Day 4: Thursday, September 29
In an effort at greater brevity today, I’ve decided to try and write as “Hemmingway” as I can. So here goes what will likely be a comically poor effort:
Woke in a start to coffee and family company. I made the eggs. I must say I executed perfectly. They were not quite brown, but nothing was wet or runny. Made a regular sized coffee at the apartment, thank God.
Today’s missions: 1) The Boboli Gardens; 2) The Ai Weiwei exhibit here in town; 3) Gelato; 4) Finish some gift shopping.
The Boboli Gardens sit atop a southeastern end of Florence. They are an exercise in “steady incline” walking. A large stone museum serves as their entry point. Our steady ascent brought us to some beautiful trees and hedges. Based on photographs I’ve seen, the Boboli Gardens are definitely a bit dry at present. Hardly anything remains in bloom at September’s end. And the gardeners have clearly not been around lately. Great expanses of the extensive gardens were a bit overgrown and needed some trimming. Beautiful anyway. We took in a porcelain museum on the grounds that showed off some fine china once held by the prominent families of the 17th and 18th centuries. One small bust of a man looks JUST LIKE actor Benedict Cumberbatch. My facebook and Instagram posts earlier can attest. Returning to the large building that serves as a gate to the great gardens, we enjoyed an exhibit on clothing design through the ages. It ended up being an excellent lesson in how fashion, art, and politics could collide through the centuries.
We at lunch. It included a massive cappuccino and an out-of-this-world tortellini stuffed with the perfect cheese/herb combo. It was topped with perfectly diced and marinated tomatoes (see facebook photo).
We have been intending to visit the Ai Weiwei exhibit all week. Erin, Carol, Fred and I made that day today. We entered. The same people did not emerge. It was quite moving. It was very inventive art. It was also irreverent. Ai Weiwei is a multi-talented Chinese artist. He uses multiple mediums. He has lived in the U.S. and around the world. He is a popular and outspoken dissident who has used art to make statements. He has been detained. He has been jailed at home. He has been beaten multiple times by the Chinese government. And still, Ai Weiwei speaks out. He also does so through his art. Ai Weiwei has GUTS, my friends. Moxie. Big, bad ass BALLS. Look at some of the pictures I post of his art on facebook.
Leaving the Weiwei exhibit, I was determined to eat gelato. In Italy. We went to Vivoli. My brother-in-law Rich says it is the best. Possibly the best in Italy. It was beyond delicious. It was body altering. It crashed my senses. I had Pasticcio.
On our return home, we bought additional gifts. I bought a knockoff jersey of one of my favorite French players. It was the jersey for his La Liga soccer club in Spain. I may keep it. I may give it to a friend who loves that team. I will probably give it to my friend who loves that team. That’s why I bought it.
Dinner was again a sumptuous affair. We dined at a place – let’s move beyond names. I enjoyed a ribbon pasta with boar ragu. It was meaty and scrumptious. After days of loyally sticking to bread and olive oil, I dared ask the waiter for butter. He shot me down as if to teach me a lesson about being in Italy. Fair enough. I just wanted something different.
We came home. We packed. Tomorrow – Zurich for a few hours. Then Sarajevo. Ciao!
When I was in Florence, there was a saying, said to me by several people: “The best ice cream in Italy is gelato. The best gelato in Italy is in Florence. The best gelato in Florence is at Vivoli.” My favorite was zabaglione. Yummity yum. I can still taste it! ?☀️