Thursday, June 30, 2011



I now had to busy myself with getting ready to go back to the States: packing large items for shipment (the rug, sheets, a box of books and souvenirs), straightening up the apartment, and settling my accounts. For the final appartamento accounting when Madame Zia spoke in Italian, I sort of understood. We seemed to settle OK. She paid me half the cost of the palm, which was a good deal for both of us. Ed had sent a shopping list via a neat Firenze postcard I had not seen: a particular tee-shirt, a puppet he had seen and train books for his dad. And I bought a delightful furry mouse for Liza. I found an 8mm film of Firenze and a book in color of the 1966 flood.

With only a few days left, I wanted to see some of the villas in the hills. I enlisted Alessandro, my architecture student friend, to help me choose which one to see. We took a bus out about five miles to the Villa Medicea La Petraia.

It was constructed in 1575 for one of the Medici grand-dukes. Victor Emmanuel II rebuilt it in the 19th Century when he was king, and it became his favorite Florentine residence. None of the Medici influence still exists on the inside, but it had enormous, elaborate, period rooms.
A gaming room was most remarkable for its size and decoration. The courtyard had been enclosed and decorated with huge chandeliers and very colorful murals.

Alessandro invited me to have dinner at his apartment. What a pleasant idea. He fixed a good meal in his rather bleak studenti abode. It was very special having my last dinner in Firenze in a Florentine's home.

Before lunch the next day, I was sitting, crowd-watching at the Rivoire
having a Granita de Cafe (sweet coffee in crushed ice with whipped cream and coffee beans on top), reading a letter from Arnette. Her lovely letter thanked me again for helping make Italy so special. She had enclosed clippings of her daughter Jenny's reviews in London. Evidently, she’s quite good; Baryshnikov liked her. She wants me to meet her family.

On my way for a Florentine pizza, I made a detour to the New Market to pet the Porcellino

  ---to Ensure My Return to Firenze.

I again returned to the Rivoire for a last sightsee and crowd-watch. I had very mixed feelings: sad to be leaving, glad to be going home, but not looking forward to the trip of fourteen hours on trains and planes. I sat there thinking about all the things that made my adventure possible: Ed's taking care of everything at home, my having a good job, having a nice family, and my tenaciousness.

I walked to the train station to prolong my time in Firenze, luckily my suitcase had wheels. I found out that my train had no dining car, so I slipped back into the station and got a nice box lunch for dinner: chicken, fruit and vino rosso. I had booked a 2nd class sleeper to Paris (3 beds in a compartment). I'd never been on a sleeper before. Luckily, no one else was in my compartment, so I asked the steward to pull out my bed at around 8:30. He wanted me to use the bottom bunk, but I insisted on the middle one so I could see out. He said that I wouldn't be able to see out because the pillow was on the wrong end. I still insisted. As soon as he left, I got undressed, remade the bed with the pillow at the window and climbed up. What a view! I opened the top window for an even clearer view. A gathering storm provided a dramatic backdrop for the villages and mountains. I was so excited that I couldn't go to sleep until two in the morning. Dawn awoke me. It was beautiful—rolling hills in a mist. I looked and dozed; dozed and looked. Finally, I awoke with a start to find the train in the station at Dijon, with people milling around right outside my window. I pulled down the shade, got dressed and headed for the cafe car that had been added in France. I stayed for an hour watching the landscape whiz by and watching my fellow passengers. I love travelling by train.



Caliban said...

A delightful farewell to Firenze. What a wonderful memory for you to have had the four months to spend their. Memories to treasure for a lifetime.

Don Voth said...

—for a LIFETIME!