Monday, February 6, 2017

glowing Italy

“The student has his Rome, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Our very best day in Florence, was the culmination of everything that we had found wonderful during our journey. We wandered the lovely magical ancient city, getting lost, consulting our travel map and finding new places. We finished the day with a splendid Aperitivo at a little unassuming bar on a side street. Aperitivo is an Italian version of a happy hour with bars serving a buffet of small dishes and drinks offered at one price. This particular bar was the friendliest welcoming spot we had ever found with a chatty waitress who was half British and half Italian. We were encouraged to enjoy the buffet, even going for seconds. I was amazed at the buffet spread, there were so many interesting authentic Tuscany dishes, roasted vegetables, pasta, olives, meats sliced and smoked, fruits and breads and cheeses. I had never seen anything quite like it except in haute cuisine magazine spreads or a cooking program about Tuscany food. The waitress informed us that they had a chef who loved to put out a huge spread with fresh ingredients cooked with local flavors. Sounds like a culinary hit show back in the USA. 

After we enjoyed all that abundance of roasted vegetables basted in olive oil, hams and sausages, unusual bits of pastas and breads and cheeses, all that makes the Mediterranean diet so famous, we wandered a bit to walk it off. At one point I looked in my Rick Steves guidebook for a recommendation for a gelato place. Well, we just happened to be wandering past the very street where Rick said can be found the very best gelato in Florence which has the very best gelato in all Italy. So we went in and ate some of the very best gelato in all of Italy and it was all we could have wanted. I had coconut and my husband went for chocolate.
After that we wandered again but on this last night I wanted to return to the Piazza della Signorina just to look once more and to get another bottle full of that fizzy mineral water from the ancient Roman tap.
As we drew near we heard music, which happened everywhere in this city drenched in art and history. We had often stopped to enjoy sublime moments with a classical guitarist or a sweet faced opera singer giving the tourists high culture for an offering in a hat.
The music we heard was Beethoven's 7th Symphony played by a visiting orchestra from Switzerland.
As evening settled in on the Piazza, the throng of wandering tourists quieted and people just sat down on the warm pavement stones in a reverent hush to hear the music.  Our favorite day and best memory remains enchanting.

My favorite quote for this by T. S. Elliot, "And the end of all our exploring
 Will be to arrive where we started
 And know the place for the first time"