A friend of ours, that we have not seen in years, came to visit this past week. She has never been in Italy, no less in Tuscany, so it was our pleasure and duty to show her around. When we were not driving or walking the streets of one of the beautiful towns of Tuscany, we were eating or talking or resting. Very little time was left to contribute to this narrative.
Now Barbara is back home in Spain and we are trying to get back to the normal routines. The tricky part is that we have not been here long enough to have developed normal routines. Well, let me take part of that back. We drove to Ikea today, again, to get a rug. The one we had, that came with the apartment, was no more than a cloth on the floor in the living room. It had no structural integrity and it slipped on the tile floors. Barbera was worried that one of us would slip and fall but that was not the real problem. The other day Ringo tried to jump up on the chair. When he pushed off the floor, the rug slipped back and he fell flat on his face.
So we drove to Florence today to go get a rug that would not slip. A trip that should have taken no more than two hours turned into a day long adventure. An overturned truck on the highway allowed us to make friends with strangers, car and truck drivers who shared our stationary status for about two hours until the road was cleared and we were allowed to continue.
But that is not what I wanted to write about. I’ve been to central Italy several times over the years. Mostly as a tourist for one or two weeks at a time. The first time was in 1982 with Alice and then the following year with Alice and two friends from work. In 1982 Alice and I were exploring and discovering. In 1983 we played the tour guides. We saw new things and made some discoveries but for the most part we showed others what we had discovered before. Similarly when we came back with Dante and Sergio, when they were kids, we were showing them around. All these times were before the new explosion of tourists from all over the world. We used to be able to just walk into anywhere without waiting. Even in July and August when Alice had her vacations. Then Alice and I took a trip in 2011. Part of the trip was a week in Florence. We rented an apartment less than one block from the Cathedral. But never went in because of the lines. Similarly with the museums. It’s only gotten worse.
The line to enter the Cathedral, yesterday, went around the block. At the end of September. Poor Barbara could not get in. She did see the Santa Croce church and the Cathedral in Siena but generally her tour was from the outside. Now she is back in Spain and we are back in Montespertoli. But Montespertoli is about a half hour from the center of Florence and Winter is Coming! In January, I hope, most of the tourists will be gone and as was true of the beach of Mondello and the beach of Saint Pierre, Florence will be all mine! Or Ringo’s. So will Sienna and Arezzo and San Gimignano, and Voltera and all the other places that are now full of strangers. What I realized while playing the tour guide for Barbara was just how much of these places I do not know and needs to be discovered.
But here is also Chianti. I have been waiting for a bicycle, I ordered, to go out and do some photography. I ordered the bike (a Mate-X) early in August and by yesterday it had gotten to be too much of a wait. I cancelled the order and ordered a different one from Amazon that I should get by Monday. These are electric bikes I am talking about. If you’ve seen the hills of Chianti you’ll know that riding a bicycle involves going up and down hills. Big hills. Mostly up. And most of the good views are at the top of the hills. If I tried to ride a normal bike, even the best mountain bikes, I would find myself walking the bike up the hills complaining all the way. I need some assistance in the form a powered bike strong enough to get my mass and ass up these hills. Don’t get me wrong, I plan on peddling but a little help will be appreciated. The bike has a range of 70 kilometers which should get me to a few nice spots. The next obstacle will be getting my ass out of bed before the sun rise. I have a couple of days to work on that part.