Bed bugs, the
Trip Start Aug 21, 2004
50Trip End Mar 03, 2005
I managed to pickup a doozy of a bug (not the bitting type) and didn't sleep very much the first night. The next day my head was full of foam and I wandered around the city. We checked out the Duomo which is constructed of pink, white and green veined marble. I ate more foccacia and re-started my habit of drinking real strong espresso. Michal fancied the cappuccino. Nothing like coffee in Italy, eh? We met up with Michal's childhood friend, Mindy, and two of her friends, Katie and Audra(sp?). I tried to get better and rest, but grew restless and did yoga in the room. It was the first time I've practiced in a while and it felt great. Later on, the five of us met up for our Italian dinner. Michal and I have been going over budget on accommodations, so we've only sat in restaurants 3 times the whole trip. Dinner was OK as was the wine. The ladies wanted to go out to some club later that night; I too wanted to be sociable and decided that I wasn't gonna feel any better, so I might as well enjoy more wine. We stopped off to get some Gelato for dessert. (think Ice Cream but richer) Somehow, Katie asked for Grande, and unknowingly received a cone with gelato and two wafers piled high. The thing weighed at least 3-lbs and was as big as my head.(picks to come soon) In fact, it was bigger than most of our dinners. She also got charged 12€ ($15...Definitely ripped off, but we had a good laugh. Shortly thereafter, we bought several bottles of red, and sat on a bridge overlooking the Arno river. The streets were full of people, we drank, and chatted and laughed a lot. I spoke broken spanish to some (Disgusting, Michal says)Italians who didn't stand a chance with the ladies, and he replied in broken spanish and Italian. I felt that I was doing well and communicating, but then I couldn't understand anything. I blame it on the wine. We decided against the club and called it a night. Needless to say, I had no trouble sleeping, but I was up at 6:30am.
The day was good for me but hard too. It was the first time since I left Atlanta, where I had doubts about the whole thing. About lasting 4 months on the road and 2 more living outside of the country. I tend to get really overwhelmed when I'm sick, so that definitely set the framework for my troubles that day. But, I dealt with it, talked to Michal, and decided to just keep on taking things as they come. Isn't this the way we should live every day?
6:30am i'm up. My head is full of snot, so I don't think I'm hung over? We get out of the Witches den and trek over to the train station. Dump bags. Buy Food. Get on Bus. Destination: San Gimignano.
San Gimignano rises on a hill (334m high) dominating the Elsa Valley with its towers. Once the seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (200-300 BC) it began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, St. Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes. The town increased in wealth and developed greatly during the Middle Ages thanks to the "Via Francigena" the trading and pilgrim's route that crossed it. Such prosperity lead to the flourishing of works of art to adorn the churches and monasteries. In 1199 it became a free municipality and fought against the Bishops of Volterra and the surrounding municipalities. Due to internal power struggles it eventually divided into two factions one headed by the Ardinghelli family (Guelphs) and the other by the Salvucci family (Ghibellines). On the 8th May 1300 Dante Alighieri came to San Gimignano as the Ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany. In 1348 San Gimignano's population was drastically reduced by the Black Death Plague throwing the city into a serious crisis which eventually led to its submission to Florence in 1353. In the following centuries San Gimignano overcame its decline and isolation when its beauty and cultural importance together with its agricultural heritage were rediscovered. The construction of the towers dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries. The architecture of the city was influenced by Pisa, Siena and Florence. There are 14th century paintings of the Sienese School to be seen and 15th century paintings of the Florentine School
The wine was very cheap so Michal picked up a couple of bottles. They also had the most extensive selection of sausages I've ever seen so I had to buy 100g of Wild Boar meat.
We also checked out this pretty disturbing museum called the Museum of Torture. Despite the disturbing nature of the exhibit,(lunch was AFTER)the museum had several pluses.
1) It was small enough that I could see everything, and that gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.
2)It had artifact descriptions in many languages including English!
It had many authentic and recreated instruments of torture, but also copies of old paintings, engravings and wood cuttings depicting the events. I also learned some neat and useless trivia. Did you know that Edison, while competing against Westinghouse for patents on electricity, submitted documents describing the danger of AC current after testing it on guinea pigs? (Edison was plugging for DC) Guess what happened next? The government said "thanks" and used the AC technology in the Electric Chair. Thank god I was born in the 20th century, cause some of histories torture methods seemed rather unpleasant. I had a favorite though...The victim had his legs put into stocks (wood block with holes) so that he couldn't move them. His feet were then soaked in salt water. A goat, who had been deprived of water for several days, was brought over to the victim's feet and tied to a tree. Apparently the licking continued all the way down to the bone! Goats must have strong tongues!
We came back to Florence and got onto a train for Rome. Aparently some big event (unknown to me now) is going on tomorrow, and there will be lots of parties and celebration. MTV europe is sponsoring a free show with 4 DJ's right by the train station (and our bedroom window). It should be an interesting night!