Firenze, as always, exudes excitement, activity and a sense of wonder. Even though today the streets are full of banner carrying tour guides, a multitude of languages, expensive stores and sidewalk imitations, the mystic of the middle ages and the Renaissance dominates. We were there for three days, exploring and experiencing.
Ken and I have been in this city before, spending days wandering alleys, museums, palazzos and piazzas--as well as dining in simple trattories and elegant ristorantes. So this time was for Casey, with one of the big attractions being Michelangelo's David. Little eight your old that he is, he was properly impressed with all aspects of this spectular statue--including being "grossed out" by seeing the "privates"--as well as all the naked lady statutes. We were impressed by Casey because he spent a long time just staring and paying attention to the details of the statue--the large hands, the detail of the veins and nails, the abs, the sling--all of it. This was at the Accademia Museo where David reigns but then several times Casey wanted to return to Piazza Vecchio to see the replica outside the Palazzo. Of course, he came home with a little plaster of paris statue to add to his collection of treasures.
Speaking of the Palazzo Vecchio--we took a special tour designed to appeal to children but also interesting for adults. There was only one other couple on this tour so it was like having a private guide. The intrigue is that you get to go through secret passages which is fun. Other tourists would see the door open out of the map cases, etc, as we went through and you knew they were all wondering why we got to do this and they didn't.
At the end of this journey we had an audience with Duchess Eleanor of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I who royally sat with "the savages from the New World", asking us questions and allowing us to question her. Perhaps--no definitely--the most entertaining part was when Eleanor's servant brought out a mannequin of a young prince to show what a codpiece was and explain why and how all the males wore them. Just take a moment to imagine the reaction of an 8 year old. It was priceless--and continued to be last night when he went to sleep still giggling about it.
One of the highlights of the excursion for Casey and for Ken and me, too, was meeting a family that I have known via the internet ever since we began planning our adventure in Italy. Ellen, Anthony and their two girls preceded us by a year on this same journey and so have been an invaluable resource. Many times I have e-mailed Ellen asking her about this and that detail and she always provided the answers.
They settled in Firenze and have now extended what was to be a year into at least one more. Daughter Jane is 8 and in the terzo elementare (3rd grade) just like Casey and Alice is a couple years younger. The three children became immediate friends--running around Piazza Santa Croce while we were having lunch at one of the restaurants on the piazza. Since they had lived on the piazza last year, they know all the store keepers, sidewalk artists, and waiters there and so we felt perfectly safe letting them just enjoy themselves without our constant supervision. Ken and I enjoyed Ellen and Anthony and look forward to spending more time with them.
After lunch we all enjoyed the obligatory afternoon gelatos and then Casey went to the girls apartment to play for a while. Ken and I actually had time to ourselves--and then couldn't figure out exactly what to do. We wanted to go to the Orsanmichele but it was closed. So we settled for a table on the Palazzo Vecchio, sipped soft drinks and watched the parade pass by. It was a nice interlude for us. And we really appreciated Ellen's offer to give us some time alone.
The girls and their parents now have an apartment in a very old palazzo behind the Uffizi Museum. This allows them to be a real part of the frenzy that is Firenze. We enjoy the quiet of the Chianti but in some ways I think the experience of living in the city (this city) would be unbeatable--maybe next year????
We ended the time there with Casey's first visit to his Italian orthodontist who seems to be very nice--but costly. Dottore Floria is working with Dr. Hirsh in San Diego to continue with Casey's current treatment--an appliance to move his lower jaw out in preparation for the braces to follow.
So--we had a good time introducing Casey to a special city and hope he will always remember his first time there--good food, delectable gelato, museums, cod pieces and naked statues.
Today Casey is at his first day of school--I will report on this in tomorrow's installment.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.