Lost in Florence

Sunday, September 16, 2018 Permalink

I know it may surprise you, but I’m not entirely stupid. And though I’m not good with spatial stuff (in terms of ‘size’) I can usually read a map.

However, contrary to these assertions I’ve managed to get lost in Florence not once but twice. So far.

The train trip from Sorrento to Naples and Naples to Florence was surprisingly painless. Though trundling my suitcase on wheels across the cobblestone streets of Florence to my hotel had me a tad hot under the collar. Literally and figuratively.

I was fortunate to be meeting Chrissie – another writing retreat attendee – at a hotel in Florence (Grand Hotel Cavour) so we made plans and I decided (after a rest and shower to wash the grime and sweat off) to go exploring. As expected, the city is beautiful. And confusing. Unlike Sorrento which seemed kinda logical in its street-layout I cannot get my head around the streets of Florence. Even those close to the hotel – which is pretty much in the centre of everything.

I’d prebooked a ‘Walks of Italy’ tour for Friday morning as my SIL had recently visited and highly recommended it. I might have mentioned once or twice, or a million times, that I’m a bad tourist. I’ve no real desire to see art galleries or museums. (Or Pompeiian ruins it seems.)

So I was a little reticent about the 3hr walking tour that takes in Michelangelo’s statue of David and has a strong focus on the history of the Medici’s and the role the family plays in Florentine culture. And as for churches? Meh.

However… my SIL was right and though we didn’t get the cute guide she mentioned, we had the amazing Teresa who was unbelievably entertaining and full of facts. Indeed I could not have imagined I’d be so interested in the statue of David (at Florence Accademia). I had no idea that it was made to go on top of a church, for example. Of course what Michelangelo crafted was not – when unveiled – the young boy who defeated Goliath but an amazing creation of a young man.

I hadn’t known that he’d secretly made wooden crosses for a church so he was allowed (in exchange) to dissect a body (which was forbidden at the time) to help him understand our anatomy and physiology.

I didn’t know he didn’t want payment until he FINISHED the work (which took three years) and that a few had attempted to work with similar sized pieces of marble before Mikey agreed to the commission; and I certainly didn’t know of his rivalry with Leonardo Da Vinci; or his preference for scultpure over painting.

Terese talked of Florence’s rivalry with Pisa (and the need to access their ports) and the town’s desire to have the ‘bigger’ church. (Boys and their toys? Seriously?) I was gobsmacked at the time taken to build the main church (Florence Duomo) and the famous red dome (and the fact the person commissioned to do it – Filippo Brunelleschi – won the gig cos he simulated the design with an egg! And kinda invented the concept of takeaway food!).

The only church we visited that day (or indeed, that I’ve visited this year!) though, was delightfully quirky. Orsanmichele Church was originally a granary, that became a church abut kept the granary upstairs cos it was a money-earner.

I tried to visualise people in the midst of prayer and workers coming in and out… and wonder how some churches or old-school religions justify their rules and regulations in that environment. It just makes some of the beliefs or assertions kinda redundant.

Anyhoo…. merchants and religion… ’twas certainly the theme of the tour.

The walking tour ended near the Ponte Veccchio (a bridge) incorporating a overhead ‘tunnel’ of sorts created by the Medici family to allow them to travel between buildings and around town without anyone attempting to kill them – which apparently was quite common.

After praising Teresa as much as possible I kept walking and found a little cafe in a side-street that mentioned GLUTEN FREE  MARGARITA PIZZA! So, my lunch decision was made. And again it was delicious. The waiter said he could add other toppings so I opted for prosciutto. And prosecco. Of course. (Though the latter wasn’t atop the pizza obvs!)

And then I got lost.

I purposely (and purposefully) wandered for a while and had decided to return across the river via a different bridge, but – I don’t know how – I went in the wrong direction. Again and again. I lost count of the number of times google maps told me I was 3km from the hotel. Nine kms, much under-breath swearing and red-faced, I finally got to the hotel.

At least it justified me easily eating the rest of my lunchtime pizza!

I should mention that this morning (Saturday and my final day in Florence before heading to the writing retreat) I decided to head to the markets and again had minimal success with google maps. Instead it occurred to me that rather than mindlessly following an online app which chews through my mobile phone data, I should do it old school, with a foldable paper map and actually LOOK for (and at) street signs…. which was far more successful. In Florence and on foot, anyway!

I’m closing comments as these posts are probably to document my travel as much as entertain readers with my insightful prose. (Which I’ve most likely failed to do anyway!) I also don’t want people to feel obliged to read my drivel or leave a comment. Feel free to stop by my Facebook page for a chat instead however.

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