Saturday, November 19, 2016

One Week: Three Italian Cities. . . .Photos from Florence

 We're heading back to Bordeaux today after a week in Italy, based at our daughter's home not far from Rome. These images are from the two-and-a-bit days we spent in Florence, a city that deserves much more time, a city that we're planning to return to.  Very little blogging time here (yesterday, the day after returning from Florence, we made a day trip to Naples with our son-in-law and granddaughter -- more on that later), but for now, let me tumble out some images. Above, water fountain near the Duomo. . . . below, Filippo Lippi's Madonna and Child, seen at the marvellous Uffizi Gallery. That little face, lower right. . .
 Botticelli's La Primavera. . . really something. No anticlimax in finally seeing the real thing. Astonishing. Magnificent. Etc....
 Not sure anymore. Some beautiful celing, oculus, somewhere. . .
 Sparrow on the terrace of the Uffizi Caffeteria. . .
 I'm not even sure. Presumably taking a smoke break from something performance-based, perhaps costumed for a restaurant. . .
 Inner courtyard at the I-don't-remember-but-it's-beautiful-anyway. . .
 Across the river. . . .
 Ponte Vecchio. . .
 Ponte Vechhio, the Arno, Tuscan colours, architecture, grey sky, reflections. What more could one want. . .
 Pater began taking his responsibilities as official What She's Wearing photographer a bit too seriously. We were inevitably approached by someone selling bracelets -- Mustafa, we learned shortly after this photo was taken during a surprisingly charming, if poignant, conversation in French -- Mustafa's from Senegal, he's without papers, it was his son's birthday back home, life is very tough -- and yes, yes we did, and no, I don't believe it really is silver and I know I paid too much and I really don't care. And before we insisted on buying something, he'd insisted on giving us a tiny bracelet of coloured wooden beads for each of our grandkids, and refused to accept money. Be as cynical as you can be. We couldn't. (And we usually can, usually maintain a "just say no" policy to begging, street sales pressure, etc., but there's so much misery in the midst of so much beauty, and we have so much, relatively. Small price to pay for the day's reassurance of humanity--ours and Mustafa's).
 If you've been to the Accademia in Florence, you might remember that this room, housing a huge collection of plaster casts of statuary, is just metres from that colossus of a David that must have cast its mocking shadow forward through the centuries in what Harold Bloom calls (regarding literature, specifically, the "anxiety of influence."
 I mean . . .
 Honestly, I'm still thinking about the whole experience of viewing this work in its current context, coming to it as a 21st-century viewer with experiences and expectations so different than those who initially greeted it with wonder. . .

And speaking of wonder. . . the Duomo. . . (no, we didn't climb to the top -- not so much our thing anyway, and with the overcast day, even less reason)
I have at least this many photos again, waiting to be sorted, as are my thoughts about the visit. Also a panoply of images and thoughts about Naples, or, at least, as much as I could glean about it in a six-hour visit.

Once we're back in Bordeaux, we're already into our last two weeks here. The time both has, and has not, passed quickly, in that strange distortion I always find when space and time torque themselves together. . .

And as I come to the end of my ten weeks away, I'm thinking perhaps I could expend a post or two answering any questions you might have about how or what or why this kind of travel. So if you've been wondering, now's your chance. . . Or if you just want to comment on these photos or share memories of Florence. . . I'd love to hear from you. (and I do know that I've been tardy or absent when it comes to responding to earlier comments -- it's been a tough week for that, but you should know that I've read and appreciated every single word you've left -- thank you!)

28 comments:

  1. What beautiful colours! Such richness! I wonder what Renaissance Florence would have been like. I have not been to Florence but perhaps one day...I just finished The Illegal by Lawrence Hill yesterday. The plight of undocumented people in the world is horrific. You will look at your bracelet and remember Mustafa. Enjoy your last 2 weeks.

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    1. Yes, I wonder as well -- part of what I was thinking when trying to imagine David's initial reception.
      Haven't read The Illegal yet (although I've read and taught Hill's earlier books) but I read Sunjeer Sahota's The Year of the Runaways which followed illegal immigrants in England. Horrific is right. . .

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  2. Florence is a homey sort of place isn't it? Despite its wonders.

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    1. So true, Georgia, although I wouldn't have recognised or articulated that until you wrote it. Thank you!

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  3. Lovely reminders of a beautiful intimate city. Visited before children and with our three sons. Must go back there one of these days. So much to see and do. B x

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    1. And for you, of course, it's a manageable vacation -- you're so fortunate! I really hope we'll get back someday.

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  4. I had to laugh at some of your Florence captions - the city really bowled you over, so many things to see that you can't keep up. I would love to take a trip like this, a couple of months travelling to different places, but also spending real everyday time in some of them.

    We heard so many stories about Naples from expats there - it's a real hardship posting in some ways. Looking forward to hearing more about your time there. Is your Roman family enjoying being out of the city?

    My memory of Florence is about buying a leather jacket there over 20 years ago. We were on a coach trip from Germany and had 2 nights in Florence at the end of the trip. I had saved my money for the express purpose of buying a jacket. We went into one store and I tried on several jackets, finding one that I liked. However, the price was more than I had on me. I am not good at bargaining, but this was the truth, I really didn't have enough so I kept refusing every time he brought the price down; his reason for doing so being that the original price was 'Japanese prices'! Eventually he named a price that I could afford and I got my jacket and a good story.

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    1. Yes, that's true, so much to the city! Also the fact that I was determined to get something posted during a packed-full week. Can you imagine? Maximising time with the family I won't see again until late spring. . .
      I can imagine what those stories might entail, re Naples, but I could also glimpse what rewards it might offer an adventurous soul (Carla Coulson, for example, is offering a photography workshop there that I wish I could afford, and she writes compellingly about the brilliant photos she takes there, about the city's edgy vitality)
      What a great story about your jacket -- bet you enjoyed that jacket for years...

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  5. Fantastic photos, I prefer the glimpses of corners you find to the standard "landmarks". And the fur vest., too!

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    1. Thanks, Duchesse. It's the corners that really make cities our own, isn't it?

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  6. Glad to see you expanding your horizons beyond France and of course you have the perfect opportunity with your daughter there. Interesting to see your photos. Very familiar. I've visited many times. It's one of my favourite places. Enjoy your last few weeks. I get the impression this trip has done you good and you seem very positive. Mary

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    1. Oh dear, I've somehow given the impression my horizons are limited? Even without traveling, I hope that's not so -- there are so many ways to build and maintain a broad vision right at home, aren't there? I'd love to think my own horizons were broadening with my first library card, sometime around the age of 5. . .
      It's true that we like to return to France to maintain hard-won levels of French language skills (plus we have friends here and places we love, cities we've become very comfortable in, etc.). But this was my fourth trip to Italy, lucky me, and since I started blogging, my normal Canadian horizons have also expanded to include Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany (first time, just last month) England (many times from early childhood on), Scotland, Ireland. . . as well as Washington, Oregon, California. . . You're very lucky to have visited Florence many times. I hope to get back there some day, and yes, with my daughter living in Italy, chances are good.

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    2. I suspect broadening horizons in daily life is a prerequisite to being capable of doing so while travelling. The act of travelling alone does not open the mind and the heart.

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    3. Perhaps substitute "travel zone" for horizons? Certainly don't have the impression that your horizons are limited. Seem to have struck a nerve here. Not sure what that's about but at no point was my comment intended negatively nor would I have considered that you would take umbrage. Mary

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    4. No umbrage, Mary (okay, well, perhaps a titch ;-)
      Tone is tricky in commenting, isn't it? And we bloggers walk a tricky line in representing ourselves, making ourselves vulnerable. I suppose I'm a bit protective of that representation, yes, and I want to keep it as true as I can, within the limits of privacy I've set myself. The truth is that my travel zone and my horizons have long surpassed the French borders, and I guess I just wanted to make that clear -- I'm very appreciative that you were willing to come back, read my response, and clarify. Thank you!

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  7. Florence truly is a world treasure! We spent three days there in 2011 during an unseasonably hot spring (temperatures 100+F). Looking forward to going back when the weather is cooler. I think the "don't remember" ceilings are from the Uffizi as well. Did you use an audio guide there? We found the organization of exhibits mostly without rhyme or reason, and could have used more context.

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    1. Whoa, those are high temperatures for spring, not ideal for travel! I remember reading your posts about that trip, but I might have to go back and check them out again.
      You're right, that's where that ceiling is from. No, we didn't use an audio guide, but yes, the organisation was quite frustrating -- I followed a guide on the official Uffizi website, but it was out of date and required constant adaptation. We were pleased enough, though, just to have managed several hours there, given that we only had one full day (arrived Wednesday afternoon, left Friday after lunch). We'd consider an audio guide another time, though, or even a Guided Visit (I went on one at the Borghese Gallery in September and found it worthwhile)

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  8. I love Florence and Uffici Gallery is a precious gem.
    I would like to spend more time there-I was three times but also only for a couple of days. You have a great opportunity to explore Italy,so many beautiful places.
    Enjoy the rest of your vacations!
    Dottoressa

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    1. It is a gem, isn't it? I think we were lucky, though, to see it in November. It was busy enough, but not nearly as crowded as I imagine it must be in the summer.

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  9. We went to Florence for our honeymoon so it's always had special associations for me.

    I've lost track of how much longer you've got left over in Europe but I'm curious to know whether, now that you've been travelling about so much, you would keep moving on (were circumstances to allow) or whether you'll be a little glad to get home and stay put for more than a few nights.

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    1. What a romantic city for a honeymoon!
      That's a good question, Ceri. I'm going to think about it more and see if I can develop my answer into a post, but short answer for now is that I'm beginning to want to see what I can make of our new nest in Vanc'r and that I want to get back to our family there, especially the grandkids who are growing so quickly, changing even in these months. And I need to sit and have long chats with friends. . . . but I see the possibility and the temptation for extending this time-space, this mindset, which is very much its own kind of freedom--even moving toward a certain kind of identity. Will ponder... thanks!

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  10. I should very much like to know what inspired all this travel - my theory is that we are just acknowledging our human, nomadic tendencies. And Europe is a treasure trove. We went to Florence some years ago, during a very hot summer and with two young kids - 10 and 8 - so we weren't able to do all the semi-aimless wanderings that we fancied. We considered the Uffizi but with queues of over two hours, thought we would be pushing the limits of the infant patience. Did quite a lot of ice cream, mind you. And it is beautiful, whichever way you experience it.

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    1. Another question I can use as a prompt for a future post, so will begin pondering and see if I can articulate. I love to be cosy at home, but I suppose there must be some nomad in me, yes. . . not nearly as adventurous as many, of course, as manifest in our frequent recourse to France, Europes. Oh yeah, Florence with two youngsters in a hot summer? Gelato is the obvious answer!

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  11. I thought that perhaps you were commissioned to write a story/article about living ten weeks with just a carry on suitcase? Yes I am curiouslike that! It has certainly been an adventure so far which I have enjoyed sharing.

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    1. Oh Jenny, that would have been a fun piece to write, but no, no commission. Just my own commitment to keep traveling luggage-light. I'm glad you've enjoyed sharing the adventure.

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  12. You are reminding me of my trip to Florence when I was 20. Haven't been back since. I think you appreciate it so much more now than I did then. Thanks for letting me see it through your eyes.

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    1. Yes, imagine if we could have that youthful energy and insouciance mixed with the perspective and experience we've gained since as travellers. Having seen the city at that age, though, will somehow have shaped many things you've seen since, I'd expect.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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