The Italian Job Pt.2 – Cultural life in Florence

December 16, 2012 in Europe, Italy

We didn’t sleep more than 4-5 hours that night as we arrived so late to Massimo´s  Italian friend Andrea and his house which is settled in the Tuscany country side a bit outside Florence.

We managed to have a quick shower and change clothes before we started loading up the little car, a Renault Clio, with Me, Massimo, Anna, the two dogs as well as a new passenger that looked a bit sceptical when she saw the car.
It was a Chinese girl who had CouchSurfed with Andrea that night and that Massimo had promised to give a lift into the train station in Florence.  It was a little bit tight but we all fit in and the drive headed towards Florence which we reached in after about 45 minutes. We parked the car in the public parking lot outside the central station and unloaded the dogs at the same time we said goodbye to the Chinese traveller who looked a little bit lost as they usually do in my opinion.

We walked up and through the central station and as we were passing people they were usually turning their heads to look back at us, not because Me or Massimo are so good looking, that is an attribute reserved by Anna, but the fact that she was walking with the dogs and if you have ever seen one Czechoslovak Wolfdog up close you know why they are called wolfdog. The resemblance of a wolf is very striking. This is at the same moment that I managed to snap one of my favourite photos from this whole trip which made me smile and chuckle a bit at the same time.

How fast can they drive with the blue light flashing?

How fast can they drive with the blue light flashing?

The Italian police had a golf car to their disposal at the train station.
Now, seriously?
A golf car just for the sake of having a transportation and they would not be able to walk the distant around the station? As well as a blue flasher on the roof.
How fast could they drive with it?
I was dying to have answers to all my questions however that would never be provided.

We headed to a small cafe where we had a minor breakfast and I ran into the pharmacy right next door as we had been invited for dinner at Andreas parents place the same evening. Problem for me is that they own cats and I am allergic to cats so I decided not to gamble and go for the safe alternative.

The weather was quite nice actually. It was a bit cloudy but not too cold nor too warm even thought it was 1st September and the start of autumn. We were walking towards a gelateria that Massimo had promised to take us to as he claimed it was very famous for its gelato. Suddenly a drop fell from the sky closely followed by two drops that turned into four and then ten and it started to rain a bit. People were running around on the square and we managed to get to the gelateria without too much of water damages. We ordered some gelato and hoped that the rain would pass as we consumed the masterpiece by Italian Grom which is apparently also exporting their products to Japan of all the places on the earth.
I must confess that it was good but not as impressive as the one I have had in Sicily for two years in a row now. Nothing can probably beat that.

Working that gelato magic

Working that gelato magic

As we were sitting and eating we were looking at the people running around outside like headless chickens to escape the rain that had intensified a bit. We saw all the people of Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern origin running past us to a specific store where they picked up more umbrellas to sell to all the tourist. Suddenly this trick had turned into a goldmine and they sold off the 5 Euro umbrellas faster than they could supply them. We finished the gelato and at the same time the rain had slowed down a little bit and we made a collective agreement of trying to push through to a better shelter. We managed to come some 50 meters before the sky opened totally and a rain of biblical proportions now hit the streets trapping Massimo, Anna and the dogs by a shop window that barely provided shelter.

People were lining up against the walls with their colorful 5 Euro umbrellas trying to save themselves from the rain. Asians and Indians came running by with umbrellas in their hands trying to sell me one and when I politely said “-No, Thank You” they looked at me as if I was crazy or had offended them the deepest. One of the Asians decided that he would manage to convince me to buy his umbrella. He utterly failed and gave up after 10 minutes. When the rain finally slowed down as much that it allowed you to walk on the streets again without being beaten down by the heavy drops, we headed towards the political and cultural center of Florence, Piazza della Signoria.

This is where all the magnificent sculptures and statuses are lined up as well as the Loggia dei Lanzi creating an open air museum including my favourite sculpture from 1554, Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus with the head of Medusa. This statue is almost 460 years old but still standing for generations to come to see it. Amazing. As well as the copy of David by Michelangelo. Is this culture? You bet. In its finest? I believe you can not get more cultural than this.

Perseus with the head of Medusa

Perseus with the head of Medusa

As we continued following our steps down through the courtyard of The Uffizi Gallery the rain picked up again. Yet again we stopped to wait out the rain under the arches of the gallery and I decided to snap away a few shots of Anna walking with the dogs as they fit her very well and Anna not being late to pose as model didn’t make the job any harder.
When the weather stabilized we moved on and went round what was left to see in Florence but as we now had been out walking for a few hours we started to get a bit tired and a bit hungry. We took the car on top of a hill to see the city from above and get a bit of distance to the city as Massimo was also meeting up with his friend who would  take over the dogs as we had taken this whole trip just to deliver the dogs.  Fortunately the weather stayed stabilized so we could get some nice views and shots of the city. We were not alone and several tourists did all the funny poses they could as people either filmed them or photographed them.

A few hours later we met up with Massimo´s friend in the outskirts of Florence and handed over the dogs before heading back to met up with Andrea and his parents for the evenings dinner. It was explained to me that Andrea didn’t drink wine before he met Massimo some 4 years ago. Andreas father is a former bank man meaning he had received a lot of wine bottles from colleges and customers during the years and as his son didn’t drink wine and his wife don’t like wine he had just stored them as he didn’t want to drink alone. Suddenly Massimo appeared in Andres life and thought him how to drink wine since Massimo is a wine lover which also gave Andreas father the pleasure of finally starting to drink of all the wines that had been collected over decades. I don’t drink wine myself but I could not pass up the opportunity to get the bragging rights and say that I had tasted a wine from 1969 so I had a sip and it was as expected – awful.

A few of the bottles

A few of the bottles – 1969 on the second row to the right

Cheezes...

Cheezes…

The food served was amazing and followed up with cheese, chocolate and other deserts.
Knackered as I was after so little sleep I felt my eyelids turning heavier and heavier and I decided to call it a day and went to sleep.