Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Monday in Italy
Our guide wanted us to experience an Italian city that did not rely entirely on the tourist trade, so on the way to Florence we stopped in Bologna. The surprising discovery to me was the fountain and statue of Neptune in the main square—it was exactly like the one in the city center of Palos Verdes Estates where I grew up! I knew that the fountain of my childhood had come from Italy and was an exact replica, but to come across the original by chance was very fun. I hate to drone on about the food, but the mushroom risotto I had for lunch was the creamiest and most delicious rice dish I had ever had. Another highlight was Foucault’s pendulum, which he used to prove that the Earth rotates. Jim would have really liked it, so it made me miss him. The beautiful 24 hour Renaissance clocks in the cathedrals and the many sundials also remind me of him. He loves time instruments.
We arrived in Florence and took a 2 hour walking tour of the city. This is the home of the powerful Medici family, and also of Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo. It is the home of Galileo and the author of Pinocchio. Little Pinocchio marionettes abound. Art is everywhere, from the beautiful white, pink and green marble cathedral to the beautiful statues and fountains in the piazzas. Because there is so much to see, and only two days in which to do it, it feels overwhelming. It would be like allowing two hours to see Disneyland your first time. I must come back.
Bits of trivia: In Italy they call him Napoleon “Malaparte” instead of Bonaparte. Italian students don’t do week long tours. Our guide says it’s because Italian students misbehave and are disrespectful. Most hotels won’t accept groups of Italian students for this reason.