Thursday, August 23, 2012

Home Away from Home

After a short walk up the tree-lined Viale Michelangelo, I arrived at my destination: the home of the Suore di Sant' Elisabetta, a convent and guesthouse where I have now stayed on three separate visits to Florence. My suitcase was happy to be there again!

I have loved staying here. The rooms are nice, the cost is relatively low, the breakfast room is spacious and sunny and always filled with pleasant, interesting guests. But most of all I love the sisters who live here and run the place. They are hospitality personified and full of joy. I've been here enough to recognize some, and they recognize me, and it's just so nice to go far away from home and feel right at home.

I rang the bell, and the large green gate opened. A couple of steps and I felt far away from the traffic on the busy viale. Hmm, don't know how I managed to make this picture blurry. Must be that I didn't have my glasses on, or that I was pretty tired by the time I got there?

The past two times I stayed here, I was given a very large room that opened onto a large terrace. The space was nice, and the terrace was lovely, but it faced the viale, which made for traffic noise at night. So this year I asked for a room "on the garden side," and here is what I got. A delightful small room, perfect for one person.

And the bedspread even matched my bag.

The phone quickly went on the floor, as I had no need of it, but did intend to use the desk.

The little red and white thing you see is a thingamajig that plugs in to an outlet and heats up to activate these little blue thingamajigs that you place on the top section of it. I have no idea what the little blue things consist of. Probably some chemicals, because the purpose of it is to keep mosquitoes away. The brand name is VAPE.

Mosquitoes are pretty bad in Florence. I still remember when I first moved to live in Florence, there were signs on our door reminding people to close the doors to the stairway "per via delle zanzare."  Zanzare are Italian mosquitoes. That phrase has stayed with me twenty-plus years, I suppose because I saw it multiple times every day for two years.

The fan was essential, as it did get pretty hot during my days spent here!

The image that hung above my bed.

And the wonderful, wonderful floor that I woke up to each morning!

So, I settled into my lovely little room, but not for long. I had just arrived, but I had a "date" to make pretty quickly....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


If you are waiitng for a sign that I will continue writing, this is it! But not much for tonight. Circumstances today brought up conversation about looking for signs, interpreting signs, etc., and I remembered this that I'd seen in a shop in Florence. Thought it was hilarious and had to take a picture.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday in Florence: Views from a Bus

I had originally imagined titling this simply "Friday in Florence." Then I opened my folder of photos and realized that I had 56 photos taken in the six or so hours of that first day in Florence.

Thus the subtitle. This post is limited to photos taken from the bus and a very few others.

I was smart this year and did not have a carry-on bag apart from my purse and another bag about the same size as my purse. So that meant all I had to drag around was my suitcase. Wheels make all the difference, and I still wonder why it took so many years for someone to come up with the idea of putting suitcases on wheels. At any rate, they are wonderful, those wheels. Even so, wheeling around both a larger suitcase and a smaller carry-on was a pain when I did it, so I was glad not to this time.

And it allowed me to consider the possibility of taking the bus from the train station rather than feeling like I needed a taxi.

And so I did.

Anyway, as I walked out of the station I got a nice picture of the Italian flag . . .

. . . and its accompanying electrical wire companions.

The first day I came to Florence, as a college student, our professor/director, Terry Edwards, mentioned while giving us the basic downtown tour that we might as well give up on the idea of getting a photograph with very much of the city in it, if we thought we could manage not to have a crane somewhere in the picture. Work is always going on somewhere in a city with so many older buildings to be taken care of.

So it seemed like a funny little welcome to see a crane not a minute after stepping out of the station!

Before taking the bus I did something I had never done in the 25 years I have been visiting or living in Italy-- I went to the Tourist Information Office to see what they might have. It's near the train station, but I'd never felt the need to stop in there. I'm not even sure I knew what it was, though I imagine we were told back in college.

This is what I saw as I stood in line and waited. I wish I had a view like that every time I wait in a line.

Tourist brochures in hand, I headed back toward the station, found the stop for Bus D, I believe it was. The lettered bus system is new since last time I took a bus. I didn't exactly hop on the bus, but with only the one suitcase, getting on wasn't too bad, and soon I was seated in a new-fangled air-conditioned Florence bus and enjoying the views from my window.

I hope you'll enjoy them, too.


Going down one side of the Arno after having crossed over.

And then crossing back over to the other side.

We just don't have big walls like this in Memphis.

Or big city gates like this! It amazes me that they built these so many years ago and that we just ride right by them, and under them.

I'm amazed this turned out as well as it did. We must have really slowed down turning a curve.

Yes, Roberto Benigni was in town, so I saw these signs here, there, and everywhere throughout my time there. I didn't pay to go see Benigni, however. He was performing on the square of Santa Croce church, by the way, which is why I have no pictures from that square. Normally one of my favorite places, it was covered in stadium seats, electrical wiring, staging, etc. Uglissimo! But I digress.

Because on that first Friday, I was still enchanted by the city's beauty. And surprised that my bus went right in front of the Palazzo Pitti!

Not certain, but I believe this is part if the exterior walls of the Uffizi, seen from across the river.

I was just pondering the walls and how far away from Memphis and America I felt. I was still in a city, but a very different kind of city in some ways.

And finally the bus stopped at Piazza Ferrucci, and it was time to really feel far away from home and walk the distance to my home away from home, about a quarter mile, perhaps a little more. Again I was struck by the difference in lifestyles. A quarter mile is nothing, and yet in many parts of America, we would never walk that far because our cars are in parking lots much closer than that. We hardly get the chance.

As you can see, it was a pleasant walk along Viale Michelangelo, a tree-lined avenue that goes up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. But that will wait for another post.