Statues and Stories

Well! I just got home from Firenze… wow. We only spent one night there but don’t worry, we got a lot done, although we did not do the typical Florentine weekend.

So, let’s see… from the beginning, as per usual… there were no bus or train problems this time, thank goodness. We got into Firenze around 11:00, and finding the bus to the street our hostel was supposedly on was not easy. But we found it, after a lot of walking… fortunately, my Italian has gotten good enough to find out where things are and understand the response, so the bus driver let us off where we needed to be. We found the hostel, but actually, it was just the office. Giovane, the owner, spoke no English, but fortunately, somehow, I was able to chatter along with him as he walked us to our “room.” I was so focused on chatting that I didn’t even realize that where he was walking us to was the center of the historical district. He unlocked a door and we started walking up the stairs in a nice building, and I kept wondering if he was in the right place… but we came to the top and he walked us into a beautiful, spacious, sun-filled apartment that was clean, and had a bathroom with a shower with a DOOR, and MIRRORS! This, by the way, was the first time I’d seen a full-lenth mirror since I’ve been here… anyway, so we go into our bedroom and look out the window, and what’s outside? THE DUOMO. I could have thrown a baseball and hit it. Well, maybe not me, as stellar of a baseball player as I am… but someone who actually is somewhat experienced with a throw-able object could definitely hit it. Amazing. 20 Euro a night. Giovane was sweet; a bit on the flirtatious side but almost in a fatherly way… he hugged me and wouldn’t quite let go when he left us there. Kind of weird, but… whatever. He was nice. And he gave us a beautiful, cheap room. And don’t worry, no credit card problems- they only take cash.

Moving on… we dropped our stuff off and walked about a block and found the doctor’s office. Dr. Kerr, a British man married to a Florentine woman, was very kind and obviously brilliant, but took one look at my symptoms and called up a neurologist friend of his, who said he would see me that afternoon. Anna and I found a bus and took it way out of the city to the hospital, where, through a lot of question-asking, we found him, and he did some basic tests and then said he thought I was homesick, and asked me if I wanted to go home, to which I gave him a somewhat disgusted look and said, “Uh, no…” and then he mentioned that my blood tests indicated a bit of anemia. Which could explain all of my symptoms. Duh.

So he gave me a creatine supplement to help me get stronger, and today I actually felt better than the whole time I’ve been here. He said I need to start eating meat again. Great. So anyway, after the doctor, we found our way back to the city and walked around a bit, shopped, got dinner, and by that time, we were exhausted.

This morning, we got up early and got a latte and croissant and found the market in San Lorenzo. Wow. I loved it. So much to look at, and buy… I got a cute black peacoat for pretty cheap, and bought some gifts for people who have birthdays soon (that being my sister), and then we continued on to the Ponte Vecchio. It was beautiful, and so was the River Arno, but it wasn’t as stunning as I thought it’d be. I don’t know. The history is neat, and the fact that it is the only bridge in Firenze that Hitler spared is interesting. The view from the Ponte Vecchio is gorgeous though. Anyway, as soon as you cross it, it is much calmer… we found a sidewalk cafe and had a good lunch, if a bit overpriced, beside the Palazza Pitti museum. I didn’t know what to expect in this museum; we just wanted to go to the costume gallery, mostly.

So we go in and we see that there are some gardens, and we’re trying to use up some film for photography class, so we decide to head up and see them because they’re probably cool. Well. Oh. My. Gosh. This was my favorite part of Firenze… in fact, it was my favorite part of ITALY. I cannot WAIT to return here with my family and even spend an afternoon maybe. These gardens just went on and on… they were exactly what you think of when you think old, old Italian wealth… palatially enormous, green, marble stairs and statues that are so artfully dirty that the dark streaks on them could easily be their very tears… and they just kept getting better. Just when you think you couldn’t possibly go any higher, you climb another set of steps and find yourself in a new courtyard. Finally we come up to the highest point and my eyes filled right up. We were on the edge of the world.

Tuscany in all its glory was in front of me. The green, rolling hills; the hauntingly secretive cyprus trees; a few well-kept manors and castles with smoking chimneys… it was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since I’ve been here. It was hard to leave. I will go back. I cannot wait. And I cannot wait to see my mom and dad and Liz and Grant see this place. I thought of them the whole time… it just… gosh. I can’t even describe it. I have some pictures, they don’t do it justice.

Anyway, finally we found the costume gallery (no easy task– the palazzo has 6 or 7 different museums IN it)… this was incredible. There were original, real Medici family clothing items… granted, they were very deteriorated but they gave an excellent ideal of medieval clothing. Incredible. And it was just room after room of the most exquisite dresses, worn by exquisite people. It was hard to take in.

We had to tear ourselves away and headed back to the city center. No, we didn’t see the David (I want to do that with my family) or the Accademia or the Uffitzi… we had a unique trip that I wouldn’t trade for anything, although I do plan on going back and seeing a lot more things. However, I left out something cool that happened last night. We were walking home and saw this church with open doors… no famous church, just a pretty one, and we heard music. It was quite dark inside but we wandered in anyway. There were a few people praying, but mostly there was just this incredible organ player and this wonderfully warm candle light. There was a donation jar for the organ; I think they wanted to restore it. And even though I’m not an excessively religious person, and I’m certainly not Catholic, this church just affected me. I can’t really put it into words, but I know I will never forget it. What is it about the churches and Cathedrals here? Why can’t I walk into a church in America and get that feeling? There is something so historical, so honest about them here, it is almost tangible. You can almost inhale spirituality. In fact, in Italian, the word “spirate” means “breath.” Isn’t that interesting?

Anyway, this is totally cheesy, but the show The Light in the Piazza is based in Florence and is about a girl from Winston Salem, NC… anyway, check it out if you never have before. The rest of this entry is the lyrics of two of the songs in it that really capture the way I’ve felt since being here… and particularly in Florence.

THE BEAUTY IS

These are very popular, in Italy.
It’s the land of naked marble boys.
Something we don’t see a lot in Winston-Salem,
That’s the land of corduroys.

I’m just a someone in an old museum.
Far away from home as someone can go.
And the beauty is I still meet people I know.
Hello.

This is wanting something, this is reaching for it,
This is wishing that a moment would arrive.
This is taking chances, this is almost touching, what the beauty is.
I don’t understand a word they’re saying,
I’m as different here as different can be.
But the beauty is I still meet people like me.

Everyone’s a mother here, in Italy.
Everyone’s a father, or a son.
I think if I had a child, I would take such care of her.
Then I wouldn’t feel like one.

I’ve hardly met a single soul, but I am not alone.
I feel grown.
This is wanting something, this praying for it,
This is holding breath and keeping fingers crossed.
This is counting blessings, this is wondering when I’ll see that boy again.
I’ve got a feeling he’s just a someone, too.
And the beauty is, when you realize, when you realize,
Someone could be looking for a someone like you.

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA

I don’t see a miracle shining from the sky
I’m no good at statues and stories
I try

That’s not what I think about
That’s not what I see
I know what the sunlight can be

The Light, the Light in the Piazza

Tiny sweet
And then it grows
And then it fills the air
Who knows what you call it?
I don’t care
Out of somewhere I have something I have never had
And sad is happy
That’s all I see

The Light in the Piazza
The Light in the Piazza

It’s rushing up
It’s pouring out
It’s flying through the air
All through the air
Who knows what you call it?
But it’s there
It is there

All I see is
All I want is tearing from inside
I see it
Now I see it everywhere
It’s everywhere
It’s everything and everywhere

Fabrizio
The Light in the Piazza

My Love

Okay, well, even if you just scrolled down and didn’t read them, they’re there for you to appreciate if you want. We ate our share of gelato in various piazzas… it was warm and beautiful and we couldn’t resist. Tomorrow here in Perugia is the organic foods market and I am officially on a diet!!! Haha, if I weren’t walking so much I would have gained about 15 pounds. Also, now that I’m well, I can go to the swimming pool here to stay in shape. Yes, I climb hills all day every day, but you can’t run here… it’s just impossible, you’d get hit by a car inevitably, or break your ankle on a cobblestone. So, pool it is.

Well, I’m off to bed… I will get some pictures added online tomorrow and throw a link in here. Look for it!!! Thanks for keeping up with me. Please shoot me emails (nataliekstephens@gmail.com, nataboo9@aol.com, nstephens@elon.edu)… no matter who you are, I’d love to hear from you!!! Miss you all so much. Love you, buona notte.

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