Friday, 7 January 2011

48 hours in Florence

I’ve never been anywhere so old before. I keep expecting old people and perhaps old horses to line the streets rather than modern Italians in the latest winter fashions gossiping about the latest concerns (presumably) or zipping past in their tiny new cars. Florence is lively and old worldy and in this momento rather cold. The greatest asset of my little apartment in Borgo della Stella (that’s the name of the street), is the central heating powered by gas. I’m warmer here than I’ve ever been back home in winter and now that I have the right clothes for the climate I’m surprised to find myself quite enjoying the cold. Me!

In one week I’ve been in four countries (Australia, Singapore, UK, Italy) with four different time zones. My 3 nights with Philip, Jane, Livy, Rob, Darci (the dog), Poppy (the bunny), and 4 hibernating tortoises in Milton Keynes (1 hour north of London) was the perfect way to adjust GMT and experience the love of family so far away from home. They helped me stock up on warm clothes and gave me a taste of the beautiful English countryside. We went to Bambury one day (as in “Ride a cock horse to Bambury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse”), which happens to have a church that I designed a logo for along with signage, banners, postcards etc. This was because my boss at the time knew the pastor there I think. Anyhow, it was quite something to see my artwork in an English town.

Now at last I’m in Europe where I never expected to be. I love my little apartment in San Frediano which is close to the river and has a nice ambience. The entire trip from Sydney to Singapore to London to Rome was as smooth as can be. It was when I arrived at the Rome Terminal station by train from Rome airport that things went a little pear-shaped. For some reason I got horribly confused and couldn’t find where the platform for my Eurostar to Florence was. I went up and down and in and out lugging 2 heavy bags behind me (no wonder they call it LUGGAGE), sweating with frustration and cursing the Roman signage (the lack there-of), until a nice man in the queue at the information desk, which I finally happened to find 10 minutes before my train was due to depart, saw my face and offered his assistance – which was just as well because otherwise I would have missed the train. He personally escorted me to where I had to be and phew I made it with 5 whole minutes to spare, no worries. I’m not even confident that I’ll know better next time because I have no idea how I ended up in the bowels of the station where only the cleaners go, and then upstairs where there is a medical clinic. I know, stupid tourist. It would be hilarious if it hadn’t been for the lugging of the luggage which has left my back in a mild state of despair. But it’s difficult to just lie around a rest when there’s 20 years worth of Things To See outside my door.

Borgo della Stella is a wee little street. The taxi that dropped me off from the Florence station eased his way along the cobbled stones between wall and parked cars with only a hair-width to spare on either side and miraculously made it to my palazzo door no worse for wear. My landlords live right beside me and they had their daughter Francesca there to greet me in English and explain everything to me. Carla made me some dinner which was heaven sent as I was starving and it was wonderfully hearty and warming and welcoming.

My Italian is extremely basic but I managed to find the nearest supermarket for provisions as well as the TIM shop which sells SIM cards and internet. I got the internet sorted and will buy the SIM when someone else can advise me what to get. Meanwhile skype is taking care of my telephonic needs. Other than that, I briefly checked out the historical centre which is going to take me the whole year to explore and I’ll start that exploration as soon as all the Italian tourists have gone home (schools go back on Monday). A quick glance at the Duomo and The David and the outside of the Pitti Palace is mostly all I’ve managed so far. It’s hard to believe the amount of artistic talent that has been squeezed in to one city. Tonight I went for a short wander around the block of my apartment and found a church just round the corner (in the direction away from the town centre). It looks very plain on the outside, although clearly very old. As people were going in I decided to follow. What is heaven going to be like if little man here on earth can create something so stunning as the Cheisa Santa Maria del Carmine? It was beyond words in splendor and I stood with my mouth fully agape trying to take it in, lit with candles and lights, with people worshiping and the voices of priests in song echoing throughout the most incredibly ornate and beautiful sight my eyes have ever seen. And it barely rates a mention in my guide book! So what are the star attractions of Florence going to be like?? I would love to go back in time to see the church being built and especially watch how they managed to paint the beautiful frescoes up so high on the vast ceiling. Mamma mia!

My next mission is to buy an old bicycle. The older the less likely-hood of it falling victim to thievery, apparently.

Allora, è tutto per oggi…

The photos are as follows: my street, the door to my palazzo, my kitchenette, bedroom, Arno River, the Ponte Sant Trinita, Michelangelo's David (well a copy of it, I'll see the real one later), it's huge!


  1. Hi Marnie,
    I knew you would be completely overwhelmed from the the minute you got of the plain. Your apartment looks lovely.
    To see the real David I would buy tickets in advance. There can be a four hour queue. But maybe it's not as bad in winter.
    When do you start classes?

  2. ahh.... i'm sooooo greeeeeeeen!!!!!!.. i envy you my friend, i love europe and sooo wish i was there... well croatia is not far, so God willing we get there soon again, i don't care if i sleep on your kitchenette floor!!! have a splendiforous time xxxx greeeeeeeen!!!M2


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