Stairs, stairs everywhere
Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
35Trip End Dec 29, 2006
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We overslept so we did not have a chance to feed Collette before reaching the Academy for our 9am reservation. This translates to her acting more like a frightened squirrel than a human being. Trying to maximize our time before meltdown we hurried past the achievements of Western civilization much too quickly. The rooms were full of large colorful oil paintings. The order usually went, angels helping Mary, angels buzzing Christ, bloody Jesus, Fat Angels throwing flowers, really bloody Jesus, serious guy and so on. Collette commented about the religious gore by saying," He has lots of owies, on his hands and on his feet"
I feel bad that I am relatively ignorant of the art that is constantly being displayed in front of us. Part of the fault lies in my own laziness and part is due to the constraints that traveling with a three year old puts us under. For an extended stay in Europe we have been relatively museum free which is good and bad. No matter my level of appreciating the arts I still feel it's superior to the two teenage American girls who stood in front of David and then pronounced," now let's go around and look at his ass."
We walked into the splendor of the Duormo and looked up at the immense colorfully painted dome. Collette was again running around liked a half tamed animal. Luckily the church was barren with no furniture or anything else she could break but she could still run into tourists and lay on the ground in front of the entrance or exit
I firmly cradled her in my arms and began climbing. The first set of stairs was a spiral stair case. Not too bad. Then the stairs open up some but were steeper and were broken up with small landings. Some of the landings had small displays in them such as the mechanism of a bell. At one such landing I stopped huffing in front of a few statues with my sweaty shirt clinging to my back. A young American couple came up behind us. I could hear him taking in deep breaths. He looked at me and said, "You are my hero, I told my girlfriend that there was somebody up ahead of us carrying somebody else." I mumbled something noncommittal in response but secretly liked his comment very much and it rejuvenated me to tackle the rest of the stairs
After ward I commented to Christy that it was a very American thing to climb to the top of the dome. Americans relish challenges and link the quality of the person to the accomplishment of tasks, especially physical ones. They need to prove their worthiness and if the stair went nowhere except to a sign that read "Congratulations, you have just climbed 463 stairs." Most Americans would consider that a healthy pursuit. In my mind I didn't want to be that shallow but was honest enough with myself to know that I was. I was proud I lugged Collette to the top and it added to the sweetness of the view and anybody who can't climb 463 stairs, barring a handicap, is a loser. 1
The overall feel of Florence was not one to put us at ease. A bloody history had dictated that the city was built like a fortress. The three to four story buildings had no space between them, thus allowing an enemy no point of entry. The net effect was less sunshine and a lack of feeling of being outdoors. Along the sidewalks I had to drive the stroller like a third world bus because they were so narrow and crowded. We did find a park but it was some distance away from the center of town, and because I had a cold I did what any homeless person would do and fell asleep on the park bench
However, every morning we went to an enjoyable café that had both excellent pastries and coffee. The "Mama" who owned our room had seen Collette several times. She, as is the case with many Italian woman and some men, liked to let her hand wander through Collette's hair and say, "Ciao Bella" and rub her head like a huge good luck charm. Collette used to cringe like a soldier in combat looking for a source of cover but now she is a little better and every so often, after some prompting, squeeks out a "Ciao". Our room is often a complete mess and since we stay in "unique" places nobody usually cleans them. We left in the morning to see the sites and upon our return we saw that "Mama" had not only cleaned up Collette's toys but had tucked monkey, horse and kitty snugly into bed. We had our own fairy godmother-- somebody was watching out for us. Gratzie Mama.
Traveling is like reading a good book. The language is difficult, the vocabulary challenging and it takes great effort and will to finish. One seldom laughs out loud or seems amused during the process but in the end, life is richer and one could never image a time in their lives without that experience or book. Florence reminded me most of this. It did not put us at ease or relax us but nonetheless the sites could not have been missed and our lives would be poorer without the vast experiences and exotic memories Florence gave us.
1. That's you Javier.