Monday, November 7, 2011

Arriving in Italy-Oct.4

Evening rowers on the Arno River.
 We've been back from Italy for more than a week. Getting settled into our regular routine has been a challenge: I'm still mentally in Italy, and plan to remain in that delightful state of mind for quite some time.  Several people have asked: Why Italy?  The answers are many: amazing art, breath-taking architecture, welcoming, friendly people, delectable food, glorious wines, vast landscapes, and hopefully, weather that is kind to two older cyclists.  We experienced all that we could ever have hoped for - and much more.

An example of original artwork adorning the walls of our Trattoria.
 We landed in Florence in the early afternoon, and slowly found our way to our lodgings in a palazzo in the Oltrarno, south of the Arno River.  We planned to stash our bikes for a few days, unwind, relax and enjoy this wonderful city on foot before heading south on our bikes.  The early evening light on the river is truly mesmerizing, and we never got tired of photographing the bridges. More than one person we've spoken to had the same feeling: that the river views were constantly changing, and more beautiful at each turn.  Whenever we got lost, we always headed for the river and inevitably found our bearings.  I can't think of any other place where getting lost was such a joy. 

A piece of artwork that has just sold to an American couple.

Nightfall arrives earlier in the autumn, so we found our way to a busy trattoria near the Ponte Vecchio, and sleepily devoured a pizza.  We couldn't help notice the Tuscan artwork on the walls, and soon realized a young American couple seated next to us were in the process of selecting one of the paintings to purchase.  It is quite common for artists to exhibit, and sell, their work in alternative venues in Italy, and it's encouraging to see an actual sale happen.

The happy art-buyers (foreground) after a satisfying dinner.
Strolling "home".
After eating the last crumbs of pizza, and drinking the last drops of Chianti, we walked the streets for another hour, unwilling to admit that we were completely jet-lagged, and that we should head for the comfort of our bed.  But the evening was too beautiful and balmy for that.  Besides, a gelato is mandatory on your first night in Italy, so we had to follow the good folks of Florence to the nearest outdoor gelateria to sample the creamy delight. 
The decorative ceiling of our 400 year old palazzo, our home in Florence.
Yes, we got lost with our melting gelatos in the narrow streets of the Oltrarno, but we eventually found our home-away-from-home, near the Ponte alla Carraia.  Tomorrow, our first full day in Florence.  For now: restful sleep.

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