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"Don't plan it all. Let life surprise you a little." -- Julia Alvarez
|Episode 30--Italy: Florence Nightingale|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:25 PST
|cherie writes: September 2000|
Our train came to a halt with the threatening huff of an irritated person. We awoke from our slouched sleep and sloshed around the Florence train station looking for those luggage carts we could never seem to find.
Had Sophia not answered her phone in the middle of the night, I would not be able to describe the beauties of Florence. In the dead darkness we pulled into the train station with no hotel reservations. Our 14th phone call at the pay phone got us a room. Thank you, Sophia.
Florence is now Kristi´s favorite city. It is a city of alternating ice-cream stands and leather vendors, with a river whispering through it. You´d think that 6 gelati would be enough to satiate even the most devout ice-cream enthusiast, but I can always palate one more scoop of that creamy vanilla with its obscene hunks of jagged chocolate.
"One ball, or two balls?" the ice-cream man asked. Naturally, I responded "three". A considerate person may have assumed I was buying one "ball" for each of us (Kristi, Renee and I), but those who know me, will know--all three balls were for me. This lead me to zig-zag across Florence stopping at each and every gelati stand. Had someone tied a string to my back, I would have laced that town up like a sneaker.
Florence is a land of secrets. The town seeps into you, like a transfusion of calmness. Then, of course, there is the man who stole my heart, David. Michelangelo´s masterpiece that still stuns visitors in his marble nudity. I admit, it was me who stood beneath him, awe- struck, and snapped a close-up of his penis. Actual size? Could this be the dream of all men, a penis of stone, forever hard? Or, is it the dream of all women?
Next we traveled to Pisa, a village still celebrating its crooked triumph. The leaning tower is well worth the day of crazy photos--Kristi pretending to push it over while Renee pretended to hold it up. Even more rewarding were the scrunched up faces of fellow tourists trying to figure out what we were doing.
The Tuscan countryside holds a lot of answers if you know which questions to ask. The answers are in the stillness of the cypress trees, the isolation of sights and sounds as they collapse into the peace of a sunflower field. It was here, among the villas freckling the hills, that we spent the day lounging around a castle. We were wine-tasting (or more accurately, wine gulping) the best reserve Chianti of the region. Sipping a wine so smooth we didn't want to swallow, we watched an albino peacock strut about the finely preened grounds of the castle. The sky was warm with color, and as it grew dark, we thanked each star as it came into view. Knowing you are happy the moment you are experiencing joy, is more important than realizing it later.
We tip-toed out of Florence, as not to wake-up any of the Italian men (who seemed to think we three American girls were sheep in a petting zoo) and caught the train to the next stop: Venice. This time, we made hotel reservations.
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