Firenze - Meanwhile, Back In Florence....

Trip Start Mar 03, 2005
Trip End Mar 04, 2006

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Elena and I took Melisa to the train station in the evening for her departure to Germany for Christmas. She handed me the keys, and I now have access to a shared apartment in Florence. Elena and I then headed out to grab some of Firenze's finest pizza. There is no doubt that Pizza in Italy is different to the rest of the world. It is indeed, world's apart even.

I checked out of the Hotel and into Melisa's room, sans Melisa. It is strange arriving at someone else's house, when that someone else isn't there and neither are their flatmates. I made myself at home by using the washing machine. I am house trained and will not be marking my territory by peeing in the corners.

My usual breakfast haunt is a small cafe at Via della Scala and Via Benedetta. They know me as the Australiano who has arrived every morning for the past week or two or so, for Caffe Macchiato, Cornetti and Focaccia. Late in the morning two days before Christmas, and it is rocking - actually crooning - to the sounds of Frank Sinatra and popping Champagne corks. Their Christmas party seems to be on right now, and I am caught up in it. Corks continue to pop as they pass me my regular Mortadello sandwich and a glass of Champers. The staff are already tipsy, tipping the sugar stand all over the counter. 'Buon Natale' is being shouted across the tiny place with regularity. I have finished my coffee, but they won't let me leave without another glass of Champers.

You just have to love Italy.

In the early afternoon, I headed back to my favourite building in the world, Firenze's Duomo, to climb the Dome. It is a giddy height of over 400 stairs to the roof.

Part of the way up you stop, and enter the internal 'rim' of the Dome, so you can look at the Dome's frescoes close up. Amazingly the lower seem to concentrate solely on the work on the Devil. Demons and Evil are abundant here, before further skywards the mood changes, with arch angels and more Christian types taken the stage. It is a beautiful sight, even for someone who is almost currently churched-out.

Back to the stairs, you head further upwards in spirals before appearing above Firenze, on the roof of the Dome. It is a completely calm, clear skied and chilly day. The pollution is not fantastic, but it is a mixture of some fog as well. Visibility isn't brilliant, but the nearby landmarks such as the Uffizi, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croche are clear. From the ground, the Duomo is massive. From up here it is spectacular.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent wandering more new streets and hidden alleys, and indulging back into one of my favourite Italian past times. It certainly is not the correct weather, but today old habits crept in, and I ate 3 gelatos. Gelati and cold weather do not mix. Hence you can not walk and eat now - you buy, then you reamin in the heated shop eating, before heading back into the chilled surrounds. The Caramel at 'Festival di Gelati' is god damn heavenly.

It is Christmas Eve. In keeping with the tradition I have at home, my Christmas shopping is rushed and last minute. Not many presents this year. Just some small gifts for those who have let me stay in their apartment, and for those that I will be spending Christmas Day with. I phoned home to say hello, right in the middle of Carols By Candlelight. It is cold here, warm there. Morning here, night there. It is a strange feeling being this far away.

At least I didn't have to listen to Daryl Somers sing.
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