Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 5- Florence & Venice

This morning, we both awoke groggy and sleepy from a poor night's
sleep. Our lovely little hostel, with it's very peachy room, is
centrally located in Florence- a beautiful thing until one attempts to
sleep and is inundated with the sounds of traffic and tourists!
However, a large, excellent breakfast by our lovely hostess refreshed
us, and we set out, backpacks strapped tightly, toward Casa di
Dante.... my little Goth is so excited! We wandered through Florence,
down side streets and past butcher shops, designer stores (Louis
Vitton and Cartier, right beside one another), and tiny little
Florentine paper shops. It took more self-restraint than was pretty to
keep myself from buying most of the shop! Other places carry the
regional Tuscan pottery, Venetian(-style, the real thing is bloody
expensive!) glass, and everywhere there are small cafes, trattorias,
and gelaterias.
The Gelato Festival is still going on- yesterday was the first day-
but since I also want to go to the tea shop here, I doubt that we'll
have time to do both. We're both still full from breakfast!
One of the things that I find charming about Florence is the plethora
of brooms. Every shopkeeper sweeps his or her little area of the
street, clearing it of the ever-present cigarette butts (Italians
smoke like chimneys!), and the dirt of a thousand tourist shoes.
While Chris looks at the Dante House, I wait at a little cafe. One
eats standing up here, and access to a table costs more. It's worth it
while I wait, though, sipping some kind of fruit juice cocktail and
watching my host, whose name appears to be Lucca, chat with Italians
and turistas alike. I'm aroun the corner from the Casa di Dante, so we
frequently see confused tourists and families of whining children,
young couples wandering and older ones strolling hand in hand. It's a
peaceful scene, and a pleasant respite.
When a truck pulled put of a neighboring building, which was currently
being worked on, I helped them move the chairs and tables (the streets
are REALLY narrow here), and then moved him back while my host helped
them make the next turn. When he turned back around, he looked
shocked. "Non! Non!" he shouted. "Sestere!" Sit! ...but he took €1
off of my table fee. I guess that's one less Ugly American here, at
When Chris returned, we decided to find the tea shop we'd passed
yesterday. After quite the wild goose chase, we found it, only to
discover that they simply sell tea- not serve it. However, I bought a
small tin of cocoa and we set out, now an hour early, for Stazione St
Maria Novella Firenze and once more attempted to find a Poste
Italiane. My Goddess the Italians wait, on average, over an hour for
device at a post office! I will rememer this the next time I am
whining about a 10 minute line!
That finally accomplished, we curled up in a corner of the Stazione
(unlike the States, there aren't benches everywhere- youre expected to
stand) and ate slices of pizza while waiting for the train.
This train was a high-speed, heading north and east at an impressive
rate, but the trees that function as sound and wind barriers also
screen the view, so while there were a few vistas of the beautiful
Tuscan countryside, mostly we saw a blur of trees and tunnels. It
provided a good opporunity to nap, though, and I arrived in Venice
groggy. We both quickly woke up to the gorgeous vista around us,
though- literally surrounded by old, old buildings, elaborately and
beautifully carved. I was reminded not to let Chris navigate, though,
as he misheard me and then got off the vaporetto- water bus- several
stops early, necessitating a wait in the damp stop.
It was drizzling when we arrived, but the grey backdrop in some ways
showcases Venice better, letting it's muted colors seem brighter
without the brilliant sky to compete. Even the water looks green and
lovely, although everything you've heard about the smell of the canals
is true.
It took a while to get to our rather out-of-the-way hostel, but it was
totally worth it.
The place is gorgeous, a big villa with an acre if green yard and a
walkway with roses, lavender, and rosemary. From the front porch, the
canals are visible, and in the back fields of various vegetables. We
paid €10 to have our laundry done, then napped before a delicious
vegetarian dinner- asparagus risotto, roasted artichokes, new
potatoes, peas, and zucchini, followed by strawberry mousse. I am so
full and so happy. OMG delicious.
Unfortunately, the wireless is a bit flakey, so I will probably just
go to sleep soon. We're both exhausted, I'd forgotten that neither of
us is 17 anymore and travelling is *hard*. Fortunately, the train to
Munich is a night train so we still have two full days in which to
explore Venezia.

The only real blasphemy is the refusal of joy. -"Jeffrey"

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