Home Diaries Best Pictures Road Trip
August 10, 2003
Dear Friends and Families,
After six weeks on the road, 7-days-a-week, 24-hours a day, Marianne and I split up and we didn't like it. I had to go back to Frankfurt on business for a few days, so we needed to be apart. Marianne chose to be "parked" in Florence because we'd become familiar with the town and there was still plenty to see.
Our drive up from Perugia was uneventful, mostly autostrada and autostradas or autobahns or freeways are unremarkable, no matter where they are. Difficulty is always expected when we try to get into the center of town, particularly in old Florence, where car traffic is limited. We made a couple runs into the old part of town in search of Marianne's hotel but eventually gave up, parked outside the old center, and called the hotel for specific directions. Armed with clear but complicated instructions, we headed toward a parking lot not too far from the hotel.
It is intimidating driving on small, tourist-filled streets, making turn after turn, hoping we hadn't mixed up the no-car areas with the OK-if-going-to-hotel areas. Marianne is the driver in situations like this and I pretend to navigate. Mostly I pray. Whatever, it worked and we found ourselves in a small parking lot with just one place left. (Some people may wonder why we report on so mundane a subject as finding a parking place. Those people have not driven in Florence.)
We unloaded trunks and walked the two blocks to the hotel. It turned out to be a very nice small hotel, a block from the Duomo. Marianne was set, except for the one night where the good hotel was full and they sent her to a struggling neighbor.
Now we had to find reliable parking for our car, since the hourly-pay lot we were in was not too secure. This search-for-parking turned out to be even harder than our original one. The narrow streets were more crowded with tourists and our paths were continuously blocked by no-car signs (and posts and chains). Even though we were becoming comfortable ignoring the authorized-cars-only signs, we could not seem to get close to the hotel's recommended lot. Finally, we concluded that we'd be better off going to the airport, parking there, and taking a taxi back. The problem then was that we couldn't find the way out of the twisty old-town roads.
At the last minute, we spotted an underground parking lot with a sign saying they had space! Down the driveway and inside we found ourselves surrounded by all the expensive cars one does NOT find parked on the Florence streets. This was the Park Avenue of garages, but we were not in the frame of mind to worry about price, so it suited us just fine. Once again, the car slept better than we did.
That evening, I took a taxi to the Florence airport. The airport was a reminder of just how small the city must be because the airport was about the size of the Lynchburg, Virginia airport back at company headquarters.
Arriving in Frankfurt, I have to admit the place felt like home, except our Frankfurt home had never been as warm as this. When I arrived at 11pm, our apartment was still like an oven. Candles had softened and drooped in their holders. At work the next day, I learned that all the local residents had drooped too. Germans are generally sun-worshippers, but they all had concluded that this summer had been too much. Over the next five days, I joined this conclusion, especially in our non-air-conditioned apartment, where sleep was hard to come by before midnight.
Meanwhile, Marianne was enjoying a hotter city, but a nice air-conditioned bedroom. She managed to work in some more tourist stops as well as "normal maintenance". One feature of long-duration travel is the search for haircuts and such. Marianne found a place to give her a cut and color and she was reasonably happy with the results. She also found a place for nails so she was up-to-date, maintenance-wise. (Some people may wonder about the need to report these mundane details, but those people don't know Marianne.)
For part of the stay, the Casellis joined her. Along the way, they toured San Crocce church, with its tombs of the famous (Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, Macchiavelli, Rosselini, etc.) They toured the Casa Buonarroti, where Artemisia Gentileschi, the first female member of the Accademia, had painted one of the famous 15th Century ceiling panels. Marianne and Adrienne had just read the story of the famous artist, so they were thrilled to be able to see a detail from the very book.
As for other highlights, Marianne's diary prominently notes gelato from Vivoli. She wrote that it probably was the best gelato in Florence (and, of course, Florence has the best gelato in all of Italy.) The chocolate with orange chunks was wonderful and the rice-flavored gelato was perfect. Really. We've become so addicted that we'll surely go through withdrawal after we return north.
On Sunday morning, I flew back and taxied into town. Marianne packed up, we rescued our car, and we headed north to the Veneto region. We had scratched Venice from our itinerary because of heat and crowds, but we still wanted at least a sampling of another part of Italy. However, that's another story.
Regards and remember, parking and getting good hair color can be key to successful travel.
John and Marianne
This was the view
from the roof garden of the hotel where the Caselli's
stayed. The Casellis at
dinner. Michelangelo's tomb
at San Crocce. The ceiling at San
Crocce, including the della Robbia tiles in the
dome. Gelato - the real
reason we spent so much time in Italy. Lines - the real
reason we gave up on Venice and any other tourist spot in
the middle of summer. This particular line was the entrance
to the Duomo. We avoided this line simply by showing up
properly dressed at the right time to attend church
parking picture. This place cost 40% as much as Marianne's
hotel room - and was probably equally clean.
This was the view from the roof garden of the hotel where the Caselli's stayed.
The Casellis at dinner.
Michelangelo's tomb at San Crocce.
The ceiling at San Crocce, including the della Robbia tiles in the dome.
Gelato - the real reason we spent so much time in Italy.
Lines - the real reason we gave up on Venice and any other tourist spot in the middle of summer. This particular line was the entrance to the Duomo. We avoided this line simply by showing up properly dressed at the right time to attend church services.
Another parking picture. This place cost 40% as much as Marianne's hotel room - and was probably equally clean.
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