Greetings from Florence, Italy.

I've been here most of the week, and am preparing to leave for Venice tomorrow, after one more pass looking for the perfect pair of shoes. That I can afford, that is.

Cafe culture is meeting with my approval. I'm sure the Florentines are relieved. I spent a leisurely breakfast (three pastries and two pots of tea) writing in my journal and collecting my wits about me. My instincts are still to rush around and always be doing something, anything, but I am enjoying the moments I take to slow down. This is a town of plazas rather than parks, but I found a nice shady park along the river a day or two back. The sounds of the city mixed with the river made for a nice backdrop to let my mind wander.

Of course, there are a few sites to see here, as well. My overwhelming list has been pared down to a manageable size by the several that are closed for various reasons (restorations, whims, etc). I've been surprised at how short the lines have been. I didn't even have to wait in line to see the original statue of David! Sadly, there were no magnetic clothes to dress him with. I tried to explain to them that this sort of thing works in Fremont, but something must have been lost in translation.


Galileo's Home
Galileo's Home
For the most part, I've been skipping museums to focus on wandering around town and photographing the sites. I took a stroll into the country yesterday, passing Galileo's former home and ending up on a small road running outside the old city walls. I had the place to myself, looking much as it did centuries ago. It's easy to become jaded as I move from church to church to church. Then I hit upon a jewel of a place like this, and I just have to sit back in awe at the living history that I'm in the middle of!

Florence City Wall
Outside the city wall

I hit the local Jazz Club and heard some standards that made me want to dance. It's strange, almost disrespectful, just sitting and listening. But pleasant as well. I've also hit the record stores a bit, and right now am listening to an old version of Red Light, recently covered by Indigo Swing. Thank god my dancing hiatus is almost over.

My Hotel
Outside My Hotel
The hotel I'm in is on one of the oldest streets in town, and just a couple blocks from pretty much everything. It's in and old palace from (if I recall) from the 12th century, as all the buildings on the street are. I normally picture palaces as being castles isolated with a moat. These are more like grand town houses. In any case, I have a huge window overlooking the street. There's three steps up just to get to the window, so you can imagine the scale of things. The building is apartments now, of which the hotel occupies several.

Hotel Window
Grand window in my room

I went to a English Language film, for the heck of it. I think there were five of us in the audience. We saw Bicentennial Man with Italian subtitles. As soon as I left the theater I ended up in a large crowd of American tourists, and it wasn't until I made it through them to the Gelato stand that the sound of Italian jarred me back to reality. The Gelato calmed me right down, though. Yum. Would it be blasphemous to say the Gelato in Budapest was at least as good as what I've had here?

Everyone warned me about Italian drivers, so imagine my shock when, on more than one occasion, I've had them stop so I can cross the street! I've just been letting everyone pass before I dash across, and don't even bother looking like I want to cross. They are equally surprised when I occasionally gesture for them to go first!

Another week down. Tough work, but I think I'm up for continuing.