History, Recent and Otherwise

I was thinking about being sentimental. Florence after all is Radek’s favorite city in the world. It seeped into his bones when we lived here for two months five years ago. For me it’s like a brush with fame, home as it is to so many masterpieces of the Renaissance.

I’m sure I could gush on about the beauty of this place, but this trip has me feeling more practical.

Maybe it’s the need to be constantly on the lookout for a toilet for our three year old. The cry of “I need to go potty” is always well timed, usually as the bus doors are closing.

I could be that for a small, emotional child every moment of joy- from carousel rides to gelato- are met with inversely proportional moments of sadness and frustration. Reminding her of the wisdom of Tennyson (Tis better to have loved and lost…) doesn’t seem to help.

It could also be the jostling crowds. At five foot zero, I can easily get swept away by a Japanese tour group. Before I know what’s happened I’m surrounded by armpits and losing access to breathable air. Radek has suggested that I push the stroller to prevent the inevitable head-on collisions that I experience every time I try to claim my space on the sidewalk. This is not unique to Florence by the way. Despite my best efforts, people walk into me wherever I go.

Crowd walking is particularly disheartening in Florence where all you want to do is stare at the Arno river and the distant plane trees or gaze lovingly at the Duomo or the statues that line the Ufizzi. Do these things at your peril. But miss them at your great loss.

In addition to the increased crowds and bathroom vigilance, there are other observations that mark the passage of five years time. For example, the touts on Ponte Vecchio have all but abandoned the sale of knock-off purses in favor of selfie sticks. When approached, I can’t help but think that I would sooner use the device as a sidewalk defensive aid than a photography aid. However, a quick scan of the crowd in Piazza Signoria proves that I am in the minority with that opinion.

Also it took five years for Radek to muster the resolve to try a tripe sandwich. A nasty failure of both texture and flavor, we can consider that permanently checked off the to do list.

But none of that matters. It’s the feeling of being connected to the Renaissance at its epicenter that sweeps you away. It’s a deep appreciation of beauty that cuts through the noise of modern life even if it is jamming its sharp elbows into your kidney.

Which is why when I asked Radek if he’d like to be a guest blogger for this destination, his favorite city in the world, he said no. There are no words, only feelings. Sentimental but true.


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