Florence – A Day With Books & The Piazza

So one of the things I like the most about Canada & the US was the toilets.

It sounds ridiculous, but that is the truth. It was one of the highlights of the two countries for me.

Instead of being an oval shape, they are more of a circle, and they aren’t as tall, so when you are doing a substantial “number 2”, there aren’t big “plonks” in the water.

Plus!

Not to mention that when you hit the flush, it is like a water vacuum has just sucked everything straight out, and there is literally no skid marks.

Whats more, is that I was not the only person to notice this on my my own accord. Both Micky & Damo loved the North American toilets for the same reasons.

However, the sad reality is that I haven’t seen them before, and haven’t seen them since. Our hostel in Florence was no different. In fact, this particular toilet, in a bathroom with very thin walls, was particularly higher than the normal ones that I am used to back home, let alone the North American design.

So, in the morning, with little hesitation, I am still bleary-eyed, my toes just reaching the tiles below, and all the sort of sounds that shouldn’t be heard by any unsuspecting strangers, get heard by all the unsuspecting strangers.

This is the downside to hostels.

Not the kinda ice-breaker you wanna be looking for when you meet someone, but you gotta play with the hand you’re dealt, and I was dealt a toilet with acoustics that would rival most amphitheatres and a height that would nearly be suitable for the Red Bull cliff diving competition.

We saw most of the big sights yesterday, except for the Statue of David, and Michaelangelo Piazza. The Piazza is perched on top one of the best views of the city, with all sorts of spots for you to take in the city of Florence below. You have full view of the cathedral, the vast sea of terracotta tiled roofs, and the rolling hills in the distance. The gardens are immaculate, and there is even this little cemetery of sorts still with an epic view of the city.

That certainly is one way to enjoy the afterlife.

We hang out at the first spot, which, as you can imagine, is loaded with tourists. Just below us, there is this outside seating area for a cafe below us, so we sit there and divide our attention between the happenings of the cafe-goers and admiring the view of Florence from above. We also spotted Bertie, from our time with Anne & Doug in Sicily, hanging out with a couple at the cafe below us (for those who need these things spelled out, it wasn’t actually the same dog).

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We head up further to the better viewing area, which coincidentally, also is less crowded. This, we are ok with. Actually, come to think of it, I would rather travel in the poorer weather, but getting to meet more of the locals, then travel with a bulk load of tourists with better weather. We find ourselves regularly trying to find little hidey-holes where we aren’t going to be joined by every man and his dog. This wasn’t completely abandoned by the tourist hoard, but it was considerably better than the first outdoor terrace.

We are walking up the steps to the church, and we begin to see all these little pebbles. We haven’t seen them before, and we cannot work out where they have come from. They just appeared out of nowhere, and there was just a heap of them, covering all the steps as we get closer to the path. Not a moment sooner than we both mentioned that we were baffled by the origin of these stones, did we lift our heads to find an entire path absolutely loaded with the very pebbles which were the source of our confusion.

This is what happens when you try to go all Sherlock Holmes on the footpath.

Nobody wins.

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We head up to the church, and being that it is Sunday, we get to experience the real Catholic experience. Walking in, everything is quiet, except for the priest up the front, and we cannot understand a single thing that is being said. There are a few professionals, who are bang on queue with everything, repeating the necessary points, singing when they need to sing, everything in perfect synchrony.

…except the the tourists trying their best.

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We learnt from our last experience at the Westminster Abbey not to bite off more than you can chew. This time, we settled for a nibble, and just hang out at the back of the church, and left all the entertainment creation to the other visitors.

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We head outside, and park ourselves up on the balcony, and lap up the Tuscan sun, while we read our books. Bec has been engrossed by this novel, which she has absolutely chewed through in the last week. It’s called “Caught in the Light”, but Robert Goddard. She has been telling me how amazing it is, but I am really not a fan of fake stories. If I am going to devour a fake story, I am just going to do it in the form of a movie. I haven’t committed to reading it yet, despite the numerous times that she’s told me that I have to read it.

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I’m still reading “Never Split The Difference”, the book on hostage negotiation. The both of us are lapping up our books, so we just sit in the warmth of the sun, with the casual cloud passing long enough to give us a break from the intensity of the midday heat. We sat up here for literally a good hour and a half, both in our own worlds, popping back into reality from time to time to offer a little bit of human interaction from time to time to each other.

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We sat, until the periodic cloud cover turned into periodic sun shine.

We were getting colder and colder by the minute, and then it started to rain. This is super not ideal. We huddle in a little covered thoroughfare, while we load up the extra jackets we want to wear and wait for the rain to pass.

…it doesn’t pass.

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So, being that the outside isn’t great, we resort to finding somewhere inside to relax. We wander down to the river and follow the banks until we reach a cozy little spot with wifi, atmosphere and english-speaking hosts. We sit and read and drink coffees, and Bec finishes her book in what is no more than 10 minutes of having sat down.
“Oh babe… You have to read this. You would love it.” I can’t tell you how many times she has told me this, but I am beginning to think that it might actually be worth a read, based purely on this fact. She is slowly chipping away at me, bringing me around to the idea that a novel is worthwhile reading.

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We wrap up our coffees, and have a quick yarn with Mum and bring her up to speed with where we are at, and what we have been up to. She is a legend. She’s nearly more excited than we are for us to be doing this trip.

We have chowed through the day, and the afternoon is creeping by pretty quickly, so we decide that we will wrap the day up with another trip to Due Fratellini, and devour the rolls with a ferocity known only by a girl’s first boyfriend, from an overprotective father. Do I eat two of them? I could have eaten three of them.

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Head home, and collect some cheese & wine on the way. This is our dessert. Being that the wines in Italy are literally ½ of the price you would pay in Australia, we have been treating ourselves on a daily basis, because in the words of the famous L’Oreal ad: “You’re worth it”. We need to get some more cash out, however, so I leave Bec, a little socially lubricated cos we have just downed a bottle, and run off to the ATM.

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This is where I discover the excitement that Italian ATMs can deliver. You put your card in, and the first thing it says to you is “Enter your secret code”. This is brilliant. I straight away start looking around, making sure that my secret code isn’t compromised by some passerby or onlooker, or perhaps even my arch nemesis. Usually, I wouldn’t care less. When an ATM says to me, “Enter your pin”, I think nothing of it. But, if something tells me to “enter my secret code”, I morph into the Secret Service’s top agent.

My mind feels the weight of my beige trench coat carrying my silenced pistol. I can see the shadows of my mental fedora casting the shadow of it’s brim across my nose. My head tilts slightly so as to maximise my peripheral vision and a steely look of intent spills across my face. I enter my “Secret Code”, and select the amount of money needed to complete my mission. Then this happens…

The screen says “Operation Underway”.

That is it.

I actually am a secret agent now.

At any turn, I might meet fate and have to do the one thing I have been avoiding, shooting an emery agent in the crisp air of a Tuscan night. Luckily, for me though, it doesn’t happen this time.

I meet Bec out the front of the hostel, and we head up to the room. We have the whole place to ourselves, so Bec seizes the opportunity, turns her ass out a little, announces to me “No one is here”, and then cuts a fart like she didn’t think twice about it.

This is married life.

…at least, my married life.

We do some washing, play knock and run, and tuck in for the night.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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