This is the reward. Not that the trip so far has not been rewarding – it certainly has. But Paris had its challenges – weather, noise, location – and London was extremely crowded and cold at the start and extremely crowded and warm at the end.
But this – here in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with a dear friend who knows it well and speaks nearly fluent Italian – a reward. My hotel, which costs less than half the hotel in London, is quiet and pretty. Bruce came when I arrived last night and we went for a walk and a bite to eat, my first sight of the enchantments of Florence. Today, he took me for an extensive tour – to the Pitti Palace, with its incredible collection of art and its rococo rooms; we climbed the Boboli Gardens behind it, and then over to the Bardini Gardens, where we had lunch – a sandwich and coffee – in a tiny cafe perched on a belvedere overlooking the city. And then another climb to the Church of San Miniato al Monte, a stunning very old church with a facade of green and white marble, and then to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a gelato and another vista, and a huge copy of David with a pigeon on his head. And then down to walk along the Arno with all the other tourists.
So today we stayed on the left bank, Oltrano, which is where my hotel is. I picked it at random from the Guide Routard, but know now – I’m a left bank kind of ragazza. Bruce is teaching me Italian, correcting my pronunciation, showing me how things are done. And where the best paintings are. After three weeks of self-directed touring, I’m very happy to be in the hands of an expert. And he, I think, is happy to have such a keener to share his expertise with. We get along beautifully, both saying that though we each love solitude, it’s also great to have a companion in travel.
We took a break, Bruce to nap and Beth to blog, and are meeting at 7 in the middle of the Ponte Vecchio to go on to dinner.
Juliet, in her blog today at left, muses about why we travel. And I like what she says: