My Italian Adventure
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CHAPTER 25 LOCATION: Florence SUBJECT: Forward to Florence
 

Typical Florence
The buildings are high and close together, the streets dark, narrow and winding.

O Mio Babbino Caro
(from Gianni Schicci by Giacomo Puccini)

O mio babbino caro,
mi piace è bello, bello;
vo'andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l'anello!
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare!
e se l'amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno!
Mi struggo e mi tormento!
O Dio, vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!

~ ~ ~

Oh dear daddy
I love him, he is so handsome
I want to go to Porta Rossa
to buy the ring
Yes, yes, I want to go there
And if my love were in vain
I would go to Ponte Vecchio
and throw myself in the Arno
I fret and suffer torments
Oh God, I would rather die
Daddy, have pity, have pity!

After four days in Rome, I felt pressure to get moving, but to where? I hadn't expected to like Rome, after all the stories I had heard about its noise, dirt, crowds and crime. But in spite of all those things, Rome surprised me, and my departure was reluctant--I felt I had barely scratched its marbled surface.

Faced with the decision of my next destination, I struggled. Finally I asked myself if my trip were to end suddenly, which place would I be saddest to have missed?

Florence, without a doubt. I had dreams of Florence ever since I first saw Room with a View, the sweet, funny and romantic movie based on the E.M. Forester novel. Seeing myself as a modern-day Lucy Honeychurch, I boarded the train bound for Firenze.

About a half an hour outside of the city, I put in my minidisc recording of the Room with a View soundtrack. As Puccini's adagio O Mio Babbino Caro swelled in my head, my eyes filled with the beauty of the Tuscan landscape speeding by. The train was full of travelers, but I was alone in my emotion, tears silently streaming down my face. As no one took any notice of me, I had to conclude that this sort of thing happens all the time, and the locals are just used to it by now.

It was just after noon when the train pulled in to the station (a functional, modern affair that will win no beauty contests) and I quickly made my way in my usual fashion (Step 1. Ask directions. Step 2. Follow directions. Step 3. Realize I'm lost. Step 4. Repeat steps 1-3 until arrival at destination.) to the place my guidebook Hostels France & Italy recommended.

I joined a growing line of road-weary souls waiting for the hostel doors to open, knowing it was first come, first served. I passed the time chatting with the others assembled, and when at last we were admitted and I was assigned a bed (Oh, sweet relief!).

After quickly stowing my stuff, I headed for the lobby, where I met one of the guys from the line outside. He said that he had been in Florence just three weeks before and knew his way around the sights. Would I like to join him and a couple others for a walk around the city?

An International Trio on the Ponte Vecchio
None of us had met before, but these fine fellows (from Boston, Slovenia--or was it Slovakia? and Costa Rica) and I joined forces for an afternoon of Florentine sightseeing.

Next: Stepping on History

 
 
 
 
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