We’re on the move to Firenze today – that’s Florence, y’all. Venice has been stunning, but my Facebook relationship status with the city is “it’s complicated.” On one hand, it manages to live up to the hype as one of the world’s loveliest cities. Believe every picture, postcard, and painting you see, and every description you hear. It’s the land of great lovers like Casanova and Veronica Franco (and, according to the sexy calendars sold in market stalls, Gondoliers and defrocked young priests); and great painters: Tintoretto, Titian, and – my favorite – Veronese (for his colors and textures). It’s a place in which 18th century costumes and intricate masks are everywhere, still worn, still flaunted.
But, much like Italian sports cars, the appeal is mostly in the appearance. The Olive Garden has better food, getting lost is impossible to avoid, there is a palpable disdain for tourists among the few locals, and everything is overpriced – with prices based on distance from the Rialto rather than on quality or workmanship. And dudes, who are you trying to kid with these masks? I’ve seen you working with your glue guns and that is no passed-down-through-the-generations art form. Venice is almost as frustrating as it is beautiful, and the closest comparison I can draw is that of India – another frustrating yet beautiful place.
As for the food, even Italians will tell you that Venice has terrible restaurants. The city has few local inhabitants and therefore bases its economy on churning out crap for as much money as the market will bear (and in this heat, you’ll pay just about anything for a seat, a cold glass of wine, and an available toilet). Florence, on the other hand, should be a cavallo of a different color.
Florence. The home of Dante Alighiere, Boccaccio, the Medicis, Michaelangelo, Brunaleschi. All those people I thought were really cool in my high school AP European History class. I remember reading about these doors in my sophomore year textbook - The Gates of Paradise – and thinking “I’d like to see that someday.” Well, someday is happening tomorrow, and that is really neat.
And I will definitely report back on street fashion, with visual aides. Ciao!