Monday, June 09, 2014

Hot times in the Tuscan city

You can tell it's hot in Florence -- even the Italians are wearing shorts.

Americans looking for bargains at the "antique" market
For most of the time we have been here, it has been easy to spot Americans. The female students were the ones with skimpy tops and short-shorts. The older guys were the ones with baggy shorts and baseball caps. The Italians were invariably in fashionable and more subtly sensuous clothes.

It hit 35 today, which seems quite brisk by Missouri standards. But this is Celsius land, where 35 C converts to 95 F. Life slows when the temperature rises that high. The Italian fashion world shifted on its axis, bringing out tailored-but-skimpy tops on the ladies and well-cut shorts and classic shirts on the men.

When it is hot on a Sunday and Monday, stores close, Florentines retreat to the cool indoors and the events are limited to those that attract crazy American tourists. But now I can occasionally trade my linen slacks for shorts without feeling too obvious.

Sunday we awoke to the cacophony of bells wake the city. There is a church every few hundred meters in Florence. Sunday is their day to sing out (although the pews don't seem particularly full).
Break time at the fountain
After a lazy breakfast, we walked to the open-air, monthly Antique Market.

Antique markets are basically the same worldwide. Lots of doorknobs and old hardware, a few books and maps and a whole lot of non-antique clothing. It was fun to wander, but we dashed from shady spot to shady spot as the day grew warmer.  The area around the piazza's fountain was a popular respite.
Out in the neighborhood

Then we did the crazy American thing -- we kept walking. And walking.  We ended up in a working-class neighborhood where every shop was closed and the only sign of life was the occasional face peeking from a shuttered window.  Peeking at the crazy Americans.

Chilling at a sidewalk cafe
We walked back to the area dominated by tall, stone old buildings -- Renaissance air conditioning. We had a pleasant lunch at an outside cafe and watched the other crazy Americans go by. We finally had the good sense to take a siesta at home, but later took a short stroll across the river to the Piazza de Santa Croce, looking for a ticket booth for this weekend's historic football game. Why, I'm not sure. Nothing was open. The church was gated and even the Misuri store -- what ever that is, was shuttered. I have to go back to that one just to see if Truman is at the counter.

M-I-S U-R-I... no, wait
Today we took a leisurely walk downtown to check out Florentine department stores. High fashion, but the prices here are not nearly as high as I would have expected. We had our daily gelato and went home for a nap.  It's a very Italian thing to do.

This evening we dressed up and went to a movie. Dinner movie, as it were. The Odeon Theatre featured a mostly-English version of Il Mistero di Dante -- The Mystery of Dante. It was good, but strange. It was as if someone first produced a good PBS-style documentary on Dante and then turned it over to film students to put it into an avant-garde wrapper. But I may re-visit the Divine Comedy.

The Odeon
Not to worry, the dinner was worth it. The food was fine -- a Tuscan buffet and all the wine you could drink. What was fun, however, was talking to Joachim and Barbara Krug.  She's a poet and he is a theoretical physicist from the University of Cologne, here for a seminar. We talked about everything from the movie itself to the arts to the heat to the craziness of academia. They had to hint broadly to get us out of the building so they could clean up. They are staying near us, so perhaps we will see them on the walk along the Arno.

By the time we left the theater, the air had cooled and the breeze had picked up. It was a beautiful evening in Florence -- the kind that makes poets, bloggers and mature-couples-in-love swoon.

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