A little update from the Two Hat Tour (occasionally referred to as the Blues Sisters Take the Mediterranean. Jake and Elmwood have nothing on us.) Forgive the lack of pictures. I’m having technical difficulties, and will add when I can.
Nothing like a good protest to stir up a day of sightseeing for us, and that’s how our day started today. Kathy enjoyed talking with a protester from Nigeria wanting better living conditions for immigrants. She gave fair play to an Italian merchant to get the other side of the issue. Ironically, we just got caught up in this issue last night on CNN.
“Skoozee me,” in my worst attempt at Italian. “Do you have deodorant?” I merely described with hand motions. Why is it my first purchase in Italy was something I have plenty of at home? Of all the things people told me to spend my money on, deodorant wasn’t on any list, but it was the most important.
What was on my list, however, was a pair of leather gloves. More than the first class food, wine or art was my quest for Italian-made gloves, once I discovered that Florence was in the heart of Italy’s leather industry. And I’m not leaving disappointed; five pairs between the two of us. If nothing else, we will have well dressed hands next fall and winter. We did visit the leather school very near our hotel, and were amazed to see so many students from Japan. “Stupid Italians” said one of the owners. “They don’t want to learn the craft so we are happy to take the Japanese students.
Our trip is off to a grand start in Florence, with visits to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David, of David and Goliath fame. It is massive – more than 14 feet tall, and the attention to detail with bulging veins and pensive eyes requires the observer to just marvel in awe at the sight. Of course, the rest of the museum is incredibly rich as well and I especially enjoyed the room dedicated to the process of making plaster molds which then became models for marble sculpture. I never knew what a painstaking process that was.
The other significant observation for me was the inclusion of Catholic figures in paintings with Christ. Frankly, I don’t remember ever seeing paintings where a nun in traditional habit was at the foot of the cross at the time of Jesus’ execution, or a priest present at the resurrection.
Spontaneity is also fun when traveling so after the museum, we hopped a train to Pisa at the recommendations of my friends Carol and Bev. Easily walkable, we strolled to the leaning tower and visited the duomo, the magnificent cathedral. This was a fun, unplanned trip.
Finally, we finished our time in Florence at the Uffizi Gallery where Florence’s history as the birthplace of Renaissance Art came to life. So did hundreds of 10-14 year old Italian school children and we cut our tour short. It was jam packed and we’d seen enough. It must be “end of the school year” trips to Florence as it is crawling with groups of kids.
Between sights, we’ve enjoyed pizza, spaghetti bolognese, bruschetta and of course gelato, which cost more than our meals.
Tomorrow, we head to Rome, and we are looking forward to our tour of the Vatican in the afternoon. Please join us!