Aug 2 and 3
It’s my last night in Florence. My odyssey has come to an end. I can’t believe I’ve been here for 6 weeks. It feels so normal to me. I have to say that there were a couple of shaky weeks there when all I wanted was to be in my familiar surroundings, sleeping in my own bed. But, it’s amazing how when you feel better, everything looks rosy. A huge debt of gratitude goes to my friend, Roberto, whom I knew long ago in Bogotá. The visit to his farm really did me a world of good.
Yesterday I visited the Bargello and Oh my God the art!!! Saw my second favorite man in the world, Donatello’s David, saucy as ever. What a gorgeous museum. Never mind that it was a prison… The building is beautiful. I also said goodby to my favorite church, the Orsanmichele. Stark but wow. Then last night I had a wonderful Vespa tour of Florence at night. The crowds were gone, the temperatures were cooler and it was a lovely, wandering around the center, eating gelato at midnight.
Today, I visited the Museo San Marco. More fabulous frescoes in this monastery turned museum. Upstairs are the monk’s cells, each with it’s own frescoe. No deluxe quarters here, let me tell you and some of the frescoes, depicting Christ’s life, are nothing I would want to sleep with. Creepy. I mean would you want to stare at Christ suffering on the cross? I don’t think so. I would turn my bed around so my back was to the painting.
The cooking class I took this week was fantastic. Such good food. The teacher, Fiammetta Frezzolini, is a charmer. I had such a wonderful time talking to her as we cooked and then ate the food of course. The “last supper” was roasted bass. I nicknamed him Arturo Branzino, (Branzino is the Italian word for bass). And of course, I acted out the scene with Arturo from “Finding Nemo” with Bruce the shark…The name sounds so Renaissance. He was delightful and he was food.
Anyway, I’m off early tomorrow, on my way to Chicago to see my son before returning home. I’m looking forward to AC and cold drinks. But for the first day, I think I’ll sleep. I am so tired.
Was the trip worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? At the drop of a hat. Overall I spent a lot of time by myself but I also met a lot of wonderful people. My Italian isn’t perfect, but I speak it a lot better than when I started and I know where my mistakes are… 10 points for me. The heat was stupefying but it becomes part of the charm and certainly a conversation piece with strangers. Everyone is happy to talk about how hot it is. I hope to return someday as I have still more exploring to do.
Ciao Firenze. Mi dispiace andare via, pero devo tornare a casa a continuare la mia vita. Grazie per tu bellezza.
The countdown to my departure begins. While I’m ready for the peace and quiet of my house, I am sad to leave this lovely city. BUT not the constant heat. I’ve never showered so much. I think I’ve lost a total of 10-15 pounds while here. Today I visited the most exquisite church - San Miniato al Monte. Oh my God - a fabulous little church with all the original Byzantine mosaic work intact. Stunning. For some reason, this church isn’t visited a lot so the area, monastery, convent, etc, is peaceful and the view of Florence is to die for. My old friend from my Bogotá days took me to lunch and then we rode up the hills to see the church on his Vespa. Hated the helmet but it sure beats having your brains all over the road, I guess. I look like a bobble head with it on.
Later in the afternoon (4pm) I took off on the bike to go to cooking class. It’s definitely worth the work and the half hour ride to produce this food - Man was it delicious! The veal was fantastic - lightly floured, cooked in butter/olive oil, served on a bed of fresh spinach with a cream/gorgonzola cheese sauce. Sounds like a strange combination but wow! And so simple to make!! Even better. The meals we prepare are full fledged meals - antipasto, first course, second course and then desert. When I leave, I feel like a waddling whale and then I have to climb onto the bike and pedal home over uneven cobblestones. Oy! Ah but it’s delicious.
La Domenica, il giorno di riposo quando nessuno lavora… Sunday, the day of rest when no one works… So I attended my first mass in 15 years… I went with the family I’m staying with to visit a priest friend of theirs who has strong ties to the family. This gentleman runs a refuge/school in Kinshasa, Congo for over 900 children, many from broken or non-existent families. 150 live in the community, and the rest come as day students. This place contains houses, school, church etc. In Florence he lives in a lovely villa/retreat center in the foothills that surround the city. The villa is called “Comunita di amore e liberta”, the community of love and liberty - A lovely place that houses 15 kids and some families who live in separate little cottages. The villa contains a small chapel where mass is celebrated weekly. So that is how I came to attend. A simple service with 3 squirelly little boys running around during the service. After, we had a potluck lunch under a pergola with a lovely breeze and lots of talking. I met a charming woman who also works in Kinshasa and she told me about the plays that they put on. The most recent was Jesus Christ Superstar (one of my favorites). The challenge for them was that the kids don’t speak English. But they went ahead and did it. I got to see some of it on a computer, and while the English is unintelligible, they get high marks for trying- It’s adorable.
What a lovely afternoon. Everyone was fascinated by my Kindle and several women, who are returning to the Congo, wanted to know how to get one since suitcases full of books are impractical. I extolled the virtues of said apparatus complete with a demonstration. I should charge Amazon for advertising and promotion. I even showed them the website and how much it would cost in Euros. (More than it costs in the U.S.) Nothing like international public relations - bringing people closer together through books and technology!
The rest of the afternoon, I spent playing beached whale after eating that huge lunch. Well, come on, you can’t hurt anybody’s feelings… you have to try everything!