Nora, her husband Bruce, son Jason and daughter-in-law Kat are in Italy for two weeks and she’s sharing the experience with us all. Sit back and enjoy!
Our first full day here involves miles of walking under incredible blue skies in that bold Italian light. We sort of plan to take in The Duomo and the Uffizi, and wander in that general direction. Down the narrow streets, through it big piazzas. Piazza della Signoria is a favorite of mine–and I set a scene in next year’s The Collection there, with its big fountain with Neptune, all its statutes–and crowds.
It’s more crowded than I remember, just packed with tourists, full of energy and buzz.
The line for the museum is far too long, and the Duomo doesn’t open for 90 minutes, so we have some time to kill. I start to kill it with a strawberry gelato. Take strawberries, magic cream, douse them in faerie dust and you might come close.
BW wants a belt, so we stop at a stall. While he’s looking, Kat and I find fabulous belts. The dark sapphire suede she wants, and the London blue I want are both too big. So the leather guy simply cuts them to size right there. Kat asks what he does with the scraps, and he gives them to her. She shows me how she can make bracelets from the leather. Our Crafty Kat will do just that.
We double back to a shoe store that caught our eye. I believe everyone needs sandals. In the end Jason didn’t find any that called to him, BW found shoes–and they had his size!–Kat found the most glorious cherry red suede knee boots, and I bought two pretty pair of sandals. I’d had flat sandals in mind, but fell in love with the little stacked heels on these–one is green, and looks almost like vines, the other rose red–and with roses. Both butter soft leather, and wonderfully comfortable. Honestly, the cost for two pair for me, one pair for BW and the stunning boots for Kat came to less than what I’d expect to pay in The States for the boots alone.
If you’re in Florence, try Leonardo’s for shoes!
And the obliging proprietor holds them for us so we don’t have to haul them while we’re out and about.
The line for The Duomo is now insane. We have lunch at a trattoria instead. Another huge pilsner of beer for BW, and bellinis for me.
Let me say here, that for me, The Duomo of Florence is the most beautiful building in the world. There’s nothing that compares for me. The size, the scope, the details, the color, those two magnificent domes. It’s beyond magnificent.
We can have lunch in its stupendous shadow.
I see a group go by, and one of the young girls is wearing black tights under her cut-off denim shorts. Black tights in Italy in August. Under shorts. She’s lucky I didn’t arrest her for high crimes against fashion. I ordered another bellini instead.
We find more pretty scarves before we decide to hike over toward The Academie. Maybe the lines won’t be so long there.
We end up going into San Marco museo. Never been in there, and it was worth it. Interesting place, an old monestary loaded with art. The initial offerings are dark and depressing, but then there’s a room where they display all these architectural remnants. Columns and lintels and cornices in such an interesting and artful arrangement.
Then a room where they have old manuscripts, and the best here is a display of the crystals and rocks and ground colors used to make the paints. All so vivid in their little dishes, with the tools set around with them. The manuscripts are more beautiful when you think of the art that went into making the paints.
We tour the monks’ cells. All have frescos, mostly crucifixion visuals, and some of them amazingly horrific. Not in the art, but the depiction. Blood literally gushing from Christ’s side, and in one, when you studied the angles about to spill all over his mother.
In another room is a beautifully done painting, then you take a closer look. It’s the Piazza della Signoria, crowds of people hanging around, obviously in easy conversation. Beautiful buildings. And several people are being burned to death on a platform, while others (heretics, one assumes) are being led toward the pyre.
I don’t want it in my living room.
We go out to the big, pretty courtyard, sit awhile. Happy begonias and grasses, a nicely preserved arcade. And Kat and Jason point out that over the door are three symbols. The middle is a European style cross. Flanking it are what look like slices of pepperoni pizza. I can think of no reason for this, none, but it adds a mysterious charm.
We go back inside to exit and come to a big room filled with those glorious paintings and icons, the saturated vivid colors and gold leaf so brilliantly used in religious art. I don’t want these in my living room either, but they’re gorgeous and bold and impossibly bright given their age.
We walk back–I think we easily did our 10,000 steps today–through the crowds, along the narrow streets, through the open piazzas. Near the Duomo I have to stop as down a ways a woman in playing the violin, beautifully. And the lovely, lovely sound of it echoes along that magnificent building, over the voices and noise of the crowd.
Pick up our shoes, continue on. I find a stall with sports jerseys–Italian football–which seem just right for my two oldest grandsons. Will find something for the girls and the twins another day.
Tired feet slog back to the hotel–showers fixed!!–and have a sit down and an adult beverage.
An excellent day in Italian sunshine, art, shopping, good food and drink.
But I think I’m going to cave and add to my leather jacket collection. I don’t NEED another leather jacket, but there are too many beautiful ones not to indulge. I may not get through another day without giving in.
I expect another casual, easy dinner later, and a relaxing evening.