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Monday

It’s 24 degrees – summer! Hot hot sun, everyone sweltering. Only a few days ago I was freezing my butt off in the London rain and before that in la pluie de Paris. It’s beautiful out there, but overwhelming – one million people eating gelato.

Just as well it’s hot now, because I’ve done a stupid thing. I am addicted to vests, wear them all the time. You remember perhaps that I went specially to Uniqlo in Paris to buy a black down vest to replace the one I’d taken off and left somewhere the year before? Well – I took the new one off this morning and left it somewhere. I can hear my father’s voice – IDIOTNIK! And I am. No idea where it might be. Lucky people all over the world can just follow my trail of vests. I should buy them in bulk.

It’s only money. I’m in Florence. Que sera, as they say.

Just hand washed t-shirts and pants and draped them out the window and am lying naked on the bed in the sun. My belly is definitely much bigger than when I left Toronto. Since I have lived on bread and cheese in France, jacket potatoes and pasta in London and of course pasta and panini here, it’s not a surprise.

Que sera, as they say.

The city is stunning and overflowing with treasure in buildings, streetscapes, masterpieces of all kinds, and stuff to buy. Today Bruce and I watched a video about the flood of 1966, when the waters of the Arno rose metres high and many artworks and buildings were terribly damaged. Horrible to watch, 700 – 800 year old things covered in mud, being hauled away by the army. But they’ve done their best to restore.

There have been many magical moments here; one was yesterday evening, Bruce and I in a hotel he knows about that has a tiny bar on its roof with an incredible view of the city. We had a drink and looked at the vista while the sun set, talking to a wonderful American couple. Today we had another traveller moment – we went to eat at famous Mario’s, extremely crowded, where you eat wherever they can squeeze you in, usually at someone else’s table. They put us with a young couple who turned out to be Greek, he visiting from Athens, she studying architecture in Florence. We bonded immediately. I found out she’s 29 years old, just the age I was in 1979 when I visited both Athens and Florence. As she sat there, long glossy brown hair, lovely fresh face, unsure of her direction, I saw my young self. She asked for my FB address and has already sent a friend request.

And then – more churches, museums, piazzas, paintings, statues, ceilings, frescoes, domes – miracles of human creativity, one artifact more beautiful than the next. I love this postcard of Italian doorbells, which says it all:

Just how many geniuses could one country produce for a few hundred years? And then what happened to them all?

Today we went to Santa Croce, which was begun in 1295 and contains the tombs of many great Italians including Michaelangelo, Rossini, Galileo, Machiavelli – yes – and the divine Dante. This is a country that knows how to celebrate its poets.

And then to the market nearby, full of interesting stuff including cashmere sweaters, another addiction, which is probably where I took off my vest to try one on and not buy it. Bought a pair of socks. We had lunch at Mario’s, then Bruce pointed me to the San Lorenzo market – four million scarves and leather bags, all the same – and went home; we’re taking a break this afternoon and evening. I went to the Medici Chapel designed by Michaelangelo, incredible marble and light – 
Can’t do it justice, of course – many kinds of marble everywhere, gilt, painted ceiling. Then I went to the Duomo and saw Brunelleschi’s incredible dome. 
Everywhere, people shove their cameras in front of you and snap away, oblivious. Worse are the giant iPads that people hold up in front of everything. I’m getting to the point that I don’t want to take pictures, just to look. But I want to share what I see with you. So – dilemma.
To console myself about my vest I went to the shop Mandarina Duck, which sells beautiful, very light, good quality bags, and bought last season’s backpack for 60% off. I know, a city full of leather and I buy a black nylon backpack. It’ll last forever. Very useful for the bicycle. My souvenir of Firenze. And soon Uniqlo will come to Toronto and I’ll buy six more vests.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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