Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tapering in Tuscany

I'm meant to be training for the New York City marathon, but I seem just to be doing the tapering part. Since the Wees returned to Sarawak I've been focusing on my workload and haven't managed to get out the door for even one run.

Just a week or so after we walked the Cinque Terre trails there was a rock fall that injured a party of four Australians and closed the most popular trail, the Lovers Walk. You just can't do anything about ending up in the wrong spot at the wrong second...

Clare invited me to her house, bits of which date back to the 1400s, for her birthday lunch. The house is up on the hillside on the south side of town. The area has a very village feel, with narrow roads lined with villa walls and old apartment buildings, but it's actually just minutes from the Arno.

From a hillside above Florence

Absolutely delicious food, and really nice company. There were seven women. Clare's son, Leoni, did the serving; he was very sweet. I spent most of the time talking with Alison, who is from Seattle and is a film/documentary buff and dog lover. (She has a shitzhu named Lola.) Some years ago she wrote young adult, choose-your-own adventure books and now has her finger in many pies here in Florence. I also talked with Sheila, who lectures in art history.

I've visited the Uffizi and Accademia galleries to see some of their Renaissance and earlier art treasures, and Palazzo Strozzi for a big survey of Italian art in the 1930s. For some light relief I went to the Odeon with Bettina, who owns the apartment where I've been staying, to see a documentary about Woody Allen.

Antonio Donghi, "Woman at the Cafe"

Had a coffee with Carrie, whom I met through Clare. She designs bags and other "gorgeous things" (to quote Eddy from Ab Fab...) and has been living in Italy for nine years.

I finally found time to climb to the top of both Giotto's Bell Tower and the Duomo, to see Brunelleschi's dome up close. Both of these are right next to me. Fabulous views from both. I could just see my balcony. I'm reading Ross King's book about the building of the dome in the 1400s. Amazing.

Giotto's Bell Tower, and Brunelleschi's Dome atop the Duomo

Most of the time I've just been living in my neighbourhood. I really like Florence; it's a very liveable city. So I'm coming back next year for another month, this time in the spring.

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