The church bell rings in perfect tune and rhythm with the buzzing vespas and chattering neighbors. It is noon time in Florence and the breeze through the windows offers a wisp of air to ease the Italian August heat wave. The heat is still minute in comparison to the Saudi sun but the breeze feels alive. I wake up, step onto the balcony that offers a picturesque view of stacked houses and distant hills, my prepared Moka (Italian coffee pot) waiting for me with a note from my sweet friend Annalisa. I enjoy with with a teaspoon of sugar, some toast, sheep’s cheese and green grapes swollen with flavor before leisurely deciding what I feel like doing today.
I have been a bit Bourdain-ish on this trip as I have been here near a week and have yet to catch more than passing glance of the Duomo and the city centre. I have made a mere passing of all the leather markets and kiosks selling all that is touristy Florence except for a 2 minute pause to grab a coin purse to keep these heavy euros in. Saudi does not utilize its coins and so I have not come prepared to tote them around.
I have had something of a greater importance on my mind. That, being above all, FOOD. Yogurt Nutella and Pistachio gelato. Napoli pizza for 3 euro with bufala mozzarella. Sweet, fire engine red tomatoes that please and tease the tongue more than any other. Yes, I have been eating my way through Florence. And I have enjoyed every succulent bite. Yes, the cobblestone streets and aged buildings with terra cotta rooftops are quaint. Yes, the churches and stone buildings that remain are awe inspiring. But, unless I already know where I’m going, my eyes are focused on the street side tables with happy diners, carafes of red wine, and signs that say trattoria. My ears await the cue of clinging silverware, plates and shouting waiters. My nose attentive to the people perched on steps, sandwiches in hand from small window stands that serve up 30+ choices of them.
And since I am staying with an Italian friend, of course I think myself to be more informed and local than these silly tourists who try to act Italian. I forge through the busy streets in annoyance to the inconsiderate shoppers who jump from one side of the street to the next in effort not to miss a single shop window rolling my eyes as if I would not be that eager tourist if I were on my own. I am also reminded that I too thought I could stylishly dazzle like an Italian and walk 30 min to dinner in my new heels, only to wind up like a Jersey shore cast member stumbling home (from blisters not booze), heels in hand with the stamp AMERICAN perfectly perched on my forehead. To top it off, mosquito bites of which followed me with my ailments from Saudi. I have 3 blisters now, again on my left leg, as ugly as the ones you have seen before. Thus, a hiatus from all of this sight seeing and tasting was necessary yesterday as my foot was too swollen to put my shoes on.
I feel old and wonder why all of these attractions have lost their luster to me. I wonder why I am so uninterested in the David or the Duomo. Then, a waft of something tasty catches my nose and my mind forgets to even give a damn about such things. I am in no hurry, I am ready to stop for un café’s, stroll aimlessly and soak up a Tuscan sun that itself smells of cured meats. And it’s a beautiful thing.
A few other pics…