Fabulous Firenze

English: Michelangelo's David (original statue...

Michelangelo’s David (original statue) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FRIDAY

Buongiorno!!!  After finishing up work a bit early on Friday afternoon, William (aka Sweet Willy) and I took the train from Genoa to Florence (which was a 4.5 hour train ride along the beautiful Mediterranean and Tuscan countryside).

The train ride was uneventful until we changed trains in La Spezia to transfer to the regional train to Florence.  Of course, I picked the car with crazy in it.  Why does this always happen to me???  When you buy a train ticket in Italy, you are required to validate the ticket in one of the yellow machines on the platform.  If you don’t validate your ticket, you are subject to a fine up to 50 Euro.  So, the train operator lady comes into our railcar to verify that everybody has a validated ticket.  There are only 4 people in our car (me + William + African guy + Italian guy). 

She gets to the Italian guy first who looks completely normal.  He was wearing glasses and reading a book.  All smiles when we got on.  Little did I know that glasses can obscure crazy eyes.  I mean, crazy folks aren’t usually smiling & reading a book.  So, the train operator lady asks him for his ticket…then tells him that he either has the wrong ticket or it’s not properly validated (it was hard to translate).  He was like, “no, no, no…the machina Italian words, foccacia, Italian words, primavera, Italian words” and train lady was like, “yeah, you need to pay 50 Euro because this ticket isn’t properly validated.”  Why did she say that to that man?  Because that set him off and he continues to repeat himself basically saying that he got the ticket out of the fast ticket machine and it’s not his fault if it’s missing something.  The train lady is not sympathetic and now they are both getting heated.  Next thing I know, train lady was like, “pay this fine or I’m calling the police.” Crazy Italian guy was like, “Call’em.  You don’t know me.  I’m real.  I’m wild.  It’s the machine’s fault.  Kick rocks!”  

At this point, he starts cursing in Italian and talking to himself after she leaves.  Then, he turns around to plead his case to William and myself (speaking Italian a mile a minute) and we just give him a blank look and the crickets (for those of you who don’t know what “the crickets” are, it means being so silent you can hear crickets chirping).  We weren’t about to get caught up in that mess.  He got the police on him now.  We can’t help you, buddy.  Get your Euros, pay the lady and shut up.  You ain’t gonna win this fight, Giuseppe.  But, you know what?  You can’t reason with crazy.  Why did 2 police men come and he STILL gives the same story about the “machina” messing up his ticket?  They wanted identification and to talk to him in “private” (which was out in the corridor where he is still completely visible and continuing to go off about the machina).  It was high drama and lasted for at least an hour and a half (crazy folks don’t have watches or a sense of time) and the result was that he paid the 50 Euro fine while continuing to fuss and teach me Italian curse words.  I would’ve taken a picture but I didn’t know if crazy Italian man would go all Kanye on me and try to take my camera.

So, we finally arrive to Florence around 6:30pm and get to our hotel where they give you an actual key with a big gold-plated key ring (like we are about to do a breakdance battle) that you have to turn into the front desk when you leave the hotel.  If you ever go to Florence, and are looking for a nice budget hotel with a friendly staff, I highly recommend the Hotel Privilege. 

After we checked in, we went to dinner and had a great meal of lemon flavored penne & meatballs as well as gnocchi with drunk cheese and the house Chianti to drink.  Then a fabulous dessert!

DSCN0097

Angie's Pub

Angie’s Pub

After dinner, we walked around Florence and ate gelato.  Then stumbled upon a really cool lounge named “Angie’s Pub”.  It was packed and they were showing the movie “Scarface” on the wall in the back room.  William and I had a debate on whether or not a patron who came up to the bar was a man or a woman.  My viewpoint was that it was a woman (I didn’t get a good look at her face and couldn’t hear her talking but she seemed built like a woman).  William was insistent that it was a transvestite.

Sweet Willy: That is a man
Me: No it’s not. She looks straight woman.
SW: Look at her! She’s got an Adam ’s apple and a deep voice. That is a man.
Me: Maybe she’s had a hard life. That don’t make her a man.
SW: Are you deaf? His voice is deeper than mine!

So, we agree to disagree because I wasn’t convinced.  However, when William came out of the men’s bathroom, the “lady” was entering so um….he was right.  Then I start to wonder what type of bar we are in because I had already started to notice a certain element but it really seemed to have a broad range of patrons.  And we had a great time talking to people so it really didn’t matter.

SATURDAY

William and I get up Saturday morning and I am really dragging.  It’s been a rough week of long hours at the office and little sleep.  But, I wanted to be up to see as much as we could on our last day in Florence.  So, we check-out of the hotel and make our way to the train station.  It was weird how dead the city was at 11am.  When I visited Florence during the summer 2 years ago, it was packed.  I think the cold weather puts people off sightseeing.  But, that turned into a major advantage for us because we didn’t have to wait in any lines and got to see a lot.

William: Why do the pigeons look homeless?
Me:  Because they are? They look fine to me.
William: Their feathers are all dull and that one looks like it has a tumor on its foot.

First stop was Santa Croce Church.  It’s a 14th century Franciscan church decorated with centuries of precious art and holds the tombs of some great Florentines (such as Galileo Galilei 1564-1642, who was from Pisa but lived his last years under house arrest near Florence because he defied the church and declared the Earth revolved around the sun; also, the tomb of Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564, famous sculptor of Statue of David and the Pieta and painter of Sistine Chapel).

Santa Croce

Santa Croce

Then, we walked towards the Duomo. Florence’s Gothic cathedral has the third-longest nave in Christendom. The façade from the 1870s is covered with pink, green, and white Tuscan marble. So, you know why I love to look at it. Maybe I can suggest we do the next Boule here?

Duomo

Duomo

Afterwards, we made our way to the train station to check our bags so we could sightsee unencumbered.  We then made our way to the Accademia where we were able to see the Statue of David…if you have never seen this amazing statue in person, buy a ticket to Florence now and go see it.  When you enter the Accademia, you have to walk down a hall then when you turn the corner, you see this magnificent and very large statue.  It’s a sight to behold.  And it is beautiful!  But you can’t take pictures.

Once we left the Accademia, we stopped by this café and had the BEST pasta. I had the gnocchi with Bolognese sauce while William had spaghetti with tuna and peppers. We had planned on leaving for Rome mid-afternoon but once we stopped by the street markets, it was a wrap because the shopping was great. We ended up buying some great souvenirs for friends and family and William bought a fab new coat.  While we were at one store, the sales lady let me know that a pigeon had taken a dump on the back of my coat. Sigh. Really Petey? I defend you when Will calls you homeless but you gonna just use my coat as your Port-a-Potty? That’s how they do in Florence now?

We also noticed that dogs could go anyplace.  Not only the restaurants but into the high-end stores!  Most of them were so well-behaved. It’s a shame Riley will never get to experience that because I can’t be put on a Watch List since he doesn’t know how to act.

After shopping and realizing that time is about to expire to pick up our checked luggage, we start walking back towards the train station and realize there were more markets. Then, it was like the heavens opened up and I saw the most fabulous coat!  It was hand-stitched with fox fur trim.  The sales guy says, “I’ll give you a 50% discount so it’s only $1900.”  Wait…what?  $1900 U.S. dollars?  What currency are we talking about because I can only afford that denomination in pesos.  He confirmed U.S. dollars so I was like, “that’s okay, playa.”  Still, I couldn’t resist trying it on.

Me:  Man, I love this coat. Will you get it for me?
William: Uh, sure. Let’s ask about their layaway plan. I’ll see if they will let me pay 20 Euro a month for 4 years.  If I put down 50 Euro in good faith, they may let you walk off with the coat.
Sales guy: *crickets* [then puts his hand out to take the coat back]
Me:  I really love that coat.  I need it in my life.
William: Yeah, that  coat is hot.  You’d have a closet full of death with the fox-mink. With the leather you just bought and this fur, you’d have your own pet cemetery. Because you know they had to kill those animals to make that coat you love.
Me: *crickets* {walking away dejected}

We rush to the train station, get our bags and just make the train to Rome.  We meet 2 ladies on the train who are artists from NY but own second homes in Umbria that they visit every 3 months or so.  I just had one question…how can I do that?

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5 thoughts on “Fabulous Firenze

  1. Tvor says:

    I only saw Florence at the end of a 2 week bus tour and though we were burned out by that time, I still got such a great feeling from Florence. Yes, the David was stunning, like he could take a breath and step off the plinth. I’d like to go back someday

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