Today was a day of necessary splitting up. Sophia, still feeling crummy and a little warm stayed behind in the hotel with Corey while Isabel and I hit the Uffizi. Being twins our girls don’t get a lot of one on one time, and they never have. Today, with this is mind, I basically let Isabel have and do whatever she wanted. Audio tour? Sure. Necklace made of wire from the street vendor? Sure. Lemon slushie thing even though she barely ate lunch? Why not. It’s so easy with only one kid that it seems more like hanging with a little buddy rather than dealing with squabbles, whining in stereo and my favorite, the tattling.
Anyway, Isabel and I conquered the entire first hall of the Uffizi. At first the art, the gold, gilded extravagant works, the marble floors, and the frescoed ceilings enthralled her. Then all of the serious Jesus paintings began and she became seriously disturbed by them. She asked me how he was held up on the cross. Then, horrified by that answer, she asked why he is always in pain and why someone would paint him in agony. Why did he look like he was starving? How did the Romans catch him? How did he finally die? She became obsessed with his entire story, and unfortunately did not want to see any more art because she was really too worried about seeing more of Jesus in pain. “I can’t take anymore of this Jesus art,” she said, ” It makes me too sad.” I couldn’t argue with that. We looked at the Birth of Venus and Primavera and then skipped over to the Michelangelo room where she was happy to see Jesus in a peaceful light. Then we made our way out.
Even after we left the Uffizi and made our way to the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio the questions kept coming about Jesus. After a while I had to give up and tell her that there are many different stories about Jesus’ life and death and that she needed to ask her Catholic friends’ moms (feel free to comment below!!!) for the answers. There are times where it takes a village (of all religions) and this is one of them. So, with that I passed the buck. But really, if we’re spending a month in Italy I’m going to have to brush up on my Jesus biography because we are going to see an awful lot of religious art. Or maybe not. I have to admit while I appreciate all of the works and the artists this kind of art is really not my thing at all. I don’t think I have to schlep my kids to everything just so they can say that they saw it.
As we crossed the Ponte Vecchio Isabel tried to cajole me into buying some jewelry, which was so sweet I almost wanted to buy something just to make her happy.
But, once I factored the startling exchange rate in my head it was hard to be accommodating. Finally we grabbed some quick pizza, parked ourselves on a bench and had lunch. We walked back over the bridge on the way to the hotel so that I could relieve my husband and he could get out and take Isabel to the Duomo and David while I stayed with Sophia. However, that plan went out the window once we arrived and Sophia realized that Isabel was also going to get more rides on the carousel. Suddenly she felt much better. (Carousels seems to work better than Motrin)
We headed out to the carousel only to find it was closed for Riposo until 4:00pm. We continued to the Duomo instead, the line was long but the wait was only about 10 minutes. It is probably the only free sight in Florence. The first time I was in Florence I was 16. The second time I was 26. Now I’m 37. Each time I love going to the Duomo.
I don’t even know why. Maybe because it feels so cool and calm and quietly beautiful, or maybe because I loved A Room With a View when I first read it at 14 and that sense about Florence stuck with me. The actual Dome is so awe-inspiring it gets me every time.
I went back to the hotel with Sophia after the girls splurged on heavy-duty crème puffs and cookies from Gilli on the Piazza.
Corey took Isabel back to the Ponte Vecchio with him so he could have some time exploring Florence and the Arno. We decided to bail on the David. Someone out there will tell me this is sacrilegious to be in Florence and not see the David. I don’t care. The girls said they saw the fake one in the Piazza della Signori and they were fine with that. I couldn’t imagine making them wait on another line just to see a statue that you get herded past in 5 minutes and that you are supposed to appreciate for all sorts of reasons that won’t matter a bit to them. I’ve seen it twice and Corey has seen it once and we were both fine with the girls not seeing it now.
Instead the girls will ride a few more times on the carousel, which makes them deliriously happy. Its about 1/4 the size and half the speed of the one in Central Park but they don’t care. They’ve never met a carousel they didn’t love. And they learned a new Italian word, La Giostra.
We went to dinner in a much further a field restaurant past the St. Croce area towards an area that looked and felt more like the East Village, if the East village had been built 600 years ago. The restaurant called Plaz was both inside and under a set of arches abutting what looked like the antique/used junk market (including a used book stand with a lot of very visible vintage porn magazines which thankfully my daughters didn’t notice. I’d had enough hard to answer questions for one day) The meal was good, fresh and by the far the least expensive meal we’ve had since we’ve been here. After dinner we went back to the hotel, via one last ride on the carousel.
I love Florence and Venice. Both are cities that never fail with all of the picture postcard views everywhere you look, but I don’t think I ever need to come back again to either one for a very long time if ever. For one thing, its hard not to be a little resentful when every restaurant feels like a tourist trap. And for another, both cities are so over run by Americans that something distinctly Italian and foreign gets lost in the mix. That’s probably just a hazard of traveling in July too. However, when we leave Florence tomorrow I will feel more finality in the goodbye than I would’ve thought before this trip.
Gelato Scoops of the day: NONE! all about the creme puffs!