Italy Letter no. 2

This morning after I had walked Camilla (the daughter) to school, Angela (the wife) told me that she will be taking the bus to their office in the center of Florence. I eagerly agreed to go along and explore Florence Centro a bit.

Now riding a bus in Florence, or Italy for that matter I presume, is like being on that bus from Harry Potter. Bumpy, jerky and over side walks but all together quite fun,  if you are sitting down. But standing while holding on to a pole can be an embarrassing and comical experience. With the sudden stops and starts you swing to and throw while clutching your pole, making unintelligent grunts and little squeaks of alarm or surprise. The whole scenario made me feel like an inexperienced pole dancer. That thought had me trying to wipe a stupid grin off my face while trying to play it cool. All the while Angela just sits in the corner by the window, laughter dancing in her eyes while she is hiding a smile behind her jacket collar. At the front an old man is swearing at the bus driver and the bus driver is arguing right back at him. But they seemed to secretly enjoy their little exchange of words, behind their frowns amusement dances mischievously in their eyes.

When we stopped in the city center, Angela and I greeted and went our own ways. The first thing I did was get a map of Florence. After about 30 minutes walk into the smaller and quieter alleys, I pass by this miniature church or at least it was one. The big double doors of this little place had big windows in it. As I peered in I could see statues after statue. Inside was only one big studio room with a high ceiling, wooden beams at the top and glass windows in the ceiling which allowed the sun beams to fall through making this little unlikely chapel-turned-workshop look holy indeed. The artists inside looked up from their work at me and gave me friendly waves, I waved back but I didn’t go in seeing that there was a clear sign outside saying ‘No Entry’. Not pushing my luck I stood back and admired this work of art for a few minutes more before I carry on my way. I got thirsty and walked into a little door were I saw water in the window. To my surprise and delight this little door turned out to be a full blown supermarket with anything and everything you can think of. Okay so it was very narrow and at places you had to use a ladder to get what you need but it worked, somehow.

On my walk I met a Nigerian man who spoke beautiful English; got chatting to an American woman who tried to stoke a sleeping cart horse who then in turn bit her hand making her yelp(serves her right); and then got a sandwich at Queen Victoria who makes amazing Italian sandwiches. At 11:40 am I sat down on the steps of a church listening to a man play the violin. Before I new it, it was 12 o’clock and the bells all over Florence rang in harmony sending chills down my spine. There are about 1000 churches in Florence. In the streets you will always see subtle construction busy restoring and preserving these old buildings.

At about 1 o’clock I started making my way to the bus stop when I smelt chocolate. As I came near the shop I saw that it was a shop dedicated entirely to chocolate and a woman was making fresh pasties on the side walk. Not being able to resist I got one. It looks like a hand size waffle but it is crispier. She put it in a carton box/ bag and then she starts throwing melted chocolate on. Dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, mint chocolate, you name it. Mine had milk chocolate and dark chocolate and I thoroughly enjoyed this messy feast. I was a mess when I was finished but luckily I had a bunch of napkins and a bottle of water.

Sitting on the bus going home, there was an open space in front of me. A man came to stand there with his back towards me when he got on at one of the stops. At one stage the bus took off with a start and the man falls back towards me. I instinctively but my hands out to break his fall and to protect myself. As it happens with me sitting and him standing, my hands are level with him backside and before I new it I was sitting with a strangers bum cupped in my hands. We both freeze and he peered at me over his shoulder, bewildered and apologetic, while I quickly release his bum like it was burning me. Embarrassed and with sheepish expressions, we both apologized while trying to stay casual. After a few moments of uncomfortable silence I take the cowards way out and put my headphones on and pulled my hoody low over my head.

When I got off at my stop I start walking back looking at my surroundings. Its always entertaining looking at Italians park. Its amazing were these people think they can fit in. I was only when I got home that I saw I had a chocolate smudge the size of Africa on my chin. Hooray.

Until next time.

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