looked onto olive groves stretched out for miles.
At a church near the pitti palace, T asked a cleaning lady when it was built. The cleaning lady really liked T and was very sweet talking to him. She said the first church on that site was 4th cent and addition was put on in the 5th cent. Then she showed us a Boticelli saying in Italian that here was the lady (the Madonna ) wearing clothes but the same lady is at the Uffizi gallery down the street without clothes. The madonna did indeed have the same face as the Venus rising out of the sea. What a place Florence is!! Boticellis just lying around in a church that isn't in a guide book. Who needs to stand in a monstrous line up to see the famous ones?
We all met for lunch at an enoteca: Cantinone gallo nero. There we had the most amazing lunch. T had penne with a fresh tomato sauce and a toasted bread with truffles and garlic. I had bread soup(!) a speciality of the region. The description of the soup was disgusting sounding but the actual dish was fantastic. I was given a bowl with half tomato bread soup and half bean and vegetable bread soup. That was followed by toasted bread with porcini. The wine was a 1990 chianti that was unbelievably good. We then all walked together to the piazza della signoria and saw the replica of Michelangelo's David. I couldn't believe the beauty of the fountain in the square. Ammanati's statue of Neptune far outshone the David (maybe because I had seen so many reproductions of that famous fellow - familiarity breeds contempt....) We went into the Palazza Vecchia built in 1298. The reliefs and paintings were spectacular.
We went at about 4:30 to the tourist information and found that there are hotels on the way to Vol Paia so it looks as if we can walk. The next town is about 14K away. G suggested that we check at a book store for walking maps and we did find one. We're really going go do it.
(This is fantastic! The organ next door is going full blast playing Bach and the church bells are all ringing and ringing and there is a motor sounding and cars buzzing by all at once. Florence is very stimulating but I'm looking forward to a smaller centre.)
The restaurateurs kept coming out to show us the things that would go into our dinner. First came plates of porcini mushrooms. They were big, plump and white - beautiful. Later, we were shown some spectacular looking yellow and red peppers. And back the plates were taken again to the kitchen for the chef to do wondrous things.
We had the white wines with the starters and moved on to the reds for the next courses. Each thing was served with a different wine. And we didn't nearly finish any of the bottles of that absolutely marvelous wine. It nearly killed me to move on to a new one as I was savouring whichever one was in my glass. I can only hope that the staff had a wonderful party with what we left behind.
T asked a waiter for stuzzicadenti (toothpicks) and the fellow happily translated back, "the tooth sticks!"
Wednesday 14 Sept 7:40 am 18C sunny
Today we walk!!
Italy 1994 . travel index