My third stop in Italy was going to be beautiful Lake Como, I admit in part because it’s been the filming location for several beautiful scenes, including the wedding in Star Wars Episode II.
That bucket list wish will have to wait for next time (sigh, I hope). I’d loved the buzz of Venice and Rome so much that I changed my plans last minute and got on a train to Florence instead.
The Tuscan home of food, architecture and art rings true to its reputation with countless rustic restaurants, amazing galleries and the famous cathedral’s red Duomo. Combining the first and the last, I took to sitting in front of the unusual pink, white and green church at night, munching on a Sicilian cannoli (my number one recommended Italian dessert. I’m serious, go find one!)
For my fill of Florentine art, it had to be David. We’ve all seen Michelangelo’s masterpiece a dozen times, and there are several replicas around the city, so you may be surprised how much the original manages to enthral. You walk up to the confident, strong warrior the postcards always show, but circle around to face him and David’s expression is one of worry and fear much more fitting for a young man facing a giant. Beautiful.
Never content with the tourist offering, I trekked across the city for lunch at a local marketplace. What a find, with its shouting locals offering truffles and cow’s heads, just the way you’d expect from Tuscany. At the little restaurant inside you sit down beside whoever else is wolfing down some of today’s dishes, as the usual big jug of wine gets passed around. How the owners always know how many glasses to charge you, I have no idea.
I sit with a British couple that has long since taken the plunge and bought a house here. They try to decide which gelato place to recommend and argue in that typical Italian way – expressive but never really angry. I have no problem seeing how one could want to start a life here.
I leave Italy with a bucket load of photos and even more memories of places and moments I shared with no one but loved even more for it perhaps. My head is heavy with the thought that the specific magic of a trip can never quite be expressed and I’m alright with that.
*copyright Elna Schütz 2014*