European Vacation ’16: Day 2 — Florence, Italy

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Day 2: Tuesday, Sept. 27

Woke up at a normal hour, which was slightly behind the first wave. Erin was going for a run for breakfast provisions with a few family members, so I asked her to get me the largest coffee possible. Ok, this is where I need to step back and explain something about the Italians – they don’t understand my coffee needs. I know, I know. You must be saying, “Todd, you arrogant American ignoramus, YOU are going to tell the Italians about COFFEE?” … Yes…. Yes I am – AS IT RELATES to my needs.

I’ve only been a coffee drinker since I was 42. I used to wear my lack of need for coffee like a badge of honor (never mind my weight gain a couple times in life due to caffeinated soda habits I later kicked). I finally tried it, and – I find plain black coffee disgusting – found it delicious so long as it was sweetened with vanilla coffee creamers, and the healthy, low-glycemic “coconut sugar” if available. If not, something sweet like Stevia in the Raw or even carcinogous Splenda. So, yeah, I don’t like bitter coffee. Bit in Italy, the real issue is portion size. Apparently, when you ask for coffee in here, you are presented with a shot glass of coffee. Really? So then one has to order either an Americano or a Cappuccino, but neither of these are served in American portion sizes. …and can I just say right now – I am normally an advocate AGAINST giant American portion sizes – but not with coffee. Anyway, Erin came back to me with a “generous” sized coffee that wouldn’t fill one of those clear plastic cups that accompanies a bottled water machine at the Dentist. With my additives, it was enjoyable. But let’s just leave it to say that when it comes to me, the Italians, and coffee – sorry friends, what can I say … I’m just a pickle. But let’s move on to important matters…

… like being a tourist!  So today was a “big art and museum day.” Some of you may have seen my facebook post earlier that included a photo of the THRONGS of tourists waiting outside the National Museum to see “The David,” Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of the man that slay Goliath. He’s nude of course. Early art loves the nude. … and really, who doesn’t?  I must say, I was impressed by the sheer size of the giant sculpture, and learned while freeloading off of English-speaking tour guides some things that soon became obvious. First, David’s hands and feet are enormous. Second, his slingshot is minimalized in importance, lightly lying over his shoulder and barely resting in his hands (You’ll see a photo of it in my facebook post, “Florence, Day 2: …”). Michelangelo even perfected the vein that starts in David’s hand and traverses up to his forearm. These images were meant to connote that David didn’t defeat Goliath with brawn, but with beauty and most important – cunning and guile (that one was for Sam Seaborn).

The National Museum also possesses scores of beautiful religious art, predominantly alter pieces from churches painted on wood panels. Many had been restored, but not recently, and the colors and gold were quite opulent looking, while others had dulled. Still – all priceless. One room specialized in plaster busts and full body cast plasters that seemed less impressive until we watched a video on how they were put together. Then again, marble they were not.

We enjoyed a SMALL cappuccino at Gilli, a restaurant a stones throw from the Savoy hotel where Rich and Carrie stayed on their Honeymoon in 2006. They remembered our server, who informed us he had been there for 32 years. For a fuller lunch, we walked over to “Yellow,” a terrific Pizza delicatessen that definitely made me feel more at home … if my home was New York. Wonderful, thin crust with ample sauce and cheese, and I opted for prosciutto toping to boot. Delicious.

From there, we took in some shopping. I opted for a bargain but stylish T-shirt with the emblem of Florence’s futbol (soccer) club, who are apparently quite good (Note to self: Check Italian League Standings). Erin helped conceptualize some ideas for gifts we could bring back to some at home. She also scored some fairly stylish clothing that I hope she actually wears back in the U.S.

In the afternoon, we had reservations at Florence’s crown jewel, The Gallery Uffizi. It was overwhelming with regard to the entrance and number of tourist groups. Between this visit and the National earlier in the morning, I don’t remember more tour group scarves, hats, and tour guide flags in my life. Inside, certain exhibits were mobbed, and a great deal of art sit atop nooks and crannies in the grand hallways, without placard attribution. It seemed in many ways disorganized. But seeing some of Leonardo’s (NOT DiCaprio) art was awe inspiring, and seeing Botticelli’s most famous works – “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring” (where the goddess “Flora” emerges!) were absolute day makers.

Tuesday night’s dinner was at a very in-demand restaurant around the corner from our apartment. Low, romantic lighting, excellent food, and casual drop-by service that allowed us to “dine.” I’m coming to find some real revelations here that I would never conceive of in your average California Bistro. Tonight, it was whole wheat spaghetti with small green beans, baby squid, and urchin. YUMMM!!!

Returned home to watch Monday’s Big Bang Theory via

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